Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

21 April

Searching For Beauty, Dusk At Bedlam Farm. April 20, 2024

by Jon Katz

I looked out the window Friday and saw the sung break through the clouds at dusk; the light, sky, and forest all blended together beautifully. I saved these photos for this morning; they are a beautiful way to begin Sunday. I don’t remember ever seeing the dark sky and the light at the same time.

In a few minutes, the light was gone.

The rats returned to our kitchen, and we would have crackers hidden under the refrigerator.  Bud will sleep outside of his crate again tonight. All the cracker boxes were on the floor and open.

I loved the sheep against the forest and the apple tree.

The landscape was rich and evocative, more like a painting.

The whole forest in the back lit up.

20 April

Flower Art, Saturday, April 20, 2024. Spring Getting Closer And Closer. Learning How To Do Nothing.

by Jon Katz

We had our peaceful day; I took a day off from asking for help from the food pantry, and I’ll pick it up again tomorrow.  Our friend Alfreda Gonzalez is having a birthday party, and Maria and I are invited. She says she knows I will take her picture, and that is true.

No farmer’s market is on Sunday; it’s Earth Day or Earth month.

I’m getting my focaccia and seed bread on Tuesday and picking it up at Kean’s Covered Bridge Bread Co. We are thinking about having a gentle and quiet tomorrow like today. I will offer another needed food for the pantry tomorrow.

I look forward to seeing you in the morning. Below are my three flower art photos; the one above is an African Violet.



Calla Beauty

Windowsill Gallery, WJ

A few weeks ago, I got some paper flowers for the Mansion. Aide Robbin dug them out this week, and the residents took selfies of themselves. Above are Claudia and Ruth in their flowers.


20 April

Dyslexia Diary: Big Changnes. Zud And Bip, Bad News For The Spelling Police, And Tossing A Long List Of Things I Don’t Need And Am Getting Rid Off

by Jon Katz

It’s been a good week in many ways. Many people I know are freaking over the trial in New York; I’m not. The children’s food drive was a great success, and that’s great. I just got a money order for $400 from a blog supporter, which is helpful. I am getting in shape for the main event: my raised garden beds. Maria and I are having a quiet and peaceful day.

I’ve also decided not to hide from my Dyslexia; my writing about it with some humor has driven off the Correction Squads and Spelling Police of the Social Media Secret Police, our very own Stasi. I am guilty of letting lesser people shame me. Not anymore.

These people can’t handle humor and run away; it makes them crazy. But I  need to be more upfront about it. Making crazy people crazier isn’t a worthwhile pastime; it’s not who I wish to be.

Every Dyslexic has a different series of issues. Some struggle with numbers, some with words, and some with both.

One of mine is numbers; I need help with additions or multiplications. I have a problem seeing words that are sometimes scrambled at times; another is only seeing what is in front of me, which often causes me to buy things I don’t need because I don’t know they are already here. Maria and I have worked out a promising program: I buy nothing without telling her first, and she will check to ensure I don’t have one. I’m embarrassed to say I have been buying many things I don’t need.

Dyslexia has shaped my life in so many ways for most of my life, and I was never diagnosed until I was nearly 60 years old. I never mentioned it because I never knew what to do about it, and I saw it as shaming myself. I didn’t want to face it. Better late than never. It explains a great deal of the anxiety I had had for so long and the awful panic attacks that followed the knowledge that something was very wrong and kept me from doing the things other people can do.

It was especially tough when I was a child. The creepy and broken people on social media finally forced me out of the closet and convinced me to confront it. They can go feast on someone else. I’m sure they already are.

But this awareness has triggered a realization about how to face it, live with it, and improve my life all at once. Maria is an angel; she wants to help. She was one of the first people in my life who tried to help rather than make fun of or criticize me.

Many books, shoes, shirts, and lotions go out the door.

Dyslexia is curious and difficult.

I have more bad news for the Corrections Squad. When I write their names—Zip and Bud—I often replace Zip with Bud, although that is not happening much anymore. When I joked about renaming them Zud and Bip, I was astonished that I never got their names out of order or misspelled them. I have to think about this. Maybe I need to change names I can’t quite see or get straight.

The excellent news is that now I am doing a better job of learning what I have and what to do about it—better late than never. I’m also reconsidering what I need, something Maria and I are both eager to deal with. She has no problem with this; she wants or needs little. I’m the problem.

But I’m also very proud of what I have been shedding and do not miss or need: A partial list, a week and a half’s work, there is much more to come:

  1. Cannabis is an expensive plant often used to promote sleep and soften anxiety. I found it affected my memory also and general cognition. I decided it wasn’t for me a couple of weeks ago. I threw mine out today. They cost $20 or $30 a tin, usually only nine or ten gummy bears. It’s a lot of money and was doing me no good. Thanks to a kind pharmacist, two Benadryl allergy tablets are getting me to sleep every night.
  2. They cost 18 dollars for a pack of 60; I take one or two a night, sometimes none.
  3. Dog Treats. I was buying the dogs, especially the large Zinnia, marrow bones, dental treats, and the other dogs’ various expensive treats. I realized they cost up to $50 a week. Instead, I got some Milk Bone Dog biscuits and ten 10-pound bags for all three. I break them in half, and they last about two months. Zinnia, Fate, and Bud are pleased to eat them with no complaints.
  4. Expensive treats are something people need, not dogs.
  5. Shirts. I threw out boxes of shoes, pants, and undershirts I did not need and wasn’t using. I didn’t even know they were there.
  6. Underwear, sweaters, and hats. They had accumulated over the years, and I kept thinking I was running out because I didn’t see them. My clothes were all over the place.
  7. Paper towels. I don’t need them; washed and cleaned rags and old shirts are just as effective. I buy tissues, not $1-2 dollars a box at the dollar store. They are just as good as the expensive ones I’ve been buying for years.
  8. Plastic Water Bottels. I’m using our perfect healthy water and metal water containers for the car instead.
  9. Pediolyte. I was buying a pack of Pediolyte for dehydration (an aging issue) (hard to get them here sugar-free) and am drinking eight or nine glasses of water a day. It’s working fine.
  10. Cheese Puffs were my favorite snack, but I’ve stopped eating them. It’s not a weight issue; they are quite light. I don’t need them. Very few snacks are healthy or necessary; they are all over the place with enticing labels like “plant-based” and “organic.” Mostly, those are meaningless labels.
  11. Five different kinds of so-called “plant crackers” are my favorite snack. I get one kind now when I get hungry. The ingredients are all good and natural.
  12. Dinner. I’ve given up dinner and had a good solid lunch and breakfast. My sugar numbers are consistently low and growing lower.
  13. My photography is a blessed exception, as are my cameras. I get what I need, know what and where it is, and use it every day of my life. It stands out. I never tire of it or buy something I don’t need or can’t use.

Oddly, I’m not needy; I only need a few things. I need to remember these things as soon as they go out of sight. Now, all my clothes are stacked on open shelves where I can see them. I have more than enough.
I’m looking forward to considering what I need and responding accordingly. Selling off the books stacked in the house is another response and a way to pay back the people who have stayed with me for so long. Photography has altered and enriched my life and given me purpose and comfort.


It’s always possible to grow and learn. We live in a consumer and corporate culture that forever throws things we don’t need at us and convinces us that we really do need them. Lenin wrote that the problem with capitalism is that 90 percent of the things we buy are things we don’t need. Plastic water bottles are a great example.

Up here, at least, we have plenty of fresh water. The corporate appetite is ravenous and can never be sated.

This dramatic change of life addresses three or four issues: controlling and saving money (donations to the blog have been down since the pandemic and inflation) and simplifying my life, which is the most significant thing in the long run. If I’ve learned nothing else these past few years, it’s that less is more. The more I simplify, the happier I am.

As usual, I see most of the country going one way while I go the other. My spiritual work has soothed me and helped me.

This also happens to be good for my diabetes and is teaching me how to live much better with my dyslexia. I will never be shamed again by the heartless and unknowing people who think people who misspell or confuse words must be dumb or lazy. I should also add that I am 76 and healthy, but I feel what older people think. Some people hate and deny the realities of aging, perhaps because it suggests sickness and death. And sure, I sometimes have trouble with short-term memory. But then, I always did.

Few people want to get old or be around those who are.

Ageism is perhaps the last acceptable form of bigotry. I am not one of the aging deniers, but that doesn’t make me infirm or indifferent or drooling or suffering from Dementia. Of course, I have talked to doctors about it.  I have to pee more often. I don’t need surgery. I’m just getting older.

I’ve never cared much about spelling or grammar, and now I understand why. I’ve never written better or written more. Go figure. I am grateful to the good people who have supported my blog from the beginning and continue to support it. Bless all of you.

I have to thank Maria for helping me make these very significant turns. She has never had or wanted much more than she is wearing and needs to sew. She’s an inspiration and a support system. No one else in my life has tried to talk to me about these issues, and how could they? I never wanted to see them myself.

I’m just beginning this process, continuing to learn. Stay turn if you wish; as always, I share my life as honestly as I know how to do. Misspelled words might anger some people, but they are not as frustrated as I have been for so long. I’m getting past that and the anger at people who have tormented me. That is one great gift of the spelling wars.

20 April

Bedlam Farm Books. Love, Magic, History: Hey! This One Didn’t Get Sold. Here’s Why I Think It Should Be Grabbed….

by Jon Katz

This Book Is Sold

Last week, we put five books up for sale during the Bedlam Farm Book Sale.

All were sold as usual, but this one didn’t, and it bothered me.

Maria and I both loved the book. I don’t want to see it given away to strangers; I’d like to see it go to one of our blog readers, which is the idea behind the book sales.

I don’t usually do this, but this is a unique book that should be read.

It’s a love song, but it is much more than that.

It’s funny, sexy, and unbelievably romantic. As a side appeal, it brilliantly captures the lost romance of Harlem, a vibrant setting that will transport you to the 1920s and thirties, Harlem’s extraordinary cultural rise.

This is a story of a loving and heroic young woman I instantly rooted for and cheered to the end of her great adventure.  This is a heart-warmer all the way.

Our culture always ensures that family stories end with reconciliation—the place you can always go when you need to, the great American myth.

But many of us know it’s more complicated than that. Sometimes, as many of you know, you must break away and make your own life.

This is what Ricki Wilde does. She has many gifts, but bowing down and running back to her family for safety is not one of them. (Sort of like Maria.)

Ricki decides to open an artsy florist shop in Harlem. It’s not an easy path, but her creativity is powerful and determined.

Those are the kind of people who make their dreams come true. How she does it is gripping.

The author isn’t looking to upset or depress anyone, and the book is full of magic, of the heart and beyond.

In addition to everything else, it’s a heartwarming story about a last-born child treated cruelly and harshly by her sisters and her rich but distant mother and father.

Ricki Wilde runs away from assured wealth and comfort to get to Harlem and launch a floral business. This turns out to be a wonderful story about the power and grip of creativity. She didn’t have it easy, but she never quit.

It’s the best kind of love story—tender, bright, and full of love and determination. It left me smiling. This isn’t a profit-making venture.  This book cost me $29 just two months ago, and we are selling it for $10.  We want somebody to snatch it up.

I’ll be honest.

We’ve sold all the books instantly, but this one is bugging me.  When I saw it on the give-away pile, I got upset again.

I’d love for someone to accept this offer and e-mail Maria – [email protected] – and purchase the book. You won’t regret it; if you do, I’ll return the $10.

I asked Maria if it was okay to make another pitch, and she said sure.

Thanks for listening, jon.


Email SignupFree Email Signup