Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Down to the Seashore

Castaway Cove Amusement Park where Scott and I amused ourselves by not going on any rides.

Did I ever tell you about Euclid Beach? Our family would go there once a year in Cleveland, Ohio. Once, while riding on the Flying Turns I briefly passed out. From then on, I just stuck to the Thriller and Humphrey's taffy, made w/vinegar, available online today as are the popcorn balls.

For a kid, these are the most marvelous treats in the world.
Hey, that's me on the Flying Turns.

Euclid Beach was 45 minutes from home. Dyou believe my father led us in singing songs on the ride over? We did rounds of Row-row-row-your-boat. I'll have to ask sister Donna about some other songs we sang while we've still got our minds.

Oh, the noises this ride made! Whooooooosh!

A carousel is a thing of beauty. I couldn't resist photographing this prancing horse.

The annual Corvette show was held right on the Ocean City NJ Boardwalk. Chalk lines told the drivers where to drive as they paraded their cars like beauty queens. I wondered about that all-important word 'infrastructure' and if the municipality checked the undergirdings of the wooden boardwalk to make sure it was strong enuf to hold 450 (!) Corvettes.

The procession began at the Airport. Clubs from the tri-state area massed at the airport and then drove down to the Boardwalk. Can you hear them revving up their engines, gentlemen? What a loudly lordly lovely sound. Make my next car a ....Corvette?

I only drove in a Corvette once. A friend of mine, Mike Burke, who was studying law at Widener U asked me to speak to his law class about bipolar disorder, god only knows why. Anyway, we rode down in his midnite blue corvette.

This guy even detailed his gas gauge.

Say hello to Phil from Vineland, NJ. He's the third owner of his car. He paid about $22,000 for this model, worked on it for three years, before calling it complete. It's a beaut. He's even got a leather case for his side-view mirrors.

Keep your hands on the wheel. Well, actually, Scott is driving and I'm reading my book. I move my legs around a lot to keep them from stiffening up.

Thanks, Gus, for the wonderful hummus and babaghanoush, dipped in newly grilled pita bread.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The fearsome dragon lady returns early from vacation

Scott and I dropped everything and went to the shore when we heard it would rain all week. We had two great days of partial sunshine and had loads of fun. Photos coming later.

Meantime, what could be better than getting home in the middle of the afternoon, with the schoolbuses rolling in, and unpacking my TAKE-OUT LUNCH from Opa's, a Greek gyro place we always visit in Ocean City NJ run by Gustav, "Gus" for short.

We got there around 1 pm and his door was locked. I rapped loudly. Could be in the back. No answer. I started walking away and then....Gus opened the door, looking like he'd just woken up. He propped open the door.

He was open for business. At first I was gonna order one of his delicious lamb gyros (say yero, rhymes w/hero) and then I remembered I gave up meat.

He showed me the menu. Aha! Babaghanoush (made with roasted eggplant) and Hummus (made w/chickpeas) - both kidney-healthy foods.

I told him not to give me olives cuz I can't eat them and he substituted them w/red peppers! A good man.

So here I am, blogging AND dipping triangles of pita bread into the baba and hummus. I am in heaven!

I'm also ecstatic that both Stephen Weinstein and Coach Iris like my poem "My New Religion." As you may remember, I believe I've lost my writing-poetry touch, so maybe it's come back. I prayed to Kali and Allah, Jehovah and Jesus to please restore my talent. I forgot to ask for the restoration of my kidneys and we no longer live in the age of miracles so I'm in a slow kidney fizzle-out.

While reading the book Wolf Hall by Hilary someone - fantastic! - winner of the '09 Man Booker Prize - the life of King Henry 8th and Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey - I thought of 2 poems to write. If only I could remember them.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Office closed: Will return mid-week/Poem: My New Religion

Baby Grace, born August 15, 2010

Scott and I are going to Ocean City NJ after my Poetry Group at Weinrich's. I called up to reserve our usual hotel, the only one w/an indoor swimming pool, but Watson's was filled up due to a Bike-a-thon in town. We'll be staying at another huge hotel, this time on the Boardwalk.

I realized that I'll be getting emails for several days w/o being able to answer em so - I don't know how to do the auto-reply - so I thought I'd leave a message up here for Stephen in case he wants to talk to me about an article I asked him to write.

What a fantastic issue this'll be! I say that about them all. It's all about the candor of our Contributors that is so helpful to our Readers.

Since Scott is mostly bald he's talked about going to the barber and having his head shaved. Well, he came in this morning and showed me the handsome results. "It takes getting used to," he said, looking in the mirror. "The guys at work will give me a hard time." Think of the difference between how guys talk and how women coo over each other.
My new fabulous thermos I got for $2 at Impact Thrift. In mint condition. I've got it filled up w/ice for our trip to the shore. Next to it is a paper cup I saved b/c I liked the design so much, even tho I no longer tipple.


for Grace Catherine Deming, b. August 15, 2010

The other night while waiting for sleep
I wanted someone to thank --
my granddaughter had just been born
a girl with a round face that rolled like
a large oiled billiard ball
on her many folded neck
fingers still wrinkled
from the water inside
I mistakenly called “the
amniocentesis” it’s been so long
and then I wanted to thank Them
for the sliver of light
that passed through the
thick maroon drapes of my bedroom
as morning came
oh who I shall thank,
I asked myself,
clasping my hands in prayer
as the gentiles do
then spreading them wide and
arising from my bed and
bowing before Allah like the Bedouins
do in their tents but
these efforts did not reside well
with me
my daughter who grew up without a father
said, Try praying to the Divine Mother, mom,
Her name is Kali and she’s fierce,
her love is so fierce she has destroyed her
children with swift decapitation, her
belt is laden with skulls,
but she is kind to those she loves.
too fickle for me, I said, like Hera,
or my own mother,
I shall have to create my own religion,
pretend a god resides in the heart
of all living things
in this leaf that falls now from the
maple in the backyard
there! I’ve said it.
the god in all things
the kernel of goodness
without which a tree would fall
upon itself
which is sewn inside each flower
till the day of her departure
I like the sound of god
it looks good on the page
did he leave the scene long ago
after he banged us into existence
or was it all a mirage
a gently loving mirage
that matters not,
thank you for the brief
slice of existence
gone too soon:
a cardinal flying past
my window.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What's in a Friday? Crusade, poetry not, cauliflower

Tokyo Story

No sooner did the Times recommend 'The Tokyo Story' than I reserved it online at my library. And watched the entire 2 1/2 hours in five sittings.

Since I watch all movies in bed - yawn! - I always fall asleep at some point. Here's what I discovered to remedy the situation. The moment I find myself drifting off, I press the Pause button and go to sleep.

An interesting thing happens as I begin to fall asleep. The 'hypnogogic' effect comes on and I go deep into a world of very strange thoughts, all plot-driven, just like a real dream.

So, I began the movie last nite around 11 pm and finished watching it at 9 am.

It's been acclaimed as one of the best films ever made. Filmed in post-war Japan in 1953, it's the tale of aging parents who travel to see their children who have always been 'too busy' to visit them. Sound familiar?

Filmmaker Yasojiro Ozu (1903-1963) concerns himself with the lives of very ordinary citizens but lifts them up into universal figures who, as they age, ask themselves, What is the meaning of life, have I left a legacy for my family, have I been everything I might have been.

They both conclude that they had high expectations which were slowly dashed during their lifetime but philosophically accept their limits and their children's. Ozu's films were always concerned with family even tho he himself lived with his mother and remained unmarried and childless. His grave bears the Japanese character 'mu' which stands for nothingness (!)

I enjoyed the photographic loveliness of each precisely arranged frame, which like a still-life, was filled with purposeful objects that underlined the themes.

SEPTA regional rail heading into Willow Grove station

Chrysanthemums which show effect of a genetic mutation. Note that all the fleurs are white except for one yellow one.

Every day I get an email from Chow.com with a recipe. This time it was for Broiled Cauliflower.

Scrumptious! I made it my way. Dipped each floweret in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. Then put it in an oiled Pyrex and sprinkled black pepper on top. I was quiet shocked at how delicious it was. The lemon juice gave it a sharp piquant flavor much like salt, which I don't eat.

Bill Hess's blog features the magnificent polar bear. I left a glowing comment. But, look, he's already published another blog today called Five Studies on Jobe, his grandson. It's a must-see! Visit Bill in Wasilla here.

On my To-Do list today: Followup phone call to CEO. Dutifully, I dragged my tired ass into the kitchen, pressed *70 to block all incoming calls, and called Nancy, the CEO's secretary. She said he handed the problem to the Assistant VP to handle.

Good! We're getting closer to changing the system. Here's the email I sent to Nancy, with the heading of Creekwood Mental Health Center:

Hi Nancy,

I'm following up on my letter to Larry Merlis of September 18, in which I asked his help for patients in a mental health crisis when they are seen at your Creekwood Mental Health Center. Specifically, I am advocating for the OpenAccess system where a block of free time is set aside on a doctor's schedule for patients in crisis. This would avoid the tragic deaths of patients who take their own lives while waiting for an appointment, as did our Justin XXX, a wonderful young man of 27.

Thanks for your help in this all-important "crusade" which has galvanized Justin's parents and given them reason to hope that their son did not die in vain.

With high hopes, I am

Ruth Z Deming, MGPGP
New Directions Support Group for Folks with Mood Disorders and their Loved Ones
held at Abington Presbyterian Church
215 659-2142

I sent Bill Kulik, my prospective poetry teacher an email with the heading 'the best-laid plans gang aft agley!' His poetry class was canceled for lack of students! Oh, dear, what's a girl to do?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Crusade begins with a meeting in Norristown

Today was our big appointment in Norristown to meet with the heads of the Department of Behavioral Health. I drove over to the home of Dorrie and Norm Hawkes, where their 27-year-old son died on August 22. They were members of New Directions.

As I walked up the pebbled driveway of their comfortable-sized home I imagined first that I was Justin, once a tow-headed blue-eyed kid who swung a lunchpail when he'd go off to kindergarten, or, later, a carefree student at Hatboro-Horsham High School, smart and funny, waiting to put his backpack down on the kitchen table and grab a snack from the fridge, after saying hello to their Jack Russell terrier Hurricane, and mom, of course.

Then I imagined I was Dorrie, coming home today, knowing her only son is dead. How the house echoed with loneliness.

I rapped on the screen door and the dog yipped loudly from another room. The house was dark inside and for a moment I wondered, Do I have the right day? But soon I saw Dorrie nearing thru the screen door and I went in a few moments.

She grabbed her pocketbook and folders and we waited outside in the yard for Norm to come home

Dorrie Hawkes

so we could all drive down together. They have a huge property with a crick running thru it. "I'll bet your kids loved the creek," I said. Dorrie laughed and said they certainly did.

She sat in a lawn chair and showed me the yellow folders she prepared for the County folks plus Carol Caruso, who's the head of NAMI Glenside and NAMI Pennsylvania. She's in charge of the famous NAMI Walks for the Mind of America, now held locally at Montgomery County Community College. Put on your walking shoes!


Even tho it was rush hour, we made good time, talking all the way there. Dorrie had prepared packets of info about Justin to give everyone. "I hope it's not over the top," she said to me.

"Oh, no!" I said. "This is perfect!"

She had a small family photo tucked inside of the four Hawkes plus Hurricane. I don't know how they got him to sit still.

We took the escalator to the second floor where the Office is. Eric's office was in the way back. He's got his own conference table w/rolling chairs around the table. A table w/a coffee pot is there. We made ourselves comfortable and Eric asked if any of us wanted to be the spokesperson.

I spoke up and gave a short presentation of what we wanted...OpenAccess System for patients in Crisis.

Funny, I hadn't practiced my speech, but the words came right out. Interestingly, the other nite at our meeting, a woman had gone on new meds and found it very hard to talk. She also couldn't use her right hand, tho it was improving. These are side effex of the meds we take!

I remember when I was on psych meds I had to learn to talk all over again each time I switched meds. They overpower your brain in an effort to target symptoms. Reminds me of Lamb's Essay on a Roasted Lamb. All they wanna do is eat a lamb roast but the only way they can figger out how to do it is to burn down the whole g'dam house!

Yes, taking meds are like that.

Next, Dorrie gave an impassioned statement about the chronology of getting her son an appointment at Creekwood. She had a little notebook where she'd written everything down, from the start on July 5, I believe, to the first doctor's appointment all the way into August, and, then, of course, it being cancelled and pushed up another week.

Eric and Nancy were genuinely shocked and saddened.

Like a Greek tragedy, when you hear the timetable, even tho you've been thru it a hundred times, you still wish right then and there that somehow the clock could be turned back and it would all have a happy ending.

And then you think, Yeah, but look at us, all sitting here, so glum, so resigned, it really must've happened and can't be redone.

Dorrie began to cry, saying, "I hadn't meant to do this," and Eric got a box of Kleenex from his desk.

In one swift motion, I spun the box around and grabbed a piece and pushed it toward her. I was as relaxed as if I were at home. That's b/c of the warm reception we got.

We came up with a plan of action which satisfied all of us. I mentioned at the table that when I went out to see the Hawkes I'd said to Dorrie, "You and Norm are doing quite well."

She said it's b/c our crusade has given her something to live for, something to look forward to.

Toward the end of the meeting, Eric and Nancy briefly left the room to grab a salted pretzel stick on sec'y Betty's desk. Mmmm, it looked so good, but I can't eat salt! Oh, for a bit of pretzel salt to melt on my tongue.

At meeting's end I was so happy I asked Eric if I could take his picture.

Eric Goldstein, head of the Montgomery County Department of Behavioral Health, Norristown, PA

He and Nancy will come out to our next New Directions meeting. I just put our October calendar on and said they will listen to your concerns about the treatment you receive from your mental health facility, particularly County-run agencies like Creekwood and Central Montgomery.

Hurray! It's a start.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Garbage Night - The Empresses' New Clothes - Poem: My Five Stages of Grief for the White Fence

Nicole and Baby Grace. Nicole wrote on her Facebook page that Grace now weighs over 9 pounds. Believe it or not, when you hold her, she feels very heavy. At our New Directions meeting last nite, Fontaine said, "How's the baby?"

"Fine," I said.

"How much does she weigh," she asked.

"How come nobody asks ME how much I weigh," I said.

"It's all about the baby," said Fontaine, who ran the Family Group last nite. Neither she nor I are in the family way.

Leave it to me to put up an unflattering photo of me clothes-shopping at Impact Thrift. I went on a non-manic buying spree for my Fall Wardrobe. Luckily, if you're an old lady you get 25% off. My entire bill, which included a Susi garlic press for $2, a new griddle-for-2-eggs to replace the one I burned to death this morning, cuz when I was making my pear sauce I turned on the wrong burner, and a red thermos just like the one I used to have. See, we don't change all that much.

They didn't believe I was an old lady until I told them I'm sixty-four and a half. BTW, in the photo above, I tried on a blond wig. Wendy, my dresser from Impact, said she liked my real hair better. I would model each of my tops for her.

The clothes are smooshed in the car underneath a huge newspaper stand I got from my sister Donna, a barista at Starbucks. They were throwing it out. Said her manager, You must be a hoarder, Donna.

Far from it. She has a magnificent condo which is filled cheek by jowl with things to tickle your fancy, a home version of Ze Barnes Museum.

While there I had a chance to watch Oprah! Aha! So that's who Oprah is. I'd heard all about her. She had Ingrid Betancourt on the show who was released 18 months ago from SIX YEARS' captivity by guerrillas in Columbia. There were about 18 hostages altogether and most of them denounced her behavior b/c she talked back to her captors. Reminded me of the John McCain (remember him?)Vietname prison camp stories.

How else can I bore you to death? Let's see.

What's more b'ful than looking out the kitchen window? See poem about the fence at blog's end. Those were my poem-writing days. Hopefully, Bill Kulik will shake rattle and roll me so I can begin anew.

Autumn fruits are now available. While most of them are hard, like apples, pears are soft and juicy. I ate half for breakfast and then cut up 3 Bartletts for pear sauce. Boiled it w/water and a stick of cinnamon.

When I gave my last breadbaking class at the Abington Library, I brought cinnamon sticks to grate into the bread. Half a dozen of the kids had never seen a cinnamon stick before so I gave them each one. They began sucking them and really enjoyed it. Better than cigarettes, I told them. Then we launched into a discussion of smoking.

I ate two heaping bowlsful of pear sauce, along with my homemade whole wheat bread.

Would you believe that this bread dough made two big loaves? I like to listen to music when I bake bread. Lucky me! Selections from Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti were on.

I love to sightsee while I drive. Everything looks so beautiful to me. Hmmm, dyou think there's something wrong with me? Ah, I'll find comfort in Bill Hess who feels the same way I do.

Railroad bridge, a deeper shade of purple, newly repainted.

Scott suggested I stand on the street corner and hawk papers. I drove SweetLips to the train station tonite amidst a beautiful lightning storm.

I'm listening now, not to music, not to the news, but to the sound of pattering rain and faraway toondar. Hope my backyard maple isn't hit by lightning.....oh no...what's that sound....if you don't hear from me, don't read my diaries when I'm gone.........


First, there was the broad joy of
waking up to the hammering
of workmen next door,
making my coffee and carrying it out
to survey their work,
a trio of men in
swashbuckling belts like
gunmen of the wild west,
handsome, golden earring, fuzzy beard
all of it that makes men what they are.

Kindness makes them all the more masculine:
Elucidations for me of the partitions of
shiny vinyl
white as the snow
that would later
crown the top
forming a white wall of alabaster,
an illusion of safety,
against the unstoppable
inevitables of the world.

From my kitchen window,
the fence forever free
from earthly woe,
thanks to science,
unlike us,
men and women of the world,
the barcoded fence manufactured
in parts of the world where
people have no need of fences
live in huts not houses
and go home to nurse
their babies and sleep
six to a bed.

But I an American
thrummed with joy for my
their two young daughters
who gave me cushions
for my couches,
until suddenly I realized
I was banished from their world.

By nightfall, the fence was in place.
No picket fence, as I’d imagined,
but rising taller than a man,
a fortress keeping guard
like a Lord o'er his Vassal.

They'd walled me out.

The Great Wall of China,
really, the Great Wall of Cowbell Road,
that stands as a silent monument
to the isolation of people.
They did not mean it thus,
or did they?

Friends always we had stood together
shoulder to shoulder,
sipped iced tea on their patio,
talked tulips and squirrels.

Why this hasty retreat?

It grows more loathsome by the hour,
its inhumanity,
slap on the face to our
gregarious humanity.
I can no longer stroke its smooth cheeks anymore,
but must plant climbing vines to repossess
what once was mine,
must replace their coldness with my fire.

Sleep is the great healer. Of all wounds.
Of Life itself.

Over my morning coffee, I assay the fence,
once again,
as my yellow archangel claims its place along the ground.
For nothing is ever ours.
The fence can never be theirs,
nor mine either.

To Whom does it really belong?

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's in his "Important File" - Onward Compass - Soy Cuba

A serious flaw with the Google Blogposts is you can't italize words in your headline. Can this be true? Or is it simply one of the serious flaws of Ruth Z Deming?

Altho I didn't hold baby Grace last nite when I went to visit, I got to sit next to her and look all I wanted.

I stayed over to watch HBO's Boardwalk Empire which I loved! I only have the el cheapo package of Comcast which, as it is, costs a ridiculous $77 (including Internet coverage) and all I watch are PBS and Turner Classic Films. $77 a month. Don't we love monopolies?

When I was driving this morning I pondered a NY Times headline that said, Many unemployed people over 50 years old fear they will never work again. I was so sad after reading that. Fifty years old and they can't get a job. Of course, they can always work 3 to 4 menial jobs to pay their $1,200/month mortgage and send their kids to college.

I loved the woman's comment to Obama about how disappointed she was in his getting America back to work. He needs to hear this over and over again from we, the people!

When I heard he was here in Philly, I felt excited, until I learned he was only here to promote Democratic candidates. He should be here pumping hope into all of us that he's working hard for the common good for the common man.

Chant in unison: We want work! We want work!

Revolution anyone? We thought we'd created one when we elected Him.

My childhood friend Nancy Wolen sent this photo of a papier-mache mask she created. I told her I LOVE IT and will use it in the Compass.

Worked 6 hours on the magazine today, editing mostly one story. I called the author every 20 minutes to clarify things. I titled the story something like The Life and Times of a Tamed Druggie and Thrillseeker.

Baby, it's cold outside. I love the sensual feeling of the heat rising from the floorboards and embracing me like a mysterious lover.

I am Cuba, (Soy Cuba) my new favorite movie. The music on this YouTube video was not part of the original '64 film which featured authentic Cuban music which neither the reign of Batista or Castro could quell.

Imagine my surprise when I put on this DVD and found it to be a masterpiece of storytelling and supreme visual beauty. Made in 1964, it tells of the life of the privileged few before Castro, while showing the squalor of poverty, and the triumph of the Revolution.

The movie was a joint production of Cuba and the Soviet Union who sent their most famous moviemaker Mikhail Kalatzov (1903-73) to direct the film. The famous Soviet poet Yeveny Yevtashenko (or something like that) wrote the screenplay. It failed miserably but was re-discovered in the 1990s by Martin Scorsese and FF Coppola, thank you very much! Read more.

Let's see. I followed up with my letter to the Prez of Abington Memorial Hospital by calling his office today. Spoke to his sec'y Nancy who remembered seeing my letter which reached him this a.m. I'd put my Guest Column article in first, so it would hit him in the face.

She said he put it in his "important file." Not to be confused with the circular file.

My important file is on my kitchen table, the chair next to my desk, and on the floor next to my desk.

I just love seeing people's offices. One year I thot of making up a Compass calendar. Each month would be the office of someone important. What kind of TOKENS dyou have in your office as good luck items or things that make you happy?

When I used to visit my psychology mentor, Fabian Ulitsky, at his home, I'd gaze in wonderment, as only a starcrossed mentee can, at all the books in his study and the reminders of a conference he organized with Irv Yalom, the father of group psychotherapy.

That taught me the importance of the ritual of visual tokens.

My sister Lynn bought me a jar of Tavenor's Fruit Drops to remind me of my father. I keep pens in it on my desk.

I don't keep photos on my desk cuz they remind me of passing time and the inevitability of death. When my son was a teenager, he had a big black coffin in his bedroom, a prop from a play he was in. It stood upright and he used it as a bookshelf.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Bad Plus's New Album

I first began listening to jazz when my cousin Mark introduced me to Miles Davis back in our childhood home of Cleveland, Ohio.

I was hooked.

When my daughter Sarah married jazz pianist Ethan Iverson I already knew the language of jazz and have been following their career and music ever since. Because they're great, I try to promote them whenever possible.

On the video, which was produced by bass player Reid's wife Christina, listen to the riff around the 8-minute mark.

Can't get much better than that. Turn up the music!

From their gig in Argentina...

Yesterday, Scott and I went to his parents' house to celebrate the traditional breaking of the fast for Yom Kippur. His 15-year-old nephew is an artist and musician and introduced me to Slash, who parted company with Axl Rose and Guns N Roses.

When I came home, I went straight to YouTube and found...

Sexy, n'est-ce-pas? Yeah, but my all-time favorite is Axl wearing a skirt...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Crusade continues - thoughts about disability - Poem: Mystical Experience at the Hardware Store

Was sending out query letters for my novel when the phone rang. It was Joe Moore! Said my Intell article was the best thing he'd ever read about bipolar d/o and he wanted to do something to help change the system. Joe is a top salesman at Gerhart's Appliance and also volunteers at Abington Memorial Hospital. What can he do to help? Due to Joe's call, I just wrote a letter to the new CEO of Abington. Called his office to get his name and spelling but no one answered. Not only is it Saturday but it's also Yom Kippur.

So I called the hospital receptionist who misspelled his name for me. Never ever believe anybody. Checked it online and found Laurence Merlis. And of course we always use the middle initial.

I'm now getting so good at writing letters I don't call Helene or Freda to read it to them.

Anyway I conscripted Joe to speak at the forthcoming seminar at the Upper Moreland Library. He's a good man and stays in touch with several of our people including young Greg who almost killed himself several times. Once Joe had called Greg and Greg was just tying a noose.

Ya know what Joe said to him? Go on, tie it. Tie it tight.

I ended up taking Greg to the Abington Hospital Crisis Department which is where I learned of the awful treatment a depressed person gets from them. Dunno if it's changed or not.

You know what? Ya know how Obama just made Elizabeth Warren head of the new Consumer Department? I should be in charge of pronouncing places humane or not. Who's Ruth Deming?

Boy, when I send a letter, every bit of it is important. That's why Ray Borokowski of AccuPrint prints my stationery. He also does the brochures of Abington Adult Evening School, among other things. I've never deviated from the best.

I deem the postage stamp almost as important as the letter itself. I used up all my military stamps or I would've put a smartly dressed naval or marine officer on the envelope to show I mean business, yes sirree!

For the numerous donations to Justin Hawkes I used the Love Stamp.

Have you seen the new Cartoon stamps? Or Cowboy stamps? I've got em all.

So, "Mr Sweeney" sends me an email. I don't think he's ever been to my group but I did talk to him extensively on the phone one time. He's a caring dad and wants to help his daughter "Kristin." She's been diagnosed w/borderline personality disorder, which few people reading this know what it is. A difficult condition, certainly, but there's help for it. I always refer people to Tami's website on borderline.

So the dad asks me if I can recommend any lawyers so his daughter can get on disability.

Instead, I shoot back an email saying I don't believe she should be on disability, to wit:

First of all, Jim, I've gotta tell you I think Disability is not a good idea for a young person. If I remember correctly, your daughter has BPD. She should be encouraged to work, even at a menial job. How much she earns is not important. She needs to feel valuable in society. She should see a good therapist who encourages her to work and coaches her. People on SSI have low esteem, have difficulty finding mates, and lose respect for themselves. This is my opinion, Jim.

Now if I were a big tough girl I wouldn't feel bad about sending it. Several times I wanted to send him the names of disability lawyers.

Stop it, Ruthie, I said to myself. If these people have any sense, they'll listen to you. The girl needs a job.

Aside from what I said above being true, I personally don't want my hard-earned tax dollars supporting people on the dole. Let the father support her if he wants. But not me!

When I first met Laura McKenna, who was our wonderful benefactoress for many years, she came to our group. This was 2001. I was on psych meds then, tho, of course you know I'm cured now. She walked into our huge room at Abington Prez - the Parish Hall - and asked me if I were on disability.

I was shocked and insulted.

No, ma'am, I said curtsying and kissing her feet.

No, that was when I met Pope John. I kissed his ring and the hem of his garment.

Quick aside, when I walk with the mailman, I see this amazing bumper sticker on nearby Sleighride Road:

Pope Benedict says Abortion is Wrong.

Sez I to Tommy the mailman, Yeah, abortion is wrong but it's okay for priests to have sex with young boys.

What a world!

Have I said it all? Lemme check my notes.

Okay, hold me to it, Reader! Gotta work on the Compass.

Oh, so that's where my fan got to! My neighbor George gave it to me when they moved to Ann's Choice.


In the hardware store, the things I bought were put
into a plastic bag: my cans of spray paint, my ball of twine,
and some peculiar wire I found on a crowded shelf.

The little plastic bag which held my things
swayed daintily from my arm, a plastic womb,
which assumed the shape of the things inside,
rustling against my coat.

I thought I was going to leave
but then I saw the dowels,
wooden dowels. I hardly know what dowels do.
I thought perhaps something to do with
hanging curtains, though probably not.

There was a field of them,
a field of dowels,
like sticks flowing in a bin, each one holding its own,
silent, erect, tender in their attentiveness.
Waiting to be acknowledged.

I wanted desperately to know how to acknowledge
a dowel or even an awl, which is another
hardware store word that has
no meaning to me, so I removed my glove
and caressed the dowel the best I knew how.
The thin round wood made me remember
Tapping on pecan shells long ago.

They were 29 cents apiece,
so I counted out five. Five round dowels with no use
at all.
I went back to the man to ring them up.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Visit to Creekwood / Poem: Septombre

Baby Grace bundled up and ready to go home

They all came over tonite cuz the electricity went out at their house. A tree fell on a generator, went on fire, and the electric was out for a few hours.

Dan Deming playing the music box I bought in La Pedrera Museum in Spain. Since I didn't wanna check my bags, I only brought back tiny little things. And mailed out postcards galore.

Right now, as I'm staring at my computer screen where I'm blogging....

my mind is back on the cruise ship where I'm sitting on the deck reading a Ruth Rendell mystery I got from the prison library. Ooops. Ship's library. I stole it and it's sitting in my downstairs bookcase.

Burdick's News Agency (great name) in Hatboro PA. It's sort of a hang-out for locals who gather there in the morning.

The hardest thing was the actual writing of the Guest Column in the Intell. When it hits the stands you've gotta publicize it. Luckily, I have a great secretary, RZD, so I turn it over to her. I myself drove down to Burdick's in Hatboro to get a hard copy of the Intell, then drove over to Mark Amos at Bux-Mont Printers who made me 150 copies.

I miss Bev, I told him. She was his gal friday who he had to lay off due to the recession. He said she comes in occasionally to help out. I love going in there. It smells delicious.

Then I raced over to Mom's house for her first doctor's appt with my very own beloved family physician. More about that in another post. Or not. Lemme just finish this one and take a rest. I've got 5 movies checked outa the libe and Hamlet is on Turner Classic Films w/a blond Laurence Olivier.

So, armed w/150 copies of my article, I stopped at Creekwood, run by Abington Hospital.

Abington Memorial Hospital, Elkins Bldg

Went straight to Betty's office but she was with a client. So I looked for someone in a nearby office who might help me. Aha! There was Jay sitting at his desk in the Drug & Alcohol Room.

I grabbed a pen from an empty desk and asked him for the names of the Importants at Creekwood. I wrote them on the upper right corner and gave him one of the articles. Then I went out to Linda the receptionist and asked her to please disseminate them to the Importants.

I briefly synopsized the article and said We all wanna work together on getting a better system. She agreed and I walked out of there, your own local Michael Moore, though not quite as obnoxious or fat. I was wearing my dress shorts w/napkins in the pockets, my "I Love AWeber T-shirt" (where my son works) and a thrift-shop blouse over it to keep my arms warm. I'd just gotten a flu shot from my doctor, cuz mom and I had an hour-long appointment there.

Said my son, "You mean the doctor listened to Gram's complaints for an hour?"

"Yep," I said. "He tapped them into his computer."

That man can really listen. My mother was in heaven. Someone taking an active interest in every one of her millions of complaints. "I'm very impressed," he said to her, "by your strong heartbeat."

He asked how old her parents were when they died and what they died of. 98 and 57.

Driving home from Creekwood I was really psyched. Maybe just maybe we can adopt the Open Access system. My family doctor's office was one of the first in the area to implement it three years ago. The head honcho is in charge of Palliative Care at Abington.

May I go downstairs and watch Hamlet now?

Go my child. Don't forget to turn out the light.


First she comes
a skipping girl
twirling down
the avenue
kerchief on head
basket in arm
and casting herself
across the land
won’t scare us
things to come:
the shedding of
maple’s majestic leaves
uncrowning of the golden oak

the initial chill,
the shuddering trauma,
acceptance falls
like welcome rain
as her solemn brethren
October and November
bring forth a new definition
to our world:

We must
find beauty
in spareness:
in the lone bird who calls
and the spinning leaf
dancing down the avenue.

Guest Column in the Intelligencer: Justin Hawkes

Our New Directions meeting in July, 2010. The late Justin Hawkes is in the last row on the extreme right. His mon, Dorrie, is wearing pink in the middle row on the right.

Thanks to editorial editor, Alan Kerr, for giving me the opportunity to write my latest Guest Column. Click here to read.

At the end of September, we have a meeting in Norristown with Eric Goldstein and Nancy Wieman, heads of the Montgomery County Office of Behavioral Health to see if we can get Creekwood Mental Health right here in Willow Grove to operate on an Open Access system, where patients in need, like Justin, would get an immediate appointment with the doctor.

Shouldn't be too hard. All you need is an open mind.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grace: A gift I did nothing to earn / Compass ho / Night at the movies

Grace Catherine, a little girl every bit as beautiful as her name, and her wonderful parents, Nicole and Daniel

autumn leaf, still green, lying on my sage plant in the front yard

"If you love it, protect it," someone said. Thus, I spent the morning trying to find an agent for my novel via AgentQuery.com, rewriting my query letter. I called up one place in NYC to ask a question. Sweet-voiced Jennifer was very kind. Anything else? she asked? Yes, I said, wish me luck.

My fridge was absolutely bare and it's the beginning of Fall, so I baked my first bread of the season, a hearty whole grainer which I made with no sugar at all, as I wanted to make it just like an Italian bread or a French bread....whole wheat flour, white flour (for bounce) yeast and salt. C'est ca!

Delicious doesn't begin to describe it.

Whole wheat bread: Flour, water, yeast, and salt

The rest of the day I worked on the Compass.
Do we have an issue for YOU! The writer I most wanted, who at first declined, said he'd do it. I'd given him an extended deadline b/c I'll take a 5-day vacation in mid-October. Already the leaves in the lil woods beyond my house have that sad cast of yellow that portends their death. Ah, I'll have to fetch my world-famous poem Septombre.

I'd emailed my neighbors photos of the granddaughter I recently gave birth to. When I saw Patrick outside, he thanked me, and I said, Ya know, Pat, the amazing thing about having a grandchild is that it's something I did not earn myself. I did not work toward getting it, expended not an iota of effort, I could've been living in Alaska the past 5 years, and yet this supreme bounty still would've fallen right into my lap.

Nancy Marshall, library director, and Ed Pettit

Four times a year the Abington Library sponsors the Ruth Abel Memorial literary discussions. Altho I hadn't seen the movie, the library director urged me to join the group discussion. I was really reluctant since I hadn't seen the movie -- I erroneously thot we'd watch it there -- but she gave me a copy & told me to watch it after the discussion. Nancy is a darling mother hen!

Of course I enjoyed it, even managing to say a few things, and ask why so many people got consumption (TB) in those days. At home, I watched the film -- Bright Star -- the story of the love between John Keats and Fanny Brawne. Fanny was the nickname for Frances. Odd, huh?

I highly do not recommend the movie, but that's just me. Of course I slept thru half of it but don't you think that the remaining scenes should carry the film if it's any good? Take Gone with the Wind, for example, which was on TCM thother night. Every single scene was a beauty.

BP gas on the way home, the cheapest around, $2.59

Look, I confess I'm hooked on taking photos. The words expressed here are just fillers for my photos.

I'd asked Nancy Marshall, library director, if me and Stephen Weinstein could run a You Can Blog Too program at her library. She said they didn't have any money. Then I asked another place. He'll get back to me.

When you blog on this Goggle blog hosting site, every time I 'publish' my post, ads pop up according to key words you use. So when I wrote the caption "BP" I got 3 ads off to the right that I could read some inane stuff about them, including how they did nothing wrong. Thank you big corporations, who, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling now count the same as one individual when spending money for a political candidate, shucks, is all I can say.