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When we needed some help in Lodi, a few good Samaritans stepped up

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Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 12:00 am

This has been more of the tumultuous same kind of thing as April and May — only different! April was all about planning for the birthday and taking cakes here and there. May a recuperative time for a while, trying to get back to normal — until Toby bit me. The rest of the time has gone to recovering from the effects of the antibiotics (which affected everything!) and trying to get some energy back. Just about there, I guess. I am not saying I'm back to normal; if this is normal, I must have been more fragile than I thought.

While I was being affected within, I was also being affected without. First, Gerry Spencer, who, with his family, became our next door neighbor 44 years ago, died recently. We will miss him, and the neighborhood will not be the same. Now Virginia and Marilyn, two doors down, and we are the last of the "second generation" of homeowners on our side of the block. On the other side, homes are in at least their third generation of owners. Actually, my husband has been here only 20 years; I've been here 53, longest of anyone. It's a dubious distinction!

Farther afield, Gary deGrande has closed his café for the summer, and probably until he can find a better location more in the middle of things. I hope he finds one; I don't want to have to do without it for long. He is busy with farmers markets and catering, so all is not lost.

Then Theresa has closed her wonderful Chinese restaurant across from the Post Office because her rent was raised. She plans to reopen, too. I can't see raising rent when it puts a business out, particularly Downtown. Small businesses have enough problems these days.

Not only that, but Ed, who runs Lakewood Cleaners (a business that has been in the same location for years) tells me he has to move out, but is making arrangements to see that all his loyal customers are served.

Then, to top it off, no Monday newspaper! I know it's better than no paper at all. I look for the new local radio station, Blue Mountain Radio, 90.7 KQBM, to help fill in. The station is well on its way to being completed (building and equipment), and the locals responsible for its creation are planning a fundraiser from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, at the studio on the grounds of the Blue Mountain Coalition for Youth and Families, 364 Main St., West Point.

The fundraiser will include live music on an outdoor stage, live recordings, and a gourmet barbecue and wine and beer garden on adjacent property. The station's board of directors hopes this event will raise enough money to fund studio equipment, a transmitter, broadcast tower rental and other expenses. The station will be the first full-power FM community radio station ever to serve the area. I hope this community project succeeds. Shows American get-up-and-get is not lost.

My husband calls all this "change." Well, I guess it is, but I'm beginning to hate the word. I don't like how it sounds or what it means. It just seems like some sort of excuse not to keep good standards. So much has gone by excusing it to "change."

There are other words that rile me because they are used so often without thought: "plan," "jobs," "out of the box," and general clusters of mealy-mouthed expressions which don't say anything — witness government spokesmen answering direct questions.

I'm sure you have words you don't like, either, for one reason or another. There are some I don't like just for their sounds, not their meanings: "people," "glory," "choice," "flesh." I have a friend who didn't like the word "tender."

Lest this all sound pretty negative, now try for five or six favorite words which lift the spirit and delight the soul. Remember, it's the sound, not the meaning. Send some in; I'd like to hear about them.

The nicest thing happened to us the other day. We had stopped at House of Coffees and came out to find the car battery dead. Before we could even get out to call, three young people showed up and gave us a jump-start — two capable young men and a very thoughtful young woman who moved her truck up next to us when the jumper cables wouldn't reach to the men's truck on the other side. How heartening to find such thoughtfulness in an increasingly hardhearted world.

So, here I am, ending where I usually begin — in the garden, the best place to be — unless it's too hot! Being out in a garden is the most healing thing in the world, because not only can you feel a strong sense of vibrant life, but, nine times out of 10, there are living things that need help from you, no matter how you feel. Plants need watering, feeding or deadheading. Birds and squirrels need feeding. Birdbaths and outdoor water bowls for pets need cleaning and refilling. Sometimes you just feel the need of a small bouquet for indoors while you're petty well confined.

Have good days!

Gwin Paden has been around these parts since 1957, and has been busy with several careers and active in a number of a number of community organizations. It's been a good ride, shared with a lot of good friends. You can reach her at

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