A friend sent me this video this morning and I had to share it!
Archives for June 2007
This Week’s Theme: Sweet
My sweet boys paused on the stairs leading to the beach from our favorite hotel in Pismo Beach to let Mom snap their photo.
How many pieces of jewelry do you wear most days?A minimum of four: 2 earrings in each ear, although I actually have 4 holes in each earlobe, so most days I wear 8 earrings. I also wear my favorite necklace and a watch. I infrequently wear rings because I have carpal tunnel syndrome which causes my fingers to be tingly and somewhat numb all the time, so rings bug me. [Read more…] about Friday’s Feast #150
“When there is little awareness of real need there is little real prayer.”
~ Donald S. Whitney ~
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
For instance, if you have a friend or family member who is ill, do you pray that they “get well,” “recover fully” or use similar verbiage?I took a class on prayer a few years ago and the facilitator taught us something very simple, but profound. We say the Lord’s Prayer which includes the words “thy will be done” but we otherwise don’t seem to pray that way. Instead, in prayer, we say things like “let me get that job or raise or . . .” or “please help ______ get better soon” or “please give me . . .” Garth Brooks sang about lost love and, of course, many of us recited all too often the familiar words, “please make ______ love me . . .”
In reality, what we should always pray, according to that teacher, is a request that the Lord’s will truly be done. That’s a harder thing to do because it requires us to step outside of our self and self-centeredness to surrender to another’s will. That’s a hard thing to do, especially if you are a Type A person who is used to being in charge of your own destiny and unaccustomed to giving up control about major aspects of your own life.
Cancer has or will touch all of our lives, either through our own struggle with the disease or that of a friend or loved one. As I get older, more and more of my friends and classmates are being diagnosed with various forms.
A couple of years ago, one of my friends from school was diagnosed and she has fought bravely. She has endured treatment that was as brutal as the disease, demonstrating not only dignity and courage, but a determination to live that left all who know her in awe.
Do you remember Night Shift, a film starring Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton? There were a couple of scenes in which Keaton’s character drives Winkler’s to distraction by incessantly talking into a tape recorder that he keeps in his pocket, preserving reminders and great ideas as they come to him for later use.
One of his ideas was “edible garbage.”
When I first graduated from law school, “dictation” was the way attorneys were expected to create written documents. The profession had advanced from “take a letter” in shorthand to dictaphones. Much like Keaton’s character, I sat in my office with my little tape recorder talking to my secretary but, for the most part, all I did was tell her jokes and remind her to return calls to clients, schedule meetings, etc. About the only thing I dictated successfully were short letters and memoranda. Because I usually ended up editing the documents after she transcribed them, I soon got into the habit of drafting them on the computer and relying on her solely to proofread and format them.
Why? Because I need to see the words, letters, paragraphs. I am a visual learner so trying to draft verbally, including “comma,” “period,” “new paragraph,” etc. just did not work well for me.
Mind-mapping, the technique I discussed here last week, has proven useful for me so far. I created a few maps this past week and, for the most part, I’m using them much the same way I use “to do” lists, but the nonlinear format allows for more free-form, spontaneous note-taking.
I have not yet had an opportunity to use the maps to synthesize information into a first or final draft. I’ll keep you posted on how they work for me.
It does not matter, unless you must satisfy requirements dictated by a professor or employer, what approach you adopt so long as you take the time to adequately prepare yourself to write, critically assessing the arguments you will make, stories you will tell, information you will present and assuring that they are presented in a cohesive manner.
I find colleagues standing in their offices staring at white boards, pens with erasable ink stuck over their ears as they outline and re-outline in preparation to write a critical brief or motion. Index cards affixed to walls or spread out on tables with a thought or two jotted on them remain popular visual methods many writers use to organize their thoughts. Sticky notes marking pages in books, magazines or journals stacked in order of importance sometimes signify how documents will flow. And yes, lots of folks still use the classic outline method to pull their thoughts into logical order.
Regardless of the methodology, successful writers confirm that the amount of time spent thinking critically about the substance of the written document far outweighs the time spent actually drafting it. Once the research is complete, theories formulated or plot and characters developed, many writers spend significant time living with a document that has not yet been drafted but is slowly being formulated in their head. By the time their fingers hit the keyboard, the actual drafting is, in comparison, a relatively short process.
The important thing is to try different approaches and evaluate the effectiveness of each. When you find a technique that works for you, irrespective of what method(s) are best suited to your colleagues’ writing styles, apply it consistently, refining it with each new project. Hopefully, the concept of “edible garbage” won’t be your best idea or find its way into any of your writing!
Today’s Guest Author is Izzy Dean, a thirtysomething work-at-home mom of two young children and resident concierge & butler to three cats. She was a graphic designer in her previous life but now she practices bad housekeeping and good butt-wiping, sometimes at the same time, and works from home as a web designer and copywriter. She can also be found writing for her personal blog IzzyMom, serving as editor of Props and Pans and as a contributor at Mamapop.
I am Woman, Hear Me Roar
by Izzy Dean
One of the first things I noticed about becoming a stay-at-home mom was how isolating it was. In my neighborhood at least, everyone was at work all day. Nobody to talk to. Nobody to complain to. Nobody to ask if I was doing it right or wrong. And it pretty much sucked.
(*2007 Toyota Tacoma)
I think with my tongue. I don’t even realize I’m doing it, but when I really concentrate or exert, I stick my tongue out. My friends in water aerobics class were laughing at me the other day because I was doing it while pumping weights.
A Cautionary Tale: The First Amendment, Good Taste and Writers’ Rights
This article is a cautionary tale for all bloggers.
A situation in the blogosphere saddens me, but illustrates, yet again, the need for bloggers to deal with each other in good faith and with integrity and respect. This is a topic I wrote about recently, concluding that we all have a responsibility to post responsibly.
I recently submitted “Thirteen Reasons I Wish You Could Have Known My Father” to a blog carnival. I previously participated in one of the “proprietor’s” carnivals, e-mailed casually with him on a couple of occasions and recently, as you saw from the “sticky” post that appeared here for a few days, agreed to host an upcoming edition.
Here’s a shot of me with my parents in 1958 — I was not quite 2 years old. I was not fat at all as a young child.
But things changed . . .
Thirteen Movie Recommendations
Looking to beat the heat by relaxing with a DVD for a couple of hours this weekend? You might want to consider some of the following films that I have enjoyed and would watch again or, in some cases, again and again and again . . .
- Romantic comedy: “Must Love Dogs” or “Shall We Dance”
- Historical Drama: “Sophie’s Choice,” “Anne of the Thousand Days,” “The Man in the Iron Mask” (Richard Chamberlain t.v. from the 1970’s or Jeremy Irons film version — both are very good) or “The Count of Monte Cristo” (again, the Richard Chamberlain t.v. version from the early 1970’s is a classic, but the Jim Caveziel film is also excellent)
Back to Writing
I haven’t written here for a while.
Well, I felt crummy for quite a while. Through two rounds of Cipro, to be exact, I had a miserable sinus and respiratory infection which impacted my breathing, and I coughed a lot.
Here’s a close-up:
The woman in the photo is holding a lamb. I only got a chance to get one shot of this beautiful stained glass window on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art before the security guard shooed me away. I apparently missed the announcement about “no flash photography.”
“As Christians, we are called to convert our loneliness into solitude. We are called to experience our aloneness not as a wound but as a gift–as God’s gift–so that in our aloneness we might discover how deeply we are loved by God.”
When I first saw the quote for today, this verse popped into my head: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 ) A little research revealed that “be still” comes from the Hebrew term raphah meaning slack or to let drop. In reference to a person, it means to be disheartened or weak.Psalm 46 actually begins with “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” There is a fabulous rock song based upon that verse . . . I’ve played and sung it more times than I can count. And, of course, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” composed by Martin Luther, was inspired by it.
So if to “be still” actually means that to be disheartened or weak, it makes sense that we should pause to remember the source of our strength when we are experiencing those emotions.
I attended a writing course recently and was introduced to a concept that is not new, but was certainly new to me: Mind-mapping.
I grew up in the age of “The Term Paper: A Manual and Model.” Raise your hand if you still have your copy! I do! It was an 8 1/2 by 11 inch volume with an orange and white cover, and was required reading in order to type (as in on a manual Smith-Corona typewriter, in my case) your term paper in the correct format and pass any number of junior high, high school and college courses.
Preparatory to writing the paper, of course, was research. The vast majority of my teachers and professors insisted that research be conducted using 3 x 5? index cards which were turned in along with the final paper. We also had to submit the outline that we allegedly developed as we reviewed our research and organized our thoughts in preparation for actually writing the term paper.
I am making a public confession: The index cards and outline were the last things I wrote. I created them only after I had the term paper finished and ready to turn in. Yes, I phonied them up in order to make the teacher think that I had followed his/her system of preparation and drafting the final product.
I have no problem organizing a final product into outline or chapter format, but, as the instructor of the course I just took pointed out, human beings do not think, for the most part, in a linear fashion. We have bursts of ideas and if the process were to be described in terms of a shape, it would most certainly be circular.
So she advocated the use of mind-mapping, which is the process of creating a diagram representing one’s thoughts and ideas as a means of planning what to write. Wikipedia describes a mind-map as “an image-centered diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of information. By presenting these connections in a radial, non-linear graphical manner, it encourages a brainstorming approach to any given organizational task, eliminating the hurdle of initially establishing an intrinsically appropriate or relevant conceptual framework to work within.”
In its simplest form, a mind-map is comprised of a circle in the middle of the page containing the writer’s main thesis which is connected to smaller, surrounding circles via broken or solid lines. Into those smaller circles are inserted sub-topics and they can, again, be connected to more circles. Key phrases, terms or ideas elucidating the main and sub-topics can be jotted on the lines. As more ideas come to the writer, they can be noted using just one or two words — whatever is sufficient to later jog one’s memory so that the thought can be included in the final piece. Maps can be connected to each other as a process of expanding and elaborating upon the seminal concepts.
As the instructor explained the process to the class, I realized that, without knowing it, I have been mind-mapping my entire life. I just haven’t been doing in on paper. I’ve been doing it in my head. Research materials are organized in piles according to topic and I retrieve key ideas or quotes via different color highlighting and notes jotted in margins.
Since taking the course, I have been experimenting with the method — on paper. The beauty of it is that it does not require a lot of time . . . as explained above, ideas are memorialized with just a word or two, or, perhaps, a short phrase. A numbering or lettering system to cite to research sources completely eliminates the need for those pesky index cards or any other intermediary step.
Because the various circles representing topics and sub-topics are free-form, it is easy to order and re-order your thoughts by simply numbering or lettering them. You can easily assess the effectiveness of the order in which you plan to present your themes or ideas by looking at the map and, as I always do, essentially composing the piece in your head before you ever put your fingers on the keyboard.
Rather than lugging around all of your research materials or a cumbersome multi-page outline-in-progress setting forth all the details of what you plan to write, a mind-map can be any size you want and carried with you in your pocket, purse, notebook, planner . . . even tucked into the holster of your Blackberry. An idea can be added in seconds when it comes to you in the midst of a meeting, conversation, while working on another project . . . In fact, the maps don’t have to be created on paper at all. You can create them on your computer, using, among other programs, PowerPoint. So if you are working on something else when a thought or idea comes to you, all you have to do is toggle between programs or windows in order to add it.
As I’ve been toying with this approach to writing, I’ve discovered what I believe are the four main benefits that can be derived from it.
1. Organization — For writers who struggle to organize their thoughts into a cohesive product that flows logically from one concept to the next, this is a fool-proof approach. Looking at the map, it is easy to see when a topic or idea is out of place or order. Even better, it helps you see the intersection and overlap or, conversely, contrast(s) between various pieces of information, allowing you to clarify and emphasize those points in your final written product.
2. Refinement of critical thinking — I see this as the most important benefit. Although I don’t write fiction, I can envision this system working really well for those who do. The logical progression — or lack thereof — of the storyline can be tracked. Likewise, if you are writing a “how to” or other explanatory piece, you will quickly be able to see if you have left out a step or need to expand the narrative in order to make your readers follow and understand the sequence of steps, events, etc.
For folks who must have their written product critiqued or reviewed before it is published, this is a great way to explain your thought process to your supervisor or editor. Rather than burdening that individual with a cumbersome outline or, worse, clumsy first draft, a map can serve as the foundation for the collaborative process, giving the reviewer insight into the writer’s thoughts and facilitating a productive and time-saving discussion about any analytical short-comings before valuable time is wasted on numerous unacceptable drafts.
3. Elimination of fear — Too often, we sit down in front of the keyboard and go into panic mode. Many people look at a blank computer screen as fearfully as they would a firing squad. Writing is an anxiety-inducing, demoralizing activity for many people and their first few drafts reflect their consternation. This method can empower reluctant writers because, by the time they sit down to begin drafting a document, they have not only performed the necessary research, they have organized their thoughts and provided themselves, literally, with a road map to be followed as they write. If a conversation such as the one described above has already taken place and the map has been refined, so much the better.
4. Enhances time management and productivity — By the time you actually begin drafting your document, you are thoroughly prepared to write and, hopefully, emboldened by the knowledge that you are ready to fill up that blank computer screen with meaningful text. The result is less rewriting, fewer drafts and a more productive use not only of your time, but that of your supervisor, reviewer or editor, as well.
This week, try out this technique and see if it works for you. Or if you have used it previously, leave a comment and let me know if it proved effective for you, as well as why or why not. I will be anxious to receive your feedback!
Chili of Don’t Try This At Home was tagged in conjunction with a meme so she decided to host a group carnival and I heard about it at An Island Life.
It’s not too late for you to join in! Just answer the following questions on your own blog and leave a link to your post. I will visit and read your responses. And don’t forget to visit the other participants, too. You might make some new blogging friends!
Here’s my story:
1. How did you start blogging?
I began blogging in March 2005, as Terri Schindler-Schiavo was dying. I lent support and some assistance to her parents as they fought to save her, but there wasn’t much I could do since the case was venued in Florida. I provided my research, briefs, etc. from Conservatorship of Wendland and did media appearances with Terri’s father, Bob Schindler, while my case was still pending here in California. I also responded to some media inquiries while Terry was being murdered, including this appearance on Scarborough Country.
Today, in conjunction with Blog Your Blessings Sunday, it is my extreme honor and delight to present the first of what I hope will be a series of articles by Guest Authors. And it is my privilege to introduce you to my friend and first Guest Author, Robert W. Mattheis, Bishop Emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Sierra Pacific Synod.
I first met Pastor Bob, as we knew him then, in 1974 when he was called to serve as pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, the congregation to which I belonged and served on the music staff for many years. In 1994, St. Paul’s loss was the Sierra Pacific Synod’s gain when Pastor Bob was elected to the office of and became Bishop Bob, overseeing 215 ELCA congregations from Porterville, California north to the Oregon border and as far east as Elko, Nevada. He retired in 2002, and continues to reside here in Lodi. He is now active in Way of Christ Community, described as “a unique and evolving community looking to live, believe, worship and learn in a new way,” which is led by his daughter and son-in-law, Pastors Amy Jo and Peter Mattheis-Holmquist.
I asked Bishop Bob to be my first Guest Author for many reasons.
My entry: During a visit home from college around 1978, my mother asked me to clean some things out of my room so that she could use the space. I put some old wigs, falls, and hairpieces that I had used in college and community theatre productions on the pile of junk to be hauled off — only to turn around and find my parents modeling a couple. My mother is laughing so hard in this picture that she is crying because my father had been prancing around the kitchen in that wig just moments before I snapped this photo.
This article is an entry in the Carnival of Family Life, hosted June 18, 2007, at This So-Called Life.
Another shot of my father taken the same evening the photo contest entry . . . modeling some of my “spare hair.”
We convinced him that it wasn’t a good look for him!
AppetizerFill in the blank: The best thing about where I live is _________________ . . .
. . . the fact that I don’t have to wonder about the home’s history such as when certain improvements were made or why repairs were done a certain way. Since my parents built this house in 1959, I know all of that information — and have all of the paperwork, too.
“Ready America” is the U.S. government’s website containing valuable information about how to protect yourself and your family in the event of an emergency.
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail containing some of the illustrations used in the government’s literature, along with some alternate interpretations of what those graphics might mean. I assure you that these drawings are actually used in the instructional materials you can download here. They are apparently derived from the old post-World War II “duck and cover” campaigns.
As the e-mail I received said, however, “[t]he fun thing is that these pictures are so ambiguous they could mean anything! Here are a few guesses about what they mean:”
1. A one-inch thick piece of plywood should be sufficient protection against radiation. Always carry one!
2. Do not drive a station wagon if a power pole is protruding from the hood.
3. If you hear the Backstreet Boys, Michael Bolton or Yanni on the radio, it is a psychological terror attack. Cower in the corner or run away as fast as you can.
4. After exposure to radiation, it is important to consider that you may have mutated to gigantic dimensions so watch your head.
5. If you are sprayed with an unknown substance, stand and contemplate that instead of seeing a doctor.
6. If a door is closed, karate chop it open.
7. Be on the lookout for terrorists with pinkeye and leprosy. Also, they tend to rub their hands together manically.
8. Hurricanes, animal corpses and the biohazard symbol have a lot in common. Think about it.
9. If you spot a terrorist arrow, pin it against the wall with your shoulder.
10. If you spot terrorist activities, blow your anti-terrorism whistle. If you are bald, yell really loudly.
11. Michael Jackson is a terrorist. If you spot this smooth criminal with the dead, dead eyes, run away.
12. The proper way to eliminate smallpox is to wash with soap, water and at least one armless hand.
13. If your lungs and stomach start talking, stand with your arms akimbo until they stop.
My entry in the Joy in the Morning I Love My Dad Photo Contest.
Congratulations to the winner, Leesha!
~~ My father, Kenny, with me on Easter Sunday 1969 ~~
This is one of the few photos I have of just my father and me. My article, “Thirteen Reasons Why I Wish You Could Have Know My Father,” explains why they are very special to me.
Originally published as part of Peeve Week 2: Culture/Relationships at Ronalfy.com!
What Happened to the Revolution?
It began with “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” in 2000. Before long, that stunning media debacle was matched by “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” and “Average Joe.” And now, premiering June 18, 2007, NBC brings us “Age of Love” in which a 30 year old “tennis superstar” will pick from a field of women competing for his attention. Some of the women are in their 20’s, while the others are “40-something(s) on the prowl.” The dramatic conflict: Will he “go for youth or maturity”?
This is the twenty-first century, but you would never know it by the way women routinely grovel, belittle and demean themselves on national television in the name of being the woman selected by a man to be the object of his affection or, in the case of “The Bachelor,” his future wife.
I grew up in the 1960’s and ’70’s — post “Leave it to Beaver,” “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” and “Father Knows Best” — when women fought for the opportunity to stand alongside men as their equals in all aspects of their lives. I distinctly recall when Diahann Carroll broke down color and gender barriers in 1968 by becoming the first African-American woman to star in her own prime time television series in the role of a nurse raising a young son on her own after her husband was killed in the Vietnam War.
I also remember watching Marlo Thomas portray “That Girl!” every Thursday evening on ABC: Never before on network television had the character of a young, single woman living alone in New York City been the focus of a sitcom, so we forgave her for her overprotective father and dorky boyfriend, as well as the impossibly expensive designer wardrobe. After all, Ann Marie was chasing her dreams and, while watching her, we dreamed of our own futures.
Of course, beginning in 1970, we were enchanted by the penultimate “Mary Tyler Moore,” from which “Rhoda” and “Phyllis” both earned mildly successful spin-off series. When we secured our first apartments, we all put initials on our walls like Mary’s prominent “M” because we all wanted, in some ways, to be like the Mary Richards, the gal with the “spunk” Lou Grant claimed to despise.
Those women were the fictional pop culture role models of my youth.
But when I see the commercials for the aforementioned reality series, I shake my head in bewilderment and revulsion. How did this culture devolve to the point that we sit glued to our television sets watching two women spend all day primping and preening for a meeting with the purported man of their dreams — a man they have known a few short days and weeks, and with whom they have never spent any time without a camera crew looking on? Each “candidate” is a mass of anxiety about whether he will dump or propose to her.
The depth of humiliation to which these women willingly subject themselves is nothing short of astounding.
Like the crowd gathered at the accident scene, we are fascinated when the camera zooms in for the “money shot,” i.e., the moment when the tears begin to roll down their cheeks as they finally come face to face with the man they profess to be in love with. The announcer leaves America hanging in suspense, promising that after the commercials, one woman will be crying tears of joy when her dreamboat announces that, after much soul-searching and deliberation, he has concluded that she “touches his heart the most” (or some other such nonsensical phrase that the producer told him to use because, let’s face it, guys don’t think up such verbiage on their own) and pulls out the engagement ring purchased by the producers. The “loser” sobs dejectedly during the limousine ride back to obscurity, mascara and snot running down her face in equal parts, wondering what she could have done differently to secure a happy ending to her dream — and another 15 minutes of fame.
Sociologists will surely be studying the cultural phenomena known as “reality television” for decades to come. I find myself searching to understand why any self-respecting young woman would willingly participate in these deprecatory spectacles. Why are so many otherwise intelligent, educated, accomplished and, yes, attractive women apparently so desperate for fame and/or a relationship with a man that they will parade in front of cameras on group “dates” and line up in anticipation to see if they “receive a rose” signifying that the hero deigns them worthy to remain in the competition for his affections a while longer?
More importantly, consider what message such shows send to the girls and young women who watch them. I know that they are indeed watching because I hear them — and their mothers — talking about these shows. In fact, many actually have “Bachelor” parties — they gather to watch the finales together to see if their favorite contestant wins the man.
Having come of age during the Women’s Movement, I find these “reality” programs horrifying on many levels, the most important of which I have already mentioned: To watch a group of lovely young women throwing themselves at one guy, viciously one-upping each other to entice him into a state of infatuation masquerading as “love,” and even offering themselves up physically in order to “win” the “competition” saddens and embarrasses me as a woman, a feminist and a humanist. The way they willingly submit themselves and their futures to the whim of another human being is appalling. Worse, I cringe in shame and revulsion when they backstab, manipulate and out-maneuver their fellow contestants in the name of “true love,” perpetuating the stereotypical notion that women are incapable of empowering and encouraging each other.
The spectacle degrades all of us and cheapens the sacrifices and contributions of the many brave women — and men — who fought so courageously to secure equal rights and opportunities for all persons irrespective of their color, gender, sexual orientation or other immutable characteristics. As a practicing civil rights attorney, I speak with authority when I tell you that the fight for equality has yet to be won.
Women, especially mothers of daughters, need to carefully and deliberatively consider the impact of such programming, not just on impressionable young girls, but the culture as a whole. As women, if we support this kind of programming through our viewership and patronage of the sponsors who make it possible, we are culpable and will suffer the consequences when others hold us in low regard, fail to treat us as equals, and refuse to accord us the respect and dignity we, our mothers and grandmothers, worked so hard to secure.
“Faith never knows where it is being led,
but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”
~ Oswald Chambers ~
You can’t reach out and grab it, roll it in the palm of your hand, examine it under a microscope. You can’t admit it into evidence in a court of law, design an attractive container for it and sell it on the Internet or wear it like the latest fashion design.
So how do we know that faith even exists?
The most effective way to prove the existence and power of faith is by example and illustration. For instance, examples of times when spiritual people did not permit themselves to be guided by their faith stand in contrast to success attained because of reliance upon faith.
More powerful still can be the story of a life lived devoid of faith, as in Mitch Albom’s interview, published in the Lodi News-Sentinel, with Dr. Death himself, Jack Kevorkian:
It’s hard to warm up to Dr. Death By his own estimate, Kevorkian, who was just released, helped at least 130 people die by hooking them to machines that would deliver lethal drugs or gasses, then allowing them to, essentially, throw their own switch.
By Mitch Albom
He wore a pale blue suit over his small, thin body, and the skin on his face seemed pulled so tight his eyes bulged. Those eyes lock on you when you disagree with him. He may be 79. But after eight years in jail, Jack Kevorkian still was ready for a fight.
And he is not sorry.
“If I were sorry, I’d be a hypocrite,” he said.
He became the focal point of a person’s right to die. He flouted the law because he felt it unjust. He went to jail on a second-degree murder charge, after injecting poison into a patient. “I wanted the imprisonment,” he told me. He wanted to change the rules.
So far, the rules are still mostly there (except in Oregon). Americans are split on the idea of physician-assisted suicide. A recent Associated Press poll showed 48 percent approved the idea, while 44 percent did not.
But having known or met many people with terminal illnesses, I understand why human beings want the right to say, for themselves, enough suffering is enough.
So when Kevorkian sat down across from me, I was ready to empathize with his compassion for the sick.
I was not ready for the man himself.
Are you at all religious? I asked him.
“Religion is all bunk. . . . If you’re really religious, you can’t think for yourself.”
Would you call yourself an atheist? “Agnostic.”
What do you think happens when we die?
“You stink. You rot and stink.”
No soul? He laughed. “What’s a soul?”
How did you feel the first time you watched someone die by your machine, a 54-year-old woman who had Alzheimer’s?
“Relieved. For her sake and mine.”
Did you feel you crossed a line?
“I had the honor of having reached a status in the practice of medicine that would have pleased Hippocrates.”
But doesn’t the Hippocratic oath call for doing anything required to help the sick?
“Of course. But that’s not my job. It’s her clinician’s job. They gave up.”
But isn’t there a big difference between saying something is untreatable and helping someone die?
His voice rose in pitch. “I’m not gonna help you die – I’m gonna end your suffering!”
At that moment, with his face contorted in the disgust of someone challenging him, I couldn’t imagine a suffering so bad that I would want Kevorkian to be the last person I’d see on Earth.
Kevorkian debated familiar charges: that he didn’t always have thorough medical information on the patients he helped die (“If the doctors would have talked to me, it would have made it easier. Blame them”); that he didn’t do enough to dissuade suicidal thoughts. (“I turned away four or five for every one I helped.”)
As we spoke, I heard intelligence, self-assurance, even arrogance. What I didn’t hear was humanity. He didn’t seem to think much of the human race. He likened life to “a tragedy.” He quoted famous people saying they wouldn’t bring babies into this world.
When I said that would wipe out mankind, he said, “What’s wrong with that?”
Jack Kevorkian is a man who never had a family, a man for whom the world is bleak, happiness is rare, belief is a waste of time and life is a finite, meaningless entity. The act he champions may indeed be one of compassion, but how can it be delivered by such a cold, cold heart?
I know all too well what it is like to wish for your loved one’s suffering to end and be relieved when it finally does. But there are loving, kind, morally appropriate ways to ease your loved one — and yourself — through the process of dying and Kevorkian chose to ignore them. It comes as no surprise then that he is a man devoid of faith, utterly lacking the joy that hope brings each morning.
So this article is in itself an exercise in faith. I am frequently surprised by where my faith leads me when I sit down at my desk to work on an article for my blog. Frequently what I think I am going to write is not what you ultimately read . . . the Holy Spirit has other ideas and, by the time I hit the “Publish” link, has had its way.
This is one of those moments and so this article is also my Monday Candle Moment. Because as I was reading that interview, I kept hearing this verse in my head: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, To show that you are the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
We are commanded to pray for people like Kevorkian who are obviously lost and have no faith or hope. We are admonished to hold up our fellow believers in prayer since we all get lost from time to time until our faith and hope return to them and/or show us the right path. In this particular instance, we should also pray for the families of Kevorkian’s victims, asking that they be given understanding, peace and serenity in the face of the evil he perpetrated upon their loved ones.
I was led by the Holy Spirit in faith to share these things with you this evening.
Where is your faith leading you? Leave a comment!
In “Other” Words
“Oh, ye of little faith . . . “ by Amy.
“In ‘other’ Words” by Linda.
“Not Getting It” by Tami.
“In ‘other’ Words” by Angel Mama.
What is the most difficult and challenging aspect of your job? For many people who are required, as part of their professional responsibilities, to draft coherent written reports, summaries, memoranda and correspondence, writing is the task they dread most. Moreover, many employers complain that the one area in which they find their employees most lacking confidence and competence is the ability to write clearly, succinctly and, accordingly, effectively.
When I was in private practice, the senior partner of my law firm used to tell me, “Remember, Janie, the time you spend thinking is critical and compensable.” In my work, I see a lot of really horrible writing produced by attorneys, as well as other professionals. Frequently, the biggest flaw in the written documents I review is the writer’s transparent failure to engage in careful and detailed analysis, research of key aspects of the arguments presented such as logical cause and effect, and consideration of the validity of opposing viewpoints and conclusions. In short, the written product reveals the author’s dearth of critical thinking.
Preparing to write is the single most important aspect of the process of writing. Yet it is seldom the focus of writing courses.
In my estimation, it is impossible to be a top-notch writer if you have not developed for yourself a method of preparation that enables you to think critically about what you will say to your readers before you actually write a single word.
There is no single preparation method that works for everyone and individual writers likely take different approaches depending upon the type of product they are called upon to produce at any given moment. Moreover, the development of a workable process will undoubtedly evolve over time, changing in response to the writer’s ever-expanding knowledge base, confidence and level of experience.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to be writing on this topic, exploring the various ways that accomplished writers approach the art of preparing to write and offering suggestions to aid you in developing a method that will work for you or fine-tuning the manner in which you normally prepare.
Think about your writing habits, taking a few extra moments to notice and reflect upon the steps you take in preparation, if any. Jot down a few observations, leave a comment or two or e-mail me your thoughts.
Here’s an excerpt:
Janey Loree ~ Why did you name your blog “Colloquium”? Is your blog personal, business, therapeutic, or just plain fun?
JHS ~ The word has several meanings, but this one is the reason I picked the name: “An informal meeting for the exchange of views.” That’s what I hope this blog is: A place where people feel comfortable dropping by, reading my ramblings, and sharing a thought, feeling, opinion or viewpoint.
What do you consider to be the ultimate snack food?
These days . . . rice cakes.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as highest), about how popular is your last name?
1. At the most.
Who is your all-time favorite sitcom character, and why?
I have two: Frank and Marie on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I have never been a sitcom watcher, but I loved that show. I still watch it and howl . . .
Frank, portrayed by the late Peter Boyle, was the guy who said what everyone was thinking.
Doris Roberts, as Marie, was playing a kinder, gentler version of my mother-in-law. She dressed just like her and had precisely the same hairdo, although my mother-in-law was much thinner.
My mother-in-law was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When BigBob wasn’t around, she would say terrible, hurtful things to me. Sometimes she even said them right in front of him yet he always managed not to hear them and would defend her when I called her words to his attention. I would dispatch him to her house, expecting him to stand up to her and for his wife and marriage. Hapless as Ray Barone, he would come home with leftovers. It was pitiful.
And early in the marriage, there was nothing funny about it. Frankly, between his mother, nutjob ex-wife and manipulative daughter, the marriage almost didn’t survive long.
You see, BigBob, an only child, could do no wrong in his mother’s eyes. To her, I was the evil interloper, i.e., the wife. The night BigBob took me to meet his mother, he told me over dinner that “she would still be cutting my meat for me if I let her.” He wasn’t kidding even though, at the time, he was 34 years old and twice divorced with a seven-year-old daughter. I almost dumped him right there and then.
In the summer of 1985, my then-future mother-in-law recommended that I read “The Total Woman” by Maribel Morgan, the 1975 book that was the ultimate laughingstock of the Women’s Movement. I remember looking at my bookshelves as she told me that — crammed with feminist literature by women like Gloria Steinem, Barbara Ehrenreich, Sondra Ray and Susan Brownmiller, just to name a few — and thinking, “Oh, my God, what have I gotten myself into?”
Over the years, we settled into a means of peacefully co-existing with each other. I avoided her as much as possible, interacting only as necessary on holidays and special occasions. I never discouraged BigBob from spending time with and helping her any way he could. There were many days that he went to her home before or after work by himself to visit with her and help her around the house which was great for their relationship and a relief to me. My kids spent a lot of time with her because she adored and spoiled them, and I would never have kept them from their grandmother under any circumstances. But I was happy to keep my distance.
Now we watch “Everybody Loves Raymond” and BigBob cringes in shame . . . he sees how like Ray he was and recognizes his mother in the character of Marie. I’ll hear him laughing in the family room and he’ll yell out, “Oh, that’s exactly what my mother would do” or “She sounds just like my mother.” When Ray is forced by Debra to go talk to his mother about her latest inappropriate remark, he sheepishly says, “There goes ol’ Bob.” And when Ray sits down at Marie’s kitchen table and dives into the leftovers, he just shakes his head and says, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I used to do.”
I laugh my butt off because, yet again, I get to say “I told you so!” It’s funny now that it is all in the past.
Do you shop online? If so, name some sites you like to browse for goodies.
That’s the only way I shop.
I purchase my clothing — literally from head to foot — from on-line sites, in addition to contact lenses, books, DVD’s, gifts . . . I send flowers via Pro Flowers if they are going to be delivered out of town.
Fill in the blank: I think ___________ should be ___________.
I think Paris Hilton should be in the slammer where she belongs.
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This has been the longest week . . .
But then, in some ways, it could last forever for all I care.
Waiting for the final episode of “The Sopranos” is excruciating. But once Sunday comes, the reality will hit me: This Sunday’s episode will be the final one. Ever.
“The Sopranos” is simply the best show ever in the history of television. There is no series that compares or, for that matter, even comes close.
There has been no other cast capable of commanding your attention the way the cast of “The Sopranos” does. There is no other combination of script wedded with actor that can leave you scratching your head long after the episode is over the way “The Sopranos” does and, just when you think you have figured out the meaning, nuances and motivations, you read an article or talk to someone and learn about a detail you overlooked.
There is no other television program that you can spend your entire lunch hour discussing and debating with your coworkers — and still not be finished with the conversation by the time you must return to the office. You could write a doctoral thesis to earn your degree in any number of disciplines — psychology, sociology or criminal justice just for starters — based upon the characters and their motivations.
So here, in no particular order, are my thirteen all-time favorite characters from the series:
1. Tony Soprano
Actually, I was tempted to type “Tony Soprano” thirteen times and call it good. Tony, as portrayed by the incomparable James Gandolfini, is just that fascinating.
And have I mentioned that I think Gandolfini is hot, hot, hot?
2. Carmela Soprano
What a piece of work! From her big hair, make-up, fake nails and jewelry to her obsession with security and respectability, and need to be loved by Tony, Carmela is a tangled mass of contradictions.
I really lost sympathy for her when she went to see a psychiatrist a few seasons back who told her that she had to leave Tony because everything in her life was a lie and all gain gotten was from others’ blood. Then I felt sorry for her again when she discovered the extent of Tony’s infidelity. Then I lost sympathy for her when she took him back in the name of financial security. Then I felt sorry for her again when . . . oh, she gives me a headache. But she’s fascinating.
3. Dr. Jennifer Melfi
Who knew that the character of a psychiatrist could be so intriguing? All those reaction shots could have been “phoned in” by a lesser actor, but Lorraine Bracco managed to keep us entranced. The scene depicting her being raped in the stairway of her office building remains one of the most disturbing and difficult to watch in television history, but the storyline after the rape’s aftermath and her resolve not to tell Tony what happened was compelling.
4. Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero
Sadly, he sleeps with the fishes.
5. Janice Soprano Baccalieri
Seriously twisted. You would be too if Livia Soprano was your mother. Tony has bailed her out of tough spots on many occasions, most notably when she killed Richie Aprile so the guys disposed of his body by running him through the grinder at Satriale’s. He elevated Bobby after she married him and got them their dream house. Still, she’s never satisfied.
Did you see the look on her face when Carmela walked in following Bobby’s death?
Here’s my prediction: Janice will be the one who whacks Tony this Sunday night, not Phil Leotardo.
Think about it.
6. Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri
Bobby was going to be different than his murdering father, but Tony wasn’t having it. In the end, Janice’s ambition for Bobby was his undoing . . . but my money says she’s blaming it all on Tony, in conformity with her usual m.o. After all, nothing is ever her fault. In her own demented way, I think she came closer to loving Bobby than she could have with anyone else.
7. Ralph Cifaretto
Moral of Ralph’s story: Tell fat jokes or hurt animals and lose your head. Literally.
8. Furio Giunta
The Enforcer. BigBob would always say, “Uh oh . . . there’s goes Furio!” just as he was gearing up for the first punch.
Moral of Furio’s story: Don’t all in love with the wife of the boss. He allegedly went back to Italy. I think he sleeps with the fishes there.
9. Livia Soprano
If Walt Disney had seen her, she could have been the prototype for the ultimate Disney-style sicko mother or stepmother.
The late, brilliant Nancy Marchand left us too soon.
10. John “Johnny Sack” Sacrimoni
The simple act of taking a drag on a cigarette was never so stylish, revealing or ominous as when Vince Curatola was on screen.
11. Paulie Walnuts
“Marone!” The ultimate whiny mama’s boy sported bad ’70’s mobster fashion and played both sides, narrowly escaping (so far) Tony’s wrath for running to Johnny Sack and ratting out Ralph for telling the fat joke about his Johnny’s wife.
12. Vito Spatafore
Poor Vito. ‘Nuff said.
13. Silvio Dante
Strong, steady, loyal . . . now “not expected to regain consciousness.”
But his hair will live on in the Smithsonian and Stevie van Zandt will continue playing with The Boss (Springsteen).
My crazy nephews spelling out “2007” following the youngest’s graduation from Tokay High, my alma mater! He graduated with highest honors, as signified by the gold tassel. The white collar is only awarded to National Merit Scholars. He graduated #7 in a class of more than 600, taking mostly Advanced Placement classes, playing trumpet in band (plus the County, All-Northern and All-State Honor Bands), and, like his brother, attained the rank of Eagle Scout on his 17th birthday. (His Court of Honor was this past March.) He’s off to study mechanical engineering and music in the fall.
I’m going to be participating in Ceeci’s wonderful project, Gratitude Tuesday. Here is the way she describes the rules:
They’re simple, there are none. It’s bedlam and chaos, not really. It’s you being you, you letting everyone know what you love, what you’re grateful for, what makes you and your day happy.
I would love to have others join me in this project. Feel free to post here, or on your own space, but let me know you’ve made an entry. Don’t worry about consistency, this is just a way to help focus on the little things that make life richer. When I take the time to think of all the things I’m grateful for I realize how full my life is and the niggling things begin to fade away.
Click on the graphic above to get the code and insert it in your post!
Last night we attended the end-of-the-year awards dinner and ceremony at Matthew’s school. He was recognized for being on the Honor Roll. We await his final report card for the year . . . he thinks he is going to get a B in, of all things, Art. He has earned straight A’s for the first three quarters of his freshman year. I told him that if he gets a B in Art, despite his best efforts, there is no reason to feel bad. “Mom,” he tells me, “I’m pathetic. I can’t even draw stick people.” I’m sorry to report that he inherited his lack of artistic talent from both of his parents. So if he gets A’s in subjects like science, math, English and Spanish, we will be very proud of him and I will apologize profusely yet again for the fact that my DNA, like his father’s, is completely devoid of any artistic genes.
My little scholar gave the opening prayer in Spanish and did a wonderful job. The principal commended him for doing so well and being willing to read the prayer at the ceremony.
Finally, he won the “Young Author” award! That excited me the most, of course! His English teacher (pictured with him in the photo below) talked about what a wonderful writing he is and how all the other kids in his class are always eager to read his work because it is always interesting and entertaining. She commented on his unique perspective! In addition to a certificate which we will frame and hang in his room, he received a beautiful pen with his name engraved on it!
I am very grateful today for my “Mattie-Boo” (don’t tell him I called him that in front of you . . . he is “Matt” around his friends) and the joy he brings us. I just can’t imagine life without him.
I am also very grateful for his wonderful teachers, principal and friends, and am so glad that we found such a loving, supportive environment for him. (He attends a small, nondenominational Christian high school.) I had misgivings, but he is flourishing there!
“What used to make us stumble, God can use to make us stand.
What once made us bow our heads in shame,
He can use for His glory.”
~ Joanna Weaver~
Having a Mary Spirit
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”
Two sisters. Complete opposites.
One a Type A personality, obsessing over all the minor details related to having a house guest. Can’t you picture her in the kitchen getting all of the food ready, changing the perfectly matched linens and putting fresh flowers in the guest room, scrubbing the bathrooms and making sure there are plenty of lovely scented candles and clean towels?
This week’s Monday Candle Moment will be brief, but profound: There are a number of folks in my life — friends and family — in need of prayers for healing right now.
I’m not at liberty to disclose details, but ask those participating in Monday Candle Moments to send out prayers for those in need of a healing touch and comfort.
Some of the folks I’m thinking of will likely not recover . . . . it is not their destiny and, in fact, they may not be here on earth much longer. For them, prayers for peace, closure and resolution are appropriate.
For others, the outcome is less clear and, obviously, the hope is that complete healing will be realized.
Thanks in advance for participating.
Monday Candle Moment
Defining Spiritual Presence: Monday’s Candle Moment: Comforting Arms
We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of being an audience member when a speaker is struggling to get through his/her presentation or, worse, doesn’t realize that he/she has lost the audience. Sometimes it gets so bad that the speech becomes unintentionally humorous, leaving the audience attempting to squelch inappropriate laughter.
If you are called upon to do any public speaking, no matter how large or small your audience, no matter how formal or presumably informal the setting, it is imperative that you prepare for your presentation. For your sake, as well as that of your audience, take the time to thoroughly consider what you are going to say and, as necessary, jot down your thoughts. Remember that your notes are just that — yours, created for your eyes only — so the format is not important. The content, however, is.
This past Monday, Memorial Day, I performed, as I do every year, with the local community band at a commemorative ceremony. It is always a lovely event, punctuated by patriotic readings, placement of wreaths by various organizations, a prayer or two. The master of ceremonies always asks that any veterans of various wars and conflicts in attendance stand and be acknowledged.
And that’s where this year’s ceremony hit an unfortunate snag.
The first rule of public speaking had already been violated by a reader who did not appreciate the composition of the crowd and, thus, spent far too long reading an obscure text that left the audience bored and restless.
When that gentleman finally wrapped up and the master of ceremonies again took the podium, it became obvious that he had also failed to think carefully about what he was going to say and, worse, had not prepared any notes he could refer to in the event that he became nervous and flustered.
So he announced that it was time to acknowledge the veterans in the audience. He began listing the various wars and conflicts in which the United States has been involved. This should have been a poignant, touching moment when all in attendance could show respect and gratitude to those men and women. And it would have been, except for the first words out of the speaker’s mouth:
“The Civil War.”
There was a millisecond of stunned silence while members of the audience turned to their neighbors incredulously. My eyes met those of a fellow band member. We had to immediately look away because we both started to giggle uncontrollably when I mouthed to her, “Did he say the Civil War?”
I looked over at my husband to see him looking at the ground uncomfortably, rubbing his forehead. I knew that he didn’t dare look at me lest we both laugh out loud.
Finally, the speaker mumbled, “Oh, I guess there wouldn’t be any of them here, would there?” The crowd snickered politely in an effort to make him feel better by pretending we knew all along that he was making a little joke.
And he might have recovered nicely had he not quickly moved on to “World War I.” Not an improvement. At that point, the audience had run out of patience. Worse, he had sacrificed much of the emotional impact that portion of the program could and should have had upon the audience and those recognized for their service to our nation.
A few months ago, I shared some tips about using written materials, including PowerPoint presentations, to enhance your public speaking. No matter how wonderful your written materials are, however, they cannot compensate for a failure to carefully plan what you are going to say to your audience — and how you are going to say it.
If you are not experienced and adept at speaking contemporaneously, prepare written notes in an appropriate level of detail, and use them. For instance, if you are going to read a list of items, make sure that you either have the list memorized — and will not forget it — or keep the list with you at the podium so that you can refer to it.
And before you write that list, think carefully about what items should be included.
Had that master of ceremonies spent just a few moments jotting down a list of wars and conflicts — and considering each item on that list — it would have been readily apparent to him that no veteran of the Civil War could possibly be present that day. (The last survivor died some 50 or so years ago.) Ditto World War I which spanned 1914 to 1918.
Of course, before committing any thoughts to paper, consider these points:
- What will be the composition of the audience you have been asked to address?
- What is the stated purpose of the presentation, i.e., what is your goal in speaking to this particular group of folks?
- What is the audience’s expected knowledge base? In other words, can you anticipate that they will know something about your topic or will you be presenting completely new material? Be careful not to over or underestimate the audience’s level of expertise.
- Devise ways to keep the audience engaged, if not entertained. How can you evoke empathy, sympathy or a “me, too” response, depending upon what is appropriate under the circumstances?
- Develop a compelling introduction. How can you grab the audience’s attention right at the outset — and hold it? Consider telling a true story or asking a series of questions that will surprise, startle or amuse the audience and immediately engage them.
- Give the audience a road map. After introducing your subject, summarize the material you are going to present and then assure that you make good on your promise by actually delivering the information promised.
- Tie it all together with an interesting, cohesive conclusion.
All of the above information can be written out in detail, but don’t read your script to the audience!
Preferably, you will be able to limit the written materials you actually us to mere bullet points. If necessary, write out the presentation, review it, practice it. Then rewrite it in less detail. Review it, practice it and refine it again. The more you practice, the more conversant you will become with the salient points and the fewer details you will have to include in your final written notes. Ideally, you will become so comfortable that you need no more than a few bullet points printed in large font with sufficient space between lines to allow you to find your place quickly and effortlessly — without using your reading glasses — in the event you need to refresh your memory while speaking.
But regardless of the methods or techniques you employ in order to prepare for your presentation, the important point is that you must prepare so that you can avoid making nonsensical mistakes that leave your audience feeling embarrassed for or laughing at you when they shouldn’t be, perhaps resulting in a great disservice to yourself — and others.
This photo was taken at the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center) in the heart of New York City on a hazy, late March morning. I was on the observation deck 70 floors up when I snapped this view of Central Park, flanked on either side by rows and rows of city structures.
I love New York City. I’ve been there four times, with this last stay — a full week — being my longest visit.
I could never live there.
After about five days, I begin to get severely claustrophobic. I feel as though those tall buildings are about to grow arms, reach out and put their hands around my neck, suffocating me. I get very tired of seeing so many people everywhere all the time and, more specifically, people with cameras around their necks who are dawdling on the sidewalk when I am attempting to purposefully walk down the street. I get tired of all the artificial light — after a few days, the gigantic billboards give me a distinct type of headache. I begin to feel disconnected from reality.
After a few days in New York City — or any other metropolitan area, for that matter — I feel the urge to see open spaces (Central Park does not qualify). I long to see fields with crops in them. I need to see orchards and, particularly, vineyards. I need to get on a freeway and be able to travel at 70 mph minimum. 80 mph is better. I have no more patience with sitting in traffic while people honk their horns and shake their fists at each other as if that will change the fact that they are not going to reach their destinations for quite some time.
I yearn for fresh air, a soft breeze, the rhythm of a neighbor’s sprinklers . . . the sounds of kids riding their bikes or roller blading past my house, causing my dogs to run to the open door and let out a couple of protective barks, are absolute heaven after a week in a hotel room in a large city.
Growing up here in “Livable, Lovable Lodi,” I had one goal: To get out. I thought this was the end of the world, the point at which Christopher Columbus fell off the edge of a square planet, never to be heard from again. I could not imagine living the rest of my life in “the little village of Lodi,” as the late Paul Zimmerman used to refer to it in his weekly columns in the Lodi News-Sentinel.
So when it came time to pick a college, I looked for one that was far away . . . not so far that I could never return for visits, but definitely far enough that 1) my parents would not drop in unannounced; 2) short, weekend trips were out of the question; and 3) I would not run into people with whom I went to high school or junior college.
Off I went to Orange County in the fall of 1977. It was the age of disco. And who greeted me my first night away from home? A woman with whom I went to elementary school, high school and junior college who had already spent one year at that college.
I spoke to her on the telephone yesterday. Yes, she also lives here in Lodi. In fact, like me, she lives in the house in which she grew up. So we had a conversation while situated in the precise same locations from which we used to call each other in junior high, high school and junior college.
And we talked about how so many of us have ended up back in Lodi. We have a couple of mutual friends who have managed to hold out so far, but are now talking about it and looking for jobs in this area.
Why is that?
From my perspective, Lodi is a great place to live because it is rather like the porridge Goldilocks was searching for: Middle of the road. Not too big, not too small. At a population of somewhere around 80,000 folks, Lodi is big enough that when I go out, I see plenty of people I don’t know, but always bump into a couple that I recognize. It’s large enough that we now have four Starbucks, but we also have the locally owned and operated Java Stop and House of Coffees where regular customers don’t have to place an order — it’s ready for you when you reach the register because the staff knows you.
Lodi is situated approximately two hours away from San Francisco to the West, Napa to the northwest or Lake Tahoe to the northeast. Three hours, give or take, puts you in Reno or Yosemite National Park. Sacramento is 35 miles to the north. My destination of choice for a brief get-away, Pismo Beach, is a five-hour drive from here.
This is a city where bike lanes are prominent — and used regularly. Evenings find lots of folks out for walks with their dogs. Some of the older folks still pop open their garage doors and sit out on their driveways enjoying the Delta breezes and watching people bicycle, walk or skate by. Lodi is known for its many parks, including the one that surrounds Lodi Lake where you can swim and kayak in the summer.
Why did I, like so many of my childhood friends, end up back here? After a number of years spent living primarily in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, I realized that I craved the familiarity and slower pace of life in the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley.
In many ways, those of us who live here relate to the Country Mouse who yearned for the safety of the farm where his diet of barley and grain was boring, but reliable. Life as a City Mouse is more exciting and varied, to be sure, but the city is not home so it is a wonderful place for a visit, but not to reside permanently.
“If you’ll excuse me,” the Country Mouse said, “I think I will go home. I’d rather have barley and grain to eat and eat it in peace and comfort, than have brown sugar and dried prunes and cheese,–and be frightened to death all the time!”
So the little Country Mouse went back to his home, and there he stayed all the rest of his life.
This Week’s Theme: Art
A number of buildings in downtown Lodi boast murals,
so I decided to feature some of my favorites.
Even Lodi’s water tower features artistic touches:
Appetizer Name something you think is “the best.”
“The Sopranos” is the best series ever in the history of television.
(You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?)
I can’t believe there are only two episodes left!
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 highest), how stressed are you today?
What kind of cleanser do you use to wash your face?
St. Ives Apricot Scrub.
Tonight is a blue moon! What is something that you believe only happens “once in a blue moon.”
Only once in a blue moon do I do any actual house cleaning. I do laundry and load the dishwasher. I’ve had the same cleaning lady for more than ten years and I recently hired a gardener because BigBob could not mow, etc. immediately following surgery for a burst appendix. I’m so delighted with the job Sonny, my new gardener is doing, that I’m keeping him on permanently.
When was the last time it rained where you live?
About a month ago, if I remember correctly.
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