Tag Archives: friends

so you say you want a resolution. . .

i am so in awe of my friends.  in 2011 i made and delivered — more or less — on a resolution to meet and spend face to face time with my 325 facebook friends.  it was harder than i anticipated and way more rewarding than i expected.  in 2012 i made and sort of delivered on meeting new facebook friends.

my facebook friend lesley riley is someone i wasn't blessed to have as my friend in 2011.  she came to the bat girl cave from her home in california in order to say "hey, you're not just a facebook friend!"  i admire her a lot and think she's adorable!

my facebook friend lesley riley is someone i wasn’t blessed to have as my friend in 2011. she came to the bat girl cave from her home in california in order to say “hey, you’re not just a facebook friend!” i admire her a lot and think she’s adorable!

so it’s getting to be that time again.  i think all of us start the year with optimistic plans to lose weight, quit drinking, give up smoking, be more organized.  what’s your new years resolution?

 

 


gravity settings on facebook accounts to change, sun to rise in the west

mark zuckerberg is possibly satan.  at least, some folks feel that way when they find out the terms and conditions on facebook have changed or that timeline is mandatory or that privacy settings have suddenly shifted so that your mother now sees all the pictures of you passed out on your friend’s couch with a case of empties on the coffee table in front of you.

it’s possible that mark is satan because he has defied the essential laws of nature.  including the most basic economic law of supply and demand.

the dismal science of economics’ first principle is that if there is more demand (people want) for any asset (beer, gold, oil) the price of that asset will go up. if there is an increase in the supply (more more more) of any asset, the price will fall. but get out a six pack and look at this chart and you can figure out the implications without having to shell out tuition money to the university of chicago business school.

on may 18, facebook went public in one of the most anticipated initial public offering ever.  this meant that you didn’t have to be a facebook employee or a real not just facebook friend of mark zuckerberg in order to make money on the one billion member online nation.  the stock price on that first day was $38 and when mark zuckerberg wed priscilla chan that same week, it seemed as if everything he touched would turn to gold.

but that spring of his content was made inglorious by the summer’s discontent.  facebook’s stock price plummeted to an astonishing record breaking low of $17.55 per share.  facebook was washed up.  couldn’t compete with other social networks in the mobile device market.  had an eye popping 9% rate of profiles useless to advertisers.  some early investors in facebook, including cofounder paul thiele, sold what stocks they could–suggesting to the marketplace a sort of no confidence vote in facebook.

this past wednesday was predicted to be a bloodletting:  852 million shares in facebook, nearly as many shares as the pre-existing 921 million shares, would be released for sale.  past and present employees and early private investors were not allowed to sell these shares under legal trade restrictions that expired at midnight.  the morning bell at the new york stock exchange was to be the death toll as the shares were added to the already bloated supply of facebook shares.

more facebook shares.  lower price.  law of nature.

instead, wednesday’s trading on the new york stock exchange in facebook shares was as bizarre as if mark zuckerberg had declared that gravity would not be enforced, that one should look westward for the sunrise and that thing where your older brother told you santa doesn’t exist?

better watch out, better not cry!

by the end of trading, the facebook shares were settling into a nice 12% INCREASE to a price of $22.22.  this makes no sense whatsoever.  unless . . . well, sure, the rational explanation is that there is a class of investors who decided they would wait, that they would hold back and forbear until the trade restrictions expired.  smart investors.

and those folks who purchased on may 18 thinking they were in on the ground floor?  suckas!

or perhaps there’s something larger at work.  maybe mark has created something so magical and wonderful that it is beyond everything we have ever seen.  maybe he’s not satan.  and maybe his next trick . . .

or maybe he’s just an ordinary guy who came up with an idea in his harvard dorm room and turned it into a billion nation empire in less than a decade. i could have done it too, but i was using my dorm room for partying, sleeping and playing james taylor on my eight track.


facebook sex facebook sex . . . you decide

so i’ve been thinking about the great decision that we as americans have made.  particularly the women vote.

no, no, no! not the presidential election. that’s over. here’s mitt having a final peanut butter and honey sandwich on air romney. he was vociferous in the battle and gracious in defeat.

 

the academic and quite erudite journal of sociology cosmopolitan magazine has released a survey of women (that would be me) and their internet habits (uh oh).  an astonishing 57% of their respondents would rather give up sex for two weeks than stop using their internet social networking site of choice.

quel horreur?  no facebook for two weeks?  well, it’s not like i’ve been getting regular sex so my response would have been more like “oh, okay, another two weeks of thinking everybody else is having great sex but i’m the total loser OR i have to give up facebook?”

cosmopolitan magazine was created by helen gurley brown who advised women to sashay out into the world and get it all–money, sex, love, career–AND enjoy it! every month the magazine promises its readers sex tips that will drive a man crazy, how to’s on the perfect coif, and how to get ahead in business. i might be fifty two but i don’t feel too old for this advice!

 

the strangest part of the survey was that two percent of women have actually stopped in the middle of doing the nasty in order to tweet or check their facebook status.  and this study had over a thousand respondents–there’s only four kardashian sisters!

so i have to ask you. . . .

 


even without the red shoes, there’s nothing like it!

i made a new years resolution for 2011 to meet in person all 325 of my facebook friends.  325 friends, 365 days, 13 countries, close to 60,000 miles on planes, trains and automobiles.

i had 325 friends–from college, from around town, from playing online scrabble, people who like my grandfather’s science fiction writing, parents of my kids’ friends, and some people i just had no idea why. i wanted to meet them all and figure out if we were “just” facebook friends or something else.

 

at the end of the year, my house sold.  my sons live in new york and ohio and neither of them really wanted me to move in with them.  i had no place i had to be and i had spent a year being everywhere so i could choose.

this past month, i took an apartment.

for most of my adventures, i carried with me a plush doll of the nineteenth century adventurer and explorer william clark. he has his own facebook page and we are facebook friends. now he resides in the bat girl cave which is very close to where i used to live.

i could have gotten one of those prefab homes in nome that i saw, or moved into the mumbai holiday inn which is the swankest place i stayed.  i could have opened a fruit stall in mexico city in the neighborhood i visited or i could rent one of those sweet apartments i saw in dortmund, germany.  but no, i ended up back in winnetka and i didn’t have to click my heels three times to know there’s no place like it.

but of course i have facebook friends to see in other parts of the world.  new friends on facebook.  i just got back from kentucky and i think the next trip is ontario and from there new york.

thursday night i went to a party in winnetka. everybody said “welcome back!” and i think they meant it. i was not actually wearing these shoes, but i felt like i was!

 

 


if you’re going to live out of your car . . .

seriously, no worries.  yes, i’m homeless for the moment but there’s just so many blessings to it. for one, i will never always look with compassion at someone who is homeless, without work, fighting addiction or depression, or just generally having a rough life —  it’s not that i am but i laughed this morning when i ran into a friend i hadn’t seen anywhere except on facebook this past summer and i said “what have you been up to?”  and he said “sleeping in my car a lot.”

laughing, but i could sympathize.  i spent two nights this week sleeping in my car.  we agreed that state parks are good, but not for a woman by herself and that wal-mart — yes, wal-mart — is the kindest to people who park.

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in general, i find it preferable to have a large stuffed animal (or, in this case a giant heart) to rest up against.  one can leave it on the passenger seat during the day with a certain insouciance–and your car doesn’t scream “arlynn slept here!”  blankets definitely should be folded up and put in the trunk.  keeping up appearances is important.

i was surprised this week when i realized what an extraordinary thing karma can be.  i sent out a request to facebook friends asking if anybody knew where i could land.  i had a lot of offers but nothing quite worked.  and my “home” was in the shop–i traveled so much last year visiting facebook friends that my tires were balding and my brakes shot.  i felt like my life was completely out of control.  it’s never a plummet to the gutter, it’s always a series of bumps. 

and i have it easy.  two nights last week i slept in my car but two nights i spent at the marriott because i discovered i had so many reward points from traveling last year that it was free.  plus i got breakfast!

then i got a call from facebook friend mike castagna.  well, i mean, he’s my facebook friend and a friend of longstanding.  still, i hadn’t heard from him in a long time.

“if you don’t mind staying with me and matt,”  he said, referring to his son who is also oddly enough my facebook friend as well.  “we got an extra bed on the porch.  it’s screened in, you’ll need some blankets.  oh, and in order to get to the bathroom you have to go through matt’s room.  he has a snake.  stay as long as you want.”

he spoke with such enthusiasm and force that i could only believe that he meant it. 

“i’m so grateful,” i said.

“no, i’m the one who’s grateful.”

and he reminded me of a favor i had done for him and his son matt several years ago.  i felt the whooosh of karma looping around me.

“no, i’m grateful,”  i said to mike.

“no, i’m grateful.”

“no, i’m grateful.”

“just shut up,”  mike said and hung up.

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even if i’m living out of my car, i like to decorate for halloween!

living with mike and matt and the snake is a temporary solution and tomorrow i drive out to meet with facebook friends indianapolis and beyond. 

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mr. clark, the mascot of the facebook adventures, is happy on the summer porch and will be happy sitting on the pink heart’s lap when i get back out on the road!

the friend i met this morning who has been driving out to state parks to sleep in his car was in surprisingly good spirits.  that’s how you have to be regardless of what life gives you. 

 

 

 


millie and me. although really, my friend lanny jones and millie

i’m a little under the weather and i always welcome missives from friends who want to share with other friends.  this from lanny jones, a facebook friend i visited this past year.  he wrote “william clark and the shaping of the west” about my facebook friend and faux fiance william clark.  here’s what lanny had to say:

Three weeks ago, on August 28, a fire detection specialist named Steve Christman was riding shotgun in a lightweight Cessna 182 flying over the Gallatin National Forest in Southwest Montana. Below him was some of the most rugged terrain in the Northern Rockies — the Gallatin Crest, a rocky, heavily timbered crazy quilt of creeks, steep slopes, and 10,000′ mountain peaks. Sprawling just a few miles from the resort community of Big Sky, it is a region beloved by hikers and mountain bikers but inaccessible to just about everyone else.

My wife and I spend the summers in a cabin that borders this forest. On a map, you could draw a line south from our porch and hit nothing but trees, rocks, and lakes to Yellowstone and then to the Grand Teton National Forest and Jackson Hole before you hit a paved road. But in a matter of hours after Christman’s flight, we were to be engulfed in one of the largest and most public events imaginable. It brought with it acts of astonishing individual bravery, as well as the combined efforts of more than 500 firefighters, and the expense of at least $7 million of federal funds. All of this was produced by a mega-wildfire beguilingly named Millie.

At 2:21 p.m., Christman noticed a single plume of smoke rising from the south slope of Storm Castle Creek. A 25-year veteran of the Forest Service, Christman was not surprised; a lightning storm had rolled through the mountains the previous day. This year’s long drought had baked a region already weakened by bug kills into a forest of bones. The moisture content of trees had fallen beneath the requirement for kiln-dried boards sold in a lumberyard. The fire covered less a tenth of an acre, most of it creeping in the ground cover, but Christman immediately radioed for help. “It was in heavy timber and had fairly high potential,” he says. “I knew it would take a while to get an engine into it, and we needed to do something or else we’d have a fairly big fire.”

At 2:32 p.m., eleven minutes after Steve Christman radioed in his first report, dispatcher Kayla Lemire faxed a request that a Smokejumper team temporarily based in nearly West Yellowstone be flown up to the fire. The request was received by Dan Cottrell, a seamy-faced, deceptively relaxed 38-year-old who has been jumping out of the air into fires on the ground for more than dozen years. Smokejumpers are something like the SEALs of the wildland firefighters (though they would get an argument from the equally highly trained Hotshot crews). They undertake some of the most physically demanding jobs in the federal work force, though Cottrell likes to say that the most dangerous thing he does every day is to drive to work.

By 3 p.m. Cottrell and his stick of eight jumpers were circling over the fire, which by then had grown to a half-acre of flames, mostly on the ground. Cottrell requested a helicopter to bring in the “Bambi buckets,” 500-gallon dollops of water scooped from a reservoir and nearby lakes. The Smokejumpers chose a desired landing-spot a half-mile from the fire. They tossed several streamers out of the plane to gauge both wind direction and the best flight path to the LZ. They were carrying four “squares” — parachutes that work best in high winds — and four “rounds.” After the four squares jumped, they threw another set of streamers — but now the wind churning up the ridgetops was becoming dangerously turbulent. Cottrell decided reluctantly that he and the other three Smokejumpers would have to return to West Yellowstone and drive back in their truck – a journey of several hours.

Meanwhile, a local fire engine crew stationed at Big Sky had been ordered to the scene by the Forest Service. It would take 90 minutes for them to crawl up the gravel road to the fire. Among the four men aboard Engine 661 was Dan Kettman, a newly trained, 25-year-old rookie fire fighter who was on his first assignment. He had never fought a fire before. “We kept hearing traffic on the radio about the fire,” he remembers. “We knew it was growing, and I was starting to feel a little nervous.”

Circling overhead in his Cessna, Steve Christman saw that the fire had grown to 30 or 40 acres and was burning rapidly on all sides and up towards a ridgetop. He told the dispatcher that the fire had “a high potential to run.”

 

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View of Millie from my porch, August 29A little before 5 p.m., Dan Kettman and the crew of Engine 661 arrived at the Blanchard Ranch, a private inholding in the national forest with a few guest cabins and horses. They cut the lock to the gate and requested that the owners be notified to take out the horses. They then crossed Storm Castle Creek and took a Forest Service road to an overlook of the drainage. They were startled by what they saw. The fire had grown to 60-75 acres and was generating its own weather system in the treetops. “You could hear trees popping like Roman candles,” says Kettman. “It was too close for comfort.”

Concluding that they could no longer fight the fire on the ground, and worried about being encircled and entrapped, they backed off. “I was the new guy,” says Kettman, “so they had me stand on top of the engine to look and make sure we could get out.” As they were backing away, the four Smokejumpers who were first on the fire walked out of the smoking woods.

Kettman and the others were concerned about what wildland firefighters call “a blowup.” Here is what Norman Maclean says about blowups in Young Men and Fire:

“The chief danger from a ground fire is that it will become a ‘crown fire,’ that is, get into the branches or ‘crowns’ of trees especially where the trees are close together and the branches interlace … The crown fire is the one that sounds like a train coming too fast around a curve and may get so high-keyed the crew cannot understand what their foreman is trying to do to save them. Sometimes, when the timber thins out, it sounds as if the train were clicking across a bridge, sometimes it hits an open clearing and becomes hushed as if going through a tunnel, but when the burning cones swirl through the air and fall on the other side of the clearing, starting spot fires there, the new fire sounds as if it were the train coming out of the tunnel belching black unburned smoke. The unburned smoke boils up until it reaches oxygen, then bursts into gigantic flames on the top of its cloud of smoke in the sky. The new firefighter, seeing black smoke rise from the ground and then at the top of the sky turn into flames, thinks that natural law has been reversed. The flames should come first and the smoke from them. The new firefighter doesn’t know how his fire got way up there. He is frightened and should be.”

Steve Christman, still circling overhead and watching the fire gallop ahead, was running low on fuel. When he saw the Engine 661 pick up the Smokejumpers, he dipped his wing in acknowledgment. “When I saw that I knew we would be okay,” Kettman remembers.

By 6 p.m., Dan Cottrell was back on the scene, now designated as a Type 3 Incident Commander, the boss of the operation. He reported that the fire was now up to 150 acres, burning ferociously with a wall of flames waving 20-30 feet high. It was making runs through thick timber and up the rocky slopes. Additional resources had been ordered in: Helicopters, air tankers, a Native American Hotshot crew from Ft. Apache, AZ, and an “Air Attack Platform” plane to observe the fire. At 11 p.m., Cottrell reported “significant fire activity” near the Blanchard Ranch. He would soon bed down for the night, anxious about what the next day might bring, especially if the hot, dry weather continued.

Over the next 24 hours, on August 29, this fire — her sweet name of “Millie” apparently resulted from a dispatcher’s typo of “Miller” — erupted into one of the most devastating conflagrations of the season. Leaping from the dried-out grasses into the crowns of the subalpine and mixed conifers, Millie took a running start and jumped Storm Castle Creek, burning a swathe five miles long and two miles deep, torching and blackening everything in its path and consuming almost 10,000 acres. Firefighters reported large predators in the area – bears and a pack of 20 wolves dislocated by the fire. The largest predator of all, of course, was Millie. Writers describing fires almost inevitably fall back on an atavistic, primordial vocabulary. Fires are a deranged, feline creature — “crouching,” “creeping,” “licking,” “leaping,” and “waiting.”

Two deputies from Gallatin County Sheriff’s office placed us on “evacuation warning” on August 30. We moved our so-called valuables to a friend’s house and took our dog everywhere (in case we were prevented from returning to the house). We visited the fire camp — or, as the Forest Service calls it — the ICP (Incident Command Post), a mini-city of 550 souls, many of them living in tents in a former hayfield. By this time the fire had been upgraded to the level managed by the Great Basin Type 2 Management Team — a group of 30-40 experienced managers who travel around the country providing logistical support — food, shelter, sanitation, communications, finance, administration, security — to firefighters on the front lines.

My wife and I feel close to Millie. We have spent the past two weeks in her close company. Our house and those of our immediate neighbors are the closest structures to the fire, which, as I write this, is still burning five miles away — uncomfortably close to the same distance it moved on its first, intense day of rampage. The amount of energy released in a typical woodland wildfire is comparable to that of a nuclear explosion. Over the past two weeks I learned about about Bambi Buckets, Sky Cranes, torching, and spotting. I talked to people identifying themselves as Fire Behavior Specialists and Fire Meteorologists. I visited the perimeter of the fire, near the spot where Engine 661 picked up the Smokejumpers.

What did I learn? I learned that mega-fires like Millie will become increasingly common in the years to come, as climate-change clears our forests. And I learned that the men and women who fight fires in our country are the best we — and our government — have to offer. At one of the public Fire Information Meetings I attended, a local woman from Bozeman stood up and thanked “the foreigners” for the dedication and professionalism they had amply demonstrated at all levels of government — federal, state, and municipal. Witnessing this, it is difficult to understand why some politicians attempt to curry favor by denigrating the work of these and other public servants.

On September 13, the Gallatin County Sheriff rescinded our Evacuation Warning. On September 14, the Great Basin Incident Management Team turned over management of the fire to the Gallatin National Forest. We can unroll the rugs we had readied for a quick departure. But we are not yet ready to put the photographs back on the wall. Millie still sends up unnerving smoke columns when clumps of trees within the perimeter suddenly burst into flames, as if to remind us that she is still in the building. Current predictions are that she will still be burning until November 1.


white knights. . . .

i came to florida with my usual mission:  meet facebook friends face to face.  learn from them.   enjoy their avocations, their joys, their fears, and their lives.  and take friendship out from behind the laptop or the cellphone updates and into reality.

but i got a little sidetracked.

my father justin is receiving provenge treatment for cancer. experimental? yes. expensive? try ninety thousand a pop. weird? yeah, they take all your blood out and ship your white blood cells to a lab to be enhanced and reconfigured and then they put those white blood cells back in your body and say “cancer begone!”

 

i arrived in tallahassee and was a bit surprised.  my father’s wife was heading out on a business trip and asked me to take him to his first appointment the next day.  this required a cancellation of friendship appointments for monday and tuesday but i still figured i could do wednesday.

white blood cells (leukocytes) are the ruthless knights of our bloodstream. they fight diseases–cancer, strep throat, ebola. without them, we are without defense. tomorrow (friday) my father’s white blood cells–with new shields and swords–will be reintroduced to his body.

 

my father was feeling poorly and i cancelled the rest of the week’s travels through orlando, spring hill, tampa–but two facebook friends stopped by tallahassee to take me to lunch.  bill taylor, who lives in the city, and ron winegar who drove in from panama city.  the distraction was a great gift!

tomorrow i will take justin to his appointment to get back those white blood cells back into his system and then. . . alas, i’ll try to make it out of the state of florida!

 


provenge, the white knights, and my friends

i know what i planned to do–drive from tallahassee to orlando to spring hill to tampa and back again to tallahassee and then fly to chicago–but then there was reality.

the provenge treatment my father justin is engaging in requires that his blood be extracted from one arm and then processed in a machine which sorts out red and white blood cells.  the white blood cells are harvested and then couriered to a lab where, even as i write, they are being enhanced and changed.

leukocytes, or white blood cells, are the fighter cells and without them we have no immunity to disease.  the provenge treatment means an enhanced armor, a better sword before they are shipped back to tallahassee.  my father is the first patient to have his provenge treatment conducted in tallahassee, as opposed to jacksonville which is several hundred miles away.  provenge is a treatment which costs approximately ninety thousand dollars. 

 

justin was feeling pretty awful afterwards and when he has the white blood cells reintroduced into his system, he will not immediately feel better.  in fact, he might feel quite a bit worse.  i have been told that he will need a chaperone as he did on tuesday–this time, there will be a sedative.  for him, not for me, damnit!

we came back from the clinic and justin immediately fell asleep.  i cancelled all my facebook friend plans and was so grateful that everybody was so understanding.  sure, i felt guilty but i was the one creating the guilty–nobody was putting more on me.

but there was one friend i was too late to be able to cancel.  facebook friend #330 ron winegar and i have been facebook friends for about a year.  he drove in from panama city to meet me for lunch.

ron is an air force and marine veteran. he was initially stationed in alaska and we shared stories of our common experiences of the 49th state. he’s a firm believer in ufo’s because when he was stationed there, he had some experience with them. i was fascinated! so much so that for nearly an hour i forgot that i was supposed to be taking care of justin. no worries, justin was still asleep when i returned to the apartment.  sometimes a knight in shining armor is just the friend who has lunch with you and let’s you forget the real world! 

 

i am so grateful for my facebook friends, the ones i see and the ones i haven’t had a chance to see. .. . yet.

 

 


first we take all your blood out of you. . .

at the southeast community blood center in tallahassee, florida, i am watching a frankensteinian experiment.  for the first time in tallahassee, a provenge treatment is being performed.  my father justin is the lucky patient, and lucky is absolutely the word.

provenge is a cancer treatment which promises up to three months of continued health.  it costs $90,000.  luckily, justin is covered by insurance.

when i came down to florida, i had an expectation of renting a car and toddling all over the place meeting facebook friends.  i had a great sense of anticipation. but i was anticipating something that isn’t happening:  instead, justin’s wife left for a business trip and i am a witness to history.  although provenge has been done in other parts of the country, this is new . . . for tallahassee and for justin.

nurses adam and denise are referred to as “vein whisperers” because they can get a needle into the very smallest of veins. over a three hour period, all of justin’s blood will circulate through a machine that extracts white blood cells.

justin’s blood will go through tallahassee airport. .. . i hope it doesn’t get stopped by the t.s.a.  and then . . . they’ll put the blood back into him!


when i’m gone. . . . this is where i’d like to be

get up in chicago, pile into the airplane and sit.

and sit some more.  our airplane had a problem, the pilot explained, one that required bringing a technician onboard to disable the lavatories in the “aft” compartment.  i’m not great on my aeronautical terms, but i figured out pretty quick that “aft” meant that the first class passengers still had a bathroom but the rest of didn’t.  and then, forty five minutes later, we took off.

i am in tallahassee where one of my facebook friends, my father justin, lives.  he is experiencing meta-fan-tastic prostate cancer and will undergo the experimental treatment provenge.  provenge is a one time only treatment that costs $90K and man, i sure hope it works.

it’s a good thing that i’m here, because justin’s wife had a business trip so she’s gone.  and tomorrow morning  justin and i show up for the treatment which involves all his blood being sucked out of his body and the white cells taken out to be sent to north carolina where they will be genetically altered and reinserted into his body in tallahassee on friday.

my plans of meeting facebook friends all over the state are a bit compromise.  nonetheless, i was so grateful that facebook friend william taylor, er, bill, came to visit me and my dad.  and took me to my favorite place in tallahassee.

in the old city cemetery in tallahassee, there is the monument to elizabeth budd graham who died in the late nineteenth century. some people believe that she was a witch because the inscribed face of the monument faces west. (please remind my sons joseph and eastman to face my monument to the east so that there’s no misunderstanding, although certain ex-husbands and boyfriends may beg to differ).

because we were meeting for the first time, bill brought a birthday cake that was a symbol of all the birthdays that we had missed as friends.  he transposed the numbers.  oops!

bill got a little confused: a twenty fifth birthday for moi? no, i’m actually fifty two but a gal can remember can’t she? i was grateful–and i was happy for his upcoming birthday in october! maybe when friends meet for the first time, they should celebrate the birthdays they have missed! and for bill and i that’s a lot of birthdays!

 

tomorrow i have to cancel some plans, some rentals, some tickets, but the most important thing is to take care of my father.  but the most placid picnic ground in tallahassee. . .