Sunday, June 29, 2008


Ok, lurkers, here's the deal. I really need you to respond to my blog entries, either by online comment, separate email to me, or call me up. My sitemeter lets me know how many "visits" to my blog appear every day and week. So I know a bunch of you are reading it.

This past week was hell for me. My depression reared it's ugly head bigtime, and it's all I can do to get out of bed in the morning (thank you Bindi). I know the things I'm SUPPOSED to do when I feel this way, but if any of you have experienced moderate to severe depression, you know that when you are in this state doing anything except sitting slumped in front of the television is about all that can be accomplished. I can't reach out. I can't get myself to go to the garden. I can't exercise. I can't eat right. I'm even too frightened to cry by myself, have to do it with the shrink or the therapist, or someone else who happens to be handy. And no one is handy. All of my best friends live far away or are dealing with their own pain and struggles and business.

It's unbelievably frustrating when people I know ask me how I am and I say, "I'm not doing well." And then they say, "Oh, what's wrong?" What's wrong??? Where have you been?? Do you really not know what is going on with me, or if so, do you think I should be "over it?"

I know, I know, most of us are not skilled when we have a friend who is depressed. We don't know what to do, or the depression is so frightening, we want to avoid that friend. If you don't know how to respond, perhaps you could ask someone who does know how to respond to help you out. I've often had to instruct my friends on what I need, "train" them if you will.

Again, a list of the "challenges" (i hate that word) before me:

1. I have cancer. On July 7 I start six weeks of daily radiation treatment, my head immobilized inside a mesh cage. I get claustrophobic. My tongue is still easily irritated, I can't chew very well, and a chunk is missing.

2. I had to give up my job of 25 years on June 12, and while I thought that I would make it to a retirement with dignity at the end of next year, I just get letters in the mail saying my job is terminated. I was going to have a big retirement party, I was going to feel a real sense of accomplishment and service, I was going to be honored. Instead, I was pushed out of the job prematurely under great duress, and ignored by many of the people I've worked with for decades. For someone who was referred to over the years by countless faculty and students as "the heart and soul of Women's Studies," this dismissal has left me with much grief and

3. PTSD. If you don't know what that entails, google it.

4. I will have no paycheck after July 3. I have applied for disability benefits, but I do not know when or if that will go through. I feel financially insecure.

5. Two of my very best friends are leaving the area on July 11. They have been/are so special to me, that not having them in my daily life hurts terribly. I am so sad about this.

6. My knees are still bad. I use a cane most of the time now, and it's even a chore to walk my sweet dog.

7. My car is dying. I feel so heavy and slow most of the time, that shopping for one and making the decision feels like too much. I am literally buying time by putting more money into this 18 year old Corolla until my energy is such that I can do the car buying task.

If you respond to this, if you care about me, please know that one response every six months isn't enough. If you respond to this, know that what I fear most is feeling alone and unsupported. I've lived in this area for 40 years, and still do not have a sustaining community. I have friends and lots of acquaintances, but my idea of community is not something that exists for me. And I know that it is not just me. I have heard many people around here complain of the same thing, which is why I badly need to get out of the northeast.

I apologize for such a deeply personal entry, and I hope I have not offended anyone. This is just my awkward way of letting you know I need help, and that, until I let you know differently, I am not doing well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Good News

With Florida being my probable next home state, this story was heartily welcomed.


Florida Buying Big Sugar Tract for Everglades

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — The dream of a restored Everglades, with water flowing from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, moved a giant step closer to reality on Tuesday when the nation’s largest sugarcane producer agreed to sell all of its assets to the state and go out of business.

Under the proposed deal, Florida will pay $1.75 billion for United States Sugar, which would have six years to continue farming before turning over 187,000 acres north of Everglades National Park, along with two sugar refineries, 200 miles of railroad and other assets.

It would be Florida’s biggest land acquisition ever, and the magnitude and location of the purchase left environmentalists and state officials giddy.
Even before Gov. Charlie Crist arrived to make the announcement against a backdrop of water, grass and birds here, dozens of advocates gathered in small groups, gasping with awe, as if at a wedding for a couple they never thought would fall in love. After years of battling with United States Sugar over water and pollution, many of them said that the prospect of a partnership came as a shock.

“It’s so exciting,” said Margaret McPherson, vice president of the Everglades Foundation. “I’m going to do cartwheels.”

The details of the deal, which is scheduled to be completed over the next few months, and does not require legislative approval, may define how long the honeymoon lasts. Previous acquisitions took longer to integrate than initially expected and because United States Sugar’s fields are not all contiguous, complicated land swaps with other businesses may be required.

The purchase will be paid for with bonds and from fees already added to water bills. But if the price goes up or environmental remediation enters the picture, the state could have to renegotiate or find other money.

The fate of the company’s 1,900 workers also remains in question and some former company executives have suggested that the state is overpaying, bailing out a company burdened with debt, a troubled new sugar mill and a lawsuit from former employees who said they were bilked out of retirement money.
Company officials said the deal would amount to $350 a share, after taxes and other obligations were paid, a premium over two previous offers of $293 per share that the company had dismissed as inadequate.

The accusations and concerns, however, did not dampen the mood. Even as workers from the mill in Clewiston tried to get a handle on their futures, and some cried foul, Mr. Crist emphasized the land’s environmental value.
He said the deal was “as monumental as the creation of the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone.” Declining to provide details of how the state arrived at the price of $1.7 billion, he said it was a terrific bargain.

“I can envision no better gift to the Everglades,” he said, “the people of Florida and the people of America — as well as our planet — than to place in public ownership this missing link that represents the key to true restoration.”
The impact on the Everglades could be substantial. The natural flow of water would be restored, and the expanse of about 292 square miles would add about a million acre-feet of water storage. That amount of water — enough to fill about 500,000 Olympic size swimming pools — could soak the southern Everglades during the dry season, protecting wildlife, preventing fires, and allowing for a redrawing of the $8 billion Everglades restoration plan approved in 2000.

It would essentially remove some of the proposed plumbing. Many of the complicated wells and pumps the plan relied on might never have to be built, water officials said, because the water could move naturally down the gradually sloping land.

Kenneth G. Ammon, deputy executive director of the South Florida Water Management District, which would assume control of the land, said it would be a “managed” flow-way, with reservoirs and other engineered mechanisms to control water flow. David G. Guest, a lawyer for Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, joked that he might have to go to blows to keep the area all natural.
“This is about putting it back to the way it was in the 1890s,” Mr. Guest said. “What will happen is that if you come back here in 20 years, it will look indistinguishable from the way it looked before the white man arrived.”

The future challenges will probably intersect with the land’s more recent history. Since 1931, United States Sugar has farmed the area, using fertilizers that have often released phosphorous into the water. The legacy of its efforts could prove hidden at first, like pollution found during other environmental cleanup efforts.

The company has long denied that its efforts severely damaged the land, and executives said that the sale would benefit the Everglades, and shareholders.
“It’s dollars and cents and the right thing to do,” said Robert H. Buker Jr., the company’s president, in an interview after the announcement. “If I had to go out I’d rather — all of us would rather it went out to make the state of Florida better.”

The company will face some hurdles. The lawsuit involving former employees will not disappear but will probably include fewer plaintiffs, said Curtis Miner, one of the workers’ lawyers. Some, like Randy Smith, 57, who cashed out last year at $194 a share after 25 years with the company, said Tuesday’s deal only proved that he did not receive his fair share.
“I got ripped off pretty good,” he said.

Those most affected though will be current workers, and they could decide whether the purchase goes through. United States Sugar took its stock off the public market in 1983 to create an employee stock ownership plan, so technically the company is owned by the workers.

Mr. Buker said he expected the workers would approve the deal because of the money they could make. But at a meeting with workers in Clewiston on Tuesday, opinions seemed mixed. Some workers said they were angry they were left out of the loop. As recently as Tuesday morning, bosses told them that rumors of a sale were not true.

They had a lot of questions: Why sell now? What would happen when the state took over? Would the mill still run? Would there be jobs? What would happen to Clewiston, the tiny town that has relied on United States Sugar since the 1930s?

Mr. Buker tried to respond. He said it was a good deal, that wage earners would receive a year’s pay as severance; that salaried workers would get two years. And he said that the company had no choice but to sell because the state had the upper hand, and could have pushed them off the land with laws, rather than with $1.7 billion dollars.

For many — both workers and environmentalists — it was all still hard to believe. “You got to hear it three times,” said Chris Harris, 36, a United States Sugar foreman, after the meeting. “It sinks in but...”

His voice trailed off and he looked away. The company had seemed to be growing, revamping its mill. A new tower went up just last week. At the time, Mr. Crist was being lambasted by environmentalists for abandoning his opposition to drilling offshore for oil and natural gas. At least for some on Tuesday, all was forgiven.

Offshore drilling is a mouse,” said Mr. Guest, of Earthjustice. “the Everglades is an elephant.”

Reporting was contributed by Yolanne Almanzar from Clewiston, Fla., and Mary Williams Walsh.

Photo by Barbara P. Fernandez for The New York Times

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lady in the Mask

When they were done fitting me with this mask for the radiation treatments yesterday, I said, Well, that was creepy. I got this picture from someone's blog who seemed to be journalling every aspect of her treatment, but I have no desire to do that. I'm trying to go thru all this at a kind of distance, as if it is a movie I am watching, or a play I am in. Don't know if that's good or bad; it just is.

After that madness, I dropped off some hostas to a friend, then stopped in at the Toyota dealer on the way home. This dealer is a non-negotiating dealer, so the price they tell you is what you pay, which I think is good for me. The sellers work on bonuses, not on commission on every car. So I didn't feel pressured at all. Looked at a Matrix and a Rav4, I think either would be ok, but the Rav4 has a higher seat and is a bit bigger, which might be better for my needs. 0% financing on 36 month financing when you buy a 2009. I'm gonna look at Hondas, too.

Took myself out to Midori late afternoon then, for a bowl of their delicious chicken soup. A light beef broth with Asian vegetables, udon noodles, and chicken. With a side of pickled radish. Yum. And so close to my house, and they are wonderfully cordial people.

I don't feel well, today. Was up till 4am on Monday morning, took a long nap yesterday, and just feel crummy today. I need to get my current car registration renewed, but first have to have the emissions test, and I can't find the paper, and the registration is overdue, and I have a ton more paperwork to do for my medical leave, and I feel like doing NONE OF IT!!!

Shoutout to the AndFam: Hope everyone is feeling better. Miss you all.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Me on the right, my sister C. on your left, and my niece E. in the middle on her 9th birthday.

My friend BF visited me yesterday and we just sat outside for several hours, eating, chatting, gardening, playing with the dog. Very pleasant, although I've been fighting a yucky cough that is tiring me out. Last Monday I saw the shrink, then Tuesdsay I had a PET scan, then Wednesday, I saw the surgeon, then Thursday, I saw the oncologist, and Friday I saw my counselor. Exhausting. The PET scan was very weird, and no one told me what it entailed. Another lesson in ASK IF YOU DON'T KNOW. Nothing is freely given it seems.

Camilla peed right on the bed next to me the other morning. Either she or the other cat had peed in her new bed, and I think she was not happy about that. And you can't wash those things to get the smell out. You have to buy a new bed. But even disregarding her inappropriate peeing, it's time to take her to the vet for a checkup.

I am officially not working for WGSS any more. And R. leaves her position in two weeks. She said, "Instead of Thing One and Thing Two, they'll have Grunt 1 and Grunt 2." It was very funny. That corridor is losing two very dynamic women. Their loss, big time. Poor R. threw out her back and has been in awful pain for days. I think it's getting better though.

Planted some Red Rocket snapdragons where the tulips had been. And two big red canna corms. Lots of my plants are being eaten by some pest. My potted rose looks healthy since I've been using the organic rose spray; perhaps I'll use it on other plants and see what happens.

Tomorrow I go to have a mesh mask made for use in mapping the areas to radiate on my head, and to stabilize my head while the treatments are being performed. The oncologist asked me if I was claustrophobic, and I said yes, so I don't know what THAT means. Oh, man, more surprises.

Wanted badly to go swimming today but just felt so blecchh that I didn't go. It's outdoor pool season now, and there's a couple pool clubs I can join nearby so that's not a problem. A public pool would be nicer, thank you very much, but oh well. I miss being in Naples, FL, where I just plopped myself in the ocean most days. What a complete luxury.

Here's a nice story: we had a communal work party at the community garden last Friday afternoon, called Wine and Weed (weed as in pulling weeds, not the other kind.) Although not many gardeners showed up, I ended up working in the herb plot with TD, an old hippie philosopher like me, and we were chatting and weeding and laughing and venting. The air was cool, the afternoon light was lovely, and there was a light wind blowing. We then moved on to cutting back the lavender and the lemon balm, which both emanated extraordinary scents filling us with intense aromatic pleasure. I'm not sure which of us said it, but out of one of our mouths came the words, "It doesn't get any better than this." And it was true. Thanks, T.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Celestial Planes

By Destiny Womack. got it on eBay for $271. Original oil. 30 x 60".
Bindiana Bones.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Plants Have a Secret Social Life

Well, I always knew it.  But now it has been proved "scientifically."

The photo is of the orchid my sibs and I sent to D & C for their 30th wedding anniversary.  Cool, eh?  I wonder what kind of social life this plant has?  Ha ha.

IKA and I went to the sports store last night and got her a new pair of roller blades.  Fortunately there was a very knowledgeable customer there buying skates for his own kid who helped us with the choices.  Then we went to Cold Stone Creamery for milk shakes.  It must be annoying for the workers there to sing those silly songs every time money is put into the tip jar.  What an unusual job requirement.

I have just been so so so tired.  And my tongue has been sore from talking too much and trying to chew some foods, but it's hard to resist both with such temptation around me.  Still taking very long naps in the afternoon, and sleeping long hours at night.

Finished THREE DOG LIFE.  Absolutely compelling.  It's a fairly short memoir, so I think I will read it again.  There were so many beautiful turns of phrase, but as I was reading them, I did not want to take the time to write them down, just soak them in.  But here is one lovely passage from the book:  

There was a young man who had arrived at the Northeast Center angry and belligerent, as inclined to take a swing at you as not.  He began showing up in Bill's studio and started to paint.  Bill watched him become an artist, and gradually he stopped being at the mercy of his rages.  He got well enough to leave the center and move to a group home.  This is what he said to Bill before he left: "What is art, anyway, except not pounding on walls?"

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Art Fair

What do you think of this painting?  It's on Ebay, and is quite large.  I kind of like it a lot.  I'm in a shopping mood.

It's 1.30 am or so, and I'm not sleeping.  Drugs haven't kicked in yet, or else the book I've been reading has energized me in some way.  Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas.  Her husband is disabled after being hit by a car and suffering traumatic brain injury (like my own father), and I thought I would not be able to read it right now, but she adopts two more dogs in addition to the one she and her husband had adopted, and writes eloquently about how she copes with her life after her husband's accident.

Today three of us went to the local summer art fair, the white booths with jewelry and painted glassware and pottery and photography and hand sculpted refrigerator magnet flowers.  I love these fairs, with their lemonade stands and strong smells of popcorn and freshly tanned handmade leather bags and pouches.  I spent about a hundred dollars on items for myself and others; I like to buy holiday and birthday gifts at these fairs, put them in my big blue tote marked "gifts," and know that I always have something on hand when a present is called for.  I lusted after a beautifully crafted ceramic butter dish with cover, all modern and colorful, but for $65 I was too afraid I would break it or chip it, which is inevitably what happens with all my ceramics.  Still, I love to look at what people create, and am always amazed that human creativity is infinite.

It was very hot here today and I was quite exhausted by the fair, and after telling K. we needed to leave NOW, I made it home in time to put myself to bed for one of my three hour naps I've been taking each afternoon since arriving.  Bindi sleeps on the bed with me for these naps, so quiet, but not as cuddly as my dear Camilla, whom I miss.  How can it be a choice between cats and dogs?  We  need them both, with their very different temperaments and sensibilities, abilities and gifts.  I'll tell you one thing: dogs purr, too.

We went to PetSmart last night to get some things for doggie-do, and the store happened to have several adorable kittens up for adoption.  We weren't allowed to hold any of them as we were not serious adopters, but one was black and white like DillBoy, and two others were longish haired grey kittens, like D's Oxmyx and my Misty.  Oh I would have 50 cats if I could.  They're just too extraordinary.

Took myself to Walgreen's tonight to pick up some things and managed to get lost for a while.  But a rainstorm was approaching and I got a glimpse of the marvelous midwest thunder and lightning.

K and D made delicious grilled ribs for dinner which I managed to chew small bites of.  Also red potatoes and green beans.  I blended those together with some tomato, not the best combination in the world of Osterizer, but not that bad.

We watched The Prestige on dvd last night.  Interesting, but I think I liked The Illusionist better.  But Prestige had Michael Caine and Hugh Jackman, both very compelling on screen.  Watched a Muppets episode with Peter Sellars in it.  So funny and droll at the same time.  I miss the Muppets.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I'm in Michigan now with my brother and his family, and there are visitors and a house full of kids doing any number of things.  We were at the park earlier, but were run out by a downpour.  Bindi is resting from all the activity on my brother's new recliner.

We watched SPANGLISH on dvd last night, and I have to say that I liked it very much.  Multi-layered, well-acted and written.  Billed as a comedy, but we thought (the three adults who watched it) that drama was more the case, with humor thrown in.

Cancer update:  In July I will begin 5-6 weeks of daily radiation treatments to my head and neck. Shouldn't be painful, and is primarily preventative and highly recommended.  My case will be presented before the "tumor board" for final clarity by the doctor.  Main side effects from the radiation will be fatigue (what else is new?), dry mouth (again, not new), and a diminution of taste as taste buds will be temporarily affected.  I am speaking more clearly now and have started to eat more solid food, and pain from the surgery is pretty much gone, although tongue is stiff and the surgery scar is easily irritated.