Great Big Fat Good News About Cancer

At first, I wrote this post with a long and winding introduction to the news – this great big fat good news - but that doesn't seem fair so I'm redoing it and adding what had been intro material as an addendum below. Here is the news:

On Friday, my Whipple Procedure surgeon said that the many tests given during my hospital stay 10 days ago showed – and I quote - “no current evidence of cancer”.

Just for fun, let's repeat that: no current evidence of cancer. Isn't that amazing.

One of the surgeon's nurses who I've come to know a bit relayed his statement to me via phone message and added, “so go celebrate.”

I started with a good cry. When I tapped the phone off, the tears just flowed on their own. There turns out to be a nice symmetry too: the day after this overwhelming and unexpected news was given to me – that is, 20 January – was the seven-month anniversary of the Whipple surgery last June.

This definitely is a grace – defined by Christians as an unearned, unmerited, undeserved favor from god. If like me, god is a tricky concept for you, think of it as the same kind of gift but from the universe.

It is a grace because it's a big deal and I certainly did nothing to cause it. The doctors and nurses and other healthcare people at OHSU did all the work – the surgery, help with recovery, chemotherapy, hand-holding, question answering, etc.

All I did was follow their instructions to the best of my ability.

And then there are all of you – the wonderful TGB readers who every day have left encouraging notes, stories, prayers and thoughts. Can anyone prove they don't work? I can't, and they helped keep me going especially on the most difficult days.

Friends and neighbors belong on this list too – the people who have served as chauffeurs to and from the doctors, shoppers before I could drive again after the surgery, cat care when I couldn't bend to clean the litter box, among so much more including unending moral support.

Thank you seems too puny but it is deeply heartfelt.

Even with this great good news, however, there is more medical stuff to come. As I mentioned last Monday, I have a small, internal bleed that, if it does not heal on its own, will require surgery which will be extensive enough to result in a recovery period almost as difficult as the Whipple. What helps make it tolerable for me is that it is a mechanical problem – sort of a loose connection – unrelated to pancreatic cancer.

The decision about the surgery will be made in early February.

Unfortunately, I can't just relegate this bout of cancer to a minor interruption in life and get on with everything else. Tests will be needed every few months for as long as I live to check for any recurrence or new cancer. Too bad about that but after these past seven months, I'm pretty sure I can manage it without too much anxiety.

As the old song says, “whatever will be, will be,” but for today, let's imagine I've shipped off a bottle of champagne to every one of you and together let's toast the universe, its occasional gifts and my incredible, great, good luck.

Champagne

Thank you all so much for helping me through this ordeal. You are the best.



ELDER MUSIC: Classical Gas Part 9

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.

* * *

Next in the series of columns, first named by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, to highlight the music of possibly lesser known composers.

I'll start with something that might be familiar to some of you. It's by OTTORINO RESPIGHI.

Respighi

Perhaps it's just me, because the music I selected was used as the theme for a program on my local classical station.

Although he was from Bologna, Otto seemed to have an inordinate fondness for Rome (he's probably not alone in that), witness his tone poems The Fountains of Rome, The Pines of Rome and Roman Festival. I'm not using any of those, however, instead it's the fourth movement of his other famous work, Ancient Airs and Dances. This is Suite 2, arranged for orchestra.

♫ Respighi - Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 2 (4)


ELENA KATS-CHERNIN was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and studied in Moscow.

Kats-Chernin

She emigrated to Australia when she was 18 and continued her musical studies in this country. She's written half a dozen operas, the usual concertos, symphonies and the like and considerable music for the piano. She's currently one of Australia's most important composers. One of her piano works is called Dance of the Paper Umbrellas.

♫ Kats-Chernin - Dance Of The Paper Umbrellas


FRIEDRICH FESCA was a composer and violinist from around the turn of the eighteenth century into the nineteenth century.

Fesca

His parents were both in the music biz, so he had a head start in his career such that he performed quite challenging piano pieces when he was only four. Later in life he was court composer for various kings, dukes and such like.

Fred wrote symphonies and some sacred music, but his chamber music, the string quartets in particular, are of the first order. Here is the first movement of his Flute Quartet No. 2 in G major, Op. 38.

♫ Fesca - Flute Quartet No. 2 in G major Op. 38 (1)


In the past I've devoted a column to FRANZ HOFFMEISTER and his friends but I think he deserves another listen.

Hoffmeister

Franz's column was concerning his business as a music publisher. Today it's just about his music. There are many violin concertos in the world, but far fewer viola concertos. I've always found this instrument more to my taste. Here's Franz's version, the Viola Concerto in D major, the third movement.

♫ Hoffmeister - Viola Concerto in D major (3)


CHARLES IVES once famously asked, "Are my ears on straight?" because nobody seemed to like his music.

Ives

Anyone who has more than a passing knowledge of it would be tempted to ask the same question of him. His music is, to put no fine point on it, challenging – he was especially fond of dissonance. He anticipated 20th century musical developments but most of his own was ignored and not played during his lifetime.

Charlie was a great supporter and champion of other composers' music and often financed them anonymously – he was very successful in business. If spite of his music's reputation, there is the occasional piece that I'm quite happy to lend an ear to.

One of those is his String Quartet No. 1, which is subtitled for some reason "From the Salvation Army". This is the second movement. His ears were properly aligned when he composed this.

♫ Ives - String Quartet No.1 (2)


JOHANN BACKOFEN was a virtuoso player of the clarinet, harp, flute and Bassett horn.

Backofen

It's not surprising that he wrote mostly for those instruments. Today we have two of them – the harp and Bassett horn, two instruments you seldom hear together, particularly in a solo setting.

The Bassett horn, incidentally, is a member of the clarinet family, a bit bigger than that instrument, and has a bend at the top or down the bottom or both. The first movement of his Duo Concertante for Bassett Horn & Harp in F major.

♫ Backofen - Duo Concertante for Bassetthorn & Harp in F major (1)


OSVALDO GOLIJOV has the soprano DAWN UPSHAW as his composing muse these days.

Golijov & Upshaw

Os is an Argentinean composer and professor of music. Although he writes other styles, vocal music is his forte. Dawn is an American soprano who specialises in modern classical music. Os's song cycle Ayre was written with her in mind.

From that work we have the wonderfully named Una Madre Comió Asado (A Mother Roasted her Child).

♫ Golijov - Una Madre Comió Asado (A Mother Roasted her Child)


LOUISE FARRENC was born into a Parisian family of successful sculptors – her father and brother were both notable in that field. She was born Louise Dumont.

Farrenc

Louise had a reputation during her lifetime for being a fine composer, a virtuoso pianist and one of the country's best music teachers such that she became Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatory.

Her most famous composition is her nonet which was so successful that she demanded, and received, pay equal to the males at the Conservatory. Here is the second movement from that work, the Nonet for Strings and Wind in E-Flat Major, Op. 38.

♫ Farrenc - Nonet for Strings and Wind in E-Flat Major Op. 38 (2)


JOSÉ DE TORRES was the king's director of music at the Chapel Royal in Madrid at the beginning of the 18th century. The king being Philip V.

De Torres

A duty of his position was to compose music for all religious services, which were a lot. A considerable amount of his music survives, possibly helped by his being also a music publisher, the first in the country. This piece of music is called Arpon que glorioso (Villancico al Santisimo), and it's performed by Al Ayre Español.

♫ Joseph de Torres - Arpon que glorioso (Villancico al Santisimo)


MARIA SZYMANOWSKA was born Marianna Wolowska in Warsaw.

Maria Szymanowska

She was one of the first professional pianists in Europe and toured extensively throughout. This was a decade or two before Liszt, Chopin and Clara Schumann did the same sort of thing.

Maria eventually settled in St Petersburg, then the Russian capital, where she composed music and played the piano for all who wanted to hear (which was just about everyone). A lot of her compositions are for piano, not unexpectedly, and we have Waltz No 1 in E-flat major from her “Three Waltzes for Piano.”

♫ Szymanowska - Waltz No 1 in E-flat major



INTERESTING STUFF – 20 January 2018

LIVE JAZZ EVERY SUNDAY IN HARLEM APARTMENT

Every Sunday, Marjorie Eliot and Rudel Drears open the doors of their Harlem apartment to anyone in the mood for jazz. At first, this was a way for Marjorie to honor her son’s passing, but the concerts soon began attracting visitors from all corners of the world, according to the YouTube page.

Today, Marjorie’s matinees have become iconic, continuing to restore, renew and unite people all through the magic of music. Take a look:

Without missing a single Sunday, the music has been going on for 25 years.

DNA CHECK

I'm not much interested in genealogy but as Christmas approached last year, there were a lot of commercials for discounted DNA checks so just for fun, I decided to see what my DNA says about me. I got the results this week. Here's how it breaks down:

Scandinavian - 19.7%
English - 19.4%
Irish, Scottish, Welsh - 19.4%
South Europe, Iberian - 10.9%
South Europe, Greek - 9.3%
Eastern Europe - 19%
North Africa - 1.1%
Nigeria - 1.1%
Middle East - 1.1%

The Scandinavian surprised me but the rest is pretty much what I expected. I had been told my maternal ethnic background was Spanish and Welsh. Period. They are there in this analysis, but not in as big a percentage as I had thought. Mildly interesting...

CAT VERSUS OCTOPUS

According to the YouTube page, this is a cat meeting an octopus for the first time. I doubt there is much opportunity for this kind of encounter so take a look:

A PAPER AIRPLANE LIKE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN

The detail that Luca Iaconi-Stewart has incorporated into this model of a Boeing 777 aircraft made entirely of manila folders is astonishing.

I'm pretty sure this takes an amount of obsession I'm unfamiliar with.

A PENCIL FACTORY IN PHOTOS

Photographer Christopher Payne, The New York Times reports, has visited the General Pencil Company factory in Jersey City, New Jersey dozens of times where he has been documenting every phase of the manufacturing process.

It is a beautiful and compelling photo essay. Here are some samples:

GraypencilsA

PencilMachineB

EditiingPencilsC

Because it is published at The New York Times not all of you will be able to see the rest of the photos, but you may enjoy reporter Sam Anderson's final paragraph. I did:

”In an era of infinite screens, the humble pencil feels revolutionarily direct: It does exactly what it does, when it does it, right in front of you. Pencils eschew digital jujitsu. They are pure analog, absolute presence. They help to rescue us from oblivion.

“Think of how many of our finest motions disappear, untracked — how many eye blinks and toe twitches and secret glances vanish into nothing. And yet when you hold a pencil, your quietest little hand-dances are mapped exactly, from the loops and slashes to the final dot at the very end of a sentence.”

More at The New York Times.

A COFFEE TABLE HARRY POTTER WOULD LOVE

The craftsman in this video built a “magic” coffee table full of hidden compartments and artwork. I've always loved hidden compartments and had one in the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves I had built in my Maine apartment. Take a look at this:

A CHAIN REACTION WITH MORE THAN DOMINOS

A YouTube contributor who calls himself DoodleChaos synchronized his chain reaction to Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers. The chain reaction includes not just dominos as usual, but also marbles, magnets and janga blocks. Here is what he said about doing that:

”After listening to parts of this song hundreds of times to match things up I went a bit crazy.”

I have no doubt nor will you when you see this final amazing video.

COLDEST PLACE ON EARTH

Oymyakon, a remote Siberian village, is considered to be the coldest permanently inhabited settlement in the world. BoredPanda reports:

”The official weather station at the 'pole of cold' registered -59°C (-74°F), but the new electronic thermometer claimed the weather was -62°C (-80°F). In fact, it even stopped working after reaching the painful mark. Some of the 500 locals go beyond that, claiming the temperatures are as low as -68°C (-90°F).”

Here are some sample photos:

FreezingVillageA

FreezingRussianTownB

Worlds-coldest-village-oymyakon-siberiaC

More photographs at BoredPanda.

MURMURATION OF STARLINGS

A short film that follows the journey of two girls in a canoe on the River Shannon and how they stumble across one of nature's greatest phenomenons; a murmuration of starlings.

There is an explanation of the science behind starling murmurations at Wired. Thank TGB reader Ruth-Ellen B. Joeres for the video.

* * *

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” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I 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.



Crabby Old Lady and Protest/Donation Fatigue

But first – we have a winner in Monday's random drawing for a book of essays by Ursula K. Le Guin titled No Time to Spare. The random number generator spoke and Karin Bendel's name came up.

The book has been mailed off today. Congratulations Karin, and thank you Lynn Lawrence for providing the giveaway book.

* * *

Now for something entirely different – no old age, no cancer, not even a book today.

It probably won't surprise you that Crabby Old Lady has email subscriptions – several dozen of them - to newsletters, announcements and daily mailings from a lot of newspapers, magazines, political organizations, resistance groups and some members of Congress.

They have piled up over the years as Crabby has added new ones she finds along the way and, of course, never deletes any.

At the same time, she has become adept at knowing what she needs to know – so much so that she has learned from experience what information need not be read beyond a headline (if the headline writer is any good) and which newsletters are worth drilling down into for a fuller story.

Nevertheless, Crabby spent a good deal of time this week unsubscribing from some of these missives for one reason: they write scary headlines often in bright red and then supply a link only to a donation or paid subscription page. (A frequent alternative is a request to sign a petition which then begs for money.)

In many cases, this happens from the same organizations every day. Every. Single. Day. And Crabby is fed up. So one-by-one she is ditching them.

She's sorry to do that and god knows she has contributed through the years. But these pleadings never have new or useful information and always imply that they are going to close their doors within a day or two if they don't get Crabby's $5.

For many years now they have been doing this in Crabby's inbox every day. Every. Single. Day.

For all the handwringing that goes on about how trashy the internet is nowadays – whether that refers to the plethora of pornography and various scams among other detritus – Crabby never runs into it. She is interested in news, politics, health and age-related information plus a few minor silly addictions, and she knows where to find them all.

What pisses off Crabby are the political organizations that trade on their perceived righteousness but give no discernable return on their begging for money – certainly no information that Crabby doesn't get on any number of other websites.

So Crabby is gradually cleaning up her inbox and she can't be the only person who, having suffered enough, is giving up their support for just this stupid reason: they overdid it.

And another thing: It's official, says Crabby: there are no longer any news, news-ish and commentary websites known to mankind that do not blast audio – usually attached to video – as soon as the page settles.

Plus, there are so many moving distractions next to the text Crabby is trying to read that she knows it distracts from her full comprehension, not to mention all the many interruptions for commercials between paragraphs of stories made to look like part of the story so, supposedly, she will read them.

Not, as we used to say. She just moves on, deciding that the hassle to read with all the interruptions isn't worth whatever she thought might learn from the article..

Somewhere this week, Crabby saw a headline about a survey of internet users reporting that there is so much distracting “stuff” on pages of the internet that people feel less informed now than before they had the internet.

Crabby didn't read that one either, in this case because the headline said all anyone needs to know about this topic and there is no doubt it is true.

For these reasons and more, Crabby Old Lady is aggrieved at these and all the other awful online stuff she hasn't even mentioned. It has become so hard to use the internet that Crabby is doing a lot less of it these days. How about you?



Encouraging News: U.S. Cancer Death Rate Has Dropped. Again.

Here's something I didn't know about cancer and I'll bet you didn't know either until now:

”...the lifetime probability of being diagnosed with the disease is slightly higher for men than for women, with adult height accounting for about a third of the difference. Studies have shown that taller people have a greater risk of cancer.

Hmmph. Being only 5 feet, two inches tall didn't help me.

It's still a great little factoid to have and it is from a story in the Washington Post about the annual report from the American Cancer Society - this year titled Cancer Facts and Figures 2018.

You're probably not surprised to know that since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last June, I've become more interested in cancer generally so I've been looking at news stories more carefully.

The disease, in its many forms, has been frustratingly difficult to treat, let alone cure – physicians have been trying to do so since at least 2500 BC. In the four-plus millennia that have followed, science has been able to reduce the incidences of many childhood diseases, of tuberculosis and of small pox, for example, to almost none.

But cancer, the number two killer in the United States, continues to be intractable.

Even so and as excruciatingly slow as it is, there has been positive change. The Post again:

”Overall, the cancer death rate has dropped from 215.1 per 100,000 population in 1991 to 158.6 per 100,000 in 2015.

“The nation's overall cancer death rate declined 1.7 percent in 2015, the latest indication of steady, long-term progress against the disease, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society.

“Over nearly a quarter-century, the mortality rate has fallen 26 percent, resulting in almost 2.4 million fewer deaths than if peak rates had continued...

“Even so, an estimated 609,000 people are expected to die of the ailment this year, while 1.74 million will be diagnosed with it.

Here is a chart of the number deaths from certain cancers expected during 2018:

CancerDeathsChart

After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death overall in the U.S. but there are disparities of varying degrees among racial and age groups. As the Post notes, the 2015 mortality rate was 14 percent higher in blacks than white, but was 33 percent at its peak in 1993. However,

”...that trend masks significant disparities among age groups. Among people 65 and older, the death rate for blacks was 7 percent higher than for whites, a smaller disparity that likely reflects the effects of Medicare's universal health-care access.

“Among Americans younger than 65, the mortality rate was almost a third higher among blacks than whites — with even larger disparities in many states.”

Eventually, cancer affects just about everyone in the United States. Forty percent of Americans will, in their lifetimes, be diagnosed with one form of the disease or another making it almost impossible for anyone but a hermit to not have a relative, friend or neighbor who is afflicted.

In my case, both my parents died of cancer – breast and liver for my mother; liver and pancreatic for my father. Although I'm grateful to have been extraordinarily healthy throughout my 76 years until the diagnosis, it's hard to see how I could escape the family fate especially since I smoked for many years.

When I underwent a simultaneous endoscopy and colonoscopy last week to determine the details of an internal bleed, I was asked – as I had been just prior to my Whipple surgery in June – to give permission for the doctors to remove some small pieces of tissue for study.

Of course, I agreed both times. It's the least I can do to help researchers coax this “emperor of all maladies” to give up its horrible secrets.

The full report from the American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2018, is available here.



Cancer Treatment: It's Always Something (and a Book Giveaway)

In a repeat from last November, I appeared at the clinic for my Wednesday chemotherapy infusion last week but when the usual blood tests came back, my red cell count was too low for treatment.

The infusion was canceled and like last time, the tram took me from the waterfront campus to the OHSU hospital up on the hill for an overnight transfusion of blood. Two units this time instead of four.

And because I now have an internal bleed, a whole lot of tests:

  • Repeated vitals: blood pressure, temperature, heart rate

  • The usual bloodlettings for the lab

  • EKG

  • X-ray

  • rectal exam

  • combined colonoscopy (including the infamous prep)/endoscopy

There were probably other tests I've overlooked. Later, to help combat the anemia, an infusion of liquid iron which, the doctor informed me, looks pretty much like motor oil – and so it does.

I've been home since Friday evening, mostly sleeping due to the truth of the old hospital joke about it being nowhere to get any rest.

As I've mentioned here before, the staff at every level at OHSU is excellent. This time there were more doctors than in the past – maybe eight or ten or more - each with his/her area of expertise in regard to the internal bleed that needs to be dealt with.

All of them and the nurses, the CNAs and everyone else who attends to patients, are smart, knowledgeable in their areas of expertise, kind, caring and just plain nice people.

Next steps are that this week, I have a bunch of medical appointments to see what the decisions or choices may be.

Meanwhile, I have some new medications to take and what an awkward schedule they require. There is one I must take an hour before each meal, another to take 30 minutes before breakfast and dinner but not lunch, a couple that cannot be taken in combination with certain others and so on.

I'm working off a brand-new, home-made chart to keep it all straight.

Remember way back when I said I would not allow myself to become a professional patient? What a crock. The pill schedule alone ensures that I need to be aware of time and medications all day every day.

The doctors tell me the bleed, small that it is, is at the site of a connection between hoses (or whatever other body part) made during the Whipple precedure in June. If my interpretation is correct this is, essentially, a mechanical problem not a cancer issue. I'll know more later this week.

This all came out of nowhere for me. You see, I thought for the time-being, my job was, to the degree possible, to withstand the side effects of chemo until it was done in March.

I didn't count on an all new, out-of-the-blue medical event. There is not much difference at my end (as opposed to the doctors') between this and being hit by a truck in terms of how it interrupts my life.

But that thought also is a reminder that to extent possible, I must go on living as I choose. I can complain about the pill schedule, about being tired too much, about additional medical appointments and about the next unexpected medical intrusion but there is no point in letting them take over my life completely. That would be a terrible mistake.

As far as I know, pancreatic cancer is random. It might have been you, but this time it's me and there is no point in being miserable about something I can't change. Just live. And laugh. And make the best of what I have.

I know that sounds like I've gone all Pollyanna on you but is there another choice? I don't think so.

* * *

About two weeks ago here, I told you about a book of essays, No Time to Spare, by Ursula K. Le Guin. A few days later, TGB reader Lynn Lawrence emailed to ask for my snailmail address to send me a book.

NoTimeToSpare225It arrived within a couple of days - the Le Guin book. Lynn had missed my posting about it but had read an excerpt somewhere else and thought it was perfect for me. So we decided together via email, that I would offer another book giveaway – just one this time and do thank Lynn for it if you win..

We'll do it the same way as always with giveaways here:

Just tell me in the comments below that, “Yes, I want to win the book.” Or, you could say, “Me, me, me.” or anything else that indicates your interest.

The winner (you can live in any country) is selected by an online random number generator and I will have your email addresses from the comment form. I will then email the winner to get your snailmail addresses to send off the book.

The contest will remain open through 12 midnight Pacific Time on Tuesday 16 January 2018, and the winner will be announced on Friday morning's regular post, 19 January 2018.



ELDER MUSIC: Recent Discoveries

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.

* * *

Here are some recent discoveries of mine. "Recent" is a rather flexible term, it could mean six months (or more by the time this column is shown). However, it also means that none of these artists have been used in any of my columns before.

They are only my discoveries, some of you might be going, "Oh, I've known about him/her/them for quite a while now", but that's okay, you can hear them again.

It just goes to show that good music is still being made, as most of these are considerably younger than we are. So, here they are in no particular order.

MEGAN HENWOOD will probably be lumped into the "folk" category because she plays her own songs on acoustic guitar.

Megan Henwood

Also she sounds a little like Joni Mitchell. Like Joni, she doesn't restrict herself and adds elements of jazz to her performances as in this one where a trumpet pops up at the end that shouldn't work, but does so beautifully.

Megan performs mostly around Britain, whence she hails, and from her third album "River" we have Fresh Water.

♫ Megan Henwood - Fresh Water


Unlike most of the others today, SAMANTHA FISH can really rock out. Well, the others probably can if they wanted to.

Samantha Fish

Samantha's best known for playing blues and rock and roll but she has said that she doesn't want to be typecast and likes try all sorts of music. To demonstrate that, in the track I've chosen she backs off from her usual sizzling electric guitar work and adopts a softer, more country approach. The song is Belle of the West.

♫ Samantha Fish - Belle of the West


JARROD DICKENSON has the help of CLAIRE WARD (his wife) on his own song, Your Heart Belongs to Me.

Jarrod & Claire

Well, all the songs he records are his own. He's yet another singer/songwriter from Texas, although based in New York these days, at least when he's not touring Europe, especially Britain and Ireland.

Jarrod and Claire perform Your Heart Belongs to Me.

♫ Jarrod Dickenson - Your Heart Belongs to Me


I mentioned to Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, that the next artist is not who she thinks it is before I played this next track. "Not Emmylou, you mean?" she asked when it got rolling. "Correct, it's DORI FREEMAN".

"Who?" She replied. Sorry Dori – I said that these artists today are new to me, and the A.M. too, it seems.

Dori Freeman

Dori claims Peggy Lee and Rufus Wainwright as influences but perhaps her Appalachian upbringing made a contribution or the generations of musicians on both sides of her family. Whatever it is, here she is with Still a Child.

♫ Dori Freeman - Still a Child


Speaking of Emmylou, here is a song by that name. The performers are the rather prosaically named FIRST AID KIT, but don't judge a book, or a group, by its cover.

First Aid Kit

You wouldn't think, just by listening to them, that they are Swedish. They are sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg. It shows how much anyone can miss: I first heard the soEmmylou this year (it may be last year by now), but it's been around for six years or so. Oh well, at least I've finally found it.

♫ First Aid Kit - Emmylou


I was first made aware of ANTONIA BENNETT thanks to my friend Ann.

Antonia Bennett

She suggested that I check her out, so I did, and because of that she's included today. I assume Antonia knows what she's doing as she is Tony Bennett's daughter. She also performs similar sorts of songs to those that her father sings, including Love is a Battlefield.

♫ Antonia Bennett - Love is a Battlefield2


Speaking of the offspring of famous musicians, LUKAS NELSON is Willie's son, and hearing him sing, he couldn't be anyone else's.

Lukas Nelson

Lukas performs in a band called Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, and their repertoire covers many genres – rock, folk, country, soul, R&B and anything else that catches their attention. I was trying to figure out what song this one reminded me of, but The A.M. cut to the chase: "He's channelling John Hartford. Gentle on my Mind".

She was right. It also reminded me a bit of Bob Lind. Could do worse than those two. The song is Just Outside of Austin. Lukas's dad plays some guitar on the track.

♫ Lukas Nelson - Just Outside of Austin


And now a singer who boggled my mind when I first heard her (and continues to do so). What power, but she keeps it under control, demonstrating that there's a lot more there when needed. She is LIZZ WRIGHT.

Lizz Wright

She started out singing gospel music and moved on to blues and jazz. Later she incorporated folk elements. It seems that she can sing anything she wants to. Today, she's rather gospelly with Seems I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You.

♫ Lizz Wright - Seems I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You


WILLIE WATSON first came to general notice as a member of the group Old Crow Medicine Show.

Willie Watson

Since going solo he's recorded a couple of albums called "Folksinger Vol 1" and "Folksinger Vol 2". On several of the songs on the second one Willie has the help of THE FAIRFIELD FOUR.

Fairfield Four

The Fairfields are not recent discoveries of mine, and the songs they perform with Willie are the best ones on the album. There are few better singing groups to have at your back than them. They all sing yet another song called On the Road Again.

♫ Willie Watson - On the Road Again


I imagine you're way ahead of me on my final choice. BEV GRANT is probably not new to you as she's been around for quite some time (sorry Bev). It's just that's she's new to me.

Bev Grant

Bev's from Portland, Oregon, where she began singing in a band with her two sisters. She headed out on her own to New York, there to write and perform her songs and became active in good causes. She is the founder and director of the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus.

From her recent album "It's Personal", she sings Small Town Girl, pretty much the story of her journey.

♫ Bev Grant - Small Town Girl



Sorry: No Interesting Stuff Today

It's Friday evening as I write this and I'm just now home from the two nights in the hospital. Cancer related, of course.

It was due to a repeat performance of November when I had extremely low red blood cell count. This time, more blood transfusions, plus an internal bleed that involved the necessity of a couple of procedures to figure out where it is and the cause.

I'll explain more next week but now I just need to go to bed. As I'm sure any of you who have been there know that there is no such thing as sleep in a hospital.

One thing for Celia Andrews and Yvonne Behrens-Waldbaum who each won a copy of Malcolm Nance's book: Yvonne blogs at Aging Us.

I didn't get the books in the mail before going to the hospital and probably won't get to the post office until early next week but I'll mail them as soon as possible.

There is so much email piled up that I may not be able to respond to it all. My apologies but there is only so much time in life. Thank you for your patience. I'm fine and be back to my usual self on the blog by Monday.



What It's Really Like to Get Old

Here are the two winners in the random drawing announced Monday for Malcolm Nance's book, Defeating ISIS: Who They are, How They Fight, What They Believe. Two days later, I rolled the handy-dandy, online random number generator and...

Drum roll please:

One of the winners is Celia Andrews who blogs at Celia's Blue Cottage. The other is Yvonne Behrens. Congratulations to you both - and books are on their way.

* * *

You may have noticed that the headline on today's post is the same as the subtitle up there on top in the banner of the blog. I've tried to make that thought a large component of Time Goes By even if not the entire purpose.

When I started this blog back in 2004, there was literally nothing good being written anywhere in the popular press about growing old. I've told the story here many times that the media – and the culture itself – made getting old sound so awful (and they still do) that I thought then I might as well shoot myself at age 62.

But I didn't really want to do that so I started TGB instead.

However, there was an error I've carried through these pages for too long: I've overdone the positive sides of ageing or, maybe, underplayed the difficulties. Or both. And I want to start fixing that.

Getting old is hard. Most younger people (including ourselves back then) have no idea what courage it takes to keep going in old age.

From simple aches and pains with or without a particular cause to the big deal “diseases of age” like cancer, heart disease and others that afflict elders in much greater numbers than young people to counting out medications, following special diets, exercises, etc., it takes a lot of work, a lot of gumption to grow old.

All this came to mind a few days ago when I ran across a list of tweets about a some changes that are common to most old people I know – and that's what makes them funny.

Some might think these are ageist but I think we need to reconsider how easily we (or I, sometimes) throw around that epithet.

I am beginning to see that such a judgment can require more nuance, as we are discovering is so with the accusations of sexual harassment and/or misconduct and/or abuse can be.

A lot of these were good. Here are my favorites:

  • I thought I was just really tired but it's been five years so I guess this is how I look now.

  • The older I get, the earlier it gets late.

  • I'm not saying I'm old but I just had to increase my font size to "Billboard."

  • Hey guys, remember when you could still refer to your knees as right and left instead of good and bad?

  • You know you're getting old when you pull out your high-powered back massager and actually use it on your back.

  • I'm so old, I can remember getting through an entire day without taking a picture of anything.

  • My daughter just asked why we say "hang up" the phone and now I feel 90.

  • I may be getting old but I'm not "let me call you, I hate texting" old.

  • You know you're getting old when you finger cramps up while scrolling down to find the year you were born on a website.

You can see more of them at Buzzfeed but feel free to add your own in the comments.



Housekeeping Notes for This Blog

On Saturday, TGB reader and frequent commenter, Simone, left this message in answer to a comment from Ana on a 2008 post about being old without children:

”Ronni has set the standard here. It's a safe place, and we all like to share our thoughts, ideas, struggles and experiences openly, without reserve and with no rancor toward another.”

Thank you, Simone. God knows I've tried to keep it civil here and for the most part the effort has been successful. This is one of the best, smartest, most interesting conversation spots in the blogosphere where no one need feel shy about speaking up or speaking out.

Well, except for a few who overstep and Simone's comment reminded me that I've been meaning to do this housekeeping post for a month or two – as a reminder.

Let's start with what I consider obvious but apparently is not so to everyone:

  1. Comments containing defamatory, bigoted or hateful language about me or any commenter will be deleted. You get only one shot at this and if it happens, you will be permanently banned without notification or recourse.

  2. Argument, disagreement and opinion are good. Just keep it to the point(s) you dispute, not the writer, and maintain a civil tone. You get two shots at this after which, see the second sentence in number one above.

  3. We are all grownups here and sometimes it's hard to make a point without a bit of colorful language. Go for it – just don't overdo. Deletion or editing of the comment is at my discretion.

  4. Comments that are off-topic are deleted.

HEALTH, MEDICAL, FINANCIAL, LEGAL ADVICE
Advice, suggestions and recommendations in any of these areas are not allowed and are deleted. I don't know who you are, what your qualifications are nor do I have the time to vet whatever is being touted.

NO COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Time Goes By has been an advertising-free zone on the internet for many years and commenters may not include advertising or promotion for any commercial product or service. No exceptions. They are deleted.

The comment form has a space for a URL. If you include the address of your blog or other non-commercial website, your name at the bottom of your comment will become a link to that URL.

LINKS
A few years ago, I stopped allowing links in comments. There are a number of reasons: some people link to their business websites (see immediately preceding item); others post the wrong URL and/or don't know the html to make a proper link; and most of all, I don't have the time to check (and correct when needed) every link.

So, no links in comments. You are welcome to name the website or news article or whatever might make it easy for readers to search what you are referencing.

STRONG SUGGESTIONS
These are mostly to make your comments easier to read so that more people will actually do that.

  • Please use standard capitalization. All-lowercase text is difficult to read and your comment is less likely to be noticed.

  • Even more so, long blocks of uninterrupted text are hard on the eyes, especially old ones like mine. Please leave a blank line between paragraphs by hitting “enter” twice after the last sentence in a paragraph. This is for your benefit too; no one reads two or more inches of solid text.

  • As always, in email and anywhere online, messages in all capital letters are considered shouting not to mention that, as with the first two suggestions, they are hard to read. Please use all caps only for emphasis of individual words or phrases.

  • Finally, if your comment does not appear in the comments section right away, please don't jump to the conclusion that you have been disallowed. Sometimes it takes a few minutes for the host server to publish the comment and sometimes it can be user error – yours. Other times, it might be a program glitch or it can be a server slowdown and on extremely rare occasions, it might be a server shutdown. Try again or give it some time before you start yelling at me via email.

EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS
If you want to comment and are reading TGB in the email feed, DO NOT click "Reply." Remember, you are reading an email and your comment will appear only in my inbox. To comment from the email feed so everyone can read it, you must go to the website:

  • Click the title of the story - it will open in your browser.

  • Scroll to the bottom of the story in your browser and click on the word "Comments". A new page will open with a form for your comment.

  • Write your comment, type your name (it can be any name you want) and, if you want your name to link to your blog or other non-commercial website, type in the URL, although this is not required. You are required, however, to include your email address but it is never published.

  • Click "Post" to publish your comment and you're done.

Several times a week I get a notes from some email subscribers complaining that they are not receiving the email feed.

This happens because the subscription service was originally via Feedburner, owned by Google, which abandoned it six or seven or more years ago. It just sits out there on the internet now gradually deteriorating, and eventually remaining subscriptions fail.

When Google announced they were jettisoning Feedburner, I switched to Feedblitz, a commercial newsletter delivery service for which I pay hundreds of dollars a year. Please use it. Here is how:

  1. Subscribe via the simple form at the top right of every TGB page.

  2. Follow the equally simple instructions when you receive the confirmation email from Feedblitz.

  3. You will then begin receiving TGB in your inbox.

  4. If the Feedburner delivery shows up again in your inbox, use the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email to avoid duplicate deliveries.

There are other things I'd rather be writing about and I'm sorry to take up your time, too, with this note particularly since only a few readers need it. But there has been an uptick lately in over-reach so maybe this is a useful clarification. Thanks again, Simone, for the reminder.