Category Archives: Around The Hill

Neighborhood Recovery Center – Unconditional Love

I stepped on the scale this morning with trepidation. I had eaten four meals yesterday and topped off the evening with some sweets and a couple of glasses of wine. Still, I found myself snacking on some turkey before getting to bed a little before nine. Seemed like there was a big hole in my belly that needed filling.

The scale indicated that I had lost three pounds since yesterday. Work has been busy. The kind of work that makes you eat and sleep as much as you can fit between shifts, and sometimes that still is not enough. Strenuous but healthy. After a couple of ibuprofen, hurting knees and feet at night were good to go by morning – a bonus to not go into work sore from the day before!

As I was hurrying to put together a hearty breakfast in preparation for todays shift, the phone rang. A neighbor who I rarely see called and asked if I was aware that a meeting to discuss replacing Stone Bridge Inn and Restaurant with a substance abuse recovery center is scheduled for tonight 17 May 2018.

She was unable to confirm details for tonight, but an article in the Forest City News notes another meeting on the issue will be held at the Herrick Township meeting June 4 at 7pm.

Tired, I became angry at the interruption. I have office work to do. I have another nine or ten hour shift waiting tables before catching some sleep, meet with a client in the morning, then back for another shift. It’s been like this for days. So looking forward to a day or two off. Really off.

But then I remembered the conversation I had with a coworker yesterday.

I then remembered that a couple of years ago, I spent too much time with a strong Internet connection and no adult supervision. I did research. “Why is there terrorism?” “Why are so many people addicted to so many things?” “Why are so many people just so damned unhappy?” “What makes people meaner to each other than they need to be?”

I answered all these questions to my satisfaction; more importantly, though I am not the first to do so, I have identified the antidote

Just for a moment, let’s all put on our big boy and big girl knickers, open our eyes, and recognize that there is no way any substance, legal, illegal, healthy or unhealthy, could become so pervasive in our society without government complicity.

There is no opioid epidemic. There is an opioid for-profit industry.

Whether the result of industry lobbyists of not, for quite some time, those in the medical industry had been encouraged to treat pain aggressively. “With today’s (natural and synthetic opiate) chemical compounds, no one need suffer unnecessarily.” Though every individual is ultimately responsible for their own decisions, as a civilization, the deck has been stacked against us by those with influence.

Now that the danger of opioid use has been publicized and manufactured substances are being restricted on the white market, the floodgates have been opened on the stream of opiates on the black market. “Afghanistan has been the world’s leading illicit opium producer since 1992 (excluding the year 2001).” Quoted from “The United Nations office on Drugs and Crime 2010 World Drug Report).

I do not know how many planes come and go from Afghanistan and eventually end up in North or South America daily. My point being, that one way or another, this industry will insure that, regardless of demand, the distribution of opiates will remain uninterrupted into our communities.

And now people want to install the recovery center component of the opiate industry in our neighborhood.

In the Forest City News the people who want to open the center state that “A higher standard of people will be coming here” and that “(their) belief is, when insurance runs out, we do scholarships for people,” “Our main ingredient is unconditional love. Not a place to just make money,”

Personally, regardless of a clinical definition, I believe it to be unhealthy when people are categorized as higher or lower standard. People are people. We all suffer. Sometimes from lack of food or sleep, but mostly we all suffer from lack of love. We all struggle with our respective demons. No youngster ever said “When I grow up, I want to have an addiction problem.”

My suffering belly was satisfied with food. My suffering tired head remedied with sleep. Luckily, I have been able to fill the hole in my heart caused by the loss of long time friends to death or circumstance, with strenuous work rather than substances.

The most durable antidote that I have found to all this?

As mentioned in the Forest City News article: unconditional love.

Yesterday, in getting to know a coworker, and to relieve the monotony of setting hundreds of place settings for a banquet, we chatted back and forth. A handsome young man, intelligent, articulate and a good worker.

“Where do you live?” “Quite a drive” I replied when he named a town south of Scranton. He was quite brave and candid I thought when he told me that he was recovering from opiates. He had lost everything, his license to practice in the health care industry, his girlfriend, home and money due to opiates.

“I lived at a substance abuse recovery center in Carbondale, but had to move. There was opiate use inside the center, and I just felt I had a better chance of staying sober if I got out of that environment.”

Without any questions from me, it seemed that he wanted to talk. I listened.

“My friend from the center, a friend I say, because we were trying to help each other stay sober, died in my arms last week. Opioid overdose.”

“We’ll pick up tomorrow where we left off today.” He said.

I was impressed by his composure. I fought back tears. If he wants to talk more, I’ll listen.

I’ll do my best to listen and to love him. Unconditionally.

May Snow

The last of the snow clings to Elk’s trails.

Monday, snow coated the near green lawn for a while until overcome by afternoon warmth.

Tuesday, the back door thermometer registered well over 80 degrees.

Thursday, Friday disguised themselves as realio-trulio Summer days.

Friday night wind threatened strength, but resolved passing through the neighborhood, leaving it still.

Don’t like the weather here? Wait 5 minutes!

Eagle Moon

The first snow shoe hike on Elk this week had me breathing heavily, most of the time looking at the snow a few feet in front of me.

At one point, having to take a break, I looked up to see a large bird meandering on a thermal.  I tried to imagine what the bird saw from its vantage point, how large an animal I appeared to be from that perspective, and if I looked at all appetizing.

His coloring was pretty close to a turkey vulture, but the breadth of his wings,  the pace of his flight, and the flatness of his shoulders confirmed that I knew this fellow. 

He had been frequenting the mountain the last couple of weeks of ski season.

“A pair must be nesting nearby.” someone observed.

Eagles have been more prominent lately around area lakes; this youngster seems to prefer the views of the trails of Elk.

Nor’easter

Recently, as a massive storm moved in to the neighborhood from the north, many of us made last minute trips to the store for extra food and supplies in case the weather made electricity unreliable or travel difficult. A good day to hunker down.

Others of us made their way past stranded vehicles on barely passable roads to spend the day on the highest hill they could find.

On top of Elk Mountain, the partially frozen weather station reported steady winds between 15 and 20 mph. Those of us who have spent time in similar conditions estimated true wind speed at nearly double that. 

1 to 2 inch per hour snow fall amounts driven by wind gusting near 60 mph made it impossible to look into the wind without eye protection.

Snow scrubbed bare to ice in places, deposited feet deep nearby. Unusually corniced, an apparent ocean wave grew throughout the storm.