Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why is this chicken stew better than all others: Or, how will I ever get it all done

I opined to Scott that perhaps it was the felicitous blend of spices that made my latest chicken stew so irresistible. Or perhaps it was all the lovely people I talked to on the phone while I was chopping the veggies. Here's the recipe for this kidney-healthy recipe in which the chicken plays a minor role:

boneless chicken thighs
low-sodium chicken stock
collard greens
red peppers, green peppers
raw rice

cook all till soft and the aroma wafts from the kitchen out the front door and down the street

season with:

fresh parsley
bay leaves
cinnamon stick

Not an ounce of salt in the whole stew, yet tasty as a meringue pie or an Auntie Annie Soft Pretzel.

Tomorrow, Claudia Beechman and I will install an April is Poetry Month display case at the Abington Free Library. I was shocked when the library called me and told me to come in tomro to set it up.

I hadn't known I'd signed up! I said nary a word and called Claude hoping she were free. Claude aka La Chanteuse called and said those beautiful three words: YES.

I go to my library to return my materials and bump into the head librarian.

Margie: Are you coming tomorrow?

RZD: I haven't read the book.

Margie: It's short. You'll love it.

So, I'm slurping my chicken stew which is absolutely out of this world good (oh, wait'll I tell Arnie! he'll die!) and I'm reading Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. We read it in high school but I can't remember a thing except they all fell off the bridge and died.

What for? That's the purpose of the book. To discover this truth.

We either believe there's a divine plan for all things, or that randomness and chance rule the world.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Count me in as a Tarantino fan

This post is really about our fabulous Passover seder. Picked up Sarah in Trenton, trekked the long miles home, got a flat tire in Huntingdon Valley, put on my flashers and drag-assed it over to the Texaco station.

Byberry Road is a two-lane highway. Flashers on, I drove 15 mph and stayed in the extreme right. Boy did I piss off the other motorists. They were so impatient they passed me on the two-lane highway w/oncoming cars, yes, in the oncoming lane. Cars honked madly at them but it didn't stop our hurrier-than-thou's. Frigging assholes jeopardizing people's lives.

Fortunately, Scott was able to rescue us. He'd just woken up and came over within 20 minutes to put on the donut tire. Then we drove to his friend's tire place and got a brand-new tire. The old tire had a split in it. Could've been worse, much much worse.

Here's what we had for Passover, as made by Sarah. I put on some nice music by her husband and his band since I just rediscovered it. Ya know how you go thru phases w/listening to music.

Oh, get this! A certain composer, whose name I forget, grew up in California. He's in his forties today and is a regular white dude. Only when he hit age 17 was he introduced to the music of Beethoven. Imagine! You've got your own radio on which all sorts of music is available but it's not till he's a teenager that he hears of Beethoven.

His mind is totally blown away when he hears it. Then he goes and listens to the other great classical composers - Brahms and Bach etc - and that boy is sold! He's gonna devote his life to music and become a composer. And...he does!


Brisket of beef smothered in cooking sauce of beer, onion, carrots. Served w/horseradish sauce.

Roasted veggies - asparagus, carrots sliced lengthwise and covered with olive oil

Fresh artichoke hearts with sliced oranges

I am no longer a meat eater, but I gobbled up that brisket to make up for the meat chastity I've lived with for centuries.

Mom made the excruciatingly delicious desserts including her potato starch sponge cake. I had three pieces, avoiding the horrible fake-tasting Cool Whip, which sat on my plate like a discarded bandage.

After the company left, my sister Donna, Sarah and I watched Inglorious Basterds. "This is my masterpiece" was the last line of the film.

We saw what the hullaballoo was all about. Great flick! Donna slept thru major portions of it, I slept thru minor portions of it. Sarah couldn't figger out how we could sleep thru such a great movie.

When you get older, I explained patiently to her, you can sleep thru anything.

Today Scott and I watched Pulp Fiction. Dyou believe I've never seen it before. Oh my god, they all die. Amazing. Quentin loves his guns. Great acting by Samuel Jackson, I think's his name. He believes the Lord spared him: Divine intervention, he calls it and has to explain the meaning of that term to John Travolta.

Great scenes of snorting drugs and shooting heroin. You feel like you're right there in the room. That's Tarantino for you. You can get away with shooting heroin into your veins and beating people to death, if you can stand to watch, and not get in any trouble for it.

And you laff! That's what he does. He makes you laff at all this terrible stuff. Can you imagine a movie about Nazis persecuting the Jews and shooting em dead thru the floorboards and you sit there and laff at the little jokes in the film?

Count me in. I'm a fan of Tarantino now. My son was right. He's a great filmmaker!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Serotonin update

I'm doing an informal study on my serotonin "happy bursts." Meaning whenever I feel suddenly slightly happy. What type activities produces these good feelings?

My study began yesterday when I was kneading my latest bread. I'd mixed all the ingredients, I had on my green Starbux apron and was blabbing away on the phone, when I turned the dough onto the kitchen table.

Adding unbleached white flour to the whole wheat and rice flour dough, I began my rockin and rollin motion, using the heel of my hand, when suddenly I felt an exhilaration of spirits.

The bread was beginning to accept all the flour and was turning from raw batter into dough. Altho I was distracted by the phone discussion, I intuitively felt that elevated feeling as the batter turned into bread dough.

The next serotonin surge was when I drove to painting class. Just the act of driving fuels my serotonin. I just love to drive. I guess I feel in command, powerful that I can wield an automobile. That's why whenever I buy a new one I make sure I have visibility out the window and have awesome pick-up.

Seeing my art teacher and classmates brought on the next serotonin surge. Chris Hall, I swear to god, was wearing jodhpurs in class. Quite the dresser. And I love "W.Babb" as he signs his paintings. He went missing last week cuz it was his birfday. I asked how he celebrated it. "My wife made roast beef and mashed potatoes."

"Can't get much better than that, Bill," I said. Of course I didn't tell him I don't eat meat (maybe a bite) and I avoid my all-time favorite mashed potatoes due to my kidney-healthy diet (potatoes are high in potassium).

Bill had a good point how color is probly the most important ingredient in painting. That's why he and I always check w/our teacher on how to create colors that are not muddy but are rich and deep.

When my therapy client was giving me her check this morning, I showed her what I painted last nite. It's not finished, I told her. I'd brought in a beer bottle stuck with my backyard forsythias. Since the beer bottle was a beautiful brownish-yellow I asked Chris what background color to paint.

Would green look good? I asked.

He nodded. To make the green, we used a little red mixed in with the green. It gave it a richness and a depth. The man is good.

After class I was faint w/hunger so attacked my new loaf of bread. Ate it while perusing the Times. Isn't that sickening all the charges against the Pope about the pedophiliac Father Murphy who molested over 200 deaf boys. He continued to do so after he'd been discovered until his dying day. Too bad there's not a judgment day.

Then I thought to myself, hmmm, I wonder if my latest newspaper article is online. Sure enough, there it was. You can read it here.

By now my serotonin was playing Ode to Joy by Beethoven, the last movement of his Ninth. You do know, don't you, that during my first mania -- which seems like yesterday -- I thought Beethoven himself was communicating with me.

What an honor! Our unconscious self is pure genius. The genius of the Creator -- Evolution -- who evolved us into thinking self-aware creatures. Scott and I were saying last nite, We could've looked like the dinosaurs and found each other stunning and voluptuous, but the way it worked out is we look like homo sapiens.

I'll never forget a bipolar man who once called me on the phone and told me he felt like an alien. We didn't talk much but I've never forgotten his statement. When we're born, we fortunately 'take' to other human beings. Ever seen that Twilight Zone episode where the woman had a pig-like nose and eyes, plastic surgery didn't work for her, and she was exiled with other creatures who looked like her.

Here's an interesting serotonin-upper. Was driving and listening to Caroline from the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album. Fab! I parked my car and sat listening to the end and came up w/an idea to jot down. I pulled out my PINK PAD I keep in the pouch on the driver's side.

Just seeing that g'damn pink pad filled me with joy!

Dyou spose something's the matter with me?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pain and suffering

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviews palliative care pioneer Dr Diane Meier of Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC in this short, poignant video.

Palliative care means pain management of serious chronic illness, not only brink of death illness.

Those of us who have ever experienced agonizing physical pain can relate when Meier says it is not character building to do so or there is no moral purpose, as many believe, by this agony. I am wondering if America's embracing of Jesus suffering on the cross has something to do with this ignorant attitude: that suffering is ultimately redemptive. That, I contend, is a morally reprehensible position.

My family doctor and I were talking about my sciatic pain thother day when I went in. I'd told him that a couple yrs ago I was laid up for months, couldn't even leave home to visit a beloved aunt who came to town. Scott would come over and take care of me. My family left me food.

Now, the sciatica is simply an annoyance, I told Dr Fox.

I spent nearly 35 minutes with him in the small examining room. Thirty-five minutes. We covered all my concerns. He was in no hurry to leave. I was given full personal attention and told him how glad I was he's my doctor.

He answered all my questions such as Why do I have such big black n blue marks? B/c when you have kidney disease like I do, your platelets work with less efficiency.

He said it's nothing to be 'tremendously concerned about.' He's very reassuring. He also wields a laptop, as do all five doctors in the practice. My previous test results were all there at the touch of a finger. I'd recently gotten a slew of tests for a possible kidney transplant and he looked up the results for me. Without leaving his chair, which was a padded stool with rollers on which he easily moved back n forth.

From the time I sat down in the waiting room and pulled out my book, The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, until I was called in, not even five minutes passed. They weighed me and took my b/p, put me in an exam room, I read a few pages, and then a polite knock came at the door.

In walked Dr Fox in his comfy black clog-like shoes except they do have backs, he told me. Comfy, like him.

Feel free to share your own comments about your doctors. BTW, Maria's question below under Disconnected drew many insightful comments, for which she and I are very grateful.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mummy liked my meatloaf (continued from previous post)

We all ate meatloaf together, Mummy, Ellen and I. Mum put it between two whole wheat Arnold bread slices, which stank of preservative, so I declined, and ate my straight, as did Ellie.

We talked and watched while Mummy opened the mail.

She gave me the most recent Cleveland Jewish News cuz we're from Cleveland. She wanted me to read the cover story about Tay-Sachs disease, the horrible progressive genetic disease that usually kills Jewish children before the age of 5.

I had known it killed people othan the Jews cuz my neighbor Mary's late husband was a Tay-Sachs researcher. If you wanna read his scientific papers, google EE Grebner. Hiergyphix to me.

The CJN contains clear writing. I used to baby-sit for David Schonberg, now 51, who has late-onset Tay-Sachs. For the fascinating story, click here and scroll down to the second article.

Thank god Mummy liked the meat loaf. Didn't think it was undercooked. Of course, we ovened it for 20 minutes.

Ah, here comes the school bus. Time for me to work on Chapter Four. What music shall we put on?

Thank God for the new Healthcare Reform Bill / Meatloaf Recipe

I wrote those very words on the back of my envelope to the MIDDLEMEN who take c/o my health insurance. And I wrote the message on a scrap of yellow paper b/c I am so thrilled with the bill.

Since I'll be 65 in December of this year, I'll no longer have to pay my $555 monthly premium, since I'll be on Medicare, plus some supplemental insurance.

I celebrated the passage of this historic bill with Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Biden, who proclaimed its passage a "big fucking deal" by munching on popcorn and grapes and drinking ice-cold water on tap.

Cleaned up my living room today cuz I thought Mummy was coming over, but she doesn't feel well. (Sorry, I've taken on the language of Sarah Layton of the excellent 1984 British series Jewel in the Crown.) Mummy has her good days and bad days, and today turned out to be a not so good day, so I cleaned it for naught. It does look rather nice, though. I'd spread out the four paintings I did in painting class to show her.
I do luv Mummy, you know.

Daddy, who's been gone nearly half my life now, once said these immortal words about his mother/ mean Gramma Lily. She was, at the time, in her early 80s and was the miserable human being she'd always been.

Daddy said something like this: "She should be getting ready to meet her maker instead of complaining all the time."

Might we say this about Mummy, too?

I'd like to go over there today and bring her some of my meatloaf.

I thought Scott would swoon over it like I did, but he had a good point when he said, "It ain't cooked enough. Will I get sick?"

He was correct about the baking. I'd treated it like bread, not meat, and stuck it in a non-preheated oven for 45 minutes. The top looked done, so I removed it. The smell was overpoweringly delicious and I confess I was starving, removed it, and ate three huge and delicious pieces.

I gave Nick Breslin (our Mon/Weds phone greeter) the recipe over the phone. Now I shall give it to you, over the Internet.


Into a large bowl, put

- 1 pound of ground chicken or turkey meat

- 1/3 cup Filler, such as bread crumbs, sawdust, oats, dead stinkbugs, or -- and this is what I used -- cooked rice

- 1 grated carrot for extra nutrition (we like food around here, not vitamins)

- 1 small onion, grated

- 2 eggs (you can beat them off to the side in the large bowl so you don't have to dirty another bowl)

Before mixing everything -- and I do it w/my hands cuz I'm not afraid to get em messy, I'm a bread-maker, remember --

Get another large bowl and mix your TOPPING into it:

Since I don't eat tomatoes (I'm on a special kidney-healthy diet) I use:

- mayo, half cup

- spicy mustard, one-third cup

- honey

- 2 whole garlic cloves, pressed

Mix together till blended with a fork.

NOW get ready to build your meatloaf.

Into an oiled pan (sides and bottom oiled) put your meatloaf mix you mixed till blended with your fingers or a spoon.

Spread the top with the mayo frosting.

Bake at 350 for an hour or a speck longer.

Your house will smell fantastic, Share with boyfriend, would-be boyfriends, husbands (what's that?) and prepare to travel great distances with it to feed your friends.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Farewell to Matt

I just clicked on his Facebook photo which showed a pensive bald-headed man with beard sitting in his kitchen, head bowed. Almost seemed like he was in mourning...of himself. He died in the hospital last week at age 47, wrung out from his battle with lymphoma. "There wasn't enough morphine in the world," said his mother, "to stop his pain."

I pulled up to his mom's house in Maple Glen, where the memorial would be held. Couldn't find a parking space on the street but I slowly drove round the cul-de-sac where two young girls were playing basketball. I yelled out the window: Is it okay if I park here? I didn't wanna block their game.

They said Yes.

"I know you!" I said. "You're Nina."

I'd seen her photo on my friend's refrigerator.

I'd just come from a NAMI meeting in Glenside where they were trying to get rid of all their food at the end of the meeting. They gave me brownies and pumpkin bread. I ate all the pumpkin bread on the ride to Helene's. Listening to a talk on How Cognitive Therapy can be of Help for Psychosis sure works up your appetite. My, that bread hit the spot.

Nina, would you and your friend like some brownies?

They took em and I said, Just put the extras back in the backseat.

I lugged in a homemade rye bread and added it to the heaps of food in every single room of the house.

I met so many interesting people. When I first began talking to the first person I met, an artist whose name I can't remember, I was talking in my usual cheerful voice. The artist's voice was hushed, however, even tho he had a bottle of beer in his hand. I realized you weren't sposed to be happy, so, abashed, I went to comfort myself with lemon squares.

At the lemon square table I met two divorced women who swore they "weren't going to settle." My neighbor Patrick and I just had a talk about what makes for a good relationship or marriage. I shared these qualities with the two holdouts who are waiting for their prince. BTW, I did say to them, There's lots of good men out there.

Here's what men want, I said, and not necessarily in this order:


Then Helene, Matt's mom came into the room and saw me.

You're here! she said. Your mom's food is entirely gone.

Then she disappeared and so did I, wandering into the light-filled dining room. Usually one of Aaron's jigsaw puzzles is on the table. Instead...more food. I popped every raw veggie into my mouth I could see, to counteract the lemon square damage.

"Hi, my name is Ruth, I'm a friend of Helene's" was my standard line and the way I met other people. She and I met when I worked at Art Matters magazine. I apprised people of the current state of the mag, if they didn't know. Someone mentioned the name of Burton Wasserman -- good ole Uncle Bertie as I used to call him -- and thought how marvelous it'd be to see him again. Retired art professor and critic at Art Matters.

I was fired from Art Matters in 1984 when I had my nervous breakdown. Manic-psychotic episode. Helene remained my friend throughout, tho two friends I'd made thru Art Matters dropped me.

And don't say, well, then, you don't need Doris Brandes or Mildred Goldberg. This is called rationalization. I liked them! Loved Doris, in fact, tho I've stopped loving her now that she's dead. The woman in purple.

Helene and her husband Aaron were out on the back deck. What a lovely day for the funeral. It's a huge deck. We often eat out there. We prop open the screen door and make several trips. I sit so I can look at the little forest beyond her house with the babbling brook and birds flying all over.

A tall woman named Sarah was massaging Helene's feet. I stood over her cuz I didn't feel like sitting down. She was drinking a beer and had a nice buzz on. I met a no. of her friends I'd never known before including a sculptor friend Ruth Davis who told me she doesn't sculpt anymore cuz she's too old. That made me really sad, tho I didn't say so.

When the tall woman stood up I asked her height: six foot three and a half. Her kids are taller than she is.

By now, of course, people were laffing and having a merry old time. Someone gave Helene a book of photos of Matt. She started looking at em and then pushed them away. "I can't do it right now," she said.

Helene is a woman who knows what she wants. And does what she wants. When I called her the next day to see how she was, she said, The phone hasn't stopped ringing. I can't talk now except to say, "Manufacturing Depression by Gary Goldberg."

Then she hung up.

What's a gal to do? Look up the book, of course. Like me, Helene HAD bipolar disorder but no longer has it. See! I'm not the only one. She still sees her psychiatrist tho for check-ups. Look, she doesn't mind driving down to Penn, God bless her.

I took two beer bottles home -- they were beautiful with American flags on em -- Stoudts Beer form Lancaster County - and I'll put a few of my backyard jonquils in them and stick them in the front window. Bring another bottle across the street to my neighbor.

Jonquils are a variety of daffodils.

Spring is Nora's favorite time of year. She likes the tender green buds on the trees.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Our disconnected lives

Today I received an email from a dear friend I'll call Maria. Here's the question she posed:

Hi Ruthela!

I am always trying to think what really is the difference in my life that keeps me depressed. I know there's something very different than before because I just got better on the meds & lived a fulfilled normal life!

I think I just realized a BIG thing that I NEVER thought of before...I feel very dis-connected. By this I mean I feel like I fill my days but my days aren't just filled. If you know what I mean.

I used to just get into my car & ride over & see a friend. Or my friends would just stop by...I had a very busy life. Now I see my friends when we make plans to see each other & I am even that way with my family members.

I don't feel like I am a part of anyone's life. Nothing is a routine. If I stop over my mom's...I call first. I have many friends but not a friend that I just drop over & see. Even my kids don't just stop over...although I know they don't live close enough to just stop by but they would rather go out & eat then get together here.

What do you think? Did it take years for my life to turn into this or is this the way everybody lives now? I just don't feel like I am a part of anybody's life but my husband's.

I know I did distance myself from people when I was depressed for a long that what happened? I don't know how this happened. Yet when I make plans with people..1/2 the time I have to force myself to go. Does any of this make sense to you? Is there a name for this? How can I change this?

Love, Maria

Great question, Maria. I'll take a stab at answering this but maybe some of our readers can offer some insights such as fellow bloggers Iris or Stephen.

First of all, times have indeed changed. Many families remain close and see their grown children regularly. This, I am told, is the exception. People are primarily motivated by what other people do. They don't like to think for themselves. Peer pressure.

People mostly hang out with their own age group. They'd prefer seeing their contemporaries than being with the parents that raised them. This is a fact and must be accepted or we'll be miserable.

In the 'good ole days' visiting was something everyone looked forward to. Every Sunday when I was growing up, like you, in the 1950s and 60s, we'd drive to Aunt Selma and Uncle Marv's house. We'd sit in the den and talk. Or I'd visit with cousin Mark to see his latest artwork or maybe shoot a few hoops in the backyard. Gramma Green also lived with them back then. There were no such things as assisted living homes.

How times have changed.

Thother day I said to boyfriend Scott, let's go visit your folks! They live 15 minutes away.

What for? was his answer.

People also work long hours just as in the past. Are we busier today than ever before? Dunno. But time is more precious, perhaps, and with the lost art of visiting, people occupy themselves by their favorite pasttime of going out to eat. Why? Is it the commercialization of eating out? Is it just plain fun? Again, I dunno.

Without question, people are meant to live together and socialize together. It's in our DNA. You are an exceptionally social person. Perhaps that part of your brain is more developed than others, a darn good thing, cuz you're very good w/people.

Perhaps that's why you have such a tough time being alone.

What to do to help yourself? Well, you helped yourself enormously by doing all your volunteer work during the week, but clearly that's not enough. You're a person who can't enjoy your days off.

There is nothing wrong with that. Again, it's how you're wired.

Even tho you said you don't like making plans, you should probly schedule at least one fun activity on weekends to get you out of your home doldrums. You are one person who cannot be home and be happy. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. It's simply the way you are.

When I worked for 13 yrs as a psychotherapist, I used to dread weekends. Like you, I was always blue. Not depressed. Blue. Without work, as Camus said, everything went rotten.

Once I scheduled activities on the weekend I was fine. It took me an awfly long time to do dat, though, cuz I was sunk in my routine.

Hope this is helpful, Maria. Let me have your thoughts.

Another day, another rye bread

Yes, it's rising in the oven now. When the timer goes off I'll bake it for 45 minutes and then you're all invited over. Peggela, that means you! She's our new weekend phone greeter.

Seven people came to my free breadmaking class at Abington Free Library. I got paid. The check is sitting unopened in my backpack.

This class was for kids. I bring nametags and pasted one on my green Starbucks apron. "Ruth." What? I should write Iris?

As they came in, I'd write a tag. For example, the girl said her name was Sophia.

Hi, Sophia, I said. Is that spelled the regular way?

Yes, she said.

A little boy was next.

And what's your name? I asked

Qatir, he said, spelled the regular way.

The class lasts 90 minutes. I always bring in the dough I'd prepared that morning, show them how to punch it down, then divide it into loaves, and let it rise 15 minutes, then pop it into the oven in the adjoining kitchen.

We eat the hot bread at the end of the class, spread with butter. Alex, who's working on his Boy Scout badge in cooking, didn't like the pumpernickel I'd baked with caraway seed, so I said, I'll finish it for you.

Everyone else gobbled up theirs.

Not a single person in the class had ever heard of caraway seed. I brought in some samples and had them all taste it. I also brought in whole nutmeg and cinnamon for them to see and use in their own breads.

I went around with my nutmeg grater. Call me the Nutmeg Fairy, I said. Every time I came around with ingredients, I'd say, Now I'm the Yeast Fairy. Now I'm the Molasses Fairy, and I'd pour the ingredient in their bowl.

At the end of class, they asked for cinnamon sticks to chew on. Sure, I said, handing them out. They stuck em in their mouths.

It's better than smoking, I said. Erin told me she'd stopped three people from the horrid smoking habit. (My dad died from cancer from smoking. So do two of the characters in my novel.)

Pass me a cinnamon stick.

We ended perfectly on time, as we always do. Very important to begin on time and end on time when you hold a class.

One adult attended the class. Linda taught me something new. I was showing everyone how to knead. "Use the bottom of your hand," I said.

"My grandmother said it was called the HEEL of the hand."

"Wow," I said. The heel of the hand is very strong. The kids were using their fingers a lot, but the heel has come down thru millions of years of evolution as the strong tool that it is. Forget bread machines!

Thank you, Linda.

Before class started I called Arnie from our group to invite him to the class. Arnie's a great cook, always trying new things, including an oven-baked potato latka recipe that came out hard as shoe leather.

He also bakes his own biscuits and breads.

Arnie said he noticed his energy level was decreasing. He wasn't as productive as before. Arnie has bipolar disorder and there's only about one med he's ever taken over the past many many years that's worked: the new Prestiq.

We wondered if it had stopped working or what?

We thought it might help Arnie if he gets regular aerobic exercise at least 20 minutes a day.

He couldn't attend the class since he was taking his grandkids to the movies.

I asked my breadmaking kids if they'd seen any good movies lately. Qatir, spelled the regular way, said he saw an awesome Ninja something movie. Erin was gonna see Alice in Wonderland. Anyone know if it's any good? Where the Wild Things Are was roundly panned.

At the end of the class, Linda and are I chatting. She'd always had trouble, like many people, working with yeast. But she saw, right before her eyes, the yeast working on her bread dough, elevating it, lifting it, rising toward the beautiful March 20 sky.

I told her I run a support group, the largest in the Philadelphia area for folks with depression, bipolar disorder, and their family members.

She interrupted me. Oh, she said. You're Ruth Deming.

We laffed.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Orange petals

That's the title of my newest painting. My teacher used the word "awesome" when he described my lack of talent. Scott said, "You even put the little black dots inside the petals of the flower." Scott, also known as the Beau of Cowbell, is the art critic for the Willow Grove Times (which has just popped into existence in this blog).

"I like to cram things into the picture," I said to my teacher Chris. I can't stand quietness. I particularly like patterns. Matisse is one of my favorite artists. When he could no longer paint due to old age, he made cut-outs of shapes. When you enter my bedroom -- and I hope you will -- you'll have to wait in line, tho -- you'll see a print by Matisse I bought at Ze Barnes.

Dyou think I'll ever learn to put photos on my blog the way Bill Hess does?

Here's a classic exchange that took place at our Thurs nite painting class at Abington High School.

RZ: I wanna make a table to put the pitcher on. (I'd managed to make something that was recognizable as a pitcher with some orange flowers sticking out of it that were passing fair as flowers.)

CH: Okay, what color do you instinctively think would go well with your burnt umber background and the green pitcher?

RZ: Actually, Chris, nothing is coming to me.

CH: I see blue.

RZ: Oh, you're right. I'll make it blue. Powder blue. But I want it checkered. (I looked up expectantly at him like a child at his parent.)

CH: I like that. I like it a lot.

Well, first you gotta mix your blue paint. Everything is complicated. Very sensual experience squeezing out the acrylic paint from its tube. I checked w/Chris to see if when I mix the paint, I can 'scrub' it back n forth. I told him my elem. school art teacher was Viola Wike. What I did not tell him was that she said, DON'T FRIGGING SCRUB WITH YOUR BRUSH.

One time, (I was always the teacher's pet cuz I was smart and adorable), I gave the right answer - the word 'technique' - and she picked me up off the ground and hugged me in front of the whole class.

I was mortified.

Now, I'd gotten a fairly decent painting so far and all I was trying to do was not ruin the thing. Every time I set brush to canvas something goes wrong.

Once the teacher came over to me thother nite and said, Ruth, that orange color is muddy. It's not too late to wipe it off.

I'm still not sure what a muddy color is but we bring wet rags to class so I mopped it off.

The final painting never comes out the way you think. Scott, the art critic of the Times, said he really liked the little yellow circles I made all over the pitcher.

I laffed remembering the difficulty I had making em. Chris didn't want me to fill em in, so they look like Cheerios, but don't think about it.

Okay, time to get ready for my breadmaking class this afternoon at Abington Libe. I hope I remember to show up.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Second draft finished

Just left my teacher a message on Facebook:

Finished the revision. My BF will review it and then I'll email you the final copy.

Quick word about Facebook. I love Facebook. Not so much for myself, but for all the people who use it. My own FB philosophy is: Get on and off as fast as possible. The 90-second rule.

While writing my 18-chapter novel, I comfort myself by eating popcorn and listening to Harold Budd. I YouTubed Beethoven's Ninth cuz it played a small role in the novel, and also in my life. When I had my first manic-psychotic episode I thought I was in communication with the Maestro. Who knows? Maybe I was. But, please, isn't there an easier way? Cost me a trip in the police car to Norristown State Hospital where I was confined for the worst three days of my life.

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Sometimes I lay in bed and wonder what it'd be like if I flipped out again. It's been seven or eight years. No meds. Before I fall asleep at nite, I hear people's voices and also music. Lasts about a minute till I fall asleep. I imagine this happens to other people, that you don't have to have bipolar to have this happen.

Talk to people. It's the only way to find out!

I did talk today to Sienna, the DC aide of my US representative, saying I'm behind Allyson Schwartz's efforts to pass the health insurance bill. It's my no. one priority, I said to Sienna. "Allyson's also," she said.

A new guy from our support group called me last nite. Where's the note I wrote about what he said about our group? Hypergraphic me!

I threw it out. Something like -- the guy is Italian, 70 yrs old, retired -- "it was the most freeing experience I've ever had. I feel liberated! The group just flowed. I felt like I've known you all my life."

Turns out the guy's a frigging Republican. Gives all the bogus reasons why healthcare reform won't work... you know, takeover by big government, spiraling healthcare costs. Doesn't the man read the statistics like I do? I told him, Who runs the Social Security program? I said I've been getting notices from them for the past 20 yrs, clearly stating what my benefits would be when I retire.

When I hit 62 yrs of age, they seamlessly forwarded my monthly benefits to my bank account. Never made a misstep.

Like talking to the wall, albeit a friendly one.

Oh! Wait'll I tell you what I made in my painting class last nite.

Remind me to write about it in my next blog. I took it over to Scott's this morning and the first thing he said was, "Wow! That's your best one yet!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

He finds me New Music

Thievery Corporation
Pink Floyd, esp. Dark Side of the Moon

Not only do I listen to em on the increasingly obnoxious YouTube with its ads popping out like punches to your jaw, (okay, take it easy, Ruthie) but I also google the groups. Are they people just like you and me?

You bet they are until they let their passions consume them!

So where did I meet young Greg, which is not his real name cuz he doesn't know I'm writing about him and doesn't have time to waste like you do reading my blog.

Poetry Night was about a month ago at the Elkins Park Library.

The room was packed, as always. I started taking mental notes just in case some local paper let me write an article about the event. One paper did but they screwed me out of paying me. The editor told me to write a 900-word story but then published it as an unpaid Guest Column. Clever move, MM.

Thanks for letting me vent. (People always say this to me.)

At the library I sit next to a handsome young man w/honey-blond hair falling to the middle of his back and a sky-blue tie-dyed T-shirt. Just moved here from Pittsburgh to live with his dad and finish up high school.

I didn't say nothin but I thought to myself, his mother is either mentally ill or a drug addict. Turns out, says young Greg, she is both.

I did write about him in my Guest Column and we've become pen pals. At 18, he's working on his first novel. I wrote him not to lose his idealism and his enthusiasm.

And now, back to the Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.

My supply of 'backs' is dangerously low

I left Scott two messages on his answering machine:

"Just realized I only have about two inches of backs left. Please bring me some more from SEPTA." (Backs, of course, are the reverse side of papers that are headed for the trash bin.)

Second message: "Just got an email. It reads: Peppers and tomatoes will arrive late april. You shouldn't plant them until the frost date (May 15th). We have in stock cold weather vegetables. Lettuce mixes, broccoli, cauliflower, yellow cauliflower, swiss chard, mustard greens, spinach, onion plants, and more.

We'll buy our plants from Primex this year.

Scott will till the soil this weekend while I'm giving a breadmaking class and then visit a friend who lost her married son to cancer. She told me There wasn't enough morphine in the world to stop his pain.

I'll probly collect for the 'Leukemia & Lymphoma Society" -- which is what Matt died from -- since I have the kit on my desk for the third year straight. I didn't collect last year. I'd written them I wouldn't be a volunteer but they still sent it to me. This year, I'll collect in the name of Matt Ryesky. Letters of condolence are pouring into his Facebook site.

Vat else? Oh, I forgot I'm on camera.

Stayed up late working on Chapter 11 of my novel. I don't know about you, but when I get tired, it comes in a heap, and I'll fall asleep while typing or whatever, and I can barely drag myself upstairs to bed.

Oh! Now I remember what I wanted to talk about. Young Greg. But, see, I've gotta go back to bed for a few minutes so remind me to tell you about Greg (not is real name) in another post. His mom has bipolar.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Directions' Connexions Social Group

Hi everyone,

For 6 weeks, starting Saturday, March 27, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., I'll be running another Connexions Social Group. We learn social and communication skills that will enhance our lives in the important areas of:

- dating
- finding better jobs
- asking for things we want (also called assertiveness skills)

Already signed up are people with the following diagnoses:

Schizoaffective Disorder
Bipolar Disorder

I'd like a total of 15 people for this exciting group which will meet in 3 places:

- Willow Grove Giant Supermarket, Second Floor Classroom
- My Willow Grove home
- Home of one of our members to give them an opportunity to practice hosting skills

Each 90-minute session will include a give and take between members who will get to know one another and share their triumphs and setbacks. Improved self-awareness -- or how we come across to others -- will occur in this setting of trust and confidentiality.

Each person will set a goal at each session, such as "Ask my boss for a raise" or "Call the Red Cross and ask for a volunteer job."

We believe every person deserves a life of meaning. A brain disorder is a hurdle but is no obstacle to a fulfilling and productive life. Did you watch 60 Minutes last Sunday?

Profiled was Michael Burry, MD, a hedge fund owner who has Asperger's syndrome. He made millions of dollars on Wall Street b/c he foresaw the economic debacle and invested in securities he knew would bring him a fortune. He was one of the first to spot the economic meltdown precisely b/c of his 'disability' which allowed him to be an independent thinker, not a blind follower.

Our Connexions Group will make use of peer support, one of the best ways for effecting change.

Send me an email at Ruth Deming at if you're interested in attending. Or call me at 215-659-2142.

This program is supported by a generous grant from NAMI Glenside, PA.

I've run two such groups, supported by the Douty Foundation.

I look forward to YOUR participation and, as I always say, I learn just as much from the group as you will. Ada Moss Fleisher will co-lead when she's not in DC caring for her new grandson, Alec Reid Fleisher.

Ada, as you know, is head of our Depression Group, and runs Ada's Outing one Wednesday per month.


Our Trip to NYC on Saturday, June 26

Hi everyone,

Helen Kirschner, head of The Willow Grove Mall Talk -- the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month from 10-11:30 am, third floor Food Court near Saladworks -- is organizing a trip to The Big Apple to see the award-winning musical Next to Normal.

It's about a woman with bipolar disorder and the havoc it wreaks on her family.

We'll ride a Hagey Tour Coach bus for $38 per person and see the play -- seats are about $60 apiece.

If interested, please send me an email or call me at 215 659 2142.

Tentative date is Saturday, June 26. We're looking for at least 15 people for the group rate.

BTW, Helen and Larry have always done a great job organizing our yearly Bonfire at Southampton's Tamanend Park. We're proud to hold our bonfire on the most miserable night of the season. But we keep warm by the fire as we tell stories and eat S'Mores.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My favorite store profiled in the Inky

Thanks, Ada, for sending me this link about Impact Thrift Shop in Hatboro, PA. For tonite's New Directions meeting, Our Little Ruthie will appear in a B&W houndstooth check shirt from Impact, her warm dress pants from niece Melissa, with a telltale purple painting stain from her Thursday Night Painting Class.

Her living room consists of two lovely matching sofas from Impact, a neutral gray and white, so they won't clash with her bright purple walls. She types upon an Ikea desk she bought at a garage sale down the street, and her second desk in the dining room is from Impact. It holds sooo many things.

Before Impact, Hatboro housed a huge department store called Santerian's, which, sadly, was a victim of shoppers' changing habits, namely, The Willow Grove Mawl, which is now in partial decline -- where do they go? Target, I spose, or TJ Maxx or yay-for-Marshall's.

There is not one single new item in my living room, safe for the lamps.

My new kitchen table is from my dtr/law Nicole who got it from her actor-brother Sean when he moved to California (I think).

Recycling: it makes life easy and brings fond memories of the people who've given us these things.

VFCC reads their sweatshirt

At 4:30 yesterday I was hard at work on my novel when there came a loud knock.

I was in my novel trance and wondered who it could be.

Of course! Audrey Moody was here to pick me up and whisk me away to Valley Forge Christian College for me to make a presentation to her class on my favorite illness.

VF Christian used to be Valley Forge Hospital but was cleverly converted into an Assemblies of God church. The only people I know of that religion are my accountant and a deceased friend of mine, Mary Pasorini, who plays a cameo role in my novel.

"That girl forgets she has a mother!" Mary tells the visiting Mollie Feigenbaum. I actually lived in the same apartment complex as Mary who fed me with her golden pizelles and chestnut-filled cookies at Xmas time. Her sister Angie died in the tragic explosion that killed 6 people when Hurricane Allison made her merciless visit in 2001.

The drive to the college was spectacular. Since I'm always the driver, I love to sight-see out the window. Audrey and I were chatting away -- she used to be the therapist for my deceased brother David, though she barely remembered him but for his dark hair and eyes -- and I was peripherally watching the flowing countryside we drove thru.

Audrey announced this was Valley Forge National Park. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Little log cabins stood here and there reminding us that George Washington and his troops once camped out here. Very hilly ground, as well as sacred ground.

The 15 or so students were a wonderful audience. I got our New Directions website up on the huge screen. Classrooms are not like when I went to college in the 1960s or for my master's in the late 1980s. They are techno-advanced. Every seat has an outlet to plug in your laptop. Students at VF had a choice of an Apple or a Dell. Make mine Apple. (I've got a Dell.)

All the classrooms are the same. I'd call them Your Standard Generic Classroom. Nothing much to look at, but oh what a difference a good teacher makes.

The goal of course is to keep the student's attention. No need for me to prepare my material since I live the situation every day. But I wanted to give the 'kids' a feel of what it feels like to have the illness.

So I brought Chapter 10 of my book and read a selection. This is the first time I've shared it with anyone other than my own personal Annie Sullivan. The class was riveted, I'm glad to say.

I've got a precious 90 minutes right now to get back to work on it. Must squeeze time in whenever I can.

It CAN be done, ladies and gentlemen, yes it can.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Good morning, sunshine!

At 10:17 a.m., I was standing in my kitchen eating breakfast. Drives Scott crazy. Sit down, relax, he says.

Me, I like to stand up when I eat.

So I'm standing in the kitchen eating my scrambled egg, grapefruit, and rye toast drizzled with olive oil, when suddenly I become aware that the kitchen is getting brighter. When I left Scott's house next door this morning, wearing a jacket and beret over my pajamas, it was drizzling. Days of nonstop rain. I braced myself for more of the same.

While I eat my breakfast, I walk around looking out my windows. Over the sink I can see the little woods behind my house. Tree buds are beginning to bloom. Can spring really be here? I gaze over at my forsythias. A yellow haze around them indicates a change in their status.

Suddenly I realize I'm glowing. Yes, I'm standing there in my kitchen all lit up. "I'm all lit up," I say, walking to the front door.

Sure enough, right above Charley's house is the fat ole sun -- hello, sun! -- it's been a long long time since I've seen your beautiful face. Stay a little while. Love me some more.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pass health insurance reform now!

As the video says, "I'm mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore." Thanks for sending this powerful video, Ada. We WILL get our health reform bill passed.

I pay $556 a month out of my own pocket b/c I don't work for anybody. Fortunately, my Keystone Health Plan East is a decent plan -- it's owned by the nonprofit Independence Blue Cross -- and it's the single largest bill I pay, except for the mortgage payments I make on my condo in Bermuda next to Mayor Bloomberg's.

BTW, I'm still in my pajamas and have gone outside five times today due to the extremely high winds. I brought my garbage can back where it belongs. It rolled into Scott's yard due to the high winds. I put my plants out to be rained on. The poinsettia blew over. My birdbath is lying on its side but it'll only blow over again. It needs more sand in the base.

Am making fantastic progress on my novel. Can you hear the Harold Budd music playing in the background? That's the new-age music I put on to foster lucid brain action. I emailed the novel to my son in case the power goes out or a tree limb falls on the house and kills me.

If I start typing and don't finish a sentence, please don't

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Without work all life goes rotten"

So said Albert Camus.

I couldn't agree more. When I found I had time on my hands during the day, I took a chance and emailed a local paper asking if I could write for them.

I crafted my query letter carefully and sent it off, thinking I'd never hear from them.

Next day, the editor wrote back, saying he had an assignment for me, do I take photographs.

Sure, I wrote back.

That meant I had to master taking photos with my quirky Kodak.

Made a trip to my son's house so he could help me.

All went well when I interviewed Lynne Whitsel.

Because I needed to squeeze article-writing time into my schedule, I was more efficient than usual. Our brains are wired to work. My brain likes to work at least 10 hours a day, with naps in between.

So, I began working on my novel at a more ferocious pace -- popcorn sustains me, when I write -- and I finished the first revision on Monday before midnight.

What a relief. I actually like the novel. When I don't like what I read, I say, How can I make this more interesting to myself? My teacher puts check-marks on parts she likes. I've excised whole sections that I don't like.

I sent my teacher a note on Facebook - it seems less intrusive than sending her an email - and I told her my progress and that she was right about the need to flesh in my Quito-born character who I'm terribly in love with.

I wandered senselessly all around town last nite searching for Angel Guerrero. What's a lovesick author to do?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Many Uses of a Kitchen Timer

I have four of them. I left one of them in the Abington Library at my last breadmaking class.

Newest use is to set it for 30 minutes and only THEN can I check my emails since I'm hard at work on my novel. I've got 28 minutes before I can see if my daughter wrote me back.

Other uses:

Tonite I'm gonna watch a Kurasawa film on Turner Classic Films, in honor of his 100th birthday. Gee, he's even older than Walter, tho Akira is moldering in his grave. At 7 pm I'll set my timer so I don't forget to watch it at 8.

Breadmaking is the chief way I use the timer. Bing! Time to punch it down, time to let it rise. Sounds like boxing. Or wife-beating.

I set it for all cooking I do. That's why I don't burn things like MaMA does. Ya can't teach old ma's new tricks.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. - Reinhold Niebuhr

No, I did not watch the Academy Awards. My timer was not set.

I also use it when I ride my stationery bike, setting the timer for 20 excruciating minutes, the most boring exercise ever invented.

I know, I know. Do something you like Ruthie! Does talking burn calories?

22 minutes left. I'm making great progress on my novel. I get up frequently from my desk, not only so I can see the beautiful world beyond my windows, but to give my neck a rest. Can you see me massaging my poor ole wrinkly neck now?

I love my neck and didn't mean to disparage it. It's taken me on a fantastic 64-year journey and I ain't dead yet.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Researching my novel

I'm halfway thru the second revision of my first novel. My teacher told me, correctly, I should flesh out one of my characters, Angel Guerrero, who hails from Ecuador. He's one of those self-made Americans who comes up with an idea and thru hard work and innate business sense does well. His job? He owns his own line-striping company.

What, you may ask, is that? Well, my Scottie, long before he worked at SEPTA owned his own such business. A hard worker with an innate business sense, he went broke and it took a couple years to pay off his debts. His partner's wife embezzled the company funds and used them to buy drugs.

I went online to see what line-striping machines look like. Scott still has the machines in his garage. But good ole Dan Zurcher of American Line Striping tells us that for an initial investment of two to four-thousand dollars we, too, can make a living by line-striping. Thanks for the great idea, Dan. I think I'll pass.

Because I can do anything I want in my novel, within reason, I have Irv Kravitz, psychiatrist, give my main character a signed copy of Alice Miller's Drama of a Gifted Child. Irv had the great pleasure of meeting Alice, who's now 91, at a conference in Zurich.

You can make these outrageous claims in a novel and get away with them.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Dream of Xena

After my painting class last nite, I stopped by my son Dan's house. Nicole was asleep.

"She's gonna get an ultrasound later this month," he said.

"Oh, you'll find out the gender of the baby."

"Yep," said Dan.

We went in the living room where his two cats were prowling around. I took my digital camera out of the bag so he could unload my photos onto Facebook, the only way we could make them visible to me. I had a writing assignment with photos the next day so needed all the space on the camera.

"Wanna watch the movie with me?"

Dan relaxes by watching TV at nite. He was watching an ultra-violent film on the 5-year-reign of terror by the German terrorist organization Baader-Meinhof. Every two seconds someone was pulling out a revolver or a machine gun and shooting someone.

"The director," I said, "is obviously a fan of Quentin Tarantino."

"Yeah," laffed Dan.

He said Tarantino's latest, Inglorious Basterds was a good film.

"So I guess the penis will be showing," I said.

"What's that?" he said.

"When Nicole gets the ultrasound. I guess they tell what sex the baby is, if they can see a penis."

"Yeah, I spose so."

The black cat, green-eyed Chaz, came to sit on my lap. Then the tabby cat, Nudge, came over.

"Mom," said Dan, "he wants you to pet him."

"Oh," I said, and began petting him.

When I got up to leave, Nudge made this amazing sound. Dan had told me about Nudge's sounds.

"That was Nudge, right? I thought it was my stomach growling."

That night I dreamt about Xena, Dan's beloved dead cat whose ashes repose on his dining room shelf.

In the dream, I was lying on the floor of an unknown room. Xena was on my chest, the same black and white Xena with the heartbreakingly beautiful face, the Helen of Troy of cats, with her fur that was decidedly not smooth, but rather, a stiff kind of fur.

Into the room came a rat. I saw it and thought at first it was a mouse.

No, I said to myself, it's a rat. Look at that long tail. But it's not a hideous looking rat, even tho it's a rat. Still, I think Xena should go after it.

I turned Xena around so she'd go chase the rat away, or, eat it, she was a true mouser who'd often shown Dan, when he lived with her in Brooklyn, her dead trophies.

Xena refused.

Well, this is certainly unpleasant, I said to myself in the dream. Here I am in a situation I don't like, I'm dreaming about it, and I do have the power to wake myself up and get out of this bad dream.

I then attempted to wake myself out of the dream.

Nothing happened.

Try harder, I said.

I tried harder to wake up.

Still, nothing happened.

Ruth, I ordered myself, you will open your eyes right now.

I thought I opened them up and looked around the room. It seemed so real.

I don't know how I got out of that situation but I'm fairly sure I'm awake now and writing. Then again, this could certainly all be a dream. I could be a small part of God's dream.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The tug of too much information

I am an excitable girl.

It was a nite of good television viewing. Watched the Frontline documentary on Assisted Suicide which I unequivably believe in, in fact, that's what my novel-in-progress is all about.

Mr. Ewart, who decided to drink the poison concoction, after being diagnosed with the shut-down-my-body-but-let-my mind-absorb-it-all, silently, was diagnosed with ALS. I remember writing a newspaper article about Ralph Nelms, wood carver, who was diagnosed with this condition, a year after I wrote the article on his wood carving.

He invited me over his house - he lived nearby on Silver Avenue - where his workshop was in his basement. As a farewell-to-life gift, he gave me a hand-carved mother stork and baby. It's sitting on my coffee table, along with a bowl of seashells, a clock that stopped ticking, a plaster impression of house and sun by little Sarah, and a music box from La Pedrera in Barcelona. Plus Kleenex for therapy clients.

My eyes never strayed from the Frontline program. Riveting. Dignitas was the chosen suicide facility in Zurich. Sodium pentobarbitol the chosen method to kill Mr. Ewert, who was required to drink it down himself. It was videotaped by law. If interested, you can watch it online.

Afterward, re-runs of the great Ken Burns' series on our National Parks came on. It's a leisurely done program and my mind was drawn to my laptop, sitting on the floor. I could actually feel my body tilting toward the laptop on the floor.

You know the drill: check my emails, check the NY Times, check the new Jonah Lehrer blog to see if anyone responded to my comment, see what Bill Hess is up to in Alaska.

Those are the things that flooded my mind as I watched the beauties of Yellowstone National Park in the background.

Finally, I gave myself orders.

Ruth, there is nothing urgent. You will not open the laptop tonite. Do you hear me? You can do it, sweetheart, I know you can.

Oh, all right, I said to myself. I will NOT look at the laptop. It's a cute little bugger. Black, with my nametag on it in case I lose it somewhere.

It took about five minutes until my brain caught up with my resolution, but gradually the pull and the tilt ended and I watched the TV in silence.

Except for one thing.

I'd just checked out two books from the library. Now I was tilting the other way. I opened the Wallace Stegner book, Angle of Repose. How I wanted to read it! Perhaps I could just read a few snippets while watching the Parks show.

It's true when they say you can only concentrate on one thing at a time. I closed the book. Two minutes later, Wallace Stegner is mentioned as an environmental activist.

I laughed. Figures. Does this ever happen to you? And, please, what's this called. Sure, I know the word synchronicity, but I want a deeper meaning than that. Tell me if you know.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Good morning, officer!

I'm in line at my bank. This is the only time I've ever had to wait in line, but there's only one teller. I'm depositing the receipts of last nite's support group meeting. I've stuffed the money in my backpack.

I'm fourth in line. A police officer stands behind me.

Funny, I said to him, I just pulled into a Handicapped Zone and said to myself, I doubt if a police officer is gonna come by.

You never know, said the handsome officer in full regalia, patch on his chest, gun at his side.

I dumped the money on the high table next to me, while waiting, and began to sort the bills. Seemed like a decent amount.

The police officer joked with someone he knew who was finished with his banking business.

They have a special TV you can watch while waiting. It's silent. Some news came on about about Blockbuster reorganizing. Netflix is killing them, I thought, but didn't say it to the officer even tho I wanted to. I didn't want him to think I was some nutcase with bipolar disorder who'd at one time ended up riding in the back of a cop car to Norristown State Hospital.

So I kept my mouth shut.

When I left I looked for the officer's police car.

There it was, a powerful-looking white Ford with shiny hubcaps. Unmarked.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Before the day begins

I am listening to a bird
chirp at dawn in my still-
dark room while reading about
Jerry - that would be Salinger -
on my laptop on the floor.

Thanks for sending me the article, Marce. Thoughtful. My readers can read it here, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

When I awoke at 6, after a marvelous catch-up night's sleep, a strong smell of skunk penetrated the blue bedroom. Thother nite a group of us insomniacs were emailing back and forth. Scott was blissfully asleep. One of the insomniacs asked me to listen to an audio he sent me.

I can't, I said, Scott will wake up and yell at me. When he's not REMming, he can hear the slightest click from my noisy-keyed laptop.