Friday, April 30, 2010

Sadly, we bid April goodbye!

In this FedEx package lies the corrected ms. of my novel. I'm scared to open it. We've still gotta get me an agent. But first I correct it. And go purchase some lemonade, courtesy of McKayla next door and her able assistant Jake.

The end of a beautiful day. See the sun peeking through the little woods beyond our houses?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A stroll down Hatboro Way / So long, Billy!

Set free from my Census Class, I drove to Hatboro and whom should I meet but the Buddha! Well, not exactly the Buddha, more like a bodhisattva. Every so often I go into LeRoy's Flower Shop to visit the bodi. I namaste and look at the unique position of his hands and inhale the delicious aroma of the flower shop.

Do stop by and you may find Leroy there himself, as I did. He said his son Bob runs the store now, but it's the same lovely shop as always.

Leroy, I said, I'm starting a movement to SLOW DOWN LIFE. To STOP HURRYING.

Impossible, he said w/compassion.

I called my friend Pam today. "Talk fast," she said, "I'm in a hurry."

I can't, I said. And began to tell her about my friend Bill Cardinale. Hadn't heard from him in ever so long and his phone was disconnected. On a hunch, I googled his name plus the word 'obit' after it and sure enough, there he was, quite dead. I kept sending him postcards up to the very end but I guess when you're dead you're dead.

I have no way of knowing how he died though he had a variety of ailments. Read the great poem "Cremation" by Robinson Jeffers.

Ironic he died today, the day my Intelligencer Guest Column was published. We first met over the phone. Bill called me after my Letter to the Editor to the WSJ was published. I'll never forget it. I was stuffing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into my mouth cuz I was on my way somewhere. Bill lived in Highlands, NJ, and we became fast friends, even after he moved back to his beloved Bay area, California to be with his family.

Pam did remember him all right. We'd had our Coffeeshop Gig in Hatboro, Bill drove all the way down from Jersey to attend, just walked right in the shop as if he'd been coming there for years, and afterward the three of us went out to Ming's across the street. While we slurped our food, we talked about life, love, and politics.

How I wish I'd taken a photo of good ole Bill. He took me out a couple times. We saw a B'way show, oh, that's right, he invested in Sweeney Todd, so we went to the opening, and then a cast party afterward with all these incredibly rich people dripping with diamonds. I wonder if they could tell I'm a penniless pauper. I couldn't find a good pair of shoes to wear so I wore my sandals. Probably borrowed a coat from my sister. I never have time to do any shopping, it's so g'dam boring.

I would hold Bill's hand as we walked so he wouldn't topple over. Didn't have much feeling in his feet due to neuropathy from diabetes. Gee, I wish I could've told him I'm losing my kidney function. What a riproaring time we'd have talking about my lousy kidneys.

See that, Dear Reader! Gobble up every opportunity you have in life cuz you don't know when Sullen Death will knock you dead. He died at his daughter Tami's house. Oh, how he loved that girl.

Could I ever tell you stories! That was the best thing about Bill Cardinale. He was insatiably interested in who you are as a person and he let you know it. I'd always end our conversations with

Love you, Bill!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nothing like a good book!

On break during Census Training I walked over to the library, went to the New Fiction shelf, and picked out a novel I'd never heard of, called The Unit by a Swedish female author.

How do we select a good book? Especially one we've never heard of. I read the first page, then stroke my chin, then read some more, and pretend to put it back on the bookshelf. If it's relatively unbearable to return it, I check it out.

At training, George said to me, I see you at the Willow Grove mall.

Oh, I said, dyou sit with Fred?

Yes, he said. You and your friends are very intense.

You're right, I said. Our group is called The Mall Talk and we have some real serious discussions there.

I must confess that during the first couple hours of Census Training when all 23 or so of us were getting fingerprinted, I fell asleep in my chair. I'm not used to being inactive.

How bout another photograph? Here's a picture of one of my living room walls with a mobile I made outa PVC pipes, then painted with acrylics. Next to it is an American flag, sort of, I painted on a piece of wood.

Below that is the Gettysburg Address. To the right is a collection of my tiny clay sculptures and some meaningful chotchkies such as my father's glasses and an old-fashioned doorknob I took from a condemned house just before the alarm went off. Betty Wms and I happily trespassed together. Yeah, Ruthie, blame it all on Betty. "But, officer.... I...."

Lucky for you, Dear Reader, I just remembered to tell you about the recent death of Alice Miller, author of the influential psychoanalytic book Drama of the Gifted Child. If you look under my blogroll to your right, you'll see it listed.

In my novel, the psychiatrist Irv Kravitz presents a signed copy to our protagonist, saying Alice herself gave him a copy when he met her at a conference in Vienna. What a load of bullshit! You can make up anything and put it in a novel. If it works.

Picnic at Tamanend Park

Our Connexions Group had a wonderful picnic, a total group effort, coordinated by the Israeli-born Noam who honed his organizational skills on a kibbutz. I brought my trusty camera w/me but it conked out after the fifth picture saying the battery was dead. Already? I thought about this new camera I'm just getting used to.

Here's Chip, the "illustrated man" --

Mike was impressed by our roof-covered pavilion which protected us from the wind and the rains. There's nothing like a picnic when all about you the world reels from the rain and the winds.

Next time I'll bring a loaf of homemade bread. Today's bread is Anadama starring whole wheat flour and cornmeal. Yum! I baked it to take to my new job today: Your 2010 Census Worker. Can't wait to meet you. How come you forgot to fill out your form?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Is Noam Chomsky our new prophet?

During the 2009 presidential election I did everything I could to help elect Obama, including canvassing door to door. I'm pleased with the recent passage of the health reform bill and am an ardent supporter of financial reform -- what reasonable person could disagree after the great debacle? -- and look f/w to new laws for immigration.

While I'm at it, what are we doing in Afghanistan? They hate us, we're killing civilians, and we're doing no good. Another Vietnam. Why am I telling you this? I think it's important to have well-informed opinions in this complex world in which we live. Admittedly, I'm a newbie on the political front, but immerse myself in reading, and learn a lot from my politically astute boyfriend Scott, as well as fellow blogger Stephen Weinstein.

Stephen sent me a link from an alternative news site called Alternet. I'd like to share with my readers a frightening article by one of America's greatest thinkers, the Philadelphia-born Noam Chomsky, now an 82-yr-old professor at MIT. In essence the pessimistic article says America is headed toward a takeover by a leader who can catalyze the anger and rage of the average American citizen. As in Nazi Germany, scapegoating will take the place of solving our deep fundamental problems such as our sagging economy. We will continue to pillorize blacks and mount a campaign against illegal immigrants, such as the recent tough legislation in Arizona. Racism will explode like never before.

“Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response.

"What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer, we have an enemy’? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don’t think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election.”

“I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime
,” Chomsky added.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our Coffeeshop Gig at SweetBytes in Ambler, PA

Dr Pam London Barrett croons as Terrence Gains accompanies her on keyboards.

Prolific poet Linda readies herself to read Nothing Separates us from God's Love. The audience loved her devotion to Jesus.

Audience watches Pam sing. Ron Abrams, poet-attorney, showed his framed photos and offered to make free prints for people. I ordered one of a man's tattooed leg.

Performers received dahlias and heliotrope from Kremp Florist on Davisville Road, Willow Grove. Drew was kind enough to give me a fabulous discount this morning. His dad, Charles, coordinates all the flowers at the Presidential inaugurations.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pennypack Creek Clean-up

After loading our trash in huge black trash bags, we ate our hoagies from Whole Foods. Fortunately there wasn't a lot of trash to pick. Hopefully people are learning to collect their trash before they leave a place.

The photo above was taken at the playground of a Catholic church. I like the contrast between the Virgin Mary and the potato chip bag in the foreground. Symbolic of the newly sullied Catholic church.

Mother and Daughter

Sarah just walked me thru the easy process of posting a photo. Hurray!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

14 poets take the stage / The View from Up Here

How was your day, Darling?

Thank you for asking, Sweetie. Well, we went to Morris Arboretum for Ada's Outing. Got an hour-long guided tour by both Rick and Bill. Bill is in training. A retired pediatrician, we learned. All those trees. Did you know people have favorite trees? Nature lovers do. And flowers too. What are yours?

After the 8 or so of us had finished our tour, we stood outside the Carriage House, for our long goodbye, and I said, Rick, lemme tell you who we are. We're New Directions of Abington, the biggest and best support group in the Philadelphia area for people with depression, bipolar disorder and our family families. Each category is represented here, right now.

Rick looked at us. All I see, he said, are happy smiles. Rick himself said he knew what depression was. For two long years he had agoraphobia and couldn't leave home. When he began his job speaking in public he was an anxious mess.

For some reason, the grounds reminded me of when I visited Sarah at Kripalu yoga in Lenox, MA, where she was teaching for the summer. An idyllic trip where I had a minor psychotic break, nothing to be concerned about, gone in a wink with - what was I taking back then? - Risperdal?

It was the glorious trees that took ne back to Massachusetts. A tree to sit down under and read a book. That's my idea of heaven. You know what? If truth be known, I'd rather do that than anything else in the world. Read a book. And then put it down and go talk to Scott. Maybe eat a couple purple grapes like I am right now.

I also, as you know, love to drive my car. Drive straight down York Road to the Elkins Park Library. Let's not forget to take that jughandle turn onto Church Road.

The poets were convening in the room. Mike Cohen was the featured reader. What a lovely man! I don't say this about too many men. It's an adjective that must be used with great care. You can't just throw it around. An indefinable quality. He is gracious. Like Mauriccio Giammarco, the film professor. Or the Dalai Lama. Gandhi, for sure. Bill Clinton, never!

Mike's glasses were propped on top of his head. He used them as a prop, taking them on and off as he performed his poems. The audience started laughing right away. He's an Ogden Nash poet....deep and funny. Funny deep. Simply a great performer. I think he got more applause than any poet I've ever heard.

Who needs the Geraldine R Dodge Festival when we've got Arthur Krasnow hosting his Poets and Poetry Night at the library.

Afterward I was in no hurry to leave. I sold a poem to Allan Rubin for $5. The poem Shaker Furniture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He collects books about the Shakers and will stick it in a book. I typed it on the back of one of the SEPTA work orders Scott saves for me.

Most of Mike Cohen's poems had to do with death. When he sat back down, next to girlfriend Connie, I said, Mike, I started thinking about death every day after I turned 60. He said, he'd started well before that.

What I didn't say to him was that it was only when I turned 57 that I realized I was getting old. Until then, I'd forgotten to count.

Audrey Bookspan, who read a poem about her 100-year-old mother/law who still lives in her home -- with help, of course -- trained with Martha Graham. Martha wouldn't take her, tho, in her dance group, cuz Audrey had a "Jewish body" - zoftig, she told us. When I wrote my Guest Editorial about this very poetry group I mentioned Audrey's poem "Ode to the Commode" after her hip operation.

Oh, my aching back.

I also read a poem no one liked called The View from Up Here: A Dream. It's not that they didn't like it, it's just not that good, that's all. I think I'll print it here and see what I think.


I meant to call you Linda, but you know how busy things can get, how time just flies when you cook all your own food to keep your kidneys healthy, oh, I would’ve taken the lithium anyway, but can’t a girl ever get a break, the diminishment of my kidney function with every breath I take? So you’ll excuse me, I hope, for summoning you in a dream and meeting you without an appointment at your office, a beautiful building, I never knew, that used to be a southern mansion.

How kind of you to bring me up to meet your boss, the one and only Rick Centipede, who like the rest of America, expanded more than he could handle, and began closing satellites all over the Delaware Valley where he hoped to make a killing. Tend your own backyard, we say to Rick, silently, of course, as you point me toward his office on the top floor. Not exactly a penthouse suite, I enter and the man himself, the lord of the manor, is sitting on the side of his bed, ready to climb in.

His face is a blur. I had pictured him a handsome dappled-gray-haired man, the King Louie of psychologists, but where is his face? I take myself to the window for a view of the trees and press my breasts against the window pane. Ah! I am alive once again and can feel the feeling of being so so alive, the feeling shoots through me, from head to toe, anchored by my once milk-bearing breasts. I glance over at Rick, under the covers now, as I shake myself awake, and reach for a glass of water.

Monday, April 19, 2010

On brevity

I liked the terseness of my last headline: On Lateness.

Watched the amazing Michael Kinsley interviewed on TV. He had deep brain stimulation for his Parkinson's disease and reports being better. The treatise he's known for is: Keep it short. Believes that books are way too long to read. That editors require too many supporting quotes and research and it detracts from the reader's enjoyment -- and patience -- of reading something.

A revelation! Just wrote a 'less than 200-word' Letter to the Editor today. I tried to artfully compose a statement in that short space.

Am also finishing up a 'less than 700-word' Guest Column for The Intelligencer. Something indeed to be said for brevity, for packing it all in deftly and visually in less than 5 reading minutes.

Round bout 3 o'clock, I started craving a nap. Hadn't done a lick of physical work all day save for forcibly cleaning out my polenta pot, yet I was tired as an old dog napping in the sun.

Just one more thing to do, I said. Just write that letter to Harvey and then you can take your nap.

Well, I finished the letter to Harvey, and I realized I hadn't done something else.... so I said, Surely, Ruth, you can finish that up before you take your nap.

It began to sound like a children's book where the papa can't take his nap.

Finally, at 5 o'clock, I went over Scott's who was already under the covers. The couple who naps together stays together. I put on American Splendor, nudged him and said, "I'll be asleep before you will" -- I always am, but he got an hour in before I drove him to the train at 8 p.m. to go to work.

Is this post adhering to the title? Is it possible for Ruthie to stop typing once she gets started? Don't worry. She'll stop typing but she won't stop thinking. The mind always goes. It's always on.

Reward yourself immediately by listening to Father and Son sing Purcell's Sound the Trumpet. And for pete's sake, pronounce Purcell the correct way: PURsell.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On lateness

Wonder if the great French essayist Montaigne ever wrote about the subject of punctuality. The older I get, the later I get. I luxuriate over spending time on important projects, whether it's reading the NY Times, watching a video, working with a client, writing a letter or an article.

When I went for kidney lab tests yesterday to Quest Diagnostics I was only 7 minutes late and ended up waiting nearly two hours for my appointment. The waiting room was packed. Fortunately the nurse put on the Julia Child movie, so I sat and watched it again, Meryl Streep was fantastic, and I began writing my latest Guest Column for the Intelligencer.

I wrote it on the back of a lovely pink pad my printer gave me.

Penzias and Wilson found direct evidence for the big bang in 1978. I'm watching a NOVA repeat as I blog.

So it was not unusual I was 10 minutes late for this morning's Creek CleanUp at Pennypack. My group was waiting for me.

"Here comes our fearless leader," said Ada.

"Yes, your fearless late leader," I said walking quickly.

Lauren assigned us to a team. We were out pounding the meadows and the creek for nearly two hours filling our black trash bags with six inches worth of crud. But, oh, the fun time we all had, talking and laffing and getting to know one another better.

A small group of us stood under a tree.

The Hubble has taken the stars into every modern home.

An enigmatic force called dark energy. An energy that seems to be created out of nothing, from the vacuum. Its discovery comes as a complete surprise.

A tremendously loud bird call chirruped above us.

"A pileated woodpecker," cried Richard, looking up and pointing. We saw the huge bird on a branch and watched him fly over our heads and away from us.

"He's thanking us for being out here," I said. We all waved, immensely honored by his presence.

So instead of slowing down, the universe is actually speeding up.

70 percent covered with water. Imagine if we didn't know what water was. 70 percent is dark matter. We don't know what it is.

Food was awaiting us when we returned our full black trash bags of crud. I had a tuna hoagie which I still smell from, plus a sugar cookie, all from Whole Foods. I'd brought my Vatican Bag along with me in which I took out my Canon and photographed the 10 or so of us. Glimpsing my pill case inside the overnite bag, I decided to show a few folks all the colorful pills I take.

I opened the top little door of the orange pill case, and flashed my pills.

The group oohed and ahhed. "These are what I take for my kidneys," I said. One pill in particular is absolutely stunning, like a little jewel. It's a green gelatinous pill I could easily wear as an emerald earring, except it would melt all over my neck, and is my Vitamin D pill. I think. Don't quote me. No, wait! It's my calcium pill.

I often ask myself, If I didn't take these, how long would I live? My honest answer is another 15 years. I'm ravenous about taking em. Never miss.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Work is the wheel .....

that makes all things happen. Just said this to my attorney friend "Sam" whose solo practice had been very slow but just took off again. I told him the same is true for me. My solo therapy practice just took off again. I specialize of course in working with bipolar families. I come out to their house, remember all their names (I jot em down on my clipboard)and by the end of our meeting, we've come up with an action plan.

Then I go home and type it up and email it to them. Sam said, I don't know any other therapist who does dat.

I made it up, I said. It was necessary. Families love it. We also write scripts.

Sam is the role model of a successful bipolar man. He has lots of interests and hobbies. And great ideas. I wanna ask him to be on our Board of Directors but I wasn't in the mood to talk to him about it. Instead I told him about some of the videos I check out each week from the Abington Public Library. If you google Abington Public Library they send you to Massachusetts.

"Abington" is a b'ful word but it's hard to appreciate it cuz we're so used to it. Tonite when I was coming home from my painting class, here's what I thought to myself.

People live in houses. I was driving down Jericho Road where people have big expensive b'ful houses. I still, after all these years, can't get used to the fact that people live in houses. I think I still believe people live in tents in the desert. This is true. Houses mystify me. I do pretend otherwise, tho. But whenever I enter a new house, like last nite's clients' house, I go gaga. I just wanna walk all thru it and look in all the rooms and sit on the beds.

I was at my friend Walter's yesterday. I followed him into the bedroom while he finished folding his laundry. Then we sat in the living room and talked. He read some to me. I took a photo of him w/my new Canon hovered over his bookshelf looking for a book, The Complete Book of the Holocaust. We talked about Hitler's idea of transporting the Jews to Madagascar.

Why, I asked Wally, did Hitler wanna get rid of them? They were such valuable people.

Oh, said Wally, he wanted their money. Their artwork and their treasures.

What I really wanted to talk about was my hour-long walk today in Hatboro. Backpack slung over my back, I chugged along down York Road heading toward Jarrett Dodge. They're still in biz but they now sell used cars from every nation. I hadda check up on my Hatboro shops.

I also checked on a couple of my favorite trees. One is a huge white tree out front of Loller Academy. Doing fine. Very old. Couple hundred I'd say. Next door is the former White Billet Nursing Home.

What did they do with all the old people, I wondered, pushing open the door and entering the empty building. The ghosts of the old were nowhere to be found. I walked checking all the rooms. No one was there. Not even a sniff of any old people.

I imagined them wheeling them out. "You'll be just fine, Dearie," says the aide in the colorful smock. "We'll take good care of you."

All the old people they took out used to be young and vibrant. They used to be little children sucking on lollipops. They got married and raised families. They were vital individuals with beautiful hair. The women had nice legs and oh how they loved to dance.

Gradually, so gradual they didn't even notice, they began to shrink and lose their teeth and their hair and the blood slowed down in their veins and when they looked in the meer they couldn't recognize theirselves (sic) anymore. They just could not recognize theirselves.

And then - suck! - they were plopped into The White Billet.

That's life for you. But, I ask you, hasn't it been worthwhile? Hasn't it tho?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

F i n i

So. I came home late last nite and decided to finish my novel, one, two, three. Couldn't. There were at least two hard parts I had to rewrite. One was the describing of a terrible fire. The other a description of the ole Willow Grove Amusement Park. My brain was tired. Go to sleep, it said.

When I awoke in the morning, I made a quick breakfast and sat down and began to play the piano. I mean, play the computer. Hitting the keys. And thinking. And arranging. And listening. And cocking my head. And thinking.

I was expecting one call from the mother of an out-of-control bipolar woman and dreaded the interruption. But kept the phone on the hook. She called after I'd finished the book.

In the third last chapter I got tears in my eyes. In the last chapter I got tears in my eyes. It seemed like someone else had written the book. Not me. I was separated from it by a good nite's sleep.

18 chapters. I emailed them to my teacher, then printed out a check to her for $100 and tucked it in the mailbox.

How do you celebrate finishing a novel? If you're me, you leave home and give your typing fingers a rest. Maybe you might kiss them for the great job they did. (I'm kissing them now. They're cold since I just came in from seeing a wonderful movie at the Huntingdon Valley Library where Mauricio Giammarco is the discussion leader. I'd follow him anywhere but I won't eat the cookies and cakes they put on the table. If they'd had polenta, yes, I'd've eaten that or a nice bowl of oatmeal.)

While finishing up my novel I barely had any food in the house. Was subsisting on, well, polenta and the last crusts of my homemade bread. Today I cooked. Bought a whole chicken and roasted it. Steamed collard greens for magnesium and calcium. Made noodles w/sauteed mushrooms and onions to serve with the juicy chicken.

It's nice to have food in the house again. Did you ever hear of a Jewish mother who has no food in the house? Even my main character, a middle-age Jewish woman named Mollie has food in her refrigerator. She's much fancier than I am, tho, and does place settings and all that at her table.

When you write a book, you learn what interests you. For example, I spend time describing the sounds made by a Ford pick-up. I seem to be obsessed with flowers and trees. I can't write about anything w/o describing what came before it, in other words, history of the land. I seem to like dialog. And diners. And dimly-lit rooms.

When the going got rough, I'd read the NY Times or go outside and pour clean water on the birdbath. Hop hop hop go the robins across my lawn. And listened to music while I tapped away. At the end I was sustained by an unobtrusive Miles Davis recording. I put my dead neighbor Charlie in it. Seated him in the barber chair at Daddypops' Diner. I've got his picture on my mantel piece. I don't actually have a mantel piece but a big old secretariat in my dining room which I use to put pictures of people I like.

On my living room wall I have the white envelope of a FedEx pkg in which my teacher sent me the original marked-up manuscript. It seemed too b'ful to throw away even tho they make park benches out of em.

Okay, see ya.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Columbus discovers America, Ruthie discovers Polenta

Here I am cleaning my bowl of golden-yellow polenta, a delicious and filling breakfast porridge I just made. Wonder if my Sarah ever makes it. When she and I traveled to southern Italy last November, surprisingly none of the restaurants had it on the menu. The Internet tells me it's served in a similar manner as pasta, as a base for a hearty meal.

I made it like a breakfast cereal adding just enough honey to sweeten it. Tomorrow I'll add some fresh-frozen berries.

Was up till 3:30 last nite revising Chapter 10 of my 18-chaptered novel. This was a pivotal chapter and I needed to make lotsa changes before I could go to sleep. I'm trying to finish the novel by 3 p.m. today when I have a phone interview with the newly crowned Miss Philadelphia. I talked to her proud mom extensively who told me, No one ever asked me questions like the ones you asked me.

The story will be only 600 words max.

Okay, now that breakfast is over with, time to get back to the novel. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Trespassing with Impunity

Everyone has their own favorite trespassing story. I believe like the native Americans that we are just borrowing the land, that it's as silly to own land as it is to own the stars or the moon or a tree. Everything is here for each one of us to share and enjoy. A politician once rapped on my door. How dyou feel, he said, about the kids who trespass on your property when they cut thru your yard to get to school.

Oh, I love it, I said. In fact, I keep the path clear and ask my neighbors to cut down fallen trees with their chain saws.

Did I tell you I got a new mailman? His name is Tom, a fit replacement for Mailman Bob, whom you remember I mailed a poem upon his retirement and a gift of $50 donated by our neighbors.

I asked Tom why he chose our neighborhood for his route. It's easy, he said, few hills, houses close together. He was one of the few people who bid on it, probly, he said, b/c they either don't like change or b/c they get good Xmas gifts come the end of the year.

I learned all this when I ran after Tom the other day with 12 postcards I was mailing from the Smithsonian's African Museum. Turns out Tom also collects postcards, esp. for the old Willow Grove Amusement Park where his dad worked as a brakeman on the carousel and the Alps roller coaster.

Do you mind if I walk with you in the neighborhood, I asked. I used to do this with Bob. This way I get my exercise, talk to Tom -- he's a fundraiser for Kisses for Kyle -- and of course trespass with impunity.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Trip to DC... I'll be back later by train

Say the name "Vollis Simpson" and most people won't know who you're talking about. I discovered ole Vollie a dozen years ago at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where one of his whirligigs -- and I can see it right now -- rested with repressed energy against a wall. I fell in love immediately, walked back and forth in front of it and then to the back of the room so I could see it from a different view.

Last summer I visited more of his work at the American Visionary Museum in Baltimore and was again blown away. Imagine my joy when ole Vollie, now 91 and still tinkering, was profiled in the NY Times.

Why, I ask myself, did I fall in love with his work? Or with other works of art that I saw yesterday during a pleasure trip to Washington, DC. What accounts for love? Is it experiences from our childhood?

I particularly love African sculpture. Did you know that the Smithsonian Institute has a Museum of African Art? Never knew myself until I went there yesterday. I bought a new camera -- a Canon -- and made darn sure I knew how to use it before I left. I stood at the counter at Staples and had Josh personally assist me. Then today I went back to Staples so I could learn how to VIEW the photos I took. I'm illiterate when it comes to reading handbooks. I took notes while he was explaining it to me.

Showed Scott all my fantastic photos. Most were of the African art and of the people on our bus trip, sponsored by the Friends of the Fox Chase Library. I also photographed any interesting folks I met along the way, like Don from Ghana, who was a trash collector at a rest stop in Maryland, a very nice man who said I was a noble woman.

Sometimes I leave these statements in here like 'noble woman' and when I read it back later I remove them b/c it sounds like I'm bragging. I'll probly leave it in, tho.

Also took a couple shots of Phil, our Hagey Coach bus driver, a distinguished looking man orig. from Hershey. When I got off the bus, he said to me, "Good luck getting to Yosemite." I'd asked him if Hagey drove out west and he said no, take a plane. We'll probly take a train.

A word about the Pope and the pedophiles. As mentioned earlier, I'm fascinated by a person in power, a world leader, who, no matter what his religion might be, protects the perpetrator of tremendous crimes against vulnerable individuals and in so doing allows them to wreak even more havoc throughout their lives without censure.

I'm sure all of us ask, What would I have done in his place? And, we might also ask, if we think of it, What would Jesus have done?

Jesus, a personal friend of mine, was a no-nonsense fellow, a real idol-smasher, whose radical anti-authoritarian acts across the small towns of Judah, brought him to the attention of the authorities. Although there is no parable for the evil pedophile, we can easily imagine one. I'll leave it to your imagination how Jesus casts out the pedophile. And, of course, we must remember that pedophiles are people too.

Look at this. Was just reading the Times and found this article about a Dr. Lothstein who treats Catholic priests for various things including sexual relations outside their vows. Lothstein says he was surprised how many psychopaths are priests. Ah, the lovable psychopath who tricks us all.

When I worked as a therapist I believed the head of our crisis center was mistreating crisis patients, one woman in particular, a manic woman who they tied up (four-point restraints) and put in a room by herself. This is technically called Seclusion and Restraint. I myself was treated thus during my first manic-psychotic episode.

All I could do was be a witness until one day an outside agency came in to check up on our agency. I took the man aside and told him of my concerns about our crisis center.

Thank you, said TS, I appreciate your concerns. Talk to me anytime you wish.

And did nothing to change things.

But who was I? A peon. With a sense of justice and compassion. The crisis center was later cited for various violations. My own psychiatrist had told me to mind my own business and not get involved. I was shocked. Dyou see the parallel between the Pope and his cardinals?

Don't get involved. Don't make trouble. Don't rock the boat.

There's two kinds of people in the world, said my former boyfriend Charlie Flaherty. Those that wear down vests and those who don't.

Speaking of great photographs, I commend you to Bill Hess's blog for his masterful shots of Central Park and other NYC sights.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I dreamt of Mark

My timer is set for 20 minutes. Then I'll drive to the Fox Chase Bank to get a Hagey bus to take a tour of DC, courtesy of Friends of the Fox Chase Library.

So, it was a long nite last nite. You know how it is when you've gotta wake up early when you're not used to it. Bouts of non-sleep. And one long dream precipitated, I spose, by talking to my Aunt Selma from Cleveland. YE 2-8164.

Selma, I say, how come you're not outside on this beautiful day. (I was cooking my lunch for today's trip when I spoke to her.)

I did all my partying earlier in the week, said my 91-year-old aunt.

You're just like my mother, I said.

Who is this? she asked.

Bernice's daughter, I said. My mom is only 87.

I jokingly said, Why don't you go for a walk with Seville, your best friend.

She's a vegetable, said Selma.

That's terrible, I said.

Lots of em live to be vegetables nowadays.

How did Mark's show go at DC Moore, I asked.

Fabulous, she said. I don't know if he sold anything or not.

My mom said one of em - known as the Bedspread - is going for 6 figures.

Selma explained these paintings were locked away in storage somewhere for 40 years. They're Mark's earlier works when he was married to beautiful Barbara.

In the dream, Mark and I - both young and beautiful - were at some sort of memorial ceremony, a funeral. He was sitting on the couch and I was standing. We exchanged pleasantries before he disappeared and new people arrived.

I felt terribly out of place. Decided to take a nap. When I awoke, new people had arrived. I didn't know anyone but worst of all, I couldn't find my contact lenses. Here I was stranded in Cleveland, Ohio, and couldn't see a damn thing.

Felt utterly trapped. Then I found some contacts on the kitchen table, lubricated them with my saliva but realized they weren't mine. So I put em back.

How will I ever get out of here, I thought, and went outside in the strange neighborhood. Then I realized I could make a phone call on a borrowed phone. So many people had died I wasn't sure who to call.

To my great relief I woke up. The Michael Wood video of The Travels of Alexander the Great was still playing on my DVD, having succeeded in lulling me to sleep while Alexander was traveling 20,000 miles from Macedonia believing for sure he was the son of Zeus.

Here's Mark's Bedspread painting. It was in storage for some reason for 40 years. Mark was born in 1942. You do the math to figure out his age. He wants to retire this year and move from Albany to NYC to be around his beloved Chuck Close. Here's Chuck's painting of Mark where he looks like a goofus.

Wonder what psychoanalyst Bob Gordon would make of my dream?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Newly Diagnosed with Bipolar or Depression? Protocol for Best Treatment

Prepared for my workshop:

by Ruth Z Deming, MGPGP
Former Bipolar Patient
Conquering Bipolar Disorder and Depression
Doylestown Hospital Health and Wellness Center
Easton Road
Warrington, PA
May 1, 2010

Take heart! In this, the twenty-first century, treatment options for people with bipolar disorder couldn’t be better. The powerful combination of medication and psychotherapy will get you off to a good start. Lifestyle changes will also be of tremendous help, as will joining a support group for much-needed emotional support. Sure, the illness is challenging but millions of people have figured out how to live successful and productive lives and so can you. Begin, from this day forward, to think positively. Make “yes, I can” your motto.

First, a word of caution from the authors of the 2010 book Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult’s Guide to Dealing with Bipolar Disorder. They write, “We can almost guarantee that without [a good treatment] foundation in place… your treatment will be on shaky ground and future relapses will become more likely.”

Unlike heart disease or diabetes, it’s hard to find the proper protocol for good treatment once you’re diagnosed with a mood disorder (depression or bipolar disorder). That’s why I’ve written this handout. Treatment for mood disorders leaves much to be desired. A correct diagnosis may take up to 9 years. That's because (1) psychiatrists do not ask the right questions in the initial psychiatric evaluation or (2) because the individual has begun their bipolar life with depression. The mania has yet to emerge.

Patients go on and off their medication because they are frustrated or don’t understand the concept of “staying on their meds.”

Sadly, meds often "poop out" or stop working, so it's back to the drawing board to find meds that work.

Nonetheless, when you find yourself a good psychiatrist and good therapist, chances are excellent you’ll get your life back and will go on to fulfill your dreams. Our support group New Directions is testimony to that.

PART I: Diagnosis and Terminology

First, what is your diagnosis? A surprising number of bipolar patients do not know what category of bipolar their illness falls under. I was diagnosed with Bipolar One, the kind with true mania and psychosis (delusional behavior, out of reality). Bipolar Two is comprised of hypomanias (intense energy, lack of judgment, ability to do lots of work). Both One and Two are usually followed by depressions, which may be quite severe, or suicidal depressions.

Here is a more thorough description of the symptoms. You may have some or all of them.

- TRUE MANIA AND PSYCHOSIS -- “hyper” or too much energy: out of control behavior, delusional (“I believe I’m Jesus”), paranoid (“people are following me”), lack of sleep, rapid stream of talking, thinking, total disorganization, anger, hypersexuality. Almost always requires hospitalization.

- HYPOMANIA – “hyper” but able to control yourself with effort –- a heightened sense of being that includes too much energy, lack of sleep, ability to be very productive. Doesn’t require hospitalization but our behavior is extremely annoying, if not downright intolerable, to loved ones. Symptoms—and do note the word ‘symptom’ because this is not normal behavior – symptoms can be moderated with a great deal of effort until they subside completely, either on their own or preferably through additional medication.

The hypomanic individual must slow herself down, particularly their rapid-fire speech. This can be done! Take deep breaths. Force yourself to stop and sit still. ALLOW a support person to remind you to relax and breathe. Discharge excessive energy through fast walking, moving furniture, digging in garden.

- DEPRESSION -- lack of energy, negative thinking, sleep and appetite disturbances (too much or too little). Depression is an inadequate word that can scarcely convey the anguish a person is going through. The swell of negative thoughts produces beliefs such as “I’m a loser, I’m a failure, nothing I do is right.” In severe cases a person wishes they were dead, thinks about suicide, or plans to kill themselves.

Depression can arrive by itself or can follow a “high.” Rule of thumb: the higher we go, the worse the fall.

A MIXED MANIA includes features of both mania and depression.

PART II: Getting the help you need

Okay, your illness is upon you. You can no longer ignore it. You are going to get help. What do you do?

1 Make an appointment with a psychiatrist. Go to someone highly recommended. Support group members offer good referrals. Your new psychiatrist will most likely put you on medication to “stabilize your moods.” Keep a journal and write down all the meds you’re on and what effects they have on you. Expect “trial and error” to find out what works for you. It may take awhile, or not, but with perseverance your doctor will find the right meds for you that make you feel “like yourself.” Your active participation is necessary. You and your doctor are partners.

2 Get psychotherapy or talk therapy. Find someone who is attentive and caring and interested in you. Work on goals at each session: accept your diagnosis without shame, work through feelings of shock or loss after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Life goals such as better job, go back to school, get along better with mother or daughter.

Remember this: Your manic episode or your depression is a traumatic event. You have been severely traumatized, your brain injured much like being in a car accident. It takes time to heal. Talking is a way of healing the brain. Chemical changes take place in your brain cells the same as if you’re taking medicine. Never forget this!

3 Continue on with your dreams and let nothing stop you, though you may wish to change course. A respected doctor recently said to a young friend of mine after her severe psychosis, “You will never be able to work with children again.” This is so wrong, so ill-advised and disheartening. My friend was crushed. Of course she’ll be able to work with kids again. Another friend of mine had her psychosis after she taught a year of kindgergarten. Her own psychiatrist called her every day during her depression to get her out of bed so she could go back to school to work with her kids!

4 Practice a healthy lifestyle. This begins by making yourself a strict schedule. The bipolar brain is exquisitely sensitive to the rhythms of daily life and must be kept busy at all times. When busy during the day, you will find plenty of time to relax at night. But you must keep busy during “business hours” as this is how all brains are wired. If you get “down” on weekends, schedule at least one external event where you get out of the house. Don’t let your home become your worst enemy. If it is, find ways to leave home.

Healthy lifestyle suggestions include aerobic exercise to raise brain endorphins, healthy eating with plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, fish and chicken, lessened intake of meat. Use supplements of omega fatty acids.

Your most important lifestyle change is having the courage to Say No to being around people who are not nice to you, who put you down, who make you feel bad about yourself, or who, just plain, don't pay attention to you. Surround yourself with loving individuals who see you for the unique, lovable soul that you are.

I, personally, have kept away from family members, left my husband, left friendships behind when I felt my inner soul was not being nourished, but, in fact, was being damaged. It may take weeks or months or even years to get over traumatic relationships but the sense of freedom and relief is tremendous when you've succeeded in breaking the bonds of unhealthy relationships.

PART III: Coping with the illness

Stopping a mania begins with recognizing it is there. Work with a partner -- parent, spouse, support group member -- to 'reality check' whether you are okay or not. If you're not okay, contact the doctor immediately. Take extra antipsychotic medication. Get parameters from from your doctor so you'll know what extra dose to take. Very important!

Put yourself on a STRICT SCHEDULE. The bipolar person is extremely sensitive to body rhythms and also the changing seasons. Most of us must keep busy every moment of the day during 'business hours.' This includes weekends, too. This involves scheduling ourselves so as to productively account for our time.

Otherwise we may be hit with sodden depression and sleep weekends away when we don't have the protective schedule of our work week.

Make a daily 'to-do' list. Also be sure to schedule your weekends. Usually by having at least ONE EXTERNAL EVENT for each day off -- in other words, an event to make sure you leave home -- you should be okay. Some people find it easier to have someone accompany them out of their homes. This is fine.

Pursue your interests and hobbies. A mood disorder is only one component of the whole person you are. Our brains are capable of learning every moment of the day. Sure, spend some time learning about your illness, but also pursue our wonderful world with hobbies such as photography, painting, writing or reading poetry. Journaling is extremely helpful in getting out your feelings.

Feelings must be discharged to people who understand you. Don't ask for trouble by talking about your condition at work. Or to people who don't understand the illness. You'll feel infinitely frustrated. That's why our group is here... our members are willing to talk about anything with you.

And, for pete's sake, don't say, "I'm bipolar." If you have cancer, do you say, "Hi, I'm cancer."


A couple of cautionary words. It’s often difficult to make an appointment without a rather long wait. You may have to wait as long as a month. But, then, you may need only to wait a week. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a list of possible doctors, call them, and go with the soonest appointment. Best referrals are from support groups or other patients.

There are two types of treatment centers: private and public. Private are more expensive but you may get quicker appointments. A private practice will allow you to see top psychiatrists. Check insurance requirements before you go. Some offices have stopped taking insurance.

Public treatment centers are known as community mental health centers. Your attendance is based on where you live. This is called your “catchment area” and it goes by county. At a community mental health center, you will probably see an intake therapist first. To me, this is a waste of time, but it’s the protocol. In no other field do you see an interviewer first and then return another day to see the doctor. Don’t be discouraged. Just be forewarned. Maintain a positive attitude.


Bucks County

For information on center nearest you, call Bucks County Department of Mental Health, Warminster, at 215-442-0760, ext. 2.

- Penn Foundation in Sellersville, 215-257-6551

- Lenape Foundation in Doylestown, 215-345-5300

- Penndel Mental Health Center in Penndel, 215-752-1541

Montgomery County

For service nearest you, call Montgomery County Department of Behavioral Health, Norristown, 610-278-3642.

- Creekwood (serves Willow Grove and Eastern Montco), call 215-830-8966

- Central (serves Norristown & Central Montco inc. Plymouth Mtg, Bryn Mawr) call 610-277-9420
- Creative Health Services (Pottstown and Western Montco), call 610 326 2767
Penn Foundation of Sellersville, call 215-257-6551.

- NHS of Lansdale, call 215-368-2022

- Lower Merion Counseling Center of Bryn Mawr, call 610-649-6512


National institute of Health (NIMH), nation’s research center for mental illness. Superb information available online, including videos. View

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. For family members. Find a group near you! They offer the Family-to-Family Program, a teaching course providing info about various mental disorders.

- Bucks County NAMI – Call 866-399-6264. View

- Montgomery County NAMI – Call 215-886-0350. View

TEC Family Center (Teaching and Education Center). Part of the Mental Health Assn. of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Offers workshops on how to live with a person with mental illness. Call 215-751-1800.

New Directions Support Group of Abington for people with depression, bipolar disorder and their loved ones. Meets the first, third and fifth Thursday of the month from 7:30 to 9:45 pm at Abington Presbyterian Church, 1082 Old York Road at Susquehanna, Abington, PA 19001. Call 215-659-2366. View for comprehensive information.

Ruth Deming offers home consultations. She will meet at your home with all your family members to explain bipolar disorder and come up with an action plan to help families. In addition, two bipolar members will meet with your bipolar loved one to share the good life that awaits the bipolar person after diagnosis.


We sat in a circle in folding chairs,
the lucky seven,
I was wearing a party dress that showed my curves
forgot to wear my panties, so kept my legs together.

Paul spoke. For the first time I liked him.
Not because he used to be a radio D-J or
his mother was dying in a nursing home
but because he banged his head against the wall
when his daughter hung up on him.

The newcomer was diagnosed two days ago.
He knew nothing about his illness.
Was 22, led the life of a gallant well-
dressed pimp
but now guilt pressed him flat in his chair
- a run-over worm.

I stared at him. Nice contrast of
ebony skin the color of a Chinese lacquer box
and peach-colored palms he clenched
in his lap.

He began his confession,
looking down and talking staccato.
I touched his shoulder. Keep some
secrets for yourself, I said. We don’t need to
know ev-ery-thing.

The dam began to leak and
Harry, who worked for a drug company,
talked about his rampant sexuality when manic,
laughed when he talked about the women he made love to,
the wife taking off with the
house and the kids.

The newcomer nodded.
You mean it happened to you, too?

It happened to all of us, I say.

Harry told about writing fifty pages of
notes only two months ago during his last mania.
”Hypergraphia,” I said, mouthing the gorgeous syllables of a
new word I’d just learned.
Mine, I threw away after 20 years hidden in the bottom drawer,
useless horseshit.

The newcomer wanted more symptoms.
I handed him a brochure. Everything has a
name, I said. Whatever you did, they’ve already
named it. They’re pretty smart.

Well, if they’re so smart, he said, why can’t they
fix it?

Well, they’re not that smart, I said.

The newcomer was guilt-ridden over his
sexual escapades. Used the word ‘evil’ to
describe himself.
C’mon, I said. Something big comes over us. We
light up. We glow. Arrive with a halo for godsakes.
We’re like lightning bugs in the dark. We blink.
Think of the evolutionary possibilities if you’re a
man. Populating your side of the mountain.

Paul, the guy I finally liked, talked about his old
man shooting his brains out.
Oh no, I thought, now we’ve gotta explain
we kill ourselves to the newcomer.

Derek, I said, turning toward him, there’s
something you need to know.

I know it already, he said. I was 9 when I first got
out the rope.

Hallelujah, brother, I said, slapping his hand.
You know everything now.
You can relax and start to enjoy yourself.

Monday, April 5, 2010

David Remnick's New Book on Obama

I was reading the online NY Times when the ad kept popping up. Featured was a huge picture of Barack Obama. I will NOT read the ad, I thought. They're not gonna trick me with this huge photo of Obama and the great name of the latest bio of him -- The Bridge -- into clicking onto their stinking ad.

I clicked onto the ad. Why, it's a new book about Obama, I saw. Not only that, it was by Pulitzer-prizewinner David Remnick (don't worry, I've never heard of him either) and I figured, Well, it's only 10:30 in the evening, I finished all my work for today, what do I have to lose?

I clicked on Excerpt from Chapter One. Maybe it was the entire chapter one. Riveting! You've gotta read it. Magnificently written and going back to the 1960s and the Civil Right Movement, a long time coming.

Great descriptions of President Bill Clinton, who Toni Morrison calls 'our first black president' and also of Hillary and how her own dear Bill told her he possessed a knack for talking to blacks cuz he was southern-born and had black friends since childhood. He comforted her and said, Just do the best you can.

But could I read the entire 667-page tome? We'll see when I get a notice from my library where I've just reserved the book online.

So, how did you celebrate this glorious spring day?

Scott and I went for a long nature walk at Pennypack Trust. I wore my most comfortable hiking shoes which didn't get wet when we walked thru the fen.

Scott, I said, you know why the water doesn't drain well?

Because the earth is made of clay, so it won't absorb it. I learned that thother day on our nature walk with Mark!

Sometimes you're just filled with information that you can't regurgitate until something reminds you of it.

We also saw four strutting male turkeys, feathers all the way unfurled -- big thick gorgeous stiff feathers -- and they were all chasing after females who modestly would not look at them.

They looked dressed up in their ballgowns and tottered down the grassy fields in their dress shoes, descendants of the same turkeys who lived here during Injun days. I was living in Hungary and Russia biding my time waiting to be born. For this is my time. My time to be here on this earth. Don't wanna squander it. I wanna be present every moment that I can.

New Directions' Guide to Finding a Job in the Internet Age

Times have changed. Just about everyone uses the Internet today. It has streamlined the job search. Since we are living in a recessionary age, employers are in the driver’s seat and have their choice of many job applicants per each job. The rule of thumb used to be, “Apply for the job if you have 70 percent of the listed qualifications.” Today you need just about all the qualifications due to tough competition.

Take heart. There is definitely a job waiting for you out there. Relax and get ready to do the necessary work to write your winning resume and post it online. It’s all free and potential employers will carefully read your resume.

1 – Create a profile and develop your network on

This site is essential for job hunting nowadays. It has many useful capabilities.

Note: The book "LinkedIn for Dummies" is fairly inexpensive (about $15 on Amazon from seller Paperback_books) and is an excellent guide to the site. Another book, published in 2009, is "How to REALLY Use LinkedIn" by Jay Vermeiren, is also available (about $22 on Amazon from seller wmboothsbookssf).

2 – Post your resume on at least these two websites: and There are many other job sites. Put keywords for the job title you want in Google (such as "electrical engineer ASIC design"), review the results to find other relevant job sites for your field, and post your resume on those sites also.

3- Get email job alerts from This comprehensive website, called an “aggregator,” pulls job listings from just about every available website on the Internet, including job sites such as Monster and Career Builder (and many others), company websites, professional associated websites, etc.

You can limit the search to a certain geographical area. Register for their Email job alert service by scrolling to the bottom of the home page and clicking on “Tools.” Then list your keywords and geographical location. You’ll be amazed by all the job listings they’ll send you.

The above are the ways I have found jobs in my field of electrical engineering. My son who graduated with a B.S. in physics this summer also found his job this way (after 7 months), as did a friend who had been an IBM programmer (10 months).

Interestingly, none of us were helped by networking, which is commonly thought to be the best way to find a job. I have heard of people obtaining jobs through networking, but the other party involved is almost always a friend from before unemployment, not a networking "contact" developed only during the job search. Real friends have more of a motivation to help you.

What about job fairs, you may ask. Job fairs are most helpful for people who want an entry-level position or are willing to take a relatively low-paid job. It’s certainly possible to move up in, say, the banking world or retail field through an entry-level job. As we know, however, education is the key to a good job and a good wage. A job as secretary or sales manager is a good stepping-stone if you wish to go to school part-time to get a degree which will eventually land you a responsible, well-paying job.

Be sure, if you attend a job fair, to investigate which companies will be attending. There’s nothing more demoralizing than attending a job fair with high expectations and then finding a lack of interesting companies there. Note: The attending companies may not be announced until a few days before the job fair.

Regarding geography: In general, the wider geographical area you search in, the faster you will find a job. Many people take a job far away, stay in an apartment near the job during the week (possibly rented with other employees, to reduce the cost), and come home on the weekends.

Some companies also allow telecommuting at least part of the time. I know of one person who lives in New Jersey and works in California. He is allowed to telecommute some days each week, and the other days he flies out to California to be at the job site. These are not ideal arrangements, but the scarcity of jobs in this recession can require these kinds of working arrangements, at least for a while.

Another approach is to take a series of temporary jobs, sometimes called "contract jobs," until the economy improves. Contract jobs might be easier to find in your local area. Many job sites allow you to specify that you are looking for temporary work, and most allow you to specify the geographical area.

One final word of warning about the Internet job search. Nowadays employers receive so many applications for the jobs they post, that they can barely handle the volume. The result is that if you are not an excellent fit for the job, they will most likely never get back to you. They cannot afford the time to answer the applications of all the candidates who were not accepted. Expect this impersonal treatment, and move on to your next possibility.

Keep trying! Schedule several hours a day for your search, and you will finally be rewarded for your persistence and your skills.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Days of our lives

What a day. I was exhausted when I woke up at 8:30, having stayed at my son's until 2 a.m. watching one absolutely horrible movie -- Quantum Solace, a James Bond flick -- followed by a good movie, something with Matt Damon, a true story of a whistleblower at Archer Daniels Midland in Illinois who himself was a pathological liar and jailed for embezzlement. Don't we love stories like that? Just so's it ain't us, right?

Before we settled on the comfy couch into moviewatching, Dan and Nicole got out the heart monitor. We were gonna listen to my new granddaughter's heartbeat in utero. See how I easily italicized that word? This blog program makes it so easy even a Luddite like me can understand.

So, we hooked the earphones up while Dan put the monitor over Nicole's burgeoning belly. ba-bump ba-bump ba-bump. Very fast heartbeats, like a little bird, followed by swooshing noises from inside the womb.

Very cool! Ain't God great how he thinks of all this stuff? (For the record, I'm a Jewish nonbeliever, but you have the god-given right to choose your own beliefs, screwy or not.)

I lay in bed, absolutely exhausted. My Connexions Group began at 10 this morning, held at the Willow Grove Giant Supermarket. An urgent errand, however, awaited me before our meeting. I rehearsed it while lying in bed. And then again while eating my scrumptious breakfast I never tire of: fried eggs, homemade bread and succulent grapefruit.

So far I've told not a single soul about my errand, except for Sarah Lynn Deming, who is the recipient of the errand. Call me at 215 659 2142 if you'd like to hear the story. I'll return your call when next I'm cooking in the kitchen. As Mark P knows, I like to talk when I'm cooking. I had him and Terry over from dinner one night.

We had a guest speaker at our Connexions Group. None other than Stephen Weinstein, my fellow political activist, and the man who sells those sanitary hand wipes to supermarkets. Who knew?

We all wore our name badges. Robin Franklin of Giant gave us a lovely classroom called Alps, named after one of the rides at the former Willow Grove Amusement Park, which is now the mall. Important to remember the history of our land.

After our 90 minute class which always lasts longer than the stated amount of time, five of us went on a nature hike at Pennypack Trust, led by Mark.

That man knows his stuff! For example:

- The Trust is built on a mature beech forest. A forest occurs in stages. First it's a meadow, then trees grow on it. That's all I remember. Understory. Just remembered that word to describe the ground growth under the trees: wild flowers such as marsh marigolds, the trout lily, ephemerals or spring beauties. We saw loads of wild flowers.

Also stopped at a bird blind on a huge man-made pond and heard spring peepers calling for their mates. A high trilling sound, absolutely irresistible. We saw big protruding eyes of bullfrogs which Elena likened to alligator eyes. Great name for a song: I love your alligator eyes.

Part of our walk was on steep rocky terrain. Even going down was tough cuz you hadda be careful not to fall on the tripping rocks. Going up we got out of breath except for Tony who showed off by jogging uphill. Ach! If only I were younger I would've raced him.

Afterward I drove Mike back to his car at the supermarket. "Wanna stop at the New Church?" I asked.

We drove thru the separatist branch of the Lord's New Church. The road was flanked with apple trees. The blossoms hadn't appeared yet. I showed him the church offices which look like a medieval monastery and then headed for the turn-around at the end when suddenly I heard organ music.

Did you hear that? I said to Mike.

I parked and we walked up to the church, a magnificent building whose doors are always locked. Organ music poured from the windows. I just stood there in awe. Then we walked to The Secret Garden behind a creaky green wooden door.

Mike was stunned by its beauty.

An empty pond stood in the middle with a two-foot high set of white marble angels where water once gushed forth. The garden is in disrepair but sometimes in that state of decay it looks even more beautiful than if it were cared for. (In contrast to an unkempt human being.)

I dropped him off at his car in the swarming-with-people parking lot where people were shopping for their Easter hams. That's how I met Bill Babb from my painting class. What a thrill! Just emailed him to invite me over to meet his family and I'll bring them a homemade whole wheat bread.

Connexions! That's what life's all about.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1, 2010

Just had to see how April looked up on the masthead.

Since I don't have anything to say, I'll just write some headlines of what happened to me today. Again, this is what happened to me, not to Tiger Woods or Obama accepting handouts in return for offshore oil drilling.

Deming has Computer Tragedy Near-Miss

Deming gets gift from Kremp's and learns secrets of their logo

Our gal does massive advertising so she can get a good crowd at her Doylestown talk

Gets on exercise bike and reads 10 pages when her pantsleg catches in spokes

Deming can't persuade boyfriend to taste her chicken stew so calls it quits

Deming wakes up from nap and stares at the setting sun. She thinks, What am I doing in bed when the sun is putting on a spectacular display and wants me to watch it, falls back to sleep