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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last Words for 2009

Just a couple of things I want to record for myself, since I don't think many peep read this anyway.

In 2010 I want to sing again in public. It'll be 15 years and I miss it. I even know what song. So I guess it's time.

In 2010 I want to finish at least one of the books I'm writing.

In 2010 I'm letting things go. Things, people, everything. What stays or comes back, fine. What doesn't, finis. Life's short & there's a lot to get done. Was it Kesey who said, "You're either on the bus or off the bus"? I've spent a lot of my life on other people's buses. No more. Things are much clearer when you're older, and motives exposed.

So I guess that's the redux/peroro.
Here's to future days.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Gratitudes for 2009

As fucked up as life can be with all its situations, there is still and always much to be thankful about this past year.

Starting with the beginning, thank Gods and all good things that we got rid of Georgie Bush. Even if Obama can't get anything done, we are not having that hateful little idiot representing us to the world.

Probably showing my age and hokiness here, but I'm simply thrilled that the world has Susan Boyle. Here's a woman who had lived 2/3rds of a lifetime, not a physical stunner, who'd lived all her life quietly, keeping a hope and honing an incredible talent. She got one opportunity to step out- and floored the world. Better than any Cinderella story. Her story is uplifting in a world of spirit-squashing. We got lucky when she stepped on that stage.

I could be wrong, often am, but something changed this year. Pinning it to a time, I'd say sometime around Samhain. Something elusive to describe, an energy, really. A phoenix energy. A lot of good has birthed and continues to be born, in the ashes of the last ten years. People became fired up in all that's happened, in many ways. There's more social consciousness now than I've seen since the 60s, and as much opposition to social progress as ever. There's a spiritual revival of many facets. And none of it is easy, nor peaceful. We live in a more violent world than it was, in some ways. But many stout hearts are emerging, too. The truly good and well-meaning are beginning to shine their lights. I'm not alone in feeling the shift in November, others have noted it to me before I said it. Things will get better.

This year brought a broader view to good old ecology, to tending our planet, to pointing up the unsustainable, toward localness and a different approach to local economies, too.

Goodness often comes with sacrifice and fighting; we just need to be unafraid. There's an amazing amount of good people in the world, given a chance. This year has uncovered some gems of humanity.

Speaking of good people, I'm gobsmacked at the amount of good people in my life. And every year I get to collect more while deepening the bonds with old pals. I'm a lucky old broad.

With all the health problems in my family, we remainders are all still here to see the holidays. And hopefully we'll all be here for next year's holidays.

Everyone I care about has a warm bed to sleep in, food to eat, drinkable water and clothes on their back. As far as I know, anyway. I think I'd know if not.

We've all made it through another year, most of us better, or at least deeper souls, for having lived it.

So here's to all the good that came of 2009, and all the good that will come of 2010.

If you're reading this, I probably love you, and I should tell you more often. That's my only new New Year Resolution. The old one, to have more fun, remains.

Find the zen in 2010!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

9 Days Til Santa

This morning is slow so I have a few minutes for an update.

People are encouraging me to develop "A Gimp's Guide to Life" into a book. I'm going to do it. I have 20-odd chapter subjects; it'll take a while but there are no other handbooks on surviving and enjoying life when disabled. We're a work related society, and those who are disabled are second-class citizens. It's about time somebody says something.

So, the first book will take a hiatus.

I'm ready for the holidays, though things aren't turning out as planned. Still, I'm 90% there and what will be will be in some areas.

It's been a month since giving up the wireless devices. There are no big glands left on my neck. The huge swelling on my clavicle decreased at the start but hasn't changed much since. I can feel the gland now amidst the swollen tissue and it moves at a finger touch. It all seems "looser" if that's the word, but it's still quite large. I attribute getting much more done to not having a phone attached to me in every hour of my life. I have slept better in the last month than in years. Strangely, perhaps coincidentally, I'm eating way less. Already I'm wearing clothes that were too tight last year this time. And I haven't changed eating habits in any conscious way. I feel less "stimulated" all the time, if that's the correct term. I'm liking all of this.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Making the Fake Tree Look Real

I'd had real trees for the last ten years but just can't do it anymore. The expense, struggle, mess, daily watering and clean up are beyond me now. So last year I bought a silk needled prelit tree. It's 6 1/2 feet tall, comes in three parts that fit together and stores in a rather small oblong box. Made in China like everything else these days, I bought it at the hardware store around the corner, Brown & Roberts. It was $29.99 USD. The real trees were going for about 7 bucks a foot, so I was happy to save a few dollars and figure this tree, with good care, may last me 20 years. It's well made. But right outta the box, it's plain ugly.

Here's where my physical limitations actually were a plus. Putting the tree together slowly meant getting a better look at how it's made. Little by little I straightened all the main branches out. The straight branches sticking out left gaps all over. So I began bending the branches. Turning the tips up looks more natural so I did that, too. Since I can't do anything for more than 15 minutes I took frequent breaks. I'd sit down and look at it, and plan what needed to go where. Then I bent some of the inner branches up toward the inside. I did it all over the tree, starting at the top, turning the tree, sitting in front of it, working level by level. It took 3 days in short sessions. I sat with only the tree lights on the third night, amazed that something that looked so lousy could look so good with a little time and patience. It was decorated in stages also, with help from friends, and ended up one of my best-looking trees ever.

My aide brought it out and stood it up in the living room yesterday. Today I'm working on it, sitting and staring, getting up and working a few branches. It'll probably take 4 or 5 days this year but I don't mind. The end result will be something to delight my eyes for a month.

Dr. Havas: The Microwave Sickness Article

Dr. Havas contacted me via this blog. I will be letting her know what happens over the next few months as I work toward reducing the waves in my life.

The gland on my clavicle is still there, but much smaller and "looser", for want of a better term. I continue to sleep well. In the last two weeks, my "full stomach" signal has returned. This is something I hadn't really noticed was gone until it reappeared.

In any event, Dr. Havas sent her website address, and when I gave it a look, saw that the article I was quoting is there in full:

It's a pdf, as noted, and I'm glad is available for more people to read.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How Am I Thankful? Lemme Count the Ways

This has become my favorite holiday. A day to relax, take stock, eat my favorite foods and even watch a parade in my old hometown. Somehow, the cooking of Thanksgiving has never seemed like work to me. It's a magical meal. I guess having done it for so many years it's as though it puts itself together.

So yes, I'm thankful for our food, and the animals and the vegetables and the minerals that make it possible. ;)

I'm thankful for the people in my life. I'm thankful for a safe home with potable running water (even hot water!). I'm thankful for appropriate clothing and shoes. I'm thankful for a lively community. I'm thankful for my education, and all the things that have happened in my life to bring me to this point. I'm thankful for Brooks Library and the folks who work there. I'm thankful for my aides who help keep me rolling along. I'm thankful for all my projects and the ability to keep working on them. I'm thankful for all of life's lessons; they teach me to be able to help others. I'm thankful for the Earth that supports us, the Sun and Moon and Stars, the wonders of nature and science and religion. I'm thankful for my family and my forebears. I'm thankful for my heritage and uncovering history and still being able to think. I'm thankful for the progress of social justice and all those who work for it. I'm thankful for my computer and the internet, which have brought me new friends and information and entertainment and cultures I'd not have known otherwise. And which has made it so easy to become close to and keep up with all the lives I care about. I'm thankful for music and art that give me succor when I'm down. I'm thankful for people who make my spirit soar and my brain think. I'm thankful I have enough of everything to share and celebrate life. I'm thankful for life itself.

On this day of thanks I want to start making it a practice to be mindful of being thankful every day. I have so much to be thankful for every day, not just today.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Friend in Grief

My friend Lise's Dad died Monday night. He was surrounded by those he loved when he passed, and it was expected, but it's still a hard thing for the loved ones to go through. My heart goes out to her and them all; I know she loved him very much. And now her Mom is a widow, which is a terrible grief.

Even if you've been thru a hundred deaths it doesn't lessen the blow of another one. Sometimes it brings each back, gathering deaths along its way like an avalanche. Even if you were on "Deathwatch" it doesn't lessen the impact of when it happens. Nothing can, especially when it's a very close loved one you've lost.

I do believe in learning curves; there are learning curves in every facet of life. But there are still things that stand alone despite experience; falling in love and deaths are in that category. Each death has a unique story with unique lessons to be learned in it. And every time I've been party to a death I've learned more about myself and those around me than anything metaphysical or spiritual. Sometimes those are things you'd rather have not known. Sometimes those are things you treasure and carry forever and make you value the people involved much more.

If there's one thing in life that is as constant as the sun and moon, it's death. You'd think one would get used to it, have a plan, have a way to deal that works for all deaths. Platitudes are useless to the newly bereft. In the fresh shock of loss, they're not even really heard. Aside from customs- like making food or offering an ear, we're all at a loss. Loss is loss. There's nothing can mend the void but time and to continue living.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Gimp's Guide to Life: Part 2

The No-Show Syndrome.
While one is trying to adjust to a disability, one assumes that much of the rest of life won't be effected This is a misconception. Disability has an effect on every part of your life.

A major change in my life was what I now call "The No-Show Syndrome". This happens in the life of every disabled person I know. You go thru a period where you're not aware nor willing to surrender that you cannot do what you used to do. You will make plans and start projects that you have every intention of carrying to fruition. Usually, this is what you've always done, whether (as in my case) it's trying to assemble a group together with a mission, or (as in a friend's case) it's making plans to run around or hang out. You do all the first stages as you always have- make the phone calls, emails; arrange the place to hold the meeting or when and where you're taking someone or shopping for something. But when the day comes, you're a no-show.

And you do it many times. As many times as it takes for you to "get it". You can't make plans, period. You no longer have control of what you will be able to do. And nobody will understand.

Friends and acquaintances will criticize, call you "No Show ____ " (insert your name) and talk behind your back, which will get back to you. Truth is, they're right. You've become undependable. If you've always been dependable in the past it'll be the worse to go thru. But as all things in disability, you don't have a choice in selecting when you're laid up. As the gimp, you'll be hurt that people don't understand what you're going thru. You'll be hurt by the things said behind your back. You may lose friends, as they become frustrated by your absences.

At some point you come to the realization that life is now a one-day-at-a-time proposition. The sooner you get to this, the easier the transition will be. But there's no guidebook for it, no schedule. It took me years to accept it. It was so, so hard for me to accept it. I was one of those "Let's have a Meeting" people; had been for my whole life. I've worked as a community organizer, as a union organizer... gathering people and holding a meeting are second nature to me. That part of me wanted to keep going. It was such a part of my identity. But slowly it was becoming apparent even to my stubborn Taurus head that I just wasn't dependable anymore. And there was nothing to be done for it. It's just the way it is.

So I stopped making plans ahead of time. I adjusted my life to what I knew I'd be doing no matter what- being in my home. I invite friends to my place. I can still make my home hospitable. I also know how to pace myself now. If it's Thanksgiving, for instance, I organize weeks ahead, like going to war. Figure out what's the easiest route, what can be done beforehand, and give myself recuperative time between tasks. And Just Don't Do what's the hardest. As a challenge addict, that's tough.

It's a learning curve, like everything else in life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Gimp's Guide to Life- Part 1

I'm offering my experiences here to promote understanding of physical handicaps among the more able-bodied and hopefully to help with tips for people who are like me. I'm fairly new at this all, having bounded through the first 40 years of my life in relatively good vitality and ability. The last 10 years, and in particular the last 4, have changed my life and perspective. I call myself a gimp because I am, and because I still have a sense of humor.

In sailing through life as a gimp you have to be much more aware of hazards. Anything that was innocuous heretofore could injure you once you're a gimp.

For instance, if you have nerve problems, you are prone to dropping things. That is fairly obvious and one simple remedy is to always take things in both hands until you have a secure hold. Make sure all your body parts are clear of the falling range of whatever you have in your hands, always. If you can, when something falls, step or wheel back away from it. This gets better with practice and fairly soon it's an automatic response.

The not-so-obvious things are surprising discoveries. Among many I've made in this process is that any new attire can be a hazard. New shoes, new pants, new jewelry- anything, really. Once broken in, there may or may not be a problem. But new shoes have laid me up for a full day. New pants caused me such back pain that I actually cried. I now look for garments and footwear that are close to what my body is now comfortable in. This means no heels on my shoes. I need them flat, loose and a fit that simulates how my foot falls in the barefoot state. Topsiders work well, as do moccasins. But any sort of "support" is a potential crippler.

Belts, even waistbands, are a hazard to spines. I search for jeans that don't have enforced waistbands. Since I'm tall, tripping on dragging hems isn't my trouble but it is for friends. It's important to stay mindful of any garment that flares from your body or reaches the ground. Long skirts are lovely, but can get caught in the spokes of a wheelchair or catch on a cane. So can flowing sleeves, long scarves and jewelry. Expressing your style can be a challenge. In shopping for friends, keep these things in mind. What may have delighted them when they were full-bodied can be an unintended but hurtful reminder of things lost to their lives now.

Jewelry is an area with lots of options. I wear a single leather thong with a very dear silver bell as my omnipresent necklace. It's practically weightless, is neither too long nor too short and nothing catches in a leather thong as it would in a chain. I wear one braided string bracelet that would open if caught in anything on my chair or walker. Though my ring size has grown, I have two that fit no matter what, go with any outfit and don't hinder movement. When dressing up I'll add manageable bits, but they are a hassle to stay conscious of, and being a gimp is an exercise in being conscious of one's immediate surroundings at all times. Keeping it simple is a great rule.

There are tools in helping one dress. I have an indispensable sock tool. They are painsavers and ingeniously simple. If you have trouble putting socks on, get one. They can even be made with a 2-liter soda bottle, a bit of cord and a stick-on insole, cut up. If you want instructions, email me.

So much for part 1 of A Gimp's Guide... I'll be back with more.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Clavicle's Back!

Perhaps coincidence but I have to wonder. The two nodes behind my left ear have shrunk and the huge one on my clavicle has receded to the point that I can feel my clavicle all the way along now. It's only been 4 days since I stopped using wireless devices and again, could be coincidence, but I've been sleeping soundly and actually digesting better. No other change but the absence of wireless things.

If this turns out to change my physical conditions permanently I think I'm going to get loud about it. I have to add that it's refreshing to be back on an old tethered phone. Just the sound of the ringing is enough to make me happier, as the chirpy-beepybuzz of the wireless always annoyed me. I'm getting things done also, as the phone is something I take time out for now, not a constant companion/distraction to my tasks. There are quality of life issues. My closest friends and I used to even accompany each other to the kitchen, bathroom, etc. No more. And the ear quality- no fuzzing in & out, no loud background noise picked up, no cutting out. Yes, I'm old enough to appreciate regaining civility over the "convenience" of being able to do other things while talking. I live in the sticks, not the city; I gave up the city to live a better life. It seems that losing the wireless is making life better. I'm not going to question it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An Experiment in Microwave Sickness

A friend gave me a subscription to Bottom Line- Personal for Christmas last year. It gives advice on consumer issues, investing and health. Most of the time I read it and wonder why it isn't a well-known publication. Tonight it may have changed my life. The headline on this issue (November 15, vol. 30, number 22) reads, "Don't Stand In Front of the Microwave", written by Magda Havas, PhD, Trent University. Dr. Havas writes that "Radiation levels up to 1,000 times lower than the FCC guidelines have been shown to affect our health".

A 2007 study reported that cell phone users who spend more than 22 hours per month on their cell were 58% more likely to develop tumors on their salivary glands. Another study determined that 2 types of brain tumors had doubled on the "phone side" of the head after a decade of cell phone use. The studies funded by telecom companies typically lasted 6 years or less, not long enough for tumors to develop; and most of the studies defined "heavy usage" as using a cell a few times a week, far from the ubiquitous times it's come to be used.

Cordless phones (this is where my mental lightbulb came on) pose the same risks. Cordless phones with DECT are even worse. Dr. Havas' recommendation is to replace your household phones with corded phones.

So the dots started connecting in my brain. Since 2001 I have had swollen lymph glands on the left side of my head, neck and clavicle. Twice, surgeons have removed and biopsied these abnormally large glands. No cancer, no explanation. My former GP actually said to me, "Maybe you're just a person who gets large glands." For the last four years a gland just above my clavicle has remained swollen and here and there, a gland or two will swell and go down. Always on the left side. I've had a cordless phone since 2000. Being pretty much a social person, and now homebound, I spend more than 22 hours a week on my cordless phone. Much more. And it's always on my left side, often cradled in my neck and shoulder.

Luckily I own two corded phones and have connected them both tonight. I'm going to go without the cordless for 6 months and see if my glands return to normal.

As for the microwaves, most ovens leak a fair share of electromagnetic radiation. The Dr. suggests: "Put your cell phone inside the oven and close the door (do not turn on the microwave), call the cellphone number. If you hear the phone ring, the cell signal was able to pass thru the walls of the oven- meaning that microwaves are able to pass out". She has tested the levels inside her home, and detected electromagnetic radiation from 20 feet away. So leave the kitchen when the microwave is on. I also recommend that everyone read this article. It may be available online, but I haven't looked. Consider it homework.

I will blog on this experiment. It'll be nice to return to the old tethered way of using the phone. I suspect it'll cut my phone time, too, as I won't be doing other things when I'm talking. Like being on the internet. And maybe I'll get my nice neck back...

And thanks again, Amanda, for such a great gift. :D

Update 11/14:
Found an interesting article from 2007:

I'd recommend, also, Googling Drs. Hertel and Blanc. They are two Swiss scientists who were gagged from publishing and speaking their findings on microwave use in cooking. The gag order was lifted in 1998 and their results are available in numerous articles.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Each Day a New...Well, Something

In the ongoing battle to get things done, things happen. Sometimes good things, but more often and consistently monkey wrenches.

Trying to get the ground barriers done- ok, the Masons don't have a lot of the window quilt material. The motherlode is in a pile that the dingaling I'd thrown the ball to last spring knew about, but for some assinine reason kept a secret. I found out about it by accident. Afterward, he called to tell me about it. So now I have to coordinate the other parts while trying to get my paws on that motherlode.

On a much more personal note, the VNA is firing 2 dependable employees- my RN, and the scheduler we just got back after the midsummer nightmare. Since my OT is retiring on that same day, this leaves only one decent human in that organization, my PT. So I've decided that when they leave it, so will I. And I'll leave with a noise. I've had no coordinator/socialworker for over a year. My allotted hours have changed with no notice, and I have no way to check if they're still billing Medicaid for the higher hours I had at the beginning. Aides quit regularly, leaving long gaps in service. You never know if anyone's coming until an hour before they're scheduled to be at your home. Every other week I have no help on Tuesdays at all. When you're only given 4 hours a week to begin with, losing half of that puts everything behind and things pile up. There is another home nursing/aide agency, so they'll get my business. The VNA is changing to a computerized, inhumane corporation led by a liar-in-charge; she has manipulated the truth and verbally abused me in the past, and I have no reason to think things will get better, so bye-bye.

And I won't even go into what the local coop is becoming; that's a story for another day.

But in all the scary bad there's good, too. The Healthcare is a Human Right campaign goes on, gaining support and slowing growing. My brothers and their wives are okay, my extended family is fine, nobody's actively suffering today. For all that and much more, I'm truly thankful.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Post-Halloween Report

The time collapse that happens every year come November started early this year. I can't believe it's a week since Halloween and I didn't blog about it.

This was the Halloween season of all Halloween seasons. I'm not meaning trickortreaters, what was on the tube, or the trimmings. I mean, the period from Weds, September 30th til Halloween night was truly full of ghosts. It started for me in my apartment, on Sept. 30 with noises all night and that feeling that you're not alone; then other building regulars reported similar activity where they were. In the weeks following and really all throughout October, random friends and townspeople told me of apparitions in their homes, footsteps, things being moved around. It was a whole paranormal time period. One night I was in the bathroom and saw something that looked like a 50s blue plaid skirt step out of a wall in my bedroom. Fed up, I said, "Look, get out. I don't care what your deal is, I'm not going to help you. I'm not the one. Get out. I've had it."" It had already disappeared when I began talking but for a couple nights things were quiet in my place. Then the door and wall knocking returned, the magnets fell off the fridge, noises came from whichever room I wasn't in, for weeks. During this time, a friend and her dog were awakened all night with footsteps and low voices in her dining room. Another friend saw a man with a mustache bending over and looking curiously at his TV. And shadow people were in his apartment, too. I was thinking the veils between the worlds must be particularly thin this year, but why? I started dreading Halloween night, reputed and revered as the thinnest veil in the calendar. A somewhat nutty friend wanted to have a seance and play with the ouija board that night and I about ripped her a new piehole. It was no time to play with dead things or whatever else might be around. Then on Halloween night, it all stopped. I felt the change, physically, sentially. There was nothing in the atmosphere, all at once. No creepy feelings like you're not alone, no knocking, nothing.

It's been an insomnial week since, and still nothing. I've been reading until the wee hours, even read Her Fearful Symmetry (fantastic fiction! read it!) and The Haunting of Hill House without a shiver or anything. When you've just gone through the real thing, fictional ghosts don't faze you anymore, I guess. What a strange and potent month it was, though. Still wondering why and how but I'll probably never know. It was very rainy for October, a bit cooler than usual. We really only had a couple of days that were "October's bright blue weather" and the leaves came down all at once in the pouring rain.

We've finally gotten moving again with the ground barriers for the homeless and started the fruit drive for the VA hospital. Hopefully that'll all be done on schedule, though I shouldn't have thrown the ball to others and waited so long before taking it back. I'm concerned that we lost valuable time and won't have the help to finish the barriers with the holidays so close now. As always, fugit ab mea gluteus maximus.

Happy Samhain, y'all!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Miniscus

One of the diagnoses I've received is Arthrosis. Arthrosis is different from arthritis in being an active disease rather than a condition that flares and rests. It's a thing where stalagmites and stalactites grow in the joints, for lack of a better description. These calcium growths wipe out what cartilege is left, leaving no buffer, no miniscus between hard places. Which is a lot like going thru disability in the US.

Last week I had the honor and joy of talking to Senator Bernie Sanders for a few minutes. Bernie is one of my favorite people on the planet. I thanked him for all he and his office did for me when SSDI were dragging their feet and my life thru the mud of the application process. Then we talked about the way things are for millions of Americans. The Byzantine and inscrutable delays, the shortage of doctors (especially good ones), the ability of doctors to deny care. We held hands and spoke directly, one human to another. I'm convinced he is a man who truly cares about people and that's his primary motive. Not once did he look away from my eyes, not once did he dodge a question, give a stock answer, change or steer the subject. When I told him the name of the woman staffer who helped me and how grateful I was, he turned pink and smiled like a kid who's done well. After we commiserated he asked me to send anyone who has a problem to him. "I have 8 good (forgot the term he used, but he meant his assistants) waiting to help people. They're good, that's why they're there. Send anyone with problems to us." So anyone- even if you're not a Vermonter- call Bernie's office if you need help. They may not be able to serve you directly, but they'll know who can, near you. 1-800-339-9834. And they follow up and want to know until the job is done.

In the Scylla and Charibdes we're stuck in these days, we need a miniscus to protect us and make things moveable. Bernie and his office are that. Use them.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ketchup On That!

I just don't seem to have the time to blog, or the will to make time to blog.

Two things are pulling my interests- the book I'm hatching and another series of articles about the truth of dealing with disability. At request, I've thrown a few bits on folks' sites but my focus is elsewhere.

The book is consuming most of my brain and thought functions. Still in framing, it's growing. It's a strange process of its own, seems to grow naturally from one thing to another. And at any given moment something will pop into my head and I must write it down or lose it forever. I had no idea I had so much to say but I suppose 35 years in one practice/ study area leaves thoughts looking for a cohesive home. I recall what I thought when first starting, what was right or wrong about my first determinations, how the realities have changed and what the bottom line truth is. I don't expect to be done with this for at least a couple years. It's not fiction where you can just see where the characters lead you. It's my manifesto, for whatever it's worth, and needs a lot of planning. Especially when it's the only thing I'll ever write on the subject. It won't carry my real name. It will carry the truth.

The other thing I'm seeing is that there isn't one damn handbook on surviving being disabled. Maybe if I take it subject by each and make a series of articles at some point it'll make a handbook. It will all be posted here, and I'll get on that as soon as everyone elses' lives calm down and nobody's having surgery or in ICU. That should be sometime around Thanksgiving.

I hope.

I'll be back before then, I'm sure, with less serious rambles.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

So Long, Stella D'Oro

Stella D'Oro popped up thru plenty of points in my life. I remember my older brother's girlfriend's (later wife) mom having it in her house. She liked their annisette toast, a foreign thing to me and much of the non-Italians in the 1960s. I tried it once. It was hard and dry, not very sweet to my Twinkie-loving tastebuds, and I could only stand them dunked in milk. It was old people's baked goods. I'd see them in Bohack's but they never entered where I lived until my mother married a half-Italian guy in the 70s.

Stella D'Oro makes a wide variety of baked cookie-like things. Margheritas, for example, which became a stoner munchie for my friend Patty Atty and me. A chocolate margherita with whipped cream cheese was my ultimate stoned food.

However, with the closure of the Bronx plant, which had operated at least since the year I was born, I say goodbye to all their stuff.

Stella D'Oro, after getting many tax cuts and perks in NYC, was sold to an investment corporation, Lance. These corporate pigs have decided to close the union shop in the Bronx, putting hundreds out of work and breaking their longtime union. They are moving manufacturing to Ohio, where labor is much cheaper and plentiful and nobody will dream of having a union.

So, so long, Stella D'Oro. I'm just reaching the age where I would've liked those annisette toasts (really just a cheap biscotti, now that I know better) since the stoner days are long gone. But I won't give one penny to corporate pigs if I can help it. I know I'm just one human, and plenty of mindless others will go right on enjoying their lady fingers no matter whose life you've ruined. Stil, not me. I have enough on my conscience and I don't need your cheap crap anyway. All I have to say is, Fuck You.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Old School Song

With the new school year, I've been thinking of my old HS. It was a progressive school, originally an experiment in ecumenicalism between the Catholics and Protestants, on Staten Island. The building was a former Franciscan Friary and Nunnery, and we had nuns and priests still as well as lay teachers and student teachers. So much of my life was influenced by that school that I value good schooling for all, though I raised no children by birth.

Recently I've had the real pleasure of watching both "Goodbye, Mr Chips" and "Tom Brown's School Days". The old originals, not the remakes. Both put me in mind of school songs. We did a lot of singing in HS; at chapel, during school meetings, and in the community too. In my graduating year we visited nursing homes and sang to the residents. Though I considered it a pain in the ass at the time, I realize what a good thing that was to do and what those teachers, Marie Pappas and Rita Larsen Kurtz, were fostering in us. Good teachers, we had. Very good teachers.

One of the songs I remember very well was one we never sang anywhere but amongst ourselves. In fact, a sschoolmate, Leopold Zappler, and I composed it. Here now, is what I consider my school song:

I saw Rev. Belcher walking down the street
His mask it was a face of gray depair.
And though I'd often seen him traverse before there,
Something was missing.
It was his pubic hair.

Poor Rev. Belcher. Poor, poor Rev. Belcher,
He now felt so naked to the cold.
They say he wore a muffler wrapped up in his crotch
and his bush into a wig it had been wove.

Here's to higher education.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Very Good, Excellent Day

I received an email from someone who said that what I said in an email to them stopped them from killing themselves. That's pretty flooring and I don't think I can take the credit. Though there have been peep in my life who saved me from horrors (even random strangers- a remark from a homeless guy changed my life once), so I can understand the feeling. I don't know what was even said. Nothing was seeming crucial or critical in our exchange. But I didn't do whatever it was on my own; and the real crux of the issue is we all need each other. Because to even be there for that person, at that time, and in the right frame of mind to say whatever I did, I have others to thank.

So, the thanks really go to my brothers, my old pals, and a host of others who've uplifted me over my lifetime. Without learning by their examples/experiences, or the many things they've done for me or even to me throughout my life (and last Christmas), I wouldn't have been there for someone who needed me.

It's how the Butterfly Effect works. It doesn't take a lot, just some time & kindness. The Rager still lives in me; maybe always will. It's a process. However, keeping mindful of how easily I can be cut to the heart should make me kinder. The choice is omnipresent. One can be kind or unkind in any moment.The smallest gestures can reap huge miracles. We can make the world better.

Friday, September 11, 2009

8 Short Years

Time is hard to grasp. Sometimes seeming endless, as in the first days after September 11, 2001. From here in New England, it was three days before I could get a call thru to NYC and check on everyone there. In retrospect, much has happened since then but doesn't seem longer than maybe 2 years that it all happened.

At 9 a.m. that morning I called a coworker about the availability of an apartment. She was crying and blurted, "Haven't you seen what happened? Put on the news!" So I turned the TV on, and saw my hometown on fire. We didn't know for sure what had caused the plane to go into the North Tower yet. Immediately I thought of my Dad, long dead, and how fascinated he'd been with the construction of the Twin Towers. The pix we took from the Brooklyn esplanade in the Heights in 1973 were among our best photo excursions. When the towers opened we took shots from the ground up. I still have those....

At 10 I called my friend Kathleen and said, "Have you seen the news?" We watched in tandem, for an hour, saw the falling buildings, the clouds of fallout and dust, and cried. I went to work just after 11, walking thru a silent town, little traffic passing, everything a blur to me. At work we listened to the radio all afternoon. Friends and customers came in, seeking comfort, sharing the grief in hushed voices. It was all very quiet. Now and then you'd hear a soft low sob from someone. My friends Chris and Lise came by and we stood in an aisle, wondering aloud if even comfort foods would help or matter. Everyone looked lost. In a daze I tried thinking of all I knew who may have been around there that morning...Chiefy- his office was right there, wasn't it? Pat Carr-was he at work that early? my sis-in-law's family...wasn't Kenneth delivering on Church St now? Would Thomas be at work at that hour? Didn't Loretta work in the Trade Center itself? More and more people came to mind, the outer branches of family and friend trees, the cops and firefighters I knew, teachers down there at CAS & god, is everyone okay?

By the next day it was becoming clear that there weren't going to be survivors in the rubble. If they had been there, they either got away early, or not at all. The Oxygen network went off the air and by a miracle, in its place we got NY1 news. Every waking hour I was home I watched nothing else. Talking to Stevil on Wednesday, we discussed how weird it all was- that the President said he saw the 1st tower hit when it wasn't broadcasted live, that he didn't look surprised when the SS guy told him what had happened, that they'd let the bin Laden family fly out of the country when everything was grounded and how fishy it all was looking.

On Thursday evening I got a call thru to my brother in New Jersey. Nobody of the family was missing or dead. Pat had been on the concourse smoking a cigarette when the 1st plane hit. He was in shock, rooted in place, and was badly burned but alive. Loretta had been leaving the WTC when a jumper hit the concourse right in front of her, splattering her head to toe in blood. But she walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and was home and safe. Chiefy wasn't there that morning; the kids weren't in the area that morning either. Then the names of the missing began to be posted. The Times ran them everyday and I scanned them, feeling almost ghoulish, until I saw the Talty name. My friend Sean's brother Paul. I thought of their family- a few years earlier, another brother of his, another cop, had been killed on duty in a drug bust. Now Paul was gone, too. Knowing how tight and loving that family was, the loyalty they had and how much they all adored each other... and Sean, that big goofy ex-Marine, had now lost his brothers...

At some point I organized a Cookie Drive for the FDNY, and many townsfolk baked several big boxes of sweets that Judith Serkin drove and delivered to a firehouse in NYC, a "With love from Brattleboro, VT" note inside.

I stopped reading "the missing" list. Every morning I talked with another NYer at work, sharing details and updates. That Friday I went to a service at the local Episcopalian church with my friend Cam and the next week I went to a memorial service at the VFW with my boss and his family. We were all in shock and angry. Satirical"Wanted" posters of bin Laden were hung up, emailed and sent around the country - bin Laden on a goat milk carton, bin Laden bent over with a nuke missile up his arse. Then the Patriot Act rushed thru Congress. We were changed forever.

It's been 8 years; many Americans have become more politically active. Some who'd never even paid attention before began voting. Lots mobilized behind their chosen causes. People march in the streets again. We killed Saddam Hussein. We began and continue to be, in a senseless "war" that's killed unknown numbers of people and driven even more insane. Our former President and Congress brought us to the brink of financial ruin. "Greed is good" is the motto for too many. While spouting Bible chapters many provoke and encourage hatred and violence. Those who value only money and power are helped in their endeavors and those who don't are demeaned and criminalized. Less than a year ago we elected the first black American to the Presidency. Democrats and Republicans spend all their time fighting each other, like grammar schoolkids with nothing better to do. Personally I've gone thru a lot. We all have. The last 8 years seem to have passed so quickly, but have been Big Years of Change. Where these changes will take us, and which will last, is yet to be seen. I try to keep hopeful.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Facts About Healthcare Reform

With all the mis- and disinformation running thru the mouths of know-nothings it's tough to get some facts. Here are facts, not conjecture, about the Healthcare Reform bill that Congress is reading over August recess. Take a few minutes and get the facts instead of the scare tactics.

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage :

Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.

Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.

Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.

Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.

Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.

Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.

Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.

Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick. Learn more and get details: 8 common myths about health insurance reform

Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.

We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.

Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.

Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.

Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.

You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.

No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make. Learn more and get details: 8

Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now
Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more:

Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more:

Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more:

Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more:

Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more:

The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more:

Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more:

The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back in the Fracas

Much hoopla from paid GOP & rich lobbies' crybabies at Town Hall Meetings over the healthcare reform. I have friends and family in civilized countries who have full coverage. I can't believe that Americans are this stupid and selfish. I may have to leave this Idiocracy.

Sunday I'll be going to Bennington with my friend Ellen to march in the parade. My gods it's been years now since I could do such things and I'm so psyched! We're joining the Healthcare is a Human Right division and I'm hoping to see people I haven't been amongst in ages. Bernie Sanders is holding a Town Hall Meeting in Peacham on the 23rd & I'm looking for a ride to it. I do love Bernie. If all politicians were like him, we'd be okay.

In other news, now that my head is cleared of those pharmas my dr pushed on me, I'm drawing again. One portrait has been printed so now I know it can be done and done affordably. I'm looking at getting a space in our town's Gallery Walk, once I have a few more pieces. It takes a week to do one portrait, which used to take 4 hours, but I still can do it.

Things are truly looking up. Amazing what an old, used, donated wheelchair can do.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


My incredible nurse, Christine Ryan, found me a wheelchair! A PT in her office was going up to a storage facility of charity donations and she asked him to keep an eye out for a wheelchair. Not only did he find one, he brought it back to her office and she just brought it to me. It's a loaner, for an indefinite period, until I get my own. It doesn't have feet but I don't care. I have wheels! I can get out again! Just when I was ready to give up, a miracle.

Just goes to show ya, don't give up until the miracle happens. And it will. I gotta go. :)

Keep me moving
Over fifty
Keep me groovin'
Just a hippie gypsy!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Day of Rest

All in all, life is an amazing thing.
I'd intended to post yesterday, but friends were coming and going, there were things to be done and plans to be laid. The day was over before I gathered the wits together to think and today I'm quite tired and need rest.
Suffice it for now to say that it's a peaceful, quiet Sunday. And for that I am truly grateful.
Catch up tomorrow.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Day In The Life

Just want to record a typical day of my life.

At 8:10 the doc's office calls to inform me that I cannot have pain meds unless I come in to see her. I tell them I've been waiting almost 3 months for a wheelchair and have been searching for any doc in VT who'll make housecalls to the homebound. There are none in the state. Even the State Ombudsman office, who were very nice and quite thorough in the investigation, didn't find one. She says, basically, tough shit. Come to the office or goodbye.

At 9 I call the med supply in New Hampshire to ask when I'll have a wheelchair. The owner's daughter says they're working on it; maybe next week. This is what I was told 4 weeks ago. I tell her that I must have it to go to the doc within two weeks or I won't even get meds anymore. She says maybe next week. And my calling card has mysteriously cut my long distance minutes to 22 minutes when I had 128 3 days ago and have made no long distance calls.

At 9:10 I call my RN caseworker and get her voicemail. I tell the short form of what's happening, choking up at the end. It's 2:10 and I've had no call back.

At 10 I call the doc's office to make an appt. She's on vacation for 2 1/2 wks; I get an appt for August 20, well after the 2 week red flag. No, I can't get in before then. Hopefully I'll have a wheelchair by then; if not, no more doctor, no more pain meds.

At 10:20 I call ATT to ask what's up with my calling card. After pressing every number known since the Arabic system was created, I get a human who tells me they can't do anything and implies that I'm trying to rip them off.

Between and amongst the above I return emails and work on annikee's bits for Sunday, make the shopping and errand lists for my aide who with God's help will be here around 3, read today's news, write the check for this exorbitant internet service and pray that nothing more will fuck up today. Nonfood shopping will have to wait til next Friday as there's no $ left after the bills and payday is Monday but I'll have no aide to shop til the 7th. So the dirty floors will have to wait til Tuesday, August 11th when the housekeeper comes. And at least I have baking soda and peroxide to brush my teeth with, so I shouldn't complain. 75% of the planet don't have a bed, closet and fridge. I do.

At 12 I call Stevil to confirm our plans for him to come over for spaghetti dinner next Weds. We kvetch about life and what dinosaurs we've become. At least we have each other, we still get the cultural references we make. A young coworker of his never heard of "The Sound of Music".

At 1 I griddle a burger for brunch cuz if I don't finish the rest of the package it'll go sour and I can't waste food. It's already going brown so it's getting there. Turns out fine.

At 1:49 a bill collector calls. I hang up on them.

At 2 :10 I begin writing this blog so there's one last July post.

At 2:45 I call the pharmacy (love them) to check they can deliver my meds after my aide drops the scripts off today. She'll have no time to go back for them. It'll cost me more on top of the co-pays but I'll give em a check and it won't go thru til Monday. They can deliver after 4; ass covered once again.

At 3 my aide gets here! Hooray! We go over the events of this week with the ongoing VNA problems. Great news- the woman who used to be the Scheduler is going back to it on Monday! No more nasty lying person! My aide is terrific; we go over the lists of what's to do and where to go and she's out the door, shopping cart and bags, lists, coupons (15 bucks in food coupons!) and cards, keys and gel cap bottle in hand at 3:15.

Meanwhile I reply to a few more emails and add the last couple links to "a's b's", clear a counterspace for the incoming groceries, combine tomato sauces for dinner and update this.

At 3:45 I have a worry that even though the 1st of the month is tomorrow & a weekend day, the Food Stamp Program may not credit us today but Monday and I won't get food til next Friday. My aide will call if there's a problem, I hope... I do have cans of beans, some hot dogs and boxed mac'n'cheese if there's no incoming food.

At 4:10 the pharmacy delivers, but the doc's office hasn't refilled the anti-inflammatory. I'm guessing that's part of the blackmail to come to the office. They're OTC, so when I have money I'll get them myself. My Tuesday aide can walk that far.

At 4:20 my aide calls from the supermarket (told ya she's terrific)- they're out of a couple things & she wanted to know what to do. So far so good. We'll see what happens at checkout.

At 4:35 my aide called. I have 5 bucks on my FS card. No food for me. But at least there's enough for milk; the rest will have to wait til next Friday. Back to nothing, but I should be used to that.

At 4:45 I email Stevil that Weds night dinner is off. My heart is beating in my ears.

At 5:10 my aide returns. She stopped at the office & they said the state isn't crediting FS til tomorrow. And she didn't get a paycheck.

At 5:20 I'm filling the gelcaps the pharmacy delivered with ground valerian.

It's 5:45. I've surveyed the freezer and fridge contents. I have one egg, so I can make scones tomorrow. I also found a half pound of ground pork, with that & the last bits of the browning burger & the mixed sauce I'll make marzetti tomorrow. That'll hold me a few days. There's still some frozen waffles and Brown & Serve sausages, and Kathleen's son's strawberry syrup, so that'll be breakfast for at least the week. It'll be okay. I've no appetite for dinner tonight.

Just another delightful day in the life. I'll be turning in early tonight. Enough's enough.

A good friend (Barb, I call her SABS- Stupendously Awesome Big Sister) read this blog & has volunteered to shop for me tomorrow! It's hard to say what a relief it is. But that's why I call her SABS. And Stevil offered to lend me funds/food. He has next to nothing himself. Like I said before, ya gotta have friends. :) We live to fight another day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Small Miracles

In the past weeks, three friends managed to turn my attitude around.
I'm not sure how to explain it all, except to just tell it as it is and was.

Over the last three years I've gone from a working stiff to a housebound cripple. While the physical effects are obvious, the psych effects aren't. Aside from the expected- depression, anger, etc. that come with grieving anything, come societal judgments. This extends to family & friends. Nobody likes a gimp. You're suspect, first and foremost. You're lazy, not trying, living off the government, making it up, making it worse than it is, being a Drama Queen, a slacker, a crybaby, (add your own here, you know you have the labels). It's what we, as US society, do. We aren't kind. We're soaked in the "work ethic" all our lives. And I'm ashamed to say, I was once like that. Perhaps it's one of those things you can't know until you experience it, like "seeing thestrals". There are things in life that you cannot fully understand until it's personal- death, being in love, having a child, being poor, tolerating abuse... so many things. One's experiences not only shape, but isolate us.

Disability is one of those things.

In the last week an old friendship has rekindled and set me going on a new focus in spirituality. And two other old friends treated me to nourishments of body and normalcy. One made dinner for me, one took me to the movies. May not seem a lot to others, but inestimable to me. To be treated as valuable again does wonders. Over dinner I told my tale and wasn't criticized, just accepted. And the movie upheld a tradition and gave sweet escape from my four walls. Given entirely without ulterior motives, with necessary and willing physical help, they gave me an oh so needed boost in spirits. A wonderful happy surprise, I guess. Isn't a happy surprise something you didn't know you wanted til you got it? Its effect is doubled when it comes from unexpected sources.

So, while the physical condition isn't better, the wellbeing condition is vastly improved. Now I have to get over the labels I've put on others- cold-hearted, hard, uncaring, selfish, ignorant, etc. It may simply be the thestral effect and nothing more. In any event, unlabeling is a good way to start paying some needed kindnesses forward. Kindness breeds kindness, forgiveness breeds forgiveness. It's gotta start somewhere. Might as well start here.

And thanks, Bruce, Ellen and Stevil. Ya gotta have friends.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

And that's the way it is, Saturday, July 18th, 2009

Anchorman, journalist, live Normandy reporter, space program enthusiast. He announced President Kennedy's death to our country, choking up; he went to Vietnam himself and covered the ongoing war personally in the streets and jungles; he chuckled and rubbed his hands together at the Apollo moon landing like a gleeful little kid, exclaiming, "Oh boy!". Edward R. Murrow recruited him to work at the CBS News Service in 1950, when television was just becoming popular. He reported each day's news straightforwardly, and clarified when he occasionally offered his own views, with a simple, "but that's just my opinion," unlike the celebrity broadcasters of today. He was The Most Trusted Man in America. He was present at moments of history- he interviewed Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat, interviews that opened communication between them in a way unachieved theretofore.

The only personal story I know of him was his telling of a story in a midtown Manhattan bar. He'd been to the MTV Studios down the block, showing up for a meeting there. The receptionist greeted him enthusiastically, gushing that she'd loved him on TV since she was a child. He thanked her, and she called the upstairs office to announce his arrival, "Yes, Captain Kangaroo is here for their meeting."

The NY Times' obit is here:

I've always admired Walter Cronkite. He died last night, at the age of 92.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Just Passing By

Lotsa big name deaths lately- David Carradine, Farrah, Jacko, Karl Malden, Mollie Sugden, Oscar Mayer, Robert McNamara, Rita Keane, Billy Mays, Fred Travalena, Gale Storm... yet Shane MacGowan lives on. Remarkable.

Rediscovered a favorite band, somewhat defunct but always wonderful:

There is a sun! After weeks of rain, it sunned on our July 4th- and since then, has tried to sun every day. Some big boomers the last couple of nights. I miss having a porch when it thunderstorms.

I've had too many personal issues to keep up lately on our local politics, but my friend Lise posted a great report on our latest Selectboard Shenanigans:

And my friend Christian has a daring post at OpEd News (Go Christian!):

By the end of the week I should have some time to do real writing. When I do, I'll be writing on

And here's a thought-provoking youtube post from a good guy:

I'd be remiss if I didn't give my local radio station a plug- they're streaming:

See ya.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ghostbusters 3?

With much trepidation I contemplate a threequel Ghostbusters. The first 2 are cult classics, they say. Hard for me to call a huge blockbuster a cult classic...a moniker usually given to films that were sleepers when released and developed a following later. Whatever, I love the 2 originals. They're fun and were meant to be. They are classics of a sort, in that they were popular and loved, and starred actors that were at career peaks at the time and perfect in their roles.

Supposedly the main cast will return- but in the story lines I've read, they're just there for prepping a new generation of GBs. That's just wrong. We don't want Ghostbusters, The Next Generation. The original cast all being in their 50s and 60s now, I see opportunities for great comedy there already. It's not like they aren't funny or incapable of starring now. Bring in some younguns for the sake of box office? Why?

It's the youth obsession of the culture, that's why. Why does everything have to be new, "hot", sexy? What's wrong with the GB crew as they are, all these years later? Tap into the ghosthunting craze (no pun intended). Give us the GBs trying to do a TV series and let them do what they always did- screw up, make us laugh & ultimately save NYC.

Is that too hard? Too much to ask? In the impending doom of these days, it'd be nice to have something left unfucked with.

Don't even get me started on the remake of An American Werewolf in London.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Another July 4th

This is the first July 4th that I didn't watch "1776". In years past (at least 8) I needed to see something that represented what we were about. Though I'm not happy about watching Obama sucked into and aged already by the office, I'm still hoping that he won't be completely morphed into the puppets we've seen since Nixon ruined the Presidency. At least we had a belief that we mattered then; there's no conscious human alive now that can believe an individual matters at all to the State anymore.

Really, from my HS yearbook, when I quoted Fitzgerald, "So that old libel that we were cynics and skeptics was false from the beginning; on the contrary, we were The Great Believers.", it's been downhill. My gen did still believe that we could make a difference, and some of us still do.

In trying to report and interview my town's local election candidates, I was blackballed by the candidates because of one's paranoia. The editors of the website I was reporting for didn't support me, and so I stopped doing citizen journalism. Instead of communicating and bridging the chasm, they indulged the politicians, who weren't even drawn onto the carpet for refusing to answer.

Really, I love being a citizen journalist- it's the best thing in these days of commercially-sponsored yellow journalism non-truth in papers, TV & websites. But even "independent" websites aren't perfect. Right now all I can afford is a blog (no cost). But I'd love to start a real news website that answers to nobody, not even me. I'll promise not to change titles, rearrange/edit text, or criticize what contributors post. If there are no ads sold, there's no sucking up. God knows we need outlets without agendas. And God knows we need to get behind people who have something to say without bowing to outside interests, or fear, to protect and defend individuals who may have no other access, and to face down the powers that be. I've found too many agendas in the sites I've contributed to, to consciously give them my hard work gratis.

So this 4th has me looking, scrutinizing, at what to do next...

Independence of written expression. What a concept.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Discovering Gertrude Berg

Gertrude Berg was the writer, creator and star of The Goldbergs. Running on radio from 1929-1946, the series was based on a Jewish family living in a Bronx tenement. On radio, the 15 minute show was a serial that dealt in real life situations, with Molly Goldberg as the worrying, loving matriarch. When the show went to TV in 1949, it became the forerunner to all later family sitcoms.

The Goldbergs raised serious issues, as All In The Family did, decades later. In 1939, Kristallnacht was discussed and a rock thrown thru the Goldbergs' window during Seder. Family discussions included Nazi Germany, with The Goldbergs concerned about family members in Europe. During the McCarthy Era, Gertrude's co-star, Phillip Loeb, was blacklisted. She refused to fire him, and the show was dropped. She moved on to another network with a new co-star, quietly paying Loeb his salary on the side anyway. He later committed suicide when he could find no work.

Though much of The Goldbergs is lost, the radio show lives on here:

Gertrude Berg was a force. I'm just now starting to investigate all she did, and will post about her again. Now I know where my Dad got his catchprase, "Yoohoo, Mrs. Bloom...."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eating Cheapsides

With all the food background I have, I've never used it so much as I do these days. Not in sauteing and saucier stations, but as a fixed-income foodie. It's not easy to stretch the food bucks at the end of the month but I've found that the internet can serve up some rad (and some really repulsive) ideas.

For instance, I have canned tuna, ramen noodles and frozen spinach. In itself, not so great. But put it all in the Yahoo search engine, and a surprising college student recipe site pops up: This is helpful; when stress taps out creativity, find help in what's not taxing on your head. No, nothing will rival Escoffier, but we don't have his food budget.

Buy things on sale and in bulk departments. I can't stress this enough; what you put away will keep you from hunger. Always have the staples- flour, salt, sugar (or whatever sweet you use), eggs, baking powder and some kind of fat. Herbs and spices are affordable when you buy them loose in any bulk dept. Usually, you can get rice, pasta, flour and dried fruits in these areas, too. It's much cheaper to buy things unpackaged.

It's at this point that the purchases you made to fill your pantry come into play. No fresh milk? How about the evaporated milk you squirreled away? It's kinda nasty when diluted and poured over cereal, but it's fine in coffee or tea (Tip: Boxed mac n cheese does taste more like cheese when the milk's left out). Those baked beans you bought on sale can be pureed into soup, then seasoned. Cheap frozen waffles make unusual sandwich bread. If you have flour, evaporated milk and any kind of shortening, make scones. They're easy, fast, and ridiculously cheap to make. What you'd pay 2-3 bucks for in a bakery is a few pennies in cost and a half hour of making. It cheers you to have treats, so don't forget you need that as much as nutrition.

If you get stuck, you can always email me. I'm happy to help. And most of the time I can come up with something good from any 3 food ingredients... even if I find it on a ramen noodle website :).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye, Farrah

Today's papers and websites and TV are full of Michael Jackson's death. After the Jackson 5, I didn't care for him, didn't follow his music, though it was inescapable in the 80s. Apart from our realizing we were in love when my late husband and I danced to "I'll Be There" in the Tunnel, Jackson didn't touch my life at all.

But Farrah did. She was my attention rival in the bedroom of my first Big Love. My brothers were all "Charlie's Angels" fans; indeed, every guy I knew was glued to the tube for that show. Her hairstyle was ubiquitous, her face was everywhere. She was married to the "6 Million Dollar Man", who turned out to have abused her. Yet, she carried herself with dignity. She met and had a son by Ryan O'Neal, and her life seemed together, happy and strong. She was a woman who made it, in spite of her amazing good looks. I don't say that offhand, either. I've had very good looking friends and lovers all my life, and the experience of the unusually good-looking is not so different than that of an unusually unattractive person. People use you as a canvas for their feelings and psychoses instead of treating you as a respected human either way.

I never wrote her off as a bimbo, especially after "Extremities" and "The Burning Bed". She wasn't celebrated as an actor's actor, never won an Oscar, but she had passion. She had a big heart, a deep religious belief. And she had fight. There was much more to Farrah than met the eye.

NBC broadcasted a portrait special that she and Alana Stewart and Ryan O'Neal made of her as she faced and fought the cancer. Through the weeks/months of the shooting, she became more and more sick, taking a multitude of drugs and supplements in a heroic struggle to get well. I don't say heroic lightly, ever. I've watched up close as friends and family fought to live; her struggle was just as grueling, horrid and as astonishing and inspiring as any I've seen. Her will to keep battling was remarkable. But, as time and the cancer rolled on, she became bodily weak. I don't think I can ever forget the scene of her son Red, visiting her in a court-allowed furlough from drug rehab/jail, in leg chains, crawling into bed beside her. She didn't seem very responsive, in fact I was embarassed to watch. It seemed over the top in being invasive. But Farrah wanted the world to see what it was like, from the brief moments of hope to shaving off her hair. They say she shaved it off as a note of choice and control, a symbolic way to not just surrender the crown of glory she'd worn all her life.

On Thursday Farrah died with Ryan O'Neal and Alana Stewart, her best friend, beside her. Not only do I admire Farrah for her guts and passion, I think much more of Ryan O'Neal for being steadfastly with her through everything. In my life I've seen that devotion only twice from a husband; my stepfather with my mother and my brother Billy with his wife. Farrah publically suffered and died with more grace and dignity than most people. She was loved, and loved in return. She smiled in the face of a death sentence and never stopped fighting.

My prayers tonight will include those who are mourning her loss. That Michael Jackson's death has eclipsed hers is shameful. RIP, Farrah, you've earned your rest.

P.S. I came across this article today and thought it's too good to pass up:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal

8 years ago my friend Stevil gave me a potted miniature rose bush after I had a neck surgery. They are temperamental little things, roses. My Mom had a line of rose bushes along the fence abutting the backyard neighbor's low fence. She couldn't care much for them once her arthritis made it difficult to walk and bend over. But they continued to grow in spite, or perhaps because, of the neglect. The first Christmas Day after her death, a single red rose bloomed on one. My Stepfather took it as a sign- roses don't bloom in New York City in December, as a rule.

But back to my potted roses. I let the little bush teach me what it wanted. Less water in winter, lots of sun all year round, it bloomed twice a year- June and December, right around the Solstices. For 4 years it taught me how to care for it, the launch of new branches meaning time for lotsa water, then letting it dry a bit when it formed buds, then lotsa water when the buds swelled. Though never really flourishing into a huge plant, it held its own and regularly grew and died, always springing back to life until...

A woman named Heather decided she should water it when I was in the bathroom. I freaked, as it was in a drying out period. And she watered it on the surface, a real no-no when it's dormant. It wants its feet wet while it sleeps, and most all the rest of growing time, too. Watering from the top is a good way to kill it. It died a slow death after that presumptuous stunt. I was pissed.

The following summer my friend Kathleen gave me another rose bush, after another neck surgery. It had bright red flowers, much more vivid than the soft pinks of its predecessor. Kathleen marvelled at how I'd had the little rose bush for 4 years, as she has no luck with roses (Her luck is with ferns and African violets). So, delighted, I put all I learned from Pinky into Captain Jack. Yes, I name my plants. I gave it some diluted tea now and then, a dribble of red wine here and there, and it seemed happy.

This spring I saw it was becoming rootbound, and took it from its original plastic pot to a larger clay pot. It shocked, dying back to a single branch that didn't look too hopeful. For a few weeks I watched it closely, trying to gauge its new demands in its new home. I began to grieve its loss, as it looked like it was in the death throes. I spoke encouragingly to it, rooting it on, if you will. Then, in May, it turned a corner and put out 2 new branches. Keeping its feet slightly wet, it acclimated to the new pot. I didn't dare hope it would produce flowers, just survive.

Captain Jack put out 4 buds this June 16th (it had stayed at 3 for years). On Summer Solstice morning all 4 buds burst open, tiny perfections of nature's art. I know they'll be gone in a week or two, but they are my little beauties now. A great reminder that no matter how things seem, with a little experience, care, prayer... things can turn out better than you thought they would.

Happy Summer, everyone.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Poppa, Summerisacuminin & Six Degrees of Fuckedness

It's Father's Day, and I think of mine. But it has been 30+ years he's been gone and memories fade. I do remember his laughter, which is where I got my guffaw. He was a character, he was a thinker, he was a Milton, he taught me a lot. I miss him.

It's also Summer Solstice, time to bring plans to fruition. The vivid lush greens are spectacular here. We've had enough rain in Vermont to make everything burst out & thrive well.

I've also composed a scale of fuckedness. See how much applies in your life.

First you have fucktards. They can't help it, whatever it is.

Then come fuckers. That can apply to anywhere, anything, anyone.

Then you have fuckin fuckers, the irritating fuckers.

Then you get motherfuckers. They are muthafuckers.

Then you have motherfucker fuckers, who outfuck the motherfuckers. This can also be a compliment, as in, "Keith Emerson is a motherfucker fucker!"

And then there are motherfucker uberfuckers. There are no words. The last words in fuckedness.

So how many fuckers apply in your life? I have mostly 2nd and 3rd degrees...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dangerous Dating

When I was younger my Guardian Angel worked overtime. So many times in my youth, and even some times more recently, I consorted with mooks, murderers, ne'er-do-wells and crazy people. Having done this from such an early age, and surviving relatively unscathed, it was a second nature to me. I believed that this happened partly because I was an openminded person who took everyone on a case by case basis, and partly because I was predisposed to it. My Dad hung around with shady types. 2 of my brothers say that he worked for the mob. I remember as a child being in a bar & grill that had a bathtub in the john, years later reading in The Westies what that tub was used for at least once. All my Dad did was run numbers, nothing violent. And the old men he knew were sweet to me, bought me Shirley Temples and had me pick out horses to bet on. Somehow I developed a tolerance for the crazy. But crazy can turn dangerous and these days, as psychopathic as society has grown, very dangerous. Here I offer some common sense tips to help avoid getting involved with a crazy/dangerous type (Note: danger appies to emotionally/psychologically as well as physically):

- Check their medications. If they hang around outside the bathroom when you use it, assume they aren't there because they want to keep talking. They're listening to hear if you open their medicine chest. Remember the names of the drugs they take regularly. And check what those are. If any are mood stabilizers/antipsychotics, back off.

- Don't make excuses for their behavior. If they act really strangely for any reason, step back. I don't care if they're brilliant, or gorgeous, or funny, or rich. Weird and abnormal responses to things marks a nut. Observe their behaviors. Do they frequently panic/cause drama/overreact to minor incidents? Has their behavior begun to change your behavior? Run away!

- No matter what, don't have sex with them, especially if you're a woman, until you've checked them out. I'm gonna sound very sexist here, but women do become emotionally involved once sex happens. It's nature and nurture. Protect yourself first in every way. Listen and weigh the words they use. Do they focus on confrontation and aggression? Are they supportive and helpful to you as you are to them? Do they play toxic come here/go away games with you? Drop em like they're hot.

- Take your time. Every time I've gone with overwhelming attraction and plunged into a relationship (friendship or otherwise) I've (so far) lived to regret it. If they are predators, they'll pressure you into something quickly. They'll create dramas that demand your sympathy and allegiance from the moment you meet. Beware of this above all. They're testing their limits and how much they can manipulate you. They may not even consciously know this; it's a second nature to the psycho. Unfortunately, it hits to the heart of the compassionate. If you are a compassionate type (and most people are), your heart goes out to the victim. This is not to say that you shouldn't care/help people. Listen to what your gut says. Don't override it with justifications. Take your own sweet time in getting to know someone. You, your life and safety are worth the extra weeks. Only time tells the truth. Slow down.

- Don't date anyone who wants it kept secret. This really is The Big One. It's universal. If they can't include you in the rest of their life, don't invite them into yours. Yes, it's that simple.

I'm sure there are many more guidelines, these are just what comes to mind. If you, kind reader, have more, please add them in comments. We've all survived toxic relationships- you can't avoid some. But any time you have a choice, err on the side of self-preservation. One psycho can really mess up your day. And your life.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Senseless Murder

In the wee hours Monday morning a young man was killed around the corner from where I live. Many stories are running around about it, that it was over money. or a girl, or drugs. In this gossiping town it's like a feast day.

What seems a clear fact is that the murder victim was intervening in an argument between his killer and his brother.

I didn't know the young man but I remember his fiancee, now a grown woman, as a shy little girl who stuck close to her Dad and brother. Her Dad raised the two of them, scraping by as a poor man in this town of haves and have nots. I was impressed at how protective and close they were with each other. Always polite, quiet and listening to their Dad, I'd see them around town over the years. She was a girl I thought would be all right and do fine.

Yesterday a friend saw her sitting alone in the rain with flowers at the murder site. Others have brought candles and flowers, the rain having washed away his blood.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer 2009 Songs

All my life I've had songs that remind me of a summer. "Boys of Summer", " Mad About You", "My Cherie Amour", "Do You Feel (like I do)", all put me back in time. This summer I think it's gonna be "Bulletproof" by La Roux:

Got summer songs? Leave em in the comments!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Moving Kinda Slow At the Junction

It's been another busy week. For someone who doesn't "work" anymore, I'm as busy as I ever was, just doing different things.

I understand what elders said SO much more now. A real weather issue can ruin your day- or week- for starts. Things I'm trying to get done are moving much too slowly. But I'm grateful they're moving ahead. Personal relationships are way intense and I have no energy. Maybe this is how old people end up alone. Being unhealthy takes up a lot of time. We're all each others Guinea Pigs. As you get older, hopefully saner & wiser (the two rarely go apart), you expect peep are paying attention. Life is short. Having said something once, why say it again?- to paraphrase a great old song. Repeating is whining. The saner you are, the less you need to point out how fucked up things are; it's a given. As Seth used to say, "Didn't you hear? It's over. We lost."

But my real Pet Peeve of the week:
The Practice of Non-Usage of Words.
What the Hell is this shit? "We don't use the word, "(insert adjective/noun here)" here, because it implies (insert psychobabble of Therapy Victim here)." Give me a long break. A word is a word. Use them. What is this, the Church of the Speech Control Shamethrowers? This load of crap not only dumbs everyone down, it denies all kinds of cultural norms like blame, fault, responsibility, the entire catalog of prejudice, homophobia, ageism, sexism- everything that we are, really. It's a half-truth world, like a kid who pulls their hair over their eyes and makes himself believe the world can't see him.
And that's only one bit of how screwed up this country really is. We're fucked in the squash, as they say around here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

In her Own Words: Marge the Sarge

(I've put this off long enough. What follows is a partly-completed series of notes on her life that my mother wrote sometime in the 1980s. There are 58 numbered pages, of which 2 are missing. All written by hand in pencil, this is the fullest account we'll ever have. Although I know some of her dates to be way off, and some of the truth is played with, I'm not going to edit or correct anything. These are Marge's words as she wrote them. Nothing has been altered, even for spelling. I'll post this in several parts, as it's long, and as I can stand to type it up. I take absolutely no responsibility for what she wrote, for any lies or stories. I'll be sending the original to the family archivist once it's done.)

My first memories are from the hamlet where I was born. It was a very cold-snowy morning on March 16, 1924 7:30 a.m. when another small squall of a baby was heard in the small farmhouse alongside the Delaware River in Horton NY. Laura Mae Day Hendrickson + Fredrick Hendrickson had number 7 child- me! There was no doctor present- as the women those days delivered their children with the help of their mothers and female neighbors as I have been told. My mothers mother -and my Dad- and one other relative were with my mother at the time of my arrival in this vale of tears.

From word of mouth -handed down to each generation I was told a little of the history of my parents. My mother was the daughter of Oly+John Day. I was never told if they were born in the USA but I assumed that they were- and that their parents had been here for at least 1-2 generations before them -Grandmother Oly-had -had 2 sons and 1 daughter (my mother) by Granddad Day- who had passed on some years before my birth. She was at the time of my arrival married to my father's oldest brother Alvie and they had one daughter-Helen-

On my father's side his father was Joseph Hendrickson whose people had also been here for sometime. My Granddad Joseph- was the first white man to settle the town of Livingston Manor, NY- where theres still a placque to him- He married the daughter of a local Indian Chief "Big Feather" and Grandmother was called Little Flower- the Indians usually name their babies after the first thing the mother sees at the time the baby is born. Grandmother had a sister named White Flower-my great aunt. Who I was to learn much later is my spiritual guide along with her husband Brown Bear. From the Shoshone tribe- My Dad's parents had 4 sons and 1 daughter of which my Dad was the youngest.

My parents had 6 children before me. The first was Edith who died at around 1 1/2 from a bee sting in her mouth. Then came Madeline (Nettie as we all called her) Bert, Roy, Elvina, Thelma who died at birth- and now #7 me.

My Dad being a half-breed found it hard to get work off the farm- But about a half mile from the farm there was what everybody called the Acid Factory. I have no idea what was made there. Dad was working there along with the farmwork at the time I was born. Our house was very old. It had 3 small bedrooms-living room + kitchen+ of course no electricity- running water or bathroom- the boys slept in one BRM- the girls in the second- and mom-dad and the youngest child at the time in the 3rd B.R. There was an outhouse- with the infamous 3 holes at the back of the house near the Delaware River- and we got our water from the well or from the river when the well was low. The house was heated by a woodstove in the kitchen used also for cooking and baking and a pot belly stove in the living rm for heat- and every Sat. nite baths in the wash tub. We had an old wind up victrola with one record called the "Two Black Crows. that we kids listened to over + over.

The farm was made up. of 2 cows for milk chickens for the table-and the eggs- 3- or 4 pigs that were butchered in the fall and put in big wooden barrels in brine to get the family through the winter months. Along with the deer my father hunted. He used to trap rabbits as well- and my mother and older kids of the family caught fish mainly trout and eel from the river- these were our main supply of food. Along side the house was a sandhole where we younger kids played. Dad had a very old car- a model. T. that was used very rarely I was playing in the sandhole one day- and had my legs up over the top. As I was laying on my belly- Dad came in with the car -and ran over my legs as he didn't see me- I didn't get badly hurt as I got up and ran into the house.

Our clothes were all made by our mother and grandmother on an old peddle machine or sewn by hand. Material was used over and over handed down from oldest to youngest- + from other branches of the family and neighbors.

Our veg were always grown in a small piece of ground near the barn- and whatever wild- leeks etc that we found in the woods.

About a 1/4 mile from the farm was an old covered wooden bridge going across the Delaware to the main road- that led to the general store- gas station- post office- and the one rm school house that all the kids from the surrounding farms went to. We kids used to love to play hide and seek in the covered bridge- and after dark- scare the Dickens out of each other. It used to scare us half to deathwhen the gypsies would make their camp on a field on the other side of the river from our farm- as we were told that if we were bad we would be sold to the Gypsies. Boy were we kids ever glad to see them pack up and move on. In those days. the KKK was all over. And we used to see them ride down the main road in their white sheets- that made them look like ghosts- headed to who knows where probably to their meetings or whatever else they were up to. They threatened my Dad a few times as half-breeds + Indians seemed to be on their hate list too. I never saw a black person around those parts- so guess that the Indians +half-breeds were the only ones they had to pick on.

On Aug. 3- 1926 the Hendrickson's had another addition. My brother Donald- we lived in Horton until he was about a year old- then Dad moved us to a bigger farm in Franklin Depot NY which was about 6 miles from the town of Sidney Center and my grandmother Oly lived on a farm about ten miles away. Sidney Center was made up of- the Cheer Up General Store- a feed store- post office- 2 churches- Baptist + Methodist- a larger school- a steam train station. The rest of the town were homes and surrounding land- were farms- most of them bigger than the ones in Horton- our farm was about 1/2 mile of dirt road off the main hard road going into town. We were what was know as tennant farmers. There was a good sized orchard with apples and cherry trees- a good piece of land for vegs- about 12-15 cows - a bull- and Dad got chickens ducks- pigs and a team of horses- the house was a little bigger than the one in Horton- there was 2 bedrms upstairs- big rooms- 2 bedrooms off the living rm- and another off the kitchen- so we kids had a bit better sleeping quarters. There was a pump sink in the big kitchen- a big wood stove- for cooking baking + heat- and a big pot bellied stove in the living rm. There was an outhouse in the backyard near a small creek. And a little furthur out the barn and chicken house + pigsty- here life was a bit better- Mom still washed clothes in a couple of big tubs in the backyard- we still chopped wood for the fires- and grew our own veg- plus we had a cornfield- across the creek in the back- and the dirt road that went up a hill were woods where Dad + the older brothers hunted for deer - rabbits- muskrats- which they skinned an tanned the hides and sold- an once in awhile a bear. So our food supply was better along with the farm animals- Mom + Dad both baked bread and pies as we kids picked apples cherries and wild strawberries blackberries an blueberries that grew wild around there. We were also closer to my mothers relatives who lived in that area. Dad made the necessary money at the lumber yard about 5 miles from home- by drawing logs out of the woods to the sawmill where he also operated the saws. This money went for the things that had to be bought such as flour -sugar and stuff that wasn't grown or hunted. Still our clothes were made by hand. Shoes were few and far between and only the members of the family like Mom + Dad and the oldest kids had them.

(Ok, I need a break from typing and this story. I'll be back with part 2; we're only in page 7 God help us.)

This was where #9 was born another brother Alvie Earl- in Nov of 1928- the usual way- no doctor- my own birth certificate wasn't made out til about a week after I was born-

Dad raised fighting roosters on this farm which we kids hated with a passion. He trained them by teasing them with his hat until they would attack- then they were puit into competition with the other farmers around the area. They would attack us when we were in the yard.

Here is where I started school. My older brothers + sisters attended the same one room school housewhich was about 4 miles from the farm on the hard road going away from the town. It was named the Chapel Hill School. We walked back and forth -unless Dad or one of the other farmers were going in that direction then we got a lift- usually on hay wagon- we used to stick or toes in the tar bubbles-on the way- so by the time we got to school our feet were pretty dirty. The school had a coat room and a big classroom with a pot belly stove. In the cost room was always a tub of water where all of us had to wash our feet before we were allowed in the classroom. Our lady teacher was very strict. Every morning she made sure she had a good springy switch which was cut from one of the trees in the schoolyard. She never hesitated to use it across our legs- when we got out of line. Each class had its own section of the room to sit- God forbid anybody such slouch at their desk -cause she would come over pull you up on your feet put her knee in the middle of your back and pull your shoulders back After once or twice of that you made darn sure you didn't slouch- whenever or wherever she was around- she gave a prize of a Bilble to the kids who came out on the top of the grade they were in I got one in the second grade, which my parents prized.

(This is gonna be a loooong project. Since I type lefthanded it needs to come out in bits at a time. Unless I have a volunteer from the family who'd like to finish the job. Hint, hint.)