These Truths are Self-Evident or Not?

Some general insights follow from me,  things that I have noted during the course of my adult life.  Naturally these are merely thoughts, my opinions and they are, yes, like that other thing we all have!.

Just a word of warning to those of you that don’t know it yet but  social media stays on social media.  And for some folks, that scares the hell out of them. Political careers can and are ruined by this media. Ironic that Bill Clinton served controversy over smoking pot and kinky sex in the White House and politicians now go down for even less.  But even in our everyday life, people are always forming opinions and thus attitudes about us.  But I do find, those that truly care about us realize that we are not what we feel, we are what we do with it.  Expressing views is simply that.

With that in mind, I feel certain some folks will agree with some of my observations:

  • Churches should use (home-made!) Italian bread for communion verses scanning
    neighborhoods for potential parishioners. It would be easier to get bread, if you know what I mean, in the basket.
  •  The volume of commercials should be the set at the same level as TV shows, verses so many decibels higher.  How annoying is it to watch something live, turn the volume down on the ads and then have the show start back up and you miss the opening lines?
  •  For those that feel everyone should not have medical insurance, here is a thought. Go without it for 1-2 years, in particular when you have health issues and try to pay those bills and get service from health care providers.  Then express your views about life without it.
  • People that drink coffee should no, I don’t do drugs.  Because they do! Addiction to coffee is strong. And I must say a wonderful drug!  
  •  People that stare at misbehaving children in public apparently aren’t aware this does not help the situation at all.  I propose the following:  each one be photographed at a store for a week or so. Then each store interested in this experiment post a large board in the front of the store so everyone can see, kind of like a WANTED poster.  On it would be placed the pictures of the gawkers with a label on top that reads Warning:  These customers enjoy watching parents struggling with their children.
  •  Women need to pack for one trip like their male counterparts.  Pretend they are visiting a nudist colony and when they do go outside of the colony, there is no need for clothes to match.   And then perhaps the packing standard might change for women and men will see what we frequently see on vacation!
  •  Doctors need to sit in their waiting rooms at least once a year on a booked afternoon appointment. And then, they must be docked pay for being gone so long
    from the job.
  • There is no such thing as childproof furniture.  This particular type of false advertising should be tested by preschoolers in the store it is sold to proof the legitimacy.
  •  Instead of Wife Swap, to make it much more interesting and controversial, it should be Teenager Swap. The teenagers used should be the variety we all label ‘not-fun’ types as we all know what a killjoy they can be.  Now that would be an interesting show.  Let’s see how other parents deal with your troublesome child and also find out if you are part of the problem.
  •  Long lines at the cash register should result in a standard discount for customers. Why not? Is it our fault that not enough employees were scheduled and does our
    time not have value?  Reality can bite; we could have 
    shopped at a competitor!
  • The list of potential side effects on drugs reads like a laundry list for the mentally insane to consider taking. With this in mind, are some of these made up? Once the list gets rolling on TV, it affects virtually every human body system there is, including breathing.
  •  Reality shows should not be scripted so we can determine just how boring and dysfunctional these folks truly are.  Let’s set the standard on these shows as realistic so we aren't promoting unreal expectations and having our young people idolize fake personalities and celebrities.
  •  Customer services reps should be empowered to create and present solutions verses roadblocks. We don’t sit on hold for half an hour to be told nothing can be done.
  • Women with 5-6 children+ should be allowed to have more than one husband. There are only 24 hours in a day and each child deserves attention from a male counterpart.  Note, the reverse should not be allowed. Men have no need for more than one wife in this instance.  We all know why! 
  •  I will not be in an Older Woman’s Beauty Pageant or competing for Ms. Popularity so yes, I realize my views aren't shared by some.  And that is okay, we are all unique and find our own way of dealing with life’s intricacies.   

From day to day, barriers sometimes never go away.
Your approach defines you as a person.  You can spend your life cursing.
But the other option to me, is laughing and letting life be.
Live in the moment as much as you can.
And know that others aren't always willing to bend.
Remember your control is limited to you; there is little you can do.
You can’t change others; brush it off with an Oh Brother!
Move on, it’s not your trial, accept what is and crack a smile!
Others will see you enjoying your life,
And you will set an example for others to strife.


The Last Time

You never know when it will be the last time to see someone. Life is funny that way. One day you are a part of someone’s life and then, overnight, you are not. The goodbye,was a farewell in this lifetime. 

It is very sad when it is someone you love and care about. And yet, none of us control others, none of us get to say when good bye is said. I am not sure if it sadder when it is due to death or by someone else’s choice. Knowing someone you care about is out there but you aren't seeing them, sharing in their laughter, can be gut-wrenching.

I suppose it is true that we all have our crosses to bear. It is not possible that we get to choose what those are.  We are simply called to accept God’s plan, even if it does mean we will endure pain. Somehow our faith in that should ease our grief.

If that last encounter was a kiss, an embrace, ah, that should warm the heart more. But for many, it simply makes the grief even more real, even more hurtful.  Loving someone, anyone, friend, family or child and no longer being an active part of their life is hurtful. For many, it is as if they must go on with life while a piece of their heart has been chiseled out and can’t be replaced by anyone.

Tears can flow, holidays roll by, but the love of another human being, unconditional love, doesn't go away.  If someone you have helped nurture and/or fostered a close loving relationship with no longer sees you, at some level, it must register that they too, deep inside their soul, miss you too.  That memory, that connection you had, is something the heart, the subconscious does not forget.

But it is hard to walk away with and move forward without having those days when, out of the corner of your eye, you feel a tear begin to slip down the side of your face. The next thing you know, there is a thunderstorm inside you that bursts open and the cry is more than just a thought a tissue can quickly clear away.  It is something, call it a Kodak moment, that can't be erased. And you don't want it gone.   

It is amazing how resilient we are, to be able to endure the pain of a loss of someone dear to us and still find the strength to go on with our lives.  We must and accept life is certainly about change. Acceptance of life with other people’s conditions on yours can be challenging . But reality is life is painful.  Life is not always happy endings. We can’t control what others think or do and what they act on.  We can only control ourselves. That alone we have to use to create our own sense of peace.

God is there. Through the loss, the tears, when the 'missing' becomes overpowering, God is holding your hand assuring you that you are not forgotten. He lets us know your shared memories mattered, that it was not all for not.  He feels the pain and cries along with us at our hurt. 

If you are hurting and have lost someone you love, the ability to be an active part of their life, know that you are not alone. If the last occasion was voices raised in anger, know that anger does subside over time. Eventually your shared moments will surface. You may be long gone but those memories, those times together, cannot be erased. That someone will miss you and so will others connected with that person that are no longer a part of your world. 

Raise your head after you weep and know God is crying too.  May you be graced enough that your last encounter was holding that person close, perhaps in your arms.  May the last words you uttered have been an endearment saying I love you and will miss you. And know, without a shadow of a doubt, its better to have loved, nurtured and cared for someone dearly than to have missed the opportunity to have impacted someone’s life. And, for you, the one with the heavy heart, far better that your special someone got the chance to deeply touch yours.

Missing your little face,
And your sweet embrace,
The sound of your giggle,
When you start to wiggle.

Knowing as you grow,
The memories may start to go.
And praying as they do,
You'll feel I am out here always loving you. 


The Potential Significance of Silence

Is silence golden? Well, silence can be deafening when someone wants to speak of something that touched their life dearly and those around them do not want to listen.  If the universe intersects some people in a negative way, they would just as soon not hear the voices that need and should be heard. They would rather be shrouded in ignorance than know the truth.  This self-protection from that which is not pleasant but is someone else’s reality does more harm than good. It is a missed opportunity for growth and learning.

Everyone’s voice matters. Even those with a song that is full of sorrow deserves to be sung, deserves to be heard.  It should not fall on deaf ears; it should be listened to with compassion.  We are all called to be servants of God. Being a Christian, living in his likeness means opening ourselves up to some painful discussions now and then.

The disciplines had to be filled with grief at what they saw Jesus endure. They each had come to know him, one on one, and had some conviction he might be the chosen one.  Yet, his words were filled with not only hope but of justice. He urged others to care for their brothers.  This request involves being supportive of those in need, those hurting and those who need more than a passing glance. That, at times, could be painful and it was for the disciples.

It is unfathomable to speak of living a life of Christianity and following the Church by simply attending.  It is not enough to simply take care of your own immediate family’s needs in your home. No, God intended us to be gateways between him and others in many ways and not all ways are an easy path. Some involve sacrifice. Yet, those hurting in our country are met too quickly with condemnation for their misgivings, be it having committed a crime in their life, being abused, being disabled, or being chronically  or mentally ill. These conditions are often treated as if they are contagious.  Be wary of these folks for they will pass it on!

Steps are needed to show Christianity, not lines from the Bible nor dressing up every Sunday.  One should not speak of living a good life if that life does not involve helping others. What is good about a life that serves no one else? 

People in need deserve disciplines.  They deserve loved ones and friends that are there for them, that listen, that accept, care and respect their story.  Just because it has dips and bends along the way does not make it any less magnificent.  Listening is learning and to the other person it can be the ultimate healing.  

I suppose the end all question in this blog is are you able to be a healer?  Do you have the ability to love others unconditionally?  Can you allow others a voice to be heard without judgment on your part and gain respect for their experiences, though they are different than yours? 

Silence is not golden for a child of abuse. It is not calming either when you have been raped or no one believes you.  Someone chronically ill still needs to be heard; though their voice may be pained it still matters. And you listening has the power to help ease the pain.  Infact, listening can be one of the most uplifting things you can do for others. 

Thus, the silence resounds. It seems to be a prevailing attitude in society, even among families and friends.  People are ignored, not responded to and put by the wayside as if they are not worthy simply because their life is different. They choose to distance themselves from those with negative experiences in life and then, never have to concern themselves with being part of the solution. They are willing to accept the loss of growth because that growth will come with some pain, some tears, and some potential heartache.

Talking to several folks over the past several months has given me a great insight to others perceptions of silence.  I have seen tears, heard shouts and read profanity. All of this because of someone who endured or is enduring misfortune and the very people, family or friend they thought would be there is not. They became a non-priority. The loss of support is painful, sometimes as painful as the original issue at heart.

Know that your silence can hurt. In the worst case scenario, it can kill. You can walk away with no misgiving, no guilt, at least for the moment. But is there a price you pay, we all pay, for your silence?  Are you impeding the growth of those around you when they need you the most? Could the best lessons in life be learned through the very folks you are shutting out? I could make a case for yes, they are.  Your silence is deafening but by not listening, you are stunting your own growth.  And they, God willing, will continue to grow. 

Silence can be rigid and unforgiving and black instead of golden.  

Special thank you to a few recent friendships that had a great deal of input and influence in this blog.  You all know who you are! I am blessed to have you in my life. Those that choose to have you in theirs are as well.  Those that don't, I think we can all agree, this blog is reflective of them. 


Speak Up

Sometimes I find it amazing that Americans feel news issues are black and white as in I will get involved and try to make a difference or I won’t.  There is also the attitude of staying

Autism is so prevalent!

informed verses keeping oneself so busy that staying abreast as to what is going on in one’s country is not of interest. That attitude of total disinterest has exceptions when the issue has a direct effect on people. Then they manage to find the time and step up to the plate.  I would argue that many issues covered in the news that do not directly affect us indirectly do.  Therefore, individually or collectively as a group, we should pay attention and consider making a difference in some small way.   

Just recently, we all know the situation in Baltimore has created what the community feels warrants large protests in the street.  I was glad to see this mirrored in other cities.  What happens in one city can easily happen in others, even if there wasn't proof that it is already.  It was also refreshing to see how many white colored and other minorities joined in these walks, as they should. Prejudice and labeling is an insult to us all. Would these other races be as involved if the issue were not so highly publicized?  I don’t know the answer but I think it is worth contemplating.

I remember years ago when I had watched a television expose on sex trafficking. It followed prominent American men going to Thailand for services. In watching the show in my comfortable home in Nashville, Tennessee and seeing young girls around the age of 10-12 offering men blow jobs for a dollar or two for food while they lived in horrid conditions, my mind was blown away. Hearing about this topic is one thing, seeing it in action is another thing. It is so abhorrent I felt compelled to do something.

I went to work the next day and told several women I worked with about it. One woman, in particular, was married to a preacher of a Pentecostal church. When I told her I wanted to do something to make a difference, she recommended I find another cause as that one was too far out of reach for me to make a difference. Well, saying no to those children was heart-breaking as I could not get the image out of my head.

I made a commitment, from then on in Sept. 2010 I was going to say a prayer every day on my way to work that by Christmas something would happen and at least some of those girls would get out of there. I said the same prayer every day with such conviction asking God to please help those people on the news show that were committed to that mission, getting girls out of sex slavery, to make a big break.  Then it happened.  The first week of Dec. I was driving to work listening to the news. I had just finished my prayer and it came on.  A huge rescue attempt had been made and was successful and a roundup of girls had been made that had been held in sex slavery!  Our government released a statement saying it was one of the largest numbers of children they had gotten out of this situation. I believe prayer does make a difference!

We all have our concerns in life with issues that affect our lives more directly. As a breast cancer survivor, I am fervently in support of the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides
Debbie Thomas, Director of Strides & myself, 2014, media specialist
against Breast Cancer.  I currently, during the season, help with the social media. I participate in other areas for this event too wanting it, each year, to be bigger and more successful in donations and awareness than the next.  Though I do not see my involvement as self-serving, I do see it as a natural evolvement.

It is important to support areas that are outside of our comfort zone.  I admire those that do more than pray, those that do more than read about it.  But doing anything is better than doing nothing! The issues are plentiful, animals being endangered, people having rare forms of illness, children dying from lack of healthcare, gay rights. 

Care enough to be motivated to understand the issue and why it indirectly affects you.  People need each other to get involved and make a stand. The idea that gay people can get medical insurance from companies as a partner but in states are not allowed to marry seems so contradictory.  Do we really want our money spent on fighting over this issue when there are issues out there causing quality of life?  I have a grandchild that could use a service dog, a friend that could use medical assistance, families in major cities that could use money spent on police reform.

There is a line between being concerned and being consumed.  With all of the stress in our lives, no one needs to take on added stress. However, helping a brother is something we are all called to do. To expect the world to help you in your hour of need when your life has been played out serving no one but your own needs and wants is hypocritical.  I urge you to find the time. Even if it is simply to become knowledgeable about some of the issues we are facing.  Hopefully, with that understanding, you will be more than willing to take a few moments out of your life to try to make a difference. Stepping up feels good and is more rewarding than sitting down. 


You Can Dance

I love how children are so adventurous and carefree!  They never seem to be afraid, at a 
certain stage of development, of spreading their wings and flying. They will jump off the bed, regardless of how far the fall is and dance in the middle of the rain. Their rain dance is done with their face upwards to the sky so they can be certain to taste and feel the raindrops on their face and get wet all over. There is no concern over wet clothes, a potential cold the next day or God forbid, hair gone bad in the rain! 

I remember when Lee Ann Womack’s song first came out, I Hope You Dance. It was played continually. The theme of wishing your child would never lose the ability to dream and live out those dreams is something all parents have in common. The fears that inhibit this are taught and learned through aging.  Some of it, indeed, is necessary for social etiquette and some type of conformity with laws. It is not safe for kids to dance in public streets. But why, in so many adults, is this childlike quality of letting go so hard?

Living your life without abandonment takes courage. To step outside the comfort zone of others and what is expected of you takes a leap in faith in your ability to listen to your inner instincts and just be true to who you are.  But, the pay-off is tremendous, it is very liberating.  

Knowing that you only have one life to live and it could be taken at any time, sometimes you need to just dance.  Stepping up to the mike to make a statement that is controversial may make enemies but if it is your opinion and something you are passionate about, express it if you want. Those that truly care about you will appreciate your honesty. Those that don’t will leave you standing alone or despise your honesty because it does not align with their beliefs.  If you hate your job and are only doing it because it is what others expect of you, make a plan to make a change. Do it sooner rather than later. Relate to that child’s voice inside of you who once believed you were worth stepping outside of the box. 

I believe far too many of us think our dreams are fantasies.  We also, on a daily basis, prevent ourselves from being just plain silly.  The thought pattern seems to be this is immature and as adults, the concern focuses more on others think than our own inner drive.  

Perhaps, for me, that is why I am relatable to children. I don’t do this as much these past few years, since my cancer diagnosis occurred.  Those that know me will attest I have no
problem with tapping into that part of my personality, the uninhibited side. I like children to think I am a safe haven and encourage self-expression.  This is the purest form of creativity and uniqueness.  Too many people grow older and let this quality die, choosing conformity in almost every area of their life.

Being the best is not necessary to do or try something.  People sing Karaoke that can’t carry a tune.  Be that person that lets down the walls and sets an example to others of living liberated. Give yourself permission to be you and don’t get hung up on the social norm, the politically correct all the time. There needs to be moments that you can literally let your hair down and be a child again. 

At the end of the day, no matter how grown up we feel, we always are and will remain God’s children.  Hence, you have the right to dance.

Video is attached with messages about making the most out of life. Pictures are mostly of my granddaughter thru her dancing years and a few other misc. friends!  
                     CLICK HERE TO ENJOY A CUTE VIDEO 


Camp Bluebird - Land of Oz You Don't Want to Leave

Someday I wish upon a star, Wake up where the clouds are far behind me

This is a line from the classic song, Somewhere over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz. Interesting that this movie was chosen as the theme for Camp Bluebird’s latest cancer camp the weekend of April 17th-19th.  At first glance, one might think what these two have in common.  I would argue plenty!

At the most basic level, this story-line is about Dorothy forming friendships along the way to Oz. Camp Bluebird is all about the bonding of friends over the shared experience of battling cancer.  There is a commonality of having faced death and survived to live another day.  With it comes a deeper appreciation for life and a renewed sense of love for life.

With the appearance of the Evil Witch in the story-line, we see the forces of good and bad at work. There is nothing good about Cancer. But at a Camp that is all about relaxation and good times, campers are rewarded for being alive and having survived.  The good news is St. Thomas; the sponsor of the Camp feels this event is a good way to treat cancer survivors who have been dealt bad news at some point, having heard the dreaded C word.

Through the journey of going to Oz, Dorothy meets many folks all the way. At Camp
Bluebird, continually new people are hearing of the Camp and attending. In attendance each time, are so many campers it is next to impossible to get one on one time with everyone. Thus, the weekend is always an opportunity to meet new names, and faces and engage in conversations with new folks and reacquaint with old ones.  The joy in this experience feels like coming back to a second home.

At the conclusion of this movie, as much as Dorothy loves Oz, she is homesick, wanting to return to Kansas.  Just like Dorothy, campers love the hideaway weekend of Camp Bluebird but find, come Sunday, they too miss their families and their beds at home.  Campers know red shoes aren't needed either to get home, just a simple ride in a car. And yet, when they leave it feels bittersweet. The friends at Camp they have and made feel like part of an extended family. 

One of the most beautiful parts of Camp is best put by camper, Lisa Dammont; everyone meets each other right where they are at.” There is no pulling one another this way or that, no airs or subtle put-downs for what someone does for a living, how much they make, etc.  Each bluebird is equal, on solid ground and respects each other. 

As Dorothy listened well to her companions, everyone at Camp too exercises active listening skills and offers hugs to each other as a way of showing support.  Physical touching demonstrates “I got your back.” In a world where so many are concerned only for themselves, this camp is about what one can give to another.

The hot air balloon in the Wizard of Oz is used to try to fly Dorothy home.  Unfortunately, it takes off before she has a chance to get in the bucket. At Camp, bluebirds symbolize the campers, thus they are called bluebirds.  Bluebirds had cancer or are still battling it.  The belief is that with the strength of God powering their wings, they too can fly.  Faith moves mountains so why can’t it power lives?

The yellow brick road led away from Dorothy’s house to Oz. And yet, ironically, as soon as she got there, she wanted to return home.  When bluebirds get to Camp, they feel right at home.  A place that is so peaceful and full of friends that it is cherished and valued. So, I suppose the Wizard of Oz differs here because Bluebirds feel they leave their home to come to Camp and be with their extended family.  Ah, yes, our Camp is like an Oz we love as much as our home!

And as for the bluebirds that have passed away and left this earth, never returning to Camp, we know, as surely as this line,
      Someday I wish upon a star, Wake up where the clouds are far behind me. 
yes indeed, they are in heaven, gazing down at us flapping their white wings in the sky. 


You Can Still Make Me Smile

A man is defined in life by what other people say about him. That is the theme of The Christmas Carol. His self opinion matters not if noone likes his character and what he professes to say about himself has no merit.  A indelible impression a man leaves with those behind is not how he lives on this world but how he makes others feel about being here, about their choices, their opportunities or lack of.   Did he try to help other people during the time God gave him to do so?  Was he someone who gave others guidance or try to make the world a better place in some small way?

I met a man years ago with one of those beer belly laughs.  You didn't have to know what he was laughing about to find the joke funny.  As soon as you heard the laughter from
across the room within your earshot,  you were  laughing too.  His smile was from ear to ear and it lit up the room!  He enjoyed making everyone happy, sincerely loved it. He was one of those rare individuals who knows life is short lived, make the most of the time you have here.  His smile has taught those around him all they need to know about life. Enjoy it immensely!

Funny how some folks, on the service, seem like they don't take much of anything in life seriously.  This friend is one of them.  I suppose some people who haven't taken time to get to know him may take it for granted that he takes life very light-heartedly. But don’t be fooled by a  jovial spirit and carefree candor. Sometimes these people can be the ones God has created that are testing us all.

Yes, these are the few that inside the smiles and twinkles in their eyes have the hearts of gold, the spirits that are kind and forgiving and the ability to care unconditionally.   They can be the ones that can carry a cross, fall down with it and laugh getting back up.  Oh, can you  be in a crowd, and keep moving forward with a grin inspite of being in emotional or physical pain?  Many of us cannot, preferring to shy away from others and certainly not offer hope when we are hurting ourselves.  But not this man, he finds some source from within to offer something to others in pain regardless of his load in life. 

There is nothing wrong with pulling away from others when you are hurting and needing to to take care of yourself. But it can be done to an extreme where isolation occurs and that is not healthy either. It is important to know when to ask for help from others also. The strong man, of devout faith, knows when to do this. My friend does.  He knows also to first go to God. 

When others would sit in sorrow as not having the freedom to walk as they would like, the luxury of being self-sufficient, he will not succumb to a disease. No, he pushes with what strength he has, he is a living example of a man with determination.   A strong man does what he needs to do sometimes to show the world you can still get out and be human even if it means riding in a scooter or being wheeled in a cart. On a bad day, he will stay in and be sorrowful and on an okay day, he will get out and soak up some sun and listen to laughter and inspire some others.  Being a man is giving yourself the permission to have humility when you need it and allowing other people in your life to give you gifts of service. It is also giving those that care about you the joy of seeing you alive, even if it is not in the full range of motion you once were. 

Many weak-hearted people want to give up when the going gets tough.  Living life at half-mast, when your limbs are not working well,  and pain becomes an everyday occurrence is jolting.  How do you transition nicely into this?  My friend is a living breathing role model of a man who has done just this with strength of character, compassion for others and love of life.

When I see him, I still see the comedian there. He finds humor in little things every day. He

even laughs at himself, his own frailty. He doesn't ask, nor does he want any sympathy. He does want, I think, understanding so as to widen the knowledge base of the health condition for others and for his family.  But as for him, he takes the good moments when he can get them. He loves and soaks up positive energy from where he can obtain it and still manages to give it off in so many ways, it is simply astounding.

No longer does my friend stand up to tell a joke. No longer does he walk in circles nor talk loudly as his voice is weaker.  But the strength he possesses as a man has grown tenfold over the years.  He doesn't stand in the center of the circle when activities are going on these days, preferring to sit on the outskirts now and simply observe as if he is on the sidelines of a football game. It is definitely teaching a lesson to many around him that enjoyment out of life can be from sitting back and soaking it in, you do not have to be actively on center stage.  

Some days I worry that my friend sees himself as weak when he is so strong.  God is using him and he is walking through the plan prepared just for him.  I imagine he is getting high
praise for it as I write this because I see all the signs there.  Even on his darkest days, he has the ability to be caring and compassionate towards others.  What a gift.  True to the first time I met him, he has retained his unmistakable quick witted sense of humor that can take you by surprise and leave you with that what did you say look on your face!

He is easier to overlook in a group than before but I pity the fool that does so. Simply because a man can't stand or shout does not mean he doesn't posses the richest gift we can gain from this world. Have you figured out yet what that is?

The truest testimony to a man is the value people around him place on his friendship and life. My friend is treasured by his family and loved ones; it is in his daughter’s eyes when she looks at him.  So apparent, the love in her eyes.  Everyone that knows him well cares about him. His jokes and laughs use to light me up. Now I get that from just being near him or hearing he is having a good day. I am, like so many other lives he touched,  forever changed.  

Dedicated to my dear friend John Petty.