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The Guest
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New magnets!  These are from Sunshyn of Sunshyn's Daydreams... she has almost as many magnets as I have!

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Becoming a Man:
Half a Life Story

Paul Monette

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Just say "No" to the Salvation Army.

If anybody is looking for an alternative place to donate money this season, I'm not going to make a big pitch this year because you were all so incredibly generous last year, and I don't want to feel that I'm taking advantage of anybody, but Priscilla is again saddled with her 7 grandchildren, is being operated on for her rectal cancer on December 10, and all the resources for Christmas assistance have dried up. 

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Our family is  "adopting" her family again this year, but if anybody would like to make a donation for her Christmas, it can be sent to

Breaking Barriers
1722 J St., Ste. 321
Sacramento, CA 95814

and be sure to say that it's for Priscilla, since they are working on finding Christmas assistance for a lot of people.

(I'm including the BB address because I'm uncomfortable that people might think I'm using the money for myself or something.)


(written for the Random Acts of Journaling Collaboration)

12 December 2001

It's not that the flowers have gone, excactly. It's that so many have been grown under artificial conditions that, strange as it seems, I can't seem to find the flowers I remember from my childhood.

Is there anything more glorious than finding a beautiful deep red rose and inhaling its sweet fragrance? These days, if you find a rose in a flower shop, chances are that it will be perfectly formed, but barely have any scent at all.  (A lot of them, even those that you pay a fortune for, don't even open properly, but remain tightly closed and start drooping over.)

I remember that as a Brownie Scout, our leader worked in one of those old Victorian mansions in SF and we would all meet in the kitchen on afternoons.  The garden was filled with mini pink roses, and I can still close my eyes and remember standing there, just sniffing the roses.

Carnations hardly have any smell either, though they have managed to produce them (or dye them) just about any color you want (it's hard to relate to a green carnation for St. Patrick's day). But the intense sweet smell I remember with such fondness just doesn't seem to exist.

(As far as I know, gardenias still smell the same, but I have a hard time with gardenias, because they always remind me of death, since the very first funeral I ever attended, at age 5, took place in a small, hot room with a coffin draped in a blanket of gardenas!)

I don't think I thought about this too much (roses not being found in this house very often in the first place) until I went back to work.

My new boss, in addition to being a physician, an entrepreneur, an art dealer, and an architect (really!), is also an avid gardner. Every Monday morning he arrives with a container of fresh flowers from his garden, one arrangement for my office, one for his (and he arrages them because he's also a better floral arranger than I am).

He's about at the end of his roses right now, but it's been so nice to have roses that actually smell like roses again.

This "roses don't smell like they used to" business ranks right up there with all of the things that aren't as good as they were when I was a kid. Tomatoes don't taste as good--they look better, perhaps, than the tomatoes I had when I was a kid, but the flavor doesn't match the intensity of the color and it's always a disappointment to cut into a ripe, red tomato and find it flavorless.

Same with strawberries and a host of fruits and vegetables that are grown in hothouses for appearance, but not for taste.  I can remember climbing trees in a cherry orchard in what is now an endless row of housing tracts.  We would pick the sweet, juicy Bing cherries, eating as many as we picked, letting the juice run down our chins and dyeing our fingers a lovely purple.  Try to find Bing cherries in a supermarket that come close to tasting like that!

You can buy salami on the shelves anywhere. I bought some in a variety store last night.  No need for refrigeration any more (until the package is opened). Makes a wider market for the people producing salami, I guess, but it doesn't taste like the stuff we used to slice off of the bulk salami that used to be hanging up in the butcher shop.

I suppose its inevitable that things are going to change over time. Everyone is always striving to make things "better." Sometimes it's nice to admit that "improvements" don't always make things "better."

But when I see a beautiful rose, I'd love to have it smell like a beautiful rose, not to have no (or very little) fragrance whatsoever.

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I have to tell you that I had a call from Breaking Barriers this afternoon to tell me that a couple of people have sent donations to help make Priscilla's Christmas a little bit easier on her. One check is from someone who had never contacted me before, a name I didn't even recognize.

The generosity of people just touches my heart. I remember last year when I showed up at Priscilla's house the day before Christmas with food and gifts and how she burst into tears and told me that people's kindness was what is keeping her alive at times when she just wants to give up.

I really didn't think she'd still be around this Christmas. She was so sick last year, but I think the fight for her mother has given her more energy and has kept her going for another year. Of course, I don't know what she's going to be like, going home the day after major cancer surgery to a housefull of grandchildren!

But...thank you. From the bottom of my heart, and from Priscilla as well. You guys are just wonderful.

One Year Ago:
Martha Doesn't Live Here

My tip of the week:
Go NOW to
Pictures to EXE Presentations
and download some of the fantastic
slide shows which have been
uploaded.  You wont be sorry!

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