Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?

So remember Mystery Thriller Week?  Well, Sojourner McConnell, a/k/a Vicki Goodwin, was the co-founder of that little party which is how I got to know here.  She’s also the author of a WordPress blog, “The Page Turner” and has a slew of writing projects in the works.  So sit back and I’ll let her tell you a bit about herself and her newest creation, a children’s chapter book called, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas.

BIO for Sojourner McConnell:

Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Sojourner McConnell lives in Winchester, Kentucky with one of her daughters and three of her thirteen grandchildren. She has six grandchildren in Alabama and four that live in Michigan.

Sojourner’s new book is a children’s chapter book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas which will release June 2, 2017.

Her next book, Blip, is a sci-fi book with humor and intrigue and is due out by December 2017. The Path of the Child, The Power of Forgiveness, and 31 Days of October are available in paperback and in eBook format on Amazon and other retailers. Sojourner brings a taste of strong personalities with a healthy dose of southern charm to her characters.

As co-founder and part of the organizing team of Mystery Thriller Week, she has become fascinated with writing a mystery of her own. In fact, there might be a little mystery woven into one of the two books she is writing at present.

When not writing, she is busy entertaining her Australian Shepherd, Beau. Unfortunately, Beau tends to get jealous when she spends too much time working on the computer.


Synopsis for Who’s That in Cat Pajamas

When the wind brings the cries of children to her ears, Dolcey is spurred into action. Comforting and aiding children in need are her main focus. Welcome to Dolcey’s world. Welcome to a world of magic and endless possibilities. When Emily has a big problem, her family tries to help, but some problems need something special to make things right. In Emily’s case, the special treatment is a visitor named Dolcey.

Book one in the Dolcey series is, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?  Follow along as Dolcey helps children all over the world as they struggle with real-life dilemmas.


And now for the interview:

What’s your writing background (schooling), backdrop (where you work at writing), and backstory (what you will tell the world when you become famous)?

I have only the basic conventional education. I was accepted into the Alabama School of Fine Arts, but was unable to attend due to family commitments. I have always been self taught and I continue to learn everything that interests me today. I believe there is an unending process of education in life. In other words, you are never too old to learn and excel in something new.

I write in the computer room where I can see the family and interact with them as I write. I enjoy being a part of the household even when I am writing. Doing this has allowed the grandchildren to see me in the writing process. Three of the thirteen aspire to be a writer like Grandma. That is huge to me.

When I become famous, I will tell the world, if you love something like writing, reading, art or music, push yourself to do it on a daily basis; it frees the mind and opens the heart. The more you do it, the more ideas come to you. You are never too old to try.

Why mysteries?

I believe I love mysteries so much because of Perry Mason books, Nancy Drew mysteries, and Agatha Christie classics. I wish I were able to solve them, but I am one of those people that are always shocked at the outcome.  I was so thrilled to work with Mystery Thriller Week. I hoped to help authors, bloggers, and fans find each other.

From where do your ideas come?  What inspires you?  How do you keep the creative spark going?

Characters come to me and present their story. They tell me what they have to offer and promise to hold my hand as we write it together. So far, none have bailed on me and they have given me beautiful stories of hope and potential for happiness.  I am inspired by the survival of people. Everyone has a moment in their life where it could have broken them, I want to share the moments after, when they move past and thrive. That is what inspires me to write.

That’s beautiful, Vicki.  So what’s your routine?  Do you work out while writing, take breaks, or simply gut it out?  

I write from the time I wake up until I go to bed. I am constantly working on something. I blog on 3 blogs, write several books at a time and I research for historical articles that I have published in several locations. I make sure I write every day, so that there is always something on the back burner. Even with the release of Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?, I have several other projects in various stages of completion on my desk.  

Do you think writing is a form of therapy and, if so, has it helped you work through anything in particular?

Writing is very therapeutic for me. With all the characters wandering about in my brain writing allows them to work out their story and move on. It also helps me process hurts and happiness from my own past. Although I write fiction, bits and pieces of my own life have come to light and allowed me to give them a better and healthier outcome.

Do you work outside of writing, i.e., do you have day job?

At this time I am not working outside the home. I am focusing on my writing and working on getting healthy. One step at a time, I am making positive and healthy changes in my life. Writing is definitely one of those positive changes.

Pantser or perfectionist who meticulously plots out their stories?

I am by nature a pantser, I was compelled to outline a sequel to The Path of the Child and I found that very liberating and exciting. I have not outlined anything else thus far.

Your perfect day – go.

I wake up about 4 am when the house is quiet and even the dog is not ready to face the day. I go to the computer after putting on a pot of coffee and the images begin to flow, the characters begin to share, and the typos are few and far between. Everyone wakes up in a good mood a few hours later and the dog has breakfast. The rest of the day is relaxing with only the sound of clacking keys and the stirring of my coffee to break the silence. At the end of the day I can say both the word count and inspiration was strong today.

Favorite book? Author? Individual?

Charles Dickens is my absolute favorite author. He is my inspiration and he reminds me that to every life a little happiness should fall. As a writer, I have to find that happiness for my characters and bring them to life for others.  With that first response  in mind, my favorite book is Great Expectations.  My favorite individual happens to be my immediate family. They are supportive, loving, and forgiving.  They are my favorite 16 people on the planet. When I go outside the family, I have to say Helen Keller touched me with her desire to overcome, willingness to achieve beyond what was expected, and survive with grace and strength.  

What has been your greatest writing lesson?  How about life lesson?

Even a woman that did not expect to publish a book can publish a book and have people love her story as much as she did. With that lesson, I can go forward and do it again; even better the second time around. My greatest life lesson has been, no matter what stage you are in life, you can make it your greatest time. Keep opening doors and seeing what is behind them. Expand your horizons.

If you could be a character in any novel, what character would you be?

I would be Mary Lennox, from The Secret Garden. I would find a secret place and allow it to make me into a more loving and kind person. Then I would share that place with another, just as Mary did with Colin.

How many books do you have out?  

As of June 2, 2017, I will have two published books and two  published anthologies. The Path of the Child, and Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?; are my two published novels. One is a coming of age book that shows the resilience and strength of one teenage girl and one is a children’s chapter book, which happens to be the first book in the Dolcey Series. The two anthologies are, 31 days of October and The Power of Forgiveness.

Indie or traditional publishing?  

I am Indie published. I love the freedom it gives me.

Country of origin? 


Relationship status?



Three grown children and 13 grandchildren.


One Australian Shepherd,  Beau. I also lay claim to the one family cat, Mufasa, that has decided to adopt me as his own.

Travel and if so, favorite place?  

I love to travel, I love seeing new places, and old familiar ones as well. My Alaskan Cruise with my sister was a dream come true. I hope to see more of the world soon.  I draw from the remoteness and beauty of the area when I need to find a quiet place inside my head.

Favorite childhood memory? 

Going to the Smokie Mountains with my grandparents. Swimming and fishing in Deep Creek and having my Grandfather tell my siblings to hold me down so that the clouds did not whisk me away. I will never forget my little brother being chased by wasps as we crossed a mountain top swinging bridge. I have so many memories from when I was only five years old.   

Wow, those are great, Vicki.  And the final question, do you think writing can save the world and if so, why?

Writing can allow opinions to change. It can open the lines of communication and it can certainly change the world. Thank you for asking me such a powerful question.  

pjlazos 5.17.17



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A Drop of Life

A Drop of Life

The woman behind the podium said: “Who controls water controls life.”

We were at the International House on Chestnut Street on the University of Penn’s campus in Philadelphia.  We had just watched a short film, part documentary, part drama, “A Drop of Life,” about a small town in India with a big water problem. The award-winning film about the global water crisis was directed by the woman, Shalini Kantayya, a director and an environmental activist with a big heart and even bigger desire to alleviate some of the more intractable issues of our time through movie making. This was her second film, but I got the sense, listening to her rattle off statistics as if they were the names of beloved family members that Ms. Kantayya had been thinking about this long before beginning her film career.  

A self-described sci-fi fan who is perpetually inspired by a good story, Kantayya’s film had the sci-fi paradigm with its small group of rebels pitted against the monster conglomerate water company. The town’s citizens were literally dying for clean water while the corporation sold it to them a few cups at a time for more rupees than anyone could spare. And because of the new water supply, the old water supply had been turned over to the cows and was no longer safe to drink from. The people appeared to be doomed. More than that I don’t want to tell you because I want you to see this lovely film and experience its takeaways first hand — who controls water controls life, not just in developing nations, but everywhere — and if you don’t believe that, just consider what’s happened in the United States within the last few years:

Flint Michigan children have elevated levels of lead in their blood today because of the City’s cost-saving measure in 2014 to switch their water draw from the Detroit River to the Flint River which was 19x’s more corrosive;

Charleston, West Virginia where Freedom Chemical spilled crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) into the Elk River, contaminating the drinking water of about 300,000 residents in nine counties; and

The entire state of California which was required by Governor Jerry Brown to reduce their water usage by 20% to combat a severe, decade-long drought.

Those are just a few examples. The world is littered with more. Kantayya’s message is simple: “We’re on the edge of a storm,” and need to act now. It’s time to “think outside the bottle,” and remember that water is “a shared right that we are not just owners of, but stewards of.” Kantayya believes that a good place to start would be to end water privatization. Since 2010, the cost of water has risen 48% in 30 major cities, yet corporations continue to extract water for pennies on the dollar and soon supply will be unable to keep up with demand. Pushing the responsibility off to the states is, in fact, irresponsible because the states simply can’t afford it. Kantayya says it’s time to hold both the government and corporations accountable if we are to keep up with trends and changes in consumerism and an ever greater demand for water based on a growing population. For example, while it’s great that EPA protects us against 91 chemicals, there are over 60,000 chemicals on the market which means we’ve got some work to do.

So how do we make the leap? First we need innovation — like the water purifier created by the inventor of the Segway, or the poop straw that instantly purifies contaminated water, or an aquaponic fish farm. Next, we need to invest in our aging infrastructure, hundreds of billions of dollars worth to repair and replace broken pipes across the country. Third, we need a women’s movement because women are always at the heart of any movement on sustainability and history shows that when women get involved, change happens. Finally, we need to realize that sustainability doesn’t come at the expense of jobs, rather the opposite — $188 billion in water infrastructure will create 1.3 million jobs.

How will we change-averse humans deal with such sweeping changes in such a short span of time? It will be an enormous undertaking, but Kantayya has faith, hope, and tenacity, and encourages others to have the same. She described a scene from one of her favorite sci-fi movies, “The Empire Strikes Back.” Pursued by enemy fighters, Hans Solo flies into an asteroid field to lose them:

C-3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately three thousand, seven hundred twenty to one!
Han Solo: Never tell me the odds!
— Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Defying the odds — it’s where Shalini Kantayya lives.


pjlazos 5.7.17

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It’s time for an interview with my friend, Ann Crawford, author of her newly released book SPELLWEAVER, now available on Amazon.


Synopsis for SPELLWEAVER

Even in the darkest of times, a bright light can illuminate what’s real and awaken the hearts of those still sleeping. This is the story of Catriona, a woman of mastery in an age ravaged by fear.  During the Burning Times, the spellweavers – those who knew the mysteries of the healing arts – were killed by confused people who mistrusted, because they didn’t understand, our true nature. Inevitably, though, this false power dies while genuine power lives on.  Travel on a magical, mystical journey with this amazing spellweaver…who lived the radiance of life that many only dream of. We all have the potential for living such a life, yet so few dare.

Now is the time.


This is Crawford’s fourth book.  She’s also written Mary’s Message:  The Story of Mary Magdalene and Yeshua Ben Josef, (reviewed on the “reading” page of this blog) which offers an alternative explanation to what the life of Mary Magdalene was like — not the woman of ill-repute as she’s been portrayed in the Bible, but something the world has yet to understand —  and explores the metaphysical ideas of positivity, being present and working in the Light, always a theme in Crawford’s work.



BUT WHY should I tell you about her when she can tell you about herself.

Here’s Ann:

I am an award-winning documentary filmmaker and the author of four books, all on Amazon. I’ve lived in every continental time zone — from the oceans white with foam to the prairie to the mountains! Right now I live with my husband in Colorado with my two adult step-children nearby. I’ve traveled the world extensively (65 countries and all 50 states), including two complete circumnavigations of the globe. Our show tune-belting parrot (who would’ve taught him those?!) keeps us smiling. For more info please visit www.anncrawford.net.

So while we had the time, I got Ann to answer a few questions about writing and life.  Here’s what she had to say:

Writing background:

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil, but really writing—as in books—since my mid-twenties, so that’s been 30 years. My mother was very sick and wanted to be writer; soon after she died I went off to college, and in my grief I tried to shut that part of me down. I ended up studying business, trying to go in another direction. But writing patiently waited until I could return to it.

I wrote my first book, VISIONING, in twelve days (!). I wrote my book about Mary Magdalene pretty much over a summer, and my third book took a year of Sundays (literally — I was editing a magazine from Monday to Thursday, took two days off, and wrote on Sundays.) Spellweaver has taken about 10 years. It has been so hard to write because I remember those days, those mountains, those people like it was yesterday. I even tried to not write it but it wouldn’t leave me alone.  The characters spoke to me in the night, demanding (lovingly, but still demanding) to have their story written. Finally I wrote the really challenging part, to get it over with, and I chunked it down and wrote for about an hour each morning until it was done.

Where I write:

I’ve lived in so many different places and usually had an office to myself to write in. The walls would be covered with fabrics and artwork and statues of Tara and Kuan Yin sitting on the shelves. I had the Rocky Mountains and herds of elk outside one office; the Pacific Ocean was outside another. For the time being, my husband and I have downsized to a small townhouse, and we made a cozy book nook in a corner upstairs. A sofa faces out the window, which overlooks a park with a sweet grove of trees that looks like Arthur and Guinevere were just there. From what feels like a nest in the trees, it’s fun watching the seasons change in front of me. This one is actually my favorite writing place.

What would I tell the world? That each person is so much more magnificent and powerful than s/he probably realizes. Oh, what would I tell the world about me? That I truly love you.

Book ideas just come to me and don’t leave me alone until I write them down. The characters knock on my door, visit me in the shower, sit with me in the car as I’m driving, wake me up in the middle of the night because they want to talk, and basically hang out until their story is in print.
I just start where the book wants me to start it and fill in the story – forward, backward, beginning, end – as it comes.

My perfect day is waking up at a natural pace (which I get to do most days), eat a leisurely breakfast with my amazing husband and – after he leaves the kitchen (because we have a no-phone agreement when we’re together at meals, whether home or out – turn to my phone, where I read the New York Times app and hang out with some Facebook buddies. Then I write, then have lunch with my amazing husband, then work out, then do volunteer work. Then have dinner with my (you know what I’m going to say now) husband. Then read or watch a movie or go to a show. Most of that is how my days are now. 😊

In response to my question about a favorite childhood memory:

I don’t have just one favorite memory that stands out from my childhood……one of my favorite things about my life is being part of a large family—I’m the youngest of five kids. I have many warm, fuzzy memories of Christmases, birthdays, and summer vacations where we’d all get together and laugh and laugh and laugh—this despite the illness and alcoholism and other sadness that pervaded those years. Perhaps even more because of all that, we could laugh with the best of them.

In response to my question about whether writing can save the world:

I think all of the arts can save the world—writing, singing, gardening, filmmaking, acting, creating in general. Being a parent or a civil engineer or mechanic or masseuse or whatever calls to us can be an artform. I think we’re happiest when we’re creating and doing what we love, doing our passion, fulfilling our purpose. When we’re happy and fulfilled, we’re of greater service to all. What a wonderful world we’d have if we all could serve from our happy, fulfilled overflow!

Amen to that! Thanks for the interview, Ann, and good luck with your book.

pjlazos 5.5.17

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Welcome to the May edition of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group or IWSG.  The whole point of the IWSG is to share, encourage, express doubts and hopes and fears all while ditching the negativity an angst cause that’s no fun for anyone. You can also sit around the virtual campfire and hear the good, the bad, and the ugly stories of those who have gone before you so jump on in on first Wednesday of every month.  All you have to do is post to your blog an answer to that month’s question and let the conversation begin. Encourage, listen, meet new people, and link to this page.   In addition, a cool display of the IWSG badge in your post and on your sidebar would be most tasteful.

Twitter is @TheIWSG and hashtag #IWSG

In addition to ninja creator, Alex Cavanaugh the awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG are Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!

Every month, there is a new question to ponder and answer in your IWSG post.  Answer however you’d like.  Lie, even, if you feel you have to, but answer.  Or not.  You could do something completely different and no one would care because?  You know why.  It’s the insecure writer’s support group.  Nothing but love living here!

May 3 Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Wellllll, that’s actually easy.  I was writing Oil and Water, my eco thriller novel, and I wanted an exciting diving scene to include that would put the protagonist, a diver and engineer who recently lost his wife and was himself lost to inertia and grief in a position where he’d have to act.  My husband had been a commercial diver for almost 20 years so I asked him a series of hypotheticals and he gave me a few possibilities and I asked a few more questions and we went back and forth about it for a while and before long we’d together created this elaborate underwater rescue that absolutely takes your breath away.  True confession:  it’s almost like an add-on to the book, not that I thought of it later, I really wanted it in there, but it doesn’t advance the story all that much other than to allow the ailing protagonist a victory that helps to improve his state of mind and move on through his grief.  And since this is IWSG posting day, I can say all that with impunity!

I will also say it was one of the most breathtaking (literally) scenes I’ve ever written and being able to collaborate with my husband on it was quite fun.

Happy IWSG day.  What’s your weird/cool research story?

pjlazos 5.3.17

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We Need Humor — and Goats!

We Need Humor and Goats
Earth Day 2017
March for Science


On Saturday, April 22, 2017, I stood in the rain with about 200 other people in the town square of sleepy little Lancaster  PA to promote science.



People all over the world marched, in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in New York and Australia.  They showed up for science, they showed up for clean air and clean water, they showed up for answers in the realm of climate change, they just showed up because science is cool, and just about everything you have in your modern life you have because of science.  Vaccines, plastic, catalytic converters, umbrellas, the list is long.  So why do we no longer celebrate our scientists like rock stars the way we did with Albert Einstein and Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize and the first one to win it twice!  Curie was so popular that people would flock to the airport to greet her upon arrival.

Relying on junk science is like mimicking a flamingo with its head in the sand. Yet, too often, science gets a bad rap.  Science doesn’t live solely within the purview of liberals — remember conserve is the root word of conservatism and Teddy Roosevelt, a conservative Republican, started the National Parks Service.  Political affiliations should not get in the way of real science. and to fight over dollars, passing the responsibility to our children who will have to fight for survival shows lack of foresight and stewardship.

But back to my little town of Lancaster.  The signs were great, but the camaraderie even better.  The world should be this way always, coming together to make things better.  And humor always wins the day.


My personal favorite:

I was at the back of the crowd and since it was raining and umbrellas were blocking the sound I couldn’t always here clearly.  One speaker said, “We need humor and votes,” but my friends and I heard: “We need humor and goats.”

“Did he just say goats?”  It sounded reasonable to us.  Know why?  Because one hour of using a lawn mower creates as much air pollution as a 100-mile car trip. And goats?  They’ll come cut your lawn (with their teeth) for free without the air pollution!

If we knew our children were going to suffer from decisions we were making today we would change our behavior, right?

We can do this, people.  What are we waiting for?


Thanks to our great hosts:

Belinda Witzenhausen, Simon Falk, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Mary J. Giese, Peter Nena

Blessings, all.

pjlazos 4.28.17

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Wait, Before You Flush…

Wait, Before You Flush…

When our kids were growing up, the rule was no potty talk at the table. Of course, that just emphasized their need to tell fart jokes, their favorite topic, and then laugh hysterically. Now, in a strange twist of events, I talk about poop and it is they who want to censure me. If you’re a water junkie like me, global wastewater is a fascinating topic, and one covered extensively at the Global Water Alliance’s April 5th Symposium at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Speakers from around the world brought their best ideas and biggest worries to the symposium: by 2050, there will be over nine billion of us on the planet who are all going to be thirsty — so much so that the World Economic Forum sees the lack of fresh water as the biggest threat to human survival. Yet, I left that gathering of activism, forward thinking professionals (and eager students) with well-reasoned hope: we will not only survive, but thrive as long as we get the messaging right.

The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.3 states: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

A lofty goal by any standard and also courageous. Eliminate dumping? Halve the proportion of untreated waste? Increase safe reuse? It seems impossible given our current supply-side economics which inherently requires the continued creation, production, and consumption of goods. Therein lies the key to success and survival: change the way we think about consumption, including waste and wastewater. In doing so, the most pressing topics of our time, the ones that could literally bury us — whether in wastewater, plastic, or hazardous contaminants, or the fact that two-thirds of the world lives with some degree of water insecurity — could be the very things that save us by turning a losing proposition into a money-making one.

How does a species evolve? For centuries, it has been through the written word. Early on, only the richest among us got an education wherein they learned to read and write. Then those in power realized that an educated labor force was a more productive one and public education became the norm. A well-educated populace makes life safer, saner, and more egalitarian. Without the written word, there would be no wide-spread religion, no rule of law, no body of science, no way to transfer ideas from one person to millions, no handbook for living. Once we realized that, civilization thrived, but things have been going awry as of late. Hate, fear, and a mentality of lack are forcing our hand. We realize we can’t always be about consumption and overuse of the earth’s resources for the few who can pay to the detriment of the rest.

We also can’t sit back and wait for the “deus ex machina” defined as “an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel.” The Greeks used this all the time to resolve their stories; write yourself into a corner and have a god come down from Mount Olympus to save you. But our earth in the balance is not just a story and no one coming to save us. In order to evolve a species needs to adapt, and with regard to water adaptation requires a global world view if we are to become better, bolder, more visionary beings, ones less insistent on domination and more persistently cooperative. What better way than to start with the medium that brought us all into this world?

Probably my favorite takeaway from the symposium was the term “resourcewater”. We have stormwater. We have groundwater. We have, or rather, had wastewater. And now we have resourcewater. And the truth shall set us free.

Think about it. How much of wastewater is truly “waste”? Waste, when used as an adjective, is defined as: “(of a material, substance, or byproduct) eliminated or discarded as no longer useful or required after the completion of a process”.

What we flush is being eliminated, but should it be considered discarded? Not if we are thinking clearly. When it gets to the wastewater treatment plant it goes through a series of processes designed to cull the solids from the liquids and to neutralize what is harmful and use what remains. Filtration, aeration, digestion, clarification, and a series of other treatments that result in a benign (according to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Standards) effluent disposed of via an outfall into the river, and a remaining sludge that’s been picked clean by sludge-eating bacteria to make it farm-field ready. To that extent, we’ve always reclaimed a portion of wastewater, but we can do better and that’s where the “resource” water comes in.

Resources are defined as “a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively: [as in] local authorities complained that they lacked resources.” Nitrogen and phosphorous are sold as fertilizer and can be reclaimed from what’s in those sewer pipes whisking your toilet water away. Treated wastewater is safe and can be used to offset water scarcity. Under this scenario, wastewater becomes a treasure trove of commodities if you just know how to clean or reclaim it.

But in order to make it work, a few things have to happen, like keeping our waste stream free from those elements that could interrupt the flow of resources such as solids that are not biosolids, or pharmaceutical waste, or paper and other debris, like tampons and baby wipes, as all these items will ultimately affect the quality of the resourcewater; like sending a message that wastewater is actually resource water with many hidden benefits; and the most important, accepting that this type of resource renewal is the new normal. By changing our minds about how we reuse water, we can go from a 2-3% reuse rate to something far more sustainable (in submarines and on a spaceship the re-use rate is close to 100%) In doing so, we’ll assure ourselves and our progeny that the 366 quintillion gallons of water on earth — of which less than 1% is potable — will last as long as mankind does.

So before you flush, think of the four R’s of sustainable water use: reduce, reuse, recover and resource. When Tuesday night’s macaroni and cheese comes back as fertilizer for your summer broccoli and tomatoes you can take pride in being part of the circle of life. Do that and there will be sufficient resources for everyone.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

pjlazos 4.21.17

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Missed Steps

Missed Steps

It started with a band around his waist which was joined by a tingling sensation in his feet. First it became a numbness, then shortness of breath and then a fatigue so profound that standing upright became an issue. I tried to brush it off, gave him vitamins, told him to work out more, sleep more, eat more greens, but the symptoms escalated and then we were at the doctor’s office, listening to the doctor say, after so many tests and x-rays and MRIs and CT scans, this is it, this is your problem, you have MS, and we looked at each other in disbelief because he was young, and healthy, and oh so athletic and never in a million years would that have been our guess.

We cried and I, in the way I do, tried to find the way to fix it, that if we just try this and do this and purchase this we can manage it all, make it go away, call the universe out on the great cosmic joke, but nothing worked, not a single thing, and it just kept coming and coming and coming and it wouldn’t be stopped, like the sun over the horizon.

There are days when I want to pound my chest because it wouldn’t be lady-like to pound someone else’s and depending on the degree of severity of the pounding, could also be a felony, or at least a misdemeanor, and we had enough problems already. I kept holding out hope for the day someone would tell me it had all been a terrible mistake and all you have to do is “Drink This” like Alice and you’d be up and out of that rabbit hole faster than stink. Oh God, how I hate this disease and myself for trying to bargain my way out of it when I know that I have no leverage, nothing to trade, just a hope that I can somehow work it all out right. Our lives, once vibrant and full of hikes in the woods, and biking on trails and swimming and all those things that make you feel alive have been reduced to a meal at a restaurant or a night at the movies. My husband’s walker has become his lifeline, and the interminable march between the kitchen and the bedroom with an occasional foray out into the world for treatment his daily route. Some days are bad, others worse. There were never any of the reversals touted by the neurologist, and his health has been on one continuously long decline for the six years since he was diagnosed, a well-lived, active life now routinized and lonely. Not just for him. For all of us.

We dance around the issue most days, try to pretend it doesn’t exist when it’s pulling the fabric out of the stuffing of our lives. We are selling the boat because the alternative, remembering how much side-splitting fun we had when we were all out on the river, is too much to bear under the daily remembrance of seeing it parked in the driveway. Why such a punishment? To whom might I appeal clemency?

The kids go on with their lives and truthfully, so do I, to work, to meetings, to my volunteer events, my writing, because what else would I do at this juncture? Someone has to pay the bills and shop for groceries and feed the animals and stay on the kids’ school stuff and if I stopped even for a second, I might collapse under the weight of what life has become so instead I balance seven things on my head which engages all my focus and I don’t have to look at the horrid, greedy beast that stole my husband, don’t have to look in its two beady eyes although it would help if I could punch it right in its smug little face.

But this is where we are now. It’s taken me six years, six years to write a word about it, me, the writer. Privacy, my husband’s, my family’s, mine, too, was and is an issue, but everyone sees the healing effects talking about it can bring so if you’re reading this, that means I have their blessing.

Missed Steps. MS. Multiple Sclerosis is a condition wherein the myelin sheath that protects the spine like a casing on a sausage is eaten away one lesion at a time. My husband has over a half-dozen, no new ones for years, but the one on his brain stem has burrowed deeper and deeper, determined to dig all the way to China as the saying goes, and it’s left him with terrible balance and stiffness and fatigue and on many days a lousy attitude all for which he takes drugs to combat the symptoms, but ingesting that amount of drugs and vitamin supplements and elixirs alone is exhausting. The medical bills are depleting – thank God for insurance – but even with it we pay so many thousands of dollars a year on top of our premiums that you wonder how people without insurance do it. One drug alone costs over $7,000/month, not for a cure, just a stopgap measure.

It’s all broken – the health care system, my husband’s body, our trust in modern medicine, maybe even my faith in God although most days I do believe that someday all will be revealed. It’s just that someday is not today and all I can do is brace for tomorrow.

I hope we’ll ready.

pjlazos 4.18.17

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