Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

11 August

Update: Patching Together A Trip To The Washington County Fair For The Mansion Residents

by Jon Katz

(Update. The bus company said a bus was $300 for five hours, when we called, they said it was a mistake, the price was $3,000. Back to the drawing board, we’re trying to rent a school bus.)


When I started fundraising for the projects of the Army Of Good, I had only to ask, and the money would flow. Donations are a mirror of the country, and times have changed. This isn’t bad or sad and discouraging news for me; this tells me I need to adapt and be creative. Life never goes on a straight line.

So far, so good.

Yesterday, I asked for $2,000 to help the Mansion residents end their three-year Covid confinement. I may not get that much. I don’t live in a cave. I know how pinched and anxious people are. I’ll have to think outside of the box.

We need a bus to take the residents, tickets to get them in, and food and drink for them to eat. According to New York State Health Dept, additional aides will have to come along on the trip. The Mansion is not a non-profit institution but a Medicaid facility, which is more or less the same thing.

I knew this would be a complex request; I know too well that times are rough and a little scary.

But I’m working to pull this off. I’m not afraid to scramble. So far, all of our Wish Lists have sold out. And we got $5,000 worth of books for Bishop Gibbons without spending a dime.

So far, I’ve received about $600 in donations for the World’s Fair Outing, mainly via Paypal. Additional contributions and checks are on the way to my P.O. Box,  P.O. Box 205 (Mansion Fund, P.O.Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.)

Like the old cliche says, the tough get going when the going gets tough.

Yesterday, we found a Saratoga Bus company that will take a busload of Mansion residents to and from the Washington County Fair on Wednesday, August 24th.

As I’ve learned, the charge would be $300; a grand bargain is given that bus trips can run up to $2,000 for a full day.

The bus is air-conditioned, so the residents rest or nap there. Some have their grandchildren in the 4-H trials. If I get additional donations, we might wish to extend the time. If this heat wave continues, five hours might be plenty.

This morning, I called the Washington County Fair office and talked with the very kind and helpful Rebecca, who said if I sent her a proposal that included some Medicaid documentation, they would be happy to leave free tickets for all of the residents who choose to come, plus the aides required by state regulation. Done.

She told me there is a 4-H food booth I could contact for discounts on food, drinks, and salads.

I will continue to fundraise for food and money to pay for the extra aides. I will do this for less than the $2,000 I thought it would initially require (thinking of bus costs from the previous refugee and Mansion outings), but I don’t yet have enough money to cover all the expenses for this trip.

So if you can help with some donations, that would be great. Any overage will go to the future outings we hope to plan for the Mansion residents, who have been practically under house arrest since the Covid crisis began. They are desperate to get out and around.

I’m committed to helping the activities team get them out and around again. They are eager to schedule local and inexpensive trips. Transportation is the highest cost, it turns out, and the most complicated. Cars are too small, there is only one van, and buses can be costly.

I’m not greedy and not spoiled, and I hate whining above all things except hypocrisy, which I hate the most.

We’ll get it done. There is always a way.

Donations can be sent to me via Paypal, [email protected], Venmo, [email protected], or by check, Mansion Fund, Jon Katz, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

Thank you, I am confident now that we can pull this off and pleased to be uncovering new ways to keep costs down and still be able to do good things – small acts of great kindness.

10 August

Photo Journal, August 10, 2022. Money For The Fair, Maria’s Sick, A New Tooth, Meditation Class. And Flowers, Of Course

by Jon Katz

Today was a full and meaningful day.

Maria is sick, perhaps the variant. I’m trying to raise $2,000 so the Mansion residents can rent a bus and get to the County Fair, I has a beautiful meditation class at the Mansion this morning – we talked about giving and receiving – and a small miracle, I got a new tooth to replace the one that was pulled out of me.

That’s a mouthful. First, I have a new tooth, a small miracle. I no longer have a missing tooth in the bottom of my mouth, I felt myself spitting a bit and looking raggedy.


Maria woke up feeling funky and was knocked out by lunchtime.  I’m doing the caretaking thing; I owe her big time and love her bigger.

I got a few offers from photo galleries to do a show of my flower photos and print and sell them. I said no, I like this just the way it is, I don’t need a gallery boss telling me what my photos ought to look like, and I don’t want to sell them. I’ve had more than enough marketers in my life telling me what to write.

I am flattered, honestly. But the photos are free to be used in any way that is helpful, useful, or comforting.


The last gladiola, Leica Monochrome

In meditation class, we talked about the dignity of giving and receiving. I’ll write about that tomorrow.




10 August

When Maria Is Sick, The World Seems Upside Down

by Jon Katz

For the ten years that we’ve been married, I am usually the one who got sick – heart, foot, eyes, diabetes, etc. – not her. She is 17 years younger than me and the healthiest person I’ve ever known.

No matter what she eats, she never gains weight and has the energy of any five men. She works day and night and, on weekends, belly dances with her comrades for hours at a time.

But when I need help, she is always right there.

I’m just not used to seeing her sick, which she is right now, spending almost all day on the downstairs touch. She looks pale and drawn.

I sprang into caretaker mode, bringing her tea, cooking, doing the dishes, shopping,  checking on her, and rushing to get her medicine. These are the things she does for me. It could be the flu; it could be Covid; it could be a variant. The animals are easy in the summer; I have to open and close some gates. The dogs seem to get it; they are no bother at all; they are eerily quiet.

They know.

We were around many people in crowded spaces over the weekend, and she got sick almost as soon as we got home. I suspected my sickness a month ago was Covid-related; I had all the symptoms, too, even though I tested negative.

She’ll get tested, but it sure looks like the variant. She has all of the symptoms but one. It is disorienting to me, a sort of upside-down thing. I love doing what she has done for me so many times.

Yet it is upsetting to see someone so vital laid low.

Almost everyone we know has gotten sick like this; as a younger, vaccinated, and boosted person, she will be okay in a few days, maybe tired for a while.

She is the powerhouse around here, the inexhaustible energy source, the creative spark, the fixer of broken things, the stacker of wood, the garden tender, the garbage hauler,  and when she is lying down all day, the artist every minute, and when the world is upside down, and as much as I love caring for her, I do feel some waves of vulnerability.

She ate little of the food I prepared for her and has gone up to bed after insisting on closing up the chicken coop. It is quiet here; I will be with her shortly, bringing tea, lying next to her.

I can’t be comfortable if she is sick, and I wonder if she feels the same way about me when I am ill or hurting. I want to be there if she needs me.

I know she’ll be all right, and she knows she’ll be all right. But it feels eerie and dark tonight. Our house is always full of conversation and sharing and discovery. Not tonight.

One day, one of us will be alone, and life will go on.

I feel especially mortal tonight. I think things will be much better in the morning.

Maybe we should sleep apart tonight, she said, looking pale and weak. She mentioned this twice.

Not on your life, I said. We’re sleeping right next to each other.

10 August

Miracle At Dr. Merryman’s. I Have A New Tooth. I Can’t Tell It From The Others. Can You Find My New Tooth?

by Jon Katz

Two years ago, a dentist in my town decided to remove one of my lower front teeth because of a cavity in a difficult place. She didn’t seem to want to do it. I talked myself into thinking I didn’t care, but I did.

I missed the tooth, and I felt something valuable had been lost. It wasn’t just vanity. I want to keep my teeth and will fight for that. I wish she had. I  said I didn’t care, but that wasn’t true.

I always thought she could have saved the tooth if she wanted, and ultimately, I switched dentists. I knew it wouldn’t matter to Maria, and I thought it wouldn’t matter to me.

It was no big deal, but I didn’t like a hole in my lower teeth. I spit sometimes and developed a slight lisp when I talked, and I wouldn’t say I liked looking in the mirror and seeing that vacant spot. It made me feel older than I was.

I want to keep all of my parts intact if I can.

The incident bothered me enough that I ended up switching my dental care to Dr. Jacob Merryman, who has a new practice in nearby  Schuylerville. I trust him completely, and I  like him immensely, and I look forward to seeing him when I have to go for my check-ups. That is a first.

He and I have hit it off; I’ve never had a dentist like him, we laugh and trade stories, and he has already done a remarkable job on my teeth. His wife and kids visit Zinnia and me sometimes, and I love seeing them. He is a nice human but an awesome dentist. (And he loves lobster rolls, he’s heading out to see Brooke soon).

Due to an X-ray snafu in the old practice, five cavities went unnoticed for a long time, and I could have lost those teeth. He fixed and saved all of them, and I have no doubt he would have saved the lost tooth that became a hole in my mouth.

Maria doesn’t care about those things, she insists that I am handsome, but I guess I do care. I didn’t think I did. I’ve never had much to be vain about, yet there it is. Even the ungainly can be sensitive about their teeth. When I smiled, the missing tooth stood out.

During the last visit, I asked Dr. Merryman if there was any way to get a new tooth without dentures.

I don’t know why I asked, and I just had a feeling I ought to mention it. I wondered if there was anything like replacing a lost tooth without false teeth. He said sure; he did what he called “bonding,” taking a porcelain tooth, inserting it where the lost tooth was, and bonding it to the teeth on either side.

He said it was no big deal, he could do it. It was a big deal to me.

He said it would help shore up the neighboring teeth, and it never needed to come out. It could be cleaned just as teeth typically are. The process wasn’t cheap – close to $900 – but I could put it on my new Care Credit card designed for costly medical bills and take a year to pay.

People reading this may be savvier than I am, I never heard of tooth bonding, nor was it ever mentioned to me. I would have jumped at it then.

I didn’t hesitate; I jumped at it now.

This morning Zinnia and I went to get the newly bonded tooth. It took about 45 minutes- much bullshitting between us –  the process was completely painless,  the tooth fits perfectly, and when he helped up a mirror for me to look in, I honestly couldn’t tell which tooth was new. When I got in the car, I looked in the mirror again, and I couldn’t tell which the new tooth was this time either. I called Maria. “This is a miracle,” I  said.

She was happy for me.

I don’t spit anymore, and my slight lisp is gone. I don’t wince when I look in the mirror, something I don’t do that much except brush my teeth.

I don’t usually take photos of my teeth, but this was something I thought I ought to share on the blog. I have pledged to live an open and honest life, especially here on the blog.

The photo above is of my lower teeth. I took it tonight.

I don’t think anyone could tell the difference. I can’t.

This is one of those small miracles that make me appreciate science and technology for all of their flaws. I’m surprised that this matters so much, perhaps because I’m getting older. If not for medical technology, I’d be long dead.

If you care, the new tooth is the fourth from the left… I think. Thanks, Dr. Merryman, for making me whole again.

10 August

Need Help: Let’s Get Gerry And The Mansion Residents To The Washington County Fair. They’ve Been Cooped Up A Long Time

by Jon Katz

Zinnia and I visited the Mansion this morning and found Gerry, the most voracious romance reader I know, sitting in her chair by the window upstairs.

She is one of the sweetest residents at the Mansion and a great friend of Zinnia’s.

A box of used romance novels are on the way to her from the Street Lights Book Project in Palmer, Alaska. I want to help her, and the other residents get to the Washington County Fair.

The Mansion aides have asked me for help getting Gerry and many of the Mansion residents to the fair, which is opening in a couple of weeks.

(You can contribute to the Mansion Fair Fund via Paypal, [email protected], Venmo, [email protected], or by check: Jon Katz, Mansion Fund, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.)

They are all desperate to go.

Covid-19 shut down any outings, and the residents have been cooped up for a long time and especially love county fairs or any fairs. They want to see the cows, horses, pigs, and sheep again and all the kids in their 4-H trials.

It’s complicated to transport the 15 to 25 people who are able and eager to go, and there is no budget for the bus, tickets, food, and payment for the extra aides who are required to go along- the state outing regulations are clear and detailed.


I keep the Mansion Fund low these days, as people are increasingly under financial pressure, so I don’t have enough. I think we can pull this off; at least we’ll try. If we can’t, we can’t.

We think we’ve found a bus company in Troy that will come and take the residents to the fair and wait all day in case some need to go home early or tire.

The bus is air-conditioned, and people can rest on it if necessary.

We have to nail it down, but we think the bus company will do it for $200, a great price that makes this possible.

Tickets to the fare are $7 a person for the elderly, and they would need some money for food, snacks, and drinks.

Transportation is the most significant expense, and the state mandates how many aides per resident have to be present.

If we can get the bus for $200, we’ll grab it.

Some residents could be transported in vans, but that would considerably slash the number who could go.

And it seems that everyone who is mobile and some who don’t aren’t mobile also want very badly to go.

I’m seeking $2,000 to make it possible for any Mansion resident who wishes to go to the Washington County Fair to get there.

If the bus or anything else falls through (it looks promising), we will use the funds to pivot to one or more other outings we are considering.

We hope to get the residents out into the world after several years of confinement and before winter comes.

The Washington County Fair is close, flat, and easy to navigate, even in wheelchairs or on walkers. They have food booths, carnival rides, and all kinds of farm and animal exhibits. It is primarily an agricultural fair. They even have tractor races.

We’ve been talking for weeks about ways to get the residents out on various outings, and we have several backup plans if these prove too difficult or we can’t get the funds.

I don’t have enough in the Mansion Fund to do this. I’m cautious about what I ask for these days. The residents and the aides have had a hellish few years; I’m hoping we can give them something fun and reconnect them to the world.

So I will stick my neck out and give it a shot. I have a good feeling about it. If you don’t try, you can’t succeed.

Gerry would love to go and see the lights and the animals and the 4-H kids showing off their cows. So would the other residents. They are very excited about the idea; they are pleading for it.

I hope we can help them get there.

You can contribute to the Mansion Fair Fund via Paypal, [email protected], Venmo, [email protected], or by check: Jon Katz, Mansion Fund, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.


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