Thursday, July 19, 2012

GeorgeMark House

I have a very nice brother and sister-in-law. They let me stay at their home when I am in the Bay area. They have helped me and my other brother out on numerous occasions and have been more than gracious about it. That makes them nice people.

What makes them GREAT people is what they have done for the severely and terminal ill children of California.

Welcome to George Mark Children's House.

It is NOT a hospital. It is a place for palliative care for children and their families. There are nurses, and doctors and psychologists and therapists of all kinds. They have bereavement care and counseling.

Each room has its own theme and mural. The medical equipment is hidden behind the panel with the cat on it. Each room has an extra bed (comfortable type) for a relative. There are also suites for the families to stay in if they wish.

There is a therapy pool.

There is a gathering room.

 There are peaceful, manicured grounds.

But it is ALL about the kids.

There are at least three more boards that are covered with the children that have been to this place.

Oh, did I forget to mention that they are pet friendly?

These welcome dogs may be fake but real ones are allowed to stay. If the pet is a rabbit or a cat or a hamster or (this I couldn't believe) a snake---whatever---they are welcome at George Mark Children's Home. As brother Bill says,."The pets get it!"

I have heard about George Mark Children's House for years. And my response was always "Gee, that is great, Bill. How was your golf game."

Not any more. I have seen this place and felt its energy. I have felt the peace and the acceptance of letting go. I have felt how this place makes transition a much easier, not easier, but more understandable thing.

Some kids come to learn how to cope with their terminal diseases. Some come to let there families have a break from the pressure of caring for a terminally ill child. Some come to learn to care for their children outside of a hospital.

But they all are there because they can find some peace there.

George Mark Children's House operates on donations. Until very recently, insurance companies would not pay for care at a palliative care house. They would pay for the care in a hospital but not at places like George Mark Children's House. 

I cannot adequately describe this place. PLEASE go to and see what they are doing.

What really blows me away is that two people, my sister-in-law, Dr. Kathy Hull and Dr. Barbara Beach started this project on their own. Brother Bill has been working on it none stop.

These are just ordinary people. With a dream and a tenacious will to see it all work.

I am amazed at their work and ashamed of my less than enthusiastic understanding of the project.

So, to make up for it I am asking anyone who reads this to go to the George Mark Children's House link above and click on their donation link. Give what you can. Then pass this on to anyone you know. Every penny helps.

A place in San Leandro, California is making a difference. It is amazing.

Monday, July 16, 2012


When Mel and I first saw this place we gave a giant sigh of relief. A small home on a bit of acreage in the middle of nowhere. Where we could sit on the porch and read.

Where we could plant flowers and watch them grow.

But we knew that we had to have a plan. A way to escape if Mother Nature got really pissed or some yawhoop got REALLY stupid. That would mean fire. And fire in sagebrush country is very, very dangerous.

So the plan is grab the dogs and the cats and get the hell out o' here. Nothin' but us and the pets.We keep the traveling cages close at hand and easy to get. Just in case.....

Well, welcome to almost just in case.

That is not a cloud.

And that is not a cloud.

That is smoke. Big, billowing smoke. Which a short while ago was orange and pink with heat and debris. It is about six miles away at this point.

We have been told by the CHP to stay put for the moment. The fire is going the other way.  But I just looked out my window and saw this:

So, it may be just in case.

I will keep you posted.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


These last three weeks have been a bit hairy. (not as hairy as some of my online friends are having! Hang in there THUMPER!)

But it was hairy enough.

I was in a murder trial and working each night until late so that I could be prepared the next day. Now I do get a bit uptight when I am in trial. (The Kid tends to wear emotional armor when trial comes around.) I am very focused on what has to be done for my client. I forget to eat, drink water and otherwise take care of my physical plant.

So when I get cranky no one really notices. But, at the end of the day, I do know that I need some emotional recharging.

Now my spouse knows the signs and symptoms of trial. And he does his best to avoid direct incoming fire. He even finds ways to defuse the time bomb walking up the steps to the house.

This is his latest foray into horticulture and he knew I would love it.

The Man's Sunflowers

Now you will note that there are a few "holes" in the rows. Mr. Gopher made a few meals off of the sprouts. We even watched one disappear one evening.

But I get to see these bright, happy flowers when I come home from a very stressful (and factually ugly) case.

I stop and notice the life-cycle.

Seems that there is some rule that says one bee to a flower. But I watch for several minutes as the bee fills its pollen sacs and then heads for home.

That's when I head to the door.

And I am home.