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Cancelling Bears Brown Bag Deliveries

I just cancelled my Santa Cruz Gray Bears brown bag deliveries. Every week I have been receiving it free. The idea is very nice. But, for the little I am able to eat, it is not worth it. I usually have to find someone to take the food off my hands. Not an easy task when I have a limited number of (also elder) friends and am not well quite a bit.

A friend has chickens, and when no one wants the food, I call her and she comes to get it. Chickens don't eat broccoli, so that goes to waste. Continuing to receive the bag of food weekly, it really isn't fair to those who run the program and the volunteers, even though they don't know of my dissatisfaction. Their ideals and commitment to their good deeds deserve to be effective. But, the amount of time I spend calling around to friends to find someone who wants some item of food, is not worth my time and energy, which could be put to better use. And, I can barely eat what I am given. Usually it is the following:

3 potatoes
3 onions
2 bags of salad greens
Brussels sprouts
3 carrots
3 apples
1 can of green beans
occasionally white rice or dried beans in a small plastic baggie
Bread of some sort

Am I being ungrateful? My mother, (RIP) would be quite upset that I don't appreciate what I am given. She would want me to "Eat it all gone! People in India are starving to death!". It has nothing to do with a lack of gratitude. I remember that back in the 1970s it made the news that elders were eating canned cat food because they couldn't afford to buy human tuna. And their lack of balanced nutritional intake contributed to their demise. I'm sure that before this became news it was an ongoing issue for elders and those who were poor but not poor enough to qualify for food stamps, which didn't exist as a regular government program until 1964.

I cannot often eat potatoes. I put them in the vegetable drawer where they get wrinkled and start to grow. Onions are totally out of the question. I would be so sick if I ate them. The doctor warned me not to eat Brussels sprouts due to my propensity to produce bladder stones. Same goes for spinach which is often in one of the salad bags. Green beans, believe it or not contribute to upset stomach along with the dried beans. I've come to the conclusion that I can buy apples without bruises and carrots (which I love) without having to find someone to take the other items. When the chicken lady is not available, most all of it becomes garbage. Sadly, I no longer try to keep a compost bin.

So basically, I can use the rice and bread, though the bread is often out of date and in need of a saw to cut through it. Only kidding about that. A good serrated knife will do the job.

Why don't I just use my food stamps to buy the food I am able to eat? Fifteen dollars a month of food stamp allotment is not sufficient to provide me with adequate nutrition to get through more than a week. And believe it or not, though my income is officially "below the poverty level" I do not qualify for more than the fifteen dollars.


You Can Save a Life

I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia September of 2011. I do not qualify for a bone marrow transplant. Presently I am taking a chemo type drug called Sprycel. I need take it for the rest of my life or until there is a cure.

Even though I do not qualify for bone marrow transplant, I would like for you to consider signing up to do so. Contrary to any exaggerated stories you might have heard, it is not a nightmare to go through. Watch the video and read below it, too.

When I was a young woman, I had another cancer. It was called chondrosarcoma. I had a large bone tumor in my pelvis. If it had not been for the generous blood donors who were available at the time, I would not be here today.

Being a Bone Marrow Donor is a lot easier than you think. In most cases all they need is your blood. If you are afraid of needles, ask someone you know if they will be a donor.

Sometimes they need to get marrow directly. This does not involve cutting into your bone. It involves sticking a needle into the bone at the top of your hip and sucking out some marrow. That's it.

I had that done during my bone marrow biopsy. I did it without anesthesia. I was completely numbed in my upper hip. I had no pain to speak of. Less than I have had with an IV. I have had more pain from a dental appointment! Though it may not be the same for everyone, I just want you to know this is not a huge sacrifice in order to save someone's life.

If you saw a person dying and you knew you could help them stay alive, would you do what you could to help?

I hope you will think about this. If it were you needing a bone marrow transplant to save your life, or the life of someone you love, your child maybe, wouldn't you want others to be aware of how they can help?

Check it out:


Do You Know Your Neighbors?

You never know what is behind the doors of your neighbor's house unless you have visited them and been inside. Or if you peeked into windows. But, that's creepy!

In my neighborhood, some of the neighbors stay to themselves, and I often wonder who they are and what they are like. You can tell a lot about people by the "stuff" they have. For example: If you came inside my house after the first time I invited you in, you would see that I have a lot of cat stuff. Therefore, one could assume I like cats and they'd be correct.

Recently two of these neighbors have had yard sales for the last couple weeks in preparation for moving. Every weekend new items were set out. I went over to one neighbor's yard sale. They had tables set out in their driveway. Everything was set on the tables in an orderly manner with price tags on them. I could tell they put a lot of effort into setting up. Upon chatting with them, I realized by their behavior, straightening things as soon as something was sold that they were orderly people. Perhaps a little overly concerned about neatness. But, I wouldn't complain. It was easy for me to see the things they had for sale. Books were all near other books. All kitchenware all placed together. I learned very quickly that the woman was a librarian and her husband was a bookkeeper. It sort of makes sense. Doesn't it?

I hadn't ever met the  wife of the other couple. She stayed to herself. Whenever she drove into her driveway, she limped quickly into her doorway looking neither right nor left. It was always clear to me she was a very private person. Her husband, Frank, on the other hand was friendly and outgoing. I had often seen him out and chatting with other neighbors and met him a couple times informally.

I had heard that Peggy and Frank only had a month in which to move from their house. I went over to see what they had for sale in their driveway. I quickly realized that Peggy was a genuine "hoarder" as I looked into the open door of the garage where Frank was pulling items out. Boxes and boxes of unrelated items were crammed to the ceiling. Women's items. Shoes, clothing, hats, etc.

Things were piled onto a tarp in the middle of the driveway. Frank brought out one box at a time and emptied them out onto the tarp while Georgia sorted through deciding what to sell and what not to sell. For the most part, as she kneeled on the tarp, she put items back into the box. Frank came out with another box to empty. Peggy hand back to him the previous box. "Take this back." she said.

"Honey, you know we have to get rid of this stuff!" Frank said.

"I know, but some of this is good stuff, collectibles and such. They are worth something!" She said. I saw him roll his eyes and shrug his shoulders as he took the box from her. "If they are worth something, put a price on them and let's sell them and get this done and over with!"

She was silent as she began pawing through the purses he had just dumped on the tarp. Peggy then looked up at me with tears in her eyes. "These are real good purses. Good high fashion designer brands." She held one up, "This is a Ralph Lauren. That one is a Gucci."

"I can see that." I said as I picked one up. "Louis Vuitton?"

 She nodded and wiped a tear off her cheek as Frank came over with another box. "Don't dump those here." Peggy said. They go over on the dresser there. Those are knick knacks." She started putting purses back into the purse box. Something caught my eye, a purse with cats on it.

"Oh! How much do you want for this?" I asked as I picked it up.

"That's a Laurel Burch. That cost about fifty dollars when new."

"Five dollars!" said Frank, as he came back to us with another box to dump on the tarp.

"No!" Peggy said.

"Ten?" Frank said with a smile his face. I could see that by interacting with us, he was encouraging his wife to actually let go and sell the items she so desperately wanted to keep. She looked at him, frowning, and turned to me,"Twenty."

I really wanted the purse with the cats on it! I was just about to give in when Frank looked lovingly at his wife and said. "Peggy, honey, we can't overprice these things. We've GOT to sell stuff quickly or we are not going to make the deadline to get out of here. You don't want to pay rent on two houses at once. Do you?" He looked at me. "The new place we're moving to is much smaller and doesn't have a garage. There's no place to put all this stuff."

I said, "I understand." I smiled at Peggy, still holding the purse in my hand. "How about fifteen dollars?" She slowly nodded and put her hand out. I gave her the money. She looked crestfallen. I was so sad that this sweet couple were in such a dilemma.

The following week, they had another yard sale, and another. But it was clear to me that Frank and Peggy were not making much headway. After they moved, and were gone a couple weeks, I ran into Frank at the grocery store. He told me they had put the extra stuff into a storage facility. I felt sad for them. After all, it costs money to do that and I doubted they would ever empty the storage.

After seeing how emotionally difficult it was for Peggy to sell her stuff and learning of their decision to put things in storage, I had a realization. It made me face the fact of just how much junk I have sitting around that I don't really NEED!

A local cat rescue group, Project Purr, is going to hold a giant Rummage sale next month. I'm cleaning out my closets, drawers and garage, putting things in boxes. I am donating it all directly to Project Purr. I have already taken three carloads of boxes over to them this last two weeks. And now the car is right half packed with another load.

Thank you Frank and Peggy for opening my eyes to my own tendency to hoard.