Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

27 February

Wish List Sold Out. The Students Send A Message

by Jon Katz
 The Bishop Maginn Amazon Prom And Graduation Wish List sold out yesterday, and thank you. We are helping to give them a celebration they richly deserve.
I also wanted to share a message I received this morning from Sue Silverstein on behalf of Bishop Maginn and the seniors you helped:
I just wanted to send all of our heartfelt thanks to the Army of Good for their overwhelming generosity. Our students are a source of great pride for us. Some of them have traveled very difficult roads to get to this point and as we near the end of their journey with us, we will, with your help, be able to give them an, even more, special send-off. We feel as any proud parent would feel as their children prepare to leave the safety of home and make a better world.  We delight in all they have accomplished and can’t wait to watch them impact positive change. Your help and love will allow us to say goodbye in a joyful celebration! Thank you all for that!
With much love and gratitude,
Sue and the BMHS Students.”
Thank you, Sue, to you and the students and Mike Tolan, the principal at BMHS, for letting me in, and letting us help. You are helping a lot of people by letting us help you. Bishop Maginn is the real deal, a place of comfort and safety. I am proud to know you all and work with me, and with Zinnia of course.
You are a gift to us, and I am grateful every day for all of you, and for the very big hearts of the Army Of Good.
27 February

The Last Chapter: Sally’s Long Journey, Just Beginning.

by Jon Katz

I was sorry to learn of the rough shape Sally, Susan Popper’s dog, was in and is in still.

I know that Susan loved Sally, but she was too sick and too distracted to care for her towards the end, a sign to me of just how ill she was.

I will never quite understand why Susan didn’t ask for help; I suppose she didn’t know how to do it. “I am stubborn,” she kept telling EMS crew while they pleaded with her to go to the hospital, “I can’t help it.”

Susan told me once that when she was critically ill in Long Island, she ended up neglecting Sally, and she felt terrible about it.

But it happened again, Susan couldn’t take care of Sally in the last weeks of her life, and she couldn’t ask for help.

Susan’s friend Donna rose to the challenge as Sally’s plight became clear and took responsibility for her; she came up to Donna’s house to rescue her and got her to a beautiful animal lover named Bette Parslow in New Jersey.

Bette did a remarkable job of fostering and calming Sally, who always hid from other people and dogs. She also began treatment of her sores and infections.

Susan had a big heart, but she ended up being so alone, I don’t think she could see other people or her dog.  She had no will, had made no plans or preparations for dying, had confided in no friends or family.

I was shocked to learn how sick Susan was; I was taken back by Sally’s awful condition. She was hungry; she smelled, her fur was matted and dry, her skin itchy and infected.

I felt myself getting angry about Sally but then caught myself.

This was how I know how sick Susan really was.  At long last, she deserved love and compassion, not judgment.

She could never share her vulnerability or ask for help, not even for the living thing she loved so much, more than any other living thing in her life.

Dogs, in their loyalty, suffer for us and with us.

Donna sent me this photo of  Sally taken a few days ago, and I could hardly believe it was the same dog, cleaned up, brushed, groomed. The Sally I got to see was a wreck. Thanks, Bette, who says Sally is a sweet and loving animal.

Betty did a wonderful job with Sally, she got her to a vet, is treating a number of skin and yeast infections.

She got her to eat, eliminate outside, brushed her, got her to play with her two small dogs. For various reasons, Bette can’t keep Sally and Donna has been talking extensively with a dog lover from Oregon named Cathy.

Cathy knows Sally’s story and her problems and issues, she very much wants to adopt her.

Donna has known Cathy for a while. It’s a long way to send Sally, but Donna has made sure it’s the right place for her.

Cathy wants Sally so badly she is flying from Oregon to get her and buy her a seat on the plane next to her flying back. We’ve raised nearly $400 for vet bills and another $900 to get Sally and Cathy to Oregon, a promising home for her with one mature person and no dogs. Donna, who loves dogs very much, is certain that this is the best permanent home for Sally, and that’s good enough for me.

Thanks for your support.

She now has to pay a number of vet and airline fees for Sally to travel, she said she could use another few hundred dollars. Her e-mail and Paypal ID is dnicosia5@comcast.net. Small contributions are welcome.

I want to see this through, it was on Susan’s mind when she died, and it is the last thing I can do for her.

I guess for me, it’s closure.

Susan’s brother Steven arranged for her cremation, and I have no idea what will happen to her new home, which she loved. It’s not my business either. In the Spring, we will invite her friends from work and in her life to the farm for a brief and simple Memorial Service.

Donna and I have teamed up to get Sally to a permanent and loving home, and we are a good team. She’s managing Sally’s care with Bette, and I’m raising the money to get Sally settled.

This is the last chapter, I think, for the sad and complicated friendship I had with Susan. But we all got to a good place, in the end, Susan died peacefully and with dignity and comfort.

Donna and I won’t rest until Sally is safe and sound, we both know we owe that to Susan, who worried a lot about Sally in her last days. (We are aware of volunteer animal rescue transport organizations. They don’t take dogs 3,000 miles across the country. This is the best way for Sally and Cathy to go.)

Susan felt bad about herself, but couldn’t help doing things that made it all worse, physically and emotionally. I’ve read that abused children often end up abusing themselves.

I promised Susan before she died that she need not worry about Sally, Donna and I would get it done.

This is my goodbye, I hope Susan has finally found peace and acceptance.

We will get Sally to Oregon, Susan. Find some peace.

I am pleased to share these photos of Sally, looking so much better, more alert, her coat rich and shiny. She still has bouts of anxiety, even terror. She will need a lot of care and a lot of healing in yet another home.

I’m sorry she has to be uprooted once more.

But I think this will be a happy ending, and Sally deserves that. I have this feeling Susan’s spirit will rest when Sally is okay. She deserves that too.

Please help make it so if you can.

Donna has been a wonderful friend to Susan, but her trips up North and her work with Sally have drained her. She says a couple of hundred dollars will take care of it all. dnicosia5@comcast.net.

26 February

The Red Hot BMHS Graduation Wish List. Sold Out!

by Jon Katz

Friends, the Bishop Maginn High School Amazon Graduation/ Prom Wish List sold out shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday, about 12 hours after it was posted. I thank you, on behalf of these grateful young people, and in the name of empathy and compassion. I am so glad to be a part of this.

I am proud and happy to report that only one item remains on the Bishop Maginn Amazon Graduation and Prom Wish List, two Beauty And The Beast Romantic Roses in a Glass Dome ($15.99 each) with an LED wooden base for Prom tables.

The list was announced around 10 a.m. Wednesday.

We have $31.88 to go to purchase the last two pieces and sell out the list in a matter of hours, not days.

I am going outside to offer a prayer of thanks to whatever Gods and spirits will listen to me.

A generous blog reader is buying Zinnia flowers – yes, Zinnia the flower,  in honor of the Princess Zinnia, the dog – to give to the female Bishop Maginn Students at graduation and also at the prom.

I mentioned that they have only had paper flowers at the school graduations, that will change. There will be paper flowers that they will assemble themselves (they love to do that), and some real flowers as well.

The students tell me that Zinnia, as a white animal that they love, is a spirit animal and thus a prophet of change.

They believe she is drawing good people to the Bishop Maginn Amazon Graduation Wish List, which is almost sold out as I write this. If people wish to contribute, they might do well to do it tonight.

I am starting to believe in Zinnia’s special powers myself.

The students, mostly refugees from Asia and Africa,  have chosen her as their mascot and spokesperson. There is much love between Zinnia and these students.

She is so happy to go there, they are so happy to see her.

This is what I hoped and dreamed of when I got Zinnia, it just happened so much faster than I imagined.

She is a great spokesperson for this Wish List.

And for Bishop Maginn High School and its students.

The Army Of Good is one of the most extraordinary things to ever enter my life.

They simply never fail or turn away.

Bishop Maginn school officials thought we had left out most of the Wish List items, they were so shocked to see a handful at the end of the first day.

We launched the Wish List yesterday to help the seniors at Bishop Maginn get the things they want for their graduation but have never had. These are refugee families mostly, they have lost everything.

The list had a lot of funky and traditional small things, inexpensive things, but festive things, colorful things, cultural symbols.

Many of the seniors come from cultures that celebrate graduation with shawls, patches, stole’s and flowers

The Bishop Maginn students, mostly refugees, can’t afford those favors and festive symbols, their families have no money. Until now.

Yesterday, we put up 24 different items on the Wish List.  There is one item left as I write this.

The biggest item on the list was a Graduation Plain Golden Honor Stole with a trim – used all over  Asia –  and a Greentime Beauty And The Beast Romantic Rose in a Glass Dome with LED Light Wooden Base For the Prom (table centerpiece.)

We have purchased all 40 of the Honor Stoles ($14.99 each) shortly before 9 pm. The refugee seniors from Asia said this meant the world to them.

There is one item left on the list,  2 of the eight  Romantic Roses, they cost $15.99 apiece. Just $31.98 left to sell out the Wish List.

I think we will do that very soon. I can’t thank you all enough, and the students thank you a lot more than I can.

They are overjoyed, I am told. Me too.

After darkness, light.

26 February

Doubletake: Maria At Mass Moca

by Jon Katz

We were wandering in Ad Minoliti’s Fantasias Modulares at Mass MoCa today when I looked up and did a doubletake. Maria was standing next to a giant rabbit, both engrossed in the very colorful and imagined world of the artist.

I decided to take the photo first, and figure it out later. The rabbit was a standing part of the exhibit. The two of them looked so comfortable pondering the art.

Maria is very happy in an art museum, and more relaxed than I’ve ever seen her. We go to museums whenever we can.

26 February

Divine Old Dog In A Window, Mass MoCa Bistro Museum

by Jon Katz

I call them Divine Old Dogs.

There is something about old dogs sitting in windows that touches the deep parts of me. Dogs who have settled, and old and are at peace. Dogs no longer excited about the world, but easy with themselves in a way that is inspiring.

These dogs have a grace and dignity few humans get to achieve. They always inspire me.

Old and wise dogs have a wonderful air about them, I hope I can age as well as this old guy, sitting all day in the window of the Bistro at the Mass Moca Museum in North Adams, Massachusetts, where Maria and I went today.

The museum is a little more than an hour from the farm, we each bought a membership today. I also bought Maria a small purse which said “Bitches Get Stuff Done.” I shocked myself by buying it, but Maria laughed and loved it.

It was designed by an artist, and full of color. I loved the attitude. It cost $4.75.

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