Monday, January 31, 2011

The Floorman Cometh - I meet new back doctor M Barry Lipson - Visit with the Bubecks / Poem: She Calls

"Squash Face" wrote my daughter/law about baby Grace.

Goodbye kitchen floor linoleum. I was tired of looking at this gash in the floor where something dropped from the freezer. To fix it, I'd put White-Out on it which made it even worse. Plus all these unsightly black screech marks. The two rooms where I spend most of my time are Kitchen and Living Room.

Why, I asked myself, am I suddenly fixing up my house? Possibly cuz I had folks over for my 65th b'day party so I saw my house thru other people's eyes.

Also, after I moved in 15 yrs ago, I thought of it as nearly a perfect house, so why change anything? It put a spell on me. It was their house.

My Great White Shelf. From Ikea. I had to remove everything from the shelves for the floor-putter-downers. Luckily my back is doing tolerably well. Also took everything off this ladder which I use as kitchen shelves.

When I painted it, I used, among other things, acrylic fabric paint cuz I could squeeze it directly onto the ladder.

Here's Ron, master floor installer. He and his crew drove 2.5 hours down from their home in Schuylkill Valley, according to Doug at Specialty Floors in Roslyn. I spent NO time talking with the installers cuz I didn't want to waste their time.

The folks at Specialty Floors, however, are great talkers. That's cuz they're sales people. Owner Nick Della Guardia took me in the back room where they have special sales. He showed me reams and reams of flooring and I confessed to him, I can't tell the difference between any of them.

Altho Nick doesn't go on the computer, he spent hours with the guy who designed their website. They looked at competitors' websites and came up with their very own. I agreed w/Nick that it's quite terrific. I was referred to him by my son Dan who had Nick carpet his basement.

Floorman Ron's helpers are his son (the man with the nostril ring on the right) and his friend Goose.

Doug told me Ron learned to lay floors at age 9, taught by his floorman father.

First thing they did was to vacuum the floor since the new floor would be laid on top. The noise was so loud I fled upstairs to my study.

I had a 1:30 appt with M Barry Lipson, orthopedic surgeon, in Newtown, who came highly recommended by my friends Freda and Bernie. I left home with directions to his office and results of my two lumbar MRIs, one from 2008 and one from last November.

Lipson loves explaining what's gone wrong with your back. Lemme tell you something. This is the kind of doctor everyone should have. A teaching doctor. A doctor who wants you to understand your problem. He spends time with you. I was not used to this. Plus, the office was gorgeous, the equivalent of a home away from home.

Will I need surgery was a question I asked him.

No, he said, it's a last resort and it doesn't always work.

Neither does an epidural, which is what he recommended and made the arrangements for me w/his assistant and first mate, his wife Arlene. They're an amazing team and work together w/amazing efficiency in this solo practice. I'll be going to Doylestown Hospital.

Lipson said I had a high threshold for pain when I told him I don't take anything for pain. Nothing works, that's why.

Look at this b'ful green area rug and the lovely green linoleum underneath. I was in heaven.

Driving home I snapped this famous restaurant "Brick Hotel." You dine on the glassed-in front porch. I think it's in Richboro which is contiguous w/Newtown, where the doctor's office is. Despite its name, Newtown is filled with very old houses and buildings but is a lovely upbeat city, worth looking up on Wiki, but of course I won't cuz I'm hurrying thru this cuz I wanna make my evening popcorn.

Thing is, when I eat popcorn and blog, my hands are filled w/olive oil and I get tiny pieces that fall into the computer keys.

The countryside is so b'ful I just snapped away at this little hillside with green pines.

After my appt, I headed toward the home of Phyllis and Bob Bubeck, hoping they would be home. I stop by every year or two when I'm passing by. Am never sure which house it is on N Traymore Avenue in Ivyland but I always stumble on it. Only one lane, tho, cuz of the snow, so when a schoolbus came by, I had to pull into someone's drive.

Phyllis used to run the Warminster chapter of New Directions. Seventy-three today she has the same ebulliance as ever. She was brutalized by her crazy mother. When she was younger, I'm guessing in her 40s, she wanted to convert to Judaism and studied with a rabbi. She identified w/the Jews b/c of all our suffering, and, as you know, everyone with fullfledged Bipolar Disorder knows the meaning of that word.

When it came time to renouncing Christ, she couldn't do it.

Funny, cuz I gave up my belief in God and found it easy to do. I don't miss him at all. I remember we had a newcomer to our Writer's Group and he said he couldn't bear to live in the world if there was no god.

One time before Bob Bubeck retired from Miller's Quarry, he took me and Simon down down down to his quarry, a veritable Grand Canyon, and we picked out Rocks to put in my garden. Said rocks are buried deep under the snow now. Here's a sample of how much snow we got this very week.

My car. Shamefacedly, I admit if I knew how to post my photos on Facebook I would. I guess I wanna be part of the popular crowd.

Birdbath buried.

I have so many fond memories of the Bubecks. I used to visit Bob's brother Frank who owned a farm in Bucks County. I'd visit the old man and he'd load me down with fresh vegetables that were unbelievably delicious. After his death, Bob sold his land.

Today, said Phyllis, three magnificent houses reside there and it's called Bubeck Court. Prices go up to 700K!

When I got home, the floormen were gone, leaving me with a brand-new beautiful floor.

There wasn't a speck of dirt left from them. They turned on my kitchen radio to a station they liked and - get this! - turned it back to XPN where I had it on.

And what are you left with, Dear Reader? All things are temporal. On the jazz station Ella just sang a rousing Mack and Knife. And was over. It reminded me how fleeting life is. One misstep and you're dead. An almond going down the wrong pipe w/no one to Heimlich you back in shape. Too much lithium in your system so you die a slow death by renal failure. Some spoiled hamburger meat with lethal bacteria inside. Let me count the ways.

Ruthie, what's the matter with you?

Lordy, lordy, I just found my poem She Calls about a linoleum contractor. I remember sharing it with my then-shrink Beth Lindsey. A Freudian, she found sexual symbolism in it. You can probly find it everywhere if that's your perspective.


At twilight in the whorl of a tree
past Raythorn's sheep farm
a respendent shadow
veined with color
and true as the setting sun
shone like a lamp
He saw it
Hap Brady
linoleum contractor
and angler extraordinaire
saw from his truck
the shape of an unknown woman
pressed to the burning join of tree
He springing from his truck
onto Raythorn's meadow
feeling the fading edge
of the good heroin
he and Maury did that day
sniffing between jobs
to chase away the expectant light of noon
And could only when approaching the
the calling light
drop to his knees
and bury his face
in the threaded beads of light
o Maury you will never believe

"It was not in words
but in music she spoke
rhythms of a flowing river
of leaves drifting
to the autumn floor."
These were not his words
they came from her
melodies crossing
the land's edge laced with sorrow
and with peace
He wiped with quick motions
the corners of his mustache
for forbidden crumbs
lest she find him ungrateful

Caressing with open hand
his breast
he felt her warm being
rise inside him
a camellia opening
enfolding his emptiness
his barren places
the tender wounds that would not heal
held with pearlsoft petals

I can't think of why you've come
he said looking over Raythorn's darkening fields
I don't pray no more
or think of anyone but me
I haven't a belief in the goodness
of my fellow man
or of myself
I have on occasion
to cheating the people who trust me most
Yet it seems
for the first time
since I found myself
on this endless scrub of plain
where no burrow have I
that maybe I'm more than just
some dumbstruck nobody.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow photos / Poem: Bloodletting, not to be confused w/blood libel

Spooky! I was spooning out these frozen raspberries for dinner when the phone rang. It was a recorded message about a voluntary recall from Nature's Promise, packagers of not only the rasps but also the frozen peas and greenbeans I am eating right now (the corn is from another company). I mix it in w/hot spaghetti and it melts for a nice quick dinner.

Recall is for fresh salad greens, the very kind I buy.

View from kitchen window. Red rose is from my b'day dinner at Tavulo's Italian Restaurant. Ada and Rich drove us there one snowy Saturday nite. The rose still lives and so do I.

View from the backporch. Trees form a buffer zone from industries on Davisville Road. Scott and schoolkids cut thru my yard to get to Davisville which leads to the world beyond, including the train station.

Front of my house

Woke up to this winter wonderland.

Test photo by Scott after my camera failed to operate. We'd been outside, it was night, and the mother deer and child were in my front yard. I went inside - actually found my camera - and got out there quickly but the darn button wouldn't work.

As mentioned earlier I'm finding some of the poems and prose I wrote and trying to get them published. Anywhere! Here's one I submitted to a poetry contest at Montco Community College. I'd won one or two awards from them but disappointed this didn't even make last runner-up.

Everything has a story. I used to see the doctor for whom the below Denise worked. Very competent man. But I could not stand his receptionist. So, all things being equal, I chose another physician who I'm even happier with.


Here is my left arm, Denise,
take it,
the one where the perfect vein for
shooting heroin
pops out.

I never shot heroin,
too afraid
but always wondered what it felt like:
the hawk
soaring overhead
readying himself
for the
furry fieldmice,
the feral cat.

I rest my arm on the table
eyes fastened
on the aquarium ahead
golden fish and black mollies
float through high-up castles
parading their same seemingly
endless tune over and over again
while a tiny hermit crab with
wheels on his bottom
shoos along the prickery sand,
a man of balance and calm desires.

Is it coming out, Denise?
She’s a’comin, you say,
in your rubber gloves,
I glance over at the tube
as my wine of life
splashes merrily into a glass container
then gaze back at the aquarium
where the fish comfort me
their bliss spilling over
becoming mine.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter deer are all around / Poem: Whither thou goest

Deer prints thru my front garden - double-click for close-up


at this late hour
I walk across lawns hidden by snow
a bowl of neighborly popcorn in my arms
when suddenly a lone creature stands opposite
immovable unplayful unyielding deadly
I’m woman alone
no longer of the suburbs but
out on the plains without my tribe
is it jackal or lion?
steady, I will not turn back but go forward
accepting my fate
under the stars
even as I’m torn to bits
recognizable by my red scarf
but no monster awaits
simply a deer
and another beside her
small, white tailed, nestled with ineffable belonging
against the big ‘un
here, let me feed you
toss handfuls of popcorn
toward the resolute intruders
who once owned our land till
we swallowed their forest without
a single tear
the warm popcorn bounces on the iced-over snow
they saunter away unmoved
i, chastened schoolgirl, mount with
one stride the big ‘un
hold her tight and feel the shiver of
haunches beneath my thighs
kiss the place between her ears:
we will make a life together in your land
whither thou goest
the leaves brush my cheek roughly.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Picture gallery - Paul's party - Smooth skin from BeautyLand / Poem: Bach or Faure

Scott and I were going visiting. He'd reconnected with his childhood friends. I was excited to meet them. Paul invited us all to his rowhouse. When I was married, Mike and I lived at Castor and Cottman in a real neighborhood - unlike here in the burbs - with stores within walking distance. In fact, once when my ex came to visit me he stopped at one of the little shops and brought me the Greek olives I loved so much.

Heading into Northeast Philadelphia down Roosevelt Blvd. My friend Marcy Belsh used to work at the now-defunct Tower Records on the Boulevard. I got one nice poem from visiting her at Tower which I'll re-blog.

We parked round the corner from Paul's house. Some of the nearby back streets were sheets of ice on the 20-degree day. What would Mayor Bloomberg say?

These guys grew up together in Northeast Philadelphia. As kids, they played ice hockey, and vacationed at Wildwood, sometimes sleeping under the Boardwalk.

Here's Chuck's wife Terri. Married 25 years, they redid their vows at Holy Innocence Church. I just love the names of Catholic churches including my favorite Queen of Peace.


Now that I'm on Medicare, I have a special Rx card. A beaut, don't you think? Medicare themselves helped me select the Rx coverage. I had to make sure my immunosuppresives are covered. Oh, if you wanna use my card just make sure you don't get caught.

One-stop shopping at the family doctor's office. Before my kidney transplant, I need two more tests so I went to see my family doctor who suggested I get a fundus test of the eye. A humongous machine takes nine shots of each eye which has been dilated. The girl who administered the tests assured me the eyedrops would wear off in 25 minutes and I'd have no prob driving home in the blinding sun mirrored on the snow. Would you believe four hours?


Susan, my massage therapist, introduced herself to me. We talked constantly during the fabulous 30-minute 'exfoliating bath' she gave me.

All the women at Ultrabeauty European Day Spa are Ukrainian.

Svetlana is her name. She's Jewish. Of course I didn't mention the most famous Svetlana I could think of....the daughter of Stalin who defected to the West. Born in 1926 she's still alive.

The massage was a birfday present from Freda and Bernie Samuels. Here they are relaxing in the private atmospheric waiting room. If you only know one couple in your life, the Samuels will help you with everything.

Bernie gave me his best living-with-sciatica tips plus he recommended 'the best back doctor there is' who I'll see this Thursday.

They brought a picnic lunch before the massage appt., which we ate right from the plastic containers at my kitchen table: delicious tuna salad w/sliced avocados, cherry tomatoes, and green olives that aren't salty.

They take c/o their health.

Bernie also fixed my icemaker. Freda gave me a tip since I'm buying new linoleum for my floor and have got a sample set down.

Sprinkle a few drops of water on it and see if it leaves spots.

I just checked now: spot-free.

And here's the post-birthday girl feeling very relaxed after being exfoliated with salts that look like what we put down onto the ice.

Oh, I forgot I was wearing my AFS sweatshirt. I can't stand anything elitist.

We met the owner of Beautyland, as I incorrectly call it, but it's easier to type than the real name. Lydia was giving instructions to the janitor, Sascha, who was dragging a bag of trash along the floor.

Poor schlepp, I thought to myself, but look how good the Ukrainians are to one another, giving each other jobs.

Turns out Sascha is Lydia's husband. Their new Mercedes was parked in front of their shop.

While I was being bathed, I thought, This is what Grace Catherine experiences when her parents bathe her.


Dan and Grace. I wonder if he'll tell her when she grows older that one day he wore his pajamas to high school. I was mortified at the time but in retrospect proud of his courage.


I was at war with a man at Tower Records
and wasn’t sure if I wished to win or surrender.

At issue was the Requiem of Gabriel Faure.
Bob was a retired insurance man, we met over the counter
where my friend Marce
was getting me discounts on a stack
of records, CDs I suppose I must call them,
designed to tied me over, to give me strength
through one of my procrustean falls,
Dear God.

I asked my dear friend Marce
to select and gather some
Dave Matthews and Pearl Jam.
My niece asked me how I knew
the names of these modern bands and I said
it was just by accident I happened to
hear their names announced on the car radio
and memorized them.

Bob was standing there with his stack,
all classical, and I remembered - classical -
O Bach how do you do
for the first time in all these years.
It is never too late to retract and I heard
Bob asking about some Haydn symphony,
there seem to be hundreds of them, and
he was looking for one particular recording,
one thing that meant more to him than
the whole world. He was a man of discernment
with his keen eyes and golden colored toupee.

I asked him, (I am not particularly polite
or girlsome) but asked him, as I was in a terror
trying to circumvent my fall,
if he could get me some music
some real good classical music,
that he was certain I would like
a masterpiece of great renown.

Without hesitation, Bob led me down
the escalator, a man on a mission,
o I was so unappreciative, and let
him get far ahead while I lingered
at the top of the stair chatting with Marce,
while he kept on and on,
never looking back
unlike Orpheus, never looking back to see if I
was following him, he didn’t care
only to get to the bin of his beloved.

And pulled out two versions of the Requiem,
stating they were both quite good, I would be
happy with both.
Faure? I said. Why is it I have never
owned a Faure, never pined for a Faure,
I know all the ones I love or wish to love
and Faure’s not among them.

You’ll love this, he said and did a dance
of faureism.
My eye forgot till then about Bach and Brahms
but as soon as talk about Faure got still and heavy
and I became mistrustful and didn't want to be
left in a room alone with Faure, frightenend
as fright could be, left alone with a bore,
a no thinker, endless sappy tones going nowhere,
the panic grew like a cyst inside and when Bob
wasn’t looking I hopped over to Bach and
suddenly a light went on and I remembered
the cello suites.
The sound alone is unsurpassable
Unaccompanied Suites for Cello.
o say it to yourself, roll the
words round and round your mouth
like shiny marbles that melt and go down

I was doing that. There were many versions
and the only reason I ignored Yo-yo Ma is
that he is a modern man and I am never a
modern woman, so “not to tango with Yo-yo”
was my motto, and I selected among many
what else but Casals and saw for the
first time his rough face, like a Van Gogh peasant
potato eater. Yes, rough is the only word for it,
that thick unrefined nose like Genet’s, that bald
head that means either pimp or poet.

And bob was now discussing at the classical counter
other versions of other things. We had long since
stopped looking at one another. He got terribly
mad when i suggested Bach as an alternative
to Faure.

Too much counterpoint! he shouted.

Counterpoint! I yelled. Why that’s what it’s all about.
Fuck Faure.

Marce, add Bach to my account.


The times had a great article about the reviewer's 10 Favorite Composers. Bach was number one and Beethoven was number two. Good choice Thomasini. I'm glad Mahler didn't make the cut cuz I think his music is too drawn out and boring - like this blog - but Stravinsky is up there - oooh, I love Igor - and surprisingly Claude Debussy. I used to play Golliwog's Cakewalk on the piano. Shall I find it for you like the good neighbor I yam? Debussy plays his Cakewalk.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guest column in the Intell: Tucson Tragedy

I would never have known it was published so soon had Freda not emailed me. This article, which I slaved over, as I always do, took half an hour to write and five hours to perfect. Read it here.

It is so exciting for me to buy the newspaper - 75 cents - and find my article inside. Burdick's in Hatboro is where I drove around dinnertime. One of the Burdick women rang me up. I asked her to please throw out everything but Section A, which I then took and spread out over the copy machine, and found my article.

I read every single word.

What a thrill. The thrill that never ends. The first article I ever wrote was for the Hatboro Public Spirit. I'd taken a writing class at the adult evening school under Bryna Paston and she advised her students to begin by writing a story for the local paper.

I called them up and asked if I could write a story about a children's hair salon where I'd taken Sarah to get her hair cut. Sure, said the editor.

When I brought it in, the editor, whose name I forget, said he liked it and I had a distinct voice.

I was hooked and have been writing ever since. I'd call up the paper with my ideas, and they'd say, Write it!

I finally made it into the Inquirer but shortly after, they began a policy of no freelancers to protect their own reporters. I don't blame them at all.

When I had my first manic-psychotic episode, I called up the New Yorker. I have no idea what I was gonna say but luckily it was a Saturday so there was no editor available to talk to me. Undaunted, I sat down at my typewriter and penned a note to Life magazine that went something like this:

!!! *** .....

Yep! I did it all in punctuation marks.

It's very clever if you think about it but there was no method to it at all, just plain madness.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sciatica begone! - Dig that slush on the streets!

New Directions has a Top Doc list managed by Angie. She, more than anyone, knows the importance of a good doctor since, like many of us, she was served by a truly awful psychiatrist. Her story is in the latest Compass. When I met w/the head of the Bucks County Mental Health agency, I mentioned to her the name of this very unpopular and cruel doctor.

Angie apprised me of, an online service that rates doctors by patient recommendations. I entered the name of my current sciatica doctor - a rheumatologist - who got top ratings, but didn't help me at all.

I found someone else who got even better ratings and is within driving distance so I may see her if my condition doesn't clear up.

I was really frustrated last nite that I've been crippled since October 15. Today is Month 3. I'm gonna get a lifesaving kidney operation - possibly in April - but what will it matter if I wake up from the operation and my leg is still in agony?

I googled Sciatica Exercises and found some on At 3 in the morning, as snow or rain tinkled on the roof, I watched a video of 5 separate exercises - by physical therapist Ron Miller from Wisconsin - for people with my back problems.

At last there was hope! I'd done exercises before but was dismayed by all the pain I was in. Shit, I said, I'm gonna do them anyway. So I lay in bed and did a series of exercises.

Shockingly, when I awoke this morning, there was a significant diminishment of pain.

I also learned how to sit correctly at the computer. The screen is eye-level, my legs planted firmly on the ground. I will arise from the computer every 10 minutes b/c our bodies and our backs need to get blood flow and nutrients which are hampered in the sitting position.

Yes, I did my research last nite. I will not be a victim anymore!

Bill Dixon from state Rep Tom Murt's office is helping me write a grant for New Directions. We discussed the crazy weather outside. My street has waves of slush in the middle. When I walked outside my clogs crinkled thru the odd slushy inch or two on my sidewalk.

Looks like trees are encased in diamonds

What a relief that I won't have to pay my Keystone Health Plan East bill anymore

When I told Sandy, the ins. lady, I was going off cuz I'm now covered by Medicare, she said, Well, Ruth, you still have three days before Medicare kicks in. I think you should protect yourself by paying the next month's premium - of nearly $600.

No thank you, I said, I'll take my chances.

Looking around my living room now - I'm typing on the couch - I'll tell you the most wonderful thing I see. But it can't be insured.

Icicles - click twice on image to see them in their full melting glor

Monday, January 17, 2011

Homemade bread - eat it while it's hot / Poem: No Mail Today

The last word in fortified tasteless spongey white bread

Here's the nicely kneaded loaf ready for its final rising, this time in the bread pan. I only made one loaf which'll take me two days to eat. Then I'll make anudder one. This is bread season.

I would like nothing better than to show you how to make bread. Lemme know and you'll come over and we'll cook together. Any takers?

The unbeatable kitchen timer. I have four of them including one downstairs by my exercise bike. I forced myself to go on bike for 20 minutes while the bread baked in the oven. Reading material on bike: A Passage to India by E M Forster.

Delicious homemade bread ready to eat only 4 hours after I began adding ingredients. Phone pals during the entire operation included a woman who called asking for info on our group after seeing me on Comcast Newsmakers and Michael from Mike's Hikes. I keep the phone in the pocket of my Starbucks apron and silently mix my ingredients.

Oh! The woman who saw me on TV didn't know it was Ruth she was talking to, even tho I introduced myself (she was an older woman) and she said the person on TV was 'very influential.' She meant persuasive. I honestly thought it was absolutely the worst performance I've ever given.

I was indeed in deep sciatic agony but that should not have mattered. Ada had given me a b'ful outfit for my b'day which I wore on TV. I spose I should load the video on YouTube. Scott said he'd try to do it for me. He's right here now. I'll drive him to the - choo choo choo - train station in four minutes.

This particular bread has cornmeal, honey, whole wheat flour and white flour. Sarah coincidentally wrote about my bread here.

Perfectly baked bread. Oven set to 350 for 45 minutes. However, my oven runs hot, like me.

For Rob's eyes only: Roberto, someone's name came up on the Caller heart leapt cuz I thought it was you! We'll talk soon.


Martin Luther King would rather be alive but’s

the kind of man willing to give his blood

for his countrymen. Thirty-nine when slaim

his work was done. Believers would say

the Lord called him home. I would say he’s

with Gandhi and Malcolm and Medgar on their

big trip to Nowhereland and there is no mail today.

No mail today so cross off your dreams that

the letter you’ve waited for will greet you like a

diamond, deferred one more day the long-awaited

cry from Curtis: it was me that he wanted not

soft as silk Kessler, so cross off your dreams

we’ve forgotten the mail is obsolete like my

Curtis and Martin’s mountaintop dream that

still waits to come round the corner where we’ll

cheer with our might and get on that train.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sarah sails thru kidney tests - I write op-ed about Tucson shootings and visit Gun Shop again

If I had a baby, I'd want her to be like Grace Catherine Deming in every single way. You know what? I felt that way about my own two children. They were absolutely perfect in every way. And still are.

Sarah and Ethan in their wedding photo. They were in town Thursday as Sarah finished up her tests to be my kidney donor. Read all about it on her blog.

Here's Survivor Mom. Thanks to Coach Iris for this thoughtful birfday gift.

Since my poetry group met yesterday at 1 pm, I completed my latest poem well in advance, at 12:30. I can only write under deadline pressure. Unlike my prose pieces, I can't stand to look at my poems, especially this one.

It's a love poem about a fictional personage who has a love affair with Walt Whitman. I got the idea since I'm reading a bio of E M Forster, a gay man, who was celibate until he was 38, at which time he began a series of magnificent affairs with working-class men.

Forster lived with his mom his entire life until she died. She was bossy, critical and illiberal but he felt he owed it to her to live with her since she was widowed at a young age. It was imperative she never know about his sexual preferences.

The richly-quoted text mentions Forster's fondness for the writings of Whitman, so I picked up my own copy of Whitman's writing, read some while I was on my stationery bike, and decided to try to write the poem.

My writing group loved it, but I'm too embarrassed to publish it online.

Our group was excellent. We spent a lot of time talking. One woman, Carly, said her husband went on and traced their family origins. Amazingly, Carly's family can be traced to the 1300s. Doesn't that make you wanna try it?

When group was over, I walked three stores down to the Abington Gun and Ammo Shop. Frank was there again and I told him I was working on an article on the Tucson Shootings for the Intelligencer.

The NY Times is devoting lots of space to this tragedy, as they should. Read this excellent editorial by Frank Rich in which he refers to our collective denial of this latest preventable tragedy.

At the gun counter, I asked Frank if he might show me the model Glock that the shooter used. W/o blinking an eye, Frank very carefully reached into his hidden gun holster and pulled out his Glock 19, same model, he thinks, as Loughner used.

Pointing the gun away from us, he unloaded the magazine and a single bullet and laid them on the glass counter. I was all eyes.

Can I touch it? I asked.

Sure, he said, you can even hold it, if you want.

He put it in my hand.

Light as a feather.

It looks as if it's made from plastic, I said, tapping it on the outside.

Polymer, he said.

It's so simple looking, I said.

It was a beautiful machine, a clean machine, but Frank hadn't sold a single thing this Saturday. One woman came in to buy a gun, but her background check came up 'questionable.'

This doesn't mean, he explained, that she did anything wrong. There could be something wrong with the system.

His price for the Glock is $542.

About a dozen times in his 17 years of operation - he formerly worked in a bank where he feared being let go due to age discrimination - criminals try to buy guns. However, when Frank checks their background over the phone, and they are 'wanted,' this same phone call is also relayed to the local police. So while Frank is ostensibly still holding onto the phone, in come the local police.

They tell the suspect to put their hands on the glass counter.

70 percent of all police officers use the same gun as the Tucson shooter did. Does this make sense that people are armed and dangerous and walking around town? Well, don't tell that to ole Frank, who believes in free speech and cheap guns.

At the end of our conversation I told Frank I was involuntarily hospitalized for bipolar disorder. He was quite surprised.

Then you couldn't buy a gun, he told me.

You mean I'm in the system even though it was 1984?

Yes, he said.

The good thing is that b/c of HIPAA laws gun dealers cannot just check on anyone to see if they have a mental health background. The would-be buyer must have filled out the two forms necessary to purchase a gun, a federal form and a state form.

When purchase is denied, the gunshop dealer has no idea on what grounds it's been denied so a measure of privacy has been preserved.

When Frank picks up the phone to check a person's status, he is connected to 5 computers who 'talk to each other' --


- NCIS (National Crime Information System)

- NCIC (National Crime Information Center)

- Mental health system to check for involuntarily hospitalizations

- PENNDOT to check for vehicle violations and scofflaws

I also asked about buying a gun to take your own life. What's the best way to shoot yourself, I asked. He put the gun on his throat and said that's the best way to do it. Gee, I said, I thought you put it in the roof of your mouth.

Different strokes for different folks.

Personally, I'd rather take pills, I said. I'm chicken.

I worked on my story for the Intell for several hours today before shipping it off at about 7 pm. Shucks, now what am I gonna do? I like these big writing projects.