News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

Archive for August, 2012

Theological debate: “those who seek God with a sincere heart”

I’m not sure anyone will care about this post, but it’s something I have to get off my chest. I follow many Christian musicians on Twitter, and found myself disagreeing with a dialog between a couple of them. I love their music, , but I just can’t agree with this theological point. It all started with this tweet. “Was watching a reality TV show & saw someone pray to the “universe”. How strange God must think us to pray & worship His creation over Him.” I immediately thought of a Christian contemporary song called “I am” which lists a lot of titles for God including “The Universe”. I wrote this back to her, and she immediately replied that she didn’t think the person was referring to that. It was hard to be dismissed like that, but oh well. Another musician sighted Romans 1:19-25 which I immediately looked up. It talked about humans having no excuse to worship the creatures over the creator. I thought of the section in Acts in which Paul introduces a group of people — I think Corinthians — to the unknown God to whom they have an altar. I got no response to this argument.

I realize that part of my theological argument centers around a prayer we say in the Catholic Church, and most contemporary Christian singers are protestant.
. The prayer to God includes “those who seek you with a sincere heart”. As much as I enjoy being part of the larger Christian community and as much as I disagree with some of the practical tenants of my Church — like that a marriage isn’t a marriage if the couple decides not to have kids — , I take comfort in this prayer. So many Christians believe that if people don’t do q, r, and s, they are bound for hell. Certainly our church has some stances like that, but this prayer acknowledges that we aren’t the ones to determine who goes where. Only God truly knows who is seeking God with a sincere heart. Even in the old testament God gives people the benefit of the doubt. How about the story of Abraham bringing scenarios reducing the number of good people in a city God plans to destroy. And who can forget one of Jesus last phrases on the cross about forgiving us. For we don’t know what we are doing. Maybe that person on the show is wrong. Even so, what’s our response to the wrong we see? I hope in addition to coming on Twitter or even my blog pointing one’s finger pontificating about how wrong people are, we say a prayer for them. I prayed for the person on the show as well as the musicians with whom I disagree. I also pray God helps me to discern as much as I am supposed to know about this matter. But for now I will continue to acknowledge that only God truly knows who are children. I agree with someone who said that those who get to Heaven will probably be surprised about who is there and maybe who didn’t make it.

Rebecca Kragnes and Zane – Black-lab and Seeing Eye Dog
Home: 612-827-2132
Cell: 612-387-5884
Twitter: @RebeccaKragnes
E-mail: rebeccak@tcq.net
Web: http://www.rebeccak.com/

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16th Anniversary

I’m grateful to be celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary, and Phil took the day off for it and not because he’s sick or has a medical appointment! Halleluiah!

OK, he’s also taking it off because it has been a rough week for him too. His dialysis port clotted again for the third time in five months. The good news is that he wasn’t admitted to the hospital. The unclotting procedure was scheduled as a same day thing. It meant he had to miss a dialysis session because of the timing, and I really thought with all of the fluid they may have to pull, he was going to be in bad shape when he got home Thursday night. They’re pulling the extra fluid over a couple sessions to lessen the severe cramps. Though tired, he was in pretty good spirits.

Now for the thing for which we really need prayers / positive thoughts. After the unclotting, his hand stopped hurting the first two times. The temperature of it also returned to that of the other hand. Neither of these things is occurring this time, and we’re worried there could be damage. Losing a hand would be devastating in the worst case scenario! His doctors think when the swelling subsides, things will settle down. He’s got the dialysis staff talking to the doctors about this.

Along with all this, the last two weeks have been about getting the new computer set-up, then the printer, and finally the hardest thing — the modem. Though our e-mail addresses stay the same, Phil learned that switching Internet Service Providers would save money on our phone bill. The switch happened the day of the procedure. So here he was fresh from sedation and on the phone with customer service twice in one night. Things seem to be working beautifully now. Download speeds are double to triple what they used to be, we can do more than one thing at once like download and stream music, and our wireless network is secure.

I fought off a bug for the majority of last week, and I didn’t even realize it was a bug until it was almost over. I’ll spare the details, but let’s just say that I wanted to know where the bathroom was and didn’t dare sneeze or bump into anything as it was quite …. jarring! I wasn’t good for much besides reading “The Hunger Games” trilogy — good books that turned my stomach in places.

With dialysis, Phil and I aren’t social butterflies, but we had two social engagements in the last two weeks. My younger sister, her husband and their daughter came to the Mall of America to shop for the day. Phil and I met them for supper at the Rain Forest Cafe — the place where Phil and I shared our very first meal after meeting in person. It was a fun night, and my niece was impressed by all of the scenery around us.

Then Monday night our friend Michael had his 40th birthday party at Davanni’s –a local pizza, pasta, and sandwich place. Michael works for Phil as a student worker at the University of Minnesota. Both are technology savvy and are working on a pod cast for users of I-Devices. Michael and I try to meet for coffee after my standing Tuesday appointments downtown. His parents are local but in a suburb. It was great to meet them and one of his two brothers.

Michael and I are both musical people. He played flute on my last album. We are both in the middle of siblings of our gender. If that isn’t enough, his brothers are 18 months older and five years younger just like my sisters. You already know Michael and I are around the same age, and in another crazy coincidence, so are Phil and Michael’s girlfriend Patty. Phil and I can share a lot of the same experiences about being blind, but Michael and I have the same spacial foibles. One example, neither of us can carry a tray level if our lives depended on it. We tend to make the same kinds of mistakes and have trouble learning the same kinds of spacial concepts. Poor Phil gets exasperated with us. Phil jokes with Michael that he has another one just like him at home. When the three of us get together much laughter and conversation are likely.

Michael and we have several mutual friends who attended the party, and it was fun to see people we don’t get a chance to talk to very often.

The food was so good that Phil asked to go back to Davanni’s for another meal for our anniversary. We’ve had their food when delivery was available at the apartment, but it’s much better eating in! Phil ate there for the first time and really loved it. It’s one of my favorite places, so he didn’t get any argument from me.

Our friend Linda came over to help Phil label some things. Then she dropped us off at the vet to have Zane’s nails clipped. Garron absolutely hates his paws handled and his nails clipped. He’s come to associate the vet with those things, and even though he wasn’t scheduled to have it done, being at the vet was enough for him to put on a dramatic performance for us. Dinner was a good as expected. It was early in the evening, so there were very few customers eating in. We walked the six blocks to a direct bus home, and between the the wonderful, cool air and Zane’s clipped claws, we really cruised!

Phil’s been working on the computer and printer/scanner/fax all night. He also just set it up to scan and print from his IPhone. I was reading a great book, but I think there was some Caffeine in something I drank late last night. I absolutely didn’t sleep much. Though sleeping late today, I had a nap while Phil did all his techy things.

Though Phil needs his wash done, it’s going to be much slower paced weekend for me. For the last two, I’ve had to play for both Masses, and this weekend I don’t play for either. I still have the Malt Shop Sunday night, but unalike last Sunday I won’t have to try to be ready to play a funeral the next morning. I was running late for the funeral , because our security system decided to start beeping once a minute. I had visions of people breaking down the door to get into our house while I was gone, so I took the time to make phone calls to stop it. I arrived to play just as Father started. He started singing before I could give him an introduction. It’s not everyone who can just start playing the song in the key in which he was singing. Many times I need to think on my feet to find suitable music for offertory related to his homily. I didn’t know the woman or her family, but she was a teacher. The Gospel passage was about Jesus asking that disciples let the children come to him, and Father’s homily was all about the shared love of children the deceased and Jesus had. So I did Jesus Loves Me — at first very simply and gradually incorporating counter-melodies. Father and the congregation then started singing along with me. I probably sound like I’m bragging, but truth be told, being a musician can be lonely. Sometimes it’s hard to feel good about myself when it comes to music. these moments of being appreciated for my talent are few and far between. Oh, people compliment my playing, but very few understand everything which goes into it. It felt good to be called “a miracle worker” after the funeral.

Rebecca Kragnes and Zane – Black-lab and Seeing Eye Dog
Home: 612-827-2132
Cell: 612-387-5884
Twitter: @RebeccaKragnes
E-mail: rebeccak@tcq.net
Web: http://www.rebeccak.com/

50 Shades of Morality

I am currently reading the Fifty Shades of Gray Trilogy by E. L. James. There has certainly been buzz pro and con on Twitter, so I had to see for myself. I like romance books, but some of the references to some sexual practices made me uncomfortable. For myself, sex without love is wrong and would be uncomfortable for me. What others choose to do as consenting adults is none of my business, but there were a couple of instances in the first book in which physical violence as punishment was forced on an individual. I unfortunately was eating supper in a restaurant when reading this, and I’m afraid my tears were visually evident. Punishment is one of my hot buttons. I don’t even like punitive verbiage. I almost gave up after those scenes, but people who have read the latter books wrote me on Twitter that this stuff was dealt with and toned down. I’m on the third one and enjoying them, but I’m not exactly sure yet why they have such a large following. They certainly aren’t anything profound!

I have to comment on this Chick Filet phenomenon which happened yesterday. I love their food, and I’d eat there if it was convenient. I may not have yesterday, because that would have made a statement contrary to my beliefs. I try not to let a company’s politics rule what I do. I’d rather not sacrifice good services or products for corporate contributions/beliefs which match mine. I don’t agree with the CEO’s stance on gay marriage, but he does have the right to say what he believes. Someone expressed to me that companies should be neutral on topics like this, and perhaps in an ideal world, they would be. But the reality is that companies contribute to things for self interest and because of the beliefs of the people at the top. I watch attempts to put limits on contributions to politicians with the statement that companies aren’t people, but sadly I don’t think it will get very far. A tricky part of this issue is trying to regulate which organizations can and can’t lobby. Is it only nonprofit organizations? But makers of medical stuff and hospitals are doing good by working on research. Companies who provide telecommunications are also doing good things. Others argue that perhaps companies should only lobby on things related to what they do. Good luck enforcing that! Making those determinations would not be easy.

The part of this which does press my buttons is when people say that if I’m not against gay marriage, I *am against traditional marriage. Well, I am a woman, and Phil is a man. We will have been married for 16 years later this month, and the only thing which isn’t traditional about our marriage is the fact that we have chosen not to have children. A gay friend of mine pointed out that he and others have nothing against traditional marriage. People who are gay being able to marry does not threaten our marriage or any traditional marriage. Divorce and things leading to divorce threaten marriages.

I don’t believe churches should or will be forced to marry people who are gay, and I’m astounded that my diocese has spent an inordinate amount of money against gay marriage, when there are plenty of things *many *more Catholics support as worthy causes. I don’t plan on walking away from my church, and if they want me gone, they’ll have to excommunicate me. But despite official church teachings, I refuse to stand in the way of people in a particular population to marry in my state. It goes back to that two consenting adults thing.

On the other hand, many people who share my general opinion are using words like “hate” and “bigot”. Certainly there are people who hold the opposing view who have those qualities. but just as gay people or people with disabilities hate to be stereotyped, we shouldn’t do it to others. Many are comparing this to civil rights for Blacks in the 60’s, but I think there’s one important distinction. Many of the people who are opposed to gay marriage start out with the false assumption that gay people *choose to be gay. Although I’m not gay, I don’t believe that people would put themselves through this stuff if they actually felt there was another way. Others against people who are gay marrying say that being gay isn’t a choice but engaging in homosexual behavior is a choice like any other sin. I think these people are thinking far too much about sex and not considering the much larger percentage of other interactions which go on in a loving marriage. It’s my opinion that the many gay people who want to marry — just like many of their heterosexual counterparts — love each other in a deep and profound way. No matter what your orientation, a marriage based on sexual compatibility only is probably headed for trouble.

As I’ve said, , being a Catholic Christian and having these views presents a certain tension within those of us who travel this road. Brothers and sisters in Christ attribute my views to everything from lack of faith to the devil. People who aren’t Christians wonder why I want to be part of the hypocrisy of Christianity and possibly organized religion in general. All I can say is that I wouldn’t feel right either shaking off my faith or doing things to put obstacles in the way of two people who want to commit to each other in marriage. Going one way or the other would be easier, but neither would be right for me.

Rebecca Kragnes with Seeing Eye Dog Zane (Black Lab )
E-mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes
Web: http://www.rebeccak.com

Trying Not to Wish My Life Away

When I was a little girl, I was known for saying “I can’t wait until …”. Sometimes it was anticipating an event, but more often it was wishing something was over.
My mom would say, “Don’t wish your life away.”

This week is one of those weeks that — despite not having as much life left as I did as a child — I just as soon was over. I try very hard not to write posts like this — especially as straight pros with no fun in it –, but I just can’t find a way to make this stuff fun.

First, We are under siege this week. the street south of us is 38th, a major thoroughfare with tons of traffic and some of our buses. Because it is so busy, it’s a great street to walk along for judging traffic. 37th on our north is very quiet, and crossing some streets there isn’t the wisest move. This week, they are paving and doing lots of construction along the section of 38th street where we live. this means the roads are closed, and there is no traffic and potential for obstacles. I’m nervous for Phil crossing the streets every morning walking to his bus stop. The noise vibrates the house, and our little 15th Avenue is about to get very busy this weekend with the Powderhorn Art Fair three blocks away. I can use metro mobility sometimes but not for errands from one place to another. I am thankful a friend could help out, because I was down to my last of needed women’s essentials. Of course, that’s happening too, and women you understand how that impacts things.

Phil hasn’t felt good the last few days and stayed home yesterday. Tuesday night at dialysis, he started itching, and no one knows why. he went back to work today. it sounds like his stomach has been bothering him, and he is in quite a bit of pain. I just warned him not to wait for the weekend to get in touch with someone about this. We don’t need another hospitalization! both of us have had periods of dizziness and headaches which have caused us to forget things, run into things or injure ourselves in other fashions.

The new computer came Monday, but we needed eyes to get Phil started. Wednesdays are our normal reader day, and despite how he felt, he wasn’t going to pass up help getting it set-up.

Speaking of the new computer, it’s definitely not my area of expertise. I just let Phil do his thing, and so I knew it was serious when Phil told me he had a terrible thought. Phil forgot to have a parallel port put on it for our printer. We have had a laser printer since the late 90’s. We had just recently and finally found a cartridge which consistently distributes toner making our documents look sharp after a couple of years of having it splatter making them blurry. I asked if there was such a thing as a parallel to USB converter, and the answer was no, so we had to get a new printer, which also is a scanner, a fax, and a copy machine. Phil had also been concerned with the security of our network and that we weren’t getting the Internet speed we should, so a new modem was purchased. Compared to the computer, these are minor expenses, but it reminds me of a remodeling project which starts out small and then seems to grow exponentially as people realize that getting a new X will probably mean needing a new Y.

Yesterday I had a call from a number I didn’t recognize. With the kind of week I was having, I was ready to give a telemarketer a piece of my mind. It was fraud prevention services on my credit card, and Someone was placing charges on my card to places in New Mexico. I thought disputing the charges was going to be pretty simple, as they said they could send what I needed by e-mail. but oh no. It was an inaccessible PDF file. Some are readable by our speech screen reader, but others aren’t. This meant more time on hold awaiting my fate this afternoon. they’re sending it to me in Braille, so we’ll see what happens. There was a fed Ex Envelope on the porch, which is probably my new card. But that will have to wait until next Wednesday when we have our reader.

And finally, speaking of access issues, the web site from which I love to buy music has incorporated some new software which makes it very difficult for people with screen readers. Granted, they understand that it needs to be fixed, and I know we are a very small population. My husband gets wound up about this, because companies only think of accessibility when everything else is done rather than building it in from the beginning. I think I am among the first blind people who have discovered the obstacles they have put in our way. I’m now seeing other blind people on Twitter starting to have the same problems, and if the wrong blind person — someone who feels like suing over access — gets a hold of this, there could be trouble. they say they are working on it, but the mutterings have started. This company has been sued for access problems before, so they’d better not waste any time getting it fixed. Fortunately, they have a top-notch customer service phone line, and I’ve been passing that number along to others. It’s one of those sites on which they’d prefer to do things electronically, so phone numbers are not as prominently displayed. Our issues aren’t among the frequently asked questions to which they refer people. Because I had trouble before, I just happen to have it, and my friends are appreciative.

All of these things are low-level by themselves, but when put together present a frustrating picture. Perhaps one day I’ll look back and laugh at some of this, but right now, it’s all a big pain in the rear.

Rebecca Kragnes with Seeing Eye Dog Zane (Black Lab )
E-mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes
Web: http://www.rebeccak.com

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