Wednesday, September 28, 2011

L'Shana Tova! Happy Jewish New Year

Luckily I stopped at my mom's just now. She told me tonite was Rosh Hashonah. L'Shana Tova is what Jews say to one another to welcome in our Jewish New Year.

At 8:15 pm, I decided I am Jewish and proud of it. I wanna attend services. On the Internet, I found live streaming of services at Jewish Community. org.

Jewish Year 5772: sunset September 28, 2011, from the Internet.

Holidays are celebrated at sunset, after we come home to our tents from a grueling day in the desert carrying water jugs on our heads, picking dates, and minding the flocks of sheep.

I, personally, as Ruth, daughter of Naomi, have an eye on her handsome son, Boaz, a widower. But I'm a Moabite, not a Jewess. Things are looking good, though, in the days before Internet dating.

Why celebrate holidays at sunset? I put the question to my friend Bob who replied:

In the modern world, as explained by one of my Hebrew School teachers, we have timepieces that accurately measure the passage of time, but without a timepiece you can't see when it's midnight, which is when the day of the week changes to the next.

In ancient times, the easiest way to mark a change from one day to the next was by observing the sun. The sun is up, or it's set.

So why does the Jewish calendar use Sunset rather than Sunrise?

Let's go to The Torah, where it states in Genesis:

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Genesis 1:3-5

Evening, THEN Morning = a complete Day. (All six Days of Creation described in the Torah use that same order)

So each Jewish day starts in the evening, at sunset.

De informatie verzonden met dit E-mail bericht is uitsluitend bestemd voor de geadresseerde. Gebruik van deze informatie door anderen dan de geadresseerde is verboden. Openbaarmaking, vermenigvuldiging, verspreiding en/of verstrekking van deze informatie aan derden is niet toegestaan. So There !
While at mom's, she gave me two things: an electric piano for Larry Kirschner to play at the Bonfire this Sunday and a photo of me.

Which one am I?

See below.

Hint, since we lived in Cleveland, I would've been wearing a Cleveland Browns jersey, No. 32. Jim Brown was one of the greatest running backs ever. Brown was a tremendous athlete who excelled in many sports including basketball, baseball, track and lacrosse.

In 2002, Sporting News named him the greatest athlete of all-time! Brown is now 75 and helps gang members and ghetto youth in both LA and Cleveland ("the best location in the nation") learn to manage life skills thru an organization he founded: Amer-i-Can.

Brown grew up in one of the nearly all-black Georgia Sea Islands where there was little racism. He graduated from Manhassat, NY, high school where he was a star athlete. After graduating from Syracuse University, he was drafted in Round One by the Cleveland Browns.

A real record-setter, he only played for 7 years from 1957 to 1965.
My dad had no interest in televised sports, so Uncle Donny taught me the basics of football.

Driving to mom's house up Byberry Road, there was flooding so I followed the Detour signs. The traffic was horrific.

Coming home I went a different way, past the Bryn Athyn post office and got home in a jiffy. While driving home I had one of those precious moments you wish would last forever.

A great song was on the radio....a long introduction to what sounded like a Steve Miller song....turned out to be Fly Like an Eagle but very windows were open and the breeze was caressing my hair.

Ecstasy! Watch for those moments. It's all we have.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ever heard of TED Video? / Poem: Diabetes Loves a Good Doughnut

Abraham Verghese, MD, practicing physician and author of Cutting for Stone

TED Video presents the most brilliant people of our day. Every week I get an email of their most recent offerings.

Tonight I watched an 18-minute presentation by Abraham Verghese, MD, author of Cutting for Stone, a great book I read recently.

If interested, click here.

I am fortunate to have a great team of doctors, led by Jim Foxhall. I am also a member of Compassion and Choices and only yesterday renewed my $45 membership for a compassionate way to die. Foxhall knows and approves of it.

Coincidentally, I finished my Diabetes Poem tonite. Couldn't get it right for the longest time so decided to discard the last two stanzas of the poem and put myself right at Weinrich's counter and see what I remembered.


We go blind,
our feet get ulcers,
kidney trouble turns our urine to foam
heart attacks surprise us in parking lots

Yet websites show young mountain climbers
checking their sugar every 15 minutes
determined to conquer.

I’ve returned to Weinrich’s Coffeeshop
ordered a dark blend from Brazil
dunked a jelly doughnut
with powdered sugar
still sticking to my lips

Das Rheingold plays in the background
the one where Brunhilde immolates herself
for Siegfried’s love

My death from diabetes will come gradually
slow insults to the body
barely noticeable
till a toe turns blue
and is sawed off
or a low-sugar attack renders you comatose
and the ambulance doesn’t come in time.

Onward shouts Siegfried from the radio!
Like Brunhilde I commence my third act at Weinrich’s:
a kiss for my veins and capillaries
a prayer for my million nephrons and
candy-cane shaped aorta
and the little piggie-wiggies we played with as babes.

Let me be content with mere coffee and nothing to dunk
oh, you can imagine it, white powder swimming
on the surface like snowflakes
raspberry jelly from an old Austrian recipe
bursting forth like poppies in spring

Last week, I was at the counter when
A man bought a dozen doughnuts and a birthday cake.
Are you gonna eat them all? I joked.

In a moment of sheer ecstasy
I ate them all
the only way to die.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Little Miss Grace comes for a visit / Poem: At Chaplin's Feet

Look, she likes football already.

She has a thing for doors. Nicole said she really likes a rain-soaked screen door.

I was bouncing her on my knee and singing like my dad used to do but couldn't remember any songs. Then Donna said from across the room, Once in love with Amy.

She was squirming and wanted to be set free. Dan managed to two photos w/ me and

Here's Donna, whose Hebrew name is translated "Donna of the Shining Teeth." Her dentist daughter made her a new pair, saving her at least 20K I'd imagine.

We talked about her flooded condo in Hatboro, a true nightmare, covered by insurance.

We also talked about "Furhead."

A couple years ago Donna had a roommate known by all as "Furhead." He was addicted to Hawaiian Punch and had a huge belly and also to heroin. I think heroin makes you mellow, which he was. He never left his room, except when he had a driving job.

One morning he snapped. He came screaming downstairs and tried to strangle Donna. He used all his strength and she was being strangled to death.

Whatever you've read about dying, she told us, seeing your life flash before your eyes is not true. All I could think about was, I can't believe this is the way I'm gonna die.

Finally he came to his senses and let go. She kicked him out then and there, changed the lock, and was constantly on the watch for him.

He returned one time, begging forgiveness, and also saying, "I'm in withdrawal and need help. Will you help me?"

Donna was talking to him through the upstairs window.

No, she said.

Next time we heard from him he was in jail for trying to kill someone else.

Today Donna told us, while sitting on my couch, that Furhead was dead. Found under a bridge in Kensington with his face battered in. Murdered.

Live by the sword, die by.....

I'd imagine that 75 percent of people who die know in advance what they're gonna die of, the others are surprised, like being murdered, hit by a car, trying to catch a baseball and falling to death from the bleachers.

Donna was starving when she came over so I quick finished up my Fiesta Potato Salad made with red bliss, cooked carrots and green beans, onions, and a mayo-mustard sauce with crushed garlic. Hellmann's, always.

While my sisters Donna and Ellen were here I started talking about all the poetry readings I've gone to.

This is absolutely something they have no interest in. But Grace had taken down one of the poetry books I bot at a reading so I decided to discourse on it.

I began talking and after three seconds no one was listening.

But during that monolog, I was having the time of my life and really wanted an audience to talk to.

Whenever I go to a poetry reading and like the poet's book, I buy it and have em inscribe it to me. I have a dozen such books, most of em not very good. Hmmm, I wonder where Steven Riel's book is. Can't remember if it's good or not. Edwin Romand is still writing and is very good. A former priest whose best friend was convicted. He left the priesthood after that, married and had a son Liam.

Let's find him.

Hello Ed!
Tonite after dinner, I locked myself in my Poetry Room, set the timer for an hour, and sorted thru my hundreds of pages of poetry. It was good to see so many that I'd forgotten about, like a backyard full of hopping birds, each lovely in its own way.

Just as I found "Titanic," so did I find "At Chaplin's Feet," reviewed by none other than Chris Bursk, whose "Swervings of Atoms" I bot at a reading tho it's nowhere to be found.

I'll close with a reading of At Chaplin's Feet, but not before I say hello to my dear friend Roberto, who will write a couple of grafs for the next Compass about his therapist who he likes very much.

While we were on the phone, we thot of another topic for the Compass: How to save money in these trying times.

If YOU, dear reader, have any ideas, please lemme know.

Scott and I went to B&N thother nite. He bot a film noir called Street with No Name, while I sat in a captain's chair and read the newest book by Michael Moore. I saved money by not buying it but requesting it online at my library. Six other people are before me.


A few months
before you dropped
with exhaustion, Dad,
and were diagnosed with
an oh-so-brief
terminal cancer,
we shopped together.

Shopping was nothing new
for us. You loved
beautiful things and
we would stroll through
the mall together:
you, Mom and I,
with baby Sarah in my arms.

One time, the others
had gone, and I found myself
alone with you.
It was daunting and,
at the same time, sacred.
I never could figure out
what kept us apart
all those years,
living in
distant kingdoms:
You roamed the seas,
a marlin with darting eyes,
while I flew overhead
like a gull.

On that day
we came through the
electronics department.
Giant television sets
beamed their game shows
and soap operas while
we thought we were
only passing through.

By chance, a Chaplin movie
flickered from a high screen.
I wanted to watch, but knew
you didn't like Chaplin.
I never understood why, but
to ask if we could stay.

To my surprise,
you said Yes and we stood
side by side, father and daughter
once more, the space between us
rapidly vanishing. I caught your
blue shirt in my eye.

The fast-moving fellow in black
took over the electronics department.
By now, I had totally lost control,
laughly wildly,
gulping down hiccups,
tears of joy spilled down my cheeks.

After we left
I asked if you liked him,
the little man in black?
Could you possibly
have changed your mind?

To my everlasting surprise
you said, Yes, you hadn't
realized, all those years,
just how funny he was,
a comic for all time.
Dad, I said, watching the eyes
behind your glasses,
I always wanted you
to like Chaplin.
My face was lit up
like a hundred birthday candles,
my eyebrows still smiling.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Giant Food Stores Buy and Close

You heard it here first. I have two friends who work at the Giant Food Store, one in Willow Grove, the other in Abington.

The Abington Giant will close. They'll send Linda to their Horsham store.

Giant Food Company, owned by the Netherlands-based Ahold Company of fine supermarkets, will buy all the Genuardi's in the area.

In my opinion that means better prices, more organic foods, better customer service.

We love our Willow Grove Giant. Our support group New Directions meets in the upstairs classroom twice a month, Helen Kirschner leader, with Johannes Ponsen as her sub. These people are so good I don't have to attend.

For our upcoming Bonfire on Sunday, October 2, they always give us a $25 gift card. This year, under new management, they gave us $10.

Linda at the Abington Giant will get us another gift card.

We send people to nutritionist Mary Ann Moylen to get a good start on how to eat well. No, when I saw her yesterday, I did not tell her that this diabetic went to Weinrich's bakery for a 99-cent jelly doughnut that left powdered sugar on my lips.

We use their upstairs classrooms for our free programs.

Giant has been good to us. They also make donations to fight world hunger.

I wrote an article about them for, Upper Moreland edition, about their World Conference on Obesity.

I should really write an article about this for, but, frankly, my dear, I'd rather watch a good movie with Scott.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Last visit with Dr Guy Lee

I had a 9:20 a.m. appointment yesterday with Dr Guy Lee, the second and last of two post-op visits. He could not wait to take a look at the scar. And I couldn't wait to see him and thank him again.

My vertical scar is an inch and a half long. So now I have two surgical scars, neither of which I can see. My kidney t'plant scar is hidden by belly fat. I must content myself by looking at a scar on my knee I got when entering our tree fort where a nail went into my knee.

Dr Lee gave me a great two-handed handshake. Both hello and goodbye. He loved the article I wrote about him for, Upper Moreland edition. He said everybody kept calling him to tell him about it. Abington hospital was ecstatic about the free promotion.

"Everything I said was absolutely true," I said, "including my fear of the mask they put on for anesthesia. But the nurses were wonderful."

"We've got a great team," he enthused.

Before the surgery I told him, I'd get up in the morning, have to go to the bathroom, but so dreaded the pain from getting out of bed that I'd wait 20 minutes.

There is one thing that's bothersome, I told him. It's not pain, I said, getting up and removing my left shoe.

I pointed to my entire left foot. "The whole foot has an annoying sensation, like pins n needles."

"Nerve damage," he said. "It'll take up to a year to heal."

I was relieved to hear that. I do not want my sciatica to return. Ever.

He told me that the Doylestown had wrin about his rock band, Roses Cross, named after his wife Rose.

The band is composed of all doctors. Read the article here.

He told me I must love Metallica, the rock group he plays in the OR, since it seeped into my unconscious.

You don't wait long in Lee's waiting room. Highly organized. I brot my Starbucks book with me, Onward by CEO Howard Schulz.

I showed Lee what I was reading. "I don't drink coffee," I said, "but it's a great book. It makes you WANT to drink coffee."

"I guess I'm addicted," said Lee. It gives him energy.

Nothing wrong with that, I said, you've got important work to do.

I asked him where he got such energy. He's about 42. He said something about, Once I start I'm up and running. When he goes home for dinner, he gets his second wind and can help the kids with homework or practice his guitar.

He told me he and his wife were poor kids growing up in Philadelphia and now they live in a b'ful place in Point Pleasant, where my artist friends Barbara Postel and Carlos Guerrero live. It's a spectacular area with a view of the Delaware River and high rocky cliffs.

Good man.

In the parking lot I parked my car very far away to show myself the progress I'd made since August 3, the day of my surgery.

No more Handicap Parking for me.

I go on all our support group's Mike's Hikes w/o trepidation.

Free of pain at last!

Sarah runs - ND pursues grants (Great energy here, said Laura) and donuts / Two Dressing Room Poems

Why don't people drink chicken broth instead of tea or coffee! I'll tell you why. It's not an acquired taste. And I'll never drink another cup again.

I had some left over from my fish chowder. This beautiful thin cup, 20 yrs old, as yet undiscolored, was given to me by Sue Abernethy. Yonder plant there was given to me by Judy Diaz and said to me this morning: Call Judy and tell her a memoir came out about film critic Roger Ebert. We've had lots of discussions about his face: it was ruined by delay in getting help, three cancers, and a controversial alternative cancer treatment that may in fact have helped spread the cancer, accdg to his memoir.

Here's Sarah's account of her half-marathon run.

And here's my Hair Salon article from, Upper Moreland edition. The shop's owner was 7 when her father engineered a daring escape from Laos.

The big news is that at our Tuesday nite support group meeting, one of our potential funders made a surprise visit! She has been supremely generous in the past but that is no guarantee she'll give to us again.

We had a good crowd, 40 or more. At the beginning of the meeting I stand near the Greeter and say hello to everyone. I recognized Laura immediately. She looked beautiful. I asked about her four children, who have now left home and are all over the country. Her mom is in the same nursing home as Ada's mom.

They have lots of bipolar disorder in their family.

At group, there were a few people I'd never met so I always go around the circle and introduce myself, ask how they heard of us, how they're doing now. Lots of referrals from Horsham Clinic.

Gail Reichman, PhD, was our guest speaker. It was an interactive presentation that really got the group talking. Here are some of the things we discussed:

- To "302" or not (involuntary commitment)
- Fear of antidepressant "tiring out"
- Weight gain due to meds
- Importance of psychotherapy
- Best treatment options - should ECT be a choice? (electroconvulsive therapy) - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't
- Some people can successfully go off meds. Ada said she'd stopped taking her Effexor with no problem at all. It was a very very slow titration. Gail opined that certain medications may have a curative effect. I also thought that about my lithium....that while it was curing me it was also killing me.

Gail and her colleagues are writing a book on bipolar. She'll use our responses in her book, which she is dedicating to her late parents and her older brother, all Holocaust Survivors, who were sent to Siberia and saw unbelievable atrocities. Her brother tried to kill himself there, but was stopped.

They all suffered PTSD when they came to the US but were misdiagnosed as having depression or bipolar d/o, so nothing worked on them.

Each person in the world, I imagine, carries around horror stories in a special pocket in our brains. You don't have to look far. What about Troy Davis, an innocent man, executed in Georgia. And our Supreme Court - the vaunted Supreme Court of our Land - refused to save this innocent man from a lethal injection.

What is going on in this country?

Some day historians will look back and see the transforming of America from Reagan onwards, getting worse and worse.

Scott and I watched The Manchurian Candidate yesterday, a chilling prophecy of a totalitarian America that always threatens to come, also in the Philip Roth book where Nazi-sympathizer Charles Lindbergh becomes president.

B/c New Directions donates to the Brain & Behavioral Foundation in White Plains, NY - our last donation was in honor of our guest speaker Dr John O'Reardon of the Depression Treatment-Resistant Unit at Penn - I received their quarterly mag in the mail.

I read every word. Amazing that this stuff still interests me.

So, this one research dude, an MD, is talking about psychotic depression. This is not bipolar disorder where people get psychotic, but depression. Mostly the psychosis revolves around financial worries - I'm gonna go bankrupt, the IRS is after me, I'll lose my home, I'll become homeless.

My friend "Sally," who is now my age, suffered a psychotic depression for nearly two years when she was 28. She was not given the right meds.

Suddenly I realized that a youngish guy in our group who has just bought his first home also has the same diagnosis. He was given two antidepressants w/o an antipsychotic which only made his condition worse.

Here's what Dr Rothschild (please pass the 1879 champagne du foie) has to say:

Two treatments are antipsychotic medication combined w/an antidepressant OR electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Most of the time, the only treatment administered is an antidepressant which studies show is ineffective.

So our poor guy suffered the better part of a year. He went to Horsham Partial where his meds were changed and he was advised to get ECT. That says a lot about Horsham, I think, and our guy is back to work.

I know, I know, you're probly wondering what I had for lunch. I was coming home and decided to stop at Weinrich's Bakery. I needed a jelly doughnut, which surprisingly, has only 32 carbs (I'm allowed up to 45 per meal).

Plus I got a cup of decaf which is why my hands are a little shaky.

I sipped that coffee thru a straw (Hedy the barista's idea) and since I haven't had any in months, it tasted so good. It had a bitter taste that I really enjoyed. And it was hot.

Hey, since I'm reading a memoir by the CEO of Starbucks, he's given me a lot of business ideas for New Directions. I added two new pages on our website - on the top line you can view Compass Online and KaleidOscope Online (poetry).

In no time I expect more hits than Starbucks gets.

Although I'm not a materialistic person, I decided it's important to have a nice fall wardrobe.

Bob, I said, upon presenting myself at Vintage Thrift on Davisville Road, you have the honor of being in charge of my Fall wardrobe.

He bowed humbly.

I found three things there: a pair of jeans that fit (almost impossible), an electric GE clock I bargained down from $1 to 50 cents b/c it had a crack in it, and a skirt I've lost sight of.

After that, I said to myself, Where is the nearest nice store that is not Chico's, I can't stand that phony woman Linda who waited on me last time.

Well, at Steinmart's no one waits on you. It's a terrible place to shop. There are no aisles. All's you do is keep bumping into more and more expensive clothes.

I managed to get two Jones of New York tops I really like for $15 apiece (Uncle Donny used to work at Jones until he died of esophogeal cancer from smoking too many menthol cigs) and a lovely striped top with pockettes!

Went into my Poetry Room and pulled out the following poems:



I collect and sling over my shoulders
seen lovely items to try on
in the dressing room.
Removing myself from the light
I enter the cell with its stiff curtains
I slide back and then array my
clothes on the white bench.

Curtains drawn, I am left alone
in this tiny dark room, taking off
my clothes and confronting the difficulty
of glimpsing my mortal body in
the mirror.

Clothes that frolicked with delight on
the hangers outside
that dazzled me with their pink orange glow
are now draped across my aging mortal body
looking more like sacks than dresses.

Is this how we’re supposed to apear before the world?
Looking thus?
The pain will lessen when we bring them home
to our own familiar bedroom mirror
whose age spots and distance
make us look whole again.


I have selected seven possible items to drape my
body with, skirts and blouses, a pair of shoes
and have lined them up on the dressing room bench.
Closing the curtains, I begin the slow undress.

My eyes stay close to the floor
as if I have entered a stranger’s chambers
shyly, I try not to look up
to peek
in the mirror
at what has been consigned to me
as my changling mortal form.

Monday, September 19, 2011

KIDNEY: Changing weather brings on flu-like symptoms - Sarah runs in arf-marathon / Poem: The Runner and the Lady

Who knows? I may have gotten it anyway - fever of 102.3, stiff neck (left side), and headache - but b/c of my lowered immune system due to taking kidney antirejection meds, I had my first post-transplant challenge.

When I went to Kidney Clinic today, I spent a long time w/my nephrologist Dr Kung.

He lectured me on the importance of immediately reporting when I get a fever. The fear is that something may be attacking my new kidney and that my body may be rejecting it.

I'm fine, but he put me on ampacillan. I have no idea how to spell that word.

Kung spent a lot of time with me hammering that point home. He made darn sure I understood the severity of not reporting these possibly telltale signs.

Early on after my transplant, I think I goofed up taking my meds. My surgeon came into the room and also lectured of his patients was brought into the ICU almost brain-dead.

Luckily, Kung didn't see me tonite when I took my evening pills. The lil devils easily slip through your hands. So I'm taking my second handful with cold water and start walking around the kitchen.

Suddenly I look down and see I've not only dropped one of my Prograf antirejection pills, but walked on it and smashed it. I downed it with water.

While at the clinic, I told Kung my support group publishes a magazine and I wanted to include in this issue a quote from a nephrologist about lithium.

Oh, it definitely injures the kidney, he said. He said he has a patient w/kidney damage who still remains on his lithium - nothing else works - and he is monitored very closely.

Long-term lithium users are at risk for kidney injury.

Scott drove me to Kidney Clinic and we arrived at 8 a.m. The huge TV always blares but I still managed to read (Onward by Howard Schultz, founder of Starbux) until the 700 Club came on.

Scott and I were incredulous about this show. The host rarely talks about Bible things b/c he's always telling his own parables about how people who believe in the 700 Club - not people who believe in Jesus or the Holy Mother or even good ole God - will prosper and just haul in the dough.

It was quite hilarious. The people are commoners, down on their luck, unemployed, nearly homeless, and then they send in a donation to the 700 Club and their luck changes!

I'll tell you, I'll get down on my knees and thank Jesus - or Orion - or Hera - that my kidney is okay. I dunno. Maybe it was just excited b/c its twin - residing in the depths of Sarah Lynn Deming ran in the September 18 Philadelphia Half-Marathon down Broad Street, accompanied by Steve, Niki, and Melissa.

Sarah finished in two hours, my lil kidney donor! Click here for a photo of the four champions plus lil Patrick. It expires in 60 days.

The poem below was wrin a long time ago. It's one of my favorites.


At a party at the hotel
where I wore my best black velvet
evening gown
a man in a pale blue running suit
asked me what I did.
Do you mean what do I do?
Or do you mean Who I am?
Both, if you please, he said.
He was in a rush
having come in from the cold.

I am a chaser of light, I said.
That's all I do.
It's all I care to do.
Can anything else matter?
See, over there, on the bar,
those counterpoints of light,
quite at home on the polished wood?

They are vagabonds
strays - sent - through the open window
by the setting sun
to instruct and delight.
See how strong they are
how yet undiminished!

Yes, I can see, he said,
his face coming to a rest.
I am a runner.
I run in differing directions
at variable speeds and turns
in circles, spirals, leaps,
and even a pliee or two.
I'm on my way from Shreveport
going north to Bar Harbor.
The food here's not bad.
The carrots with the chervil dip
are particularly delightful.

Do you think they'd mind
if I pocket a few for my trip?
Also I am fond of the
bloody marys in the clear plastic cups.
Can I get you something? Anything?
Will you run with me?

Thanks, I say, holding out
my hand for a farewell kiss.
I'm sorry but I do not run.
But I will think of you often
fleet as a hunter
streaking through forests
and tar-hot highways
your footprints bold
on the ocean's lacy edge
pushing north toward
the big country
and the shortening of the days
while the suns of a thousand
twinkling galaxies
gather you up, o runner,
in the daydream of your days.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Puccini - Coffeeshop Writers Group / Poem: Pennypack where Indians Once Tread

Pennypack Trust, 800 acres of land in Huntingdon Valley, PA.

I wanted to load a YouTube video of Luciano Pavarotti singing the beautiful Nessun Dorma from Puccini's opera Turandot. It was on my car radio and is soaringly beautiful.

Click here to listen to the aria for three minutes.

Nessun dorma means "None shall sleep." Goose bumps everywhere on this mortal body of mine.


High quality work at our Writer's Group today. Let's see. Beatriz brought in an essay on the Viburnam leaf beetle. He's made his first appearance in Montgomery and Bucks County. And if you have the beautiful shrub Viburnum, watch out, baby. It'll eat the leaves and within several years the bush will be destroyed.

Here's an email I sent the group afterward.

Welcome Ian! You have quite a talent there. Glad you came today.

And Martha, you did so well with your first poem!

Sorry Donna couldn't make it. Donna let us know if you were perhaps at a baby shower?

If so, you would've enjoyed Carly's poem called The Shower.

My emails to Kym end up in her junk file so I'll send her a message on Facebook.

Mary, that was great you printed out The Ache for us to see. Give Garland a big hug for all of
us now that she's got her harness off.

Beatriz, good luck with your Patch blog. Very timely subject. Fortunately I have no Viburnum. What a story. My favorite part is when the larvae bury themselves underground and grow
into full-fledged beetles. Read about the beetles on her blog.

Linda very interesting story! Thanks also for sharing your 9/11 poem:

SEPTEMBER 11, 2011

Angry birds fly into twin towers,
Out of the rubble,
flags rise up
like star spangled flowers


Last nite boyfriend Scott and I went for a walk at Pennypack Trust. This park is 7 minutes away from home. We saw many wonderful things. After I got home, I thought, Hey, I'll write a poem about our trip and present it tomro at the Writer's Group.

As usual, I tricked myself into writing it. I wanted to watch Charlie Rose at midnite, so I told myself, you've gotta write your first draft by midnite.

At 12:10 I watched Charlie Rose. Simon Schama was the guest. He talked too fast for this tired viewer, plus I wanted to think about my poem.


Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust consists of over 800 acres in Huntingdon Valley, PA.

Note: Reynard is French for fox.

Pennypack, will you trust us with
your secrets?
Will you open your arms on
this twilight of perfection:
Let us view your
intimate stories.
It’s not violence we seek
we hear that in our own
backyards when
Reynard is about
he likes his meat raw
and dines at night
with bloody knife and fork.

Our timing is perfect.
There! A stag with antlers
Shhhh! Won’t you learn to
I never learned how, he said.
Well, breathe out on the letter H
and take it from there.

Not one but two, you say in your
soft masculine unwhisper
as they tear apart foliage
at speeds rivaling a Porsche
Naive, we have never seen
antlers or stags so close
and stare at this quick
unexpected gift

Pennypack, you are kind to
these Intruders.

A mother deer
cautions her kindergartners
that the Beasts are here
bounds in front of us
one, two, three graceful
pupils, white tails held high
follow orders without question
leaving us sad and alone
in the wilderness.

I have never been
face to face with a woodchuck.
Our yard boasts Luciano
a fertile father who lives
beneath the shed and
helps mow the grass

But now
on the acreage known as
Pennypack we see – is he
kin to our Lucci? –
a nice fat furred one
so cute you want to
sit him on your lap
and plunge your hands
into his frenzy of fur
when suddenly he breaks
from dinner to stare at us

Has he smelled us?
- my man smells of onions and aftershave
I smell of shampoo and pastrami -
and meets us eye to eye
for a few seconds of heaven
a gentle, forgiving face
the kindest I have ever seen.

A train whistle pierces the miles
My Pocahontas braids fall off
I seek the sky
and remember I'm an American girl
no longer bride of the Pennypack.

PS - I went back to Pennypack next day to buy some native plants. I learned from David Robertson, the director, that there was a bow & arrow hunt on the premises to thin the population of the deer. The deer I saw the day before. I'm all in favor of this, but it really affected me this time.

The slain deer are taken to a butcher shop in nearby Bryn Athyn and prepared as meat. The venison is then stored in the freezer and people can purchase it, carnivores that we are.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lunch with Blanche and Judy - What do you wear when it's 65 outside? / Poem Titanic

We met at the Hollywood Tavern in that wonderful area of Rockledge called "Hollywood" b/c of the style of the houses and names of the streets. See above house for sale.

From Wiki:

Hollywood is an unincorporated community in the southern portion of Abington Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is well known for its collection of Southern California-style homes.

The 174-home neighborhood got its start when a builder from California, Gustav Weber filed plans to build a small subdivision in 1928. The homes were built in pastel colors with flat roofs, similar to Spanish-style homes in the Los Angeles area. Streets were named Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena and San Gabriel.[1]

However, one of Weber's problems was that the neighborhood was not built to cope with the Northeastern winters. Plants native to Southern California and moravian tile sidewalks were included in his plans. The plants died in the cold. Homes were not insulated and could not withstand the cold. The flat roofs leaked. The tile cracked and was replaced by concrete. As a result significant modifications were made to the homes since they were built.

The neighborhood was never finished according to Weber's plans. Possible reasons ranged from the 1929 stock market crash to an unfaithful wife.[1] A local developer ended up finishing the development in the 1940s.[2]

Unfortunately, the famous Hollywood Tavern didn't open till 3 pm, so Blanche drove us to The Corner Cafe in a huge shopping center nearby. She's 86 and forgets to put on her turn signal and has trouble parking.

Judy and I reminded her how to do these things. She drives a lovely car. I didn't recognize the logo on the back and learned it was a Mercury Sable. Ford stopped its production in 2009. I told her that my dad's family doctor, R Bruce Lutz, drove one and used to make house visits when dad was dying of cancer.

Blanche wanted us to stop talking about sickness. I had shared that Dr Lutz only had one eye. The other was removed due to cancer.

The food was good. I'd definitely go back again.

We were seated immediately. I took a seat that gave me a view of only a few other tables. So the first thing I see is a table of three. One of the women is mentally ill. My guess is schizophrenia. I remember her from one of the NAMI meetings when they were held on Sundays in Glenside.

The woman, who was quite beautiful and definitely Jewish, barely speaks.

Why doesn't she?

The president of NAMI Montgomery County moved the meetings to Lansdale and Montgomery County Community College (have you ever tried to park there?) so none of us go anymore.

Judy moved into a b'ful spacious new apartment, Section 8 HUD housing.

Ruth, she said, my other apartment was so tiny, I don't know what to do with all this space!

She had a bowl of Breyer's vanilla ice cream when we got home.

"I just love it," she said. Then she excused herself to go into the bathroom for a smoke.

"Wait a minute," I said. "You eat your ice cream and then you wanna smoke?"

"Yes," she said.

Judy had absolutely beautiful dishes. The cups were shapely. A soft pastel.

"The first thing I'm gonna do when I get some money," I told her, "is buy some new dishes."

"Oh, but I love your yellow dishes," she said.

"Yeah, but they're chipped."

I told her I bought them when I was working as a therapist (Judy had also been a therapist - we both went to Hahnemann) and I wanted to invite a young intern over for dinner.

Greg Perri now has his PsyD and works in his hometown of Louisville KY. One of his jobs, I told her, is to evaluate graduates of the police academy to see if they would make good police officers. I shared a fairly horrible story of one man he didn't recommend. The police department almost always takes his recommendation.

I miss that guy!

This morning I called my friend Ellen Caserta b/c I was gonna interview her for the Compass. Instead it was more fun talking to her.

She's a professor at De Vry University. Very smart family. Her sister Liz, who was once married to John Gardner, is a poet and a teacher at SUNY Binghampton.

While we chatted, I was upstairs in Sarah's old bedroom w/the pink carpet and pink walls sorting out my poems. There's about a dozen categories, the biggest being "Neighbors."

For two years I looked for my poem Titanic and finally found it.

When I worked as a therapist at Bristol-Bensalem Human Services I arranged to meet famous local poet Christopher Bursk early one morning and give him "all" my poems to critique. I only brought him 38, and I could not understand any of his notations, except for stars and exclamation points. Here's page one (of two) of Titanic.

BTW, this Google blog changed its format and YOU CAN ONLY CLICK ONCE on a photo to enlarge. This absolutely sucks!!!


In the dark theatre where
I sat wedged between a man
and his wife, both invisible
but felt, and a teenage boy and girl
scooping popcorn from a bag,

I became pained by boredom
and worried by things
to come.
I fled to the lobby to search my soul.
Would it be cowardly to
pay my money and leave without anything?
In desperation I examined each
glass-enclosed case
filled to flowing with candy
and merry, bright-
colored drinks.

I opened my mouth
to speak to the girl
but no words would come out.
Empty-handed I returned to my seat.

There were fourteen theatres
crouched side by side
I re-entered the dark tomb from
whence I came.
Crawled over the woman's legs,
then the man's, feeling first
her lightness,
then the boniness of the man,
even as he retreated
from my touch.

I wondered
when taking my seat,
alone, unprotected by
a husband or even an acquaintance,
if it might be possible
when the waters
began rushing in and the
people were swept from the
places they clung to,

if I might, ever so gently,
lay my hand on the arm of
the man next to me,
a gentle touch, invisible almost,
to comfort me when the
icy waters swept us under.


Now I do have another poem about sitting next to someone in a theater. Lemme run upstairs and retrieve it. I put it in the pile called "Institutions" meaning the poem took place at an institution such as The Keswick Theater in Glenside.


We sat in the aisle seats
Row V at the Keswick
a black man sat next to me
and slept quietly
during the exciting parts.

I held your hand and felt
fingers that have fixed
trains and strummed guitars
washed dishes in Playtex gloves and
hung your laundry to dry
in the basement.

My thigh touched the black man's
I let it be
He wore a gold earring in one ear
and had a charming wife
who was sipping wine,
while you and I darling were
dying of thirst
but waited to get home to our
separate refrigerators
where I'd drink my water with lemon
and you'd drink your Britta.

The boys onstage wanted the lights on
to better commune with the audience
their music made love to one another
Chick's hands zipping across the 88s
watch gleaming like starlight across the
eleven hundred in the audience
his new pal Bela wound his fingers
around his banjo
music that filled up the theater
and held us all under the ceiling
as one body
in love with the whole damn world
for one evening in June.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bravo Tom Baiocco and daughter Regina: "doing wonderfully after kidney transplant"

Here's Tom, a short month ago, at my g'daughter Grace's first birthday party. Today he is a new man. His rapidly failing kidneys were replaced by one healthy kidney donated by daughter Regina, who flew from Baltimore to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, 45 minutes from where Tom and Kat live.

They stayed at a nearby hotel the nite before the operation. I talked to them several days prior. His main question was: Will he be in pain on the drive home from the hospital. Natch, he wouldn't be driving but he was worried his kidney might hurt.

I told him No, I wasn't in any pain during my 35-minute ride home. (Except for my then-excruciating sciatica, which, of course, is relieved by surgery.)

Called Barbara Toohey, who's the sister of Kat. Barb said she talked to Kat and both Tom and Regina are "doing wonderfully." Both should be released within a few days.

I ordered flowers from LeRoy Florist in Hatboro, PA, to be processed tomorrow. I remember how happy I felt each time flowers arrived.

Now Tom will be able to eat everything!

Early this morning, I was sitting on my living room couch desk, when I heard them come up my sidewalk.

Peeking thru the open door, I couldn't believe my eyes. YES! The Jehovah's Witnesses were back, 10 years to the day!

I couldn't stop smiling inside, but I didn't let them know. I let the guy talk for nearly five minutes b/c he was so darn handsome and I liked his shiny black bald head.

The white woman behind him said absolutely nothing but peeked in at me when I started refuting him.

All I remember saying was, No, I am not comforted by reading the Bible. No, I don't believe the Bible is true or that it offers hope.

Then he wanted to give me some literature.

In one condition, I said. If you let me take your picture for my blog.

He didn't know what a blog was.

A tool of Satan! I shouted, but did not say.

He wouldn't let me photograph him, so I thought, Well, maybe they'll walk down the street.

They did and you can see four of them to the left on the sidewalk. Be sure to click twice.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dinner for Three - Baked Cod in sassy sauce - Fiesta potato salad

I bought frozen cod at the Giant and wanted to try it. Recipes? Google em, then make em your own, and give it a fancy name.

Am very careful about the food I eat. The cod is from fresh water and was frozen w/o preservatives. I also bot Sockeye Salmon, which I haven't tried yet, hence the sockeye salmon I used in Saturday's poem Coming Home.

Instead of keeping a recipe card, I simply consult my blog.


Defrost cod in fridge. Open and thoroughly dry each fish.

Into the blender put:

1/3 Cup oats
1/3 Cup almonds
1 large slice Crystallized Ginger for tang and sweetness

Pour dry ingredients into large bowl, big enuf to fit a slice of cod.

Put an egg in another bowl, beat, and add seasoning such as Parsley.

Have greased baking pan ready (I use Pyrex containers)

Now you will dip the cod into the egg mixture, both sides, then coat w/dry ingredients and place into greased baking pan.

Add juice from half a lemon into the remaining egg mixture.

Pour this mixture over the cod.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.


Steam your potaters, carrot chunks, and asparagus (!). Giant's green beans were a sorry-looking lot.

Chopped onion and other things in fridge like green or red pepper

Make dressing w/mayo, moutarde, and pressed garlic

Happily, September 11 is just another day 'round these parts - My remembrance essay

Front page of the NY Times today, Sunday, September 11, 2011.

I wrote the following for but my editor decided not to publish it. He said "it's too personal." What I think he really meant is that he's uncomfortable writing about bipolar disorder and psychosis.

This is a world few people are comfortable with. I love my bipolar friends. A minority of us have experienced true psychosis (this is called Bipolar One as opposed to Bipolar Two).

I consider those of us who have experienced psychosis - or out-of-reality thinking - as "the chosen few." If you use your experience well, you have wonderful insights into the world and of your unconscious, like a powerful drug trip.

During my 20-year-tenure with bipolar disorder - gone as mysteriously as it came - I responded very well to meds and was able to shuck off the psychosis very quickly. I'm proud that I was only hospitalized once - at the infamous Bldg 16 on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital.

I've written about it in my book, "Yes I Can: Conquering Bipolar Disorder and Depression," available free at our meetings or $10 from me.

I asked my son Dan to read my remembrance of 9/11 below. He said he never knew I had gotten psychotic that day. I tried to shield my kids from the dark side of the illness.


It's something you remember forever, like the day Kennedy was shot.

I worked in Langhorne, PA, as a psychotherapist but this was my day off. My grown son, Dan, 24, lived in the lower level of my house on Cowbell Road, Willow Grove, while saving money for his own home.

Suddenly he came upstairs, shouting, "Mom, turn on the TV!"

We sat down on the living room couch and watched in horror replays of the beautiful Twin Towers of Wall Street crumbling like cardboard boxes onto the ground.

It was surreal.

"Dan," I said. "Would you mind giving me a hug?"

We stood up and hugged one another.

Then I walked around the entire house, my mind shattering. I had bipolar disorder - mood swings - and was having a psychotic episode.

Because we're Jewish, I truly believed that at any moment Nazis would march up our quiet street and arrest both of us, even though my son is only half-Jewish.

Pacing around, I thought, Where could we hide? Could we fit into the little crawl space by our living room stairs? The crawl space in the basement? Closets?

No, I said to myself, they'll find us. Maybe they'll bring dogs and sniff us out.

I was absolutely despondent but said nothing to my son. I'd been psychotic many times, as is the nature of the illness, but always hid it from my children. No way were they gonna grow up with a crazy mom.

Suddenly there was a loud knock on the front door.

Peeking outside, I saw it was two black women. Could they be Jehovah's Witnesses, or were they Nazi spies?

I slipped out so they couldn't see Dan in the living room.

Exiting the house, I began to come to my senses.

They were, in fact, Jehovah's Witnesses. They had their Watchtower magazine in their hands.

What timing!

On the other hand, they brought me back to my senses.

I explained to them about the crumbling of the Twin Towers. They looked at one another in disbelief and then walked up the street to knock on more doors.

I bravely walked down the street to see if the Nazis were coming.


When I got back home, totally sane now, I got the American flag out of the closet and stuck it outside on the lamppost by the street.

I have no idea what made me do that, but I was the first on our street to do so.

Not a single flag flies in our neighborhood 10 years hence.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Garage Sale -- My obsession with 9/11 - Poem: Coming Home

Every year there's a garage sale on my son's street. I took this pic from the house where I said hello to Nicole and baby Grace. A friend and her kid were over.

"Hi Sara," I said.

She corrected me with her huge smile. "Courtney and this is Lily," she said.

I asked where she was on 9/11. She said she was living in Manhattan and watched it on TV. They got different news coverage, she said, than the rest of the country, so as not to cause panic to New Yorkers.

My daughter Sarah lived in Brooklyn and hiked to New York to give massages to the fire-fighters.

I was home, here on Cowbell, having a transient psychotic episode. I wrote about it for so hopefully my editor will publish it.

Ed's antique Chevy. He lives next to Dan and will show it at the Roslyn Car Show. I've always loved cars and remember when I was a kid I loved the looks of the new Studebaker Avanti.

Ah, here's the little lady now, after the guests have gone. Mwah! Click once or twice to enlarge. Wouldn't it be funny if Grace actually GREW when we did this?
Dan gave me this mortar and pestle (M&P) he was selling. And I bot this yellow highlighter from Ed, who I bargained down from $1 to 50-cents.

Ready for the M&P story? When I worked at Cal/Ink in San Francisco, in the early 1970s, my boss was D. R. Garrett, director of purchasing. People used to send him gifts in the mail, terrible gifts, and he would give them to me.

The only one I can remember was a polished metal ashtray with the word Molybdenum on it. Maybe I took it home to put our roaches on.

The only thing, tho, I ever wanted, was when he got a mortar and pestle something like this.

So I took it, thinking I would grind my garlic cloves with it. What else could I use it for? Hey, mashing cauliflower!

Against my will, I am absolutely fascinated with all things 9/11. Found a terrific website that I could not tear myself away from until I'd read every last word.

The following, from the website, is absolutely chilling. He's on the 80-something floor in the south Tower of the World Trade Center:
And for no apparent reason in mid-sentence I just raised my head and looked to the Statue of Liberty and what I see is a big plane coming towards me. This plane is coming, eye level towards me. Eye contact. I'm seeing a big gray plane, with a red stripe, and I can still see it in my eyes now. I dropped the phone, screamed, dove under my desk and I don't know why I said what I tell you now. "Lord, you take over. I can't do this."

"And I don't know, I do not know, as God be my witness, and I'm a deacon in my Sunday school and church and I'm a Sunday school superintendent, I would not tell you a lie here. I don't know why I said it, but I screamed."

The plane impacts. I try to get up and then I realize that I'm covered up to my shoulder in debris. And when I'm digging through under all this rubble, I can see the bottom wing starting to burn, and that wing is wedged 20 feet in my office doorway.
Coming home from the Giant supermarket late one nite, some words came to me about a poem. I wrote em down on a pink pad I keep in the car.

I usually trick myself by writing a poem when I'm falling asleep on my laptop, which is what happened. I like to read it aloud so I read it to my 93-year-old Aunt Selma of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who followed every word.


Come down to the grocery store
5 percent off from the
coupon I taped to my bonus card
let Debbie the cap-wearing fishmonger bring me peace
five years ago her dizziness and blurred vision
heralded a brain tumor
scooped out like a canteloup ball with that special
round spoon by the surgeon
forever praise his name
or the Produce Man asking
lady, need more boxes for your junk mail?
The tenth anniversary’s this Sunday.
no escaping it
tho’ it’s a two hour drive from Pennsylvania
the phone call came when I was in the kitchen
having my coffee with cream and two
spoons of sugar
I do like my sweets

Don’t worry, babe, he said. Have you turned on
the TV?
I did and
watched my cup begin to shake
coffee on the morning paper
burning my hands
yesss, I said
and waited

I may not be home for dinner, Beth
I may not ever see you again –
his voice low
a-quiver like Sarah Vaughan
in her later years
but I want to let you know how much
I love you and our
unborn children.

The birds were coming to the feeder
darting in for the mixed seeds
feeder swinging merrily
back and forth
back and forth
Tell me, I said,
don’t spare me,
I want to hold you in my arms,
my darling man,
- on the 86th floor -

Hard to breathe,
darkness all around
sounds, such sounds,
can you hear them?
I knew these people
they were my friends
I’ll do my best to make it home for dinner
but, Beth, I’m not so sure if I'm
dead or alive – gasp –
if I don’t show up for dinner
I love you, Betts.

Sockeye salmon and asparagus
mashed potatoes the way he liked them
ice cream and Hershey’s syrup for dessert
I’m dining alone tonight
Yahrzeit candle flickering in the
darkened kitchen
and the illustrious walls of
freedom emptying out
my home.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Baked Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

Raw meatballs ready to put in the oven on a greased baking sheet.

Before my kidney transplant in April, I couldn't eat meatballs and spaghetti. Meat was a no-no b/c I was on a low protein diet. And tomatoes were high in potassium, so I avoided them altogether, except for a couple of cherry tomatoes from our garden.

Now my problem is diabetes, gotten from the antirejection meds I take.

Spaghetti makes my blood sugar soar.

So tonite I made this recipe for a late dinner - am eating it now at 8:30 pm - inspired by a recipe from

The meatballs are baked in a 400-degree oven. Baking them has the advantage that my stovetop doesn't get dirtier than it already is.

Look, if you had a choice between writing and cleaning your stovetop, what would you do?

Mix together in large bowl:

1 pound organic ground turkey (from the Willow Grove Giant, where else?)
1/4 cup oatmeal
fresh-cut basil
grated onion
one clove pressed garlic
(I never use salt)

Bake in pre-heated 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

Then make the marinara sauce.

A good one is:

olive oil
sauteed mushrooms, onions, red and/or green peppers
green and/or yellow squash in season
your garden tomatoes in season, chopped
Half a can tomato paste
fresh basil, black pepper, paprika

A dinner that is ready to eat in 45 mins.

I loved the feeling of mixing the ground turkey and ingredients with my bare hands, breadmaker that I yam.

Got my crepe myrtle - last nite's ND meeting / Poem: Crepe Myrtle, My Son

Say hello to my new Crepe Myrtle on left with a thriving Dwarf Lilac on the right.

Sure, the crepe myrtle is very popular on my street and I don't like to "copy" people. But beauty is something I must have in my life, so I stopped at Galbally Nursery right around the corner and bought my first crepe myrtle, Latin name "Red Rocket."

Beth sold it to me, end of the season sale price, $61, which included an extra charge for their coming out and planting it.

Beth drove out and planted it. Water with a watering can several times a week, not the flowers, just the roots. Stick your hand thru the mulch to see if it's dry, she told me.

She removed my dead blueberry bush, which is in the back of her truck, and planted the Red Rocket in the same space.

I bought the blueberry bush for Dr John O'Reardon when he gave a talk to us in June on treatment-resistant depression, but he didn't want it so I gave him a white chrysanthemum instead.


Despite all the rain and huge puddles last nite, we had a great turnout at New Directions. People came all the way from Pottstown, Valley Forge, and Wayne. I always send an email to the people in my small group to encourage them and to tell them to stay in touch with one another between meetings.

We have lots of friendships.

One man, who lives in Southampton, is doing very well, but his live-in girlfriend is in a crisis. His problem galvanized the group. She was floridly psychotic and they're letting her out of Bldg 50 after 6 days.

What will he do?

I was floridly psychotic on Sept. 11, 2001, and will write about my experiences on


(This is what came to me just now when I decided to "poem" the crepe myrtle.)

They say I never recovered from
Johnny’s death in Vietnam
oh, I do go about life,
sip my coffee, read the morning paper,
nap in the afternoon,
but his bedroom remains the same:
his smiling photos
the prom he and MeSook attended in
a huge limousine
the letters he wrote with the Schaeffer
pen I gave him one Christmas.

He died on August Third and instead of
crying and tearing out my hair
instead of falling on the cold kitchen floor
and beating it with all the strength I had
left in my forty-year-old body
I bought you: a Red Rocket Crepe Myrtle.

The man came out and planted it,
I stood by, arms crossed, speaking barely
a word.
It’s all I have of you, Johnny, even as I watch
the cars drive by and the walkers with their dogs,
still hoping one of them will be you,
you, Johnny, all grown up now, with
children of your own.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day: Two articles to write - Memories in the poem below /Poem: The Aloe Vera as a Good Christian Soldier

Well, once you sink your teeth into this book, I dare you to stop. I bought it for a dime at the library. Never read John Grisham before. Fortunately I had formed a visual picture of the hero - Mitch McDere - before I learned that Tom Cruise played him in the movie, a movie I will never see.

If anyone wants to borrow the book - and pass it on - please lemme know. I tried to pawn off the Patti Smith memoir of her and Mapplethorpe on my kids but they wouldn't have it.

The letdown from finishing a good book is palpable. Am now reading Howard Schulz's Onward, the story of how the retired CEO of Starbucks returned to restore the firm to profitability. He calls his staff and employees "partners" and treats them like fellow human beings, not as slaves.

Always a thrill when the kids come and visit. Grace goes straight for the steps.

Here's a nice portrait shot. "Is my hair okay?" I yelled as Dan took the picture. "Yes," said Nicole. Grace turned on the radio in the background. She loves pressing buttons and is delighted when the automatic door opens to reveal a CD. I think I'll listen to Keith Jarrett now, thanks for reminding me.

Had a great interview with Sharon Piercy which will appear in the next edition of the Compass. In this issue, I'll interview people on dialysis or who have had kidney transplants due to taking the drug Lithium.

Sharon is on the list, which means The Kidney Transplant Wait List. I emailed her the above photo to let her see the drugs she'll be on. Her transplant center is University of PA.

Mine is Einstein Medical Center. Here's a brief video of my chief surgeons Radi Zaki, Stalin Campos; and Shiang-Cheng Kung, my nephrologist. Kung looks much younger in the video. They're all Jung.

This will be the most important Compass we've ever put out cuz we're gonna expose lithium for the dangerous drug it is.

Sharon was on it for 18 years, I was on it for 16 and a half.

I'm organizing my poetry. It's on the floor of the middle bedroom with yellow pieces of paper with their category: love poems ("Love for the Blind Poet Dave McGill")- neighbor poems ("The Man in the Distance") - Bird poems ("The Bluejay's Day") - Daily Life of Ruth poems ("The Light on the Closet Door").

So many. So many. So many forgotten ones, like this one:

Note: I used to take my client "Evelyn" for therapy at a Christian counseling center and wait, with my book, until she was finished.


"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." - Proverbs, 4:23

They all bring books to the waiting room,
She, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
He, The Spirituality of Depression.

No one knows anyone until we open our mouths
and reveal ourselves.
It could take many years and many yawns.
I will drink in every word.

In the waiting room
in this Christian land
we set up our own territories:
on the tables beside us
or, in my case, on the floor.

The three of us wait
at different stages in our lives
and the aloe vera waits with us
its gift is to heal blood wounds
Where is the gift to be found to
heal the wounds of the heart?