Sunday, July 31, 2011

Two do-gooders visit Lisa - Dear Mr Verizon - My Autograph Book / Poem: Transplendent

Judy and I visited our friend Lisa, confined for eight months at Fox Subacute in Warrington, PA. Lisa has the equivalent of a corner office, her bed is next to a window.

A former dog groomer who ran her own business for years, Lisa was forced to retire due to a series of mishaps, the latest being a terrible fall which smashed her ankle to pieces requiring surgery and a trake, hence her long recuperation at Fox.

Judy visits every single Sunday. As a gift she brought Lisa a book for the High Holy Days of Judaism, altho Lisa isn't Jewish. Judy regaled us by reading in Hebrew the "yisgadal v'yiskadash" or Kaddish.

Not to be confused with Allan Ginsburg's Kaddish, he wrote for his mother Naomi. Go ahead and read it, it's a lazy Sunday and we have all the time in the world.

Lisa has made lots of progress since I last saw her. She asked Leo to bring in a couple chairs for Judy and me.

Thie blue-eyed man from Ukraine has been in the USA about ten years. His whole family, including grandchildren are here now, except for his sister who stayed in Kiev.

Judy's kin are also from Ukraine. Judy and I are both Jewish, but Leo said he's half Jewish.

After Hitler, which he pronounced Gitler, people began inter-marrying but taking the name of the non-Jewish spouse. Who knew when antisemitism would again reign across the land. Stalin, of course, was no friend of the Jews.

Leo has worked several jobs while in America. B/c of his poor English, he said, he can't get a good-paying job. He was a teacher in Kiev. But he worked hard and sent for his entire family.

That man loves America more than we do! He has something to compare us with.

In Leo's native Ukraine, one of the worst massacres of Jews took place after Nazi forces over-ran the city. Read about Babi Yar here and thank the heavens you and your people are safe.

When Russ came in to change the sheets, she introduced me as the head of New Directions.

You're in luck, Russ, I said. I'm about to read my poem.

I pulled out my surgery poem and read the little group the entire poem, the first time I read it aloud. I did not make any changes while reading.
TO THY KNIFE I COMMEND MY SOUL

As the day of my surgery grows near
the demon sciatica
grows hungry
its torture has
failed to drown this swimmer
who comes up daily
for air.

how useless to taunt me with your newest games
when will you understand?
oh, if it makes you happy, demon,
i will call you by your right name
i’ll shout it aloud to the world,
o conjoined twin of the devil:
coward Lucifer

people in pain are sworn to secrecy
we must not speak our pain
it is how we remain unbroken
but demon lucifer has broken through

reading in bed last night
the breeze from an open window
caressing my hair
you grabbed my feet
scraped the soles with
razor-sharp hay
I closed my book and howled
“you would do that, you loser!”
as the straw grew into hay bales
on Raytharn’s Farm
under a perfect sky

next, o demon, your poison has
spread up my tanned thighs
where two children sprang
and men lay there and sighed
now I am crushed beneath a
tractor
riderless
that digs furrows

a river of blood on
my sheets
smelling of
afterbirth.

your encore is
a vise
a vietnam cage that held
the captured warrior
screams muffled
as coward Lucifer
laughed in the clouds.

Time heals all.
time or surgery or death will be
your final demise.

Where go then, coward Lucifer?

When my demon leaves me
amnesia like the scent of
lilacs in spring
will walk with me through
the hospital ward
twenty years of pain
and You
erased forever from my mind.
They applauded at the end.

Since Lisa gets around in a wheelchair, she visits other patients and makes them laff. When the worst is over, your personality returns. She's hoping husband Bob will visit today. Judy introduced them. They met at New Directions.

We said our 99 goodbyes and Lisa rolled out with us to the top of the hill. If she rolled down the hill in her manual chair, she wouldn't be able to get back up w/o help.

*

Dear Mr Verizon,

Your customer service is really terrible. When my two phones went out the other day after a very bad storm in which small branches hurtled themselves against my windows and a tree six houses down caught fire, I lost the use of my two phone lines.

Quickly I got my Verizon bill and looked up where to call for repairs.

Nowhere on the bill was it listed.

How then to report repairs.

You website was no help at all.

Finally I simply called 411 on a neighbor's phone - who will be charged for it - and answered the questions posed by the friendly robot.

Forgive me, but as I answered the questions, I got madder and madder, and my voice may have snapped NO or YES out of frustration.

I did so wanna curse at you, but did manage to control myself.

The first time your crew could come out to the house, and my outage occurred on a Friday, was the following Tuesday, so of course I hollered YES (goddammit) into the phone.

Turns out the phones came back within an hour.

There is no way I'm calling you back to cancel.

For the record: 800-837-4966.

Even Comcast, the other monopoly I'm a party to, has better customer service.

*
Last time I stopped at Mom's she was getting her papers in order, as she's been doing for the past twenty years.

She gave me two tattered large envelopes of things of mine she had saved.

What a feast of memories. I opened my autograph book from:

(1) when I graduated sixth grade at Mercer Elementary School, in Shaker Heights.

(2) when I attended Camp Cardinal in Rome, Ohio, run by the Williams Family

Highlights include:

Mercer --

Mrs. Van Duesen (great princiPAL)
Agnes Digby, her secretary
Miss Lillian Puncer ("to a wonderful poet, best wishes")
Mary Truby
Evelyn Fertman (Dickie Rose's GF)
Ruth Hamm, music teacher
Viola Wike, art teacher

Camp Cardinal -

Ina Swade, my counselor (!)
Mici Lych (jr counselor)
Ronnie Shensa (my mom told me she died)

As soon as I opened the zippered-style autograph book, I checked the inside pages of the book. I knew what I would find:

Ruth Greenwold
I got this book Dec. 1954

I was 10 years old.

The pencil-writing has really faded. Wonder why I didn't use a pen. At school, we were not allowed to use a real pen until third grade.

School was regimented and very strict. At the time, Shaker was rated best school system in the nation.

My mom had also saved numerous newspaper articles I'd written, including one where the editor wrote the lede of my story. It was an absolutely terrible lede, but I guess, since I was a cub reporter, he wanted to show who was boss.

@##$@

Mom also saved issues of Art Matters where I wrote most of the copy during my year-long tenure before I was fired for having a nervous breakdown.

I shoved all this stuff into a clean envelope that my kids can go through after my untimely demise.

TRANSPLENDENT

O Blackness
soon enough I shall
dance with you in yonder sky.

Who wants me?
I am made for the moon
to bounce along her
powdery flesh
so like mine,

But perhaps I will leap
through a cloud and hijack a star
there to shine more brightly
a dimple for my children
below.

Prepare for me a place
in deep space
Your girl will surrender
when she is called.
Ready to shine on
and shed her shoes
bearing sunshine
on her toes.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Countdown to Surgery...surgery team's planning could be better / Poem: To Thy Knife I Commend my Soul

Scott will be over in a minute with our grilled cheese sandwiches using Havarti w/caraway seeds and our first garden tomato.

Julie Child pronounced it "tom-AH-to" which I often do.

I supplied the delicious potato salad. To make it a complete meal, and I ate it for breakfast, I added chunks of Colby cheese, first made in Colby, WI. Who knew?
Colby is similar to Cheddar, but does not undergo the cheddaring process.[4] Colby is a softer, moister, and milder cheese than Cheddar because it is produced through a washed-curd process. Colby is considered semi-hard (Sans-kendrall).[5] The washed-curd process means that during the cooking time, the whey is replaced by water; this reduces the curd's acidity, resulting in Colby's characteristically mild flavor. Like most other cheeses, it takes a little more than a U.S. gallon of milk to produce just 1 pound (just over 8 liters for a kilogram) of cheese. Monterey Jack cheese is produced almost identically as Colby, but is uncolored and softer.
Had a nice relaxing day today, reading, napping, eating and of course shooting up.

My goal was to finish a poem about my upcoming surgery.

The surgery planning is not too swift. In the last week, the surgery office scheduled me for lots of appointments. They should've done this during the entire month of July, not the week before surgery.

Finally, finally, Kidney Clinic at Einstein called me, after my numerous phone calls and emails.

Now they wanna see me before surgery. They assured me I would not have to wait four hours before seeing the nephrologist, kidney doctor, Dr Kung, whom I like a lot.

Dyou think I should give him a print-out of my Prednisone poem, the last line of which says I'm gonna go off Prednisone entirely, one of my three antirejection meds. I will definitely check with them before I take the plunge....and go back on should I show signs of rejection.

Scott and I met with an anesthetist on Friday to make sure they're aware of my special concerns. Nice guy, a Dr Werner, who was on his numbered cell phone every five minutes cuz someone was coming in for surgery.

I was excited for him.

What fun to have an exciting job. Excitement is something I've gotta have in my life.

I asked him if I'd wear a cute little shower cap like his during surgery.

Yes, he said.

Then I asked what position my body would be in. Scott's friend Mike Kramer who's had numerous back surgeries, a couple done by my surgeon, Guy Lee, was on his knees for one of the surgeries.

You'll be on your stomach, said Werner.

I wore my shirt that read "Ask me Why I have Three Kidneys" to remind me to mention all my antirejection meds.

I asked him what I should do if I woke up with lo blood sugar the morning of surgery.

Drink something clear like Gatorade, he said.

So if you see a woman at the Giant Supermarket using her shopping cart as a walker and filled with bags of cashews, almonds, and peanuts, some talapia, and plenty of cheeses, plus a bottle of Gatorade, you'll know it's me.

The Gatorade website is amazing. It seems they've figgered out how to partner with all the athletic teams and make it a mandatory part of being an athlete.

Excuse me, what aisle is the Gatorade in? I'm preparing for the Philadelphia marathon in September.

Actually, Sarah and my niece Nikki are in training for that now.

Okay, before I unveil my newest poem, enshrouded in a blue tarp, lemme tell you what I've been watching on my laptop.

Charlie Rose interviewed "at this table" the sculptor/scribbler Richard Serra, born in 1939. At first, I'd confused him with the great minimalist architect Richard Neutra, whom I see, has left for the Afterlife back in 1970.

My interest in Serra kindled, I watched an excellent video in which he's interviewed by the great artist Laurie Anderson. Since I slept thru most of it, I'll try to watch this PBS video again tonite here.

During my fitful sleep, it was hot and my sciatica was toying with me all nite, I kept dreaming of posting the link to the PBS show on my blogroll. During pre-sleep, that hynogogic period when you can't move, I'm often to be found grasping the mouse and then quaking myself awake with a start.

Did that ever happen to you?

TO THY KNIFE I COMMEND MY SOUL

As the day of my surgery grows near
the demon sciatica
grows hungry
its torture has
failed to drown this swimmer
who comes up daily
for air.

how useless to taunt me with your newest games
when will you understand?
oh, if it makes you happy, demon,
i will call you by your right name
i’ll shout it aloud to the world,
o conjoined twin of the devil:
coward Lucifer

people in pain are sworn to secrecy
we must not speak our pain
it is how we remain unbroken
but demon lucifer has broken through

reading in bed last night
the breeze from an open window
caressing my hair
you grabbed my feet
scraped the soles with
razor-sharp hay
I closed my book and howled
“you would do that, you loser!”
as the straw grew into hay bales
on Raytharn’s Farm
under a perfect sky

next, o demon, your poison has
spread up my tanned thighs
where two children sprang
and men lay there and sighed
now I am crushed beneath a
tractor
riderless
that digs furrows

a river of blood on
my sheets
smelling of
afterbirth.

your encore is
a vise
a vietnam cage that held
the captured warrior
screams muffled
as coward Lucifer
laughed in the clouds.

Time heals all.
time or surgery or death will be
your final demise.

Where go then, coward Lucifer?

When my demon leaves me
amnesia like the scent of
lilacs in spring
will walk with me through
the hospital ward
twenty years of pain
and You
erased forever from my mind.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Brief Glimpse of the Toy Train: A few words about psychosis -

Although I no longer suffer from bipolar disorder, the greatest feat of my life, I know some people who are in the throes of psychosis mixed w/reality right now.

Also I just discovered a writer - Rachel Aviv - who wrote a sad but moving article in a July New Yorker about the lonely life of a bipolar/schizoaffective woman who abandoned her 13-yo daughter b/c she was so paranoid she believed she needed to leave her daughter behind. Read Rachel's website here.

Since I got rid of my 10-year-old desk-top computer in favor of a newer one, I removed all my old files and have many of them on this here laptop I'm typing on.

Slowly, I'm going thru all the articles and essays, hoping to delete as many as possible. So far, they're all wonderful! Just my opinion of course. Many of them are also unfinished, a total drag, b/c my mind is no longer on the topic and it would be very hard to recreate the mood and memory.

So, on behalf of my friends with the amazing propensity to become psychotic, here's a piece I wrote about 10 years ago.

Being psychotic, I've always felt, is a true privilege. That is not the American way to think. But, be reasonable. How many people have this tendency? As I said in my poem, "Ah Mania" - psychosis "showed me the stars, cut the world open like an orange and bid me dip inside."

I beg you not to be ashamed and to value this "waking dream - or nightmare" - and then get out of it as fast as you possibly can.

Antipsychotics always worked for me.

A BRIEF GLIMPSE OF THE TOY TRAIN

Monkeys, in one of those horribly cruel studies scientists perform, will do just about anything for a thirty-second glimpse of a toy train on the move.

One morning I believed that psychosis had come again. I couldn’t be certain but I was thinking things I’m not supposed to think – grandiose things – and I was also in a trance. I came out of my writing room and couldn’t get out of the trance. I went for a walk and the trance still wouldn’t go away. This had never happened before.

I was petrified.

I could have taken my antipsychotic – I have permission to do that when necessary - but I wanted to hear the voice of my doctor.

I poured my coffee into the sink and dialed the doctor’s number, which, of course, I knew by heart. I carried it in my wallet - next to my foil-wrapped Klonopin and Risperdal - just in case my mind went hysterical or galloped all across the plains.

Larry seemed to have hired a new answering service. I didn’t like them at all. I am exquisitely sensitive to the human voice and didn’t care for the new voice at all. The woman sounded like one of Cinderella’s stepsisters.

“Yes, hello, this is Ruth Deming,” I said. I heard her tapping away at her computer. She didn’t ask my phone number, which she ought to have done immediately, but I gave it to her anyway. Tap, tap, tap.

“Please give the doctor the following message,” I said. “Can you write it down exactly as I say it?”

“Yes,” she said. She was not irritated.

“I’m in a crisis.”

I paused so she could type it up.

“I’m becoming psychotic… Do you know how to spell psychotic?”

“Yes,” she said. Her voice had quickened.

“Please get this to him as soon as possible.”

“Yes, Mrs. Deming, I’ll page him immediately.”

I paced around the living room, still in my trance, until he called back. He wanted to know everything that was going on. He always asked good questions. He told me I sounded all right – he has a wonderful way of summing you up and telling you - and then told me how much Risperdal to take. I didn’t care if some of my brain circuits would be shut off. All I cared about was getting rid of the thoughts and coming out of my trance.

After all, I wasn’t the sibyl at Delphi.

By dinner time, I was better.

A few days later, upon the advice of a friend, I bought a tape of the Gypsy Kings. I had never heard of them. It was Latin music with an impossibly driving beat and raucous voices. You stood there after putting in the tape and without even thinking, started dancing. You moved the furniture out of the way so you could look in the mirror and admire yourself gyrating. You were getting higher and higher.

“Stop that!” an inner voice shrieked. “Stop this immediately! You know what will happen.”

“Jesus Christ,” I answered. “Must I? I’m having such a good time!”

“Do you think you’ll have a good time when they drag you in chains to Building 50?”

I thought about it a second. I took a look at my mind and listened to the beat of my heart.

“You’re right. I’ll shut the tape off now.”

My spirits sank. The house was quiet. The excitement was gone. The silence was excruciating. Maybe I should make some chocolate milk to cheer myself up. Certainly I could not go back into my writing room. The trance would come again.

I put on the classical music station. They usually played awful music so I figured it would calm me down.

I sat there, on the couch, sad, calming down, watching without interest the leaves outside and waiting for the sparrows to come to the birdbath.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Countdown to Surgery / Poem: No no Prednisone

I was so happy to get home this morning after my errands in Hatboro. I did a lot of walking, which as you know, I like to do to strengthen my body.

Took my living room door screen to get fixed at Al Wipplinger's Hardware Store on Main Street. He fixed it the same day, so I'm sitting here on the couch with the breeze coming in and the sounds of the night - crickets!

Look carefully and you'll see this reconditioned lawn mower at Village Hardware. When I was a kid growing up in Cleveland, I'd ride my bike over to Uncle Marvin's and Aunt Selma's and mow the grass.

It felt so good to use all my strength and muscle power. Then I'd sit on the porch steps and read.

After I left the hardware store I met Kullie from my Book Discussion Group. She loved the current selection by A.S. Byatt (sister of Margaret Drabble) while I couldn't stand it.

But, I told Kullie, I'm reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, and it's fantastic. Coincidentally, it's all about performing surgery.

She knew all about it and told me about the amazing life of the author. I still haven't figgered out what the title means even tho it's from a quote by Hippocrates, the "Do no harm" father of medicine.

Since I was in Hatboro, I stopped in to see Mark Amos, owner of Bux-Mont Stationers. He was back from his honeymoon in Vegas and looked happier than I'd ever seen him. I told him we'd be doing another Compass magazine this year.

For the first time, I'm not dreading it, but actually looking forward to some of the articles in the "storyboard" I've planned.

I wanted to express my feelings about the drug Prednisone and what better way than to write a poem about it.

What a challenge, but I set my mind to it.

Did a lot of online research.

I worked on it even tho I didn't feel like doing so, but I'm so very busy now.

Scott and I watched The Naked City, the movie made about the TV series from the 50s. Absolutely fantastic, true film noir.

Tonite I'll watch the documentary Metallica: Some kind of Monster, 2004. Oh, I can't wait! Metallica will play in the operating room theatre while I sleep and dream of walking around the block. Or dancing in my living room.

Then I read the poem to my friend Johannes Brahms Ponsen. The "Brahms" is my nickname for him. Johannes is American but was born in Amsterdam. Is that right, Johannes?

He's one of the very few people I know - and this is pretty sad - who knows Brahms' music.

I first became aware of Brahms when I was a teenager and saw the movie The L-Shaped Room w/ Leslie Caron (now 80) at the Heights Art Theatre in Cleveland. Here's a clip from YouTube. Brahms' First Piano Concerto in lugubrious D Minor comes in at around the third minute.

Just say D Minor and you'll begin to weep.

Second bowl of cashews coming right up. Excuse me while I hobble into the kitchen.

For dessert tonite, I went to the bin aisle at the Giant Supermarket. Everything looked so delicious....and then I saw the bin of mini-York Peppermint Patties.

That's it, I said. Look no further.

The cost was all of FOUR CENTS pour deux.

I ate them - too quickly - while answering my emails.


NO NO PREDNISONE

In memory of its inventor
Arthur Nobile (1920 to 2004)

I contemplate your lined face
in the obit in the Times
your wife predeceased you
o Jersey boy with a brain that
couldn’t keep still even
when curled up in bed with the woman you loved
the sound of her breath growing
dim at the end
your inventions could not save her
though you heard that breath years after
you buried her

was it the suffering you witnessed as a child?
even in your own sturdy house with porch
suffering, the mortal lot of humans,
was it foretold or was it an accident you
turned your eye to the microscope
van Leeuwenhoek on this side of the Atlantic?

You hated seeing people suffer
your drawn humanitarian face teaches us that
yet your great medical discovery
an unpretentious white pill called
Prednisone
bested the sick
scattering autoimmune diseases like
loop the Lupus,
joint ugularities of Arthritis
the watery shits of Ileitis
it quelled swellings from brain cancer like Dad’s
became antirejection meds for transplants like my
new kidney dwelling in its pouch
in my belly

Yet, while swaddling its grateful supplicants
who can’t live without our Pred
Arthur, how could you?
we also float with
corpulence, mood swings,
rage, pie faces, cognitive impairment
and the queer thing or two that grows along
our newly barnacled skin

Have I mentioned the
tarry stools
barfs that look like pebbles
but perhaps i quibble overly much?

Watery eyes under the microscope, a regular
van Leeuwenhoek from Jersey
how could two men so different spend
their lives in the Lilliputian world of
the invisible
who would believe the marvelous things
they saw!

O better than morphine
these little flurrying worlds –
did the critters make music in their
amniotic sacs of the sea
To be there!
to shed one’s clothes
and dive in!

O, Arturo, I was 58 when life kicked you out
spun you somewhere in the vast unknown
and I am stuck with my one Prednisone in the morning
to prevent rejection
but have plans
deviant plans to chuck your drug
not all transplant centers use it now

Someday I shall take the liberty
leap as you did with your lifesaving inventions
but carefully
carefully
the coming of autumn at Lake Galena
when the green leaves turn to gold
I shall go there and launch my canoe
paddle onward
healthier than ever
watching the silent white swans grab for
fish clean
as life goes on without you, Arthur,
and without
your
Prednisone.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

PREPARING FOR SURGERY / Poems: Wawa in the a.m. - My Kingdom for a Daylily (they're out now)

Nice long visit w/Grace and family this morning. She goes right for the steps. That girl is quick!

All's I wanna do after surgery is be able to walk around the block. It's been two years since I said hello to neighbors at the top or bottom of the street.

Two days ago, my back felt well enough to walk past four houses, then cross the street, and walk the four houses home.

Little victories.

Today I had a big victory. Three friends and I, plus Ellie the spaniel, walked the Pennypack Spur, a shady, canopied path hard by the Pennypack Creek which glistened and beckoned off to the side.

Ellie took a delightful dip or two, shaking herself off.

I was streaming with sweat. The body's way of cooling itself. My entire head was wet. When I was on lithium, I didn't sweat.

During this walk, I constantly monitored myself: how's my blood sugar? am I high or low? I had eaten a good healthy meal prior to the walk

Chicken stew w/loads of veggies, seasoned w/bay leaves and cinnamon. A container of organic cherry tomatoes contributed to the delicious broth.

People w/diabetes must plan ahead. I get all these links about diabetes daredevils who climb mountains, race in marathons, go skydiving.

All I want to do is go for a walk. I felt a tiny wave of panic as I walked the path, thinking What if I get a lo-blood sugar attack. My glucose tabs were in the car.

You'll make it, I reassured myself.

I believe we must've walked nearly two miles.

I'm so proud of myself I said to Amy, who's head of some vaccine department at Merck.

So the idea is to build up my body for surgery. Lose some weight.

Okay, okay. Sometimes I need some nice chocolate and peanuts to roll around in my mouth.

When you get these peanut clusters in the bin, they cost all of 16 cents for two.

I usually eat treats on the way home from the store - my father forbad us to eat in the car - but I remembered I had cold milk at home, and what could be better than that.

Was going thru my stacks n stacks of poems and found a couple of nice ones. I think they were written around 2003.

WAWA IN THE A.M.

Quick, before the cars are on the road
Before the sun announces itself
from behind Charlie's dogwood

Quick, pull on your jeans and blue pancho
Sarah has bought from Saks Fifth Avenue
for my twenty-ninth birthday though
really I am fifty-eight

Then, go, child, out to the car
It will be frozen and the door will
click open with a little tug
and dusts of ice will fly off the door

Driving to the Wawa, we call it "the Wah"
round these parts
they are there already though the sun's
not even up, I watch for them
crowds already though I believe the
digital clock in the car read something like
6:49, don't know if it's right or not,
don't know which of my seventeen clocks
to believe any more
not important since I always arrive
early and like to wait around for all
the great events

They are massed around the Coffee Island
I'd never tried their coffee
oh, perhaps long ago before they had the
fancy flavors
the men in the trucks love the coffee
wish I could sit with them in their front seats
with coffee of my own
feeling the warmth through the thick sturdy cup
taking tiny sips so's not to burn my tongue

God, I was depressed this morning
Dan had drunk the last of the orange juice
I'd come for that. And that alone.
Saw the Mac machine and figured I'd pull out
two hundred dollars to pay for my orange juice
and other things at other times, mostly gasoline
and an occasional doughnut

They have two machines, such is the popularity
of money,
two machines: the one that works
and the one you have to work at
pushing buttons and repushing buttons
to make it work
I chose the shorter path and placed the
twenties into my wallet
then picked a clean-looking plastic bottle
of OJ with black tab sealed,
the color alone is enough to knock you
off your feet and down onto the floor,
told them No bag, please,
and sat in the front seat with the glass
I'd brought from home
watching the sun come up
and drinking.

MY KINGDOM FOR A DAYLILY

Have you seen them by the side of the road?
God's calm heralds of a summer day?

Their time is now,
as is yours,
with the shortening of the days.

Let us with our soft hands
Caress their outward vanity
Brush their orangerie against our cheek
Then take the plunge down their
narrowing chamber.

Only to come up
kissed by the stars.


+

I'll load the other three hundred slowly by slowly.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Back surgery here I come! - They listen to Metallica in the OR - Sarah's famous crab croquettes

No, she says, stamping her foot.

I am not a surgery junkie.

We're not sure if we believe her. First she has her kidney transplant in April and nearly four months to the day she's scheduled for back surgery.

What's next? A little stretching of face, a butt lift, and her elbows are a little rough, maybe she can find a doc to smooth the skin.

Hell, the body is a playground, waiting to be made whole again, like when we were 21.

Let's let The Belle tell her story, but keep it brief, please. You wanna watch folksinger Richard Thompson in an hour.

Look, no big deal. Sarah and I drove to Chalfont for my pre-surgery appointment with Dr Guy Lee. It was about a 45 minute drive and I got there an hour early.

I did not wanna get lost and miss my precious appt. We did not get lost.

Dr Guy Lee in labcoat and tie

During the three times I've seen him, he wears a tiny gold cross around his neck. That man - just like us mortals - is accountable to a Higher Power.

While Sarah and I waited for Dr Lee in the exam room, she read to me some exquisite passages from the Upanishads.

We wrote down questions in advance.

- Chance of success? Over 90 percent.

- What could go wrong? He listed a number of things, which he said, are uncommon.

- How long does it take? Half-hour.

- Who's in room? Surgeon, Physician Asst, Anesthesiologist (who leaves after I'm out or dead, whichever comes first), Nurse anesthesiologist. The main anesthesiologist is nearby and can be fetched if needed.

- Recovery time? Four to six weeks before we see full recovery.

- Ever killed anyone? No. Neither has the anesthesiologist.

- What do you wear? Similar to what he wore in the exam room, but a different color. Lee always wears comfy white sneakers.

- Where did you learn how to do these discectomies? Graduated from Temple Medical School, did residency at Einstein, did fellowship at Johns Hopkins Univ. To specialize, you get a fellowship.

Dr Guy Lee volunteered that he listens to Metallica during surgery. "You wouldn't like it," he said, "but of course you won't hear it."

"Oh, I love heavy metal," I said. On the way home Sarah said there's a great documentary about the band I should rent.

And now, here's Metallica. It's quite fantastic. 6 minutes. Enter Sandman, it's called.

Lee and family will vacation at the Jersey shore right before my operation. Just like my chief kidney surgeon Radi Zaki took his family to the San Diego Zoo, the only time he gets to see his family....on a vacation far from home.

Sarah and I parked in the handicap zone but I walked well into the theatre. Beautiful building in Chalfont where they've been a year. He has offices all over the place.

As we drove away, Sarah asked if there were any sights to see in the area.

Yes! I said. Lake Galena.

Down to Lake Galena we went in the hundred-degree heat. I'm not a fan of air-conditioning but you better believe it's on at my house - turned to 80 degrees - and in the car, full blast.

I couldn't figger out how to use the car A/C until my sister Donna taught me. I couldn't remember the concept: Red = hot. Blue = cold.

Methinks I've got it now.

We went down to the Lake and went where they launch the boats. Oh, the times I used to go there and canoe or paddleboat.

After my surgery, after my surgery!

Here's Sarah in her rompers. At mom's house, we discussed the old Romper Room show. Mom remembered the hostess, Miss Sherry, holding up a mirror to her TV audience and saying, Who do I see today? I see Ruthie and Sarah and Bernice.

I could barely remember, but mom's eyes lit up w/happiness.

My sister Donna, intoxicated by the delicious meal which included her choice of Alexia, frozen sweet potato fries. Delicious! I'd never heard of em before. Have you?

When Sarah comes to town, it's cause for great celebration. We call her "Say" for short.

She made a phenomenal meal: Crabcake Croquettes, a favorite of her husband Ethan.

Scott will model them for you:


Yesterday I had my first visit w/my endocrinologist, Dr Nissa Blocher from Einstein Medical Center, practicing now in a huge building in Elkins Park.

Just about every one of the patients couldn't find the place b/c the Chernoff Associates moved in about a month ago. I had no problem - who me? - the always-gets-lost-kid? - but I was able to drive nice and slow and find the place next to the old Rolling Hill Hospital.

They fit me in so I waited a horrific four hours, devouring every magazine in the place and having the great pleasure of speaking to Johnny, who got an Einstein kidney transplant on May 14, 2010. He's doing very well.

I asked for his email address hoping to put him in our book. He said he just decided to write a book too.

Dr Blocher, who I love, told me that many transplant units no longer prescribe prednisone as an antirejection med. That caused my diabetes, tho she said tacrolimus may contribute to it as well.

And, who, pray tell, invented Prednisone? Why, Arthur Nobile, 1920-2004.

After my surgery appt. today, I sent this email to my nephrologist, Dr Ghantous in Willow Grove:
I'm getting back surgery on August 3 for my painful sciatica caused by a disc herniation.

Dr Guy Lee is performing the micro-discectomy at AMH.

Dr Kung, nephrologist at Einstein Medical Center, where I had my kidney transplant on April 1, approved the operation.

I'll also meet with an anesthesiologist before surgery to go over my special needs, which include ...

Dr Ghantous, can you think of anymore concerns the operating doctors should be aware of?

I don't want to end up like Ron Springs, a Dallas Cowboy who received a kidney from a fellow player, and then, thru surgery for a minor complaint, ended up brain dead for five years.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Goodbye Buddha, hello smiling universe - Tuna Salad de luxe

His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Sarah covered his recent appearance in DC.

Was just outside in the Inferno watering the crops. As a defense I watered my head and arms, which really helped.

The object is to get out there as early as possible. My back hurt too much to see how the shiny round green tomatoes are doing, or the eggplant and peppers.

Only three more weeks until back surgery. Can't wait! I'll meet w/surgeon Dr Guy Lee on Friday and he'll tell me what to expect.

How come I'm engaging in minor 'nesting' behavior, organizing my house and throwing things away?

Altho today the neighborhood gets a new mailman, I said goodbye to my old one, the great Tommy, on Friday. His wife Cecilia works for Guy Lee. Everyone loves the guy. He plays in a rock n roll band.

I spose after August 3 I'll have to get a new T-shirt: Ask me who did my microdiscectomy?

What I really wanted to talk about was this great quote from Sarah's last post about the Dalai Lama in the Huff Post.
He tells me that the monk in the seat in front of us is the Venerable Palden Gyatso, subject of the documentary Fire Under the Snow. Palden Gyatso spent 33 years in a Chinese prison, where he was tortured daily.

"Come on," he says, "wanna meet him?"

I kneel in front of the great monk, who puts his warm hands around mine. He is eighty now, but there is strength in his thin frame and brilliance in his eyes. His translator tells him I am a writer. Palden Gyatso nods and gives me a huge, white smile.

The third of the Kalachakra's wheels is Alternative Time. This is the time that frees you from bondage.

In one of the evening dharma talks, Sophia Stril-Rever explained, "Buddha perceives every moment of time simultaneously for all beings. They're all immediate. He looks at us and he can see our timeline and how long it will take each of us to escape samsara. Through Kalachakra, the Buddha shows that he'll be here with us, through all of it, helping us realize our potential."

I don't understand how anyone could survive 33 years of torture and smile the way Palden Gyatso smiles. There are wheels within wheels.
Let's sing Hallelujah for Palden Gyatso's smiling intact spirit.

Everyone has their own favorite version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Nicole, my dtr/law, likes Jeff Buckley, a singer-songwriter, who died at age 30 of drowning.

I prefer k.d.lang. Click for her video.

I love the way k.d. looks:

When I changed my hairstyle recently, dyou think I was unconsciously copying her?

Lemme tell you something I recently learned.

This Blog Post is finite. The blogger has only so much space. I think I've used about half the gigs or gogs or bits or bites allotted me. Which is only fair. It's free. Few things are free in life except social security payments, for a life of hard work, mostly from a 13-yr career as a psychotherapist.

I rented the video Social Network about the founder of Facebook. I have no idea how to spell Zuker's last name, but I will tell you this. The guy may be a genius but he also seems to be a sociopath. I'm sure he's not really one, but you just cringe at his behavior. I had to turn the movie off after 40 minutes cuz I couldn't tolerate his behavior. The movie is so well done it's as if he's in the same room with you, insulting you.

His mind takes everything in, sizes a person up quickly, sorta like the Buddha Sarah writes about.

What's this?

Well, the pic didn't come out but the tuna salad sure did. "I'm very impressed," said Scott when we ate it outside on our new lawn furniture.

Your 'healthy plate' should consist of half veggies (except non-starchy foods like corn), one quarter protein, and one quarter starch (rice, noodles, potatoes).

If you have diabetes like me, it's esp. important to eat right.

So, here are the ingredients:

two dry pouches of tuna fish
chopped up chunks of jalapena pepper cheese
onions - red peppers - green peppers
cooked green beans

season w/mixture of

mayo, moutarde, chipotle relish, garlic, basil from the garden

Serve cold and swoon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Coffeeshop Writers' Group Observed - I rearranged my Outdoor Living Room

Gerry Dungan, editor of Upper Moreland Patch.com visited our Writer's Group today, staying for the entire two and a half hours. He listened to our poems, our critiques, our conversations.

Here's his excellent article, published the following Monday. He took 87 mins' worth of videos, culled down to just 5. Well done!

Two new people joined us, which we love.

Gerry was so invisible we hardly knew he was there. Yeah, except me, when he brought out his video and I began reading my poem Shoes. Since this was the first time I read it aloud, I was speaking the rhythm awkwardly.

And I begin thinking, This is awful. This is a good poem and I've botched it. Should I ask Gerry to stop the camera?

Nah, I don't wanna take up more of his time.

So I'm reading the poem and thinking these thots all at once, our fabulous thousand-thoughts per second brain.

Linda Barrett, Kym Cohen, Donna's hair, Carly upon arrival, Newcomer Kathy

Kym began with a poem and a well-written Letter to Obama, she posted on Facebook. The US is cutting costs for important things like education, she said. What about the huge waste in military expenditures. Who keeps track of that?

Linda, second left, read Coming Home dedicated to a friend who just died of cancer and is now dwelling in Heaven.

The group went wild!

Well, as an atheist apologist, I felt the need to say something.

It's a wonderful thing, I said, to be a Christian and believe in an Afterlife. However, I'm not a Christian, and it's fine w/me that there's no afterlife. I enjoy every day here on earth and try to do my best.

I don't believe in rewards or judgment for a life well-spent.

They nodded. And Beatriz said, Won't we be surprised if there is an Afterlife.

I told her, That's what Richard Dawkins said. He's a famous British evolutionary biologist, who, even in 2011, is disliked for his belief of the nonexistence of God.

Richard Dawkins, b. 1941

From Wiki:

In his 2006 book The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion—a fixed false belief. As of January 2010, the English-language version had sold more than two million copies and had been translated into 31 languages, making it his most popular book to date.


Carly, on left, read a clever essay called "The Trouble with Tribbles." In case you're wondering, the 'tribbles' is 'the mean girl' inside us, as Kym put it, that tries to defeat us when we have good ideas.

Beatriz read one of her biology essays, this one on Ladybeetles, aka ladybugs. They are powerful insect killers. But in larvae form they are called grubs and are hideous looking. When she showed us a color photo of them, I mumbled, Oh no, I regularly flush clusters of them when I see them in my basement, where they stay to keep warm.

Got up early cuz I had so much to do, most importantly to present a poem I'm proud of to the group.

Gabrielle of Abington Hair Cuttery cut my hair really short. I was trying to grow it long but since my hair is thinning out, it never looked right. Okay, Ruthie, I said it's back to your old pixie cuts.

The mirror showed a face I'd forgotten I had.

After that I marched over to the Rite-Aid to buy me some hair dye. I didn't like the colors but on my way out I saw some lawn furniture that wouldn't bother my back so I bought it and said I'd be back later to pick it up. We couldn't fit it in the backseat of my Nissan.

Mary read a wonderful poem about Hatboro, yes, our own Hatboro, PA 19040. She had some great lines in there. "Her songs sang to me."

Mary, blind and accompanied by guide dog Garland, brought Therese, her vision-impaired friend. They were roommates in college, both becoming social workers.

Therese read a poem "I Love You" about her husband Oskar. We suggested she change the title to something using the word Oskar, since he's unnamed in the text.

To Oskar with Love?

Since we had an all-female group, as usual, it took a long time for these once-strangers, now-friends, to say goodbye.

I was jonesing to pick up my new outdoor furniture, and used my cellphone in the car to call my sister Donna so she could take me back to Rite-Aid.

When we got there I decided to buy another one. I'd gotten a Rite-Aid card that morning to get extra savings.

I thot of all the factories in China that produce a majority of our hard goods. In fact, years ago, I wrote a poem about a female factory worker, after I bot some pink fluffy slippers.

Coming home, I took a pic of George and Elinor's house at the bottom of Cowbell Road. Five years ago they moved to Ann's Choice, "the old lady's home," according to George.

This morning I received a sad note from George. Elinor passed away today at age 85.

Presenting my new lawn furniture direct from China.

My sister Donna arranged them on the lawn. She moved the birdbath to a new location.



It was interesting to see the birds' reaction of the new location. Some arrived and flew off. Others went directly to the new location.

If you have a birdbath you have an obligation to keep it filled for the little creatures. If you do, they will drop you a soft thank-you gift.


SHOES


When you were my age, mom,
you had a daughter they locked up
and fed Haldol
for pushing you down
and mumbling:
I’m gonna kill you.
you always stand in my way.

So true, I can see you
with your thick legs standing
in front of me
a basketball defense
stopping me from scoring points.

no matter. today’s a new day and
we ride together to Trevose Family Shoes
mother and daughter to buy
ourselves brand new shoes for this phase
of the Marathon:
I am the battered.


it’s assumed that the one nearing eighty-nine
will finish first but
the new antirejection meds for my new kidney
bring with it
a forecast of new problems such as
opportunistic new viruses that kill the
AIDS folks
and the peculiar germs
that cause discoloration, hair exfoliation and ugly devastation
in more ways than there are shoes at Trevose.


You abjure your new black velcroes a
senior sprinter might wear.
I say nothing but allow you to stare down
and find fault with the way your new shoes
look, the way you always find fault with me.
I try on ten pair
walking briskly about the showroom
viewing the shoes and my body in one tall mirror after another.


Oh, mother, I like the way i look. i am not you.
I like myself and my faintly protuberant thighs beneath
tight pants, my unencumbered eggplant breasts
and my new kidney having alighted in its new home
three weeks ago,
I sing to it at bedtime.


I choose three shoes: one for every kidney.
They leave the native ones in.
They deserve new shoes. Each, a benevolent
engine of piss production, blood pressure regulation,
acceptor of potassium-laden bananas tomatoes and potatoes.


I shall dine alone tonight in my sassy-brown clogs
reading the paper and
trying not to think of
how much I love you.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My 3-day stay at Abington Hospital's Neuro Unit: Diagnosis TIA (transient ischemic attack)



I blame it on the prednisone. Sunday nite around midnite, Scott and I were falling asleep at his house, right next door to my own, while watching TV.

From then on, my memory is hazy.

I wanted to discuss some "fine points" of a movie we were watching but...

Scott, I said, I can't get the words out.

I could say that much, but couldn't tap into my higher levels of cognition.

Also, I had an absolutely horrible headache above my right eye.

Then I rolled over and tried to sleep.

Suddenly Scott was standing next to me.

Ruth, he said, Don't you think we should go to the ER.

Oh, I suppose so, I said.

We trooped over to my house where I packed my antirejection meds, diabetes supplies, and took two aspirin before Scott drove me over, down the backstreets, arriving in the ER at 1 am. It's about 12 minutes away.

I was seen immediately.



They drew blood and gave me a CT scan and chest x-ray. They also gave me morphine which lessened my headache 80 percent.

I do not get headaches. The last time I had a terrible one was when I lived in SF and smoked pot. I remember those pounding throbbing headaches.

The service in the ER was excellent, not so much on the ward, where I arrived at 4 am. A nice big room with a view of Highland Ave and Horace Road.

Scott accompanied me the whole time. Luckily it was "his weekend off."



I asked for Percoset for my aching sciatica. I took it round-the-clock cuz I know how hospital stays inflame my sciatic nerve.

By mid-day I was actually feeling my old self again.

Doctors poured into the room. The doc responsible for my care was neurologist James Cook, along w/ attending physician Laksmi Karthik.

He stood over my bed w/Dr Alpa Patel, a beautiful woman, an internist, with long black hair.

I know you, he said. You wrote the article in the Intelligencer about the mental health system.

I was shocked...and overjoyed. So, important people actually read my stuff.

Cook got right down to brass tacks, listening to my heart, my jugular veins, and then doing strength testing and "placement" testing. He asked me to smile wide (facial mobility).

I passed w/flying colors.

He asked me to describe what had happened. I did, also stating, my memory is not good about the actual event.

That could be significant he said.

He ordered a battery of tests including an ultrasound of the heart.

Luckily Medicare is still in effect while les batards-en-charge play havoc w/our future.

Next morning I was scheduled for the dreaded MRI. Not my favorite thing. As you know, I wrote Tips for Getting thru an MRI. Also, I would have an MRA, which looks at blood flow in the brain and neck.

MRI was scheduled for 8:15. Who knew how long I'd be there?

I fought for the arrival of my antirejection drugs, which my guy nurse Orvyl made sure I got, personally going to the hospital pharmacy to get my Prograf. Before taking each pill, I thoroughly examined each one.

The MRI results were normal, except for expected changes that come w/aging. Oy, now I'm three days older having spent three days in the arspital.

Diagnosis upon discharge: TIA. My second TIA. Differential diagnoses were Ocular migraine, which I'd had before manic depression, and seizure.

When I got home, however, I looked up "prednisone aphasia" (speech difficulty) - remember, I'd been taking the 10-9-8-7 packet, and stopped with seven pills after visiting my family doctor, Foxhall.

In fact, Foxhall paid me a visit on Tuesday, which is when he sees all his patients who are at AMH (Abington Memorial Hospital).

He did remark, under his breath, that Foxhall was to blame.

I immediately expunged him from guilt, but on second thot, in the privacy of my upstairs study at home, I think the man should rethink prednisone.

At the hospital they spell it PredniSONE, so it won't get confused w/a similar-sounding medicine.

Okay, day one at the hospital, I get woken up for tests and breakfast.

"Olympia," my nurse, is kind but condescending. Okay, I can live with that. I tell her I've gotta take my antirejection meds and point to my blue box on the bed tray.

Oh, you can't, honey, you can't, she says. Patients are not allowed to take medicine from home.

She temporarily leaves the room and I wolf down all 14 pills but agree to take the hospital's pills from then on.

I have a two-hour window for pill-taking, beginning at 8 am and 8 pm.

No way is this hospital stay gonna jeopardize Sarah's kidney.

Okay, breakfast arrives. It sits on my tray for 50 minutes.

I've rung Olympia's nurse's buzzer many times to ask for my insulin. I did have my own morning dose in my bag, but I figgured I'd start on their insulin, which was different than mine.

The woman was incompetent. At every single meal I was forced to wait the better part of an hour for my insulin.

The final indignity was when I left my room to take a constitutional down the hallway.

The halls are a beehive of activity, with docs n nurses on computers, or in conference w/one another. This is good.

But it's no good when Olympia embarrasses me in front of a dozen people.

Where dyou think you're going, she says.

I'm going for a walk, I say, walking past her.

As I pass by, she says, Your hair needs combing.

I then walk up to the nurse's station and ask for the location of the Nurse Manager's office.

I'm wearing a blue hospital gown over my front, and another one over my back to hide my gorgeous 65-yo butt from view.

The nurse manager was in her office. Holly Badali, RN, MBA, has been on the job for 6 weeks. She's a dynamo, a real game-changer.

She is happy I've come in to talk about Olympia.

Prior to AMH, Holly had been head of the ER at Chestnut Hill Hospital. She is responsible for turning that ER from one of the worst around, into a state-of-the-art facility, esp. where stroke victims are concerned.

Several yrs ago, before her time, Larry Kirschner's 95-yo golf-playing father, died at Chestnut Hill. Their stroke team didn't have the knowhow or equipment to save him.

I'd always said to Helen, Larry's wife, that Henry would still be alive if he'd gone to Abington.

Holly and I spent a lot of time bonding. She showed me the photos of her young children on a shelf behind her. She's a wonderful woman.

At the end of our interview, I said to her: Ya know what?

I'm gonna go talk to Olympia myself.

Found her outside my room on the computer.

Olympia, I said, May I talk to you?

She paid no attention to me, just like when she was my daily nurse.

Olympia, I said moving in closer, I'm talking to you. May I talk to you in private?

To her, patients don't count. She grabbed my arm in a sympathetic manner, and sat next to me on the bed.

How are you doing? she said.

Fine, I said, I'm going home later today.

Oh, I'm so happy for you, she gushed.

I had a good stay, I said, but there are a couple of things that could've made it even better.

I told her what they were - insulin and humiliating me - she apologized profusely - and then to show I bore no animosity - I shook her hand.

She hugged and kissed me.

Tomorrow she will defend herself in front of the nurse manager, while I attend Helen's meeting at the Willow Grove Giant Supermarket.

Another beef I have - and, yes, they should use me or another "aware patient" to determine how patient standards are met at the hospital - is the state of my arms.

A needle for an IV drip of sodium was improperly placed in the crock of my left arm. Blood oozed down my arm. My nurse Orvyl was not alarmed, but I thoroughly washed off the bloody arm.

Everyone who took my blood caused me an unnecessary amount of pain.



Except for Nurse Sandy Landau who used a butterfly clip. She was actually my favorite nurse, an absolute hoot. We had fun together.

All nurses should use a butterfly clip.

Housekeeping? My used washcloths sat in the bathroom for a day and a half before I brot them outside my room to be taken away. Bathroom wastebasket was not changed until the day I left to go home.

Abington Memorial Hospital? Make it your hospital?

One more thing. So I'm home now. My pharmacist said he would never go back to AMH. My friend "Annie" took her husband there twice. The first time, after he suffered a stroke, her then-psychiatrist at Penn, orchestrated "David's" removal via ambulance of Penn.

The second time, which was about 2 months ago, when David had a bowel infection, the care was, again, simply dreadful. Like little kids playing Nurse.

I know that many people have excellent experiences. I just don't know of any.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bubby's Kitchen instead of Bonnet Lane / Poem: Goodbye Old Man (spider poem)

Ya know, I just look at this photo and shake my head about what a miracle this kid is. Grace is 11 months old.

Driving home from mom's tonite, I thought, My god, I ate all their food and took all their magazines.

I got a Time Mag where Dr Oz, our nation's doctor, talks about his cancer scare and admitted he's a lousy patient. I'll read that before bed.

Then I took a copy of The Rebbe: An Appreciation, found inside the Cleveland Jewish News. Apparently, this Lubavitcher rabbi, Menachem Schneerson, had a tremendous impact. It's beautifully produced by three donors.

I was apprehensive this morning about making breakfast for Dan, Nicole and Grace. Why? B/c of my difficulty standing. I gauged my pain after waking up. Decent. I wouldn't need an opiate. The gout is only 30 percent there.

From my bed, I imagined what I'd do:

- Clean and wash off kitchen table

- Beat four eggs in bowl

- Grate Havarti Caraway cheese for the cheese omelet Dan instructed me to make last nite

- Take out the delicious Giant-made rye bread from fridge

- Remove butter from fridge to soften

He wanted jelly for his bread. None. I suggested he eat a delicious dried fig for a sweet treat.

As soon as he finished breakfast, Dan went upstairs to swap my old computer that he built for me 10 years ago, with a newer model my friend Freda gave me.

It took a couple of hours. Paper collage in background by Claudia McGill. Gee, I miss her.

I invited Patrick and family over to meet my granddaughter. The whole family came - Sue, and the kids little Pat and Ian.

In Ocean City, these kids - Pat just graduated first grade (his favorite subject is recess and lunch) - Ian graduated kindergarten - went on the huge ferris wheel, utterly fearless.

Yesterday I was in a mild frenzy trying to get everything off my old computer. What I did was to email it downstairs to my laptop. Scott had put as much material as possible on a 'flashcard' so I had to finish the rest, manually, as opposed to rectally.

While they were here, Sarah called from DC, where she is covering the Dalai Lama in a blog on Huffington Post. She said it takes really long to write these posts, which are excellent. I know what she means since I write for Patch.com when I can walk and for the Intell which I do from el couch.

I put the phone on speaker-phone so she could hear Baby Grace babbling.



I'll tell you. That little girl is so incredibly endearing. So charming. You just can't take your eyes off her. She likes her bubby, too.

Here are some more photos followed by a new poem.







Getting ready to mount the stairs. Her dad is in The Study, last room on right, but tho she hears his voice, she can't quite figger out how to get there.

She crawled up the steps like a champ, then explored the upstairs on all-fours. What a delight it was seeing her crawl along the balcony. Camera was too far away and she's a fast crawler. Knee-pads?

My old computer preserved forever on z blog. The keys on the Microsoft keyboard wore out so I had to paint some letters and punctuation marks with White-Out.

A word about my new poem, Goodbye Old Man.

The image was emblazoned in my mind, so I said, Write about it!

Often I send it to a few people for their opinion. People liked it but no one was ecstatic. Here's what Helene said: Actually, I have several push me pull you responses. I close my eyes and view the entire imagery of this poem. I wonder at the style, new to me.. Did you invent it?

Bill Kulik, my poetry teacher, said it was interesting. Hmmm. I also sent it to my erstwhile acquaintance Rod of the Spider Museum at University of WA, who hasn't responded yet.

AND HE NEVER WILL, RUTHIE, PEOPLE DON'T HAVE TIME FOR YOUR SHENANIGANS.

Reason I wrote it was cuz I couldn't stop thinking about the image in my mind.

GOODBYE OLD MAN

near my bedside
a glass of water awaits my thirst.
inside,
an insect lies at the bottom
like an aborted fetus
eyes wide open on the sides of its head
body floating gently
in the rivers of the glass.
i hold it up
see eight tiny legs
fluttering, thin as saffron
balancing
though dead.

i stare and
love you just a little while
before taking you out for
a proper burial:
cascading you over
the growing
shiny
green
tomatoes.