Archive for the ‘Neighborhood Watch’ Category

This will be an encore Sunday Post, from July, 2007. I learned yesterday, from Lois Lane, that Old Hoss (Gene Maudlin) passed away. I went looking here for times that I’d linked to him, and I thought this one would be as fitting a tribute as I could find. Rest any way you choose, Hoss:


“You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.” –Arlo Guthrie

John 12:46

Oh, and I just remembered something I wanted to share with you. This past week, as I was out visiting, I came across Old Hoss, making perfect sense (I know; I couldn’t believe it either!). Worth reading.


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Whereas, having been born on the day of the feast of the Epiphany, and whereas, “epiphany” is a very cool word to say, and inasmuch as I have, throughout my adult life, allowed myself a second chance at “New Year’s Day,” for purposes of resolution do-overs and the like, by proclaiming January 6th the REAL first day of the new year, and

Whereas, this year of our Lord 2009 has, more than any other in recent memory, gotten off to a particularly sucky start for myself and numerous friends, both online and off (as well as for various public figures); and having obtained endorsement of such a proposition by numerous, notable online friends, I do hereby propose (and decree, and maintain, and . . . PROCLAIM, yea that’s what I was going for, a PROCLAMATION)

that the New Year of 2009 shall, for all intensive purposes* begin on THIS day, January 6th.

Happy Birthday to me (and August95, and Shari’s husband, and I hope William’s baby but I can’t promise anything there THEY DID IT! THEY DELIVERED — AND BY THEY, I TOTALLY MEAN LAUREN — BABY JACKSON GREY ON MY BIRTHDAY! AND HIS, OF COURSE. WOOFREAKINHOO!!!!) and

Happy New Year to you!

*Today is the only day on which this phrase may be used; all other days, one must say, “for all intents and purposes.” Today is also the day that any and all other malapropisms (and/or “eggcorns”) will be most welcome here. After today, however, we must nick them in the butt.

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Taking a break from the political posts I’ve been trying to write — I know that is a disappointment to you, since there aren’t nearly enough bloggers writing about politics these days — to ask a favor.

Just this morning I stumbled onto the information that this week, all members of Congress have been invited to a briefing on the current state of Lyme Disease diagnosis and treatment. And a sorry state it is, my friends. Will you please join me in asking your representatives — and Obama and McCain — to attend this briefing or send a high-level staff member? You know how sick I’ve been, and there are thousands (at least) more like me. We need someone to pay attention.

If you go here, you’ll find more information about the briefing and a direct link from which you can email your Congresspeople. Hurry up, now, because it’s on September 24th.

Thank you so very much.

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For a Friend

Please send William and his wonderful family lots and lots of love. William’s dad has died. If you skim back through recent posts at his place, you’ll see that Lauren’s father, William’s FIL, also died, just a couple of weeks ago. Keep William, Lauren, and their whole huge family in your prayers, and let him know. I’m sure it helps. Thanks.

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Jif and LG went here, this past weekend. I wish I had been well enough to do that with them. I would say I’ll do it next year, but not if it falls on the same weekend as this, because next year, I am so there. Anyone wanna join me?

I also want to share with you two grand new babies, his and hers. Plus, an old baby, as babies go, but a baby upon whose face I can never, ever look without smiling.

And then you absolutely must see kranki’s baby. Buy the calendar! What a perfect gift for people who love cats! Or costumes. Or knowing what the hell day it is.

And lastly, I’ll share this again, from posts past, because every year at this time, the searchers, they find me, because they’re all out looking for this:

You don’t so much “make” these as “assemble” them, and when you do, adults and children alike will think you are oh-so-clever:

Take Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies, Hershey’s Kisses and orange frosting from a tube or aerosol can. Simply smear frosting on the bottom of the Kiss to “glue” it on the cookie (an excellent job for little helpers), then press it on the chocolate side of the cookie. Next, using one of the fancy plastic tips you get with the frosting, wrap an orange frosting ribbon around the kiss, and “draw” a bow. After a few practices, you’ll be “tying” frosting bows like a pro. Enjoy 🙂


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While wandering the winding roads of blogworld the other day, I discovered that I had been nominated for a major award (that’s really the only kind of award with which I ever want to be associated). And like all my other major awards, it was not voted on (I can’t actually get that kind), but was just handed to me by a far-too-generous blogfriend. In this case, the friend was the wonderful, thoughtful Julie, and the award was the Thinking Blogger Award. Now, of all the major awards that I do not deserve, I think that’s the one I most do not deserve. I am honored and truly humbled. I have seen that award on others’ sites. I mean the sites of some people who actually do some honest-to-goodness thinking. Truth be told, this blog is usually the place I come specifically to not think. I suppose every now and then, a thought creeps in, but for the most part, this here is pretty much a thought-free zone. Still, I am proud to have been designated as such, and I thank the lovely and talented Circus Kelli for adding the award to my little trophy case over there.

Part of the Thinking Blogger Award is the passing of the torch. Having been identified as a thinker, I should now, according to the Thinking Blogger rules, identify 5 other Thinking Bloggers. Holy cow, that’s hard for me to do! My first thought, and what I said to Jif, was something like, “The bloggers I read don’t think! They’re goofy, like me. I run like hell from the scene of a blog where there’s any thinking going on! I think enough IRL, I don’t need to think online . . . yadda yadda.” But then when I quieted down and looked at my linky list, truth is, almost all of y’all think sometimes. So then the problem became not thinking of a thinking blogger, but narrowing down the thinkers. First thing was, I didn’t want to nominate (adoptive blog) “family,” because of the nepotism thing. Secondly, I didn’t want to nominate people that everyone already knows all about and reads all the time anyway. Thirdly, I didn’t want to nominate someone I do like to read, but really don’t know at all — there are a few of those. And lastly, I wanted to offer you all some variety. All of these people show signs of thinking when they blog. I would also say that my thoughts and theirs are not always in agreement, necessarily. So after much thought — well, I’ll be darned, I AM a thinking blogger — I hereby nominate these thinker/bloggers:

Sometimes Saintly Nick. Especially in recent months, Nick has written about peace, justice, spirituality, poverty, human rights, war. The man has been doing some thinking. Good on you, Nick.

Traci. Traci has written a series, and she’s not done yet, that chronicles her personal experience with having been manipulated and mistreated over a period of years, in the name of a religious organization, which claimed to be acting in the name of God. Few things piss me off more than people enslaving others in the name of God. Traci’s readers of that series are thoroughly hooked, and waiting for the next installment.

OddMix. This guy . . . he makes it look like he doesn’t think all that much, but I suspect he secretly has put an awful lot of thought and preparation into what he writes about, which is his life. His double life, if you will. He takes the train to a button-down job during the week, but on his own time, he lives on a farm where they raise goats, and rabbits, and horses, and children, and yellow buttercups. And his readers want to live there with him and the rest of the critters. Hey, OddMix, ever thinking of raising a herd of bloggers?

HTGT. OK, I am sending you to see HTGT, in the fervent hope that girlfriend has posted something since the last thing I saw there, which was on the topic of (come closer, I’ll whisper) masturbation. Ordinarily, HTGT shares thoughtful thinking kinds of things, into which she has clearly put some thought. But seriously, the afore-mentioned topic doesn’t require a lot of thought (or else you’re doing it wrong). (Ohplease, ohplease have something else up before I send people to read you.)

Damn, this is tough. I have three more people in mind who can think circles around me any day of the week. OK, I’m gonna go with this one, even though her blog design doesn’t lend itself to posting the major award:

Wave of Modulation. Mylord, this woman can think. Often, when I read what Sheryl has written, I humbly, reverently “walk” away, unable to comment, because her thoughts are so far out of my league, that my thoughts hang their heads, pick their noses and maybe even wet themselves a little. Her thoughts pants my thoughts at a birthday party. But no, they wouldn’t do that, because they’re too compassionate to do that. Still, they could.

Well, there’s 5. I am proud to be able to share these folks with you, if you don’t know them. And I am left here thinking that despite my initial reaction, I could easily come up with another 5 thinking bloggers, now that I’ve thought about it. Thank you all, you five, and all you others, for sharing your thoughts, and inspiring many of mine.

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Out to dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day, we decided to splurge, calorically, and take a look at the tempting dessert tray.

The waitress tells us the name of each confection, “white mousse pyramid, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate-chocolate cake, baklava, pecan tart, chocolate chip Bavarian . . . “

LG had been waiting for her to identify that one. “That’s it! I’ll have the chocolate chip ovarian, please.”

Do me a favor, go see my good friend, Kranki, and do just what she tells you. Thanks! 🙂

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This is a post about who Nikki is to me.

In the early summer of 2005, someone “new” commented on this blog. Her name was Sarah. She was witty, and opinionated and feisty. She signed her comment with “Shalom.” I “ran” to see who she was. I felt an immediate connection, a quick and intense “blove” for this woman. I looked forward to getting to know her. But I wouldn’t have much time. She was soon to go into the hospital for a bone marrow transplant. She’d be away from blogging for about 100 days. I was sad about that, but talked with her as much as I could, and looked forward to deepening our friendship when those 100 days were up. When she became too ill to blog, I communicated, via comments, with her sisters and her partner, Nikki.

While on vacation, I would scramble to get to an internet connection to check on her. I remember sitting in the lobby of a Hampton Inn, reading that Sarah wasn’t doing well. Jif was watching me as I read, and he said, “Is your friend in trouble?”

I would imagine this is true for those of you reading, as it is for me: it is a relief to me, a gift to me, when someone like Jif understands that someone I never met is truly my friend. Within days of that vacation check-in, I learned that my friend, Sarah, had died.

I gave my email address to Sarah’s family, and on the day after she died, I heard from Nikki. Over the next many months, Nikki and I exchanged dozens of emails. I got to know her as an intelligent, sensitive, generous, loving, altruistic, funny woman. And a woman with, as she said, “a hole in my heart,” created by Sarah’s absence. It is hard, too hard, I think, when you are someone who is so “all heart,” to continue doing what you do, when that hole is there.

Interspersed through the posts here, are comments from Nikki. Loving, supportive, funny. Even one where she threatened to “throttle” me if I didn’t take good care of myself with my European troubles. I used that line to tease her about unleashing her inner BADASS, which she protested wasn’t really in there. I still think it was.

There is so much more in my heart than I can get to come out of my fingertips, coherently. Bear with me, friends. I am still struggling with all that has happened.

My first emails with Nikki were me trying to offer comfort. She read some books I recommended. She was so grateful for every kindness shown. And I began to really care for her. I began to experience her as yet another of Sarah’s gifts. And I became very thankful for her friendship.

When I posted about my medical problems, Nikki was immediately on the case. I was reluctant to discuss details with her at first, not wanting to take advantage of the friendship. She adamantly dismissed my concerns about that. She became animated, excited, at the opportunity to help me:

“I love being a doctor, and it’s the one constant in my life that keeps me going. The reason I have not to pull the sheet up over my head somedays. It’s my ‘high in life.'”

And she was a good doctor, to me. She gave me good advice. I started out with a real-life doctor who was not so good, and she helped me find one that is excellent. I was in pain, and frightened, and Nikki stepped up. And I remain thankful. Especially thankful, because I understand that she was taking a risk in doing so. It is, to put it gently, unwise (if not unethical and potentially illegal) for a licensed physician to give medical advice to a stranger on a blog. And she did it anyway, and I love her for that, among other things.

I also turned to her when I learned of another blogfriend who had a friend, who needed advice. Yes, a friend of a friend, for whom I turned to help from my friend, Nikki — and I never met any of these people. Nikki said this, at that time:

“You know I would do anything as far as getting info for people. I think in your profession, you ‘mental health folks’ are much more anal about privacy . . . but having said such, since I write out of an email acct. with my name on it — you know that I trust you. Again, if these people or anyone else needs help, you know I will be happy to do what I can.”

I share these stories, just to say, Nikki was willing to take risks to help people. To share her gifts with someone who needed them. It was little more than a month after Sarah’s death that we learned Nikki was going to Louisiana, to help Katrina victims. Then, just weeks ago, she told us she was going to Cambodia for a year as a medical volunteer. When I wished her well, I told her that I prayed her efforts would make a difference, to those she was helping, and to her own healing journey. And she wrote,

“I, too, hope my work will make a difference, and through such my heart will heal.”

In the 10 days or so since I learned of Nikki’s death, I have gone through a lot of changes. It may be my spiritual discipline, or it may be my crutch, depending upon your perspective, but when I am knocked down by life events such as this, my first response is to scramble to find that for which I can be thankful. First, I was thankful that my friend, Shari, told me the news. That I heard it from her sweet, gentle voice, rather than reading it. I will always remain grateful for that. And to those of you who received an email from me, I wish I could have done better, in that regard.

The next thing for which I am so very grateful — and I have seen this as a miracle, really — is that Nikki said goodbye. And those who love her said their goodbyes. Because she believed she was leaving for a year, we all got to say sweet things to her. To tell her how much she meant to us. We were given the gift of having no regrets, about loving words left unspoken. This is unheard of, in the case of a sudden, accidental death. And ask anyone who has been left behind, after a loved one has left in that way; they will tell you that not having had the opportunity to say those things is one of the most distressing aspects of their loss. Those who love Nikki were spared that distress. We got to say what we needed to say. I can’t overstate how thankful I am for that.

What I did not say to Nikki, was “the G word.” As I told her, I don’t do goodbyes. I never have; just can’t, when having to take a break, or “permanently” leave a loved one. Whether it’s an extended vacation or an imminent death, I say, “I’ll see you next time.” And I have faith that there will be that next time. Except in Nikki’s and my case, the actual meeting will be the first time. And that brings me back to the whole, “Are internet friends real friends?” Was Nikki real?

These last few days, I keep returning to a quote from my graduate school days, when I studied the psychological theories of Carl Jung. In addressing the question of whether to believe the sometimes unbelievable stories of clients, he said, and I love this SO much, he said, “Whatever acts is actual.” If the belief, if the perception, acts upon our lives, our hearts, our minds, it is indeed, actual.

No doubt, then. Nikki is actually my friend. As is Sarah. I am a better person, with more possibilities in my life, for having had my path cross theirs, as we journeyed through this time and place.

Sarah’s sister and Nikki’s dear friend and sister-in-law, Shoshie, tells me that Nikki did not specify any particular charity, to which she would want donations made in her memory. What the family did discover, though, among Nikki’s will and “final papers,” was this request:

“My wish for memorials is for people to perform a kind act for someone in need, or to volunteer one hour at their favorite charity.”

Nikki had, apparently, taken time to consider and articulate these wishes, in the aftermath of Sarah’s death, as people were asking her what they could do to help. Of course, no one knew then how quickly people would be asking the family the same thing, regarding ways to honor Nikki’s memory.

Anyone who encountered Nikki would not be surprised at her wish. Indeed, before Shoshie shared this with me, I had intended to tell you all, “Take a risk and make a difference. That will honor Nikki.” That is what I intend to challenge myself to do, in her memory. In thanksgiving for having had her pass through my life. I think that is what she did, in a nutshell. For some of us, the risks taken may be big, like going to a strange country and culture to share our skills. For most of us, the risks will be smaller, though no less significant, like forgiving someone; like taking a moment to reach out to someone we don’t know well. That’s my challenge to myself, in Nikki’s memory. Take a risk, make a difference. It really doesn’t take much.

One of my first emails from Nikki was written just after she returned from Sarah’s funeral service. If I insert Nikki’s name in place of Sarah’s, it expresses my regard for Nikki as I knew her. Nikki also expressed her gratitude for my role in her life at that point, and now I would say the same back to her. Nikki said,

“Sarah was the best of everything in a human. Smart, kind, witty, generous, loving. I am lost and still feel as if I am in a dream. Thank you again, for everything you did for us.”

Until next time, Nikki.


And now, my dear friends who visit here. I need to say to you, too, “Until next time.” Events of the last couple of weeks have affected me very deeply. You know that I have struggled with health problems for the last few months. I’m sorry (and pissed, and depressed, and confused) to say, there are more. I do not believe they are serious, but they are disruptive to my daily life, and they require more focused attention from me, in order to be properly diagnosed and treated. So, I need to take a break. I am thinking . . . weeks. Although I don’t know for sure. My hope is to keep doing the Sunday Post, or maybe even ask some gracious blogfriend to cover that for me, once or twice. I am not ready to “pull the plug” here. And I hope it doesn’t come to that. But I am being sent pretty clear messages, by my health, my life, and yes, my God, that I need to take a break from “What Was I Thinking?”

As I’ve said here many times before, I had no idea when I started, how absolutely delightful this experience would be. I can’t thank you enough for being so welcoming to me, so very, very good to me. I won’t go onandonandon. I am, as too often in recent weeks, under the influence of pain meds. I’ll just say once more:

Thank you, from my truest heart parts.
God bless you.
I will see you next time.


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“Do not be anxious about anything….” Philippians 4:6-7

I’ll be travelling for a few days, so thought I’d leave you with some wishes for peace, tranquility, chillaxation. Have some tea; take your meds; listen to some lovely music; get outside; read something inspirational.

Keep me in your prayers and good thoughts — I’m voluntarily going into a bizarre, potentially dangerous situation with people of varying degrees of mental disorder and dysfunction. Oh no, nothing to do with my clients, they’re lovely. I’m going away to visit family!

Thank you for visiting me here. I am so tickled by how kind and smart and funny my visitors are. And now I want to do something nice for you. May I recommend a most delightful spot for you to visit? I love to stop in at Summer’s place. I go there purt’ near every day for notahamsandwich. I went to visit Summer the first time, after she commented at dooce.com. I don’t even remember what she said, but I thought, “Whoa, that chick’s crazy.” So, I went to see, and she is crazy indeed, and I love her. Go see Summer and give her some bloglove. (Do I have to spell it out? Love in the currency of blogworld is COMMENTS. Go SAY something to Summer.)

God bless you. Be sweet to each other. See you Tuesday.

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