Nana on her way home!

Many thanks to all those who have been keeping my mom, known here as Nana, in their thoughts and prayers as she has been in New York City for an aortic valve replacement.

I am happy to report that she is on her way home! As often happens with heart procedures, while the TAVR procedure went well, one thing led to another. First, there needed to be a temporary pacemaker, which then needed to be replaced with a permanent one. She developed a bit of a-fib, which required some new meds and a re-jiggering of blood pressure meds. The next things we knew, what we had thought might be a three day hospital stay turned into eight.

We are happy that she is doing well and looking forward to having her back in town. She will need to rest and has a program to start exercising to get her back to her usual activity schedule, but she is doing so, so, so much better than when she was having congestive heart failure symptoms.

We are very grateful to the medical team that made it possible. I am also very grateful to my sisters and their husbands who have been on hand down in NYC to help both Nana and Paco at this stressful time.

Here’s to hearts that are healing!

Heart of the Arts reading video!

Some of you may recall my secret poetry mission to write and present a poem in honor of Emily Jablon and Peg Johnston for the 2016 Heart of the Arts award ceremony. I was invited to participate by the Binghamton Poetry Project, because they receive funding from the United Cultural Fund, which is the grant-bestowing branch of the Broome County Arts Council.

I am excited to share the video of me reading the poem at the dinner. The video was taken from a distance and I am mostly obscured by the podium, but the sound is good. The title got a bit cut off; it is “Thanks to the Department of Public Art.” The diction is pretty good. There are only a few words that are hard to understand – but I, of course, know what I am saying, so feel free to chime in if you have any presentation points for me. I’m not used to reading with a mike or in a large room. It’s rare for community poets like me to get this kind of opportunity and I am very grateful to the Binghamton Poetry Project and the Broome County Arts Council for making it possible.

I also want to thank my spouse B and my daughter T for keeping me (somewhat) calm at the event. I will share that B’s favorite word from the poem is “tessellate.” I don’t know that I will ever write another poem where that is an appropriate word choice, but at least I have done it once!

I am hoping to publish the poem in the fall anthology of the Binghamton Poetry Project; after that, I will share the text here at Top of JC’s Mind.

I hope you enjoy the video! Comments are welcome here or on the Top of JC’s Mind Facebook Page.


One-Liner Wednesday: Thanks

Sending thanks to all those who have been keeping my mother Elinor in their thoughts and prayers; she is due home from NYC tomorrow with her new heart valve and a bonus pacemaker.
This sequel to last week’s One-Liner Wednesday is brought to you by Joanne, with additional thanks to Linda. Join us for One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here:

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Is it over yet?

I am finding it increasingly difficult not to be discouraged about the upcoming US elections.

The attack ads have gotten ridiculous. I happen to know one of the candidates in our Congressional district and would laugh at the distortions being used against her in ads, were it not so serious. To her credit, her own ads tend to be positive ones, but there is a lot of outside money getting thrown into this race, which tends to make it nasty. Our current representative, who is a Republican, is retiring, so the parties are being very aggressive in trying to get the seat, and there is an independent in the race, too.

This pales in comparison to the presidential ads. Because we live right next to swing state Pennsylvania, our television programs are filled with ads, most of them from political action committees or super-PACs who have no qualms whatsoever about slinging mud at the opposition, even if they have no evidence to back up their claims.

Unfortunately, the behavior of some of the guests on news programs isn’t much better. It has been particularly hurtful to me to see the Trump campaign be so demeaning and dismissive toward women. Even as a 59-year-old, Donald Trump appears not to have understood what “consent” means, which is totally unacceptable. What is even worse is that candidate Trump, who has bragged for years about his extramarital affairs and his sense of entitlement toward women sexually, refuses to admit that he has ever done anything wrong in regards to his treatment of women.

He says that no one respects women more than he does and he often adds, “Believe me.”

I don’t believe you, Donald.

There are years of evidence to back me up.

And I know plenty of people who exhibit true respect toward women – and all people – and have behaved in accord with that respect for decades.

I have been dutifully watching the debates, but I am not sure I can make myself watch another one. The lies are sickening.

Just a few more weeks…

Videopoem from the Boiler House!

I am thrilled to share with you a new videopoem from the Boiler House Poets!

During our recent reunion residency at the Studios at MASS MoCA, we collaborated on a poem about our beloved Boiler House and each recorded her own lines.

Marilyn McCabe, one of our stalwart Boiler House Poets who has experience with videopoems, graciously handled all the photography and editing to produce the amazing final product.


heart update

I just got word from my sisters in NYC that Nana’s aortic valve replacement is complete and successful. They also had to install a pacemaker, which is common in these kinds of situations.

Hers was the second procedure of the day for her surgical team. The first ran long, so her procedure was delayed, making the day  – and the waiting – longer than anticipated.

It’s so amazing that doctors can replace a damaged aortic valve with a functioning bovine one without having to go through the chest at all. Instead, they use a technique similar to heart catheterization. It is called TAVR and you can read a bit more about it on the Columbia Structural Heart & Valve Center website.

We are so grateful to everyone at the Center and Nana’s whole medical care team for making this possible. We are also grateful to everyone who has been supporting us, in person or at a distance, with prayers, cards, well-wishes, calls, emails, etc. Thank you all so very much!



As many of you know, my mom, known as Nana here at Top of JC’s Mind, is having an aortic valve replacement procedure today. I am in the unaccustomed position of waiting at home instead of in the hospital.

My two sisters and my dad are waiting at Columbia (New York-Presbyterian), so she has plenty of support and on-site vigilance. I am holding down the fort here, getting ready to spread news to all the local folks and more far-flung family and friends after the procedure is complete.

And waiting…

Some people expressed surprise that I was not going down to New York City, too. As the local daughter, I have been the go-to person for all the prior medical goings-on with Nana and Paco, as well as with my mother-in-law, now deceased, my spouse, and my daughters.  And I haven’t regretted a moment of it.

Still, I admit that it is less stressful to be here in my den at my computer desk typing away than being in a waiting room a couple of hundred miles from here.

It’s cutting down on the recycled waiting-anxiety.

The most difficult solo waiting room experience I ever had was the day that my dad was in for hernia surgery and my mom had a heart attack and was simultaneously having a heart catheterization and stent placement.

Being with someone doesn’t necessarily make it easier, though. I think both B and I struggle with waiting in hospitals right now because six months ago we shared a heartbreaking wait in the CICU while the staff tried unsuccessfully to revive his mom, known here as Grandma.

I am finding that being here at home, though, with the company of daughter T, is making it easier to wait and to keep realistic. The procedure the doctors are using, called TAVR, is not much different than a heart catheterization. Sitting here at home, I don’t know when the procedure will begin or how long it is anticipated to take. I do know from past experience that you always need to allow a lot of extra time beyond what they tell you, as they usually quote the actual procedure time, not the hours of preparation and recovery that need to be factored in before word gets out to the waiting family members.

It is a lot easier to sit here and think that, with a 10 AM report time, I won’t likely hear that she is done with the procedure until the middle of the afternoon.

I know that many of you have Nana in your thoughts and prayers. You are on my list of contacts when there is news.

Thank you for your support.