The Black Cat Bar

So, today is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riot in New York City, one of many attacks on gays by police in various jurisdictions over the past many years. The Stone- wall was a gay bar in New York City. On June 28, 1969 there was a police provocation that led to a riot that went on 2 more nights. What was different about the Stonewall event is that a year later there was a public commemoration of the incident, considered to be the first gay pride parade. It caught on in New York, nationally, and internationally. In some European countries June 28th is referred to as Christopher Street Day.

But, by no means was it the first police riot against gays in New York or elsewhere. Of especial interest to me is the story of the well-named Black Cat bar in San Francisco. It opened in 1907 by Mr. Charles Ridley, who made it a a place for drinking, dancing, and vaudeville. The police shut him down in 1921 on charges of running a disorderly house (possibly prostitution.) He reopened at a different location, 710 Montgomery Street, in 1933. He sold the bar to Mr. Sol Stoumen in the early 40’s. During the forties the bar began to attract a Bohemian clientele, attracting Beat writers and artists. Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo had their studios nearby. If you dropped in for a drink and some conversation you might have heard Truman Capote tell you that he was a drinker with a writing problem. You might have run into John Steinbeck, William Saroyan, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, or Jack Kerouac. In fact, the model for the club in Kerouac’s novel, “On the Road,” was the Black Cat. And, the bar began attracting homosexuals. During WWII thousands of service men were discharged from the military because of homosexuality, and they found themselves on the West Coast, not particularly wanting to return home to a life of cultural repression. San Francisco was a more welcoming place to them, and, of course already had a homosexual community. In 1948 the City and the State began a harassment campaign against the Black Cat. There were frequent raids and arrests. Some of these attacks by police poured out into the street, with beatings and arrests of gay patrons. Their liquor license was revoked, but Stroumen fought this all the way to the California Supreme Court, and won. The court ruled that the license could not be revoked simply because homosexual people congregated there. But the city and state kept up the pressure, and Stroumen finally closed the bar in 1964. Why do I tell you all this? Because it is important for people to understand their history. To think that the government will protect your civil rights is naive. Stand strong for what you believe. And because Black Cats Rule!

Judy thinks the dead animal wrapped up and left in the lawn and leaf bag in front of our house several days ago might have been a little yellow cat that showed up a couple of weeks previously. She was very skittish, and neither Judy nor I could get close to her. I don’t know her name. She looked to be pregnant and might have been sick. Anyway, we haven’t seen her for over a week. Too bad.

Mike feels better today by quite a bit, even though his cough and low grade fever persist. He went to Emory for chemo yesterday, but they withheld it because of his cough and fever. He goes back in 2 weeks. He hopes to be able to go back to work Monday. Oh, and you should see his legs from the levaquin drug reaction. They are swollen and covered with scarlet blotches. He says they hurt and itch some, but not too badly. At least there is no way this can get any worse. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. Thank you all for your continued prayers, love, and support. Mike couldn’t do this without you.

By the way, I should say that none of the historical information included in this blog was derived from original sources. This is generally the case. If you find errors of fact please bring them to my attention in the “Comments” section.” Thank you.

Well, I guess that’s all for now from Happy Meadows. Be well, be safe, and be proud. Bye y’all.


Coughing and more coughing

So, Mike is looking and acting poorly. His cough is no better, and continues to disturb his rest. He has lost his appetite, and persists with a low grade fever. Two days ago it got up to almost 101. He called Emory and they had him come in. They took a bunch of cultures and he saw the PA. He put him on levaquin. Mike took it around 6PM, and by 1PM yesterday he broke out in a rash. He called his dermatologist who worked him in right away. He took a couple of biopsies and told him to stop the levaquin. Mike called Emory and they called in a Z-pack which he started yesterday. By this morning Mike was covered in red whelps. Luckily, Mike says they don’t itch. Mike goes back to Emory tomorrow for chemo, and is going to ask to be seen in the clinic. Mike had gone to work Monday morning, but by the time he got there he realized he needed to go home. Dr. Dennis is seeing his patients this week. I hope he can work next week.

I think I failed to mention that last Thursday when they were leaving for chemo Mike noticed the water coming out of the hot water tap was very hot. So he and I went to the basement to check on the hot water heater, and sure enough, it had sprung a leak, and the basement was flooded. I had no idea because I never go to the basement by myself. I can’t open the door, and it is creepy. Mike turned off the water to the house because he couldn’t find a shut off valve for  the heater. The leak couldn’t have gone on for more than a day. Off they  went for chemo while I went out on my rounds of the neighborhood.  Mike was able to contact a plumber and get home around noon. By the end of the day we had a shiny new hot water heater. It still smells damp down there and Mike still has fans running. Yuk!

I am not pleased to report that someone has placed a  wrapped-up package containing a dead animal in the lawn and leaf bag in front of our house by the curb. Terrible smell. Even the crows are staying away. I don’t know why people act the way they do sometimes. There must be more to tell you, but I am drawing a blank right now. I’ll post again soon. So long for now from Happy Meadows.

Maybe Egypt wasn’t so bad.

So, Mike has had a weird cold. It started with a slight sore throat last Sunday. He has not had any sneezing or runny nose, thankfully (OMG, the noises, the Kleenex). He has been coughing and ran a low grade fever Wednesday. By Thursday he was better and went for his chemo, no problem. The cough is worse again. He didn’t sleep well, and feels like hammered mulecrap today. He did call his doctor at Emory, and he didn’t think he needed to come in and be seen, so he will continue symptomatic treatment (tylenol, cough medicine, watermelon, rest).

Oh, and Mike and Judy went to temple last night. Rabbi Holtz had invited them on the occasion of their wedding anniversary (24) to have their marriage blessed. In fact, their marriage has always been blessed, but it was a very nice gesture, and it meant a lot to Mike and Judy. They had dinner before the service with their good friends, Norm and Nancy, who also came for the service. Norm was Mike’s best man at the wedding. Rabbi Winokur and his wife Donnie, were there as well. Rabbi Winokur had officiated at the wedding, and he participated in the blessing last night. Other friends were there as well. Mike often talks about the importance of having a spiritual home. Life is best lived as part of a community. This includes temple, church, neighborhood, support groups, service organizations, work, and family, including cats, of course. If you want to have a dog that’s okay too.

Rabbi Holtz gave a sermon about the weekly Torah portion in which they read about Moses sending spies into Canaan to find out what the land and its people were like. The spies were leaders from each of the 12 tribes. When they returned with their report 10 of them had crapped their pants, so to speak. They said the locals were giants, like Nephilim. Nephilim are not well described in the Torah but they seem to be mythological beasts, half-human and half demon. It was because of this incident that the Israelites had to wander in the desert another 38 years. They just were not up to the challenge in any way. Mike had heard the old story that they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they arrived at the promised land because Moses was too stubborn to ask for directions. Apparently, not so. The rabbi’s point in his sermon was that the episode of the spies was more a journey of self-discovery than anything else. These were people who had been subjugated in Egypt for over 400 years. Suddenly they found themselves in the wilderness with little sense of purpose or hope, and little inner strength to draw on. Their leader says God will save them and take them to the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey. But they are not so sure. Maybe Egypt wasn’t so bad. Mike likes to talk about the Heroes Quest, in which the hero of the story faces a seemingly impossible challenge, tries to get out of it, is promised spiritual aid if he accepts the challenge, accepts the challenge, completes his adventure successfully, and returns home with whatever bounty he has achieved on his way. But the journey is as much an interior one as exterior. The self-knowledge, self-esteem, and spiritual awareness that he gains are what form the basis for the rest of his success in life. Mike uses the Heroes Quest as a model for what we all face in life. In a real way, all of us are challenged in life by unexpected and unwelcome issues. What we gain when we face them is a new sense of purpose and meaning to our lives, and each person’s path and lesson is a little different. And we can’t do it alone. Life is best lived as a member of a supportive community. The community can’t do it for you, but they will care about you and give you the spiritual, emotional and sometimes physical support that you may need along the way. More about this another time.

And, speaking of heroes, it was 80 years ago yesterday that the New York Yankees announced the retirement of Lou Gehrig, based on his diagnosis and progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Lou faced his disease with great dignity and courage, pronouncing himself in his farewell address to the fans at Yankee Stadium as “the luckiest man in the world.” It was his misfortune to be so famous and get such a rotten disease that they named it for him. But, he seems to have made the most of it.

So, that’s all for now from Happy Meadows. Be well, be safe, and have great adventures y’all!

Too Much Broccoli

So, Mike and Judy went to a dinner commemorating the 70th birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous in Atlanta. AA was founded in 1935 and its first meeting in Atlanta occurred in 1941. It was brought to Atlanta by a fellow named Steve who was a member of the original Washington DC group that was established in 1939. In 1941 Steve moved to Atlanta and established a new group. There are now over 1200 AA meetings in Atlanta every week. There is no official number of AA members because of the anonymous nature of the organization. However, it’s a safe bet to say that the same people don’t go to all 1200 meetings every week. There was a lot of good fellowship at the meeting and they served a meal of salad, chicken, garlic bread, pasta, steamed broccoli, and cake. While Mike was in line to get his meal a lady cut in front of him and started spooning broccoli onto her plate. The tray that she served herself out of was a large throwaway aluminum pan that probably had 30 servings of broccoli in it, and it was full at the beginning of the extraction operation. Remarkably, she spooned more and more broccoli onto her plate until a substantial pile of broccoli had accumulated. Mike kept expecting her to stop and move on but she simply kept piling more broccoli onto her plate. After she had taken at least 15 servings of broccoli Mike said to her “why don’t you just take the whole tray?” Somehow, she was not amused and gave him a long dirty stare and then went back to spooning broccoli onto her plate. Afterwards Judy told Mike that he had been rude and that it’s not nice to comment to people about their eating disorders. In truth, Mike was just trying to be funny but at times his judgment is way off about how his humor will be perceived. I wish I had been there to see this though. I bet it was pretty funny.

Mike has a cold right now. He has a little cough but no fever and he doesn’t feel sick. His voice is down about an octave. The rash on his hands and feet is much improved. Maybe he’ll get to start his next chemo medication this week. We’ll find out on Thursday.

So, another Hallmark holiday has come and gone. Father’s Day it was this time. Mike’s dad was an outspoken critic of Hallmark holidays. This has rubbed off on Mike who nevertheless appreciates the relationship that he has with Michelle and for that matter the relationship he had with his father. He doesn’t need a commercial reminder to be grateful for his family. Cats are another story altogether. We seldom know who our father was. My grandfather, Black Jack, commented in his autobiography, “Autobiography of a Georgia Cat,” that this lack of knowledge of our father is part of what propels us on our spiritual path, seeking the father of us all. I have no idea who my father was. Black Angel was my mother. All she would say about my father is that he was small, dark, and handsome, a stranger who passed through in the night.

Well, Mike seems to be in a hurry to get to work, so I will close this for now. Enjoy your day. You will hear from us all in Happy Meadows again very soon.

Progress and More Progress

So, Mike went to Emory for his infusion again yesterday and met with his lymphoma doctor. The treatment seems to be going well, and his blood count continues to improve. He is feeling as good as ever now, and says he must have been feeling effects of his cancers without realizing it. He is now on a reduced schedule of chemotherapy, cutting back on the frequency of 2 of his medications. He saw a dermatologist today about his hands and feet which broke out in a drug rash 2 weeks ago. They are better, but still have a ways to go. Once mostly cleared up, he will start his next chemo medication. I hope he tolerates it as well as he has the first 3 drugs. Time will tell. He has now been back at work for 2 weeks, part time. He will continue this schedule and see how it goes for a while. He is happy to be seeing patients again. Mike says the love and prayers continue to give him the positive energy he needs to be sustained through this difficult time. Thank you all.

As regressive as our country seems to be getting (Spoiled Donald, attacks on Roe v. Wade, deterioration of our status as a world power) Many institutions in our country are making great achievements in growth. This month Doctor Patrice A. Harris, an African-American psychiatrist from Atlanta, Georgia was elected President of the American Medical Association. She succeeds Doctor Barbara L. McAneny who now moves to the role of Immediate Past President. Also, Doctor Susan R. Bailey was elected to the role of President-Elect. This is the first time that all 3 positions have been held by women at the same time. Women have been discriminated against for generations in academia, including the field of medicine, in many ways. In Mike’s generation women were discouraged from entering medical school, being encouraged instead to become nurses. Only the best qualified and determined women were admitted. In Mike’s class at the University of Illinois only 16 women were admitted in a class of 200 students. Now approximately 50% of medical school admissions are women. Despite the increased representation of women in medicine, there remain many obstacles to advancement and recognition of excellence, particularly within the medical institutions themselves. So, it is with particular satisfaction that we commend the AMA House of Delegates for their considering these candidates on their merits, not on their gender.

And there is more. Look at the agenda of challenges Doctor Harris highlighted in her acceptance address.

  • “The potential rollback of the Affordable Care Act and the millions of Americans who lack health care coverage.
  • A lack of physicians from underrepresented groups in medicine.
  • Physician shortages in rural America.
  • The use of e-cigarettes by impressionable young Americans.
  • The fact that one of two Americans struggles with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • The rising cost of pharmaceuticals.”

She also made a special point of concern about the continuing alarming rate of opioid overdoses. She said that it is her hope at the end of her term as president she will be able to say that during her term in office America could see the end to the opioid epidemic on the horizon. She hopes to see through cooperation of state and federal agencies and legislative bodies the removal of barriers to treatment of those with substance abuse disorders. Among other elements that would contribute to this problem solving would be parity for mental health, increased equity, and prior authorization reform. (See “It Gets Curiouser and Curiouser'” May 12, 2019.)

The AMA also passed a resolution that it be the policy of the AMA that health is a basic human right. If you don’t think this is a big deal, then you are wrong. This is a very big deal, and it demands that the AMA, as an organization, aggressively push for equal access of all Americans to affordable food, shelter, medication, and care for physical, substance use and mental health disorders. This is not your grandfather’s AMA. Praise the Lord!

Mike and Judy just came home this afternoon after attending the funeral for their former neighbor, Bob McP. It was another Scottish funeral complete with bagpipes. Bob was 91 when he passed, after living a good life. He was eulogized by a son, his 8 grandchildren, his best friend, and his pastor. What I remember about Bob was his friendliness, his smile, and his dog. He was a great role model for his family and his community of what it means to be a Christian man. He gave far more than he took, and in so doing was rewarded with deep satisfaction with his life, and confidence in the goodness of what is in store for him with his passing on. R.I.P., Bob McP.

There is much more happening in Happy Meadows, but I think I will stop for now. Be well, be safe, and you will hear from me again soon.


So, Mike went for his chemo treatment yesterday, and has the hiccups today, as usual. His hands and feet had blistered this week, but they must have figured something out because he is much better today. He met with his doctor and got more questions answered. I think he starts another chemo medication next week, but will meet with his other doctor first next Thursday. I am starting to see that having cancer is a big production. The prayers and love keep coming for which we are all grateful. Mike went back to work Monday and worked 3 mornings this week. He will do that for a while and see how it goes. His patients are worried about him, and some of them have cried. It is very touching. Mike has real relationships with his patients.

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of France by the Allies. Mike and Judy visited Omaha Beach in 2008. There is an American cemetery there with over 9000 soldiers buried. It was amazingly peaceful, an incredible contrast to what went on there with the fighting. The cemetery is at the top of the cliff overlooking the beach. The Allied forces were easy targets for the Germans shooting down on them. It must have been awful. Mike and Judy watched “Saving Private Ryan” the week before they left on vacation, to put their visit in a more realistic context. It’s really hard to comprehend. Cats would never act like that. Mike says the visit to Omaha Beach was one of the most moving experiences of his life. Most of the time Americans feel invincible. I think the greatest threat to America today is an internal one. People are very angry and getting too tribal. Come on, y’all, take a lesson from the four-leggeds, and work it all out. There is enough for everyone.

I think I’ll keep it brief today, because y’all want to know how Mike is doing, and don’t care as much about my other ramblings. Oh, but I should mention that Ladybug got hauled off to the Extreme Vet today for her well-cat exam.  She is very healthy, I’m glad to say, but a little stout if you ask me. She claims to be sturdy, not fat. Maybe a little of both. I think she is in for a slightly altered food plan, otherwise known as a diet. I will let you know how this goes. Until the next time, so long from Happy Meadows.




Having a Good Day?

So, Mike had his third chemo treatment Thursday, and it was uneventful, except that he seems to get the hiccups for a day or two afterwards. Also, he has a weird rash on his hands and feet. I guess they really are poisoning him, hopefully to his benefit. He was very energetic again the day after his last chemo, and cut down another medium sized tree behind the house. Later in the day the air came out of his balloon, and the twins nap-coached him for a couple of hours. He goes back to work part time tomorrow. We will see how it goes. I know he will be happy to be working again.

It hasn’t rained for at least 2 weeks. The lawn is on the verge of burning out. Mike had to water the front yesterday and today. It brings up an old resentment of his about having to pay both water and sewer fees for outdoor watering, even though the water doesn’t go through the sewer. The city would be happy to come out and put in a separate meter and charge and arm and a leg for it. Mike, get over it. Resentment is the number one offender, and gratitude is the antidote. Anyway, now that he has watered, and paid for the water by the drop, it will probably rain within 24 hours. We need it, so thanks, Mike.

I have probably mentioned this before, but Mike’s late wife, Gena, who died in 1992, still gets mail at the house. Always, it is someone trying to sell her something she can’t use, like a hearing aid, life insurance, or a Medicare supplemental plan. This week we (she) got 2 pieces of mail, one from an outfit calling itself National Cremation Service. They have a slogan: “Cremation, Today’s Sensible Choice.” The mailing was one of those fake surveys in which they claim to want your opinion, but what they really want is your money. I’m sure you have all seen these. One example of this is the “Do You Approve of President Trump?” messages that you get on the internet or Facebook. They are accompanied by a picture of the president with a serious, stern expression on his face. If you click “Yes” on the (red) box you then get to select all his moves that you approve of. But you can’t submit your response until you make a donation. Or, another example would be “Do You Think It is Vital to Defeat President Trump in 2020?” If you check “Yes” on the (blue) box next to a picture of him with a supercilious smirk on his face, you get to check all the reasons why he represents the greatest danger to our country since the Civil War. But, you can’t submit your answer until you make a donation. I think the same company writes both of these campaigns. The other mailing came from Dignity Memorial Network. Their slogan is “Life Well Celebrated.” They seem to be more interested in preserving remains than incinerating them. I wonder what the odds are of the occurrence of these 2 mailings coming to us the same week, after never having seen this marketing scheme before? I suspect a coordinated effort by the same company, operating off of a 30 year old mailing list.

Mike subscribes to a service that sends him a positive thought at 6AM every day. The resource is the Grapevine, a publication of Alcoholics Anonymous World Service. The Grapevine has been published monthly, I think, for the past 75 years or so, and is a goldmine of material for and by people in recovery. The daily messages are drawn from this treasure trove. Mike particularly liked one he saw about 2 weeks after he was diagnosed, and before he found our exactly what kind of cancer he has. The piece was from the April, 1991 Grapevine, from a contributor from Tennessee, entitled “Good Days and Bad Days.” “Sometimes when I think I am having a bad day, I am really learning a hard lesson, cheap. And sometimes, when I think I am having a good day, I am really in trouble and just haven’t recognized it yet. I’m really no judge at all of what kind of day I am having.” I guess it is better to deal with each situation with as little judgement as possible as to whether it is good or bad. It’s just the next thing to deal with, and if it doesn’t kill you, if you are open to learning, it really will make you stronger.

The prayers keep coming, and we appreciate them. Mike’s niece and her husband walked to the kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem yesterday and spent part of their Sabbath day enjoying each other’s company and praying for Mike’s speedy and complete recovery. Thanks to them and to all of you who are sending your love and prayers our way. We love and pray for you as well. As Mike and I are sitting here composing this note, we can feel a great sense of peace, love, hope, and the power of healing. Good stuff. So, that’s all for now from Happy Meadows. Have a safe, healthy and blessed week. You will hear from me again soon.