Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer Wrap Up

Despite the fact that it is still 107 degrees and we are a month away from the autumnal equinox, for those of us who work in education, summer is officially over.  School is starting either in earnest with children arriving on Monday morning or with preparations for college classes that begin the following week.  As is always the case, the ten or so weeks that we had off over the summer went quickly; looking back it is hard to account for where all those days have gone.  In an attempt to begin the school year with a clean slate, I thought I would I follow up on some of my summer posts.

At the beginning of June I began with a post of pictures of a promising garden.  Through the last three  months we have had an abundance of basil, a respectable crop of okra and jalapenos and, well, that was it.   Though we had five 4 foot high tomato plants with lots of blossoms we never saw even one tomato.  The squash and cucumbers tried very hard to produce but when all was said and done we only had a few of each to eat.  As the hundred  degree plus days mounted and days of rain became something only of dreams, the garden became a pretty bleak sight.  It was costing more to water than we would spend buying produce.   I know that we lost most of our squash and cucumbers to rabbits.  It was hard to get angry; the little guys were so hungry and thirsty.  First they ate all the tiny fruit from the vines.  Then they ate the vines.  They were so desperate for food that they did not even scamper away when I went out to water in the evenings.  I think they were just waiting for this time each day.  I finally began taking a handful of purchased vegetables out to them.  For me this scenario makes clear the intensity of relation we have with all of the creatures of the earth.

Also in June we attended Offspring No. 1’s graduation from the University of Chicago.  She is now following her bliss and chasing her dreams.   Less than a month after graduation she had been accepted to and began her studies at Le Cordon Bleu to become a pastry chef.  We are looking forward to checking her homework and helping her study for tests!

All of the four-legged members of our family have loved having someone home with them almost all the time.  Us going back to school may be a bigger shock to their canine and feline systems that it is to ours.  Hopefully they will not choose to display their unhappiness.  The potential for disaster is great when disgruntled dogs and cats have the entire house to themselves for eight uninterrupted hours!  We’ll hope that they opt for eight-hour naps during the day.

June’s giant step on the kitchen is the only step that has been made this summer.   Lots of other things have been accomplished around the house but we are still minus a fully functional kitchen.  Hopefully that issue will be addressed this week.  Having Paul around working on the kitchen will also make the animals happy and thwart any plans of mass destruction.  This sounds like a Win-Win situation!

Weber has now had his second cataract surgery and I still like the eye doctor.  Since he had been so amused by Weber’s patch adornment at his first post-op checkup, we felt obligated not to disappoint with the second. 

Again he was amused.  Mission accomplished!

The eye doctor also recommended an internist to us since neither of us had a primary care physician  We have both now had physicals with the new doctor and I have to say that he too meets my criteria for a doctor - he does have a sense of humor.  Unfortunately I was the victim of his wit.  As is to be expected he reminded me that it was time for my annual mammogram.  In our discussion of scheduling this procedure the doctor allowed that perhaps the nurse could call the mammography center and they might be able to SQUEEZE ME IN right then.  My beloved husband started laughing followed almost immediately by the doctor.   If my beloved hadn’t already been equally discomforted by a prostate exam I might have been a little more upset.  Despite laughing at my plight as a woman, I do really like this doctor.  And, he gets a “two thumbs up” because his nurse also has a sense of humor! 

We happened to be in the doctor’s office on the nurse’s 12th wedding anniversary.  She asked us how long we had been married.  I told her that we had been married a year.  She got this rather shocked look on her face.  Then I clarified for her.  I told her that we had been married forty-six years but only one year to each other.  She got a good laugh from that.

As part of the routine physical, the nurse took me for a chest e-ray.  When I got back to the exam room I said to Weber, “I now know when the staff of the doctor’s office thinks you are old.”  The nurse got this terrified look on her face because she had been nothing but friendly and polite to me.  When Weber asked, “How?” I told him that they no longer ask if you are or could be pregnant before they do an x-ray.  The nurse got a chuckle from that as well.

So here we are at the beginning of a new school year.  I spent several days this week helping Weber get his classroom ready; he is still not allowed to lift anything because of his surgery.  I had a fun time arranging tables in his room and creating his bulletin boards.  You don’t get to do much of that at the college level  .I think now we are both ready to go back to school Monday morning!

If only the weather would now decide that it is fall!

Monday, August 8, 2011

TV or Not TV

On August 3 Steve Blow, columnists with the Dallas Morning News, wrote a column titled, “Free at Last from the Grasp of Bad TV.”  This is a nice thought.If only it was true.  Steve Blow was rejoicing in the fact that The Bachelorette and all of its drama are finally over.  I second his “Hallelujah” to that.  Unfortunately, I am sure that there is more bad TV out there.  In fact, a quick trip through the TV guide reveals that there may actually be TV that is even worse!!  Scary, but true.  I’m not even going to list the possible candidates for this distinction here because I don’t want anyone to actually put my assertion that there is TV worse than The Bachelorette to the test by watching these other “shows.”
Steve Blow also refers to an article in a recent issue of Time magazine in which historian David McCullough is asked, “We often can’t understand how people in the past could have owned slaves or not educated girls.  What do you think people will wonder about us?  McCullough’s response was, “How we could have spent so much time watching TV.”
Why do we as a society spend so much time watching television?  And more importantly, why do we seem to enjoy it so much?  I have several thoughts on these questions.
One of the reasons we spend so much time watching television is because TVs are everywhere.  They are like a great big germ that has caused a national epidemic.  Nearly everyone is exposed to the numerous strains of this infection - LED, LCD, HD, 3D, Plasma -many times a day and nearly all of us have been infected by this chronic, if not terminal, dis-ease..  There are televisions in restaurants, doctor’s office waiting rooms, train stations, our cars, and nearly every room of some people’s homes.  It seems that there are more televisions than there are those fancy hand sanitizing stations.  H1-N1 has nothing on HD TV with regard to epidemic status.  
Why are there TVs everywhere?  Are we not capable of sitting quietly while we wait for a doctor?  Do we have nothing of interest to talk about with those with whom we are dining?  Can kids not play license plate bingo or color or sleep in the car like we did before cars came standard with TVs and DVD players?  What has changed?  What is at the root of the TV epidemic?
I believe that what has changed is that, generally speaking, we are an unhappy society.  We watch TV to escape our own lives.  We fantasize about being the next American Idol, or The Bachelorette, or  the winner of an extreme home makeover.  Or, we feel powerful because we are not as fat as the people on the Biggest Loser or as pathetic as those on Hoarders.  For the hour that we are enthralled in these shows we think we are happy.  Unfortunately, as Steve Blow points out in his article, research shows that watching television actually causes depression.  Really?  Who knew? And I’m not even talking about the news.
I am not trying to pound the TV industry into the ground here.  TV is a business.  Like any business the producers are out to make money.  Money comes from advertisers buying time on shows that people watch.  People watch crappy shows.  Crappy shows then make the money.  Producers like the money.  They make more crappy shows.  People watch them.  Business booms.  As you can see, it is a vicious cycle.
As with many things, I suspect that I am in the minority with my perception of the quality of television these days.  That’s OK.  I’m content with not knowing who the latest Idol winner is.  I may be culturally illiterate by current standards, but I’m happy.
Oh, and FYI, Desperate Housewives is going off the air.  I suspect that depression will be on the rise!