24 February 2017

The Friendships Of Animals

By: Jon Katz

The Pony And The Curious Dog

I have great fun watching and studying the friendships that pop up among animals of different species. Simon the donkey loved Red, Minnie loves chickens, our spirited pony Chloe loves Fate. When the sheep glower at Fate and unnerve her, she runs to hide and get protection from Chloe.

Chloe is an independent creature, she and Red often tangle, she has stomped him twice. But she is always content to have Fate around, I notice the two of them are often together, I think she is Fate's safe place out in the pasture. l got this shot of them  this afternoon, just hanging out near the feeder, looking out over the pasture.

Posted in General

Week Two, Red’s Acupuncture

By: Jon Katz


Red has his second acupuncture treatment today, Cassandra held him while Dr. Fariello injected about 20 needles. The treatment seems to relax Red, although he is almost always calm. We are working to keep him limber and help his arthritis and blood flow. We have two more treatments scheduled. My vet is open to holistic and alternative approaches, Red has benefited greatly from massage, laser treatment, and hopefully, acupuncture.

I sometimes chuckle at the rush to Chinese medicine for dogs, since they eat dogs there, but I also recognize Chinese healing is old and often extraordinarily effective. They have been doing it a long time.

For various reasons, my border collies have all died before their time, and I am working on a series of preventive medicine approaches to keep  him healthy, I'd like to have him around for a long time, and I'm working on that. I like the balance of science and alternative approaches that Dr Fariello offers at her clinic, the Cambridge Veterinary Clinic.

It's thoughtful and grounded, and so far, it seems to be working. Today, we put Red on a new diet for older dogs, a Purina blend that vets are liking called "Bright Mind." Fate is still on the Fromm  Food although, they no longer advertise on the blog. I like not having any advertisers on the blog, although people tell me I am crazy. But we know that.

Posted in General

Inside Jon Katz: Jody’s Humbling Message About Prayer And Strength

By: Jon Katz

I got a very powerful message this morning from Jody Abrahamson, a reader of the blog, whose husband has terminal brain cancer. She heard my voice post yesterday about prayer and wrote me about her own search for a quiet place in the pain of her life and the anger in the world. It touched me deeply and made me feel good about this new way of telling some stories and protecting the space in my head from social media and the hordes of angry arguers in our country.

I went to read Jody's message aloud as I sat next to a new treasure in my life, a new discovery, our own private water fall in our own woods, newly accessible to us, thanks to the Ed Gulley Memorial Bridge.

I get a lot of messages and don't always see them all, but I believe the ones I am meant to see find me.

Prayer has become important to Jody, as it has become important to me. I do not look above to a deity for prayer, but inside of me, and in the world around me, a new way for me to think about prayer.

Jody's message humbled me, and I dug out one of my favorite Thomas Merton writings about prayer and humility. Life humbles me every day, even as it makes others more arrogant and angry.

"The lights of prayer that make us imagine we are beginning to be angels are sometimes only signs that we are finally beginning to be men (and women). We do not have a high enough opinion of our own nature. We think we are at the gates of heaven and we are only just beginning to come into our own realm as free and intelligent beings."

This is where I am in my prayer, I am in my 60's and just beginning to come into my own realm as a free and intelligent being. I think some angels live in my water fall, I sometimes hear them singing and dancing in the stream of water. I am thinking of Jody tonight, her message was a prayer in itself. I am grateful that she wrote to me, and that I saw her message.

Posted in General

On The Mansion Porch

By: Jon Katz

On The Mansion Porch

We drove by the Mansion to drop some things off for the residents and Madeline, who is 93, was sitting out on the porch, it was a beautiful afternoon. Madeline has been at the Mansion a few months, and has brightened the place considerably, she is active, engaged and fun to be around. I could sense she was in a reflective mood, she enjoyed some quiet time alone with Red, who seems to sense what people want and need. He sat quietly with her for 10 minutes or so.

I am happy to report that the Mansion has raised over  $4,000 on the first full day of its gofundme project to help purchase a van to take the Mansion residents to doctors and on field trips, visits to their families and other necessary outings. Without a van, the residents cannot easily go anywhere, and the one the Mansion has is dying.

This is a very encouraging first day for a gofundme project. The Mansion owner, George Scala, is prepared to pay half the cost – $10,000 – and is seeking to raise the other half online. So they need $6,000 more dollars to be able to purchase the van. I am hopeful and excited for them.

"Happy To Help," wrote Kathie  Lehtonen, who donated $25, "enjoy some lovely rides this Spring and stop and get ice cream! That's what my  Mom loved." The Mansion does, in fact, set out in their van for ice cream on some hot summer days

The Army Of Good is turning out to be mighty, they don't argue or scream, they just do good.  Thank you. You can follow the details here.  You can donate here. The big untold story in America is that people are good, given the chance.

Posted in General

Helping The Mansion Get A Van. $3,610 So Far, Goal Is $10,000.

By: Jon Katz

The Mansion Needs Help

The Mansion needs help in purchasing a van so the residents can get out and take care of themselves and be connected to the world. I remember when they first came to see Maria and I, they pulled up in a beat-up old van.  I recall wondering how long it would last. They need a new one and have put up a gofundme page to help get one.

We raised $2,500 the first day, $7,500 to go.

The people in the Mansion are worthy, and so are the people who own and run the Mansion. They are deserving of help.

They are in desperate need of a van so they can transport the residents to their doctor's appointments,  go on field trips (like visiting farms and parks and stores) and to tend to other personal and family needs. Sometimes, the staff takes the residents to go to government offices and fill out the staggering paperwork it takes them to get on Medicaid and shut down their exterior lives.

Last year, the van took one resident to go the funeral of her dog Katie, whom she sent to live with her sister when she came to assisted care.

The financing behind assisted care facilities is complex. Some charge a lot of money that affluent people can afford. Care is based on fees, which rise depending on the services people want.

The Mansion is a Medicaid facility, and their mission is different. They provide a high level of care to people who are not affluent, they are the only Medicaid facility for many miles.  There are no extra fees for them to charge, the residents have no extra money.  The Mansion is the last stop for them.

The Mansion depends on government reimbursements, which are complex, low and almost certain to get lower.

They need to get the van now, because it seems that soon, and sadly, it will only get harder.

George Scala, the owner of the Mansion, has gathered enough money to pay for 50 per cent of the van, but needs $10,000 to make the purchase. Because of the improvements he made to the Mansion and another facility, he can't get financing from a bank. The banks are not optimistic about future government funding for the elderly.

George launched a gofundme page yesterday, it is off to a wonderful start. The page raised more than $2,400 in just one afternoon and evening.

George Scala cares much more about the residents than the money, which is why he spends all of his on keeping the place comfortable and well staffed with good people. I've been to many assisted care facilities with Red, and the Mansion is unique, it is suffused with love and care. I can tell the minute I walk into a place just how much love and care there is, it envelops the Mansion.

Twenty per cent in the first day is great, I hope we can keep it going. Some people asked me why the Mansion was choosing gofundme, which takes seven per cent of the money. I recommended this approach, so that they can reach beyond the readers of the blog, and out into the country.

My blog readers are supporting immigrants, sending gifts to the Mansion residents, and I thought it only fair to share the load. On the donation list, I see many familiar names and thank you. These donations are small which is touching in and of itself.

"If we can all donate just a little, we can make this happen," wrote Christ McC, "you are all in our prayers." In the past few months I have come to love the residents and staff of the Mansion, we are like family, the family I never really had. The residents insisted I come to dinner when Maria went to India, and Katie Perez, the Mansion director, brought in a bowl of Arroz Con Polo (chicken and rice) that her husband Jim made for me.

They don't know that Maria never cooks, but the food was great both times.

Christine grasps the idea of crowdsourcing:  a lot of people giving small amounts, it is easier on everyone and much more democratic. You give if you wish, not if you don't.

Helen Golden donated $100 and actually thanked me for giving her the opportunity. Sometimes you just want to cry at the goodness of people. In our world beyond, some hearts have turned to stone. Not so with the Army Of Good. Helping others keeps the heart warm and full of love.

The van is the residents lifeline. Without it, they can go nowhere, their lives become even more bounded. They have given up enough. They are dependent on a van.

Last week, one resident was driven to a funeral of a close relative. Another went to her doctor, and another went to Saratoga to an outlet to buy socks and underwear. Almost all of the outside recreation they go on is through van transport. Some of the residents have no family, others rarely see their family members.

Our government is offering less and less support to the elderly, it appears that the rest of us will have to make up the difference. I'm in, and I thank you for understanding and helping. I hope we can get to $10,000. You can see the gofundme page here.

Did I say thank you?

Posted in General