Laying Down on the Job

Laying Down on the Job
The Santa Monica Easy

Monday, August 31, 2009

They are irreplaceable.

Firefighters have always been heroes in my eyes. I don't have any friends who are firefighters but I've met a few and they have uniformly impressed me and not because of their well-pressed uniforms. The few I've met have been disciplined, fit, funny, professional and interesting. Every year California has wild fires and the lives of firefighters are lost while almost no human life is lost. Firefighters are called to gear up and run into a dragon's mouth of fire the size of some of this country's most modest-sized states. They may be scared or not -- I don't know -- but they don't hesitate. They go when called. I'm not sure my parents would run into a burning house to save me but I know a firefighter would and perhaps die in the effort. This is a small part of why I love and admire firefighters.

Of all the tax dollars I pay, what is spent to equip, protect, fund and otherwise support firefighters is worth EVERY single penny (I don't mean to omit peace officers but this blog isn't about them today). The return on the tax dollar is excellent value especially given that this state's government will not resolve the perpetual wildfire hazard that afflicts California.

I extend my deepest condolences to the families of Fire Capt. Ted Hall and Specialist Arnaldo Quinones, firefighters who lost their lives on their way to a raging conflagration. Bless the firefighters, and bless their families who bare the deepest brunt of the loss. It is so hard to lose these irreplaceable angels of the community.

Gosh, If Only We Been Warned!

In reverse homage to Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story", this is a prologue to the declaration "Nobody could have predicted this!" from certain members of the Bush administration as the banks began to collapse in the Fall of 2008. In October 1994, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) NDakota, wrote an article titled, "Very Risky Business - derivatives" in which he warned about the risky business of derivatives. He warned that deregulating the bank industry would create a disaster. If only we had a warning! A glimmer! A hint! All that pain and suffering, all those lost jobs and foreclosed homes could have been avoided.

Perhaps that article went into the same circular file as the Presidential Daily Briefing memo titled "Osama bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the U.S."originally given to Rice, Bush and Cheney on August 6, 2001. Gosh, if only someone with enough authority in the Bush administration had been warned, the FAA and various local policing organizations could have been put on high alert (like they were on December 31, 1999) for suspicious passengers or behavior. Or maybe, the CIA, FBI and NSA could have been put on high alert for 90 to 120 days in an emergency coordination effort between the agencies regarding any intel about Bin Laden or his followers. But no. The memo -- as with any PDR -- didn't give an exact date or exact plan or exact place so it was dismissed and ignored. Besides, there was all that brush to clear in Crawford, Texas.

Everybody's Got One...

No, I'm not referring to opinions. Everybody has a story about health insurance and many are horror stories. Thanks to heartless, greedy, corporate "health care" shills like Betsy McCaughey I've been getting a lot of emails from organizations asking for my "health insurance horror story".

I have insurance and I have a story (maybe not "horror" but horrible) to share. All my life I've been active and led a healthy life. I'm vegan, a non-smoker, no drugs, couple glasses of red wine/week, have low blood pressure, low cholesterol, healthy weight -- in short, no health issues. I'm a good risk and I've rarely even used my insurance. However, 3 years ago, at age 57 and 10 years of training for then walking full marathons, I finally had to have total hip replacement surgery because a congenital pelvis malformation prematurely destroyed the right hip socket and I could barely walk, let alone sleep through the night, because of pain. I was elated and relieved when my insurance provider approved the surgery. The insurer told me the $1500 deductible was met for the year and all but about $2000 (which I would pay) of the medical costs would be covered. The debilitating pain of 4 preceding years was finally going to end.

However, the provider actually paid less than half of the total costs despite what what I was told. After surgery they found reasons to refuse coverage for anything other than the actual 1 hour surgery: no doctors fees, no nurses fees, no post surgery toxicology, no blood work, no medication, no anesthetic, no x-rays, no follow-up visits, no administrative costs. I was left with over $50,000 in unpaid medical bills spread out between about 20 different entities. I used all of my $15,000 savings to help pay off the bills then started paying with my 2 credit cards. Then the APR on the cards skyrocketed as the banks who issued the cards were bought and sold. One card went from 14% to 30% the other went from 15% to 28% and soon I couldn't pay the minimum amounts even though I didn't add anything else on the cards. The credit card companies would not work with me to reduce the monthly payments. One card payment was 2 days late, the account closed and sent to collections. Less than a year after surgery my health insurance increased 30%, my work hours cut from full time to part-time and new unpaid medical bills related to the surgery were still arriving. I appealed the provider's decisions to no avail. All these related service were done by out-sourced entities who were not signatories of PacificCare (my so-called insurer). The 2nd card was closed and sent to collections when I missed one payment. My credit since the surgery has gone from 750 to "deadbeat" even though I've never missed or been late with my rent, utilities, insurance or car payment.

When I turned 60 this past March, my health insurance increased another 40%. The premium is now equal to 40% of my income. For the past year I've been looking for a new job or at least another part time job but the two credit card collections on my credit history has kept interested employers from hiring me. I've tried for the past 3 months to find a less expensive provider of individual insurance but either I'm declined because of the hip surgery or the premiums are equally expensive with much higher deductibles and far fewer benefits. I may be able to afford "catastrophic" coverage but I'm still waiting to hear. In the meantime haven't used my insurance since 2007 for fear it'll be cancelled before I can find something affordable. There was a time when hospitals and health insurers were administered as "non profit" entities. That's the last time I recall health insurance being affordable and dependable. As soon as our collective health was made available to the "for profit" buzzards, we have all become its road kill. My mother died from ovarian cancer at age 57 because she had no health insurance and waited until she could no longer stand the pain to see a doctor. By then it was stage IV ovarian cancer and she was doomed. After her death in 1985, my father was left with nearly $100,000 in crushing medical bills. Imagine losing your wife of 35 years then being left to face financial ruin.

Mine isn't a rare or the worst insurance story out there. There are many far more life-denying stories from good folks who've had the bad luck to be laid off, or had their health insurance cancelled just when it's needed the most -- so I'm lucky. This sort of thing happens over and over every day in the world's richest country -- or are we?
Health insurance has become "wealth insurance" for the insurance company CEOs and their investors. There should be a bold red warning on all health insurance policies: "This insurance is provided by a 'for profit' corporation and may be hazardous to your health! Use at your own risk."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Human Scrubbee Bubbles!

I just signed up to be a human srub bubble for the beach on Saturday, September 19, 2009. I live one mile from the beach and every year since the inception of this event I've wanted to participate in this activity -- since I do love the ocean -- but always managed to be scheduled for something else that I couldn't flake out on. This is my year to be a Beach Bunny Scrubbie Bubble. It'll be fun to meet new people and join in the effort to pick up trash. Here's more information:

Coastal Clean Up Day

9/19/2009 9:00 AM

Coastal Cleanup Day (CCD) began in 1985 and has grown into a huge annual event. Every state with a coastline participates, including the Great Lakes states, and even some inland states clean river and lake shores. The one-day cleanup is international?at last count, over 60 nations participated?and may be the largest volunteer day on the planet.

Join REI in supporting Coastal Clean Up Day at 1600 Ocean Front Walk in Santa Monica, just north of the Pier or visit to learn about other locations.

  • Location:1600 Ocean Front Walk, just north of the pier
  • Contact:Jennifer at or 310.458.4370
  • Cost:Free
  • Registration Required? No.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Goodnight Sweet Ted

I came home tonight from a lovely dinner at Anarbagh Indian Cuisine in Woodland Hills, with my dear friend Taylor, during which, as always, we had a spirited, thoughtful discussion about current politics. We focused on t efforts to provide affordable health insurance for all Americans. When I got home and turned on the news, I learned that Senator Ted Kennedy, who has championed health insurance reform for decades, had passed away after a courageous battle with brain cancer. I knew this news was inevitable but I am full of sorrow anyway. Here was a man of unfathomable wealth who spent more than 4 decades working to make the world and, specifically, life in the United States a better place for those with no voice and little influence. He could have spent his life as the head of the Kennedy family or run a philanthropic organization, authored books or contributed millions to worthy causes. Instead he chose to do all those things and still serve the poverty stricken, the marginalized, the disabled and so many more who he saw being treated with injustice and inequality.

I thank you for what you made of your life. I am inspired by your courage and tenacity. Had I been diagnosed with such a devastating disease, I would have crawled into a pool of self-pity and fear. You showed me there's another choice. For as long as you had strength -- even after that -- you worked to serve others. Thank you for all you have done. You live on in the bettered lives and ennobled hearts of millions.

It's your turn to rest now. Those of us who benefited from the efforts of your life will carry the ball from here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Free Kibble? Sign me Up!

I'm not sure where I found it, but I get a real delight from an impressive web site called I subscribe and every day an email arrives with the link. I click on the link and a very cute web site opens with cartoon-type colors and dog characters. It never fails to make me smile because I just love what it does.

The web site's cartoon dog "asks" a trivia question about dogs, along with a list of 4 possible answers (one of which is usually pretty silly). The visitor selects what they think is the correct answer and the actual correct answer is revealed. Whether your answer is wrong or right, 10 pieces of kibble is donated to help feed hungry dogs in animal shelters. Isn't that great? Yay! Not to be forgotten, the web site does the same thing for kitties. Lots can be learned about cats and/or dogs with the added benefit that hungry animals in shelters get some yummy free kibble. It's a win/win/win situation. It feeds our furry friends (who, we hope will soon be adopted by loving responsible folks who will take care of them for the rest of their love-giving lives), it relieves some of the animal shelter's budgetary pressures to provide food and, best of all, it allows the web site visiter to do a good deed daily. It's especially satisfying for folks who would love to donate dollars but are having a really hard time making financial ends meet right now.

As of today, the web site has served over 1,485,357 nutritious meals to hungry dogs and cats.

Check it out and subscribe!

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!" - Thomas Paine

During times of disaster, whether natural or man made, I am always deeply touched, moved and inspired by the generosity and sense of unity we Americans have. We have a history of coming together, not just opening our wallets but locking arms and spending real sweat equity to help those who suffer. We volunteer to aid strangers whose home has burned to the ground. We donate blood, share food and give of ourselves. Where there's a neighbor in need, we help where we can and with what we have. That spirit is a national treasure that shows up when we need it most. When the disaster subsides, we tend to go back to our lives and forget how much of a difference we made to another person's life and how that action impacts the future in a positive way. We have the opportunity to make a difference to the future of this country in the same way we may have made a difference to others in times of emergency. Perhaps more than belief, it's a matter of recalling what we've already accomplished and unifying our national will to make it happen.

The episode on tonight's "Bill Moyers Journal" profiled 3 people diagnosed with catastrophic disease but no health insurance. No one with a heart could watch that story and have it not break. I know their stores well. My mother died from cancer because she had no health insurance and waited too long to go to the doctor. After 6 years of surgery, remission, hope, re-occurrence, more surgery, chemo, experimental treatments, she passed away, alone, in a hospital ICU. Dad was left with nearly $90,000 in medical bills -- and that was in 1985. My own health insurance story is one of financial ruin that's acutely altered the trajectory of my life and future, but at least I had insurance.

If human empathy were dollars, we would all have affordable insurance and never have to worry about whether we could afford to see the doctor. It's not that simple but it should be. We don't want to think about it because it's complicated and difficult. Yes -- and so what? Giving birth to a country was complicated and difficult yet a relatively small group tenaciously stuck to the task and got it done. Fighting to keep this country unified was even more complicated and difficult but it got done. it is time to unify again and make that next great leap forward. Affordable health care for all is no where near as difficult as the American Revolution or the Civil War and future generations will wish they'd been alive today to see how it got done. It will take vision, perseverance, determination, creativity, selflessness and National Will. Everything in this country's past that moved it collectively to higher plain has come from progressive thinking, starting with the Declaration of Independence to emancipation, to women's right to vote, child labor laws, Social Security, the Civil Rights Bill and Medicare. It is time to gather courage, step up and create a clearing for the future greatness of this wonderful country. To the politicians I say, "Lead, follow or get out of the way."

Next week; Money-Driven Medicine will be aired on "Bill Moyers Journal".

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tehran Market

I have lived in Santa Monica for nearly 20 years and have often eschewed my car in favor of walking, biking or sometimes riding the local bus when I have a number of errands at opposite ends of the 8 square miles that is Santa Monica. I live 11 blocks from the sparklingly fun Santa Monica Pier and the placid waters it bejewels. At the end of the alley behind my bungalow is a liquor store run by a family who stocks some of the best $8/bottles of wine that taste like $25 wine. My dry cleaner is 1 block away, grocery store is 2 blocks away, library is 4 blocks away and the 3rd Street Promenade is 7 blocks away. I work from home and literally everything I need (except my family and friends) is within walking, biking or a 50 cent bus ride distance. Except for Santa Monica's dramatically changing architecture, it is almost like living in a compact European town. This is the way I've always wanted to live: in a metropolis adjacent, quiet community.

Today, during my lunch break, I walked to the library on 6th, the main post office on 5th then to Izzy's Deli on Wilshire and 15th, where I could purchase a bag of rye bread heels for $1.50. The heel is my favorite part of any loaf of bread and I consider it downright sublime if covered with a thin layer of ripe avocado topped with a thin slice of fresh tomato and a pinch of salt. THAT is heaven! On the return trip I passed a smallish store that gave my peripheral vision the impression of imported goods. I stopped, looked over my shoulder at the dark-tinted store windows then checked my watch and saw I had time to briefly explore the store. I'd intended to stop at Von's for some veggies but this new found store seemed to promise a mini-adventure. I walked through the doors and was greeted by shelves stocked with Mediterranean/Middle Eastern/Indian goodies. There were teas, condiments, baked goods, rices, flours, spices, oils, fresh produce and a deli counter.

Any vegan knows -- and I am vegan -- Middle Eastern, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine is not only tasty, it's often suitable for vegans in the yummiest of ways. I glided up and down the aisles, eyes wide and a barely contained child-like giddiness. I hardly knew where to start. One of the practical things about walking everywhere is there's a limit to how much I'm able or willing to carry. If I'm more than 3 blocks from home (as I was at that point), I will not carry more than one bag of -- anything -- so I knew I would have to limit any purchase to what would fit in the single cloth bag I carried. I proceeded to prowl for gold. I limited my treasure today to 4 Roma tomatoes that actually smell like they were just picked from the vine, 4 small fresh zucchini, a ripe avocado and a container of fresh made hummus with Galilee olives mixed in. There was still room in the bag for a small slice of marble halavah but one brief reality-check of my "wide load" rear-end easily convinced me to leave that delicacy locked in the deli case.

The man behind the counter must have noticed my face-wide smile when I walked up to pay. "You look very happy!" he said. "I am!" I answered, "How long has this market been here?" "Twenty years" he replied. It is a rather small shop with a modest, simple sign, "Teheran Market" above the doors. I'd seen the sign from across the street on many previous trips around town. When walking on the same side of the street as the store, it's easy to miss if you're not looking for it or in a hurry to somewhere else. I'm so glad I stopped. I didn't buy any teas, spices or unique items specifically from the Middle East or India, but now I know what awaits when I return! I must have missed the memo on this store. Everyone else in Santa Monica probably knows about it except me. Nevertheless, I am delighted to have found it. It's just another gem in the experience of living in Santa Monica. Today was my first visit to the store but it won't be my last.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Turtle Torture

I spent 18 years of my early years as an actress in regional theater. My forte was musical comedy without the dance. I was only a double threat: I could sing and I could act and I was usually the go-to actress for the comedic bimbo role. However, I couldn’t learn choreography quickly and once I learned it, I wasn’t very good at it. Anyway, someone once asked me where I first got my start as an actress and it took me some time to map it all out.I wasn’t following in anyone’s footsteps – there were and still are no other actors in either side of my family. I thought back to my earliest memory of acting and I finally remembered. It was torture.

I was a shy bookworm and a frighteningly big-for-my-age third-grade Air Force brat living in Tokyo, Japan. My mother, father and I moved to the area only two months before and my outgoing and extremely self-confident mother was somewhat frustrated by my introverted nature. I would have been quite happy if I could have gone through life as the invisible child. Although I should have known better, I made the mistake of telling my mother that my new school would be observing Halloween by decorating the school with orange-and-black-everything and all the students were expected to wear costumes. I should have, however, stopped short of telling her about the costume contest. My mother's eyes turned from their normal piercing black-brown to scary envy-green when I casually mentioned there'd be many prizes: best in each room, grade, most creative, scariest, funniest and best overall -- kind of like the Tony awards.Mother asked me what I wanted to "be" and suddenly visions of an elegant medieval princess or a twirling ballerina or anything bathed in chiffon, organza and sequins came to mind. "Dear," Mother announced, "You're too tall and clumsy for any of that." Eager that I make LOTS of friends and win prizes, my mother decided I would be a turtle. Not just a common, garden-variety turtle. No-no-no. I would be a snapping turtle, complete with 3-diminsional shell, webbed feet, headpiece, full-face make-up and snapping beak. As I recall I even had a piece of lettuce hanging out of the corner of my mouth.

My life was not my own and I reluctantly complied with the endless fittings and adjustments needed to create a living, breathing turtle masterpiece on my body. While I couldn't tell my mother, I was convinced the costume made me look like a kind of turtle-Godzilla. My mother, the cleverest, most creative woman in the world, had researched and recreated the actual color and pattern of a snapping turtle shell. She designed the costume so realistically that I could lie on my stomach, pull in my arms, legs and head completely inside the shell -- just like a real turtle. Of course, once in that position, I could not get up without assistance from several hefty adults. I had to practice the move several times – my mom thinking I could ask a few classmates to help me up. That’s when I knew my mother lived in an alternate universe. There was no doubt in my mind that if I demonstrated the costume’s realistic functionality in front of my “classmates”, I would have been lucky if no one called the Nippon-maru whaling ship.

The Halloween-from-Hell Day arrived and I tried to fake illness to avoid what I knew would be the most humiliating day of my life. My mother, well aware of my lack of enthusiasm, was not bamboozled by my fake afflictions, blazing toothache, gurgling stomach, oozing ear or fatal blisters -- the costume would be unveiled with me in it.

Normally, I took the school bus to school, but on this excruciating day, Mother drove me to school -- just to make sure I wouldn't ditch the costume on the way to school or somehow run away to Hong Kong. We got to school early so she could help me with the costume and make-up. We went into a bathroom and began the dressing ceremony, like preparing for a kabuki play. There were black tights, black turtleneck tee shirt, black gloves and socks with the fingers sewn together and modified with little turtle claws and a hood that covered my neck and hair. The green base made-up was greasy and the beak pinched my nose and made me sound like a stuffed-up Jerry Lewis when I spoke. Mother admonished me not to eat anything because the makeup would wear off. The shell was four feet long, two and a half feet wide and eighteen inches deep. It encompassed my torso from the nape of my neck to my knees and I could not sit down or go to the bathroom while I wore it unless I completely stripped down to one layer short of underwear.

Finally, Mother told me I was ready to reveal myself and I reluctantly lumbered into the already full classroom. She left me just outside the closed classroom door and threw a hand kiss to me as she blithely walked away. Halfway down the hall she turned around and “shooed” me toward the door. I slowly turned the doorknob like a scene from a scary movie. As the door swung open it became almost instantly clear that my classmates would not, as my mother had assured me, embrace me into their third-grade world of the "cool" and "popular." Instead, I became a kind of "Elephant Girl", a monstrous spectacle of aboriginal proportions. No one recognized me. I was like nothing they'd ever seen before, part human, part amphibian, part indigenous Jurassic Park creature. Some children screamed. Other's said, "What's that?" with the unique verbal sneer only a 9-year old can muster. I heard my teacher gasp and I thought she was going to faint at the sight of me in her doorway -- until she began to laugh. Not satisfied, she told the class, "Principal Reiner HAS to see this. I'll be right back." and she was gone. Within a millisecond of her departure, the other students swarmed over me like flies on a carcass. Someone grabbed an arm and spun me around like a wobbling weeble. In a flurry of bee-hive-like activity, my feet went out from under me and I was on my back. The only thing I could do was wave my legs and arms around in circles, bob my head up and down and make a feeble "Nnnnfff nffff" sound as I tried to right myself. Mercifully, the teacher and Principal Reiner returned just before I had a stroke. They looked down in either astonishment or horror, at what had been left just inside the classroom doorstep. Once I was upright again, I stood for the rest of the day, like some pre-pubescent female hunchback of Notre Dame, the center of everyone's ridicule and disgust.

The main event of the day, "costumes on parade" was a kind of single-file forced march of students around the schoolyard in front of the school staff, who judged the costumes. At one point, a fellow third-grader dressed as a wizard broke ranks and ran up next to me waving his magic wand and threatened to change me into a frog. I prayed the boy was a real wizard. Conspicuously taller than the rest, I was a solitary, moping, shuffling, very unhappy figure of a little girl buried alive within a faux snapping turtle, praying I might somehow vaporize. The parade came to a halt and after a short delay, the principal instructed the children to sit down in place so the contest winners could be announced. All the children sat down in place -- except me -- and I was not about to lie down in the turtle position again. I knew if I went down, my vulture-peers would have taken the opportunity to dismember me like the piranha I knew them to be.

Circumstances seriously conspired against me and it just got worse. If I had to dress up, I just wanted to be a sweet, feminine ballerina or a lovely princess -- something that reflected who I felt I really was or wanted to be. Instead, I was forced to be a nasty, ugly amphibian with no redeeming, endearing qualities. As I stood in my diabolical costume on that October afternoon, desperate to go to the bathroom, I heard my name called to receive the prize for best costume in my classroom. I heard my name called again and again: best costume in the third grade, scariest costume, funniest costume, most creative and best overall. Each award, a beautiful blue, white, red, green, yellow ribbon, emblazoned with a huge gold “1” in glitter. For someone unused to attention, let alone awards, each ribbon trophy was horrifyingly dazzling. I heard the rustling, ever-rising discontent amongst the un-rewarded students. Each award was a badge of mortification as I waddled up to receive it. Only the teachers applauded and smiled. The rest intently glared at me as if to conger spontaneous combustion with their laser looks. I was a princess trapped in a turtle costume.

I turned the ribbons over to my mother as soon as she picked me up. When I got home and I couldn't get out of the green make-up fast enough while my mother carefully packed the costume for "the next time." Mom built the costume to "grow" with me over the next 3 years.

One of the teachers, on that Halloween Day, was active in our church youth drama group. She was so enthralled by the snapping turtle costume that she re-wrote the children's Christmas play and changed one of the adoring sheep in Christ's manger to a snapping turtle. She must have been familiar with a King Barnum and Bailey version of the bible, because an adoring snapping turtle definitely wasn't in my King James version. My mother, a member of the church choir, would not loan the costume to the youth group’s play without the child for whom it had been created. I realize now my mother must have been a shrewd theatrical agent in a former life. I was cast as the lovably cantankerous snapping turtle in attendance at the birth of Christ. My picture was in the paper. People took photographs of the amazing child actor and costume. There was even an article in the base paper about the unusual interpretation of the adoration of the Christ child, complete with a cast photo. By the time the new year rolled around I started to enjoy the attention, although I was still bumblingly shy. The following Easter the same twisted teacher wrote another children's play that included her favorite costume, the grouchy snapping turtle, alerting Mary and the neighborhood beasts to Christ’s resurrection. I became notorious among adults for my portrayal, several years in a row, of a dour, crotchety, snapping turtle. It was, unfortunately, a long dry spell without playmates. I wanted to be a princess or a ballerina, something inconspicuous. But my mother and her irrepressible creativity would not be denied -- her child would be... an actress!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Intervention Please: My Father Watches Fox "Views"!

My father, now 85 years young, was always a strict Cronkite man. He watched Walter Cronkite for the news and no one else, despite the wonderful offering of network news anchors in the golden days before 24 hour news. Sometime after I moved from Columbus, OH, to Los Angeles, Dad started watching CNN then he migrated to the 24 hour variation of the news broadcast on FOX. I call it FOX Views because it's anything but the news. It's more like what Hollywood does to books when they're made into movies. Actually, it's even worse because what FOX does is make the same bad movie just with different talking heads. At least once a week since the 1999 election Dad has repeated some piece of "news" he heard on FOX. With every outrageous, stupid, twisted claim Dad's repeated, I've berated FOX then found what the actual story is (thank you and and repudiated every story. I've begged Dad to stop watching FOX, even suggested that he watch FOX one day a week then MSNBC the next then CNN the next, rotating the channels he watches so he can see for himself that FOX does not deliver the news. Apparently I have little influence on him. He's been a life-long Republican and I abandoned that ship after Nixon. It's kind of funny now because Dad knows I despise FOX and how their "analysts" slowly poisons their audience so he won't even admit to watching FOX anymore. He'll relate some political horror story but claim he saw it on CNN. I know better because I watch CNN and MSNBC and if that story wasn't on either of those channels, I know he saw it on FOX. Nevertheless, I listen quietly then debunk the claims in an email to him the next day, quoting,, or what ever legitimate news source had the original story. My dad's not a fool. He's well read, is in a continual quest for knowledge, taught himself calculus and is currently teaching himself Arabic. Yet he continues to watch FOX views as if it were a credible source of news instead of the farcical cartoon it really is. I blame it on the people who surround him now. All the way-to-the-right, head-stuck-in-a-box folks with no curiosity about the world, science, politics or anyone else beyond their own 6 square blocks. It's very hard to watch. I'm tempted to rent a van, drive to Carrollton. VA and kidnap him from his current sphere of influence. Is there an intervention program for sufferers of FOX's brainwashing? If not there should be. At least he doesn't listen to Limbaugh. Yet.

Friday, August 14, 2009

In the Name of Love

Today I accompanied a friend who had to take her long-time companion, Missy, a golden-eyed, gentle black cat, to the vet to be put to sleep. It is never an easy trip. It is the hardest task we are expected to complete in the name of love for our pet companions. A week or so ago I'd offered to go with my friend so she wouldn't have to endure that sad trip with Missy alone. It wasn't an altruistic offer -- I wanted to say goodbye to Missy as well as help my friend. I knew it would be a difficult goodbye, but it was harder for me than I expected. It always surprises me how much love and happiness these little furry creatures give as they accompany us through the best and worst of life. Missy helped my friend get through law school and pass the bar the first time. She helped by just being there, to hold, to pet, to shoo off homework scattered on the floor and to offer my friend a break from the rigors of law. It seems, pound-for-pound our pets express more love, contentment, joy and in-the-momentness in their shorter lives than we highly evolved humans extend in several of their lifetimes. It's been suggested that our pets teach us how to be better humans. It's certainly been true for me. A great deal of credit for how I value life and love is due to the dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, goldfish and guinea pigs for whom I've been privileged to care. Then there are the creatures, like Missy, whose life I merely criss-crossed. Nevertheless, she had important things to teach me -- trusting strangers, dealing with change, regal poses and the simple joy of laying on a pillow by a window watching the world's wonders every day as if for the first time. Missy was 19 and had what most would say was a good life. But Missy gave a good life too. She was a beautiful, calm, gentle feline who always made me smile when I saw her. I loved petting her -- couldn't wait to touch her velvet fur. What ever worries or road-rage I brought with me through the door, melted with one look at her sweet face. She loved being petted and she showed her appreciation with a BIG purr. I suspect everyone who met Missy fell in love with her. It couldn't be avoided. She would just sit there, on her pillow by the window, appearing to do nothing -- all the while reeling in your heart like a helpless hooked catfish. I mourn you Missy. I'll never forget you. Big tears roll down my face for you but my heart is bigger for having found a place in it for you. Thank you Missy for all you gave this passer-by.