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The Memory of an Elephant

I'm constantly amazed at what I forget these days and also at what I remember! (It's *not* because I'm now a grandpa, I'm sure!) I sometimes find myself wishing I had the memory that elephants are reputed to have. I received a story this week about an elephant's memory, and I just *loved* it! It might bring a tear to your eye ... it did to mine.

The Memory of an Elephant...

In 1986 Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.

As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son, Tapu, were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant.

Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe's legs, and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant....


Becka, Nora, and I had an uneventful trip back to Greenville yesterday, thankful for the opportunity of being with our loved ones in Detroit, for the improvement in the condition of both Megan and Drew, and for our safe arrival here. The baby has gained an ounce a day in the past 2 days. If he continues to do well, he may get to go home by the end of the week. As Megan read her discharge papers from the hospital, she learned that, although the hospital personnel kept talking about preeclampsia and her preeclamptic symptoms, the diagnosis on her release was HELLP Syndrome. Though the two conditions are similar, there are differences, and what she encountered lines up more with the description of HELLP Syndrome. Hmm.

Earlier today I put a few pictures on the blog for those who might be checking for something new. You can see them in the blog post below this one. Here's another picture that Grandma thought should be shared with the blogosphere also - Drew in his first preemie clothes....

picture of Drew in his first preemie clothes

chickadees again...

Some of you might remember that we had a nest of Carolina chickadees in our bird house last spring. There's another nest of chickadees in there this year. If you'd like to check out last year's adventure, click on "birds" in the Tag Cloud in the right sidebar


"God doesn't expect us to be perfect, but He expects us to be making steady progress toward what we ought to be." - Dr. Gary Anderson

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My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.

A Few More Pictures…

For those who check in on the blog more frequently, I thought I'd reward you with a few more pictures. Jim lovingly dubbed Nora the "baby paparazzi" for her picture taking prowess. The first two pictures are from her camera, and the third picture is one of the few there are of the Hawkins family since only two people can go in to see Drew at a time. This picture was while Megan was still in the hospital.

Aunt Nora and Drew...

picture of Nora and Drew

With eyes wide open...

picture of wide-eyed Drew

Presenting the Hawkins family...

picture of the Hawkins family

I'll post the next iv late this evening.

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In the hall the other day, a former student of mine who is now in grad school said he wanted to show me something funny. For one of his courses one of the textbooks is a book about aesthetics. The strange thing is - it's one of the ugliest books! Hmm... ugly aesthetics?! See below...

picture of ugly aesthetics?

The whole thing seemed rather oxymoronic to me! At that moment I decided to share a list of oxymorons with you. (As Rush Limbaugh would begin an explanation - "for those of you from Rio Linda...") an oxymoron is a combination of incongruous or contradictory terms. Some of them are very commonly used, and we don't even think about what a strange combination of words they actually are until we consider them more carefully.

From all the lists I've seen, here are the best of them.

act naturally
advanced BASIC
almost exactly
alone together
assistant supervisor
authentic reproduction
awful good
cardinal sin
Christian rock music
civil war
clearly misunderstood
common sense
congressional ethics
conservative democrat
constant changes
criminal justice (sadly, it has just about come to that...)
cruel kindness
deafening silence
death benefits
decaf espresso
definite maybe
deliberately speeding
diet ice cream
disgustingly beautiful
dressy casual
dry lake
elevated subway
epic mini-series
exact estimate
express mail
extinct life forms
extremely normal
fairly swarthy
first final
forward lateral
found missing
free slaves
freezer burn
fresh frozen
friendly fire
full-time day care
future history
genuine imitation
genuine phony
good grief
government efficiency
government organization
guest host
half full
high negatives
highly depressed
holy terror
holy war
ill health
Internal Revenue Service
intimate strangers
jumbo shrimp
justifiably paranoid
limited lifetime warranty
living dead
live recording
loose tights
loyal opposition
management skills
mandatory options
mercy killing
Microsoft Works
military intelligence
mutual differences
new classic
new retreads
nightly specials
non dairy creamer
open secret
original print
out at home
pagan believers
partial cease-fire
passive aggression
peace force
plastic glasses
political science
postal worker
pretty ugly
pure evil
pure meanness
purely carnal
rap music
raving beauty
real tinsel
resident alien
rolling stop
same difference
sanitary landfill
Senate ethics committee
silent scream
small crowd
soft rock
sports scholarship
standard options
student teacher
sweet sorrow
synthetic natural gas
temporary tax increase
terribly pleased
tight slacks
transparent cover-up
true replica
truly lying
uninvited guest
wicked good (a Yankee expression)
wireless cable
working vacation


personal update...

Wow, how do I succinctly sum up the past day and a half? I'll give it my best.... Nora and I left at about 5:30 Wednesday evening to drive all night to get to Detroit early Thursday morning. The traffic was blissfully light. It started to rain hard when we were between Cincinnati and Dayton, then almost immediately as we got into Michigan it was a rain/snow mix and finally all snow. We were exhausted, but arrived safe and sound at 4:45 Thursday morning and immediately hit the hay.

At about 7:30 Megan woke Becka and me up. She was having pains in her chest and her blood pressure was high again. This was scary since these were the problems that put her close to death last week and caused the emergency C-section. She had already called the doctor's office and was awaiting a call back when she woke us. When the call back came, they said she should go to the emergency room and have them do tests to determine what was causing the difficulties. Jim came home from work and took her right away to the ER. While we waited for word from them, Nora and I got a little more sleep after our long drive. At lunch time, there was still no word, so we decided to go to the hospital to wait with them. They determined that Megan was dehydrated and that her BP was indeed high. She was on an iv all day, and they did a battery of tests, including a CT scan, trying to rule out things like blood clots in her lungs since her surgery last week. For Meg and Jim it was a frustratingly long day (over 12 hours) of waiting and being put off by their rude nurse. At the end of the day, at least she was re-hydrated and her blood pressure was lower, but there was nothing conclusive discovered and she was released to come home. She was already scheduled for a check up this morning at her doctor's, so we all hope she'll find out more there later this morning. Please pray for her - and for us all. Thanks!

Spending much of the day in the ER and ER waiting room was not without its interesting features for me - I seem to be able to find the humorous in almost any situation - and we were reminded that we were in a big city. As we were gathering up out personal effects after going through security (yes, security - just like in the airport!) on the way into the ER wing, a man and woman stumbled in the door. She told the man in security, "Someone tried to rob him and stabbed him in the back!" Sure enough, the back of his yellow plaid shirt was quite bloody. They didn't even make him go through security! I told Becka that's what we should have done! There was also a homeless woman in the lobby who was trying to move in and gave those of there hours of interesting diversion. I'm very thankful that I've been able to come back up here for these couple of days before Bible Conference begins on campus rather than having to hear about all this from long distance.

Becka, Nora, and I were able at least to go up to visit Drew several times during the day yesterday. He's making such good improvement and is such a little cutie! Here are a few pictures from the past couple of days between my time here last weekend and now. I'll try to have a few more Sony-moments while we're still up here.

Drew under the lights for jaundice...

picture of Drew under the lights

Jim changing Drew's diaper...

picture of Daddy changing Drew's diaper

Megan giving Drew a bottle...

picture of Megan feeds Drew his bottle

Since she was released from the hospital earlier this week, Megan now expresses and saves her milk, and they take it to the hospital for Drew. He knows how to suck her milk out of the bottle, but he doesn't know how to swallow yet. Therefore he still has a feeding tube down his nose. But he no longer has the iv or the oxygen, so he's making great strides and he should soon get the hang of the breathing/swallowing coordination.

added after Megan returned from her check up...

The doctor says her incision looks good. He was not happy about some of the things that happened to Megan yesterday in the ER. She'll be on blood pressure medicine for a while and will see her doctor again next week. She's feeling much better today, especially after her check up.


"When you can't see your way clear, obey your way clear." - Matt Olson

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Does freedom of the press means no-iron clothes?

Two Milestones

This is a super-fast update for those who are checking in periodically. Megan was able to go home last evening (Tuesday) without having to have the blood transfusion they thought they might have to give her. She slept well, being back home. Drew has been moved to the "phase two" room and is making steady progress. There has been much improvement since last Friday, and we thank the Lord so much for His strong work in Megan and Drew's behalf!

I'll post more news once Nora and I get to the other end of I-75 and recuperate. If traffic and all the factors cooperate, we hope to arrive at about 4 a.m. I have no pictures to add at this time - the camera's up there with Grandma. But I promise to post more pix once I'm up there.

We cannot adequately thank everyone for their prayers, encouragement, and thoughtfulness!

This grandpa's heart is so full!

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He who laughs, lasts.

Excuses for Not Going to Work

Our daughter Nora and I are both taking two personal days at the end of this week to go to Detroit. It will be very nice to have company on the way up. As of now, we plan to leave at about 5:00 Wednesday afternoon and drive straight through. Ugh! That will give us most of the day Thursday up there. Aunt Nora can hardly wait to get her hands on her little nephew and she's not starting this trip as tired as Grampa is! Then Sunday morning bright and early, Becka, Nora, and I will leave to come back home. Our son Mark would love to be going with us, but he can't get away right now. He'll be holding down the fort here at home. He and Katie hope they can go up for a few days later this spring.

I normally don't just take time off like this during a semester, but I'm so pleased that things have worked out so that I am able to with our current situation. I found something in my files that seemed like an appropriate thing to post at this time. Some of the excuses in the list are not just lame, but also downright bizarre!

Excuses for not going to work...

I can't come in to work today because I'll be stalking my previous boss, who fired me for not showing up for work. OK?

I have a rare case of 48-hour projectile leprosy, but I know we have that deadline to meet, so....

I am stuck in the blood pressure machine down here at the Food Giant.

Yes, I seem to have contracted some attention-deficit disorder and, hey, how about them Braves, huh? So, I won't be able to, yes, could I help you? No, no, I'll be sticking with Sprint, but ... now why did I call you?

I just found out that I was switched at birth. Legally, I shouldn't come to work knowing my employee records may now contain false information.

The psychiatrist said it was an excellent session. He even gave me this jaw restraint so I won't bite things when I'm startled.

The dog ate my car keys. We're going to hitchhike to the vet.

I can't come to work today because the EPA has determined that my house is completely surrounded by wetlands and I have to arrange for helicopter transportation.

I am converting my calendar from Julian to Gregorian.

I am extremely sensitive to a rise in the interest rates.

I refuse to travel to my job until there is a commuter tax. I insist on paying my fair share.

I've used up all my sick days, so I'm calling in dead!

I set half the clocks in my house ahead an hour and the other half back an hour Saturday and spent 18 hours in some kind of space-time continuum loop, reliving Sunday (right up until the explosion). I was able to exit the loop only by reversing the polarity of the power source in the house while simultaneously rapping my dog on the snout with a rolled up Times. Accordingly, I will be in late, or early.

I lost my American Express card and I can't leave home without it.


personal updates...

Thanks for the many comments to the blog and the personal emails. We appreciate so much the kind expressions of love and concern. What a great bunch of family and friends we have been blessed with!

Many thanks to those who prayed for me as I drove back to Greenville yesterday. Before leaving Detroit, I just *had* to stop by the hospital to see Megan and Drew one last time. Leaving the hospital to begin my trip home was one of the hardest things to do - I just wanted to stay there! I haven't cried like that in quite a while! After that low spot in life, my trip back was actually phenomenal! The weather was perfect for driving and admiring the beautiful scenery. I stopped after about an hour and half to have a cup of coffee with my mom and my sister near where they each live in Ohio. It was nice to be able to see them, though it was for far too short a time, and to share some pictures and stories with them. All three of us are now grandparents! Yet another bond!

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to some of my favorite CD's as I drove along, singing along in praise to the Lord. It was a wonderful time with my Father. It's not often that one can have that much quiet time to spend with Him. When I arrived at home, I was exhausted physically and emotionally, but my spirit was refreshed.

It was very nice to have our cell phone along and to be able to call and hear from some family and friends as I rolled along. I must confess that I amused myself by mentally setting up some really bizarre situations. I thought to myself that I ought to turn on my blinker and roll along for miles and miles with it blinking. And one time when I stopped for gas, I thought about leaving the little door over the gas cap open when I took off, just to let the other motorists know there was a little old grandpa in my car. But then, there was something about doing those things on purpose that would have kinda taken the fun out of it! 😎

Megan is doing a lot better and will probably be able to go home tomorrow (Tuesday). Drew is doing well and seems to be stable. Megan and Jim hope that he will move soon into the "phase two" room. Their visits there would not be as restricted as they are in his current NICU room. Both yesterday and today, there was a period of a couple of hours where they and the other parents could not go see their preemies because of an emergency situation with another baby in the room.


"Every temptation depends on misrepresenting the truth." - Dr. Drew Conley

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Some dream of success, while others wake up and work hard for it.