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Thanks if you recall that nine days ago I wrote triumphantly of returning to work following recovery from the surgical removal of a gallbladder too monstrous for graphic discussion in civilized society.

Then I disappeared again. Later last week I spent another four days in the hospital for treatment of a complication that involved an internal leak, a block in the drain line that emerged from my abdomen like the helium hose in the Snoopy balloon in the Macy’s parade, a fever of 103 and aggressive treatment of an abscess.

These things happen. Life is rarely linear. So, too, with recovery from a serious medical condition.

But I do believe the complications have been resolved and I’ll be back at my desk later in March, leaner, eager to reclaim my place in the paper and more grateful than ever for each unlimited day. What follows is the column I’d begun when things went sharply south last week.

See you soon.

___

AMIEE CONN has been busy in Hollywood and I’ve been playing with the power-bed controls in hospital rooms, so it’s taken awhile for me and the 2003 Maria Carrillo High grad to connect.

My first question to Amiée, an actress and the 2006 Miss Sonoma County: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much fun was it to have a speaking role in the mega-hit film, “La La Land”?

“Oh, a 20!” she replied.

She portrayed the Famous Actress who encountered the dreamer played by Emma Stone at a movie-studio coffee bar.

“She’s looking up to me,” recounts Amiée, who pronounces her name AH-mee. “I give her a little advice.”

Amiée knew early on that “La La Land” was a fabulous film and she’d struck gold to win a part it in. “As cliche as it sounds,” the Sonoma County native said by phone from the Southland, “it really was a dream come true.”

OK, OK, I’ll get to the big question. Was she there at the Academy Awards to witness “La La Land” win six Oscars but have the prize for Best Picture unforgettably ripped away by a historic blunder?

Yes, Amiée said, she was seated in the first mezzanine and right after Stone won for Best Actress was over the moon to see “La La Land” awarded the evening’s most anticipated prize. Then the great mistake was revealed and the slightly used Oscar handed over to the cast and crew of “Moonlight.”

This is what Amiée had to say about it all: It could have been an ugly and painful scene, but she was blown away by how gracious and kind the companies of the two films were to each other as the blunder was rectified there on the stage.

“They made it something beautiful,” said Amiée, whose career we’ll keep tabs on. “I was really grateful to witness it in person, to be honest.”

___

TO ASK FOR MONEY is for most of us so distressing that we’d sooner address an audience in our underwear or be first to test a bungee jump from the observation deck 118 floors up Shanghai Tower.

The truly extraordinary Marlene Ballaine got over the anxiety of asking.

Marlene, a lover of art and humanity who glowed like an ember right up to her death on Feb. 20 at age 81, observed great need and unfulfilled potential and she knew that for something to be done people of good will must be persuaded to open their wallets and checkbooks.

Marlene half-joked that her friends would duck into alleyways or under tables if they saw her coming. Elegant, down to earth and a born leader, Marlene over the years solicited great, life-changing sums for The Living Room, the Santa Rosa day center for homeless and struggling women and children, and for the ArtStart public-art apprentice program, the Sonoma County Museum, Elsie Allen High students, KRCB and other local causes.

When Marlene perceived opportunities to create beauty and uplift lives, she set to work. Without her and her ability to persuade donors, the splendid new home of The Living Room on Cleveland Avenue would not be what it is, and it might not be at all.

Marlene knew it didn’t hurt for her to ask, and that needless hurting would continue and opportunities would be lost for her not to.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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