I just spent time with an old friend and she reminded me of a wonderful experience we shared 34 years ago.

My friend, Jane, lived in my apartment building in New York City, a few floors down. She had a two-year old and was pregnant with her second child, due in a month. Her husband was out of the country. So I volunteered to be her support system if she went into labor before he got home.

You can see where this is going. I got the call around 4:20 AM. Jane had been having contractions for hours and the doctor finally told her to go to the hospital. My then husband brought Jane’s toddler to our apartment to wait for her grandmother to arrive to take care of her. I was taking Jane to the hospital.

Penguin giving birth

We got down the elevator to the lobby and I ran down the very long corridor between the elevator and the front door. The plan was to get a taxi ASAP. I ran outside to find the streets totally deserted. There had just been a major blizzard and there wasn’t a single car on all of Park Avenue. That was very rare and very inopportune. I ran back inside to tell Jane but she hadn’t made it to the lobby. I found her half way down the long hallway in a chair. Her water had broken and she felt an overwhelming desire to ‘push’.

I got her to the lobby and immediately called for an ambulance. My main job was to keep Jane from pushing the baby out right there in the lobby. The ambulance seemed to take forever so I called again. I was told that it was on it’s way. But then the operator added “Don’t let the woman in labor go to the bathroom. And whatever you do, DON’T CUT THE UMBILICAL CORD!” Umbilical cord! WTF?!!!

I’d had a baby myself, but my son was born 8-½ weeks early – the day before my Lamaze class was scheduled to start!! So I knew nothing about breathing or the stages of contractions and even less about umbilical cords. I was panicked, to say the least.

The ambulance finally came. But we had to drive slowly because the medics were afraid that hitting a pothole could catapult the baby out like a cannon ball. Miraculously, we made it to the hospital and even to the maternity floor hallway.

The doctors and nurses on call started discussing whose patient Jane was and who would handle her case. Jane suddenly propped herself up on her elbows and announced “I’m sorry, but the baby’s coming!”

All of a sudden there was a flurry of activity around Jane and cries of “Oh my God! The head! The head is coming!” And out came Sarah!. In the hallway with me standing right there next to Jane! The staff ran off with the baby and wheeled Jane into the OR. Her doctor eventually arrived, but he’d had a hard time getting to the hospital at all.

So I got to see a baby born the way most father’s do. Standing next to the mother and watching the miracle happen. Usually women witness birth from a different angle – the other end of the birthing canal. This was an exhilarating experience!

Jane gave me a scallop shell silver pendant as a thank you. I still wear it all the time. It’s very special to me because it reminds me of the wonder of birth and the meaning of true friendship.


Pictures are sometimes not quite enough, so here are some more pictures. Better flowers and whole trees! Imagine that. These are very pretty trees. Popular on lawns and backyards.

I hear that Catalpa are hard to grow, but around here, they grow like weeds. That is not figurative. They grow everywhere, especially where you really don’t want a tree. I’ve had to have two of them removed from the front garden because I was afraid their roots would invade my well. Tree roots can completely ruin a well and replacing it can be more expensive than you imagine possible.

We have several big Catalpa and they are blooming. When we come out of the house, our car is covered with flowers. That’s a really positive experience considering some of the other things we’ve had covering our car.

Maybe another week before they are just green trees. Tomorrow, I’ll go outside with my long telephoto and see if I can get some closeups.

I should probably mention that these are northern catalpa which appear to have spread out from their original home in Ohio.

Flower of the Day


It turns out that by the time I stopped the check, they had already — in less than an hour — hit the bank and taken out cash. So I’m out the full $950.

For a couple living on social security, this is not quite a calamity. Bad enough, though.

Assuming I have the energy to sue the guy, it will be a very long time until I see anything like money. I get exhausted thinking about it. Would crying help? Because that’s what I feel like doing.

They apparently had cashed the check before I was able to stop it. They didn’t deposit the check into an account because that would have given me time to dispute it. I fully understand why they wanted to make sure I could not dispute the check. If I were a con artist and thief, I’d want everything in cash, too.

Shawn Perry is a thief, a fraud, and a con artist. His company is called “Clear Vision Construction” and his phone number is (714) 314-7950. I strongly recommend you avoid him. And all his workers.

I’m not sure how much of this will get done because I’m so tired, but at least I want to be sure that everyone knows this person is not anyone with whom you should have dealings. The work was not done nor was any attempt made. If the job was impossible, you don’t take the job. Effectively, he stole the money. If he could not do the work, he could have turned it down. Taking the money, then NOT doing the work is fraud, with no “ifs” or “buts” about it.

You do not keep money for work you aren’t planning to do. That is illegal. It’s fraud. It’s a con.

He did not buy the supplies for which I was charged, did not perform the work to which he agreed. He came, “made a deal,” cheated two mature home owners out of nearly a thousand dollars and he was laughing his ass off as he went to the bank with his “found” money. “Found” as in “I found it in your wallet and took it.” That’s really found.

On Monday June 21, I arranged for Shawn Perry (Clear Vision Construction) to fix our front door. He wasn’t doing the work himself, but sent two guys to do it. The quality of the work is possibly the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t believe (or at least, I don’t want to believe) that he has actually seen this atrocity personally, but he says “his guys sent him pictures and it looks okay to him.”

Here is a set of photographs. There were taken just a few hours  after the work was “finished” and complete. I called him several times to ask him to at least come look at it, then (hopefully) do the right thing. He would not take my call. I left a message which said: “I’ve given you every chance to do right by me, but you have refused to even take a look at the job.”

If he had even so much as come and looked at the work, I would have counted that as a “plus” in his long minus column, but as far as he was concerned, he had cash — and more than enough.

 This is the guy and his crew: Clear Vision Construction, Owner: Shawn Perry.  Phone: (714) 314-7950

This work is not merely unprofessional. It isn’t even amateur. It is horrendous. His workmen did the work. It’s his crew, so it is his responsibility. It’s a pity he refused to make an attempt come back and do it properly. A shame. Don’t hire this guy. For that matter, be damned careful about who you hire and how the “contract” is written. For contracts under $1000 a written contract is not required, but don’t let that stop you. Proving “he said” is impossible. “Words” are empty. I’ve had work done in my home many times over the years. I have NEVER seen anything this atrocious.

You can write the paper and sign the paper. But in the end, the other party has to live up to his part of the deal. I’m sure there’s a clever way to say this, but I’m not into “clever me” mode at the moment. Maybe tomorrow.

I think I won’t be writing anything funny today. I’m sure I’ll find this funny, but not quite yet. Mostly, I just want to cry. And worse … I still need to get a new door.