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Back in Oregon From New York City

Did you enjoy the posts I arranged to be automatically published while I was away on the east coast last week? Did you find the link to the new stories at The Elder Storytelling Place?

I have returned. Arrived yesterday, Sunday, and realized - how dumb can one old woman be? - that there is a lot to do: unpack, see to the cat, plow through email and snailmail in case there is something crucial, shop for some fresh fruit and vegetables and, most importantly, meet the deadline to finish my first story for Senior Planet, the good folks who paid for my trip to New York.

Dumb, I say, because I failed to anticipate the time crunch on my return and prepare posts for today and tomorrow to give myself the space for the necessary catching up with life before resuming my blogging routine.

Therefore, that's all you get today and, probably, tomorrow. But here is the link to a fresh story at The Elder Storytelling Place.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: I'd Rather Be a Bear in a Hammock Than a Bear in a Cage


ELDER MUSIC: Van the Man

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.


Today is the time for one of the most important artists of the last 50 years, the Belfast Cowboy himself, VAN MORRISON.

Van Morrison

Van's father had a vast record collection and the young Van grew up listening to jazz and blues records, especially Jelly Roll Morton, Ray Charles, Leadbelly and Solomon Burke. He said that this was the music that got him started in the first place.

His father noted his interest in the music and bought him a guitar. He learned to play that instrument and was also attracted to saxophones. He acquired one of those too and it became his main instrument. He became proficient on piano and bass as well.

After he left school, Van played in various show bands and rhythm and blues combos. He even did a stint in Germany, possibly crossing paths with The Beatles (there's no evidence for that; I just threw it in as a possibility).

One day, back in Belfast, he answered an advertisement for a sax player for an R & B group. He was accepted and he soon took over the lead singing role as well. That group morphed into THEM.

Van Morrison

They got a gig at some local place and the first week they had about 60 people along. The second maybe twice that. The third week you couldn't get in. Them made a number of recordings, including a song that's become a rock classic, Gloria.

♫ Them - Gloria

Them fell apart due to personnel changes and poor management. After leaving Them, Van moved to California, went solo and recorded an album for a small record company that produced the song, Brown Eyed Girl and little else of consequence, although other Van-istas rather like the rest of the album.

Van Morrison

♫ Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl

Van Morrison

After that rather ordinary effort, Warner Brothers bought the company to which Van was signed. Not a great deal was expected of him and he was allowed just three sessions to produce an album that became “Astral Weeks.”

Rather than go the usual route playing rock & roll or blues, Van got together a crack jazz band and came up with one of the most extraordinary albums ever. An album that took popular music where it had never been before (or since).

"Astral Weeks" should be a mandatory inclusion in the collection of any person who likes fine music. From that album I've selected Cyprus Avenue.

♫ Van Morrison - Cyprus Avenue

Van Morrison

His next album, “Moondance,” is just as good as its predecessor, but quite different musically. He returned to his rhythm and blues roots for this one and it was a more cheerful and optimistic. Here is the first song on that album, And It Stoned Me.

♫ Van Morrison - And It Stoned Me

Van Morrison

Although I knew about Them when they were popular, I first discovered Van as a solo artist when I was living in San Francisco in 1970. He had already released the albums "Astral Weeks" and "Moondance" and "His Band and Street Choir" had just come out.

I bought all three of them at the same time and I still rather regard these three as parts 1, 2 and 3 of the same album. They are quite different in mood but that still doesn't disabuse me of the idea.

From the third of those comes the song, Street Choir, which resonated with me at the time and still does.

♫ Van Morrison - Street Choir

Van has always been supportive of other artists, even sharing his stage with them. This is particularly so of those he loved as a boy, particularly Jimmy Witherspoon, Junior Wells and most especially, JOHN LEE HOOKER.

Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker

John Lee said that he'd be happy to perform with Van any time at all (and they did appear together quite often). Here they sing one of Van's songs that turned up on an album they recorded together imaginatively titled "Together.”

The song is The Healing Game.

♫ Van Morrison & John Lee Hooker - The Healing Game

In 1998, Van brought out a double CD, called “The Philosopher's Stone,” of outtakes from various albums and a few alternate takes as well. Most of the songs had not seen the light of day before. For just about anyone else, this would be an indulgence.

Van Morrison

Some of the songs are so good it's hard to imagine why they were omitted from the earlier albums. Of course, when you check back on those you'd be hard put to think of any song that could be kicked off to make room for one of these.

So, this release was especially welcome rather than having the songs molder in some vault. The song I've selected is Not Supposed to Break Down.

♫ Van Morrison - Not Supposed to Break Down

The song Moondance, as those who are conversant with Van's oeuvre know, came from the album of the same name. However, it wasn't the only time he recorded it.

Van teamed with GEORGIE FAME and they performed it more in the style of bebop than the original rock/blues. It's such a good song that it works no matter how it's performed. Or by whom.

Van Morrison and Georgie Fame

♫ Van Morrison - Moondance

JAMES HUNTER is an English soul and R&B singer whose voice takes you back to the days of Sam Cooke and Clyde McPhatter. Van championed him in his early career and appeared on his first album, duetting on a couple of songs.

Van Morrison and James Hunter

James deserves to be much more widely known, he's a terrific performer. From that initial album, he and Van sing Ain't Nothing You Can Do.

♫ James Hunter and Van Morrison - Ain't Nothing You Can Do

Van Morrison

I'll end with a very long track indeed, so if you get bored with it you can go off and do something else, make a cup of tea or whatever. Of course, if you're like me you'll never get bored with Van.

This isn't his only long track, he was quite fond of them back in the mid-seventies. The song Listen to the Lion was the last tune of side one (remember when records had two sides?) of the album Saint Dominic's Preview. Side two ended with the equally lengthy, Almost Independence Day.

♫ Van Morrison - Listen to the Lion


INTERESTING STUFF – 28 June 2014

EDITORIAL NOTE: It may be 28 June on your calendar but to me, it's 21 June and I'm typing as fast as I can to fill up this space for you while I'm away in New York.

That's just to explain why today's Interesting Stuff is shorter than usual. I ran out of steam and decided to just stop. These are a handful of items from the collection of “stuff” that somehow haven't make the cut over the past months.


WORLDS OLDEST FLASH MOB

Nancy Leitz sent this – 80 people age 65 to 96 dancing in Auckland, New Zealand to Feelin' Good Ooh La La by The DNC. It took place on 9 August 2012 to help promote the need for more adaptable and accessible housing for elders in New Zealand.

You can find out something about accessible housing here.


BEST DAVID AND GOLIATH STORY OF THE WEEK

Sadie protecting her food bowl from Foxey. Too bad we don't know how it ended.


GORE VIDAL DOCUMENTARY

A highly acclaimed documentary about the life and work of Gore Vidal was released in May. Like comedian George Carlin, Vidal's commentary remains relevant through the years and since his death in 2012.

Here's a trailer for the film:

The United States of Amnesia is playing here and there around the U.S. You may be able to find a screening near you at this website.


LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX

I know many TGB readers are fans of Last Tango in Halifax starring Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid. It's back on PBS in the United States for season 2 beginning tomorrow - Sunday - night at 9PM. Here's the BBC1 trailer:


VICIOUS ALSO STARRING JACOBI

If, like me, you are a Derek Jacobi fan, there is another British series premiering tomorrow night on PBS, a sitcom titled Vicious that also stars another superb actor, Ian McKellen. According to the press release, the series

"...tells the story of partners Freddie (McKellen) and Stuart (Jacobi), who have lived together in a small central London flat for nearly 50 years.

"Constantly picking each other apart and holding on to petty slights for decades, Freddie and Stuart are always at each other’s throats, cracking snide remarks aimed at the other’s age, appearance and flaws. However, underneath their vicious, co-dependent fighting, they have a deep love for one another."
Here's a trailer:


HENRI – LE CHAT NOIR

I don't recall if I've previously posted this video, Artiste of the depressed French cat, Henri. Doesn't matter – he is always worth seeing again.


THE TROUBLE WITH PASSWORDS

It's been quite awhile since Darlene Costner sent this video of comedian Don Friesen's take on passwords. It's funny, but it is also all too true.


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.


How Simple Respect Can Improve Elders' Lives

”Pete Molinelli, a court officer who lives in Southbridge Towers, said that the building’s seniors used to be 'just kind of shut in.' And then Mr. Addo arrived.

“'All of a sudden, it’s like there are all these new people in the neighborhood,' Mr. Molinelli said. 'But no, they’ve been here forever. Addo brought them out.'”

What is it that man did to bring out those elders?

Martin Luther King Addo, opened a storefront fitness club last summer inside Southbridge Towers, a housing development in Lower Manhattan that is home to many old people. As Louis Lazar reports for The New York Times:

”Mr. Addo’s clients vary in age and shape, but they skew older and female.

"There’s Elizabeth Birnbaum, 72, a retired librarian, who loves Mr. Addo’s inspirational speeches on the connection between physical and mental health.

"There’s Diane Harris Brown, 66, who attends his Monday classes and has Parkinson’s disease.”

One of his most dedicated clients is 90-year-old Shirley Friedman:

”She has private training sessions twice a week, attends a suspension training class, and, she said proudly, 'I also do the boot camp...'

“She has had trouble lifting her shoulder since a mugging two decades ago, when a man ripped her purse from her shoulder, damaging her rotator cuff...

“She thought she was 'too old' to work out. But Mr. Addo made her comfortable, and after a few months of stretching, massage treatments and suspension training, her shoulder’s range of motion had improved remarkably, she said.”

A bodybuilder and two-time winner of the Mr. Ghana competition in his native country, 44-year-old Addo was inspired as a teenager in the 1980s by Arnold Schwarznegger. He “honed his muscles using a mango tree as a pull-up bar and concrete blocks for dumbbells” in his grandmother's backyard and in 1999, achieved his dream to live in the United States.

Nowadays, at his little gym in Southbridge Towers, Mr. Addo is dramatically changing the lives of elders, people like 86-year-old Mary Kalloran who took a bad fall several years and and began using a walker to get around:

”Mr. Addo...taught her exercises like balance lunges and stretching techniques. Gradually, she regained her balance and traded the walker for a cane.

“Now, she drinks a protein shake each morning and strolls to the World Trade Center and back — twice a day.”

It's not just his fitness expertise that is helping these elders broaden their lives. What these elders are also responding to is Addo's respect for them, something that comes naturally to someone raised in a culture that views old age quite differently from ours:

”Raised within the Ashanti tribe, Mr. Addo was always taught that improving the lives of one’s elders is of the highest virtue. 'They remind me of my grandmothers and aunties back home,' he said.

“Mr. Addo sees his work as more than just improving older people’s fitness. He set up a computer for them to use, and organized a holiday party and a trip to a Ghanaian restaurant in Brooklyn.”

Here's a video from The New York Times

On the occasional of Shirley Friedman's 90th birthday in March, Mr. Addo “ended class early for a party...

”About 25 people, including many women of Mrs. Friedman’s generation, gathered as Mrs. Friedman beamed and blew out the candles on a cake provided by Mr. Addo.” Mrs. Friedman explains that Addo give old people who've never worked out before the confidence to do it. “He’s not a phony,” she says. “Got me?”

The world needs a whole lot more people like Martin Luther King Addo who genuinely likes elders. Go read the whole story. You will be inspired.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: On Gaining a Balance


Cat Overload

A week away from home and regular blogging (I'm in New York) is a good excuse to overdose on cat video, don't you think?

You may have seen this. Moe the cat got his 15 minutes of fame just a couple of week's ago for this video of his amazing skill at Jenga.

Yes, this is a commercial for a big-name cat food. Yes, I'm posting it on a commercial free blog. Because: too cute and you can thank TGB reader Bev Carney for it.

Speaking of internet kittens, this one is from Bev Carney too. She keeps me up all things internet cat related. Our old friend Simon's Cat.

I wouldn't argue if any of you say that my posting this next video is prima facie evidence that I spend too much time on the internet. Nevertheless, it's amusing. It made me laugh. Out loud. At myself. For watching two minutes of nothing.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Aging


Strange and Wonderful Animation

While I'm in New York City this week, postings are mostly short and sketchy but don't forget that the links below go to new stories at The Elder Storytelling Place.

Jan Adams reminded me of the strange and wonderful animation that I first posted more than a year ago.

Giraffes in general are a stately sort of animal or, at least, they walk in a stately manner. That, set against their playfulness in this video is almost a meditation and definitely is a special bit of internet magic. Enjoy.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Thomas Moore: Lest We Forget


Being Good at Being Old (Again)

[EDITORIAL NOTE: I am in New York City this week so before I left, I looked for some posts that I thought you might like to see again. I was reminded of this one last week by reader Tom Delmore. It is definitely worth a repeat.

The Elder Storytelling Place story, linked at the bottom of this post, is new.


TGB reader chlost, who blogs at Just My Life, sent this video that in a kneejerk manner of many years at doing this, I bookmarked for Saturday's Interesting Stuff list.

But it kept pulling me back so I watched it again. And again. And then I realized that in fewer than four minutes it contains so many good-to-know things about old age, it deserves a page and a discussion all its own.

Take a look at Evelyn's story. Maybe watch it more than once. I'll see you on the other side.

Here is what makes this video an important reminder – and inspiration - to all elders:

• Retirement communities into which elders have bought and paid can take away services any time they want. (This is another good reason for the Villages movement in which members choose and deliver what they need and no outside corporation or group can cancel them.)

• Government agencies can revoke privileges based on nothing but age. More and more states are considering an age cut off for driving licenses without any consideration of or understanding that everyone ages at different rates and in different ways.

Ninety-seven-year-old Evelyn is a capable driver. Some 50-year-olds are not.

• Yes we can fight city hall (or the DMV) and we can do it at any age. Do not think otherwise.

• It is important to do everything possible to keep our promises to one another especially so because not all institutions and government agencies are reliable.

• Perhaps moreso than at earlier times in our lives it is important for elders to be there for one another because the older we get, the fewer of us there are to do the helping. We need each other.

• And no matter how hard it is to do any of this, remember to laugh and to laugh a lot. Take another look at the video and at Evelyn's wonderful laugh. This woman is really good at being old.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: A White House Visit


New York State of Mind

By the time you read this, I'll be in an airplane on my way to New York City where I will be covering Consumer Electronics Week, a digital conference, for the Senior Planet website.

You recall Senior Planet, don't you? I told you about it in January because it is such a bright spot in the dearth of good websites aimed at elders.

The director Barbara Arias invited me, along with two others, to report on the CEWeek conference for Senior Planet – particularly about products and services of interest to elders.

I'll be letting you know on these pages when those stories are published at Senior Planet.

Following the conference, I'm sticking around for a couple of days to soak up my home city and visit with some friends.

Meanwhile, posts here will be short and/or sketchy but there will be something each day so that I can link to the terrific stories at The Elder Storytelling Place. If you're not reading them maybe now is a good time to give it a try. There are a lot of excellent elder writers over there telling a lot of good stories.

I'll be back in full form by – oh, let's give me some times to rest up when I get back - so make it July 1 or 2.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Phillips: The Mason jar Fidelity and Trust


ELDER MUSIC: 1954 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 1954?

  • Elvis Costello was born
  • Lord of the Rings was published
  • The first flight of the Boeing 707 (well, a prototype)
  • The Vietnam War ended with Vietnam beating the French (stay tuned)
  • The first transistor radio went on sale
  • Rear Window was released
  • Footscray were premiers (Yay!! – Their first and, alas, so far their only premiership)

Let Me Go, Lover was written by Jenny Lou Carson and Al Hill (that latter name is a pseudonym for three other people). It was first featured on TV, sung by Joan Weber, and it caught the public's attention.

Her version sold heaps, possibly the first time TV was used successfully to promote a song. TERESA BREWER recorded it and she sold a lot as well, and that's the one we have today.

Teresa Brewer

♫ Teresa Brewer - Let Me Go, Lover

FRANK SINATRA was back with a vengeance by 1954.

Frank Sinatra

Frank was the first to record the song Young at Heart which was a huge hit at the end of 1953 and spilled over into, and kept selling in, 1954.

♫ Frank Sinatra - Young At Heart

We know there have been rock & roll tunes before but this next song, along with Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock, really kickstarted the genre. Bill also covered this one, but the original by BIG JOE TURNER is still the one.

Big Joe Turner

The song is Shake, Rattle and Roll. It was written especially for Joe by Jesse Stone.

♫ Big Joe Turner - Shake, Rattle & Roll

The song Skokiaan is imprinted on my tiny brain. We went to the beach for our annual post Christmas holidays that year and, as normal, at least back then, there was a carnival in town. It seemed to me that they played this song about every 10 minutes the entire time we were there.

The song was originally written and performed by a Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe, of course) musician called August Musarunwa. The version that's become an integral part of my brain is by THE FOUR LADS.

The Four Lads

♫ The Four Lads - Skokiaan

ROY HAMILTON seemed to follow the lead of Al Hibbler (as did the Righteous Brothers later on) and record the same songs.

Roy Hamilton

Ebb Tide is another of those songs and he does a fine job of it.

♫ Roy Hamilton - Ebb Tide

DORIS DAY had been making records for about a decade but this is her first visit to these columns.

Doris Day

The song is If I Give My Heart to You and it made the pointy end of the charts this year.

♫ Day - If I Give My Heart To You

I Don't Hurt Anymore started its musical life as a country song written and performed by Hank Snow. DINAH WASHINGTON got to it and changed it into a soul song (before soul music was invented).

Dinah Washington

I've always thought of Dinah as a jazz singer but there was more to her than that.

♫ Dinah Washington - I Don't Hurt Anymore

I don't want to creep you out but I'm going to play Misty for you. Those who saw that film will know what I'm talking about. I'll also use the same version. Here is ERROLL GARNER playing Misty for you, a tune he wrote himself.

Erroll Garner

♫ Erroll Garner - Misty

Cross Over the Bridge was written and published in 1945 and as far as I can tell just sat around until PATTI PAGE recorded it in 1954.

Patti Page

In a reversal of the usual policy at the time, a black group, The Chords (responsible for the original version of Sh-Boom) recorded it after Patti. Their version pretty much went nowhere, unlike Patti's.

♫ Patti Page - Cross Over The Bridge

LES PAUL AND MARY FORD make their first appearance even though they had been recording and having hits for some years. I guess I overlooked them.

Les Paul and Mary Ford

Here they perform I'm a Fool to Care with the wonderful voice of Mary and the equally wonderful guitar playing from Les.

♫ Les Paul and Mary Ford - I'm a Fool to Care

You can find more music from 1954 here.

1955 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 21 June 2014


DUCK FLASH MOB

I have no explanation for this, nothing to tell you about what it is. It's here just because of my own wonderment.

And when, about three-quarters of the way though the video, you think it's all over – my god, there are even more ducks. (Shot by Sirichok Maneechot)


JOHN OLIVER AND FCC CHAIRMAN TOM WHEELER

The wonderful John Oliver is taking the question of net neutrality, currently before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as seriously as we have on this blog.

On his weekly HBO show last Sunday, Oliver followed up with the FCC Commissioner whom Oliver had previously called a dingo. Yes, a dingo:


ONLINE DATING – IN FRENCH

Here's another video that seems to be following up on our own conversations at this blog. We could have used this wonderful laugh when we talked about elders and online dating.


NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF RECORDS

The entire history of New York City's government – from handwritten court records of the first Colonial Dutch settlers to the latest agenda of the new de Blasio administration – are preserved in the Department of Records.

In this video, you'll see Deputy Commissioner of the department, Eileen Flannelly, who has her own history with history: her uncle founded the department in 1977.

There are a few dozen staff members who manage 221,000 cubic feet of the city's records. For history fans, here's a lovely little video about it showing some of the oldest of the old documents.


SECRETARY CLINTON AND JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR

I love this little bit of video of two powerful women leaders - former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor bumping into each other at a Virginia Costco last weekend:

Did I ever tell you that Sonia Sotomayor lived across the street from me in New York? We were hardly friends, but we chatted on the block a few times long before she was appointed to the top court in the country.


NO MORE TOOTH DRILLING

Probably too late for a lot of us old folks, but for everyone else – whoo-eee! There pretty well appears to be a new, successful, affordable treatment for tooth decay that will be available in about three years.

”The tooth-rebuilding technique developed at King's College London does away with fillings and instead encourages teeth to repair themselves.

“Tooth decay is normally removed by drilling, after which the cavity is filled with a material such as amalgam or composite resin.

“The new treatment, called Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), accelerates the natural movement of calcium and phosphate minerals into the damaged tooth.”

You can read more about it at The Guardian.


AMAZING SAND TROMPE L'OEIL

Or, some are calling it 3D sand art. Here's a photo of a 3D staircase on the sand in New Zealand:

3D STAIRS

And here is a time lapse video of the building of that “staircase” in the sand – actually it's flat.

You can read about and see a lot more trompe l'oeil, 3D sand images here and here.

We have Norma, the TGB Elder Music assistant musicologist for this item.


ALL ALONE AT THE LAS VEGAS AIRPORT

Not long ago, Richard Dunn found himself stuck for a whole night at the Las Vegas airport with nothing to do. So to amuse himself, he pulled out his iPhone and shot a music video to the song, All By Myself sung by Celine Dion.

It's terrific. Take a look:

You can read about how he did it here.


STEPHEN HAWKING WITH JOHN OLIVER

Why not have two clips of John Oliver in one Interesting Stuff. He's good enough for it.

From last Sunday, in a new interview segment he calls “Great Minds: People Who Think Good,” Oliver hosted his first guest, theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking to talk about such things as imaginary time, artificial intelligence, killer robots and the possibility of Oliver ever landing a date with Charlize Theron.


KITTIES LEARNING PHYSICS

Interesting Stuff always feels a bit naked to me when there is not a kitty photo or video. So here is one via Sunday's TGB Elder Music columnist, Peter Tibbles – a maths guy who certainly would find kitties' science experiments worthy of notice:

Have you ever noticed that most cats, like these, are usually more interested in the string than toy at the end of it?


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.


REWIND THE WEEK – 20 June 2014

George Carlin's f-word-laced riff on old age was the show-stopper post this week in terms of visitor stats. Someone tweeted it and droves of readers turned up.

George's language wasn't much of an issue; most who commented loved the clip. Mage Bailey apparently came to George late in life:

”Delightful. I didn't much care for him when I was a young f---, but now days he is just what I need.”

Gaga Cheri's last paragraph in her comment had me laughing in delight:

Laughed out loud!” she wrote. “Can't wait to show this to my parents who are in their 80s. I think my father would agree that he is an old fuck.

“Colorful language has always been a part of my life and my family. We know when to use it and when it may offend.

“Just last weekend my 10 year old granddaughter and I discussed swear words. We agreed that stubbing your toe sometimes calls for more than a gosh darn.”

Although most readers are tolerant of George's colorful language, it appears TGB lost at least one reader, this one named Patricia:

”Wow! Unbookmarking this site. Funny how some people never grow up. Or maybe I should say, that don't mind being talked to from the sewer all the days of their lives. Wasn't funny then, isn't funny now...”

There WILL be more George Carlin on these pages in the future. He's too good and too relevant to ignore on grounds of "offensive" language.

The post on when middle age ends and old age begins drew the highest number of comments this week. Lauren didn't pull any punches at all in her opinion of people who deny their age:

”If you find old age abhorrent, maybe you’ll get lucky and have cancer take you out in your fifties or sixties. Cancer finds that age group positively delicious.”

As my years keep rolling by, I feel increasingly as Celia does:

”At past 70 I have come to see myself as an old woman, good day or a bad one and its okay with me. Aging has proved a more interesting process that I ever imagined. A bit of an adventure.”

Yes, an adventure.

Priscilla discovered that if you're patting yourself on the back about how well you're aging, look out for those grandkids who'll burst your balloon:

”I am 62, pretty active, don't think of myself as particularly "old". Last year my sweet 6 yr old grandson turned to me out of the blue and innocently said, 'You are old, Gaga, really old.' Out of the mouths of babes...”

Madeleine Kolb pointed out that no matter how sanguine and accepting we become about our old age, those pesky, younger ageists can be irritating:

”I do struggle, though, with the reactions of other people, mainly those who work in banks or doctors' offices,” she wrote. “The assumption seems to be that an old lady with white hair couldn't possibly know anything about computers.

“The coded question before discussing registration for the entity's website is, 'Do you have access to a computer?' I generally say, 'Yes, for the past 30 years or so.'"

And a shoutout to Elizabeth Rogers for reminding us that finding acceptance is a process, not always easy, that takes time:

”Kudos to those who accept the aging process willingly, but I'm not there yet. I totally recognize the fallacy of chasing youth via magic elixirs, potions and procedures (I haven't and won't), but I am trying to retain as many abilities as possible."

There are many more thoughtful comments on that post worth going back to read.

In yesterday's post, I took issue with a writer at the Minnesota Public Radio website who turned the tragic accident of a home fire that killed an old woman into a call for adult children to kick their parents out their homes.

I'll stick by my point that one terrible accident is not even the tiniest evidence that others should take decision making away from competent parents. Several readers disagree - quite vehemently in some cases. You can read about it in the comments here.

And finally, if you missed Peter Tibbles' music column last Sunday, titled Greyhound Bus, it's worth stopping by. Not a chance would I have guessed there are more than one or two songs about riding a Greyhound bus. But Peter knew better.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary Mack: Grandfather's Pig


Notes on Aging in Place

From a story on the Minnesota Public Radio website titled, The Danger of Aging in Place.

”If there’s one thing many Baby Boomers have in common, it’s this: Trying to convince an elderly parent that it’s time to leave the home they’ve spent their life in, and move somewhere that’s not so dangerous for an elderly person.”

Could such a generality possibly be true - that a large number of the 70-odd million baby boomers believe their parents need to be forced out of the homes where they are happy? The writer, Bill Collins, sure makes it sound that way.

There are all kinds of reasons this is wrong. First, the vast majority of people make it all the way to their graves successfully living on their own. I've seen numbers ranging from 65 to 80 percent.

In addition, there are nowhere near enough beds in care facilities to accommodate many more elders than are already there. And, it's boomers themselves who are becoming the people who may or may not need to leave their homes - not being the operative word in that sentence.

Although the numbers are hard to come by and too often compare apples and oranges, reasonably good statistics from several reputable sources can be deduced. They tell us that at any given time about five percent of the 65-plus population is living in some kind of skilled nursing home.

Additionally, about one-quarter of people who are 65 and older will spend some time in such a place but not permanently.

Those statistics cover the entire 65-plus population. When you count only the oldest old, the percentage of 95 and older in skilled care rises to about 25 percent.

The reason for the fuzziness of this information is that there are so many more kinds of care homes than in the past and no one is tracking or comparing them well. But I feel confident that what I found is within the realm of reality and that leaves me wondering what in the world Mr. Collins is talking about – the dangers of aging in place.

His article is mostly a long quotation from another story by a woman, Michelle Singetary, who is struggling with blaming herself over her mother's death due to a terrible home fire:

”What could I have done differently to get her to recognize that she needed more help and could no longer live on her own?” she writes.

“But my mother was strong willed, competent and in her right mind, so we couldn’t force her to relocate.”

“Competent and in her right mind.” So why did she need to relocate? In the original story, not quoted by Mr. Collins, Singetary explains that her mother had had two strokes, had trouble walking and needed help with cooking and bathing.

No doubt that can be worrisome. Nevertheless, many elders who need that kind of help but are otherwise capable, as this mother seemed to be, do quite well with regular visits from a relative or home aide, and are happier than they would be pulling up stakes late in life. Not to mention how much less expensive it is to age in place.

It is not ours to judge this terrible occurrence; we cannot possibly know all the circumstances and my heart goes out to Ms. Singletary.

What I do want to do, however, is point out the irresponsibility of the Minnesota Public Radio website posting a story with such an inflammatory headline together with a fallacious, ageist assumption in the first sentence that infantilizes elders.

Consistently, over many years, about 90 percent of all old people have told pollsters they want to age in place and the facts show that a huge majority manage to do that.

With the growth of the Villages movement and shared housing, many more will be able to do so in coming years.

The fire that killed Ms. Singletary's mother is a terrible thing, but horrible accidents happen to people of all ages and this one occurrence should not be used as evidence that aging in place is dangerous.

[Hat tip to TGB reader chlost who brought this story to my attention.]


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: Hot Pants and Go-Go Boots


George Carlin on Being Old

It's a too-busy week here at Chez Bennett so I'm reaching for some easy stuff you might enjoy that gives me time to take care of business, as it were.

One good way is video of George Carlin who is, I know, a favorite I share with many TGB readers. It is amazing that even though he has been dead for six years, his political riffs and rants are as relevant today as when he first delivered them.

(I'm not sure if that shows how prescient he was or if nothing has changed since 2008.)

But politics is not what we have today. Instead, here is his take on growing old. If you're easily offended by the F-word, you might want to skip this – he uses it a lot. Otherwise, enjoy.

(You all know, I think, that if for some reason this video won't play in your location, click the YouTube logo in the lower right corner. It will open on its YouTube page where it is usually viewable – except in some non-U.S. countries.)


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Interpreting Signs


Thoreau on The Greatest Gift of Age

I wish I could say I chose today's quotation on my own, that I am perspicacious enough to have set it aside for special comment. But even though I have undoubtedly read it at least twice in the past, it slipped by me without the notice it deserves.

For that, we can thank Maria Popova who runs the estimable Brain Pickings blog/website. It is from The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837 to 1861. As she explains in her introduction:

”Writing in the afternoon of October 20 of 1857, shortly after his fortieth birthday, Thoreau does what he does best, drawing from an everyday encounter a profound existential parable.”

Here, then, is Thoreau on The Greatest Gift of Age – re-paragraphed slightly to ease reading in the more modern manner, on a screen:

“I saw Brooks Clark, who is now about eighty and bent like a bow, hastening along the road, barefooted, as usual, with an axe in his hand; was in haste perhaps on account of the cold wind on his bare feet.

“When he got up to me, I saw that besides the axe in one hand, he had his shoes in the other, filled with knurly apples and a dead robin. He stopped and talked with me a few moments; said that we had had a noble autumn and might now expect some cold weather.

“I asked if he had found the robin dead. No, he said, he found it with its wing broken and killed it. He also added that he had found some apples in the woods, and as he hadn’t anything to carry them in, he put ’em in his shoes.

“They were queer-looking trays to carry fruit in. How many he got in along toward the toes, I don’t know. I noticed, too, that his pockets were stuffed with them.

“His old tattered frock coat was hanging in strips about the skirts, as were his pantaloons about his naked feet. He appeared to have been out on a scout this gusty afternoon, to see what he could find, as the youngest boy might.

“It pleased me to see this cheery old man, with such a feeble hold on life, bent almost double, thus enjoying the evening of his days. Far be it from me to call it avarice or penury, this childlike delight in finding something in the woods or fields and carrying it home in the October evening, as a trophy to be added to his winter’s store.

“Oh, no; he was happy to be Nature’s pensioner still, and birdlike to pick up his living. Better his robin than your turkey, his shoes full of apples than your barrels full; they will be sweeter and suggest a better tale.

“This old man’s cheeriness was worth a thousand of the church’s sacraments and memento mori’s. It was better than a prayerful mood. It proves to me old age as tolerable, as happy, as infancy…

“If he had been a young man, he would probably have thrown away his apples and put on his shoes when he saw me coming, for shame. But old age is manlier; it has learned to live, makes fewer apologies, like infancy.”

[If a reader sent me this, I have misplaced the reference. My apologies.]

If you enjoyed this, do try Maria Popova's Brain Pickings. Once a week she supplies a thoughtful and often unique take on writing and its pleasures while pointing us to some of the best there is.

Most of the writings of Henry David Thoreau are available for free online. Here is one source for some of them.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Take Me Back – Summer 1953


When Does Middle Age End and Old Age Begin?

On blogs, forums, commercial websites, health-related sites and more, it is amazing how many people debate this question.

Invariably, someone will say he or she (usually she) or a friend looks and acts younger than they are (whatever that means). Or someone drags out that hoary old aphorism, you're only as old as you feel.

Both of these age-denying pronouncements appeared in an essay that recently popped into my inbox via a Google alert together with so many additional ageist and anti-aging cliches that it's too embarrassing to link to the story.

Of course, there was the “still” sentence. You know the one: she's 84 and still - take your pick - cooks her own meals, drives a car, plays tennis. And the all-time favorite of everyone who refuses to acknowledge the passing years – age is only a number.

The 66-year-old writing this essay refuses to accept herself as a senior because, she reports, she and her friends are active, some “still” work, others exercise, read, play with the grandchildren and volunteer.

But the people at the home where the writer volunteers “are seniors for sure,” she says with some certainty, because they are “limited in what they can do." She doesn't say what the limitations are but it's not hard to guess.

What she is trying to do with that statement is separate herself, as too many healthy elders do, from people of the same age who are disabled, infirm, demented or even just a little addled, never considering that there but for the grace of god...

The desperation of people in denial of their own aging doesn't happen just on other websites. When the subject comes up here, there are always “age is only a number” style comments or the careful parsing of the exact moment when old age begins (always a long way in the person's personal future).

This defensiveness is, we know, the result of fear. Fear of aging which, if you take a step back for a longer look, is just a smoke screen for fear of dying. I understand that. As the old saying goes, no one gets out of here alive.

But right now, today, I am alive. And you are alive. And if you're reading this blog, you are probably old, or damned close to it – whether you are ready to accept that or not.

And if not, perhaps think awhile on how much time and effort it takes to pretend you're not old. Surely you must be exhausted from it. Surely you can imagine what a relief it would be to just – well, be.

Me? It took me years of trying to arrive a liking my old age, liking myself as an old woman but I arrived and nowadays I look forward to enjoying that achievement for many more years. (Or not – but that's a story for a different day.)

Right now, I want you to know that it's worth the effort to shed the pretense of youth. Shed the mistaken idea of the woman above who apparently believes being old doesn't happen until you can't work, cook, play tennis, volunteer, exercise or play with grandchildren any longer.

But she is wrong to define old age only as the arrival of infirmity. If we are willing to be honest, old age is the natural progression of life from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and, now, elderhood.

Why waste these years trying to be something else? Do you really believe you can rid yourself of wrinkles, gray hair, a poochy belly, mashed potato thighs, saggy skin and all the other physical manifestations old age with drug store potions and wishing?

You don't need to be a Buddhist to appreciate this from Buddhist writer and teacher Lewis Richmond [from his book, Aging as a Spiritual Practice]:

”As long as we keep comparing ourselves to a younger, better self (who may have been better only in hindsight), we shortchange the possibilities for becoming an older, wiser one.

“The wisdom of Adaptation begins in the willingness to let go of who we used to be and embrace who we are now.”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Lunchroom Milk, Wedgies and Humble Pie


ELDER MUSIC: Greyhound Bus

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.


Greyhound Bus

The Greyhound Bus Company turns 100 years old this month and as their buses are mentioned in many songs, Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I thought there could be a column in that.

First, honorable mentions to Chuck Berry's Promised Land, Simon and Garfunkel's America and The Drifters' On Broadway.

These were the first three songs we thought of but because I have used them recently, or will use them soon (depending on the timing of these things) I decided to omit them as there are enough other good songs.

To begin, the A.M. insisted on this song being present - not just present but leading off. After all, the protagonist "was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus" so it deserves the prime spot. I'm talking about the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND.

Allman Brothers

I assume they weren't all born in the backseat, maybe just Dickey Betts, who wrote the song, sang it and played guitar on the record. The A.M. says that this song is the world champion steering-wheel thumper. It's Ramblin' Man.

♫ Allman Brothers - Ramblin' Man

Next, a song described by the A.M. as the offspring of Promised Land and Johnny B. Goode: Bye Bye Johnny. Of course, the father of them all is CHUCK BERRY.

Chuck Berry

It continues the adventures of Johnny B. Goode as a grown man trying to restart his career.

♫ Chuck Berry - Bye Bye Johnny

For something completely different from the first couple of tracks, and some decades earlier, here are the DINNING SISTERS.

The Dinning Sisters

These were real sisters (not all brothers and sister acts in show biz are actually related, you might be surprised to learn). They were Lou, Jean and Ginger. There was also a younger brother named Mark who was a bit of a pop star in the late fifties, early sixties.

The sisters were signed by Capitol records as an answer to the Andrews Sisters. As you know, they didn't eclipse the Andrews but they had several charting records. This isn't one of them, Love on a Greyhound Bus.

♫ The Dinning Sisters - Love On A Greyhound Bus

One that surprised me is by ROD STEWART.

Rod Stewart

It's one that Rod wrote about a friend of his (and The Faces, his group at the time). It surprised me because I'd forgotten about the Greyhound reference. This is The Killing Of Georgie (Parts 1 & 2).

♫ Rod Stewart - The Killing Of Georgie

Musicians of all genres are probably familiar with Greyhound buses. Here's a country take on our subject by THE LOUVIN BROTHERS.

The Louvin Brothers

The Louvins were a dichotomous duo (certainly in their personal life, but we won't go there today). They wrote some exasperatingly self-righteous songs and then some of the finest country songs around. Fortunately, today's is of the latter kind, Cash on the Barrelhead.

♫ The Louvin Brothers - Cash on the Barrelhead

SAM COOKE wrote and recorded Somebody Have Mercy.

Sam Cooke

It made the lower ranks of the charts and is not remembered as amongst his best but anything that Sam performed is worth a listen from my point of view. See if you agree.

♫ Sam Cooke - Somebody Have Mercy

ERIC CLAPTON's Greyhound Bus was not on the original release of the album “Slowhand,” his biggest selling record.

Eric Clapton

However, when the album was rereleased recently, there it was along with a whole bunch of other tunes that hadn't seen light of day before. As with Sam, it's far from his best work but anything from Eric deserves your attention also.

♫ Eric Clapton - Greyhound Bus

Here THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL, after their driving force and main man, John Sebastian, had left for a solo career, perform Never Going Back.

Lovin' Spoonful

There doesn't seem to be any pictures of them as a threesome, so ignore that person on the left. At this stage, they weren't far away from disintegrating completely but were performing as a trio. The vocals on this track were sung by the drummer, Joe Butler.

♫ Lovin' Spoonful - Never Going Back

JOE SOUTH is probably best remembered for a bunch of hits in the late sixties.

Joe South

However, there was more to him than that. He was a skilled songwriter and a much in demand session guitarist – he played on Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" album as well as backing Aretha Franklin, Simon and Garfunkel and many others.

His Greyhound song, Don't It Make You Want To Go Home, is one of those hits mentioned earlier.

♫ Joe South - Don't It Make You Want To Go Home

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL are represented by one of their best songs.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

That song is Lodi. It came out as a single before the album from which it was taken was released. It was the B-side. On the flip was Bad Moon Rising - you got your money's worth on that record.

♫ Creedence Clearwater Revival - Lodi

Originally on the list, but missing the final cut are Robert Johnson's Me and the Devil (a contender for the earliest Greyhound bus song) and Billy Joel's New York State of Mind. Many others as well, but those others weren't serious contenders.

The Australian Greyhound Bus Company, which is entirely separate from the American one, is older.


INTERESTING STUFF – 14 June 2014

IMPORTANT EDITORIAL NOTE: I do my best to properly credit the people who send Interesting Stuff items published here and I know I have said I will link to your blog when you have one. But you've got to tell me the name and the URL.

For some of you I know the name of the blog and for some I even know the URL. But for most, I'm guessing or having to search my blog to find previous links or search the internet to find the URL and it's taking too much time.

So from now on if you want a link to your blog when I use an item you've submitted, you must include the name of the blog and the URL.



PAY ATTENTION: IT'S JUST FIVE SECONDS LONG

And undoubtedly you need to be at least 40 years old to get it. (Hat to tip to many of you)


ALMOST AS SHORT AND EXTREMELY CUTE

One short laugh deserves another. From TGB reader Lauren Nelson.


DON'T FORGET

Most of us old folks get frustrated with our memory lapses. Now, someone out in a desert somewhere has gone to extremes to help us out. I hope it's a friendly joke. Even if it's not, it made me laugh. (Hat tip to John Brandt)

Senior Center dont forget


JAMES CAGNEY AND BOB HOPE

As with the first item today, you probably need to be at least 40, maybe 50, to know who these two guys were. In their prime they were wonderful and this dance from the film, The Seven Little Foys, proves it. (Hat tip to Marian Methner)


ELDERS SELLING PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

MS Contin and OxyContin and Fentanyl are among the prescription drugs being sold by elders to help make ends meet.

”Hervey Bay GP Dr Ken Treichel says he's banned six elderly patients from his surgery in the past year for selling their medication. 'It's absolutely rampant,' he told the newspaper.

"'I actually see people (selling). I've seen people walk up to them, bring the money out and do the deal, standing in the car park.'

“Drug and Serious Crime Group Sergeant Adam Frost said people of all ages had been busted buying and selling prescription drugs, including the elderly.”

That's according to the Courier Mail newspaper in Brisbane, Australia but if you don't think it's happening in the U.S. and other western countries too, you're dreaming. (Hat tip to Domini Stuart)


TIME GOES BY

26,731 days have passed since I was born which means the total number of candles on all my birthdays added together equal 2,701 so far.

My heart has beaten approximately 2,672,960,000 times since my birth during which time I have taken approximately 573,445,000 breaths.

That's according to a website called You're Getting Old where you can plug in your own birthdate and see how much time has gone by.

The information will either make you feel bad about being old or will delight you to know. I chose the latter option. (Hat tip to Cile)


A SLEEPY GREAT DANE PUPPY

Thor knows 3:30AM is too early to get out of bed. According to the YouTube page, in Thor's defense, he had been roused at the bleary-eyed hour of 3:30AM because his humans expected him to join them at the bagel factory where they work.


FOUND ON TWITTER

Someone named Alfred Thumser posted this to Twitter. Heh. I have the same thought every time I need to search for my birth year in a dropdown menu.

Twitter Getting Older


OLDER LADIES ARE DIVINE

Thanks to TGB reader, JB Lockhart, we now have this song from Donna Lou Stevens who explains how it came about:

”This whole creative whirlwind started in a living room on the Mendocino coast, just goofing off with my girlfriends at a weekend party. We were all musicians sitting around trading songs. I started singing my 'Older Ladies' song, and everyone started chiming in.”

So they made this video of it. Whoo-eeee. Yes, we are divine.

If you're interested, Donna Lou is trying to raise money for her next music video via Kickstarter.


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.


Rewind the Week – 13 June 2014

Announcement Unrelated to Rewind: If you change your email address, please do not ask me to change your subscription to the new address. You subscribed on your own and you will need change your subscription on your own.

It's not difficult. Unsubscribe your current address; there is a link to do so at the the bottom of every TGB email. Then resubscribe using your new address in the form at the top right corner of every TGB page.

The management thanks you for your consideration.


The two most popular posts this week were about online dating and burial arrangements. On burial, janinsanfran wrote:

”...the other day, I suggested to my partner that if she is still around, and ambulatory, I wouldn't mind having some of a cremated me...dumped off my favorite trail in Marin Headlands. I suppose that might not be legal, but I bet she could get away with it.”

Jan reminded me that I forgot to mention what I want done with my ashes - a desire that, like hers, is probably not legal but could be pulled off fairly easily: I want some of my ashes deposited in front of my Greenwich Village apartment and the rest scattered along Bleecker Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

If I didn't have different plans, I would seriously consider this idea from Kathleen Noble:

"I like the idea of using a compostable paper urn with ashes and a small tree in it that can be buried anywhere it would grow."

Kathleen also mentioned that some prepaid burial plans can be questionable and I have read a bit about this. I've made a note to look into it further and if you don't see a post about it here in a reasonable length of time, please remind me.

I was surprised and pleased to see how many TGB readers have already taken care of burial and/or cremation needs. Congratulations, all.

Reader experience with online dating, Wednesday's post, is decidedly mixed. Mary Jamison left a detailed description and was starkly honest:

"I've tried it. I even paid for Match.com for a while (I would've been in my 50s - you decide if that qualifies.) I got a couple of nice answers, a couple of creeps, a couple of very polite Nos, but no interest, which was, honestly, painful.

“Lotsa guys out there who want an aging motorcycle mama; if that's you, check it out...

“I've done all that and then some, but no BOOMs in the life-partner category came along. It's the greatest sorrow in my life. Being blamed for it, as if I'd done something wrong - or am someone awful - makes it worse. However, having said all that, I will probably try it again. Go figure.”

doctafil, a long-term, happily married woman, recommends another way:

”Too many stories of men and women being scammed by creeps trolling online, faking a life, looking for money. Best way to meet a potential life partner, is to get out there and volunteer, take classes, get passionately involved with something you enjoy.”

Kathleen Noble has a solution for keeping at bay those creeps doctafil mentions:

”...if you try [online dating], open another email account that has no clues to your full name or location to use for your dating sites. VERY important so your inbox does not get too overwhelmed but also for safety reasons.”

Rhea Albert, who tried a dating service, suspects that age is a negative factor:

"I strongly suspect my advanced age also does not work in my favor."

Mage Bailey reported

"My friend Bee, 67, a teacher, and a painter, tried a big name dating site. At first she didn't find anyone of any value. Later she found two wonderful men and today she's talking about having one move in with her. She is exceptionally happy."

Victoria is unconvinced about online websites:

"I am looking for a good friend and the men are looking for sex. I might be wrong but there just has to be a better way to find a match to enjoy life with don't you think?"

Chuck Nyren, who is a funny man, reminded us of a story he posted about online dating 15 years ago. Titled Love in the Ether, it's worth the read.

Finally, Alan Goldsmith suggested this video of a 31-year-old who says he prefers older women. Really, really older - at least age 65. I can't wait to read what you think:


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chlele Gummer: A Few Early Memories


Burial Arrangements

Long before her death, my mother had prepaid a company for both her cremation and burial at sea. (You can read about that burial here.

Before my mother's last illness and death, I'd never thought about making one's own burial arrangements before they are needed. But it was a big relief to me that she had done it, that I didn't need to figure it out and I was deeply grateful for her foresight.

Over the years since then, I've come to believe that doing so is – well, the polite thing to do. Loved ones have enough on their hands just with grieving and in the event that burial was never discussed, there is no question what the deceased wants if he or she has bought and paid for it.

Some people have some pretty funny (to me) ideas about how they want their remains dealt with. You can read about some weird and interesting burials of famous people here and Gizmodo has images of a bunch of coffins in unexpected shapes that you can actually buy.

Although it amuses me to know that someone wants to be buried in a coffin shaped like a dumpster or a gym bag (to each his own), earlier this week The New York Times reported on a phenomenon that seems bizarre, even ludicrous: ordinary people deliberately purchasing their plot next to a famous dead person:

”...it is a different kind of hero worship, and puts a new twist on the real estate cliché location, location, location,' writes James Barron.

“It could be the ultimate form of devotion, putting yourself closer to someone you admired than you ever were in life — especially if the only words you ever spoke to a favorite celebrity were 'Can I have your autograph?' or 'Can I take a selfie with you?' — or it could be the ultimate way to elevate oneself. You may not be famous, but proximity to someone who was could bestow some prestige.”

This would be funny if it were not sad – that you think so little of yourself that you want to bask in the reflected glory of a famous person even in death.

Or, maybe it's one way to make it easier for loved ones to find your grave in a crowded cemetery: “Turn left at James Dean and walk a little further until you see Buddy Holly. I'm right next to him.”

Barron reports that it's not cheap to buy a plot next to a celebrity:

”A crypt above Marilyn Monroe's in a cemetery in Los Angeles had a winning bid of $4.6 million on eBay in 2009. The owner, a widow who wanted to pay off the $1 million mortgage her husband had left behind, moved his remains 23 years after he had been buried there.”

Jazz fan Pauline Smith is arranging to be buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Los Angeles near Duke Ellington and Lindy hop creator Frankie Manning:

“'Who knows what life is after death?' said Ms. Smith, a retired teacher who is 74 and lives in New Rochelle, N.Y. 'Not knowing what it is, I want to enjoy the thing that brings the most joy to me in my life right now, so I want to be close to them.'”

Have you thought about your burial arrangements - or have you made them?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Old


Summer Heat Help

(Australians and other TGB readers below the equator can skip today's post or save it for next November.)

It's starting to warm up here in Oregon. Nothing unbearable yet but it reminds me that it's time for the annual TGB summer heat warning post.

In fact, there is an acronym we need to learn: EHE means Extreme Heat Event which, I'm pretty sure, needs no explanation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are about 650 heat-related deaths each summer in the U.S. and the number has been rising.

In 2012, one half of those deaths affected people 65 and older and that's not unusual. Among the groups most vulnerable to heat-related illness or death are the very old, children four and younger, and those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

A problem for elders is that as we get older, our body temperature regulators do not work as well as when we were young. Sometimes we don't feel thirst when our bodies need liquid so drink a lot of water during hot months.

Here are some other suggestions for getting you, your family, friends and neighbors through the hot season:

Wear light-colored, loose clothing.

Heat waves are not the time to skimp on the electric bill. Turn up the air conditioning when you need it.

If you do not have air conditioning, now is the time – before an EHE – to find out the locations of your city's cooling centers. Hundreds of cities use school gyms and other large gathering places to help people cool down during the worst of the day's heat.

You could also go the movies, the mall or visit a friend who has air conditioning during the afternoon.

If you have air conditioning, invite a friend who does not have it to visit you during the hottest hours of the day.

If you must be out and about during a heat wave, do your errands in the early morning. Schedule appointments before the worst heat of the day.

Eat light meals that do not need cooking. High-water-content foods like cantaloupe, watermelon, apples and other fruits are good.

Keep window shades lowered and curtains drawn during the strongest heat of the day.

Some medications for diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions can inhibit the body's ability to cool itself. If your area is experiencing a prolonged heat wave, perhaps ask your physician if you can forgo or reduce the amount of those medications for the duration.

There are two heat-related conditions that are deadly serious and you should know the symptoms:

HEAT EXHAUSTION occurs when the body gets too hot. Symptoms are thirst, weakness, dizziness, profuse sweating, cold and clammy skin, normal or slightly elevated body temperature.

Move yourself or someone experiencing these symptoms to a cool place, drink cool liquids, take a cool bath or shower and rest.

HEAT STROKE is a medical emergency. It can cause brain damage so get thee or the affected person to a hospital. It occurs when body temperature reaches 104 or 105 in a matter of minutes.

Other symptoms include confusion; faintness; strong, rapid pulse; lack of sweating and bizarre behavior. Don't fool around with this.

This is a short video about the seriousness of excessive summer heat from Dr. Robin Ikeda, Acting Director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health:

The CDC has an entire section of its website devoted to staying healthy and cool during extreme heat.

Enjoy the warm months, but stay cool and safe this summer too.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: The Third Time's a Charm