Hospital Land for the Overworked Executive

Personal Note: I'll try to post regularly now, but it depends on how I feel each day. Also, I am still fuzzy in the head so I'll keep these relatively short so they don't veer off into the crazy, however much you might get a laugh from that. Little vignettes, let's call them, of hospital life and what I'm learning here.

It appears, too, that my hospital stay may be extended by a day or two. That's not a bad thing, just careful.

I'm a novice at being a hospital patient, still learning. Those of you who have been here/done that will be way ahead of me in understanding that in some ways I have never been busier than when lying on my back.

Pills for this, injections for that and now it's time for vitals again. One set of numbers goes up and that's good. The same range in another set is likely to mean an additional pill or a different patch. Oh, now let's unplug that drip, but not the one that's really irritating you. And who knew scooting up in bed could be such a pain.

You learn to “logroll” yourself in and out of bed. At first it seems impossible it will ever work right but comes more easily faster than you would think. I am now nearing the status of world class logroller.

Looked at from a certain perspective, being a hospital patient is like returning to kindergarten. The first conversation of each day becomes, “Good morning, have you pooped today?” I never expected to have this much discussion of bowels but I think there may be an entrepreneurial opportunity in it.

Someone should do a little market research on what I'm thinking. That a week's stint in a hospital-like setting could be just what the doctor ordered for overly stressed-out masters of the universe: they do absolutely everything for you here, take care of every personal and private need you might have including, quite literally, wiping your ass.

And they do it without ever letting you feel it is inappropriate or embarrassing. It's just how it is in hospital land.

Okay, I know this is silly – just a thought I had among the buggy hallucinations but it is almost – just almost a real idea.


It's Ronni Here

I am not JUST sitting up in bed, anymore, folks. I'm typing, putting words on paper so to speak and my brain is working fairly well. That wasn't always so here in Hospital-Land.

The several days of hallucinations were odd and interesting.

Ant-like bugs were scooting up the walls of my room for a couple of days, little fishies swam upstream on a room divider curtain and at various times I saw people and cats and some other animals who were not really there.

My brain is still slower than I would like but after many hours of anesthesia during the surgery, they tell me, that is to be expected for awhile. For now, let's set that aside until later for something more important: hasn't Autumn been wonderful?

She was here when I woke up from surgery, although I don't remember much of that, if at all, and the next day I was so happy to wake up to her wonderful face again – this time with a real memory of it.

I've read all her posts and all your wonderful replies and comments now, and they are all the proof I need that this is the best blog community on earth.

I will never find the right words to thank each of you for your strength, constant support, good cheer and I am loving your black humor. You go, Cowtown Patti, with those Nwalins chicken feet.

Here's the big good news: maybe, MAYBE I will be able to go home on Wednesday. That's just a maybe for now; some additional test results need to come in so we'll wait and we'll see.

Thank you, every last one of you, for being there for me with so much love and so much kindness. You make me happy.


ELDER MUSIC: The Band, Revisited

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.

* * *


Very early in my blogging career I had a column on The Band. This isn't surprising as I think they were the most important band from the sixties and seventies (and I know many, nay most, will disagree with that assessment but that's the fun of blogging).

That first column rather concentrated on what the various members did after the demise of the group, so today it's The Band as an entity. And when I say THE BAND I mean the original consisting of Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson.


The rockabilly performer Ronnie Hawkins put them together as his backing band over a couple of years in Canada and all were from that country except Levon.

They were known as The Hawks. Later they went out on their own using that name (and a couple of others). John Hammond saw them perform and recruited them to record an album with him. He recommended them to Bob Dylan who was looking for a group to back him on his first electric tour. They were generally referred to on that tour as the band (lower case).

When they recorded their first album "Music From Big Pink" they were surprised that the record company called them The Band (they really hadn't decided on a name themselves). That turned out to be the most appropriate name for a group in the history of rock.


By the time they recorded that album they were seasoned professionals with more than 10 years experience behind them. From it is the first of their famous songs, The Weight.

♫ The Weight

Their second album, just called "The Band", is the best album in rock history. That's the one with The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Up On Cripple Creek, but I'm not going to play either of those.


Outside of Woody Guthrie, not many songs have been written about unionization. The Band did just that. It's also about bringing in the harvest. It's called King Harvest (Has Surely Come).

♫ King Harvest (Has Surely Come)


The album also contained probably the best song about ageing produced by relatively young men – they were in their twenties when they wrote and recorded the song Rockin' Chair.

♫ Rockin' Chair

After the first two albums, the critics liked to downplay their next album "Stage Fright". They were wrong; this is better than "Big Pink" and nearly as good as "The Band".


By this stage they were all disturbed about the adulation they were receiving, thus the name of the album. Also, after so many years as a tight group, brothers even, cracks were beginning to appear. I don't know if All la Glory is indicative of that, but it's the next song.

♫ All la Glory


The influence of Bob came to the fore in the next song. He liked to throw biblical allusions into his songs, and The Band, or Robbie who wrote most of the songs, took that on board now and then.

I'm pretty sure there was no sacred harp in the bible, but I could be wrong. It's a good song, though: Daniel and the Sacred Harp.

♫ Daniel and the Sacred Harp

By number four they seemed to have lost their mojo, as evidenced by "Cahoots".


Of course, a lesser Band album is better than just about anything else around. I surprised myself by selecting two songs from the album, the first of which is rather odd, Shoot Out in Chinatown.

♫ Shoot Out in Chinatown

The next is obvious (well, it is to me). They were living in Woodstock, New York, before that town got overrun by musical tourists. They were quite a few other musicians living there at the time as well. One of those was VAN MORRISON.


He dropped in a recording session one day and traded vocals with Richard Manuel on 4% Pantomime.

♫ 4% Pantomime

We'll skip over "Moondog Matinee", an album of cover versions of old songs they used to play when they were starting out, and return later to the next one, "Northern Lights – Southern Cross". That brings us to "Islands", the contractual agreement record – their last studio album.

It wasn't very good and the best song they recorded for it was left off. Fortunately, with reissues of the CD version with all the extras we got it. The song is Twilight.


♫ Twilight

The Band went out with a blaze of glory with a Thanksgiving dinner and concert that was one of the major events in rock history. The concert was filmed by Martin Scorsese and it produced the best rock concert film ever. Someone who was invited to perform but couldn't make it is EMMYLOU HARRIS.

Emmylou Harris

However, she got together with the group and they recorded a song that appeared in the film. That song is Evangeline (originally known as The Last Waltz). The song is excellent, and that is an extraordinary achievement as they recorded it only minutes after Robbie had finished writing it.

♫ Evangeline (with Emmylou Harris)

Getting back to "Northern Lights – Southern Cross", an album that ranks with the first couple, there's an obvious choice.


Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and I agree the next song is their finest (and boy, that's saying something). I'll end with it, Acadian Driftwood.

This is the only distinctly Canadian song in their oeuvre. It's about the French settlers in that country after the English defeated the French in the 1750s. They had a choice of remaining and living under the English, returning to France or, as the song describes, moving down to Louisiana where there was an established community.

Acadian Driftwood

As of this writing, there are only two members left – Robbie and Garth.

A Room with a View

The good news keeps on coming! Ronni was moved out of The Unit and into a regular room this morning after her NG Tube was removed. She has been sitting in a chair and clearing her lungs out as the rest of her body starts to kick in and work on its own. I called to chat this afternoon and there was no answer as Ronni had gone for a walk!

Ronni's medical team continues to impress me. They are knowledgeable and compassionate. They are patient and are willing to take extra time to answer many questions that I spring on them.

Ollie is great and being loved on by many great friends. This experience has really brought to light the goodness in people. Thank you.


Post-Op Day 2

Hello Friends, I hope there is beauty in your day today.

I just returned from visiting Ronni in the ICU. She continues to make great gains in her recovery. When I arrived this morning, I must admit my heart skipped a beat when I saw an empty bed. I was thrilled to see it was because Ronni was sitting in her chair! We spent a good part of the day chatting and laughing- her current medications make Ronni hallucinate which was a riot for both of us.

Ronni's spirits are up and her pain management seems to be under control. Ronni's central line was removed from her neck (they could have warned me on this one!) which made her a bit more comfortable. The biggest complaint today is the inability to drink anything as they have yet to remove the NG tube. We are hoping for this to occur this evening and then it is off to a room with a window and ice chips.

Thank you all for your on going support and love.


Post-Op Day 1

Good evening to all on Team Ronni, I hope this finds you well. After yesterday's marathon of a day, it was nice to call Ronni's nurse this morning to find that Ronni was resting well as she had been all night.

I sat with Ronni for most of the day today. I talked to her while she slept and stalked monitors as if I knew what the blinking lights and beeps might mean. At about 3:30 this afternoon, Ronni was alert and very ready to get rid of the vent. After assessing her strength, it was successfully removed, and her first words were, "I can talk." That has to be the biggest under-statement of the decade.

It was as lovely of an afternoon as it could be when two friends find themselves chatting in an ICU. We laughed and I showed her pictures of Ollie that I had taken this morning, which made her smile. We talked about Team Ronni and how amazingly wonderful you all are and how very grateful we are to have you in our lives. We also discussed that I may run away with all of you when I start my very own blog upon Ronni's return to TGB.

Ronni's nurse is wonderful. She is empathetic, knowledgeable, confident and when needed, tough. She is very pleased with the progress Ronni is making and is confident that this will continue, as are the members of the Surgical Team.

I am off to enjoy a glass of Cabernet and cuddle with Ollie- he lets me do that now. Thank you all for your love and well wishes.



Hello Team Ronni- this is Autumn writing with an update. First and foremost, Ronni is out of surgery and headed to recovery. It took a bit longer than expected- most likely because The Good Doctor had to dance around all of you in the OR.

I do not know a lot at this time, other that Ronni is resting well and pain free for tonight. It was a very long day, starting with a coffee free wake-up at 3:30 AM, check-in at 6:00, and surgery at 8:30. (Crabby Old Lady only made ONE appearance the entire morning.) The surgery was 14 hours and Doctor sounded positive and confident that they were able to remove the tumor.

Yesterday,as Ronni and I tried to "play normal", fear, sadness, and anger crept in a few times. When this happened, we allowed one another to feel it and cry when needed. We would then summon the strength to move onto the next task on the List Of Things To Do Before Surgery. As we were running through the dry run to the hospital, I silently sat in the driver's seat wondering where Ronni was getting her strength. When we returned home last evening, my question was answered as Ronni checked her comments. Each and everyone of you. Every note, every thought, every devotion, novena, meditation, and chicken foot kiss was received and cherished.

I am sorry to you, the readers, as I am far from a writer but I am committed to making sure you all have regular updates. I will pass along any and all comments to Ronni. Her laptop is packed in her suitcase and I have a feeling you will hear from her sooner rather than later.

Oh, Ollie was thrilled to see me and is allowing me to rub his ears and tail.


Surgery Tomorrow

The day has finally arrived. After all this upending of my life, worry and fear, the surgery will be done tomorrow morning.

You know how we old people often talk about how time speeds up as we grow older? It's a common phenomenon among all of us. Whole books have been written about it.

That changed suddenly when my pancreatic cancer was diagnosed on 31 May. In the 20 days since then, time has moved like mud. Sometimes, when I've checked the day's date, my reaction was, “Is that all? Really? I thought it was at least two days later.”

But now the big day is here. My friend Autumn, who is also my health care proxy, has arrived from New Jersey. She will drive me to the hospital in the morning and be here through most of this week.

I've set up templates for her on my blog platform so she can easily update you on how things are going. I don't know how long it will be until I can post again but I'm taking a laptop to the hospital just in case.

I have no idea if I am being overly optimistic about that but indulge me anyway, okay? And we'll see how it goes.

Whatever comes of this, it will be hard to ever thank you, dear readers, in any way that matches my feelings. Every one of you has my deeply-felt gratitude.

Your concern, love, thoughtfulness, ideas, jokes, suggestions and support have carried me through these scary weeks and now, apparently, as one of you commented a few days ago, it's going to be crowded in the operating room with all of you crammed in there to cheer me and the doctors on. Isn't that a wonderful image to hold?

See you back here as soon as I am able.



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.

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Frederick II

FREDERICK II was king of Prussia from 1740 to 1786, quite a long time in the king business. Since then he's been known as Frederick the Great, or Old Fritz, depending on who you're talking to.

Like most of his ilk at the time, he was involved in several wars, the most famous of which was the Seven Years' War (which lasted about nine years).

At home, though, he was rather an enlightened ruler for the time and was a patron of the arts and the Enlightenment in general. He was especially fond of music, thus his inclusion in a music column.

Apparently, he was quite a good flute player and he had many composers write works for him to play. Besides that, he dabbled in writing music himself which aren't bad at all.

So, today's column will feature some of Old Fritz's compositions as well as some from the various composers who wrote for him. Not just the works written especially for him or we'd be all fluted out.

We might as well start at the top with Fred himself, and naturally the flute is involved. In this case it's the third movement of his Flute Concerto in C major.

♫ Friedrich II - Flute Concerto in C major (3)

Fritzy wrote a musical theme and gave it to JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH.


J.S. knew which side his bread was buttered on and he came up with a set of canons, fugues and other works he called The Musical Offering; it's BWV 1079 in the Bach category system.

This runs to 40 distinct movements so I might be a while checking them out to see which to include. Okay, I'm back, and I've decided on part of a trio sonata that was itself just a part of the complete work. It's the second movement of that Trio Sonata.

♫ Bach JS - Trio Sonata (2)

Working for the king must have been a good career move for the Bach family, because his second son CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH did the same.


CPE is generally considered the best of the next generation (although I have a soft spot for his younger brother JC), and he had considerable influence on Mozart and Beethoven (and other lesser composers).

He wrote lots of stuff, so it was easy coming up with something that would fit in but not sound too much like what we already have. In the end, I went for one of his keyboard sonatas.

I suspect this was written with the harpsichord in mind although it might have been the forte piano, just coming into vogue around about then. The track though is played on a modern piano. It's the third movement of his Sonata in F sharp minor, H37 Wq524.

♫ Bach CPE - Sonata in F sharp minor H37 Wq524 (3)

As well as the Bach family, musical talent ran in Fritzy's family too. PRINCESS WILHELMINE OF PRUSSIA was his older sister and a bit of a composer as well.


They were very close throughout their lives, probably because they had a nasty father and, in her case, a dreadful governess who used to beat her.

Willy married Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, who was once engaged to her younger sister Sophie. Their dads made the change and didn't consult Fred about that and he was a bit miffed when he found out. Willy didn't know about it either and she was none too happy about it all.

However, they got on well together for a while until things went downhill. The pair essentially built Bayreuth and made it what it is today. That pretty much cost them all their money.

Willy played the lute and wrote an opera and some chamber music. This is the first movement of her Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings in G Minor.

♫ Wilhelmine - Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings in G Minor (1)

There's certainly a family affair going on today. The brothers Graun were attached to the court as well. Their composing styles are so similar that even today there are a number of their compositions that no one knows which of them wrote. However, we do know some.

I'll begin with the older and better known brother, JOHANN GOTTLIEB GRAUN.


From all reports, Jo was a violinist of the first rank and he was much praised in his day for the music he wrote which included operas, many violin concertos, sonatas for various instruments and string quartets. Naturally, I'll be a bit perverse and include his Concerto in C minor for Oboe, the third movement, rather than something for the violin.

♫ Graun JG - Concerto in C minor for Oboe (3)

CARL HEINRICH GRAUN is younger, but only just – he was less than a year behind Jo.


Carl started out as a singer in operas and then wrote a whole bunch of them. He was Fritzy's Kapellmeister (that is the bloke in charge of music) for 19 years until he (Carl) died.

A couple of musicians who went through his ranks were the young Joseph and Michael Haydn (again the family connection). I don't know if he learnt from them or vice versa. Probably both directions. Anyway, here is the second movement of his Sonata in F major for Flute and Oboe. Fritzy probably played the flute on this one.

♫ Graun CH - Sonata in F major for flute & oboe (2)

Continuing with the family theme, and a couple more brothers – the Bendas. We'll start with FRANZ BENDA (or František Benda in his native Bohemia).


Franz began his career in a troupe of travelling musicians as a singer and violinist. He settled down after a while and eventually caught the ear of Fritzy who hired him. He remained with him for the rest of his life, and he played a hell of a lot of music in that time.

He also wrote a whole bunch as well, and he was renowned for the quality of his violin playing. Franz had a daughter and grand-daughter who were also good composers. The line continued well into the 20th century with František Benda, a composer of film scores.

However, getting back to the original František, here is the third movement of his Concerto in E flat major for Violin.

♫ F. Benda - Concerto in E flat major for violin (3)

Franz's much younger brother was GEORG BENDA (or Jiří Benda).


Georg was only 19 when Fritzy grabbed him to be second violinist in his orchestra. Later his brother got him to be his arranger and to write music as well.

Georg is mostly noted for his operas – Mozart took especial notice of these. We're not having one of those, however. Instead here is the first movement of his Symphony No. 7 in D Major, conducted by Christian Benda, one of his modern day descendants.

♫ Benda G.A - Symphony No. 7 in D Major (1)

Now someone who didn't have a sibling to play with, JOHANN JOACHIM QUANTZ.


JJ's father was a blacksmith who died when JJ was just 11. On his deathbed he urged his son to continue in that trade but JJ was having none of that.

Fortunately, his uncle was a musician about town and he gave the young lad lessons. Later, he played all around Europe, doing the grand tour and caught the ear of Fritzy because he was a fine flute player. He accepted a position as flute teacher, flute maker and composer and hung around there until Fritzy died.

Again, I'm not going with flute, but a horn concerto played by the finest horn player in the last fifty years, Barry Tuckwell. This is the first movement of the Horn Concerto No. 3 in E Flat Major.

♫ Quantz - Concerto No. 3 In E Flat Major (1)

We'll end as we began, with the boss. FREDERICK wrote more than flute things as we'll see.


He also wrote symphonies (and other things). Here is the third movement of his Symphony in G major.

♫ Friedrich II - Symphony in G major (3)



My surgery is coming up fast and this will be the last Interesting Stuff for awhile. Like last week, it is shorter than usual - I've been kind of busy.

On one item, you don't need to rely on me while I'm absent. You can always see the main essay from John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight, on the program's YouTube page which is here.

Click the header “Video” to get the page that lists videos with the most recent first. The Sunday night video is posted there by early Monday morning.


My friend Kirsten Jacobs sent this along. I love it – such a funny, terrific idea. As the website tells it, the sayings on each cake are copied word for word from an internet comment or social media post. Here are a couple of examples:



Read more here and order your own Troll Cake here.


Once again, the week in politics has been taken up with something other than Oliver's most recent topic. That's a problem in timing - his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, is broadcast on Sunday night so it is a whole week until I post it here.

Even if it seems old, you should watch this one anyway. As the YouTube page says: “In the wake of a divisive election, the UK will begin the process of leaving the European Union. John Oliver and an intergalactic space lord propose a plan.”

Do stick around for the end...


Last week, Henry sent a get well poem for me. Now, this week, he is celebrating 80 years (!) since, as a boy, he arrived in the U.S. from Nazi Germany. The title is Remembering.

Eighty years ago this month,
my parents and two minor sons,
after their way of life was banned,
managed to escape from Nazi-land,

and, with tumultuous emotion,
traversed the Atlantic Ocean,
and, in a rendezvous they'd planned,
landed in the promised land.

Here we began our lives anew,
and as our English speaking grew,
learned how to relate
and appreciate
the transformation we had come through.

I know how fortunate I have been
to have come to and be living in
this land of opportunity
and a be part of this community
together with my next of kin.

Let me give thanks to all of you
whose helpfulness has seen me through
these 80 years in the USA.
I'm glad I came and I think I'll stay.


...“against trump fellators fanboys grunting maga mouthbreathers” goes on for 25 individual tweets. The conservative Daily Beast columnist's rant is not to be missed. Here's your start:


That's just the beginning. The rest is here and it is a magnificent catharsis.


In recent months, I've gotten to know a relatively new elder blogger, Barry Dym, via email. He writes on a wide variety of topics but keeps a special section titled, Letters on Aging which are good solid essays and strong thinking.

Here is part of a recent example about the “freshness” that aging brings:

”In a previous essay, I wrote young people seek independence. For older people, freedom comes almost unbidden when the ties that bind us to activities, relationships, and communities take flight.

“Let me begin by counting some of the ways, small and large, that that freedom comes to our doorsteps. There is the freshness of each, unscheduled day.

“I can ask: What shall I do? What do I want to do? At last, the weather plays a role as it hasn’t since childhood. If it’s sunny, I’ll take that walk. If rainy, I may read more, or call a friend. Or a friend might call me, and I can usually respond positively. Spontaneity is my friend again.

Barry's bio is here where you can also read his other blog posts – on aging and other subjects.


I'm fairly certain I've posted this in the past but you'll understand why it hits home hard at this moment in my life. It's an advert for organ donation and it is lovely.

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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.