Monday, September 30, 2013

Mortality - Part 2

My good friend who has been sick for so long died on Friday.  The viewing is tomorrow and the funeral service is Wednesday.  One more reminder that we are only temporary residents of this planet and we all need to face our ultimate demise at one point or another. We had known each other since the 5th grade along with another.  The three of us were so close we were like the Three Musketeers.  Even though she had decided I was not good enough to talk to in the last two decades of her life, I still call her my good friend.

She was sick since 2008 when she developed a pain in her side which would not go away.  Her doctor sent her for tests and ultimately discovered that she had Primary Peritoneal Cancer, which is pretty rare. Most people discover it when their belly swells, but because of the pain they caught it somewhat early.  Her tumor had attached itself to the abdominal wall so she that is why she was experiencing symptoms sooner.  After that discovery she went through chemo several times and toward the end, there were many trips to the hospital to open up her kidneys that the cancer shut down. Despite the fact her obit says she went peacefully, our common friend said that was not the case.

As I mentioned she stopped talking to me shortly before I was married - to this day I have never discovered the reason why.  Even after many attempts to reach out to her, she remained silent to the end.  She did however, accept my friend request on Facebook so that may have been a silent acknowledgement of our continued friendship; at least I took it as such.  I suppose now I will have to wait until we meet again, in heaven or another life, to find out the reason. I will remember the many good times we had together. Rest in peace, Mary Al.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Beautiful Neighborhood

I came across a new web site yesterday that I was invited to join.  It's called and it is a social networking site designed to help neighbors get to know each other.  I suppose there are those people who don't bother actually knocking on the door of the person who lives next door, or a few doors down and talk to them face to face.  Interestingly enough, I actually met someone at a party who didn't have a clue who his neighbors are and actually started dating a girl before he found out she lived on the same block as he did. But I digress.

Next allows people to sign up and virtually meet their neighbors in a social, non-threatening way, and be able to share information such as an emergency alert, neighborhood event, or the ability to discuss community issues.  I joined the group simply because I was invited, which is the way it grows. I suppose it will prove to be worthwhile, especially the aspect about discussing community issues because people tend to be more vocal online than in person, IMHO.  One thing that amused me was a statement by the website people that said:
We believe in the traditional notion of neighbors as people who help and look out for each other. We hope that Nextdoor members embrace the concept of being neighborly to each other.
I only hope that this is the not world we are becoming where people need to have a website help them watch out for each other rather than common courtesy and simply being human.

Monday, September 23, 2013


It is a challenge at this time of life where we see our friends' parents die and we are reminded that death is there, waiting for us whether we like it or not. One of my childhood friends called me yesterday to inform me that her mother died.  Her mother was the same age as my mother and it suddenly makes me think of the mortality that we all have.  

When I remember my friend's mother, I chuckle, because she so patiently dealt with all of our practical jokes growing up with such grace.  I specifically remember one time when we were probably in sixth grade.  They had just gotten a new station wagon with all kinds of bells and whistles.  One of the features was a speed alarm that would go off when one got to a specific speed to prevent one from speeding.  My friend and I had been taken on an errand before dropping me back at my house.  We were told to sit in the car while her mother went in the store to pick up something.  I turned the speed alarm down very low, turned up the radio very loud, turned on the wipers, and turn on the a/c to an extreme setting and then we both got back in the back seat where we were told to stay.  Of course when her mother came back and turned the key, all hell broke loose.  Although her mother was not amused, she just murmured something and went on about the way.  My friend and I were busting up laughing in the back seat, but her mother's reaction was not the one we wanted.

I will always remember this instance as an example of how calm she used to be and how much of a lady she was.  Even though I didn't keep in touch with her much after she and her husband retired to Florida I still considered her a friend as much as her daughter.  She will be missed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dinner and a Show

Theater Horizon opened their doors in 2009.  Last night I attended the new theater opener for what I believe is their third full season.  They had the event in partnership with several restaurants in the area that offer subscribers dinner coupons to so that dinner and a show is available.  I got goosebumps when I heard that because there has never really been that concept since I have lived here, and it is very exciting.

We have had a cultural center here for a while, and they have a wonderful venue for theater, so it is very exciting to have another theater in our little town. Now we have to work on getting more restaurants in town so there is more of a variety for theater goers as well as bringing in new people and things to do for our own residents.  Two of the restaurants who were at the event are not in the town and one of them is rather far away and would require people to drive rather than walk, which in my opinion does not make it a viable place to go to before a show.

Things seem to be getting better at least as far as cultural events are concerned.  I believe that once we establish culture as a destination reason, we can help establish our town as a destination place.  It is a matter of time.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I am reading the most wonderful book called Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cooking Mama's given to me out of the blue by a friend of mine.  He said he saw it and it reminded him of me. It is really interesting and has gotten me fired up on the aspect of not eating food that is highly processed. While I was reading yesterday the image of a community surrounded by farmland came to my mind.  I imagined a farm outside a little village where each person in that village got what they needed from the farmer.  In the village, there were little shops that carried local wares and in the village, there was a school, some churches, and the people of that village could walk to the central part to do their local shopping.  I thought to myself that if I were Queen that's how this world would work.

Wait a minute, that is just how things used to be way back when before we all got "civilized"!  It was like that before we took away all the farmland and built McMansions on it, before we decided that stores would carry cheap, easy-to-break crap from China, and before we started manufacturing food rather than enjoy what comes out of the ground. There were little villages like that where people lived and were healthy because they ate was God intended and not things that no one can pronounce. Furthermore, there are places like that still in Europe more or less. Why can't we get back to that?

We are close to having reached the point of no return (at least in my neck of the woods) in this country.  But there is hope.  We can model the village life in some of the small cities in towns in America.  We can have the community gardens and local CSAs grow the food, we can create walk-able communities, and we can buy locally produced goods.  It will take desire and the political will to do so.  In the meantime, I will keep dreaming, looking for local produce, growing what I can, and boycotting food I can't pronounce.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Nuisance

Another article appeared in the paper today about the ACLU's lawsuit against Norristown that challenges the constitutionality of ordinances such as the one called the "three strikes rule".  This ordinance was put into place with the intention of protecting the peace and order of the neighborhood by forcing landlords to lose their license if there are multiple calls to the police for that property.  Unfortunately, in the case of Lakisha Briggs, she was evicted because the domestic violence relationship she was in caused her to call over and over again despite the restraining order against her abuser.

There are many things at work in this case.  First and foremost, domestic situations are very tricky things to deal with.  For a short time, I did work with a domestic violence support center doing hotline crisis calls. During the training, as well as my personal experiences, it was stated that domestic violence relationships go in cycles.  After the crisis is over the victim takes back the abuser because the abuser makes promises that it will never happen again.  The couple enters a "honeymoon phase" and things are great until the next time. It was therefore during my time on council before that I argued the ordinance should be exempt for cases of domestic violence.

In every situation there are two sides to every story.  I do not know the amount of times the police were called to that property so I cannot say whether I side with Ms. Briggs or the municipality.  I can say that the municipality's intention was to give some quality of life to neighborhoods by helping alleviate as many nuisance properties as possible. In cases of domestic violence, one simply cannot predict what will happen and to legislate an ordinance such as this one without taking that into consideration can only bring difficulty. I only hope that during the time when the municipality is not enforced the ordinance due to the lawsuit Council does the right thing and re-address the law.