Friday, June 26, 2009

#26 way to change the world

This one is a little bit different...but the concept is very simple.
Pick 3 independently owned local businesses you couldn't live without in your town.

Shop there and spend $50/month.

Save your local economy by investing your money in your local economy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

#25 way to change the world

I am late with last week's charitable effort. So I'll just post TWO this week. One now and one Friday/Saturday. OK? OK.

I was walking through the mall last weekend when this bracelet caught my eye. Mr. Umholtz, JB Robinson Jewelers, kindly took it out of the case and let me try it on. He didn't have much more information than what was on the card...With the purchase of the Green Bracelet, $20 or more goes back to Africa to support educational programs where diamonds are a natural resource.

I was intrigued so I looked it up online and found the maker of the bracelet is the Simmons Jewelry Company...the company of the hip-hop celebrity Russell Simmons and model(?) Kimora Lee Simmons (I'll be honest...I only recognize her from Celebrity Baby Blog). And the bracelet is the first in their "Green Initiative," benefitting the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.).

Here is a little article about the effort to boost economic development in Africa and provide "conflict free" diamonds in the world market. This is apparently something that has been ongoing since 2006/2007...but we live in the boonies and things are slow to reach us.

It's a little higher price, so it's a good thing to look at for special gift occasions. I told Steve it would be a lovely gift for our upcoming anniversary...15 years (wow!).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Miscellaneous thoughts

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Last Sunday, after literally telling everyone to "get out of my space," I was able to do a little sewing. Seams sewn. Zippers repaired. Buttons replaced. The front of a new dress pattern pinned to fabric...upside down. oops!
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I need a serger. Like NEED a serger. Yes, I'm thirteen and figure if I keep begging I will, one day, actually get a serger.
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Not much to note around here. Got a cheap window air conditioner for the boys' room and fashioned a redneck-style window installation. I'm just hoping it doesn't slip out of the window and fall down the two stories to the ground below. Not that I doubt my husband's redneck capabilities or anything, but I think I will rope off a "do not walk here" zone...just to be safe.
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I need a better paying job. I'm just saying.
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Halfway through the year and some things have fallen by the wayside. Photo Fridays...I really really want to catch up but I'm not sure where I'll find the time. Snowflake Mondays...I am trying to catch up but I learned last weekend that I cannot crochet snowflakes in the car. The thread and hook are too fine...and the work too detailed...to do with any extraneous bumping around.
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You knew it was only a matter of time.
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My girlfriend and I talk about opening our own craft and coffee shop. Her husband says it's like the parallel to the guy conversation about how cool it would be to open a bar. Phooey. Someday I'm going to find a way to make it happen and make him eat his words.
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I'm having a House Party on Saturday...sponsored by Domino's American Legends pizza. Free pizza! Fun!
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I really wonder why I had to answer any questions about dinner if he was just going to throw a grilled steak on my plate and leave it at that. I returned from the grill with my steak...looked on the stove...looked in the microwave...nothing. No, I do not want my green beans in another five minutes or my potatoes in another fifteen minutes (after my steak is gone). sheesh!
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Zip the foster dog expressed her displeasure with her new harness by chewing through it. It was cute too, dang it! Pink with little white polka dots. Of course, said chewing incident could have been prevented if I would have just taken the darn thing off her before I went to work. But I was misled to believe that the boys would keep an eye on her during the day (Live and learn, I guess). Now I need to find another cute harness. I know it's sad, but it's the only way I can get any sort of girly shopping fix.
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LOL!
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We recently adopted an old black labbie girl from the APL. She can't stand having her picture taken. Seriously, she gets up and walks away whenever she sees a camera pointed in her direction. My husband's hypothesis? She was a supermodel in a past life and is tired of the "pup-arazzi." Yeah...I know.
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Sam is watching the Travel Channel. He now wants to visit Belgium, Chile, and Gilbert, Arizona.
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Today...I lost three pair of shoes to the foster dog...I didn't get coffee until noon...Sam has a teenager attitude in a 7-year-old body...Myles fell off the couch three times...the car requires $300 worth of repair...I have to take Myles to the doctor for a checkup...I have to attend calling hours for my boss's son this evening.

Tonight...I drink.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gone

My boss's son just died. I never met him and yet I'm terribly saddened by the news of his passing. Though this does bring up a whole host of unresolved feelings for me, that sadness is eclipsed by the sadness I feel for them...the family.

I'm sad that it was sudden and there was no chance for his family to say goodbye.

I'm sad that his three-year-old daughter will grow up to not know her father.

I'm sad that his wife is left alone in this life to take care of their daughter.

I'm sad for the road of grief I know my boss and his wife will now have to travel.

I'm sad that they know this road well, having already buried on son.

My heart wants to make it all go away...make it all better for everyone. But my head knows there is nothing that can be done.

Rest in peace, JJS. Please, if you can, watch over your family from wherever you are. I know they're going to miss you terribly.

Remember to tell those you love how important they are to you. Because sometimes you just don't get another chance.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Welcome to the world Baby Cooper!

My friend Heather had her baby boy this morning! He weighed 7 lbs 2 oz and measured 20" long. Congratulations to the whole family!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Welcome to the world Baby Loralai

Heather's little girl is here!

Born early on Thursday, June 11 at 3:57pm, she weighed 6 pounds 3 ounces and was 18 inches long. She is currently in the NICU, so her brother hasn't been allowed to see her just yet. Heather is doing well enough to Facebook, so that's good. :o)

I hate to leave it at that, but I want to let Heather tell her own story.

Congratulations to the entire family!

Friday, June 12, 2009

#24 way to change the world

Jewish World Watch, in association with Solar Cookers International, the Dutch NGO KoZon Foundation, and the Chadian NGO Tchad Solaire, has successfully realized the The Solar Cooker Project in Chadian refugee camps Iridimi and Touloum.
Jewish World Watch is committed to protecting refugee women and girls from rape and other egregious forms of violence. Women and girls who have fled the genocide in Darfur, a region of Sudan, are particularly vulnerable to rape while performing the critical task of collecting firewood for cooking. Our mission is to reduce the frequency of these heinous crimes by providing women in refugee camps with an alternative cooking option: the solar cooker. Solar cookers enable women to remain within the relative safety of the camp by reducing their dependency on wood.

The Solar Cooker Project not only serves to protect women, but also provides them with income opportunities through manufacturing solar cookers, training others to use the cookers, and making carrying bags to increase the cookers’ life span. It gives the women a sense of pride to be able to contribute to their household. This project has been successfully realized in the Iridimi and Touloum refugee camps and is now in the Oure Cassoni camp. Jewish World Watch plans to initiate this project in other camps with the goal of reducing the number of crimes committed against refugee women.
$30 SOLAR COOKER Donation Provides:
* 2 Solar Cookers per family
* 2 Pots
* 2 Pot Holders
* Year supply of plastic bags
* Skills Training for refugee women and girls

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sleepover in the hood

Sam's cub scout leader is a very nice lady (D) and I normally really like her. So I'm a bit astonished right now at what just happened. Let me back up a bit in this story first...

D called me last week to tell me that the boys' final tiger cub project had been scheduled for today at 10am. Steve is in the middle of the bad time of year for work with government deadlines looming. I had scheduled a seminar in Cleveland that my office had paid nearly $400 for. It just wasn't going to be possible for us to take Sam to the designated location for this final project and he would be unable to earn the patch necessary to move onto the Wolf level.

D graciously invited Sam over to her house for the entire day. We could drop him off in the morning and she would watch him until I got back to town at about 5:30. At about 5:30, she called to tell me that it would be ok if Sam stayed until the scheduled picnic this evening...she would bring him and we could meet them there. Oh, and Tim would like Sam to spend the night.

Wow! I mean, this lady is so nice. She has five kids of her own and she wants to spend two full days with my kid too (I wouldn't be able to get out of work tomorrow until late, due to depositions). I was so thankful and thrilled that Sam had made a friend in D's son (who is also in the same cub scout pack).

And then...

At the picnic tonight, Steve made a comment about how nice D's street seemed this morning when he dropped Sam off. She said something like, "Oh no...it's a terrible neighborhood." Steve then had to chase after Myles so he wasn't around for the next part...where D proceeded to tell me all about the many drug dealers who live in their neighborhood...how the house on the corner was raided last Monday and the cops were there for eight hours taking out drugs...how the neighbor girl smokes pot on her back porch and D can smell it in her kitchen...how D has an understanding with the parents of that neighbor girl that she doesn't care what they do in their own home, if D's kids can see it or smell it, then D will call the cops...how half the kids in the neighborhood are drug dealer's kids and the other half hand out with drug dealer's kids.

I hesitated giving Sam a kiss. And I walked away from the pavilion with what must have been a terrified look on my face. Steve, who hadn't gotten the drugland rundown, said, "Are you going to be able to sleep tonight?" And I replied, "What? With my kid sleeping two houses down from the one that was raided last week where it took the cops eight hours to clear out all the drugs?" I've never seen Steve move so fast in my life. "No...this isn't happening," is all he said as he headed back to the pavilion to collect our child. Never wanting to offend anyone, I asked him, "What excuse are you going to give?" How's that for idiotic thinking? This woman wants my son to sleep in the middle of the hood and I'm worried about offending her by saying no! I think I need psychiatric help. Thankfully, my husband is sane and he took care of it without batting an eye.

I am completely dumbfounded. I just don't know what to say. We believe in honesty within my family, so we did our best to explain it to him without scaring him too much. We told him it was ok to be angry at us, as long as we know he's safe we can handle him being angry. We told him we would never forgive ourselves, knowing what we know, if we sent him over there and he got hurt. I THINK he gets it...but I so with he didn't have to.

I long for the days when I was little and we had a whole neighborhood as our playground. We rode bikes up and down the street and we didn't have to worry about anything more than what flavor koolaid we'd ask for when we landed at one of our houses. My son won't know that life. He's had to grow up too fast in a lot of ways already. And tonight I'm just sad about all of it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Where is your line in the sand?

Politics?
Religion?
Circumcision?

What's the one belief you won't compromise on?

I'm facing a personal ethical challenge and it's making me re-evaluate who I am and what I believe in. I'm going to be self-indulgent here and put it all into words. I don't expect any magical relief will come from putting it out here...but just maybe...I don't know...

I became a member of the Board of Directors of my local Animal Protective League back in February. The organization is experiencing some growing pains and I've been trying to help get them back on course (read = they're transitioning from "the way we've always done things" to "the right way.") . They haven't been following their corporate directives except in the most generalized ways (read = they still have an animal shelter, but all established business practices have ceased). Procedural things have just fallen by the wayside and nobody has bothered to address the resulting substantive deficiencies for quite some time. For example, they are a membership organization and they're supposed to have a list of members in a membership book. Simple, right? They didn't. In fact, they couldn't even say WHO their members were. Even worse, they didn't have a policy and procedures manual for the employees. Everyone just sort of bumbled along however they were used to or however they felt like. It is a mess. And I say that both personally and professionally.

I joined the organization knowing that while they have aspirations to prevent the need to euthanize animals, they have enacted policy that limits the shelter population. In the rescue community we call it "euthanizing for space." I hate it, but I understand the options can, at times, be to either euthanize unwanted animals or house them indefinitely and stop taking in any other animals in need. I pledged to work with rescues as much as humanly possible to make sure that "my" shelter doesn't have to euthanize for space. I guess you could say this was my first ethical compromise.

Recently, it has come to my attention that our shelter practices the abortion of canine pregnancies (they may also do felines, but I do not have any information on that at this time). This thought makes me sick to my stomach. I asked about it and was told that "everyone does it," and that other shelters accepted this practice (allegedly) as an effort to address the overwhelming generalized problem of pet overpopulation. Another symptom of the larger problems within this organization...there is no formal policy regarding this abortion/pregnant-spay practice. I'm not sure there was ever even a discussion. The Board President tells me this was "sort of adopted as policy" by herself, the then-Shelter Director, and the Animal Welfare Director. I asked how the decisions are made regarding selection of animals for this "procedure" and I asked if this practice was ever disclosed to membership. I received NO response. The silence concerns me. A lot.

I emailed the Board President again and told her I'm going to formally request that this procedure cease unless/until the Board adopts a formal policy allowing it. As you can imagine (probably because she was involved in the initial formation of this "sort of policy"), I didn't get a real positive response. I told her that I believe if this is a policy the organization wants to have, then it should be discussed and adopted out in the open...particularly since we are a member organization and we MUST be open with our members. I told her I plan to introduce it as new business at our next Board meeting

I have thought about this for weeks now and have decided that if they do adopt this policy, I will immediately resign. This is the line I will not cross. This is not something I can be a party to. I haven't told anyone this because I don't want it to seem like a threat from someone who is too self-important. I just want/need to do what is necessary for my own peace of mind.

I know where this conversation will lead because that's where it has gone in my head over the past few weeks. The A-word. The big debate. My brain is tired from turning it all over...inside out and upside down.

And underneath all the "big" issues this has brought up for me, I'm just really really sad that I may have to leave this organization that I so badly want to help. All I would have to do is make another compromise to stay. Unfortunately, I think it would end up costing me more than I can imagine and I just can't do it.

I hope that any and all comments to this post will be respectful. I'm not talking to the people I know (I know you will behave yourselves)...I'm talking directly to anonymous people who may choose to post drive-by comments. Rude or disrespectful comments will be deleted.

Monday, June 08, 2009

#23 way to change the world

Maybe I'm getting older and nostalgia is settling in my bones, but I think childhood summer vacation is something we should work to achieve for everyone.
Every year, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of inner-city children the priceless gift of fun – and opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities.

Whether its a two-week trip to the country to visit a volunteer host family, or a fun-filled and educational stay at one of our camps, our programs make for unforgettable memories – and open a world of new friendships and fresh possibilities.

We are a not-for-profit agency and depend on tax-deductible donations from people like you to keep our vital programs flourishing.

Right now, any gift you make to The Fresh Air Fund will be matched dollar for dollar by a group of generous donors. If you can give $25, that means $50 for inner-city children. $50 becomes $100!

But you must make your donation by June 30th to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
Fresh Air Fund

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Miscellaneous thoughts

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Bring on summertime! First grade is over! The boy got all A's and Satisfactory's. He's still got that checkmark indicating he needs improvement controlling his talking. Wonder where he got that particular trait...
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Nothing against Relay for Life or anything, but one of their wayward yard signs cost me $85 in van repair. That does not make me likely to make a donation this year.
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Still can't help but wonder why some babies live and some don't.
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I never get tired of hearing elected officials swear at me. Yeah, it's no wonder I have a potty mouth and my kid has a potty mouth (Did I tell you he dropped the f-bomb at dinner with my parents last week? I'm just SO proud).
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I love baking pumpkin bread...it makes my house smell so yummy.
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Zip the foster dog is doing great. She's currently sitting here whining at me because I'm not paying her enough attention. I keep thinking "aggressive...yeah...right."
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Who thought it was a good idea for me to serve on the Board of Directors of anything?
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Sam may go to a friend's house for the very first time next week. Keep your fingers crossed I don't hyperventilate over the whole thing.
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I tend to blog in tweet terms now. Sorry about that.
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Zip the foster dog took four steps on a leash! Incentive=bologna. Next stop...the great outdoors...hopefully in this lifetime.

Sharma the white shepherd went to rescue today. I had the privilege of driving the first leg. Such a sweet sweet girl. When I hear "the innocent victim of the foreclosure crisis," this is who I think of.
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I would crochet more and read more, but I'm too tired.
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The balloons have all deflated from all the birthday celebrations and I can no longer find Myles this way...

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Zip the foster dog

Sunday, May 31: Collected Zip. This was a trick, since she's deathly afraid of the leash. So I put some canned dog food in a bowl about halfway back into a travel crate. As she was eating, half in the crate, I gently petted her for a bit and then slid my hand down to her tail and gently lifted her backside into the crate. Closed the door and voila. Not really voila. She was shaking so bad I thought she was going to shake the door right off the crate. But there was NO growling. I kept talking to her as I carried her out of that shelter...promising her life was going to get better.

I let her sleep in the travel crate Sunday night since she really didn't seem to want to come out of there.

Monday, June 1: Monday morning and I was headed off to work for the day so I couldn't leave Zip in the travel crate. I sat on the floor with the travel crate door open and just talked to her. Eventually, she ventured out...so slowly...her whole body shaking. When she was clear of the travel crate I took her blanket out and put it in the large wire crate we have set up for her. I closed the travel crate door so she couldn't retreat back in. She wasn't sure where to go and I could tell she was scanning the room for a good hiding place. So I petted her and used the same technique as last night to gently guide her into the wire crate. Once in, she had some water and seemed to be quite content. She definitely feels safer when in a confined space.

Got home from work and was a bit worried. Zip hadn't gone to the bathroom in her crate. So that means it had been at least 24 hours since she last went potty. That can't be good. I slipped a collar on her. She started to shake when I did it, but didn't growl or act at all aggressive. After a few minutes it didn't seem to bother her at all. Hooked the leash up to the collar and left it lay on the floor. She planted herself as flat as she could and refused to move. I've only ever seen one other dog as afraid of a leash as Zip is...and that's my Milo.

I ignored her for a bit and baked some brownies while listening to the same piano music I would play her in the shelter. Eventually, she ventured out of the crate to the center of the room where her reward lay (leftover birthday cake...she loved it). After that, though, she did the same lay flat routine...refusing to move. So I unhooked her leash and let her roam around the kitchen at will. She didn't go very far...she is very very scared of just about everything...except Sam.

Sam came in the kitchen and sat down to visit...and Zip climbed right up in his lap and curled up looking like she wanted to take a little nap. I was a little nervous that I didn't have a good way to remove her from Sam's lap should it become necessary...but it didn't become necessary. I really didn't have to worry. Sam gently moved and stood up and Zip just slipped off his lap without a complaint. Funny thing was, wherever he walked, Zip followed...her little tail wagging. It was quite the sight.

After a while Sam and I went in the next room to give Zip some freedom to explore without feeling nervous we were watching her. She did finally go pee. She was clearly afraid I would yell at her. But I just cleaned it up and marked the spot with puppy pads. Hopefully this will be her spot and I can train her to use the pads (at least until I can get her on a leash and take her outside for a walk).

This little girl is really a doll. I knew I was right about her.

Tuesday, June 2: Got home from work and the Dish installer is here. Zip doesn't seem upset by his presence at all...no signs of aggression in the least. She was even out of her crate for a while and he walked right past her...she just sat really still and watched him...no growling or anything. That's really really good.

AND she used the puppy pads to poop and pee! I swear, this dog was housetrained at one point. She went right over to them and did her business. She still seemed scared that I was going to yell or something, but I was so happy that I think she got over her fear a little bit. As soon as the messy pads were disposed of, she actually started to jump and PLAY! It was absolutely the coolest thing ever! Sam was dancing around and giggling and the two of them were having a fabulous time. It was an absolutely lovely sight. She clearly loves Sam and will follow him to the ends of the earth (which is helpful when it's time to get her back in her crate). I must remember to get video of this pup having some fun to show the shelter staff. I don't think they believed she was anything but mean...even when I told them different.

I'm sorry to say we've made little progress in the leash department. She has no apparent objection to the collar, but she still will not move AT ALL when a leash is attached to the collar. At first I was thinking a harness might work...but I fear that as long as a leash is involved, she won't go anywhere. It really is one of the saddest things I've ever seen. I KNOW she would love to go outside for a walk. But I just have no way to take her unless I can get a leash on her.

Why couldn't they just leave the shirt at school?

The teacher sent home a note saying that they were going to be decorating special t-shirts for their field trip.

"Please have the t-shirt to school by Wednesday May 20th."

May 19th, I call Steve on his way home from work to have him stop to buy a plain white t-shirt.

May 20th, Sam comes home from school and announces that he "doesn't need the t-shirt until next week."

May 27th, Sam's class decorates t-shirts.

May 29th, Sam's class cleans out their desks.

May 31st, I dig through Sam's book bag and sort things to save what needs saved for scrapbooks. What do I find? A plain white t-shirt.

Me: Uh...Sam? (holding up the t-shirt)

Sam: Oh...I forgot.

Me: Didn't you decorate t-shirts already?

Sam: Yeah, I guess I must've forgotten I had that in there.

Me: So what did YOU decorate?

Sam: Mrs. C. had an extra, so I decorated that.

Me: While this was in your bag the whole entire time?

Sam: Sorry mommy.

June 1st, Mrs. A., the assistant teacher in the class, approaches me to tell me that Sam's the only one in the class who hasn't turned in a permission slip.

Me: OK...I'll make sure he has it tomorrow morning.

We get home, fill out the permission slip, and (no, I'm not kidding) tape it to the inside of the kitchen door so that we can not possibly forget it.

June 2nd, the field trip day. We get to school early...permission slip, check...inhaler, check...lunch, check. He takes two steps out of the van toward the sidewalk and turns back toward me completely hysterical.

Me: Sam? What's wrong?

Sam: I was supposed to wear my t-shirt today and I forgot and it's in my bookbag in the kitchen AT HOOOOOOME! (imagine the appropriate level of wailing here)

Me: (donning my supermom cape) I'll TRY to go home and get here in time to get it to you, but if I don't make it you'll just have to go without it.

Sam: (more wailing) But I don't WAAAAAANT TOOOOOOO!

Me: Do you just not want to go?

Sam: No...(sniffle)...ok. (shuffles off to the school door)

Six minutes.

That's right.

Six minutes.

Lucky for me the sheriff's deputy I flew past was an acquaintence...so I just waved a friendly wave at him and he didn't pull me over.

Six minutes home and six minutes back.

My kid sits in his bright red t-shirt in the middle of a room full of kids in handpainted white t-shirts.

Sam: Thank you mommy.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Wonderful people

I have this ongoing environmental case involving a schizophrenic man in his late 50s/early 60s. He's a collector. He wanders around town and collects whatever catches his eye, certain that there must be something with some value in his collection. He takes it all to his property and dumps it...to deal with "later." Later never comes and eventually the junk piles get so high that the neighbors call to complain and the Health Department steps in. The neighbors are exasperated with this man and, for their own reasons, never offer to help.

As often happens with those with mental illness, this case cycles with his compliance with his medication regimen. The first court case was filed in 2002 and has been back to court several times since. And this man knows enough to know that he "will get in trouble" if he doesn't stop collecting stuff. But he can't seem to help himself.

Earlier this month, I was forced to file again on this case. The man has successfully avoided service of process and I feared I would have to have him arrested in order to get his appearance in court. At today's scheduled hearing, however, Ms. P. showed up...representing herself as this man's Social Security representative payee. More importantly, I could tell that she was there as his friend. She and some other friends have apparently taken it upon themselves to help this man...to clean his property and take care of him in the way that he is clearly not able to do for himself. She has no legal responsibility as his representative payee or otherwise. She just likes him and wants to help.

In the past few weeks, this woman has orchestrated the removal of 156 bags of garbage and a construction-sized dumpster of miscellaneous junk and debris. She jokes that she ruined her manicure in the process. And through it al...despite the ruined manicure...she says, "I would never try to change him...he's a wonderful person." The neighbors could take a lesson from her. I know I did.