16 January

Victory (Almost): Second Place At The Bog Trivia Contest

by Jon Katz
Second Place

Maria and I took Second Place honors at the Bog Tuesday Trivia Contest (winner after a month gets a $25 gift certificate to the Bog.), we did well with geography and miscellaneous, were done in by sports trivia and 50’s and 60’s music.

The bar was mostly empty, driving was treacherous. We do not generally succumb to upstate New York weather, we would never go out if we did.

I am scheming to get my daughter Emma down here, she was a contestant on Jeopardy a few years ago, and would carry us to the top. As it was, Maria and I missed first place only by two points, and that, despite some wine and Scotch.

We are trying to get our friend Susan Popper to get up here, I have a hunch she has one of those vacuum-like minds also. If we could get Emma and Susan here, we would be unstoppable. I could just sit back and drink.

We had a good time, it was a nasty night, snow and ice storm left most of the tables and bar seats empty, we got to yak with Kelly and plot our Trivia answers.

This is the best we have done, the competition there is strong, only there were very few teams tonight because of the weather. There is no  better place to ride out a nasty storm than with Kelly at the bog.

16 January

Joan The Poet And Her Physical Therapist

by Jon Katz
Joan The Poet

I was afraid if I came to the Mansion for a long time, I would tire of it, as I have often done with the places I visit. But that is not the case. I have come to love the Mansion, the staffers and residents who inhabit this remarkable space.

Joan has severe memory problems, but I have had some of the most beautiful conversations with her that I have had with anyone. We talk all the time, we chat like old friends, we trade smiles and gestures and emotions, Joan is sensitive to enthusiasm and affection and wonder.

Joan was gone for several weeks, but has come “home,” as she puts it.

She is always full of wonder. Today, she was meeting with  her physical therapist who is helping her to recover from an injury (the therapist had a cold, thus the mask). The therapist is helping her to walk safely and comfortably. She is very nice.

She asked me what things Joan loved to do, and I said poetry and painting and gazing out windows were the thing Joan seemed to love the most.

And poetry I said, Joan and I do poems together all of the time.

Can I show  you?, I asked, and she said sure.

So Joan and I did a poem together.

It is cold sometimes,

and warm sometimes,

and of course, don’t you know

that you can have fun on most days of the week,’

and this is the most beautiful

and kind dog,

he can fly and walk through doors.

She and her therapist are going to do a painting together later in the week.

She paints too?, she asked me, impressed by Joan.

Yes, I said, I have a painting on the wall of my study that Joan wrote. And a poem too.

16 January

Bill Comes Home

by Jon Katz
Bill Comes Home

Two of the Mansion’s sweetest people – Joan and Bill – came  “home,” as they put it, to the Mansion this week. Bill had some surgery and said he was very relieved to get back. Bill is an 84-year-old gay man who felt disconnected to his community, and a number of people LGTB community have been writing him, sending him photos and cards and books.

This has meant a lot to him, he asked his daughter to sort through the mail that arrived and bring it back to him. It is still difficult for Bill to read or write, but he appreciates having the letters read to him. Bill has settled into the Mansion, and your letters  have helped him to feel connected to the community he had to leave behind after his stroke.

Thanks for that, Bill loves getting this letters, you can write him at The Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y.,  12816.

I’m happy to see Joan and Bill back, as I mentioned, when people leave the Mansion I don’t usually know where they have gone or why, or if they are coming back at all. Happy to see these two back to what they call “home.”

16 January

At The Mansion: Fish, Jewelry Kits, Cages, Valentine’s

by Jon Katz
Sweatpants, Cages: Wayne And Red

A busy time at the Mansion to update. I brought Wayne three pairs of sweatpants (above) that he needed. I brought Ruth a beautiful and simple jewelry-making kits, she wants to make jewelry for children. She was  excited. I learned from Connie that it is so important to give the residents the simple tools they need to create.

The Mansion residents asked me if I could help them get a larger cage for their two parakeets,  the one they have is too small. Sylvie would like a carpet to put under her bed to warm up the room, literally and figuratively. I have located an inexpensive and larger bird cage.

I proposed to the residents that I get a 10 gallon fish tank, with some goldfish and nice plants and a filter and heater, and some of them were in a grumpy mood today, they were uncertain, they wanted to know who would change the water, although they would like to see the fish. There was also some disagreement about where the tank would go.

I think they need to ponder the idea, many have been asking for a fish tank for some time.

Some were annoyed about the Zucchini Bread they tried to cook, it came out “mush,” several said. A staffer laughed and said the Mansion residents were coming to trust me, they were no longer afraid to give me  a hard time. I’ll try the fish again later.

The Geranium garden tray is looking good, I made sure there was some water in the plastic tray. I think I’ve located a bedroom carpet for Sylvie, a friend is selling her  house, and has a carpet to give away free. I’ll go look at it tomorrow or Thursday.

And your Valentine’s day cards, letters and packages are beginning to arrive. Valentine’s Day is February 14, we are hosting a special lunch for the Mansion residents. Your messages and decorations are most welcome, and make an enormous difference, thanks.

They are all stored away until the holiday.

Red and Wayne have bonded, Wayne called me over today to propose that Red has a sleep over at the Mansion, Wayne would make all of the arrangements. One day perhaps, I said. we needed Red at the farm.

The following is a list of Mansion residents who wish to receive your messages, mail and packages: The Mansion address is 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y.  12816.

Winnie, Jean A., Ellen, Bill, Mary, Gerry, Sylvie, Jane, Diane, Alice, Jean, Madeline, Joan, Allan, John K., Helen, Bob, Alanna, Barbara, Peggie, Dorothy, Tim, Debbie, Art, Guerda, Brenda, David, Kenneth, Ruth, Wayne.

If you wish to donate to the Mansion/Refugee Fund, you can do so by sending checks to me at this address: Jon Katz, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816, or via Paypal, jon@bedlamfarm.com.



16 January

Me, Sylvie And Our Love Of Hats

by Jon Katz
Me Sylvie And Our Love Of Hats

Sylvie is one of my favorite portrait subjects at the Mansion, and we have developed into a mutual fashion admiration society when it comes to hats, something I could not have foreseen a few years ago.

Sylvie loves stylish hats, as I am beginning to do. She loves my slouch beanie hats and compliments me on them. Sylvia has a serious, businesslike air about her, always carrying a briefcase and letters to answer from the Army Of Good.

She loves getting letters (11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.) I told her we should do a hat fashion show together and I think she thought it a bit frivolous, but she agreed.

I asked her if she needed anything, and she thought about it and said she need a piece of carpet to put under her bed at night, it would help warm up the room for her. I think it’s a good idea, I just have to figure out how get to a carpet warehouse and have a carpet cut to the right size.

I think I can get a cutting inexpensively. More later.

If you are so inclined, feel free to write Sylvie, she tells me she has made many friends through the mail service of the Army Of Good, it means a lot to her. I think I will find her a carpet, the wheels are spinning. I love Sylvie, she is very much her own person. And she never loses her own sense of style, every day has meaning for her.

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