Monday, 01 September 2014

Holiday Art Tour – Year Five (and Book Winner)

Last Wednesday, I offered up an extra copy I have of Julian Barnes' brilliant memoir of grief, Levels of Life. It was a random drawing and all you needed to do to participate was to leave a comment stating you wanted the book.

Eighty of you did that, enough so that I wish I had more to give away. Since I don't, the winner of the electronic drawing is – drum roll – David R. Newman, and the book is already winging it's way to him in Eugene, Oregon - yes, my state.

David tells me he is 77 years old, mostly retired but he still writes book reviews for Northwest Senior News where for 12 years he wrote features and a monthly column. Before that he was, as he tells me, "a reporter in the real world" in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations, David.


The town where I live, Lake Oswego, Oregon, takes outdoor art seriously with dozens of sculptures scattered throughout the city.

Bread-upon-waterJerryJoslin
Bread Upon the Water by Jerry Joslin

That one, a favorite of mine, is permanently installed in a pond at City Hall. Most, however, are temporary – on loan for a year or two – and each year in the fall, new selections are unveiled after several weeks of being shrouded in fabric.

ShroudedSculpture

Four years ago, I began using the excuse of this last summer holiday to show you some of this outdoor art. What I haven't mentioned before is that these sculptures are from the previous year's installation because the new ones are not revealed until after Labor Day.

So continuing what I guess has become a tradition at TGB now, here are some of the 2014 selections.

Angel-flightJim Willis
Angel in Flight by Jim Willis

ContrappostoFrancisco Salgado
Contrapposto by Francisco Salgado

This next one is an interactive sculpture. Each of those "pins" can be pushed from one side to the other. I can't tell you why but it's loads of fun to play with.

MutatioBenDye
Mutatio by Ben Dye

MatelasseReven Marie Swanson
Matelasse by Reven Marie Swanson

EggJamesLapp
Egg by James Lapp

This next one is for you, Millie Garfield.

SunflowerPatricia Vader
Sunflower by Patricia Vader

Outcropping-anewavidTurner
Outcropping Anew by David Turner

MerkabaduraJoeBurley
Merkabadura by Joe Burley

Every year, the public is invited to vote for a People's Choice Award, one sculpture that is purchased for the permanent collection. The 2014 winner is Guardian of the Lake by artist Brian Mock.

Guardian-lakeBrianMock
Guardian of the Lake by Brian Mock

You can find out more about all this at the Arts Council of Lake Oswego website.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend, everyone.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Wishes of an Always Dying

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Sunday, 31 August 2014

ELDER MUSIC: 1959 Again

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


What happened in 1959?

  • Renée Fleming was born
  • Barbie doll was launched
  • The Twilight Zone made its premiere
  • Hawaii became the 50th state of the U.S.
  • Bonanza premiered
  • The Morris Mini-Minor was released
  • Rio Bravo was released
  • Melbourne were premiers

RICKY NELSON had several hits this year.

Ricky Nelson

He also appeared in a couple of films, most notably Rio Bravo, a film I like a lot. The song I've selected is Never Be Anyone Else But You.

♫ Ricky Nelson - Never Be Anyone Else But You

I'm sure that readers of this column know and love Nat King Cole's Mona Lisa. CONWAY TWITTY recorded a version of the song this year as well.

Conway Twitty

Conway intended it only for an album he was recording, however, it managed to escape and become a big hit. Those who like Nat's version but are unfamiliar with Conway's had better prepare themselves.

♫ Conway Twitty - Mona Lisa

TONI FISHER had a couple of hits around this time.

Toni Fisher

This is a rather odd one. It seems that phase shifting was deliberate. At least, that's what they told us at the time. I think someone stuffed up the recording and they decided to release it as it was and spin that tale.

The song is The Big Hurt.

♫ Toni Fisher - The Big Hurt

NEIL SEDAKA's first hit was a paean to Carole King back when they went to school together and she was named Carol Klein.

Neil Sedaka

I think you'll have guessed the song I'm talking about, Oh! Carol. He put a talky bit in the middle because it worked for The Diamonds with Little Darlin', so he figured it would work for him. Seems he was right.

♫ Neil Sedaka - Oh! Carol

There's always room for The King. Here's ELVIS with A Fool Such As I.

Elvis Presley

This was originally performed by Hank Snow in 1952. A bit later Jo Stafford and Tommy Edwards both had a go at it. No one remembers those versions.

♫ Elvis Presley - A Fool Such As I

Heavens, I haven't had the EVERLY BROTHERS yet. That's remiss of me.

The Everly Brothers

I will rectify that instantly with Take a Message to Mary. The song was written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant who wrote many of the Everly's early hits.

♫ The Everly Brothers - Take a Message to Mary

LLOYD PRICE had several big hits around this time. They were all pretty good and worth a listen.

Lloyd Price

This was the one that sold the most of all his records and gave him the nickname Mr Personality. The song is Personality.

♫ Lloyd Price - Personality

Okay, here's the odd one out for the year. This is DODIE STEVENS.

Dodie Stevens

Those who recognise the name are probably slapping their foreheads because they know what's coming. For the rest of you, sit back and relax to Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces, a song Dodie didn't particularly like but the record company insisted on her recording it. It was a huge hit.

♫ Dodie Stevens - Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces

Here is a song we've had before but that time it was sung in French. Today there's an English version by THE BROWNS.

The Browns

The Browns were sisters Bonnie and Maxine and their brother Jim Ed. Their most famous song was The Three Bells.

♫ The Browns - The Three Bells

JOHNNY O'KEEFE closes the year.

Johnny O'Keefe

There were many visiting performers (to Australia) around this time who wished he'd close the show whenever they were on rather than their having to follow him. Indeed, there were some who made return visits who stipulated in their contracts that Johnny was not to be on the bill with them.

This is because he was one of the greatest rock and roll performers the world had seen. His act was so full on that no one could compete, especially when he performed a cover of the Isley Brothers' song, Shout.

The record is a pale imitation of what happened on stage.

♫ Johnny O'Keefe - Shout (Pt. 1 & 2)

You can find more music from 1959 here. 1960 will appear in two weeks' time.

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Saturday, 30 August 2014

INTERESTING STUFF – 30 August 2014


THE ALS ICE CHALLENGE

Unless you've been under a rock for the past week, you know about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during which mostly celebrities and politicians who want a few more minutes than usual in the spotlight sit still to have ice water poured on them.

It is intended to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease and from some reports, it seems to be working. Me? I'm more interested in the non-celebrities who have taken the challenge and today, let's look at two of those who are at the extreme ends of the age spectrum.

First, here is Jack Reynolds, a Brit wearing only Union Jack boxer shorts – he's 102 years old and he celebrated after the icy drenching with a glass of whiskey.

Read more about Jack here.

At the other end of the age scale is another Brit, two-year-old Scarlett who, after being soaked in ice cold water, dropped the F-bomb on her mother:

Unfortunately, since I first saw this, the video has been pulled from YouTube and I'm really sorry you can't see it. The kid says to her mother in a little two-year-old girlie voice, "Fuck your mouth," and it's really funny.

No harm done but even so, someone believed little Scarlet needed to make a formal apology for her naughty language. You can watch the 14-second video at Mediate but I prefer that website's punchline to the event:

“Okay,” Scarlett mumbled, before running out of her mother’s grasp to the fucking swingset.”

ROBOTS ARE HERE TO TAKE OUR JOBS

This 15-minute video report about how robots are taking over all but the most menial jobs went viral last week. It's worth watching:

It sounds like a miserably awful work future for humans. There is a good discussion here from Richard Eskow about how true this prediction may or may not be.


GIANT WASP NEST IN GUEST ROOM

I have a guest room. In winter, I keep the door closed so that I don't need to heat the room and the door stays closed most of the rest of the year unless guests are expected.

I'm pretty sure a month or two sometimes go by when I don't enter the room. That may be why this photo in the Guardian forced me to rethink the closed door policy:

Giant-wasps-nest-found-in-008

That is a giant wasp nest discovered in a spare bedroom in Winchester, England:

”A man who went into a rarely used spare room in his mother's home was shocked to discover that 5,000 wasps had made a giant nest in the bed.

The nest, 3ft wide x 1.5ft deep, was still expanding and the insects had chewed through the mattress and pillows to build it.

When pest controller John Birkett was called to the scene he realised it had been growing for several months.”

There is more to know in the Guardian story - some interesting comments from that exterminator too.


JON STEWART ON FERGUSON

After a two-week vacation, Jon Stewart returned to The Daily Show this week and immediately took on the media response to events in Ferguson following the shooting of Michael Brown. It is Stewart at his indignant best.


SEX IN A BOX

That's the name of a real TV show that will debut on We tv in the fall. The president of that network says it is

“...one of the most unique and compelling show concepts we’ve ever seen.” “Our featured couples will get a once-in-a-lifetime experience, while our viewers will get the kind of bold, break-through-the-clutter programming they increasingly associate with WE tv...”

R-i-i-i-i-ght.

Actually, it is a copy of a program that has been broadcast in Britain for the past year. Here is an excerpt from the first episode:

You can see the entire first British episode here and/or read more here about the U.S. version of Sex in a Box.


DOLPHINS FISHING ON LAND

We have always been told how smart dolphins are but I still think we don't give them (or a lot of other animals) enough brain power credit.

Watch this video sent by Alan Goldsmith:


LIFE SIZE OBAMA STATUE STOLEN

My question about why someone, anyone, would pay to have a life size statue of President Barsack Obama made and then place it on a bench on the front porch goes unanswered.

My second question is why anyone would steal it. But they did, leaving it on a park bench with a six-pack and some cigarettes.

Obamastatue

Here is the original news report with video. And here is Mediaite's follow-up after recovery of the statue.


KITCHEN HELP

When he sent me the link, my friend Jim Stone wrote “How did I not know this?” in the subject line of his email. I had exactly the same thought when I watched this video about plastic wrap and aluminum foil:

I checked both boxes in my kitchen: yup – those little tabs are right where the man in the video shows us and in more than half a century of using those products, I've never noticed them before. My life is changed.


LIGHT RAIN

Jim Stone was on a roll that day when he sent the plastic wrap video and this one too. It is a short film based on a lovely, little true story written by Bob Perks.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.

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Friday, 29 August 2014

Me and My Elderblog

Ever since Facebook launched in 2004, and even moreso following Twitter's online birth two years later, people who think they are in the know have been predicting the death of blogging – translation: long-form writing.

The prognosticators often include the news and magazine media. The future of written communication, they have been telling us, is in 140 characters or thereabouts.

If that turns out to be true, I'm glad I'm old and will die before long. Outside of “Fire, run,” “Dinner's ready” and “I love you,” there isn't much I care about that can be said in one sentence.

In the past couple of years, apparently in backlash, some young entrepreneurs have founded websites specifically to promote longform reporting and other kinds of writing. Vox is one, also Longreads, The Verge and Matter among them.

They and others are fine antidotes to an internet world overflowing with Buzzfeed-style listicles.

A week so ago, Curbed founder Lockhart Steele wrote a (longform) piece at The Verge rethinking the future of blogging which he had forsaken a few years ago:

”I loved those days: writing post after post after post, day after day, forces a different mindset as a writer,” he said. “You loosen up; you get conversational.”

No kidding. I know all about that as do many of you who regularly comment here and those who keep your own blogs.

So strong is the pull of that “old-fashioned” style of daily writing for Steele, whose successful Curbed website was sold to Vox Media not long ago, that he announced the resurrection of his old blog:

”Thinking about all this has stoked my desire to get back in the game myself. So, today, I'm raising my personal blog, lockhartsteele.com, from the dead.

“Over there, on a daily basis, I'll be blogging about Vox Media editorial, as well as things that have nothing to do with our company, such as restaurants and — indulge me here — the Red Sox.

“Part of my goal is to offer a clearer window into what's going on in the Vox Media world; the other, simply, is to regain the practice of daily blogging.”

Lockhart Steele is much younger than I am and still in the career game so to a degree, blogging is a sideline but he's convinced me of his love for the form and its day-to-day nature. That is a large part of how blogging became my raison d'etre.

It didn't start out that way but in the decade I've been publishing timegoesby.com, it gives me reason to get out of bed each day, has fueled my interest in new-ish elder issues such as the Village movement I am now part of, provides the space to hold forth on the main mission here, aging in general, and more.

Steele and I have a lot of in common. As blog topics, he has Vox, I have aging. We each indulge some of our other interests – his Red Sox, my politics. We both like the daily practice of writing in the peculiarly bloggy manner that he correctly identifies as conversational.

Not to mention the actual conversation, the back and forth among readers. There is no such thing on Twitter or Facebook where there is no space – read: length – for actual thought or, with so many unrelated interruptions, any reasonably cogent exchange of thought among the people who post comments.

So I was happy to see Lockhart Steele's disquisition on blogging. I'm sticking with it whether longform writing succeeds elsewhere or not.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Bettijane Eisenpreis: Witnesses to History

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Preparing for Grandparenthood

On Tuesday's post about not having borne children and therefore having an old age without grandchildren, Karen Swift mentioned this in her comment:

”My first grandchild will arrive in November...I have been thinking a lot about exactly what kind of grandmother I want to be. Did any of you think about that ahead of time? I don't think I want to leave it up to my instincts!”

What an interesting question. Enough so that it was rolling around in my head when I woke way too early Wednesday morning (2:30AM) unable to go back to sleep. It has never occurred to me before that one might plan grandparenthood.

As I tried to wonder what kind of grandmother I might have become, the first image that popped into my head was Auntie Mame.

Or, maybe, something like my great Aunt Edith who was the closest thing I had to a grandmother.

She was 15 years old when she left home to join a traveling dance troupe, became a successful business woman, dressed oh-so elegantly, took me to fancy restaurants – just the two of us – listened when I talked and made me feel like I could grow up to be anything I wanted.

Then I realized she had some crucial experience I lacked: although she never married, she raised my father, her nephew, from the time he was 10 years old.

I suspect to be any good at grandparenting, one needs to have had some reasonably close knowledge of what kids are like and my experience is, essentially, zero.

So today, I am leaving Karen Swift's question up to you, dear readers, who are grandparents (that means men too). Soon-to-be parents make all kinds of preparations for the birth of their babies. Does grandparenthood need planning too?

Did you think about what style you'd take on? Or did you just follow your instincts? Did your children lay down any rules for you?

Our world has changed so much in the past two, three, four decades; does that make relating to young children today different from when you were raising your own? If so, how?

Let us know along with anything else that comes to mind that you think would help out Karen Swift.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Dear Dairy

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A Book Deal For You

I discovered the English writer, Julian Barnes, in 1984 with the publication that year of Flaubert's Parrot, and I haven't stopped reading him since.

In the past decade, Barnes seems to have become almost as consumed with growing old, old age in general and contemplation of death as I am and he has been writing about them in powerful ways so beyond my attempts that I may as well be living on a lesser planet. I recommend them all:

The Lemon Table - short stories about growing old (2004)

Nothing to be Frightened Of - essays about his ancestors, real and imagined, and their contemplation of death (2008)

The Sense of an Ending - novel of a middle-aged man forced to confront his past (2011 – Man Booker Prize)

Pulse - another brilliant short-story collection some of which touch on age and grief (2011)

Last week, I re-read Barnes' 2013 memoir of the grief he has lived following the death of wife of 30 years, literary agent Pat Kavanaugh. You wouldn't think the first two sections of Levels of Life – on 19th century ballooning and on Sarah Bernhardt – would have anything to do with that. You would be wrong.

The book is unforgettable - stunning achievement, beautiful, intense, heartbreaking, eloquent, profound and shattering.

I am telling you this today because as I returned the paperback to the shelf, I discovered a hardback edition. Huh? Blame it on old age memory, I guess. Apparently I bought the soft cover without checking my unread books pile.

So one of you wins today. As we have done in the past, let me know if you are interested in owning Julian Barnes' Levels of Life.

You can do that in the comments below by typing, Yes, I want the book. Or, Count me in. Or, Me, me, me. Or however else you want to indicate your interest.

The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and I'll mail off the book to you. The deadline for comments is 12:01AM Pacific Daylight Time on Friday 29 August I'll announce the winner in this space on Monday 1 September.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: You Can't Stop a Laugh

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Being Old Without Children

In February 2011, I posted a story about being old and childless titled, Having No Children – Regrets? It was popular. There were many more of comments than other days with a lot of thoughtful discussion.

But I had forgotten it until last week when a reader named Kelly left this comment on the post:

”I turn 50 in 45 days and find myself unmarried, no kids and my career in shambles. I needed this article today.

“Usually spend less than an 4 hours a year on facebook, but just spent two hours looking for pictures to put on a personal project. It was difficult to see all my family members with their kids and grandkids - milestones, trips, homes, my life became empty in a matter of minutes.

“Until I read this. I am forever grateful.”

(By the way, there are more comments – or, sometimes, private emails to me - than you would think from people, usually not regulars, who appreciate the insights in the conversations here. A large part of that is you, TGB readers, who contribute so much useful information so take a bow.)

Throughout my life I have often said that aside from putting a gun to one's head, there are hardly any decisions that are irrevocable. But not having children is one of them – for women, after a certain age, there is no going back.

Kelly's comment last week reminded me that childlessness, chosen or through circumstance, can be an issue in old age and that it's worth repeating this post. Time Goes By has gained many new readers since 2011, and I'm eager to hear from you. If you recall this post from 2011, maybe you have more to say.

Here is the original post with a few minor tweaks but no substantive changes.


Many elderbloggers post photos of their grandchildren, tell cute stories about them and about the the joys (or, sometimes, heartaches) of grandparenthood.

I can't do that. I didn't have children, a choice I renewed through the years.

When I graduated from high school in 1958, many of the women (girls, really) in my class married right away – some within a week or so in weddings they had planned throughout our senior year. Two or three were already pregnant and the rest couldn't wait to become mothers, as was generally expected of us in those days.

Although few women attended college in mid-20th century America and marrying at 17 or 18 was common, going from the confines of school and home to what I considered the equally confining boundaries of suburban domestication was not for me.

I wanted to live on my own, explore the world around me, meet new people, travel to faraway places, go dancing, drink wine and talk politics all night. I wanted to find out what kind of person I would become and I knew in my bones I would never get to do those things if I was keeping house and changing diapers. I'll do that later, I told myself, much later.

That is not to disparage those who chose the marriage path so young; it just didn't sing to me and I knew I was nowhere near grownup enough yet to raise babies.

Six or seven years later, I did marry – one of the larger mistakes of my life. It was apparent before a year had passed that we were not going to make it and although I hung on and hoped for six years, I made sure there were no children.

Bad marriage but good choice about kids because at age 31, I found myself with no husband, no home and no job.

That righted itself and for the next several years, I created a terrific career, dated some extraordinarily interesting and accomplished men and did not marry any of them.

The late 1970s arrived and many of my friends had married, moved off to married-people land, had babies and we had little in common anymore. I cannot express how deeply I did not (and still do not) care about the relative merits of Pampers and Huggies or of various brands of baby carriages - conversations I struggled to politely endure when visiting those friends. It's probably a genetic failing if not a moral one.

But I was fast approaching 40, a good cutoff date for pregnancy, and it seemed time to seriously consider motherhood before it was too late. So I spent the next year or so weighing the question.

It was clear, I reasoned, that I was not a woman who bubbled over with maternal longing. On the other hand, I am thoroughly responsible and if a baby or two were thrust my way, I'd throw myself into it – Pampers, soccer games (ugh) and all – because, well, how can you not. There is no other choice than to do the best you can to successfully guide a kid from the cradle to adulthood.

I had been on my own for more than 20 years by the time I was doing all this thinking and journaling and wondering about children. I was curious about that kind of life, about the feeling parents described of overwhelming love for their newborns that was different from other kinds of love.

And I had certainly been awed watching friends' children go from babbling to full sentences within a short space of time. The thrill, if the child is your own, must be amazing.

Another consideration was that there was no potential husband on the horizon. Would I be willing, was motherhood important enough to me, to bear a child and raise him/her on my own? And if so, should I? Was it a good or right thing to do, to choose half a home for a kid from the getgo and not from later circumstance, divorce or death?

That part was easy for me – no. I could not imagine holding down a full time job, the odd hours mine demanded, the travel, weekend work, deadlines, etc. while juggling the needs of a child without a father. And I did not want the disappointment of coming home to a caregiver who told me the kid took his/her first step that day or spoke a first word while I was gone. It would break my heart.

(Just so you know, I'm aware there is much more to motherhood than those two milestones, but it was on my mind then.)

Of course, I also could not avoid the question of whether I would be sorry, regretful when I was old, that I did not have children. There was no way to know.

So I decided that if, in the next couple of years, a man I wanted to marry appeared in my life and he wanted a child, I would do that. But not on my own.

Time passed, the man did not materialize and here I am more than 30 years later, never a mother and therefore not a grandmother.

Do I have regrets now? Only in the sense of missing an experience so common to most of humankind. I am equally curious about having married young and spent 50 or more years with the same person – how different from my life and what an astonishing connection that would be to have lived intimately with one person for so long.

But I also wish I knew what it is like to walk on the moon or be able to sing like Kathleen Battle or dance with Fred Astaire. I would like to have worked in the White House, to know it from the inside. Or Congress.

I wish I had asked my mother and father a whole lot more questions than I did. And I wish so much that I were smarter than I am and could understand many things about which I fall short of “getting.”

Some of these are impossible, others are choices and none are regrettable. Nor is not having children/grandchildren and I suspect that turned out just right for me. But then, how would I know?

I'm pretty sure grandparents could tell me how much I am missing but I don't feel a hole in my life. Overall, it's turned out pretty well. I'm comfortable with my life, and I wonder if other childless elders have regrets about that. Or not.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Comparisons: Yesterday and Today

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