Oh, the pain…

Two days before leaving town for a week, a tooth that had been giving me minor pain, suddenly made it hard to eat. I called my dentist’s office. They got me in the next day. An hour in the dentist’s chair, and I walked out a new man ready to confront an ear of corn or a steak with confidence. The problem was infection that had creeped under an inlay:

I was so grateful I wrote my dentist, Ross Stangeland, a “fan letter.”

Hi Ross,

Just a note to say how grateful I am that you are my dentist. Your casual and deeply competent way of being with patients–at least with me–makes coming to you a pleasant experience. 

Imagine that? Needles and drills and some amount of pain being not that bad. 

I was so relieved you could see me yesterday on short notice. That tooth was getting worse and worse. Really glad we got it handled. You and your team are so professional, warm, and  friendly. To top it off, of all the medical people I see, not one has wanted to talk to me about Don Garlits or Janis Joplin. 

Again, many thanks for making my life better.

With admiration,


As babies up through young adulthood, we need and get lots of help as we grow. Then in adulthood, we give service to others. Then in old age we need help again. In contrast to when we are young, as adults we have the perspective and capability to let those who help us know they are appreciated.

Oh, no!

Oh, the sinking feeling you get when you see termite damage.

The only solution; fumigation requiring house tenting. What a hassle. Days to get ready for this, almost like a junior version of moving. One benefit was that we  cleaned out unused, out-of-date food from the refrigerator and the pantry.

The day before the fumigating, three rough and ready  talented men came to tent the house. Dangerous work. I so admired their competence up high on the roof.

After three days, the tent came down, and every goddamned termite was dead, dead, dead.

As they were taking down the tent, I gave each man a bottle of wine, even though I feared they might not drink wine. One turned and said, “Great. I am part owner of the winery in Napa. This Zin is one of my favorites.”

Who’d of thunk it?

Another Shot in the Eyeball

In for my fifth eyeball injection for macular degeneration last week. My eyes were dilated. Dr. Yee examined my retina with a bright light of a thousand suns. We discussed the situation and what meds I’d get. She sprang into action filling my left eye with antibiotics, cleansing liquid, and anesthesia.

As she worked, she told me how much she was enjoying my audiobook I’d given her earlier, especially the story of my SF State research injecting slime mold with LSD.

Then she said, “Look down and to the right.” Boom, in went the needle. Suddenly I could see this round dark object floating around in the left eye. This was the medication.

As the session was wrapping up, I said, “I want to say something. I really like working with you. You are so competent, it gives me confidence. Also you seem focused on me and my concerns. You are very communicative. While I like bedside manner, what I REALLY want is competence. Dr. Yee, you have both. I am grateful. I’m sure your cardiologist father is very proud.”

She is 35-ish and slightly nerdy. My compliment made her a bit uncomfortable. She looked at the floor and thanked me.

Oil light comes on…

Getting ready for my trip, the mechanics, at Kunos Auto Service Center in Redwood City give my car a complete service: oil change, new brakes, fluid check, rotate tires, etc. In and out in three hours – all set to go.

I thanked the owner, Ray Slaven, for this great service. I love going to this independent garage rather than the dealer.


In my later years, I need and get lots of service from professionals. They do things for me I could never do for myself. I appreciate all this. I’ve started to let people know how grateful I am they make my “Golden Years” more bearable.

Miracle on Harrison Avenue

Our block parties once a year – sometime twice – have created a friendly culture in our neighborhood.

Art and Dorothy, just across the street, are having a very hard time. He is 88 and she is 86. He is on oxygen 24/7 and wheelchair bound. A few weeks ago she fell and broke her wrist. As it heals, she is in a lot of pain and can no longer take care of their daily chores.

My wife, Mary, sent a note to the neighbors. In 24 hours 10 homes on the block committed to preparing meals for Art and Dorothy. Talk about stepping up.Mary grew up in rural Wisconsin where community spirit of support held it all together. Now that spirit is alive and well on Harrison Ave.

Our Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, says lack of community has become a national healthcare problem. I think most communities would respond like Harrison Ave. All it takes is someone to get the ball rolling. Start with a block party. People will show up. As one of our neighbors said,

“We all live by one another and know each other’s names, but until we sit down and share more than just where we live, we don’t truly become neighbors. Our yearly neighborhood party allows us that opportunity.”

– John Lombardo

5 thoughts on “Appreciation

  1. Jessica Fullmer says:

    What a gift your comments are, thank you for this heartwarming reminder.
    These examples definitely put a perspective on what is important.
    Even if we think we are aware and practicing appreciation, it can be better.

  2. Susan Page says:

    Wow your house tented. That seems like a big deal. Glad it worked. — YES Appreciation is greatly neglected in general. This post is an excellent reminder!

  3. Warren Harnden says:

    I’m with you, Rick. Just yesterday, my dentist installed a replacement crown. Similar to your experience, my dentist and his team are all upbeat and friendly; they know, and do not forget, Teresa’s situation and show real concern which is just icing on a fine cake.
    And your neighborhood is stepping up in the same way Teresa’s friends, along with Arline’s daughters and their friends, have formed up a nearly complete support system which is non stop since it started in mid July.
    So, thanks for tuning up my appreciation awareness. Sometimes the dismal swamp gets in the way!

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