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TGB FORUM: Readers Write the Blog – Day 2

As I explained on Monday, while Peter Tibbles and Norma Gates are visiting from Melbourne, I am taking a mini-vacation and letting you, dear readers, write the blog based on your own topics.

Today's comes from Tamsin. It may, in some instances, be difficult to talk about but I believe it is important to consider, think about and get out into the open.

”Do those who have experienced losing a spouse have any advice for those of us who will be facing that unhappy event in the future? How does life change for a widow or widower?”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, June Calendar: Things Only Old Folks Know


TGB FORUM: Readers Write the Blog – Day 1

As I repeat ad nauseum, individuals age at different rates and in different ways so that what shows up in one person at 50 may not affect another until 70 or maybe not at all.

As a friend says the same thing: if you've seen one old person, you've seen one old person.

One of my self-assigned tasks since I began this blog more than a decade ago is, in a casual way – I don't keep notes or a chart, to track my own aging.

Sometimes that is as simple as noticing new wrinkles on my body or it can be as complex as trying to figure out if my most comfortable walking speed is slower than it was a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. (The answer is, I can't tell.)

Now, however, I have an additional measuring stick to add to my kit: visiting friends.

Peter Tibbles writes the TGB Elder Music column that appears on Sunday. Last week he and Norma Gates, the assistant musicologist, arrived from Melbourne, Australia, for the second time in two years. I am thrilled to have them staying with me again.

Here is a photo of Norma as we were on our way Saturday for a ride along the Willamette River in an antique trolley.

Norma

And here is the little trolley:

Trolley370

When Peter and Norma were here in 2012, with not much extra attention to time management, I kept up this blog every day in relative ease. This time is different. This time I can feel the effects of being a bit older or, at least, that's what I think it is.

It is more difficult now to spend the time I want with Peter and Norma and still find the focus and concentration to write a post each day. So I am not going to.

But you will still have a fresh story each day because you, dear readers, are going to write it.

Thanks to your suggestions, we now have a list of forum topics. We used a couple of them last week and now I will choose one one each day this week (unless I decide to interrupt the flow with something that's on my mind).

Now you might ask why I don't just take a vacation and I could. However, many readers who do not subscribe to The Elder Storytelling Place use the link at the end of each day's Time Goes By post to read that story.

So it's two birds, one stone without much effort on my part. Plus, I enjoyed your conversations on the TGB Forums last week and look forward to more.

Today's topic comes from Charlotte Dahl:

”How have you changed over the years? Do you feel wiser now that you're old? What do you wonder about? What are you grateful for?”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: Merry Sunshine


ELDER MUSIC: 1961 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 1961?

  • Boy George (George O'Dowd) was born
  • Parkes radio telescope opened for business
  • Amnesty International created
  • Four Corners first screened
  • The Beatles performed at the Cavern Club for the first time
  • Ken was introduced to Barbie
  • The Hustler was released
  • Hawthorn were premiers (beating Footscray, dammit)

ROY ORBISON wrote Crying about an old flame he saw one day soon after they broke up.

Roy Orbison

He said he was too stubborn to go up to her and try to patch things up so he wrote the song instead. The rest of the world is glad he did.

♫ Roy Orbison - Crying

I first heard Hello Walls sung by FARON YOUNG rather than Willie Nelson, who wrote the song.

Faron Young

Indeed, I liked it so much I bought a 45 of it. Willie hadn't actually recorded the song at this stage, the first time he did that was the following year.

♫ Faron Young - Hello Walls

Besides Roy, CARLA THOMAS wrote a song about someone on whom she had a crush.

Carla Thomas

That song is Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes).

It seems that for the recording of the song, the arranger hadn't turned up. He eventually arrived late and by then the backing musicians were being paid overtime. Carla nailed the song on the first take much to the relief of the record company execs. It hit the charts the first day she started university.

She became the first woman to have a top 10 hit with a song she wrote herself.

♫ Carla Thomas - Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)

DEL SHANNON and his keyboard player Max Crook came up with the song Runaway when they were performing at a club. Max played some unusual chord changes and Del asked him to repeat them. They kept improvising with this until the club owner told them to play something else.

Del Shannon

Del wrote words to the riff that night and they had a hit on their hands. That unusual sound is made by a Musitron, a keyboard instrument Max developed himself.

♫ Del Shannon - Runaway

Wow, what a voice TIMI YURO had.

Timi Yuro

Originally from Chicago, the Yuro family moved to Los Angeles where young Timi used to sing in the family's Italian restaurant (and in local nightclubs much against her folks' wishes).

She caught the ear (and eye, no doubt) of a talent scout who signed her up. She recorded Hurt, a song that Roy Hamilton had recorded previously and it did well on the charts. Here it is.

♫ Timi Yuro - Hurt

The EVERLY BROTHERS continued bringing out terrific songs.

Everly Brothers

This was an interesting record, it had Ebony Eyes on the flip side. The A side though was Walk Right Back. I know that as I bought this 45 too (or received it as a birthday present, or something).

♫ Everly Brothers - Walk Right Back

PATSY CLINE crossed over from the country charts to the pop realm now and then.

Patsy Cline

Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard wrote the song I Fall to Pieces and tried to get someone to record it. Many artists passed on it for various reasons.

Patsy overheard one of them turning it down and was impressed with it and said that she'd record it. Aren't we all glad she did?

♫ Patsy Cline - I Fall to Pieces

This year is chockablock with great voices and here's another one, PAT BOONE.

Pat Boone

Moody River wasn't your standard Pat song. After all, it's all about the protagonist who goes to meet his true love only to discover that she's killed herself. Goodness me, Pat, what were you thinking?

♫ Pat Boone - Moody River

And still the great singers keep on coming. Here's ELVIS with His Latest Flame.

Elvis Presley

The song was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman and originally recorded by Del Shannon, but Elvis did it better (that should go without saying, really).

♫ Elvis Presley - His Latest Flame

DICK AND DEE DEE were Richard Gosling and Mary Sperling, but they changed their names to reflect the stage name.

Dick & DeeDee

They first met when they were at school together. Then, as fate would have it, they went off to different schools and lost touch.

Later, they happened to run into each other and discovered they both liked writing songs. Singing them too. They eventually got a recording contract and released The Mountain's High as the B side of their first release.

A disk jockey accidently played the wrong side and was flooded with calls. They realized they were on to something here.

♫ Dick & Dee Dee - The Mountains High

You can find more music from 1961 here. 1962 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 27 September 2014


BACKSTAGE AT THE METROPOLITAN OPERA

The New York Times posted a lovely little montage video of what it's like at the Met a week before the season premier.


JOHN OLIVER ON THE MISS AMERICA PAGEANT

This is a funny and masterful take-down of the Miss America Pageant and, in passing, Donald Trump. But it is also something that no comedian I recall has ever done: investigative journalism. Don't miss it.


FROGSICLES

I wish I had made up that headline but credit must be given to the accuweather website which tells us:

”Alaskan wood frogs freeze solid each year in order to survive the harsh, unforgiving Alaskan winter.”

Frogsicle370

There is a lot more information at accuweather.com.


A NEW SIMON THE CAT

Usually, Bev Carney keeps me in good supply of Simon but this turned up some other way. A cat's life is never easy or, at least, that's what they'll tell you.


HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS BEFORE?

This is fantastic and wonderful and just my kind of thing. I am amazed I am learning about it at this late date.

There is a parking garage attached to the Kansas City, Missouri library. A very special parking garage. Take a look at the video. I discovered this in an email from Darlene Costner.

A few years ago, someone asked Snopes if a photograph of the garage was legit. It is and Snopes helpfully supplies a short history along with a list of all the 22 books depicted.


JON STEWART REPORT ON THE CLIMATE CHANGE MARCH

It is undoubtedly not news to you that last weekend there was a gigantic march in New York City to raise aware of climate change.

Among the estimated 300,000 marchers were Mayor Bill deBlasio, Al Gore and even U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in a teeshirt and baseball cap.

Jon Stewart's report on The Daily Show is magnificent, especially the section on Congressional climate deniers. You gotta love Stewart's line about the GOP deniers: “pushing a million pounds of idiot up a mountain.”

Stewart's clips of scientist John P. Holden demolishing those neanderthal Congress people are from Holden's testimony at a House hearing. ThinkProgress has longer videos of his testimony that are worth watching.


WHAT YEAR WILL YOU DIE?

It's just a stupid game with dumb questions but I took the quiz anyway. It said I would die at 91.

One of the commenters reported that the quiz said he would die at 57 and he was already several years older. But what the heck – it's nothing but a clickbait page and kinda fun to play with.


TRAFFIC COPY GETTIN' IT ON

In the past, I've posted a similar traffic cop but when you're good, you deserve your 15 minutes. Enjoy this with a hat tip to my friend Jim Stone.


DOG PUPPETEER IN ARGENTINA

Another from Jim Stone. In our high-tech, GoPro world, this seems almost archaic. There is no big-deal excitement, no slam-bang ending. It's just sweet, almost magical and beautifully low-tech. Stick with it through the end and you will be charmed.


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.


TGB FORUM: Finding New Friends in Old Age

Let me thank you all for the terrific forum topics you suggested a few days ago.

My intention was/is to use them only occasionally but with my teeth, preparing for friends who have now arrived and time for writing (not even counting time for research or thinking before writing) has disappeared.

So I'm going to make greater use of those topics in shorter succession. Today, let's consider friendship which several readers mentioned.

As I have frequently mentioned here, if we live long enough, old friends – and relatives too – die. Others move away, or we do. And when we retire, we also lose the day-to-day camaraderie of the workplace, the importance and pleasures of which never occurred to me until I no longer had them.

All of those conspire to shrink our social circles. Here is the topic suggestion Nancy Wick left:

”I'd be interested in getting ideas on how to make friends with people who are younger (even much younger) than you.

It seems to me that the only way to combat being friendless because contemporaries die off is to make friends with younger folks, but I find it really hard to do. At social events, people do seem to congregate in age groups.”

It's a good subject that affects pretty much all elders. So, let's expand Nancy's question a bit to include meeting potential friends of all ages.

Loneliness is not only painful to endure but there are legitimate studies showing that it is twice as unhealthy as obesity and can even lead to premature death.

So pull out all your best ideas, examples and experiences to share with everyone on how we can find new friendships, young and old.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ellen Younkins: Homage to Age


Elder Dental Care

Perhaps you have already laughed ruefully, recognizing what an oxymoron that headline is.

Unless you are wealthy in your old age, in the United States, dental care beyond much more than an annual cleaning is not personally affordable and traditional Medicare specifically excludes it (although some Advantage plans cover some dental work).

As the medicare.gov website explains:

”Medicare doesn't cover most dental care, dental procedures, or supplies, like cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates, or other dental devices.

“Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) will pay for certain dental services that you get when you're in a hospital. Part A can pay for inpatient hospital care if you need to have emergency or complicated dental procedures, even though the dental care isn't covered.”

In a post last week, I tried to make light of the difficulty I've had being in public without my denture. The reason for not wearing it was, as I explained, that

”...the entire length of gum on one side of my mouth swelled to a gargantuan size. The dentist supplied two kinds of antibiotics for the infection and after two weeks, it is nearly cleared up.”

Not completely. Nearly. The small amount of swelling that remains means the denture still doesn't fit yet and I'm stuck with no upper teeth for a few more days - a bummer in any case but particularly so as my Aussie friends, Peter and Norma, arrive this afternoon.

Worse, this turned out to be a great deal more than the simple, though large, infection I thought it was. As the dentist explained, it had traveled to my sinus and could, from there, enter my brain – potentially a life-threatening event.

Before now, I had no idea such a terrible thing exists. Then, still more bad news: There are a couple of smaller infections in my lower jaw and some other problems that require oral surgery, implants and a new (and better) kind of upper denture.

If I don't have this work done, the dentist and perio guy both told me, infections will continue to erupt probably more frequently and I will lose some (or all) of my remaining teeth.

This is not a surprise to me. I've heard it before but have neglected my mouth for several years because the last time I got an estimate for the needed work, the cost was about two-thirds of my annual income.

It's money I don't have lying around and my income obviously is not enough to pay as I go meaning, also, that there is no hope of saving enough in even five years and maybe not ten – obviously not a useful time frame in regard to teeth and infections.

On Tuesday this week, I met with the dentist to determine the work to be done to give me a healthy mouth, what the most cost-effective way to do it is and to come up with a bottom-line price.

The number brought tears to my eyes: It is about the same as a new, low-end BMW and way more than a year's income.

I fibbed three paragraphs up. I do have money that could pay for this but it certainly is not just lying around.

After the 2008 crash decimated my small savings, what is left is what I call my end-of-life fund. If it comes to needing full-time care in a nursing home, this would cover it for two, maybe three years by the end of which I would hope to be dead.

In no way is the fund meant for dental work but it is there, and I can use what would be a large portion of that fund for my teeth. I would just need to hope for a quick death.

Not everyone is that lucky. On the recent post here following up on community elder services, Barbara Rogers left this comment.

“How do you get economical dental care once you use Medicare for your medical needs? I've paid for 2 "initial exams" this year, but can't afford the "plans" either dentist came up with. To go to yet another one, I'll again have to pay for the initial exam.

“I'm not yet eligible for Clinics, for those who have no resources, but if I pay for these plans, in a year I will be broke. Already being 72, I don't see investing all my savings into my teeth. Any suggestions?”

When, on Tuesday, I nearly passed out at hearing the price of the needed work, the dentist told me that I might qualify for low income dental coverage which, he said, only three or four states, including my own, offer.

I spent most of Tuesday afternoon tracking it down only to find that my income is not low enough for me to be eligible. Then I spent another two hours checking an Oregon program for stand-alone dental plans anyone – Medicare subscribers as well as others – can purchase.

There were a couple of plans with premiums I could actually afford but they did not cover any – not even a portion - of the kind of work I need done.

So I am back to the end-of-life fund. I am fully aware of how lucky I am. I may not have much income, but I own my home with no mortgage. I own my ten-year-old car with only 37,000 miles on it. I have no debt. My credit card is a convenience only, paid off each month and I live quite comfortably.

My heart goes out to Barbara and the many thousands of other elders who cannot afford even basic dental care. The best I can suggest is to diligently mine the possibilities.

Does a local dental school take patients for no or minimal cost? Do you live in a state like mine that offers a dental program if your income is low enough? Can you find a stand-alone dental program you can afford?

Does anyone reading this today have other suggestions? Because the fact is, untreated dental problems cause serious health problems.

The real answer to this is, of course, that the United States, like every other civilized, developed nation, needs to offer universal health care including dental. I suspect that won't happen in my lifetime.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: The Poet Pondered


TGB FORUM: Do You Keep Up with Your Previous Profession?

Last week, after a post about available services for elders turned into a lively discussion, I called on you, dear readers, for topic ideas for future forums. You responded with some excellent ideas.

Readers of this blog have a well-established history of compelling, sharp and, often, funny conversation in the comments section below the main story and this forum idea allows more room for that on subjects you choose.

This also leaves me some extra time now and then away from the computer while you still get something fresh rather than an empty page.

This feature will be labeled the headline, TGB FORUM, following by the day's question and I will usually (well, maybe not always) have something to say about it myself before leaving it open for you.

ONE IMPORTANT NOTE FOR EMAIL/RSS SUBSCRIBERS:
If you click “reply” in your news reader or email program, your comment comes only to me via email. No one else can see it.

To participate in the forum (or any blog post) and read what others have said, you must go to the blog website. Do this by clicking the title of the story. It will then open in your browser and you can scroll down to click “comments” and add your two (or 20 or more) cents.

TODAY'S FORUM QUESTION is from Trudi:

After retiring, do you keep up with what's happening in your former profession? Why?

In my case, absolutely. I spent my entire career in various forms of media involved with what most interests me: news, politics, world affairs, the varieties of American culture and the media itself.

Back in my working days, they paid me to do that and there was a part of me that never quite got over the amazement I felt at actually making a living doing it.

Since retiring, I've never slacked off. I cannot imagine how I could make sense of the world I live in (to the degree anyone can), without keeping up. What a miss is the morning discussions and camaraderie with fellow workers who shared my interests. But life changes.

Now it's you turn and I'd add just a little to what Trudi asked: if you do not keep up with your previous career, have other interests replaced that? If so, what?


At the Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: The Grocery List


The Quarterstaff Revolution Redux

On yesterday's post about falling, Bruce Cooper noted that there are elders who could prevent falls by using a cane but are too vain or embarrassed to do so.

I believe Bruce is on to something and that reminded me of Dr. Bill Thomas, the well-known geriatrician who, a few years ago, wrote a regular column for this blog. (Nowadays, he has his own blog: ChangingAging.)

In 2008, in these pages, Bill called for a “quarterstaff revolution,” writing a compelling story about why such a device might be better for elders than a traditional cane.

In addition, maybe a quarterstaff is a “cooler” choice for some of us and if that keeps us upright, I'm all for it. See what you think.


In 1992, The New York Times took a look at the research AARP was doing on walking canes:

”Many people who use canes injure themselves because they don't do the necessary research before buying one. That is an early conclusion of a continuing study on canes sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons.

“According to Dr. Margaret Wylde, vice president of the Institute for Technology Development in Oxford, Miss., which is conducting the study, the conclusion is based on a review of recent medical and rehabilitation literature and on more than 1,000 letters solicited from A.A.R.P. members who are regular cane users.

“Some of the most serious damage, Dr. Wylde said, can result from the cane's grip. Carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful ailment, can result from any repetitive motion like typing or using a cane.”

There are two reasons people use walking canes.

  1. To improve balance by providing a third contact point with the ground
  2. To redistribute weight away from an injured or arthritic lower limb

As a physician, I have never really liked walking canes. Here is one patient's experience:

”I noticed several problems within the first five minutes. My triceps were quickly fatigued as they worked to hold my weight up.

“As a result, my scapula elevated to relieve the triceps, putting strain on my rotator cuff. This "shrugging" effect could be somewhat offset by lowering the height of the handle below my waist, which served to extend the arm and reduce the amount of elevation in the shoulder.

“The handle of the cane was designed in such a way that the grip increased in broadness from the neck of the handle to the end, providing a wider, flatter surface where the palm would rest.

“Unfortunately, the result was not a more comfortable feel, but rather a terrible dorsiflexion combined with ulnar deviation in the wrist and a bruised hamate bone where the weight was concentrated. I felt tweaks of pain all day long in my wrist and shoulder which continued into the night, long after I had ended my experiment.

“Aside from design problems, there were several functional problems as well. For instance, each step was accompanied by a jarring vibration which was transferred up the entire length of the arm every time the rubber cane tip struck the concrete. The swing of the cane often had to be initiated by a flick of the wrist, resulting in a constant repetitive oscillation between ulnar and radial deviations.

“Furthermore, adjusting the cane to the correct height was difficult due to a simultaneous push of a button and pull of the shaft requiring relatively dexterous fingers; arthritic hands would be pitifully ineffective.”

PREDICTION! Elders of today and tomorrow are going to give up on the cane, abandoning it in favor of the quarterstaff.

Gandalfgrey5

"Gandalf the Grey carried about with him a spike brown staff which served partly as an agency of his power, as can be seen when he faced the Balrog in Moria. Besides functioning as a useful walking stick, it was also thought to symbolize what he was and his position in the Istari."

There are three reasons I think elders can and will retire the old-time walking cane and embrace the quarterstaff:

  1. The cane places the greatest strain on the smallest muscles and joints (the wrist and forearm). Repetitive use can easily lead to wrist and forearm injury.
  2. The quarterstaff transfers the weight into the shoulder girdle itself. The shoulder joint and its surrounding muscles are much better prepared to handle the load than are the wrist and forearm.
  3. Imagine a scene: an older woman using a bent-top walking cane crosses a building lobby, trying to reach the elevator before the doors roll closed. Now imagine the same scene with the older woman striding across the lobby with the aid of a seven-foot, oak quarterstaff. People hold the door open not because of chivalry, not out of a desire to help little old ladies, but rather because she just looks so damned cool.

I'll close my appeal with a quote from one of America's greatest walkers.

"Although the vast majority of walkers never even think of using a walking staff, I unhesitatingly include it among the foundations of the house that travels on my back. I still take my staff along almost as automatically as I take my pack. It is a third leg to me - and much more besides.

“On smooth surfaces, the staff helps maintain an easy rhythm to my walking and gives me something to lean on when I stop to stand and stare. Over rough going of any kind, from tussocky grass to pockety rock, and also in a high wind, it converts me when I am heavily laded from an insecure biped to a confident triped…

“It may well be, too, that the staff also gives me a false but subconsciously comforting feeling that I am not after all completely defenseless against attack by such enemies as snakes, bears and men."
- Colin Fletcher, The Complete Walker III, 1984 (page 78)

[AFTERWORD from Ronni: For about the last six or seven years of her life, until she died in 1978, Margaret Mead and I lived across the street from one another in Greenwich Village. I didn't get to spend as much time with her as I would have liked, but we sometimes walked several blocks together on our errands around the neighborhood.

She always used a quarterstaff, although I didn't know it was called that. She looked magnificent and powerful striding down the block, especially in the colder months when she wore a full-length cape.

I've known since then that when the time comes, I will use a staff and not a cane. Now, with Dr. Thomas's permission for us to do so even if we don't require one yet and the Colin Fletcher quote, I may start sooner.]


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: Joy Unto Others


Preventing Falls on the First Day of Fall

Depending on who's talking, today is the first day of fall or tomorrow is the first day of fall. The day has to do with the tilt of the earth, northern and southern hemispheres, daylight savings time and

Oh, never mind. Here in the United States, all of September is designated National Falls Prevention Month By The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and tomorrow, Tuesday, is Falls Prevention Awareness Day in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

I like that someone, a few years ago, connected falls and Fall making it a handy reminder for an annual prevention checkup.

Now don't go yawning. I write this post every year because unlike many old age afflictions, falls are something over which we have a lot of personal control. All we need is some vigilance.

Falling is serious business for old people:

FALLS ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF INJURY-RELATED DEATHS, EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS AND HOSPITALIZATIONS FOR PEOPLE 65 AND OLDER.

Did you see those words “leading cause”? That means, the NCOA tells us, someone in our age group dies from a fall every 29 minutes.

Every year, one-third of Americans 65 and older – 12 million of us – fall. Even if someone doesn't die from it, a broken bone can severely restrict the rest of an old person's life.

The good news is that falls are highly preventable. In past years, I have given you a long list of causes and remedies – the 2013 edition is here.

This year, I discovered an excellent, easy-to-read falls and fractures section at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website that lists the variety of causes with links to the best information for prevention.

This NCOA page clears up some myths about falls.

And remember, too, what your mother repeatedly warned you: “Watch where you're going.”

Here's a little video clip I used on last year's falls prevention post. I still like it – from the old TV show, Hill Street Blues.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: E Pluribus Unum


ELDER MUSIC: States – New Mexico to South Carolina

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.


Continuing our musical sojourn through the States, we're just finishing off the "new" states and venturing on, north and south.

NewMexicoFlagI have to say that New Mexico has the best looking state flag – none of the others comes close.

For that state's song I turn to HANK WILLIAMS JNR.

Hank Williams Jr

It seems from the song that Hank got lucky in Clovis, New Mexico.

♫ Hank Williams Jnr - Clovis, New Mexico

NewYorFlag]There must be hundreds of songs about New York but they're all about the city. I don't think there are any about the state as such. However, as they share the same name that's good enough for me.

Now, to select one of those. I've chosen, not quite at random, JENNIFER WARNES.

Jennifer Warnes

The song, Big Noise, New York, was written by Marcelle Clements and Donald Fagen and it certainly sounds like a Steely Dan tune. That sort of thing is okay in small doses.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - Big Noise, New York

NorthCarolinaFlagI couldn't say it better than they do on their website:

"THE BLIND CORN LIQUOR PICKERS, like the moonlight-brewed intoxicant for which they are named, play a variety of bluegrass whose origins are difficult to ascertain.

“As corn liquor flows through an old car radiator, old-time traditions mix with modern methods in ways that can be unsettling, inspiring, euphoric or blindness-inducing.

“It's bluegrass that burns going down, warms your gut, and then hits your head like a thunderbolt of white lightning."

Blind Corn Liquor Pickers

The song they perform is called North Carolina. This was the only tune in my collection with that state's name in the title, so it got the nod.

♫ Blind Corn Liquor Pickers - North Carolina

NorthDakotaFlagLYLE LOVETT is a Texas man. He mentions that state in this next song.

Lyle Lovett

Fortunately for me he writes and sings about other places as well. Indeed, his was the only song I found that mentions North Dakota. That also is the name of the song.

♫ Lyle Lovett - North Dakota

OhioFlagOhio has an old song. This one gets the bronze medal in the oldest song category.

We don't have an old singer though – well, not one from that period but she is nearly one of us. Here is KIM RICHEY.

Kim Richey

This is taken from an album called "The Beautiful Old Turn-of-the-Century Songs" where current artists interpret songs from back then. It really is a nice album.

Kim's song is Beautiful Ohio.

♫ Kim Richey - Beautiful Ohio

OklahomaFlagOklahoma songs seem to attract folk-styled singers and I've gone for one as well, TOM PAXTON.

Tom Paxton

Tom is noted for his topical songs but he wrote in many different genres. I don't know how you'd categorise this one, My Oklahoma Lullaby. Probably just an observational song.

♫ Tom Paxton - My Oklahoma Lullaby

OregonFlagSHAWN MULLINS developed an interest in performing music while still at school.

That's probably not unusual for successful performers (and a bunch of unsuccessful ones as well).

Shawn Mullins

He continued this while at college but his plans were interrupted by a stint in the military (as they paid for his tuition). After that he returned to music and has released a bunch of albums.

From his biggest selling album, “Soul's Core,” we have Twin Rocks, Oregon. It may be the only song ever to mention the writer Richard Brautigan.

♫ Shawn Mullins - Twin Rocks, Oregon

PennsylvaniaFlagI think this is the first song I thought of when I decided to do this series.

It's one from my childhood and was a favorite of my sister at the time and she went around singing (an approximation of) it all the time one year. The performer (besides her) is GUY MITCHELL.

Guy Mitchell

As we're up to Pennsylvania, most of us know I'm talking about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

♫ Guy Mitchell - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

RhodeIslandFlagHere is another solitary song about a state from my collection and I have IKE AND TINA TURNER to thank for it.

Ike & Tina Turner

The song really is about a chook but the state is mentioned in the title so that's good enough for me. That song is Sweet Rhode Island Red.

♫ Ike & Tina Turner - Sweet Rhode Island Red

SouthCarolinaFlagKATE WOLF has our song about South Carolina.

Kate Wolf

Okay, the song is just about Carolina – there are no songs that specifically mention South Carolina. However, the official song of the state is just called Carolina, so if it's good enough for them it's good enough for me.

There are many songs that reference Carolina but Kate's was really mellow and I think that's what was needed after Tina. Her song is Carolina Pines.

♫ Kate Wolf - Carolina Pines

More states in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 20 September 2014


WHO SHOULD HAVE KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY

Too often in government health videos for elders I've seen, the speaker sounds like he or she is talking to toddlers. This one, however, is a straight-forward explanation of how decisions for knee replacement surgery are made.

Because joint wear and tear is a common issue with elders, this is good to know.

And, if you or someone you know is a candidate for knee replacement surgery, here is a video from the same surgeon about what it involves.


SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE FOR NON-BRITS

After a week-long hullabaloo about possible Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, the vote is in. There will be no is dissolution. You can read about it here.

Before referendum day, I discovered this video which could easily be named Scottish Independence for Dummies (that would be me) and it's fascinating to consider the ramifications if the vote had gone the other way. Take a look.

Click here to see how the numbers from the vote stacked up.


A FRICKIN' ELEPHANT

It is rare that I post a joke here because I think they don't work well in print a lot of the time. But this one from Darlene Costner is a really funny "out-of-the-mouths-of-babes" moment.

From the diary of a pre-school teacher:

My five-year old students are learning to read. Yesterday one of them pointed at a picture in a zoo book and said, "Look at this! It's a frickin' elephant!"

I took a deep breath, then asked, "What did you call it?"

"It's a frickin' elephant! It says so on the picture!"

And so it does.

Fricanelephant2


THIN, FLEXIBLE SOLAR STICKERS THAT GO ANYWHERE

This is cutting edge solar science but not pie in the sky. It is being developed now and, as Xaolin Zheng explains, it can power the world while providing a sustainable energy future.

The video is 13 minutes long and gets into the scientific weeds a bit but it's worth sticking with (to coin a pun). It's an amazing new technology.


DOG EATS 43.5 SOCKS

I know, it sounds impossible or, at least, that the Dalmation should be dead. Not so. Take a look.


RECORD NET NEUTRALITY COMMENTARY

You will recall that not long ago I asked you to send your comments on Net Neutrality to the Federal Communications Commission – the idea being to persuade the commissioners to not allow “fast lanes” for big companies while slowing down web site delivery for sites that don't pay up.

The public commentary period closed this week and it set a record for the number of submissions, more than doubling the previous record of 1.4 million set with Janet Jackson's “wardrobe malfunction” that briefly exposed her breast during the 2004 Super Bowl.

Now we await the FCC's decision. You can read about that at The Guardian.


CBS TV SUED OVER A FARTING HIPPO

If you are a regular viewer of NCIS, you are probably familiar with Bert the farting hippopotamus, a running joke on the TV series that is so popular, CBS-TV has been selling the stuffed animal on its website.

Now, however, puppet maker Folkmanis Inc. is suing the network for $733,000 for copyright infringement. CBS issued this public response, according to Mediaite:

“We believe this to be a flatulent abuse of the legal system, and we intend to clear the air on this matter immediately.”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the farting hippo, here is a scene from NCIS starring said toy:

More at Mediaite.


THE WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

In the category of scaring the pants off you, it's hard top Ebola and beheadings. Even so, this news joined them and global warming on my personal fright list:

”According to the new analysis by researchers at the United Nations and several academic institutions, there is an 80 percent chance that the world’s population, now 7.2 billion, won’t stop at nine billion in 2050 [as had been predicted], but will instead be between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion by 2100.”

There are forces that could reduce that number, most particularly climate change that could

”...put major stresses on agriculture and water supplies, and these stresses were not considered as potential checks on population growth.

“Nor does the study take into account that population growth could trigger deadly calamities like food shortages, war, and disease even without climate change...”

It doesn't look good whatever happens. You can read more details at MIT Technology Review.


BOOMER DOCUMENTARY

For boomers, PBS will premier a new documentary on Tuesday next week, 23 September, titled The Boomer List.

It seems to consist of interviews with one famous person born in each year of the baby boomer generation – 19 in all. Here's the trailer:

You can read more here and as always with PBS programming, check your local listings – shows are broadcast on different times and days throughout the country.


THE CAT PRINCE

Yeah, it's a commercial but anyone who has ever rescued a cat (or dog) will like the story.


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.


Trying to Find Some Amusement in Being Sick While Old

So commonly does disease, decline and debility catch up with people in old age that for a majority of those who are younger, they are the only definition of being old.

That belief is so prevalent in the general population that after the half dozen years of research into aging I conducted that led me to create this blog a decade ago, it became my goal to refute it – we oldies are more than our aches and pains. Much more.

That doesn't mean I am in denial. After five or six decades of steady use, our bodies wear down. Stuff happens. Things go wrong. And there is an impressively large variety of ailments that can afflict us – from the deadly serious to just annoying.

Today I am concerned with the latter category.

Generally, I am remarkably healthy. (I say that in a whisper while knocking on wood.) Now, however, for the better part of a month, I have been off my feed, as it were, and for some periods of time in a lot of pain.

The first was abdominal cramps, the kind that cause screaming into a pillow, deep misery and pleas for a quick death.

After two days it began to subside, though my innards felt sore for a few more days, like they had been bruised, but I was grateful in the end that the gods had ignored my death requests.

The doctor has no explanation (a not uncommon diagnosis for me over the years) and it took another week before full energy returned.

No sooner was I almost mended than the entire length of gum on one side of my mouth swelled to a gargantuan size. The dentist supplied two kinds of antibiotics for the infection and after a week, it is nearly cleared up.

Nearly is the operative word. The pain, even with medication, makes it impossible (still) to wear my denture. This led to a few issues that I should have anticipated but did not.

One: It is amazingly difficult to talk without teeth. TH, F and V sounds don't work right at all. S and soft C take a lot of effort to sound as they should – or as close as possible – so talking for more than a few minutes is more tiring than I would have believed until it happened.

Also, attempting S's and soft C's too forcefully causes spitting if you're not careful and that's in addition to the ongoing drool. (These two side effects have almost – I said ALMOST – given me a newfound appreciation for unkind old age jokes some comedians tell.)

There were several misunderstandings in a phone conversation and I giggle now when I see that guy in the fraud/frog protection TV commercial.

I'm pretty sure, too, this explains why babies wait so long before they speak real words; no teeth yet.

Two: As I mentioned a couple of days ago, no way will I allow anyone – anyone at all – to see me without my denture but staying home for more than a week is not possible so I developed a few ruses that, if they didn't work, people were kind enough not to tell me.

For grocery shopping, I wrote the list on a larger piece of paper than usual and used it to tap my upper lip as though I were deep in thought. When I needed to speak to anyone directly, I covered my mouth with my hand and just made a joke of it: “Sorry, my denture's out for repairs and you don't get to see me without it.”

They usually laughed – with me (I think). In one case, to be sure the person understood I was kidding about something, I said, “I'm smiling behind my hand” and that seemed to work.

It's hard to shop with only one hand free so now I have obtained some face masks and I'll just let people wonder whether I'm contagious or I'm afraid of their germs.

Three: Last but hardly least, have you ever tried to eat with no teeth? For a week I've been subsisting on mashed potatoes, apple sauce and soup and I'm damned tired of it.

A few days ago, thinking that I was probably lacking enough green stuff and protein, I checked out the baby food aisle at the market. I'm here to report that Gerber's mashed peas are remarkably fresh tasting and their mixture of carrots, zucchini and broccoli is delicious too.

But look out for the chicken and noodles. Now I know why babies spit out so much food.

None of this stuff is a big deal. If these are the worst health issues I ever have, I win and I will be grateful. Meanwhile, I've managed some small amount of fun figuring out how to work around the no teeth problem.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson Phillips: A Change in Perception or Just What the Doctor Ordered


Elder Services in Your Town - Follow Up

Our experiment two days ago in holding a TGB open forum or what might be called a reader-to-reader feedback day on a specific issue appears to be a rousing success. The question of the day, from SusanG, was

”...what senior services are offered by your town, do you use them, or are their other services you would like to see offered?”

Commenters did an excellent job of letting us know what does and doesn't work in their communities and what could be improved. Many of you named the town or area where you live and that was particularly interesting to me.

Today's post is a short summary of your responses.

TRANSPORTATION
A number of readers are pleased with their local transportation – in such places as Fresno, Sacramento, Seattle, Ann Arbor, Cape Cod. Those communities use a variety of solutions: free or reduced-fare public transportation; scheduled buses to senior centers or shopping; inexpensive taxis for medication transportation, etc.

Lack of transportation is a big issue for a larger group of readers in such places as Yonkers, a Texas town, western Michigan, Montreal as it is in almost all rural and suburban areas in the U.S. and, I'm guessing, Canada too.

One person suggested the new, app-controlled taxi-like services Uber and Lyft.

They are mostly available only in large cities and they are controversial, so much so that Germany has banned them and some cities in the U.S. are looking into serious issues of insurance, liability, etc. that are required for licensed taxis but not these new services.

Just yesterday, a German judge lifted the ban but appeals are going forward. You can read more here and with that in mind, of course it's up to you to decide to use the services or not.

OTHER NEEDS
A few of readers reported mostly good elder services in their areas: Yonkers, Spain, Canada (transportation in Montreal notwithstanding) and an area of suburban New Jersey where SusanG, who submitted the question, lives.

As has been revealed in many surveys and studies of elder needs and desires for community services, more opportunities for social engagements are high on every old person's list.

Jean wrote poignantly of a common dilemma many of us share as friends die or move away:

”I don't have family near-by and no close friends. (I didn't get out much when I was a full-time caregiver to my husband for 12 years and a part-time caregiver to my dad in the 5 years before that.)

“Since my husband died 2 1/2 years ago I've been working my tail off trying to be active in various groups to help build friendships but but so far I have many friendly acquaintances but no close friend to exchange favors with.”

That's a big one for many of us old folks.

As several readers mentioned, almost as important as personal relationships is the small stuff – that can easily build up into big stuff. Suz put it this way:

”I would appreciate someone to clean and put away the outdoor furniture next week; someone to come by once or twice a year to explain the new (and old!) tech information for computer and cell phones.

“Someone who could assist going through boxes of memorable or useless items that now number in the dozens; help with eliminating unwanted clothing and household items & then donating them to my favorite homeless shelter.

“And I'd love for someone who could put together a list of all the small, pesky things (like screen repairs, paint touch-ups, ceramic gluing, etc.) and have it all done.”

VILLAGES
These regularly needed and one-time household chores are precisely the kind of things that Villages volunteers can do so well. Jean left a note asking for links about how Villages work and how to start one.

Instead of many links, I'll give you one that that has an excellent library information from which you can pick and choose as is useful to you.

It is the website of Villages NW, my local Villages “hub” working hard to help build the (so far) eight Villages being developed in the Portland, Oregon area. Use the dropdown menus under the headers, Learn About Villages and Resource Library, where there are dozens of informative papers.

EXPLOITING THE ELDER MARKET
Cathy Johnson of Rockford, Illinois, left a comment about her visit to “Senior Expo” where, she says, only about 10 percent of the exhibitors had information of real value to elders:

”The majority were selling insurance, high-priced in-home care, bathtubs for those who cannot use a standard one, food supplements (the only vendor of these that I spoke to could not tell me the contents, only that it 'helped him avoid a recommended knee replacement a couple of years ago')...”

Yeah, right. You can read Cathy's entire comment here.

FUTURE TGB FORUMS AND YOU
So Tuesday's forum experiment confirmed some beliefs I have on elder needs and supplied a lot of new information, as I hope it did for you. As usual, all the comments were thoughtful, informative and useful.

This idea came from SusanG and just when I needed it, too. For a variety of reasons over the next several weeks I will not have as much time as usual to give to this blog.

The best reason is that Peter Tibbles, the “musicologist” who writes the Sunday Elder Music column on this blog and Norma, the assistant musicologist, arrive next week from Melbourne for a good, long visit I've been eagerly awaiting.

If Tuesday is any indication, the TGB Forum is a great way to reduce my time obligation and still keep the blog fresh every day. Here's how you can help:

In the comments today, leave your suggestions for future TGB Forum topics. It might be best to state them in the form of a question but that's not a requirement and don't let it confine you. They can be serious, informational or just fun/funny. As always at TGB, they must relate in some manner to aging.

You will be credited if I use your suggestion so if you have a personal blog, be sure to include the URL in the comment form so I have the link.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: A Long Lost (with good reason) Lone Ranger Show


DEA Allows Return of Unused Prescription Drugs

Once or twice a year in my town there is a day when residents can turn in leftover prescription drugs that are then disposed of properly rather than flushing them down the toilet to enter streams and rivers or be found in medicine cabinets by children or grandchildren.

The problem has now been addressed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Beginning next month, the agency will

”...permit consumers to return [certain] unused prescription medications...to pharmacies,” reports The New York Times and others...

“The new regulation, which will go into effect in a month, covers drugs designated as controlled substances. Those include opioid painkillers like OxyContin, stimulants like Adderall and depressants like Ativan.

“Until now, these drugs could not legally be returned to pharmacies. The Controlled Substances Act allowed patients only to dispose of the drugs themselves or to surrender them to law enforcement.”

What I didn't understand until reading about this new regulation is that the “take back” days are a national event organized by the DEA. The next one is on Saturday 27 September.

”In the past four years, these events have removed from circulation 4.1 million pounds of prescription medications,” reports The Times.

But that's only a drop in the bucket compared to how many drugs are in circulation:

“'The [take back days] only removed an infinitesimal fraction of the reservoir of unused drugs that are out there,' said Dr. Nathaniel Katz, an assistant professor of anesthesia at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston who studies opioid abuse. 'It’s like trying to eliminate malaria in Africa by killing a dozen mosquitoes.'

“Dr. Katz is optimistic that the D.E.A.’s decision could have a powerful impact. Putting drop-off receptacles for controlled substances in pharmacies will mean consumers have year-round access to disposal services.”

The new regulation is voluntary and does not require pharmacies to have drop off receptacles so it is unknown at this point how many will participate.

It seems such an obviously important service – especially for elders who use more prescription drugs than younger people - that it is amazing it's never been thought of before. You can read the entire story here.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmermann: Worldwide Music Man


What Elder Services are There is Your Town?

[BLOGGING NOTICE: Yesterday, the email, RSS, Twitter and Facebook feeds of the blog post were delayed until mid-morning when a reader advised me of the missing messages. It happened because I forgot to set the day and time for automatic publishing. My apologies.


Last week, when I was not quite sick but not well either and told you about it, SusanG who blogs (sometimes) at Hillsborough NJ Journal, left this note:

”Ronni, when you want a day off would you consider a reader-to-reader feedback day? You choose a reader submitted question asking for other readers' opinions or suggestions.

“For example...what senior services are offered by your town, do you use them, or are their other services you would like to see offered? Or experiences moving away from friends and family. Or whatever.

“I have so much respect for the comments your readers make and always find them useful and thought-provoking.”

Life, always full of surprises and occasionally of the negative variety, pitched me a beauty last Thursday morning when I woke to a massively swollen and painful mouth.

It is enough for you to know that when the dentist pointed to the photograph he'd made of it while he explained the problem, I asked if he could do that while I looked elsewhere.

Since then I've been on around-the-clock antibiotics of two kinds and am exhausted. I thought it was the drugs but according to a trip around the medical internet, it is the underlying infection that is making me tired.

As if that's not enough.

As I've discussed in the past, I wear a denture but with the left side of my face still swollen (though not as much as last week), I'm not sticking anything in my mouth – for food, I'm on soup and mashed potatoes.

So in addition to sleeping a lot, I won't leave the house because no one – make that NO ONE – gets to see me without the denture. You can call it vanity all day long, but that's how it is.

All of the above puts me in no mood to write a blog post and since I agree with SusanG that TGB readers are world class commenters, it's up to you today.

Let's go with one of SusanG's questions:

”...what senior services are offered by your town, do you use them, or are their other services you would like to see offered?”

That is broad enough for there to be a wide spectrum of issues to discuss – services from city, county, state; faith organizations, a Village if there is one where you live; senior centers.

As to the last item, for a bit of impetus you might want to re-read a post from July 2013, Are You a Senior Center Snob?

Whatever interests you about elder services - or lack thereof – that you want to talk about today. I'm eager to see how this goes.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Claire Jean: Old Woman Waits


Aging in Place – Your Town

I grew up in suburban Oregon and California so I had a good deal of experience with suburban living before I moved here to Lake Oswego, Oregon, four years ago.

I also lived for 40 years in New York City and I always believed that it is an ideal place to grow old. (Other densely populated big cities like Chicago and Boston may also be, by my knowledge is of Manhattan.)

That city is made up of many dozens of small villages – most of them geographically much smaller than any small town.

Often they are no more than five or six square blocks, but because each tiny village is so densely packed with people, all the necessities and amenities of daily life are contained within the village borders, walkable for all but the most infirm.

And even then, even before internet shopping and delivery, it is almost possible to live in Manhattan without ever leaving home. My next door neighbor, a healthy, young Wall Street trader, phoned the corner bodega for delivery of his morning coffee and bagel every day of the week for years.

Laundry, cleaners, grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants (eat in, take out and delivery), varieties of clothing shops, hardware stores, libraries, medical offices, local social services and pretty much anything you need or want is contained within each little village or close enough for an easy walk.

When it's not, public transportation in Manhattan is among the best in the world. There is no need to own a car and therefore none of the fear American elders in suburban towns, or sprawling cities like Houston and Los Angeles, have of one day turning in their car keys.

Over the weekend, The New York Times published a story about how more elder New Yorkers are choosing to age in place nowadays rather than make the traditional escapes to retirement in Florida and the American southwest.

As you might imagine, it being New York City, there is a good deal of contention among residents of different age groups in large residential buildings about how to deal with those who need more help as they grow old.

Elder residents, reports The Times, become forgetful, wander the halls in their night clothes, leave gas stoves on or water running among other issues that can be either dangerous or just annoying to other residents.

But some buildings that have become transformed into NORCs (naturally occurring retirement communities) are creating a variety of ways to deal with and help their elder residents.

”Often, doormen are the first line of defense. 'Me and the other guys know who looks good and who doesn’t look good,' said Michael Lydon, who has been on the service staff of an Upper East Side co-op for 27 years.

“We’ll say, 'Have you seen Mrs. So-and-So recently?' People who are elderly have a routine, like going to Gristede’s on senior citizens’ days. If they break from that routine, that makes us think we should go check on them.'”

Many NORC buildings, according to The Times, are finding other creative and important ways to serve the needs of their elder residents such as one that keeps a list of residents with special needs, such as those who use canes, walkers or wheelchairs, for use if there is an emergency and the building needs to be evacuated.

Another allows deliveries directly to apartment doors of elder residents rather than requiring the packages be left at the front desk as with younger residents. Others arrange for classes or social gatherings in the building and at least one brings in a registered nurse each week to check blood pressure and medications.

Although some building management companies avoid any kind of help to their elder residents citing the possibility of litigation, others welcome the opportunity to help and are finding new ways to do that:

”Seniors? Bring them on, said Dean Feldman, an associate broker at Halstead Property and a resident of Schwab House. 'I know that co-ops aren’t social service agencies,' he said.

“'But we can all do a lot to support all the elderly people in our buildings.' This could include designating 'floor captains' who would take note of newspapers piling up in front of a door and of mail uncollected.”

I bring all this up today because, as we know, the percentage of old people is growing dramatically throughout the world and there are not now, nor will there be, enough “homes” to help those who are no longer entirely independent.

With a little help from such enlightened people at Mr. Dean Feldman, elders themselves are going to have to figure out care for ourselves as we age. One way I write about here from time to time and am working on in my area is the Villages movement.

There are other solutions too and it will take all of them together to help us help one another age in place. We can learn from one another in different places and environments and there are some good ideas in this New York Times story that I'm sure can be applied in a number of ways elsewhere.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Trudi Kappel: Tomatoes for Victory


ELDER MUSIC: 1960 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 1960?

  • Michael Hutchence was born
  • U2 spy plane shot down over Russia. America denied the obvious
  • Elvis discharged from the army
  • Rome staged the Olympics Games
  • The Beatles played in Hamburg for the first time
  • Psycho was released
  • Melbourne were premiers

THE DRIFTERS have been through many members over the years – more than 60 of them.

The Drifters

They've also had two lead vocalists who are as good as anyone around. The first of these was Clyde McPhatter who started the group after leaving Billy Ward and his Dominoes.

Clyde was drafted into the army and he sold his share in the group (much to his later regret). The manager couldn't find a good replacement so he fired the lot of them. He then grabbed a group called the Crowns and renamed them The Drifters.

They had Ben E. King as lead singer and it was this version of the group that made most of the great records we remember. Ben was only there for a short time – he didn't ever tour with them - but fortunately, he made a bunch of records. This is one of them, Save the Last Dance for Me.

♫ The Drifters - Save the Last Dance for Me

Billy Davis with brother and sister Berry and Gwen Gordy wrote quite a few songs around this time. Berry also started Motown records. One of the songs the trio wrote was All I Could Do Was Cry for ETTA JAMES.

Etta James

Etta's former boyfriend married Gwen and that added an extra frisson to her performance on this record. Later, in the nineties, Etta rerecorded the song.

♫ Etta James - All I Could Do Was Cry

FLOYD CRAMER was a session pianist in Nashville and backed pretty much everyone who recorded there.

Floyd Cramer

He had a distinctive style and whenever he's on a record, it's easy to pick that that's him.

Besides his session work, he made a series of records about this time. One of them, and the best selling of the lot, was Last Date. It later had words added to the tune and several people, including Emmylou Harris, recorded it.

♫ Floyd Cramer - Last Date

JOHNNY BURNETTE's early recordings with his trio produced some of the best early rock & roll and rockabilly records around.

Johnny Burnette

Later, Johnny became a crooner and left his wild days behind him. He was really good at that too. Unfortunately, he died too early in a boating accident. This is You're Sixteen.

♫ Johnny Burnette - You're Sixteen

By 1960 ÉDITH PIAF was starting to have hits in the English speaking world as well as her native France.

Edith Piaf

Milord was the biggest of these and it sold well world-wide. Not just Édith's version; pretty much every country had a singer who covered it in their local language. None was as good as the original though.

♫ Edith Piaf - Milord

JERRY BUTLER first came to general notice as a member, and lead singer, for The Impressions. Curtis Mayfield was another member of the group. There will be a later column on them.

Jerry Butler

Jerry went out as a solo artist and songwriter – he wrote some songs with Otis Redding. Incidentally, after Audrey's in the film of the same name, Jerry's was the first and arguably (I'll certainly argue) the best version of Moon River.

He wrote, along with Curtis, the beautiful He Will Break Your Heart.

♫ Jerry Butler - He Will Break Your Heart

BRENDA LEE started performing early, really early. She was already winning talent contests when she was just six.

Brenda Lee

When her father died when she was nine or 10, she was already the primary breadwinner for the family through these contests and also appearing on TV and radio.

By the time she was 12, she already had a record contract and was appearing around the country so Sweet Nothin's is far from her first recording (she was 16 by now).

♫ Brenda Lee - Sweet Nothin's

JOHNNY HORTON made a career singing about historical events (and some pseudo-historical ones as well).

Johnny Horton

North to Alaska fits both categories. There really was an Alaskan gold rush at the end of the nineteenth century, but the song was the theme for the film of the same name. Johnny or, more correctly, he and Tillman Franks as they co-wrote the song, got the geography somewhat askew in the lyrics, but we won't worry unduly about that.

♫ Johnny Horton - North To Alaska

Although CHARLIE RICH started out playing jazz and blues he's mostly remembered as being a country musician.

Charlie Rich

He was also a session musician for a record company owned by Judd Phillips, brother of Sam of Sun Records fame. He recorded a number of tracks that Judd got to Sam who rejected them as being too jazzy.

So he recorded Lonely Weekends, obviously after studying the way Elvis sang. It hit the charts and he was on the way as a country muso.

♫ Charlie Rich - Lonely Weekends

Maurice Williams wrote the song Stay when he was 15 years old. He was trying to stop his girlfriend from going home (unsuccessfully as it turned out, but he got a song out of the experience).

Later when he formed the group MAURICE WILLIAMS AND THE ZODIACS they recorded a demo of the song.

Maurice Williams & Zodiacs

This was hawked around to various record companies and no one wanted anything to do with it until one day the 10-year-old son of one of the record people heard it and loved it.

His father took notice of that and recorded the song. It became a DooWop classic.

♫ Maurice Williams - Stay

You can find more music from 1960 here. 1961 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 13 September 2014

UPDATE: Please remember (in regard to the Vitamin D item below) that no one, even a physician or researcher I have not vetted, may advise, suggest or imply in this blog that any treatment - even non-prescription drugs - should be used. You may explain what works for you but only in that personal, singular context.



ELDERS REACT TO 50 SHADES OF GREY MOVIE TRAILER

Have you read the 50 Shades of Gray books? I haven't but there has been so much talk that I certainly know the general idea.

In this video, the “Elder React to” group is back, this time watching the trailer for the movie of the notorious series – and reading passages from the books too.

[NOTICE: Parts are not safe for work, grandchildren and starchy types]


AN OLD CAT'S ADVICE TO THE NEW KITTEN

With more than 15 million views on YouTube, this video is likely to have passed your way already. But just in case...


FROGSICLES

There I was one morning, minding my own business, drinking coffee and checking the upcoming weather when I ran across this story:

”Buried beneath the snow-covered ice of the wind-battered, subarctic earth, Alaskan wood frogs freeze solid each year in order to survive the harsh, unforgiving Alaskan winter.

"'We found they can survive far longer than you can see something stay in your freezer,' Larson said, adding the frog's unique biology prevents its cells from dehydrating during freezing and they do not become susceptible to freezer-burn.”

Frogsicle (Photo/Institute of Arctic Biology/ Uwe Anders)

What an amazing nature story. Go read it here.


BORED IN THE OVAL OFFICE

Kids. There are almost as much fun as internet cats.

I've spent time in the White House Oval Office – once during the Reagan administration and again when Bill Clinton was president. It is impossible to be unimpressed whether meeting the president or contemplating the history that is made there day in and day out.

Given my personal awe of the surroundings, I laughed when I saw this photograph of a Secret Service agent and his wife with President Barack Obama while their son takes a dive on the sofa. I hope the kid will come to love the photo when he's grown and keep it around in a frame.

Bored in the oval office370


LIVING PASSIONATELY IN OLD AGE

So many readers sent this TEDtalk from 71-year-old writer Isabel Allende that it seems redundant to post it. Maybe, instead, it is an indication of wide interest.

Personally, I'm not convinced that passion is what I'm looking for in old age but whether or not, Allende seems oddly dispassionate about it.


AMAZING MIND READER REVEALS HIS “GIFT”

This looks like a standard mind reading act although more detailed that most. Keep your eye on it and thank Darlene Costner for sending it.


VITAMIN D AND DEMENTIA

After a physical examination last January, test results showed that I was in the normal range in all health data benchmarks except for one – I was deficient in vitamin D.

The doctor said, “Don't worry about it. Everyone in Oregon is vitamin D deficient - not enough sun here. Just take this supplement every day and you'll be fine.” I do that now without fail and after this new study, I'm glad.

“The international team followed 1,658 men and women aged 65 and over for six years and were surprised by their own findings.

“They expected to see a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and cognitive impairment; they didn’t expect a 53 percent increase in the risk for dementia among people who were moderately D deficient and a staggering 125 percent increase among those who were severely deficient.

“For increased Alzheimer’s risk, those figures were 69 and 122 percent.”

It's a moderate-sized study and needs some additional work but I don't think it can be dismissed. There is a lot more detail and good information in the story at Senior Planet.


MUTANT GIANT SPIDER (DOG)

The picky among readers might say it's not nice to scare people. Maybe so, maybe not. But this sure is funny and let's thank Larry Beck of Woodgate's View for sending 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.


Kicking the Bucket List

I stole that title from a blog post at The New Yorker this week because it perfectly expresses my sentiments on the topic.

I didn't like the 2007 movie and even more, I dislike the cultural adoption of the idea itself even if it has become one of the few things enthusiastically shared by young and old generations.

My objection to bucket lists is that they are too superficial. They reduce experience, even life itself, to grocery list status – items to be checked off one after the other, then forgotten like an item on a Buzzfeed listicle. Experience – and, certainly, life – is much more important than that.

Rebecca Mead has written a couple of books, contributes articles to many international newspapers and magazines and has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1997. Reading her work is always a pleasure and often instructive.

So when Ms. Mead takes up the topic of bucket lists, who am I to try to match her skills of which I am both jealous and a fan. Instead, I will report to you the reason you should pay attention.

Her article takes as its starting point President Barack Obama's side trip to Stonehenge earlier this week after which he told the attendant press, “Knocked it off the bucket list right now,” before returning home to the United States.

I recall cringing when I read that remark. It was way too cavalier for my taste after visiting a place (particularly with the privilege of doing so unencumbered by tourist masses) that holds so many ancient mysteries. As Ms. Mead writes:

”Dropping by Stonehenge for ten minutes and then announcing you’ve crossed it off your bucket list suggests that seeing Stonehenge - or beholding the Taj Mahal, or visiting the Louvre, or observing a pride of lions slumbering under a tree in the Maasai Mara - is something that, having been done, can be considered done with.

She continues:

”This is the YOLO-ization of cultural experience, whereby the pursuit of fleeting novelty is granted greater value than a patient dedication to an enduring attention - an attention which might ultimately enlarge the self, and not just pad one’s experiential résumé.

“The notion of the bucket list legitimizes this diminished conception of the value of repeated exposure to art and culture. Rather, it privileges a restless consumption, a hungry appetite for the new. I’ve seen Stonehenge. Next?”

Bucket lists seem to me to be a youthful pursuit – or ought to be. The older I get, the more I crave a greater understanding of the people, places and things I encounter, and these days I seek the time to contemplate them as I was too impatient to do when I was young.

Ms. Mead concludes:

What if, instead, we compiled a different kind of list, not of goals to be crossed out but of touchstones to be sought out over and over, with our understanding deepening as we draw nearer to death?

“These places, experiences, or cultural objects might be those we can only revisit in remembrance - we may never get back to the Louvre - but that doesn’t mean we’re done with them.

“The greatest artistic and cultural works, like an unaccountable sun rising between ancient stones, are indelible, with the power to induce enduring wonder if we stand still long enough to see.”

Yes. Exactly. And although I have given you a few important passages from Rebecca Mead's essay, you should go to The New Yorker to read the whole thing, to take the time to appreciate her graceful writing and her thoughtfulness, whether you agree about bucket lists or not.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Past


Still Learning from Our Parents

There was no wiggle room with my dad. When I was a kid, if my chores were left undone, if my bed was not made just so, if I was late for anything or if there was a grade below A on my report card, punishment was swift and sure.

More than any other memory I have of my dad is that he scared the bejesus out of me. He made it a habit to ask why I had committed any given transgression and it enraged him when I gave my honest, little girl answer, “I don't know.”

I also didn't always know a rule existed until I had broken it and all of this made my father a feared and fearsome presence in my life every day.

I am telling you this not to create a debate about my father's parenting skills (or lack thereof) but to set the stage for one of his rare indulgences, one that I am taking advantage of today and, possibly, tomorrow and beyond.

Among the known requirements of my young life was to attend school each day no matter what. Aside from communicable diseases, nothing merited missing school and when I had the sniffles, I was handed a pack Kleenex and sent on my way.

Until one day when I didn't feel like getting out of bed. I knew I wasn't sick but it just felt good that morning to loll around under the warm covers. Of course, Dad arrived in my room blustering around and demanding to know why I wasn't dressed and at the breakfast table.

Expecting his wrath at catching me in a lie, I told him I didn't feel well. But lo – instead of a rant, he said I'd better stay home from school then. I was amazed and shocked at my good fortune.

This happened when I was in fifth grade, taught by a man named Mr. Katagiri who was a friend of my dad's. The next day, my father supplied the written note I needed and I snuck a peek at it on my way to school. What would be his reason for my absence?

Dear George,” it began. “Please excuse Ronni from classes yesterday. She had a bad case of the crud and I gave her a day off.”

That may not be what he wrote word-for-word but it is damned close – it's hard to forget the circumstances surrounding a privilege so rare that something similar happened only two or three other times while I was growing up.

About two weeks ago, I was down for three days or so with some kind of unnameable illness and I have not been right since then. Details aren't important. It is enough to know that I'm dragging myself around from wake-up time to bedtime with a feeling of general malaise so that everything from feeding the cat to writing a blog post feels like climbing Mt. Everest.

It's kind of like my fifth-grade crud except that it's lasting longer which might be due to my being six decades older.

The important part and the reason for this all-too-long intro is to explain that I have decided to give myself the same kind of dispensation from blog and other work that my dad so surprisingly gave me that day 60-odd years ago.

Maybe it came to me to do this because tomorrow, Friday, will be the 32nd anniversary of his death. Please don't judge him harshly for what I explained above. I don't.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chlele Gummer: My Famous Story