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Christmas 2010—flowers, rice and chopsticks . . .

Christmas 2010—flowers, rice and chopsticks . . .

Cemetery scene: Having lovingly placed a bouquet of roses at the head of a grave, the visitor to the cemetery watched smilingly as an elderly Oriental man lovingly placed a steaming bowl of rice and chopsticks at the head of a nearby grave, and then asked him at what time he figured his friend would come up to eat the rice. The other man replied, “He will come up at the same time your friend comes up to smell the roses.”

Having set the scene, I will continue with this posting. On this cold blustery day in San Antonio, Texas I traveled twelve miles from my home to Fort Sam Houston’s National Cemetery. I placed fresh flowers on the grave of a great lady that was transported from this earthly realm to her just reward in God’s heavenly realm on the evening of Thursday, November 18, 2010 just one month and eight days before her seventy-ninth birthday. Our three daughters were present at her death, at her memorial and her interment, but unforeseen circumstances prevented them from being with me to visit her on this day.

Today is my wife’s birthday. She was born December 26, 1931 on an icy Saturday in a small south Georgia town. We met in 1952 and were married just four months later on a Saturday afternoon on the thirteenth day of December in 1952, and we completed fifty-eight years of marriage thirteen days ago on the thirteenth of this month, December of the year 2010.

To complete the fifty-eight years of marriage I included the days between her death on 18 November and our wedding anniversary date of 13 December. I included those days because we remain married and will always remain married, albeit on a spiritual level rather than on a physical level.

We are separated physically but our spirits are intertwined, an inextricable unity that will never be separated. I refuse to allow our marriage to dissolve simply because we exist in separate realms. Her spirit—her soul—has returned to God from whence it came. She is in heaven with Him and I remain on earth. I am well aware that adherence to our marriage vows will be more difficult for me than for her, but I readily accept the challenge and I will not falter.

I still wear my wedding ring on the ring finger of my left hand, and when I join my wife in the grave that contains her earthly remains—the same grave that will contain mine throughout eternity—that ring will still be in place.  If it should be lost I will replace it, and if that replacement is lost I will purchase another, as many times as necessary. I also wear my wife’s 1949 high school graduation ring on the little finger of my right hand. That one will be a bit more difficult to replace, but I will make the effort should it happen.

Yes, in the same grave—with space at a premium in our national military cemeteries, husbands and wives share the same burial plot. I have no problem with that procedure, nor does my wife. We have discussed it at length over the past several years, and we agreed with the premise that the closer, the better. And on the subject of matter, the contents of our grave constitute mortal material matter only, as do the contents of every grave.

The immortal essence of that matter—the soul, given by the grace of God—was never there, having already gone to its promised reward before the remains were placed beneath the sod—its direction dependent, of course, on certain requirements having been met, a point that should be foremost in how we decide to live our lives.

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

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2010 in death, Family, flowers, funeral, Military

 

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Meet Papa John (not the pizza man) . . .

Meet Papa John . . .

Papa John, my stepfather, is a recurring figure in many of my postings, and he looms just as large in my memories as he did in life. For good or for otherwise, he was part of my life for some 28 years, from the time of his marriage to my mother in 1942—the first of their two marriages—until the time of his death in 1970. I trust that el Hombre ariba—the Man above—will forgive me for saying that his death coincided with one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Actually, it was not a coincidence—his death brought about one of the best things because it got me out of Vietnam and home with my family for a month. I had to return to Vietnam to finish my scheduled tour, but those thirty days at home were priceless. That month brought me out of the darkness of the Vietnam war and into the bright light of my wife and my children—the time with my family restored my faith and my sanity and allowed me to return, unwillingly of course, and finish my assignment with renewed vigor.

The military did not want me to have the thirty days at home—evidently my presence in Vietnam was critical to the war’s success. While I was honored that I was so important to the war effort, I managed to convince the brass to honor my right to be at my mother’s side following the death of my stepfather, and I recorded the events leading up to my return to the US in a prior posting. Click on the following URL for more details: https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/554/

With my mother’s marriage to my stepfather, my family was reduced to four—mother, stepfather, son and daughter. The older son and the two older daughters were safely outside the family, and were influenced by Papa John only through observation and interaction with my mother, my younger sister and me.

My stepfather had a rudimentary education, but over the years he became a skilled carpenter and cabinetmaker. His talents were in demand during the years of World War II, but those demands ebbed and flowed and required several re-locations, from Mississippi to Tennessee on two separate occasions, and eventually to Texas.

Between his job assignments and the dissolution of the family for one reason or another, mostly caused by his alcoholism, we always returned to Columbus, Mississippi. From my birth until the age of nine, I lived in six residences in two states, Alabama and Mississippi. In the seven–year period between the ages of nine and sixteen, following my mother’s marriage to Papa John, I lived in 17 different residences in five different states—Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and New York. My travels involved living in eleven different places in three Mississippi cities—one in Durant, one in Long Beach and nine in Columbus.

I spent 22 years in military service and another 26 years in federal service as a law enforcement officer, and in that 48 years I traveled all over the United States and several foreign countries. Is it any wonder that I don’t like to travel now? And if I do leave home, for whatever reason, I desperately want to be back home before dark!

Forgive me for digressing from the purpose of this posting. My intent here is to talk about some of Papa John’s idiosyncrasies, some of his peculiarities that we quickly learned and adhered to—I’ll mention only a few but not all, because I would soon exhaust my ink supply. He was fifty when he married our mother, so his habits were firmly ensconced.

He saucered his coffee. He would pour a bit from the cup to the saucer and when it cooled, he sipped from the saucer. We were told we could do that when we turned fifty.

He drank directly from his cereal bowl to drain the last vestiges of milk. We could do that at the age of fifty.

He allowed no pets unless they worked, hunting dogs for example, and no cats except for rat and mouse control. For his idea of pets, click here to read about his promise of two dogs for my sister and me as pets for Christmas presents. Click on the following URL for the details: https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/two-pets-for-christmas/

He was prone to produce intestinal gas in prodigious amounts, and was always polite when he released it. He always excused himself and left the table when the occasion demanded it, but no matter where we lived there was no place in the house that would do much more than muffle the sound. This was a source of mirth for me and my sister, but as we grew older the mirth waned rapidly. Our mother’s response, whether the explosions came while watching television, dining or  after retiring for the night, she never deviated from an exasperated exclamation: My God, John!

He did not use swear words, nor did he allow us to use them. His favorite expression was to refer to a person as a peckerwood, a corruption of woodpecker, I suppose. However, the way he pronounced that word left no doubt that the person was at least some of the swear words that describe people in scathing terms.

He used prodigious amounts of aftershave lotion and talcum powder, so he always smelled good—well, almost always. His use of talcum powder caused one of our family breakups, one that took us from an idyllic life on a farm in Mississippi—talcum powder was the immediate cause, but the underlying cause ran much deeper—my guess would be that he used the talcum powder incident as a reason to dissolve the family so he could pursue activities more desirable than managing a small farm. For a reading of that breakup, click on the following URL: https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/sid-looney-and-a-model-t-ford/

He was an inveterate gambler, and when enough money had been accrued to constitute a grubstake, he usually returned to Midland, Texas where he was a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, an organization that was legally authorized to conduct gambling in a state, county and city where gambling was illegal. When the money ran out—and it always did—he took the necessary steps to reassemble our family, ostensibly having seen the light and turning over a new leaf, but actually to build another grubstake. For a comprehensive posting of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and life in Midland, and a recount of my brief stint as a cocktail waiter, click on the following URL:https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/my-brief-stint-as-a-cocktail-waiter/

There is more to tell about Papa John—if I appear to be dwelling on his less than acceptable manners and his pursuits outside the family, it’s because those are among my most vivid memories. Papa was not all bad—there were good times—it’s just that the other than good times outweighed the good times. There were periods of genuine affection among our small family, but they were darkened by times of affliction. Just one instance of someone inflicting pain, distress and grief on another person or persons, whether physical or mental, is one too many, and Papa John was guilty of such actions repeatedly over the years, particularly on my mother.

I have a sneaking suspicion that with my writings I am saying some of the things I would have liked to say to Papa while he was alive—and should have said—but prudence coupled with fear forbade me doing that.

I hope he’s listening now.

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

 

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Bidets, bypasses, bulls and barbeques . . .

I awaken quite early every morning, regardless of the time I retire. I am a news freak, but since most of the news on television is a repetition of the day before, I use the wee small hours of the morning to cruise the internet and write. This morning at some time around 3:00 AM I found a very interesting web site—click here to learn how to never again need to use toilet tissue—well, perhaps just a bit of toilet tissue as opposed to reams of it.

I’m certain that most everyone is familiar with the adage admonishing us that The job’s not finished until the paperwork’s done. That slogan is true, particularly when considering the necessary clean-up job required following the elimination of our body wastes, specifically urine and fecal matter.

The web site shown above extols the virtues of using a patented version of the bidet to accomplish the necessary clean-up. Its makers claim that it is more effective, more sanitary and less expensive than using toilet paper, and that it will save an infinite number of trees, thus continuing the fight against global warming—shades of Al Gore!

In the interests of full disclosure, I must reveal that I have no female parts—nope, all male, so I am not restricted to any directions in which to move the paper—so to speak. I can go any direction I choose—forward, backward, inward, outward, left, right or in a circular motion. I can blot, rub, pat, scour, crush, or squeeze, or I can do a combination of any or all of the above, and when the paper comes up clean, I can be certain that the job has been well done.

I must digress here to ask the question, with due apologies to all, that I first heard voiced by the late comedian George Carlin: How does a blind person know when the job is done?

I have spent considerable time in thoughtful speculation on the subject, and have come up with several possibilities, none of which I consider completely successful or acceptable. I suppose that the best substitutes for sight would involve a blind person’s tactile or olfactory sense, or a combination of both senses.

But enough of the digression—I must return to my  solution for saving the trees, a solution that will negate the need for toilet tissue or for any other materials, whether kleenex, catalogues, newspapers, calendars, receipts, oak leaves, or other materials such as wash cloths, towels, shirt tails, corn cobs or currency.

Most of us are familiar with the term gastric bypass surgery, a surgical alternative to dieting in order for one to lose weight. The several bypass surgeries available include rouxeny, biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, lap-band adjustable gastric banding, vertical banded gastroplasty and sleeve gastrectomy. Click here to learn more about each procedure.

Once again in the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I am neither a medical doctor nor a body mechanic—the procedure that I am suggesting in order to save the trees by eliminating the use of toilet paper must be developed by others such as the brilliant medical personnel that perfected the different gastric bypass surgeries—I am limited to offering suggestions that could possibly enhance our quality of life—suggestions made possible by my innate capacity to think outside the box.

This is my suggestion for saving the trees:

When we swallow, whether solid food or liquid, the epiglottis closes off the passage to our trachea and directs the swallowed material to our esophagus and thence to the stomach—click here for an explanation of the process. My suggestion is so simple that I wonder why it hasn’t been suggested—I suspect that someone, somewhere, may well be working on the same idea.

This is my simple suggestion, admittedly submitted by a simple person. Given the various definitions of the word simple, I would prefer that the positive ones be applied to me—some of the negative ones are quite depressing.

Ready?

Here it comes—I call it the FourM process—Master Mike’s Matter Manipulation.

The user—the sitter, so to speak—simply holds the business end of a water hose in the mouth, with pressure controls manipulated by the sitter, and flow of water being swallowed will be diverted through a surgical bypass system and routed directly to the intestines. The resulting pressure will force the intestines’ contents downward and outward. The user needs only to release the sphincter muscle periodically and contract it as required to allow the passage of the intestine’s contents out and into the toilet bowl—much as the sphincter muscle is controlled when one has inserted a suppository or is taking an enema. And here it must be noted that both in the case of a suppository and an enema, the user may sometimes inadvertently lose control of the sphincter muscle.

The stream should be made to swirl in a circular motion as it traverses the small intestine in order to thoroughly cleanse the passageway, and such swirling should also cleanse the immediate outer area of skin surrounding the final opening, the medical term for which, of course, is the anus—see diagram above.

I offer my suggestion with full recognition of the difficulties researchers will face in developing a procedure to divert water under pressure directly to the small intestine, but I believe that it can be done, given the miraculous bypasses that have been developed in other areas of the body, including the heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other vital organs and areas of the body.

A warning: Precautions must be taken to control the pressure and volume of the flushing element, with attention paid to a system of overrides in case a user decides to experiment with higher pressures than necessary. Given the fact that the elimination of such body wastes is normally a pleasant experience, such attempts may be expected.

So there you have it. This is my gift to medical science. I offer it freely with no thought or hope of remuneration or recognition, although I consider it to be, potentially, one of the great medical discoveries of the world, comparable to the discovery of penicillin. Had I been immersed in my bathtub when I thought of this, I would probably have exclaimed, as did the great Pythagoras when he formulated the 47th Problem of Euclid, and upon on the discovery of which he is said to have exclaimed, Eureka!, in the Grecian language signifying, I have found it! You can read about his discovery here.

In fact, he was so proud of his find that he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb of cattle to celebrate—to those that may not be aware of it, a hecatomb is 100. I have only one problem with such sacrifices—ostensibly in various religions, the flesh of animals sacrificed for religious reasons is not to be eaten. If that really happened, I would like to believe that the flesh was not wasted—with 100 head of cattle sacrificed, the ancient Greeks could have had the mother of all barbeques!

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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The wooden bowl . . .

I received this story, author unknown, from a friend several years ago. I found it recently in my saved e-mail and decided to share it with anyone whose path might cross my blog.

The Wooden Bowl

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law and four-yearold grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table, but the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Food  fell off his fork onto the floor, and sometimes when he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. ‘We must do something about father,’ said the son. ‘I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.’

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since he had broken dishes in the past, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had tears in his eyes as he sat alone. Still the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, ‘What are you making?’

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, ‘Oh, I’m making some little bowls for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.’ He smiled and went back to work.

His words so impressed the parents that they were speechless. Tears streamed down their cheeks, and although no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with his family.  And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, or milk was spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I’ve learned that no matter what happens—no matter how bad it seems today—life goes on and tomorrow will be better.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about people by the way they handle four things—lost luggage, a rainy day, tangled Christmas tree lights and the elderly.

I’ve learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from this life.

I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life, and I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands—you need to be able to throw something back.

I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, you won’t need to look for happiness—it will find you.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone. People love that touch—holding hands, a warm hug or just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn, and I’ve learned that you should pass this on to everyone you care about.

I just did.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2009 in Family

 

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