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We salute the Grammy nomination of the late great Dave Van Ronk's final concert album:
". . . and the tin pan bended and the story ended . . ."
DVR Grammy CD
Watch the 47th Grammy's and look for DVR's Wife and Producer, Andrea Vuocolo Vanronk, and our beloved Christine Lavin [who helped edit it]
February 13, 2005 8PM on CBS.

click here

William Valdez is our Son-in-Law Extrodinaire.
You can support our troops via this site, and support William, personally, if you wish. His TFT ID is 1862195
Thank you!

don't recycle bush


Listen to Hober

US Faces of the Fallen:
•US Fatalities in Iraq

•US Fatalities; "Operation Enduring Freedom"

Civilian casualties update
  Friday   October 27   2006

Dialing her number, ringing...ringing..rin, "Hello?",
Hi Mom!
Honey! How are you? Where are you? Is everything all right?.
Yeah Mom, nothing new, I just wanted to reach out and touch...you know....
I'm here, I love you *mwaaaah*

*Mwaaah* back at you. So, I'm just a little bit blue. I hurt all over, I'm at about a 7+/- and I can't sleep hardly at all, and the pain feels worse when I am trying to sleep, and then the ol' catch-22...because the lack of sleep exacerbates everything else that is wrong, right?.
I'm sorry, I wish I could help.
Me too. And I know you and I aren't feeling good about November, with your anniversary coming up on the 23rd, and the holidays, and then Jay's anniversary of his death on the 26th -- Poor Joan, her birthday must always stink on some level. It's funny how you always phone Terri and I always phone Joan on Mike's birthday, and the day Jay died. Oh Mom, I'm missing Daddy a lot, a real lot lately. It comes and goes, but it's never far away..the missing him.
I know sweetheart, me too, even though I'm still so mad at your father for leaving me ! But he tried really hard at the end, his heart stayed so strong, he really didn't want to go . Isn't there anything I can do for you? Can I go shopping for you, or cook you something good?
Nah, but thanks Mom. My tummy hasn't really stabilized since the last hospital stay, so maybe a rain check? How about we go out to Mike's, or Knead and Feed some other day?
Sure, you just let me know when.
Have you noticed that Gordy has been tired too, and he's coughing an awful lot lately? I can't get him to see the doctor or stay on top if it with cough medicine. I'm concerned, but he just doesn't listen to me. I'm like the Far Side cartoon where the only thing he hears, like what a dog hears, is his name when I speak, or maybe the pregnant pause so he can make a noise like he's listening. I find I use the "just grunt" saying that you always used on Dad when he didn't acknak you.
They are like that aren't they? Men I mean
Yep, men! And on the other hand, with women, well, I think I hurt Kim because of my being a recluse of late. I'm so bummed by that. I did phone her today, and she was home, so got a chance to talk it out today. I just feel so out of control, everything is just so out of reach and such a mess, figuratively and literally! My house is just so messy and cluttered, I have no where to just "be" anymore, no sanctuary, or solo spot. And with my not feeling good enough to drive, I get so wiped out, I am cooped up in the dark in here and I hate it. I have to take care of my place, the wood floors are a mess, and I haven't dusted in ages, and the clutter, you know me, the clutter, well my place looks like total shit, including the yard.
Jo..ann!!! Watch your language!
Haha Mom, riiiight! You and I both know that it's your favorite word....
It is not...well, yes, but...
OK, sorry Mom. I just am so zonked that I don't have any social skills or speech filters. I'm worried about keeping the house, and taking care of it, and the hospital bills are coming in, and I have to cancel appointments because I just don't seem to have enough time anymore, or energy and I feel like a total failure because I can't get a handle on things!
I know Honey, but I'm here if I can help in any way. And, I know you, and I know you will figure everything out and get it done. I've an idea; why don't you just turn on some music, lay down with the kitties, and just rest. Don't worry about bills or deadlines or your pain etc. -- just for a little while; try. Pretend your mind is an inkwell, and just pour in clear water, and let it keep imagining it flowing and washing the ink away until it's clear again. Everything will still be there for you later, so just take some time for yourself. Jonni, you know you have to stop feeling everyone's pain, you're too sensitive, you have to get a callous.
Thank you Mom, I love you.
And I love you too darling, now get some sleep if you can, call me later.
Ok, thank you for being there for me, talk to you anon!
[end fantasy]

That's how it used to be and that is exactly what I need right now...or better yet, to hop in the car and take a short trip over to Mom's for a hug, and to see myself through her eyes.

I'm soooo bereft and empty without her.

Yesterday she was very "off", and not kempt at all, and when I came in, she was having some issues with one of the care-givers, and then I walked to her, said I Mom, and it took a bit before she looked up, saw me, and then cried, Oh!! and she then called for Raymond. My poor Mom. I kills me to have her there, and for her to not improve. Things change, but not necessarily for the better. Shit.

Mom never liked containers or bottles on the table, and the last time she really did some weird things with her food, so I figured this time we would bring paper plates, napkins, a cup, and two gold spoons
(her regular flatware). It really worked out well. She was happier and ate what she was served on the plate, and had seconds etc. She did have dessert first who wouldn't, a chocolate cake with mousse and semi-sweet chocolate. Yum. I will bring her more on Monday when we have the meeting. I have to start a letter /note so I can get the questions down and not miss them. We have to get up so incredibly early, like when we went the first time at admissions. It seems light years ago. Shit.

She spoke a few times about leaving this time. In some ways she's more like her "regular" self, more aware etc, and more disturbed by her surroundings in this awareness. I still don't see how she can be helped to be readied for a private place, but it has to happen!!! I miss her horribly. And the drive is killing both Gordy and I. Shit.

In many ways, her "black eye" looked worse! She said it didn't hurt, but there is this one very bright red spot that concerns me, among the yellow, blue, black that remains of her "shiner". Shit.

When we left E-8 (they have to unlock it) she started to rattle the door to go with us. This hasn't happend for a very long time. And I left her there. Shit.


I'm beat and hurting...and I think I wrecked my right knee in the shower yesterday...shit!

 01:47 PM - link -    

  Wednesday   October 25   2006

I'm sure Gordy, my everlovin', has, or will put the following snaps up on his blog, but I just need them here too since I write in less volume than Gordy, it will greet me first thing as I load my homepage [it's my browser default].

Aren't they an amazing family? Trust me, they are as beautiful inside as outside. While you're here, I have to ask for your sending prayers, or positive vibes, to the whole family currently separated with William in Iraq.

The 4 Valdezezezezes
[top down] Jenny, William, Evan & Robyn


Robyn and Evan

[oh my, Evan's growing so quickly, and we aren't able to have the luxury of seeing Evan emerge into his own like we get to with Mikey, and had Miz Robyn around for a long while as well...but he's sure cute, and he looks a lot like his Dad, those are Billiam's eyes & smile fer sure!]


 09:40 AM - link -    

  Tuesday   October 24   2006

Well, politics are set aside yet again (in my blog) as is the rest of my life for a while. Health, well ill health, takes front row center yet again. Dang.

No sleep at all in the evening, I did manage to repack some prezzies I have to fit in storage, but that is a sorry success considering the ill effects on me. This AM, after feeding the cats, I started to moan and cover my tummy again...it was "THAT" pain again.

Rx, heating pad, and finally dozing off, took me away from pain for a while, but I'm back in it again.

Yep, some taste of bile, and eyes so raw and tired, and stress and guilts have become the focus du jour. I just took more Rx, and washed up a bit, and hope that I can fall off to sleep soonest.

I had to cancel Dr Waite today, I have to rest instead, and this is when his move to Oak Harbor hits hardest, when I feel worse. I also fear I may let my Mom down yet again tomorrow, and that hurts me most of all, more than the sheer exhaustion and stomach pain. But I know I'm on the verge, and can't push myself, yet to not see Mom kills me and adds a different element to my health and hurt.

This has to stop. I hope Clear Passage calls or writes soon. If I *knew* surgery was going to stop this, I'd do it, but I know there are absolutely no guarantees, and exploratory surgery is just wrong to me, and the only sure thing is surgery creates adhesions, and adhesions from the previous surgery is absolutely a part of my continued stomach issues.

Or, if the sleep study could find something to help me sleep -- well...but that is put off a few weeks due to a meeting at WSH re: Mom's treatment plan. That trumps everything right now. I have to get energy up to go to it. It must happen, and I must have a voice and ask the hard questions and push for Mom's health goals.

So, so drained and sleepy and pained, I will hope the Rx does it's job, and the heating pad helps, and I can fall into a nap or sleep again...but first, I have to trundle through the gobs-o-email and hope there's a missive from Clear Passage -- toes and fingers are crossed!

 03:15 PM - link -    

  Monday   October 23   2006

Keith Olberman really rocks -- I just found found this on on Youtube.com.

He held NO punches back this time...and it is backed by facts...oh my! And the visuals using "1984's", movie images are too close for anyone's comfort.


 11:12 PM - link -    

OMG! Quick contact the ASPCA! I can't believe that youtube actually has a video of a shrimp running on a treadmill!!! Nasty stuff, just nasty.

I will put the link here for those who need to check it out:
shrimps unite -- just step to the side, and let these people run down their batteries and /or get bored already !!!

[why do I feel like the Dems are the shrimp, and the Reps are the folk running the treadmill we're on?]

 10:36 PM - link -    

Barack Obama..! Today Marilyn and I talked politics a bit, and she mentioned this man, and I have started to read up on him...wow! He is a gem. He offers hope; a voice of reason and decision and clear thinking among this field of tail-chasing, issue-chasing politicians.

I'm keeping my eys and ears on this gentleman, and hope others do as well. Here are two videos to introduce you to him if you are not already a fan, and /or follower of his, myself? I'm going to keep lookong and reading...:

MoveOn Progressive Vision Speech: Energy Independence

September 20, 2006

Link here to see the video
Partial transcript follows to whet your whistle:

"Now that summer's over and gas prices have finally come down a bit, there's a temptation to put any discussion about energy on the back burner until the next crisis arises. Gone are the days when the President would make sweeping pronouncements in his State of the Union about America's addiction to oil - today there is far more political mileage out of questioning Democrats' commitment to fighting terror than by affirming America's commitment to energy independence.

"But as the President may or may not have learned by now, simply ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away. Because while headlines about price gouging and gas lines have temporarily faded from the news, new headlines have emerged that should have us every bit as concerned about the addiction we just can't seem to shake."

Read the full transcript

Energy Independence: A Call for Leadership

[Just love love LOVED IT when he mentions that just after 9/11 we were all willing to do whatever it takes to secure our future and country, even if we were asked to join the military we would have listened, but instead, Bush asked of us to "Just Shop"! I had almost forgotten about that until reminded just now. Egads, just how little respect does Bush have for us to only offer us to be strong and shop?]

Here's a short video from Today Show with Meredith chatting with Obama about his book just released on his book...:

Meredith Vieira: "It was his electrifying keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that put Senator Barack Obama of Illinois on the national stage for the first time."

[Clip of Barack Obama: "Hope in the face of difficulty! Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope, in the end that is God's greatest gift to us! The bedrock of this nation."]

Vieira: "And now the junior senator is traveling nationwide nationwide to help campaign for fellow Democrats before the midterm elections. And he also has a lot of people wondering is he running for President in 2008. The Senator is now out with his second book The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming the American Dream. Senator, good morning to you."

Sen. Barack Obama: "Great to see you Meredith."

Vieira: "I couldn't help but notice you're watching yourself, that speech, and I don't know if you're self-deprecating but you kind of roll your eyes a little bit. Are you, you know you are the equivalent of a rock star in politics."

Obama: "You know, the, we, we live in a celebrity culture. So I'm always a little bit suspicious of, of the hype and, and, and that's probably my, my Kansas side of me. You know my, my grandmother, I remember after I gave that speech she, she was born in a tiny town in Kansas and she called me up and she said, 'That was a very nice speech, Barack.'"

Vieira: "That's all she said?"
Obama: "That's all she said."
Vieira: "Meanwhile there were people-"
Obama: "She left a message, that was it. Yeah."
Vieira: "Meanwhile that's the first time people heard, many people heard your name, even knew who you were and that's the first time they heard you talk about 'the audacity of hope,' which is the title of your book. Many people, afterwards, they weren't sure how to pronounce you name but they were moved by you. People were crying. You tapped into something. You touched people. What did you tap into that, that was missing?"

Obama: "Well you know I, as I travel around the country, I spend a lot of time out campaigning for other candidates and, and talking to groups and students at, at colleges and I've always felt like there's a core decency to the American people. That, you know, we get confused sometimes. We're busy, we're tired, we're not paying attention to the public debates but people like the idea of doing better than we're doing right now. Caring for our kids better, caring for our seniors more."

Vieira: "But why doesn't that translate in Washington? You say people in the country understand the concept of common ground, which is what your book it's about. But somehow in Washington there's a disconnect."

Obama: "Well you know I think part of it is there are some institutional barriers to it. I mean one of the things I write about is, the minute you arrive in Washington suddenly there's all these forces, whether it's, it's the media or parties or the need to raise money that, that kind of tamp down those basic human responses that you have towards other people."

Vieira: "So have you had to deal with that, yourself, have you felt that pressure on you?"

Obama: "Oh absolutely. I mean I think everybody does and you know most, I think the, the biggest problem in Washington is people get afraid to lose. What happens is you get there, you, a lot of senators have, have battled and they invested their careers and sacrificed with their families to get there and once you get there then they start thinking, 'Well I, I really want to hang on to my seat,' and so you start saying things or doing things not because of what you believe but rather because you think that it'll help you get reelected."

Vieira: "I know you don't want to talk about 2008. I know you don't want to but I have the, today's New York Times, the op-ed. David Brooks, conservative voice. 'Run Barack, run! Barack Obama should run for President, he should run first, for the good of his party. It would demoralize the Democrats to go through a long primary season with the most exciting figure in the party,' that would be you, 'looming off in the distance like some unapproachable dream.' If your party says to you, 'we need you,' and, and there's already a drumbeat out there will you respond?"

Obama: "Well, you know the way presidential campaigns work these days you're never drafted. Right? I think you have to make an affirmative decision to run and it's an enormous decision because this is a serious business and it's serious times."

Vieira: "Are you qualified, do you think?"

Obama: "Well I think there are two people who are qualified to be president. Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush because they've done it before. Everybody else, I think, has to figure it out on the job because this is an immense country and we're facing issues around health care and energy and education and foreign policy, obviously what we're gonna do in Iraq."

Vieira: "But what are we gonna do? Let me ask you that. I know we're short on time but nine months ago you were there. You said, 'If we don't turn things around, we have nine months in which to do it, we're gonna have to make some changes.' Well nine months, they're up."

Obama: "It is time for us to start a phased withdrawal and, and that doesn't mean that we pull all the troops out at once but we have to send a strong signal to the Iraqis that it is time for you guys to take control of your country and to the powers in the region, including Syria and Iraq, Iran, which have been standing on the sidelines to say, 'You've got to be invested in trying to bring about some sort of peaceful solution."

Vieira: "Well if you were president now, when would you start that withdrawal? Immediately?"

Obama: "Well I would start planning with the Joint Chiefs right now. Yeah."

Vieira: "I mentioned in, in setting you up outside, I said we're gonna talk about your family and, and how they feel about all this because in the book if there's any place where you feel you might have been a failure it's as a husband to your wife Michelle and, and a father to your daughters. Why do you feel that?"

Obama: "Well failure would be too strong of a word. I think they'd say, 'Yeah he's a pretty good dad and he's, he's a pretty good husband.' But it's the tension that I think all of us feel but it, it, it's accentuated in politics because you travel a lot, of balancing work and family and, you know, my wife is an, a wonderful woman and she carries the burden at home a lot more than I do."

Vieira: "And I carry the burden to get us out on time. Senator Barack Obama, good luck to you. If you change your mind about the presidency we got a band right here with Vince Gill, can handle the whole thing. We'll be right back."

Read more about Barack Obama and visit his website!

 05:21 PM - link -    

  Saturday   October 21   2006

On an almost daily basis, when Gordy and I are in the car, or we are just chatting, I keep saying how much I miss the Colorado "Coale.Valdez" family, and how I just can not WAIT until Robyn's visit [Jenny's a generous lady to agree to our proposition to have Robyn visit...], it's just seems so long away until Spring Break (March) -- so I just don't shut up about missing Miz Robyn so much!!! I even mentioned to Robin, who does my hair and is my part-time "shrink", that I feel like I'm on a "first date", and that when Robyn finally does visit, I'm afraid I'll disappoint her, and /or we'll have nothing to do if I feel sick, or have things to talk about. Robin (The Gallery Spa and Salon) said that she understood this, and that it's what the military families go through whenever they are parted. It was good not to feel so stupid in my jitters...thanks Robin!

Well, today (actually, it happened on Friday, I'm just writing about it now) something happened that made me feel like I was floating on air.

We've been trying to reach Jenny to see how she's faring since Williamdear has left; to just check in on her and let her know how amazing she is and how proud we are, and to also see if she has heard from Billiam, or got his snail mail addy so I can get some care packages off to him, and update his stats in "Treats for Troops" [still no address, but he's still heading for "Loyalty Base" in Sadr City on the 'morrow -- please to pray or send light or vibes as is your way to protect him and his fellow soldiers], and to do some recon for upcoming birthdays, holidays etc. re: sizes, and likes, and interests, and needs and plain ol' santa lists, and while Gordy was talking with Jenny, this was relayed to me...:

Apparently, our dear girl, Robyn, is rewared for excellent work at school when it comes to her report cards. So, she has been earning and saving money for the book sale they were having at school. She had earned $8.00 [methinks that's a lot of stellar work accomplished] and apparently, she ended up buying something for her Mom, Jenny, and, you guessed it, moi! "Me? She likes me! she really likes me?!?" to use Sally Field's infamous quote!!!

I am so blown away by this on tons of levels. Firstly, "our Robyn" has proven to be such a caring and empathetic girl. She's almost 8 (end of January) and what does she go and do? When the opportunity came, she actually spends her hard earned money on gifts for other people v. herself. Just how sensitive, loving and amazing is that? This girl has heart, a huge huge heart -- but that was never in question, it's just pretty special that she thought of others first.

Then, to have her think of me? ME? I know I love her to bits, but who knew she [dare I say it?] loved me too? Especially now that she is so darn far away and me not being "in her face" so to speak. I am so honored. My heart soars like an eagle....

If you've been to my blog at all before, you know a major fear of mine is my feeling orphaned, losing my family bit by bit, and the potential of my being a bag-lady-in-process -- a real fear thanks to health issues and living expenses, but I honestly take it to "phobic" lengths. So when I hear about this loving, beautiful, smart, creative human that I have had the good fortune to have not only met, but become a part of her life, is someone who actually cares for me too -- well surely you can imagine the joy I am feeling.

I am realistic enough to know that I still can't toss out the fear, but who knows, maybe I'll be proven wrong after all, and will have a family that cares for me beyond just being Gordy's "other" [and he, mine] maybe there are some people who might really care back, and know and feel my love that I have for them, and they will at least feel a positive difference in their lives because I was a part of their lives, and maybe a even some "loss", when I leave this earthly plane after all.

This is huge.

The love of a child, is awe-inspiring and mind-blowing. I love all this family, and their extended family, with all my heart. To me, they are my family, all of them. ..But I honestly didn't think that any of them, no one, would ever think fondly of me just for me "as is" (meaning because of my relationship to Gordy), let alone maybe have some love for me too...that they could accept me and choose me to be part of their family.

But as of today, well...



 05:05 AM - link -    

I finished reading [that's what happens when Gordy leaves a book unguarded] "Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington" by Paul Rieckhoff. It was compelling, totally believable, informative and, just a bit scary to me when I read Chapter 27, "The Sensible War Movement". I will address this concern later. First the good stuff.

Paul Rieckhoff Reads
Chapter 1 of Chasing Ghosts

[I will continue later -- gonna do another post then head to sleep? hope hope hang in there with bated breath y'all]

 03:31 AM - link -    

  Sunday   October 15   2006

You have no idea just how scary it looked when I walked up to Mom and saw the "shiner"...that was way more than a shiner -- it hurt to just look at it. She is lucky her eye is ok. Mom fell the other day at 4:00 AM, and they told me about it, but I had no clue to what extent the injury was. It was truly shocking.

OTOH, Mom was so much more herself than she's been for a while.

By this, I mean she wasn't "trying" too hard, or "over-selling"...she was just Gerry, and she had some memories that surprised me. And we just had the love-glow going on that I needed. I need her nearby soon. Mom said she wants it too.

Unfortunately, there's no way to make this happen. I can't tell her to "behave" because she has no idea that she isn't. There is a meeting on the 30th, and I will be going. I hope we get some realistic information and expectations. The idea of her still in there is devastating. I have no idea how she handles the "ugliness" of the person who shouts, or the people who knock on our window in the room we stay in. I don't know how she managers, but she does. She's so dear to me.

And she walked us to the door as they let us out, and called out "I love you"!!! Oh my heart was overwhelmed with joy and sadness..but joy that she still loves me despite the situation she's enduring.

I gave Mom the photo (below) of Kim and Doug, and she took a few moments, but then she remembered!!! That is also very good. I also told a secret about their relationship, and dang, Gerry said, "I expected that!!!" -- it was a blessing and endorsement as far as I'm concerned.

I'm still high on adrenaline, and I took tons of meds today, Gordy is so beat, it's catching up with him. I wish I could make him feel good, but it's so hard with a lot of issues we have going on now. Mom was very loving to Gordy today, maybe she felt it too?

He took a nap while Mom and I worked a puzzle.

My LOML is snoring next to me, I had to do it, but I have to get him to stop -- audio is a huge part of FMS for me, always has been...so, here goes when I sign off.

Write Oprah y'all!

 12:29 AM - link -    

  Saturday   October 14   2006

Ooops! I guess I'm a little behind, because there are quite a few video's out there with this song.
Here's another one [this one a little closer to home]:

[Note that this version of "Have you had enough" is used by many blue states changing the names et al to suit -- you can find them on "You-Tube" for many different political races]
I also found out from the Crooks and Liars site that this song is by Rickie-Lee-Jones, and you can listen or download the .mp3. Catchy tune!

 01:33 AM - link -    

I found this news a hoot, a hoot on the good side... there does seem to always be some sort of universal consciousness, this one not an exception in my opinion.

First tons of actors in politics, president even -- then the flick "Wag The Dog" -- yes, a familiar ring to it Dubya, and out now I think (I've not seen it) a new genre in the arts & entertainment field is being promoted on film (Robin Williams stars in it - so you know it's about comedians running for government).


Here's the link to John Hall who's running for congress and has a great video out for his campaign. Here's his personal site.
Here's a flash video on video on his site from Pete Seeger, but link here for many many more video endorsements.

Kewl - way kewl!


 12:55 AM - link -    

  Friday   October 13   2006

I have written here about my dear dear DEAR sister, confidante, shrink, creative, caring, loving, "girls just want to have fun" friend, Kim...well, here's a snap, finally, of Kim and Doug. I'm blessed to have them in my life, and they are very supportive and dear to me.

We keep trying to have "game night" -- but so far, only once when Mom was still here. We played "Kings Cribbage" which was totally not fair since I can't wrap my mind around this new incarnation of cribbage. Hmmm, maybe I'll challenge them to "real" old fashioned cribbage, eh?

I keep hoping they'll come over with pictionary. I used to love it on TV...or, trivial pursuit -- ah, on teams even? Hmmmm.

But enough about that...meet these amazing friends:

Doug and Kim
[the only reason I have a snap of them, is because I am to bring this down to Mom. Kim also wants to come with us one day and visit with Mom. I told her about how "not pretty" it is there, and the changes Mom has gone through, but she cares big time, and wants to be with Mom. Amazing stuff methinks...]


 07:35 PM - link -    

A little bit of catching up hopefully without IBS of the mouth (fingers) this time.

Wednesday I did the sleep test. It was weird and not pleasant for me because I was feeling a lot of pain that night, and no distractions. I did get a souvenir, a snapshot of a short period of time of my brain, breath, eyes, temp, ekg, and other goodies.

I also completed the questionaire for Clear Passage, and I was surprised at how huge it was, but it still didn't cover all my health history -- on my cover letter, I asked they please be patient with me and not be afraid of my tome...toes and fingers crossed.

I just had Gordy turn the car around at the Clinton Ferry and bring me home. I am so sad and ashamed, but I couldn't go see Mom, my stomach literally acted up, and I'm on ER alert. I know the pressure and stress had huge impact on this flare, but I also haven't had much sleep, nor have I completely recovered. I keep going back to meds and "clear" or bland diet. Damn. But, the worse thing of all, is my phoning Mom and telling her I will try again tomorrow, but my stomach is really bad.

She actually said my name, "Jonni" today for the first time in gobs and gobs of time -- oh that hurts so much that I have let her down again. I have a call in to Marilyn, maybe she can help -- but I think this is a catch-22 of the worse kind, one where Mom and I lose every time. Oh Mom, if you only knew how much I miss and love you...you'd not feel so abandoned and alone. But, reality is, she is alone and abandoned. I hate this. Seems like she and I both keep getting more sick and further apart -- she has been "acting out" like having no boundaries literally and figuratively.

They told me she was trying to get potato chips from someone else's plate. Well no wonder!!! She has this awful liquid puree stuff. That's why we bring food every time we come down. This time I have "cheezy-poofs" for her, easy to "melt" in her mouth without teeth, yet still be something so she won't be left out when other folx have good stuff like chips.

This is one of the reasons I really want them to fit her with dentures, so that she has them if ever she is motivated enough, like wanting to have gud fud, or look good around other people, whatever. WSH can't do x-rays et al, but they do have a dental facility there, and I would love to get her hooked up with some teeth. Also, they will help her speak better, and possibly be more understood when she tries to convey something.

I'll call Brian right now and ask again. Toes and fingers are crossed.
I hope I can make the trip tomorrow to see Mom !!!

As my great Aunt Anna always said, "Chins up!"... pax, send good vibes if y'all can.

 01:54 PM - link -    

  Tuesday   October 10   2006

 12:56 PM - link -    

  Sunday   October 8   2006

I just caught this one from "The Daily Show" that aired in April 2006. When Jon Stewart is on, he's stellar!!!


 03:24 PM - link -    

What is he thinking? Egads, I am sorry to admit that I expected the republicans to rally around Foley and Hastert, but Lieberman? What is he thinking [it bears asking twice...]?

Mark Foley, Dennis Hastert, George Bush and Joe Lieberman

There aren't a lot of people out there who think Dennis Hastert ought to be cut some slack on the Mark Foley scandal. But through hard work and dogged reporting, we've managed to find two of them, and we're pleased to introduce them to you now. Ladies and gentlemen, meet George W. Bush and Joseph Lieberman.

The White House says Bush called Hastert Thursday to thank him for how he's handling Foleygate. "The president thanked him for going out and making a clear public statement that said the House leadership takes responsibility and is accountable," White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino tells the Associated Press. Of course, that's not what Hastert did, exactly. While the speaker did utter the words "We take responsibility," he made it clear that he thinks the media, the Democrats, his staff and other members' staffs are actually to blame.

Still, we can understand why the president is grateful. If House Republican leaders had dealt seriously with the Foley case last fall, it wouldn't be available now to blot out all those unpleasant disclosures in Bob Woodward's new book, the striking surge in U.S. deaths in Iraq or the pathetic new job numbers out today.

What's Joe Lieberman's excuse? We don't have an answer for that one. As the Hartford Courant reports, Lieberman is pushing back against calls for Hastert's resignation and warning both parties not to make Foleygate a partisan issue. "I know some people are calling for Hastert to resign, but the truth is that unless he knows what he saw and he saw something he should have acted on, he deserves to have essentially a fact-finder to come in," Lieberman said earlier this week. "If anyone thinks they can make this into another partisan flap, it's not. It's very real and human. The House Republican leaders and, frankly, the Democratic leadership should not make it partisan."

-- Tim Grieve


 03:12 PM - link -    

It hurts like the dickens to say goodbye to William, my Son-in-law. He leaves for Iraq, *again*, bright and early tomorrow morning.

He is such an amazing man. I feel so blessed to have him in my life. He has a heart that is sooooo huge, that I don't know a single person who has met him who hasn't fallen immediately in love with him.

I feel so sad for Jenny, Robyn and Evan for having to say goodbye, yet again, after having had this taste of a real family, all together, in Colorado for this past, not quite year. It's gonna hurt a lot to have him away from home.

Katie came by on her way home from having just purchased a super new car, a 2004 Kia Optima. It's silver with leather interior, and gorgeous red cherry wood trim inside. It has a moon-sun roof and it is has a slew of bells and whistles.


When Gordy went for a quick ride with Katie, Mike and I were talking and eating our pancakes (mmm - organic, so they must be good for you and not fattening, right?) and Mike mentioned that William leaves tomorrow, and he got so sad, with huge liquid eyes, saying that he will miss him, that it will be a long time before William comes back.

I assured Mike that when he does, the family will rent an RV and drive west to visit. It helped some (even though Mikey insists that there is absolutely no way to rent an RV -- eh, details, shmetails).

We sent the family some goodies before William heads out.

There is a neat USB powered cooler for cans for Billiam to take with him, and Jenny now sports a watch that has 2 time zones (Iraq and Colorado time) and Robyn has a small jeweled filled globe, that shows her where her Dad is, and hopefully she imagines herself flying there in her dreams, and Evan? Well, the terradactyl is kidsafe, and it maybe he can hug it and think of his Dad. It's tough getting meaningful, but fun or safe, prezzies for 2+ year olds.


I know that he will probably be stationed in Sadr City, methinks it is Camp Loyalty, but I couldn't find a match. We'll get his addy later.

Please don't forget to sponsor him; give him some goodies via "Treats for Troops". There is a link on the nav-bar to the left. I will add his new address when I have it. Until then, save your shekels for care package for he and his buddies.

I also finally explained to him about the sanctity of "Be Safe; Come Home Soon" phrase. I have used it as total and pure love for all my felines when I let them out, and now, when I leave, to ensure their safety, and to give them my heart while I'm gone. I think he gets it now. He's special people.

 01:11 AM - link -    

Swell! So, now the Medicare /Medicaid fiasco has yet another new wrinkle. The data is NOT secure, and our private information, our very very personal health information, financial information etc, could be accessed.

Not only does this system hurt many people who are in need, but now, everyone's HIPPA-protected [read: PIA, just adds paperwork] has a fatal flaw -- the sensitive information on the computer might be disclosed without proper authorization!

Below is from the NYT:

Medicare and Medicaid Security Gaps Are Found

October 8, 2006 -- By ROBERT PEAR

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 — Federal investigators say they have found serious computer security flaws that could lead to the improper disclosure of sensitive medical information on people enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid.

In a new report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said “key information security controls were missing” from a huge communication network used by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

As a result, they said, sensitive, personally identifiable information “could be improperly modified, disclosed or deleted.” Moreover, the report said, “these weaknesses could lead to disruptions in services” to millions of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

The network is used to pay claims and to communicate with state Medicaid agencies, health care providers and many private contractors.

Dr. Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said none of the flaws had led to “actual security breaches.” Dr. McClellan said he was taking steps to fix the problems.

But the G.A.O. said Medicare officials would not necessarily know if a security breach had occurred because they had no “audit trail” to document use of the computer network, or a reliable way to detect intrusions into their computers.

In their report, the investigators described several problems:

¶The potential for unauthorized users to gain access to the agency’s computers because of a lack of strict password controls. Passwords are often so simple that outsiders can guess them.

¶Medicare and Medicaid data not being encrypted. “This could allow an attacker to view medical information” on beneficiaries.

¶A failure to keep complete records of who uses the network, so it cannot be determined who views or modifies files.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who requested the investigation, said Medicare officials needed “to get on top of these shortcomings immediately.”

“Beneficiaries not only rely on Medicare for their health care coverage,” said Mr. Grassley, chairman of the Finance Committee, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid, “they expect that the private information they entrust to the government is kept private, safe and secure.”

Concern about computer security has increased since May, when the Department of Veterans Affairs reported a laptop computer with personal information on millions of veterans had been stolen from the home of an agency employee.

Dr. McClellan said, “We are very concerned about the specific control weaknesses” identified in the latest report. The computer network carries immense amounts of data with personal information on beneficiaries, including name, sex, date of birth, Social Security number and home address. The network also transmits medical and financial information, showing the diagnosis of a patient’s illness, prescriptions, names of doctors and hospitals, services provided and the amounts paid.

Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, and his predecessors have expressed concern about weaknesses in Medicare computer security. The weaknesses “could ultimately result in unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information, improper Medicare payments or disruption of critical operations,” Mr. Levinson warned last year.

The computer network connects the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with banks, insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, health plans, other federal agencies and private contractors that pay claims for the government.

Medicare paid more than 1.1 billion claims last year. The size of its computer network and the number of transactions increased this year with the addition of a prescription drug benefit. The new program fills more than three million prescriptions a day. Insurers must file detailed data on each transaction.

In June, Medicare officials warned Humana after a company employee left personal information on 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries unsecured on a hotel computer in Baltimore.

The Bush administration is encouraging adoption of electronic health records and is urging doctors to send prescriptions electronically to drugstores. It is also asking beneficiaries to keep track of their health information, including Medicare claims and prescriptions, by using a new online service at www.MyMedicare.gov. In fine print, the government says it “does not warrant the accuracy” of information on the Web site.


 12:41 AM - link -    

OMG! Lookin for video clips from The Daily Show, I ran across this horrifying gem on Crooks and Liars. Apparently, a pre-recorded show, that could be edited (read: fixed before viewing) lists Foley a Democrat -- insanity -- what the republicans and Fox get away with. There should be lots of media coverage and outrage regarding this "faux pas" -- the spin, oh the spin -- I'm getting so dizzy!

Check out the video now and click here.

 12:28 AM - link -    

  Friday   October 6   2006

Mad brought this to my attention and it is priceless! Warning, it shows sex toys in a shop, but the obscenity is not really obvious -- nay, it's the views of our representatives in the House!!!
[..and, listen closely for the punch line from Molly at the end of the tape...!]

Molly Ivins:


 07:58 PM - link -    

  Thursday   October 5   2006

I don't know if I mentioned this ever in my blog, but in 1999 I managed to be ignorant enough to somehow, contact Christine Lavin's then booking agent, Jim Fleming of Fleming /Tamulevich Agency, [she now is with Ann Patrice Carrigan of Poetry in Motion] and booked her for a mere pittance, to come to Whidbey and perform (the venue was the south end High School -- it's quite modern and lovely) while doing a simulcast of testingtesting, the virtual house concert that came to *your* living room from "ours" [read: Gordy's] via the magic of the net.

Chris was amazing, and the show fantastic, and the web-audience as enthusiastic in the on-line guestbook as were the folx who showed up that Tuesday night, if I remember correctly.

From there, Christine embraced me by letting me take over her web site when Tom M. chose to stop. I rebuilt the whole thing from scratch, and it was HUGE, with all those links and pieces and bits of Lavin Trivia and gems that just didn't seem ok to eliminate. So I tried to restructure it, make it more logical and navigable (is that a word? meaning people could navigate more easily through the plethora of information and gems). I changed the entire look of it too. Christine gave me complete freedom with it from the banner to the link colors to the fonts. It took me a very long time to convert every page and get it up and running, about two months of long hard hours, but I did it. It was a labor of love for me.

The transition was completely revamped, bug-free, christinelavin.com and on the new host machine in 2000, just in time for the new millenium.

I loved being a part of her world, to field questions, to know what was happening in Chris' world, to meet other musicians, to be able to create and go the extra mile to make a simple post be more colorful with appropriate links and photos. It was a hoot.

Unfortunately, about the time Gordy moved in, I had to hand it off to him to work on. I was overwhelmed by life and health issues. The stomach thing being one of the major factors. I still miss not being "in the know", and Gordy doesn't "share" when Chris sends a post, so unless I stop at her site, I have no clue as to what is happening now.

I do still field questions and email, since Gordy did not put his e-addy on the site, so I get some connection, but mostly I am out of the loop.

Soon, Christine will be doing yet another site that will supercede this one, so I will have absolutely no contact any more.

BUT, this is not the case.

Today, Christine sent the most amazing note to us. Gordy is to put it on the site, so you can check it out there, but I can't resist, I have to post it here. She's my gal, my Christine, and this is such a fantastic story about how deeply she impacts those she comes in contact with, by LP or concert, or when she hosts a show and promotes other artists.

I am using my own words to paraphrase what happened, but will use the actual quote from the book:

Christine started knitting before her shows in late 2002 [I was till her webmaster and I remember it well, and how hard I tried to create a realistic printable pass (FYI only Chris' signature is real) for folx to be admitted pre-show]. She invited her fans to stop on by before the show and knit with her. I am thrilled to say that I am a recipient of two very different pieces of hers, one full of blues and greens [Gordy got one too that Christmas], the other, the palest of pinks and whites and lavenders, with these marvelous sequins and sparkles scattered throughout. My "sister-in-law", Madelaine also was a recipient of a scarf hand knit by Christine when she and Gordy went to DC then NYC [over my birthday - ahem] and during dinner with Chris, her honey and Dave Van Ronk's wife, Andrea, she gave Madelaine the scarf off her neck. They truly are art.

But, I digress.

So, as Christine says, in September '04, the presidential election year, she was working on a scarf that she was going to give to Elisabeth Edwards, John Kerry's running mate's wife. She thought it would be a super congratulatory gift for Elisabeth...but, alas, history goofed and they didn't win.

Shortly after, it came out in the news, that Elisabeth Edwards had been diagnosed with breast cancer prior to the election. I remember that she still campaigned and it was one of the few secrets that were kept in the politial arena.

This news changed the soul of the scarf being made. Christine started to have the fans help knit rows on it, while praying for her recovery and good health while they stitched. Later, when it was finished, she sent it to her, and there were some stories attached with that, but you can read it on Christine's site, but ultimately it reached her.

Well, Christine is reading Elisabeth's book, "Saving Graces", and on pages 333-334 she found the following:

p. 333 - 334 of SAVING GRACES: Finding solace and strength from friends and strangers
by Elizabeth Edwards
©2006 Broadway Books, NYC

"As the treatment drew to a close, I was also closing our life in Washington, packing and labeling and throwing out. I packed away some of the gifts I had gotten from strangers and from friends, from supporters of John and supporters of other candidates, from survivors and from the families of those who had lost their fight. One present -- one I wear today -- encapsulates all of these people, all that I believe about the innumerable, amorphous, wonderful "us." It came from Christine Lavin, a singer-songwriter to whom we had listened for years. I heard her once on NPR -- it may have been 1992 -- and I did what we all do, I went to the CD store and I said I think they said Christine Lavin. Lavin, could that be right? Can you help me find something by her? From that point she became one of the constants in our family. She is funny and poignant, and she wasn't a stranger to finding grace in an unpretentious gift. I remember reading a liner note somewhere about the pleasure she took when Andrea Marcovicci -- whose voice I also love -- sang one of her songs. I already liked a woman who would take pleasure in this.

In the package from Christine Lavin was a scarf. I've gotten lots of beautiful scarves, and this is certainly a beautiful scarf, but more wonderful is the story of this scarf. Christine had taken it with her on tour, and she had asked women in her audiences to work on it, to knit a little. John and I had seen her sing at the Cat's Cradle in Corrboro once, and as I read her letter, I imagined that scarf making its way through an audience like that Carrboro audience. This scarf was everything I believed in. It was a gesture -- not a difficult gesture, but a thoughtful one. It was the counterpart to including the bag boy in the conversation. It was remembering to say hello to the child, not just the adult. It was thanking the referee after the game. It was pulling people in because you believe in the grace a community gives each of us. Anyone who thought to do it, to reach out to others and bring them into this gesture, could have done it, but too few know the blessings a simple gesture actually brings. This scarf is Christine's gift at the same time that it is the gift of all those women whose names I'll never know. And it is, also at the same time, something in which I can literally wrap myself and something in which I can figuratively wrap myself, this huge community of people -- spread out among the towns she toured -- people who were pulling for me and who believed in the strength of that tiny knot they tied."



 01:48 AM - link -    

  Tuesday   October 3   2006

Screenings of the film, "Iraq for sale", are being held in homes.
If you are interested in hosting a "party" check this out.

[Please note, my Son-in-Law, William Valdez leaves for Iraq, again, October 9th. Please send positive, protective energy or prayers his way -- thank you in advance ..zoe]

Below is the trailer and some clips from the film:


 02:00 PM - link -    

A visit with Mom today. I left feeling very odd and blue today. On the plus side, she glommed the "squish" down with gusto, and ate the spinach, and even my first attempt at Noodle Kugel.

I couldn't find a recipe among my inherited box (that Mom culled in a big way during her "clean her nest phase") of recipes, so I looked on line. The one I tried was way too sweet for my palate. But I have another one to try for next week's delivery.

She looked way too thin. She had bags under her eyes, and was very drawn. I know it can be tough to discern with her teeth missing, but I have seen her multiple times without teeth, and she looked dehydrated, thin, and exhausted.

She also seemed on the "hyper" side to me. Talking to fill in any silence. Unfortunately, her language skills still are terrible. I can't usually follow what she's talking about, but will fish by asking questions that may, or may not, relate and cue her to make sense.

With the days getting way shorter, Mom has been effected by it. When we went to leave, she said, "You're not leaving me alone are you?" which we said no, Melanie is with you. This was her first old tape re: fear of being alone in a long while.

She also seems to have had a reaction to her medicine, or maybe just being in unclean "depends", as she was in agony trying to scratch herself -- she probably has a yeast infection. I told Melanie as we were heading out. Poor Mom. It is something that she could never say in words, she doesn't have the vocabulary, but, when I observed her scratching, then I could ask, and she could understand, and confirm or negate my inquiry. No matter how good they are there, if she isn't being observed closely, 24x7, things like this can be missed, and it will ultimately translate into "bad behaviour" because she feels so uncomfortable. Any woman who has experienced a yeast infection, *knows* how it can make a person quite unpleasant to be around.

Damn, she needs to be home, and nearby.

I also am in a very scary space in my life, and am quite exhausted. I can't seem to rally since the hospital stay. And the guilts are running rampant as well.

And, I'm tired of my life. I am so beat down again, and it's so hard to rally. I'm doing the one foot in front of another not necessarily having any direction in sight.

BTW, I am listening to the greenstone station I wrote about in the previous post, and it's not what I was expecting, it's kind of "light" and this show, the Radio Rita's, sound like a take off of the Howard Stern show, but they both are "Robin Quivvers"...and I'm not enjoying it so much. But this is just one of many shows, and they're just finding their "Voice". I won't write it off yet.

So, time to sign off for now.
It's Yom Kippur, and I wish you all an easy fast.

Pax, peace, paix, shalom!

 02:30 AM - link -    

While listening to Bill Maher on itunes episode #82 from 9/18/06, Gloria Steinam mentioned that she and Jane Fonda has created a radio network, which is accessible on the net. Kewl Beans. I've not listened to it yet, but I have high hopes that it is going to be a fresh voice.

It's called Greenstone Radio

"It seems to me that commercial radio has become less about community and more about conflict. Less about information and more about repetition. Less about improving ourselves and more about being angry at the world." - Gloria Steinem, July 2006

Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and a high powered group of women decided to offer an alternative by founding GreenStone Media. It's the only national radio network owned by women, and it's designed to offer what is missing in talk today -- radio that is thought-provoking, emotionally involving, believable and trustworthy. Radio that talks with you, not at you.

GreenStone's talk radio network debuted in July, 2006. We began streaming a series of entertaining, informative shows nationally, and we are adding AM and FM affiliates across the country. We're broadcasting from studios in New York and Los Angeles.

Our mission is simple: meet the unserved need for innovative, topical, relevant and entertaining programming of particular interest to women.

Gloria tells of Mary Margaret McBride who, in the 1940's, was a journalist hired only on the condition that she pretend to be a folksy grandmother reading recipes on the air. That lasted all of two weeks. Then she told her live audience, "Look, I am not a grandma, nor a mother, nor am I married. Why don't I just be myself?" The listeners loved her.

Our goal is to create an environment where our hosts--and callers--can be their authentic selves, where everybody is welcome. More laughing, less shouting. More light, less heat. Insightful and intelligent talk.

I'll check it out, and let you know what I think later.

 01:57 AM - link -    

"walk this way..." Igor [prnounced Eye-gore] from "Young Frankenstien" [pronounced Steen] -- there's more!