Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

24 April

Color Art, Making Our Own Sun. Signing Off For Today, Chess Appointment, See You Tomorrow. Got Some New Flowers Here.

by Jon Katz

I had my first real medicine crisis this week; the very popular Moundaro medicine I’ve been taking for diabetes is so much in demand it has suddenly not been available for weeks at a time, and when it is, it is a different measure than my doctor wants me to have.

The advice I got  from a nurse was to call different pharmacies and see if it was available anywhere. It isn’t, and  I had a confab with my primary care doctor, Dr. Dodge. We agreed I would switch to another diabetes medication, which has also become wildly popular with people seeking weight loss.

Todd, my Walgreens pharmacist, really came through for me. I got my first dose of another medicine today—Ozempic, an older and well-tested one.

It was unnerving, as medicine is essential for stabilizing my blood sugar.

The doctors and the pharmacists told me they are swamped with angry people demanding the medication. Many don’t seem to accept that the pharmacies and physicians don’t make it; they only sell it.

The medicine is often life-saving, but the process is, as we all know, a hideous mess.

Ozempic is not a weight loss drug; it improves blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics like me. My doctor has great faith in it. I’ve been losing weight with Mounjaro, which has become wildly popular primarily as a weight loss drug.

Many diabetics can’t afford it anymore. I’ve heard good things about Ozempic, and I’m eager to try it.

I’m eating well. I have a nourishing and healthy breakfast and lunch, and on most nights, I skip dinner. Since overnight is a sensitive time for blood sugar, this has been helpful (sometimes).

I go out to dinner with friends or Maria, but I have very small amounts of food. My blood sugar is good, but it’s been creeping up a bit as I get older. We want to get out front on that. Ozempec will help, and I’m lucky to be able to get it. ($249 per month right now, $1,000 without insurance.

I’m told lots of people who need it can’t afford it, and if they could, it’s hard to get.


As you can see, I got a couple of purple flowers today. I want more color contrast in my photos. This is an Iphone photo; the Iphone is great on vivid color.


My friend Ian McRae is coming over tonight to play chess with me; He’s bringing a pizza. I told him I’m not eating dinner these days; he should get the pizza, eat a slice, and take the rest home when he leaves. I might cook a few dumplings so he doesn’t eat alone.

We have become good and easy friends.


24 April

SOS: The Pantry Ran Out Of Tuna Fish Today. Can We Help?

by Jon Katz

SOS: The Pantry is out of Tuna Fish:

There is some alarm about this. The tuna fish has been added to the wish list.

The Starkist chunk of light tuna in water is 5 oz. Can, pack of 8, $7.98.

We can feed most families for an 8-pack of tuna for several nights.

Just after 2:30, I received a message from Sarah Harrington at the Cambridge Food Pantry about the Tuna Fish. She diligently monitors what people take home and what the pantry runs out of, especially midweek.

So is always updating the Amazon Cambridge Pantry Wish List.

When she needs some additional support, she texts me. We step in and try to help when there is a special and urgent need.

Some items are more central than others. Tuna Fish is a big deal.

Hi,” she messaged at 3 p.m., “we are out of Tuna Fish. Can you provide it for us?” Of course, I said, we’ll try.

Wednesdays are the busiest days with the largest traffic for the pantry.

It’s the middle of the week, and parents start worrying when their food runs out, and they can’t afford to buy more as the weekend approaches. It’s an awful position to be in.

The last week, a record-breaking 417 people came through the pantry Wednesday, plus another 173 backpack kids. Before this, the record was 120 families.

(The pantry has also run out of canned chicken breast.)

Tuna fish is an essential food for the pantry and families to look for; it is healthy, popular, and often the only fish these children and their families get to eat. Local children help out, and so do the elderly.

The people who support the Mansion in Cambridge scan all ages and classes.

The young (top) bring the backpack food to the school for distribution, and the older and old come in throughout the week to organize the food and distribute it for display and distribution.

I won’t be able to attend tomorrow’s backpack assembly at the pantry. I have a doctor’s appointment; Maria is going instead. Please consider sending a tuna can or two. I’m sending two packs.

Thanks, you are making a huge difference.

24 April

They Suffer Too. The Hard Lesson Of Compassion

by Jon Katz

A year or so ago,  when I was writing regularly about my new Amish neighbors, some animal rights people were upset that I didn’t criticize them for the alleged Amish abuse of their horses, which the messengers suggested was a universal practice among Amish people.

I received many of those letters. I wrote a message in response on an animal rights website to one particularly vocal person saying that I saw my neighbors and their horses almost every day and saw no evidence that they were mistreating their animals.

I wrote that the Amish don’t see horses as pets but as working animals essential for survival. They do work hard, as has often been the case for working animals.

Since I don’t know any other Amish families, I couldn’t speak about them or join in their condemnation. Still, I defended my neighbors, saying their animals were well-fed and healthy, and I knew of no physical or other abuse.

I said I wasn’t going to condemn my neighbors, whom I am very fond of,  for things other Amish people did. That sparked a lot of outrage. They need their horses and keep them fit.

Even today, I received outraged messages about that response and my refusal to condemn this.  Just like the rest of us, all Amish are not the same.

I don’t answer all of these messages; one day, they will get distracted and disappear. They die in obscurity.

Today, I got this message from someone who called him or herself Xoxo, an obvious pseudonym.

It was a very long message, too long to reprint, and I did not and won’t respond to it. But it came at the right time.

In my meditation work, I’ve been working on my ideas about compassion and what it means to be compassionate at.  It’s a complex issue for me.

The post was a good opportunity to examine that.

Xoxo wrote: “…I followed a Amish man to buy sibling of another horse he sold at auction that sells and ships to Mexico and Canada for slaughter…these horses who worked their whole lives to be shipped to have the throats slit…wish they could do that to actual people like you who don’t care to know…hey when you are 80 and worthless can we slit y our throat for meat? Yeah, they sat behind the thousand-pound buggy for 9 hours without food or water while his disgusting Amish owner was at auction to buy more SLAVES…FUCK YOU FUCK ANYTHING WHO HAS ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKIN CLUE CAUSE YOU JUST DON’T KNOW…I HOPE A GRIZZLY BEAR EATS YOU AND YOURS CAUSE HUMANITY WHO DOESN’T HELP WILDLIFE DESERVES TO DIE..”

I’m not reprinting this message to argue with the sender or fight back. And I’m no martyr.

In my life, I usually have fought back when attacked. Social media and my blog have taught me not to do that in anger.

I’m using my smugness as a litmus test of my sincerity about learning compassion and living it.

I’m getting there if I can feel sympathy for this person rather than getting angry back.

For all the cruelty in the message, he or she can empathize with the horses she has seen slaughtered. They have a heart. Can I feel compassion for people like this?

It is always hurtful to receive a violent and cruel message, but when I think about the person writing it—which I don’t often do—the feeling changes and deepens. No happy or healthy person writes a message like this to strangers. They must be damaged.

So why don’t I feel sympathy for the sender? Or should I?

Anyone who writes online often sometimes gets and recognizes messages like this—the rage, the letters in caps, the hatred, and even bigotry (ageism here)  are all familiar. By now, the kind of people who send them are well-studied and well-known.

We online writers all get these messages, and society and corporations now dominating the Internet look the other way. I have a friend who writes a sports column and is threatened with death almost every day.

A good friend, a spiritual friend, and a priest told me that people like this were how he learned compassion. They are suffering too, he said; try to remember that. The message stuck in my head. I would love to be a better human.

Thich Nhat Hanh,  a Buddhist monk and writer (he died last year)  I admire and read often, wrote about compassion and suffering in this way, and it has become a guide to me:

Usually, when we suffer, we think we’re the only person who suffers, and the other person is very happy. But in fact, it’s likely that the person who hurts us also has a lot of pain and doesn’t know how to handle this strong emotion. Breathing with awareness generates our energy of mindfulness, and we can gain insight into how to handle our suffering and that of the other person suffering with compassion.

I did not grow up learning to respond to hatefulness by deep breathing. This is a very new and curious idea for me, even though I have begun doing this breathing every morning, and it has helped me in many ways to curb my anger and my own suffering.

Deep down, and in a curious way,  I see Xoxo as a brother or sister, also broken, who was never showed much compassion and didn’t learn to handle hurt gracefully and empathetically.

The message was unusually hateful but sadly familiar, especially in the extreme corners of the animal rights movement, sliding towards being seen as a hate group. But the more hateful, the more broken. Arguing with someone like this is foolish.

But while I am not there yet, Xoxo, I want you to know that I feel some empathy for you and compassion. I don’t know anything about Xoxo, but she clearly suffered greatly thinking about those horses. I’ve also read about them.

You suffer too,  Xoxo, and I hope you learn to deal with your empathy and compassion better.  Being cruel to humans will not help animals in any way.

I’m unsure what compassion means when responding to a message like this, and I don’t intend to. This is more about how I should feel about it. I’m thinking about it.

I’m trying to do the same thing. In my life, once I think about something, I absorb it, and I change. We’ll see.


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