Old Lady Fancy Pants

If, like me, you have a big-deal disease or two such as cancer and COPD, there is one thing you can count on: nothing stays the same and hardly anything gets better.

That's the cosmic joke. (There are more earthly ones too.)

In the first instance, such diseases progress. No pleading, no appeal to divine intervention, no miracles. It is the diseases' job to grow and from your and my point of view, get worse.

I've always thought it is weird that it works that way. When the disease does what nature compels it to do, it eventually kills its host (in this case, that would be me) and therefore itself. What use in that?

In terms of earthy jokes, my hospice nurse visits on Monday mornings. Aimee-the-wonderful checks my vitals, goes over my medications, discusses my well-being – or, recently, lack thereof – and then we discuss my future, such as it is.

As you who have read this blog for a good while know, I had a long respite until last February when chemotherapy stopped working. I began slowly slipping down hill and the speed has since since accelerated.

Drugs have helped but I haven't needed a nurse to tell me what's happening.

Not long ago, Aimee-the-wonderful began gently hinting at what I'm likely to expect next. She asked about incontinence. Ewwww. But there you are.

I've been retaining water – bloating – for a while which Aimee says will at some point unexpectedly break through – overload, muscles weakening, etc. and that I should purchase what some manufacturers call life-changing absorbent products.

Adult diapers.

There hasn't been a problem yet, but I've only just begun taking the diuretics to rid my body of excess water so who knows. Particularly during the night.

I perused such products on the internet, decided on pull-ups because they work like every other kind of underpants and made my purchase hoping for the best as to size since the websites have little to say about what small, medium, etc. mean.

It was my first chance to try this out on Monday with my first evening incontinence pill at bedtime. I yanked a pair out of the tightly wrapped package, shook the panties open and to my utmost surprise, found they they are trimmed in – wait for it – frilly lace. Yes, you read that right: frilly lace.

Is there anything else to do but giggle? So I pulled them on, pranced around in front the full-length mirror and had a big hearty guffaw at myself – old lady fancy pants.


A TGB READER STORY: For a Few Mysterious Minutes

By TGB reader Jean-Pierre

Some years ago - before I got to be eighty-five with a miserably sore hip - I was walking my youngest grand-daughter to the play park on a golden Fall day when she said, quite unexpectedly, right out of the blue, "I'm glad I chose my Mother and Father."

She was a toddler, barely five minutes into this crazy world, remember - and when it soaked in, I said, "I'm glad you did, too, Charlotte."

She spent a few minutes explaining why her Mother was kind and her Father was responsible, and then she was back to herself, eager to hit the swings and the roundabout, the adult expressiveness reverting to its usual chatter.

Charlotte's eighteen now and starting university - with a penchant for roller skating, playing guitar and offbeat hobbies.

But it's hard not to forget that for a few mysterious minutes, somewhere between chasing the dog and looking down the path for the play park, that little tad revealed some tantalising unknown where we might get to choose the manner of however many futures we have.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


Monday Time Out

As I noted at the end of Saturday's Interesting Stuff post, it's been a few rough days in a row – weakness, lethargy, disinterest, lots of sleep and not much else. Even one of my top two or three favorite small pleasures, a hot bath, has been hard – it's too difficult to get out of the tub.

There is nothing new on cable news, just repeats of what the hosts said last hour and the hour before that, etc. My mind is too addled to read.

I sit in bed or at the computer and stare into space for long periods of time quite comfortably.

What is lovely are the email notes from you, dear readers. You say the nicest things and I wish I could answer every one. But I am just too weak right now So I'm taking a time out today, and tomorrow is reader story day so I have two whole days to rest.

Please don't think I am ignoring you. It is just that my body is screaming REST at me and so I am doing that.

Thank you all for being there. It means everything to me.


ELDER MUSIC: Classical Whatnot 4

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

* * *

Here is some more music I thought well worth a listen.

FRANCESCA D'ADDA was born in Milan and lived most of her life in that city.

D'Adda  Francesca

She really didn’t start composing and playing music until her husband, an architect and her cousin, died. She married again (another architect) to someone who was really well connected. That probably helped her somewhat. Her main output was music for duets and trios, mostly involving the piano, her main instrument. Today’s offering is her Trio in E-flat major, Op. 18, the first movement

♫ D'Adda - Trio in E-Flat Major Op. 18 (1)


MICHAEL BALFE was an Irish composer who lived for much of the nineteenth century

Michael Balfe

He wrote a couple of dozen operas, hundreds of songs and some cantatas. These days he’s pretty much only known for one of his operas, “The Bohemian Girl”. From that we have I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls. This is sung by the wonderful GRETA BRADMAN.

Greta Bradman

Australian readers (and some English ones as well) will recognise that surname, and yes, she is the great man’s grand-daughter.

♫ Balfe - I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls


While we’re in Australia, here is the wonderfully named Van Diemen's Band. That sounds like the name of a folk group, but they’re a classical ensemble led by Catherine Jones. They play a composition by NICOLA FIORENZA, who was born in Naples and was a violinist and composer around the end of the Baroque period and the beginning of the Classical.

 Nicola Fiorenza

The piece I’ve chosen is his Cello Concerto in F major, the fourth movement.

♫ Fiorenza - Cello Concerto in F major (4)


Continuing this theme for a bit longer, a while ago Australian pianist Gerrard Willems recorded all of BEETHOVEN’s piano sonatas and piano concertos. I produced a column on it at the time called The Beethoven Obsession.

Beethoven

From that collection here is the most famous of them all, the Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat, Op 73 called “Emperor”, the second movement. To my ears it sounds as if Leonard Bernstein listened to it before he wrote the music for “West Side Story”.

♫ Beethoven - Piano Concerto No5 E flat Op73 'Emperor' (2)


We've had the real Beethoven, now for the pretend Beethoven. I'm talking about FRIEDRICH WITT.

Friedrich Witt

Fred was born the same year as the great man but outlived him by nine years. One of his symphonies was the “Jena Symphony”, so-called because it was discovered in that city and was initially attributed to Beethoven because of the similarity to his early ones. Someone else found another copy a couple of years later with Fred’s name on it, and there goes that theory.

It’s still the same piece of music but, hey, it’s not Beethoven. The same sort of thing happens with paintings. Anyway, this isn’t that one, it’s his Symphony No.6 in A minor (known as Alla Turca), the third movement.

♫ Witt - Symphony No.6 in A minor (3)


FRANTIŠEK JIRÁNEK was a Czech composer of the Baroque era. I could only find one supposed picture of him, and it was very dubious, so I didn’t use it.

Fran almost certainly was a pupil of Vivaldi as he was sent to Venice to improve his musical skills. After that he returned to Prague for a while until he left for Dresden where he was employed by the Prime Minister. He remained in that city for the rest of his life.

The influence of Vivaldi is obvious in his works, one of which is his Concerto for Oboe, Strings and Basso continuo in B flat major, Jk 17, the first movement.

♫ Jiránek - Concerto for Oboe Strings and Basso continuo in B flat major Jk 17 (1)


In spite of her name MARIANNA MARTINES was born and lived most of her life in Vienna – her father was from Spain.

Marianna Martines

Upstairs in the apartment building where the family lived was a struggling young musician called Joseph Haydn. Marianna became a superb pianist and apparently a beautiful singer. Many of her works feature vocal performances.

As she got older, Marianna and her sister (neither of whom married) hosted musical soirees at their home that attracted many distinguished guests, including Haydn and Mozart. Her compositions were well regarded in her time, and it’s believed that Mozart modeled a couple of his choral works on hers.

Here is the first movement of her Overture in C Major. I always thought overtures were a single piece. I guess I was wrong.

♫ Martines - Overture in C Major (1)


Those with long memories of such things will now probably have a flashback to when they were young and used to watch TOM AND JERRY cartoons, I know I did.

Tom & Jerry

This next piece was featured prominently in one of them. Indeed, it was the basis for the whole cartoon. I looked it up on Youtube, and it’s still a lot of fun. The piece of music I have in mind is by FRANZ LISZT.

Franz Liszt

It’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor, S. 244. In this case it’s a piano only version arranged by Vladimir Horowitz and played by one of the finest pianists around, Lang Lang.

♫ Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 In C Sharp Minor S.244 (Lang Lang)


GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN was the most prolific major composer in history.

Georg Philipp Telemann

He wrote thousands of compositions, and I’m not talking about little things – some went on for hours. He was good friends with both Handel and Bach, indeed he was god father to one of Bach’s sons (who was named after him).

With all those compositions you can bet he came up with some interesting instruments to compose for, otherwise it would have got really tedious.

We have one of those today, his Sonata for two chalumeaux in F major, the third movement (or maybe the fourth, there seems to be a one and a halfth movement for some reason).

A chalumeau is the forerunner of the modern clarinet. It started out as a folk instrument, but composers started using it due to its mellow sound.

♫ Telemann - Sonata for two chalumeaux in F major (3)


MICHAEL HAYDN had the bad luck of having an older brother who was the best known composer in Europe at the time, also one of the best.

Haydn Michael

Michael was no slouch at the composing business such that quite a few of his compositions were attributed to big brother Joseph for decades, centuries even.

It’s only with modern scholarship that they have been restored to their rightful owner. I don’t know if this is one of those, his Horn Concerto in D Major, P. 134, the first movement.

♫ M Haydn - Horn Concerto in D Major P. 134 (1)


INTERESTING STUFF – 24 October 2020

HOW WOLVES CHANGE RIVERS

I'm pretty sure I posted this a few years ago but it recently turned up again and I find it as impressive and encouraging as before. According to the Youtube page,

”When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable 'trophic cascade' occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix."

HOW TO READ YOUR CAT'S FEELINGS

Cats being as enigmatic as they are, I'm not sure there is much satisfactory explanation here but it's worth a few minutes of your time.

CATS FOR BIDEN

More cat vids showed up this week so here are two political ones. This from Tony Sarmiento:

AMERICA'S CATS WANT YOU TO VOTE

And a kitty reminder in case you have not yet voted:

THE GRAFFITI OF POMPEI

My friend John Gear sent this. It might be a little raw for some but hey, we're all grownups here.

More here.

TICKET WITHOUT A SEAT

A small, important life lesson for us all.

DAVID HOCKNEY TALKING ABOUT VINCENT VAN GOGH

TGB reader Mary Evans Young sent this lovely video.

PERSONAL SERENDIPITY

Yesterday, Friday, was a really rough day for me. Not pain as sometimes happens. Without tempting fate by saying too much out loud, that has been increasingly controllable.

But tiredness, dejection, weakness so deep I can barely walk across the room or write even a few words on the computer screen - so much so that I almost skipped preparing this blog post for today. Then, as a distraction, I checked email and found a note from friend Edie Birken.

It doesn't change the circumstance or what I'm feeling about it but it makes it go easier. This is what she sent:

DifficultDayPooEdieBerkin

* * *

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

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


Quotations on The Time Before Dying

It has been a long time since I posted a list of quotations about age and dying. In fact, it is probably years. But I don't stop collecting them – my god, people have a lot to say about death, at least in short form – so here are a few for your perusal and commentary.

Not too many today because quantity becomes overwhelming and they lose meaning. So just a few. Many wise men and women have left behind worthy ideas about death for us to ponder.

* * *

“It is too bad that dying is the last thing we do, because it could teach us so much about living.” - Robert M. Herhold
(As it seems to be doing for me.)

“For my part, I would like to die fully conscious that I am dying...slow enough to allow death to insinuate itself into my body and fully unfold, so as not to miss the ultimate experience, the passage.” - Marguerite Yourcenar

“...I count as the greatest good fortune to have these few months so full of interest and instruction in the knowledge of my approaching death.” - Alice James

“There is only one solution if old age is not to be a parody of our former life, and that is to go on pursuing ends that give existence meaning – devotion to to individuals, to groups or causes, social, political, intellectual and creative work. - Simone de Bouvoir

“The first part of life is for learning. The second for service, and the last is for oneself. It is a time for discover inner richness and for self-development and spiritual growth. It is also a time of transition and preparation for dying. The closer we come to death, the closer we come to reality and truth.” - Gay Gaer Luce

“Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment.” - Dag Hammarskjold

Are there any short and pithy such quotations you would like to add?


A Day in the Life of Old Age

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Although this list is true, it is not meant to be overly serious. Try to see the humor.]

Toilet
Wash face
Brush teeth
Aim body toward kitchen
(don't trip on the oxygen cable)

Start coffee
Take first pill of the day
Lay out next two pills
Assemble nebulizer equipment
Spend 10 minutes breathing with nebullizer

Coffee!!!
Check phone for overnight messages
Check overnight email
Delete at least half of it
Send morning email greeting to my “are you still alive” buddy

Coffee!!!
Answer personal and blog email
Check the day's to-do list; delete what is possible to avoid doing
Read the morning news while listening to morning news for the latest
(Two hours have passed)

Take pre-breakfast digestion pills
Shower and dress – slowly
Prepare breakfast
Find reading material for breakfast
Round up breakfast digestion pills - eat

Clean up kitchen
Plan lunch
Have a 30-minute lie-down
Spend time (10 minutes to two-plus hours) planning next blog post
Work on blog post / answer incoming email

Second 10-minute nebulizer session
More blog work
Take a break with household accounts and mail
12 noon pills
Prepare, eat lunch

Clean up kitchen
One-hour lie-down or nap (or longer)
2PM pain pills
Nebulizer
Check to-do list and finish what I can

Edit blog post and set up to publish
Slow walk to trash and snailmail box
Small chores, water plants, lists, etc.
Sit quietly for awhile, maybe read
Begin dinner

Pre-dinner pills
Eat
Clean up kitchen
Count out next day's pills
Hot bath

Collapse on bed – movie, book, or...

Just look at this – it's all maintenance, every item of it and I've omitted at least half the chores along with phone calls, chatty email with friends, getting sidetracked with a magazine or book, etc.

I wrote all this out for myself a couple of days ago and was appalled at the banality of it. But guess what. If you don't count the pain when it happens and the chunk of time for blog work, it gives me a lot of hours to think about all the stuff I end up writing about here.

Not the mention time to think about all the stuff I don't tell you.

Still – it is kind of joke if you look at it that way. What's your day like?


A TGB READER STORY: Dancing with the Monkey

By Dave Clark who blogs at Just a Geezer

I’ve seen actors on the screen,
clowns at the circus
dancers at the ballet,
singers at the opera,
musicians at the concert.

But I have never seen anything to compare,
to my 2 year old grandson,
when he first saw a mechanical monkey,
playing a tune and smashing cymbals together.

The boy watches,
stomps his right foot, then his left,
leans to one side, then the other.
He giggles and laughs,
but best of all he smiles---no beams.

A grin that spans his whole face.
is worn like a badge
and shows he is in a perfect place,
loving every moment.
And as he sways,
he hasn’t the faintest idea what worry is.

My God,
I know that expression,
it’s pure joy,
something I have pursued my whole life,
but never found.

As he wobbles, claps, and bounces
he is as close to heaven on earth
as any human can be.
Maybe I too felt like him early in life,
but if I did, I lost it.
and never found it again.

If I could give him a gift,
It would not be money,
It would not be power.
It would be to help him keep that delight,
to stay so happy that others
feel gladdened by his very presence.

I don’t know how to do it,
I don’t where to find it,
I don’t even know what I’m looking for,
but I will do everything I can
to keep him glowing with happiness
the way he does
when he dances with the monkey.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


Guidance For My Near Future

I'm not certain this is of much of a useful blog post or of interest to anyone but myself but what the hell, I'll write it down anyway so I have something to compare next week, next month, next...

Daily now I realize that what I was feeling yesterday, how much energy I had then, whether I slept well or not last night, how strong or weak I feel this morning, whatever I think I want to get done today – it is all under control of my body. I - that is, my personal self or intention - have almost nothing to do with it.

My body chooses what it will do now and it has taken me to an updated version of “man plans, god laughs.” In this case, “old woman plans, body laughs.” A different joke every time although they generally relate to waning.

In a head-slapping moment a few days ago, I realized resistance is futile. The body knows what the body knows and striving even for the smallest things has morphed into acceptance. If I can't get the trash out, it can go in the morning. That attitude fairly new for me – I've always been a get-it-done-now kind of girl.

Most of my life has been striving for something – a bigger, better, more successful TV show to produce, a script to write, a website to build, an award to win. Always a goal. I haven't dug that deep into it yet, but I suspect I will find I didn't need to do all that. That life would have gone on well enough, satisfactorily, without pushing so hard.

It feels good now to be just easing on down the road – or working on getting to that point.

Those of you who have been on this cancer/COPD trip with me from the start might recall that three-and-a-half years ago, as I was wheeled in the surgery for the massive Whipple procedure, I said I just wanted to live long enough to read the Mueller Report.

That, as we know, turned out to be a dud and my new goal for many months was to vote in the 2020 election.

AND I DID IT. We vote by mail in Oregon. I filled out my ballot on Saturday, my wonderful neighbor Judy dropped it at collection point at City Hall and for sure, I have never in my near-80 years voted in a more important election.

Having now performed this crucial act of public responsibility, I'm going to continue to slow down. I want to use the gift of time the universe has bestowed on me to consider and contemplate life, living, loving and then - finding a way to let go, when the time comes, in peace and maybe even joy.

But not quite yet – heh. I need just a little more time.


ELDERMUSIC: A Soupçon of Ellington

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.

* * *

DukeEllington24

This is not an overview of DUKE ELLINGTON’s career; that would take several columns. Instead I’ve selected mostly small groups, rather than his orchestra because that’s my preferred option.

Also, most of the selections feature other famous jazz musicians, so if you like piano jazz in small combos, this is for you.

Duke & Hawk

Duke made one album with COLEMAN HAWKINS, but what a fine album it was. It has the prosaic title “Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins”. This was from 1962 and it’s surprising it took so long as Duke had been asking Hawk to collaborate for a couple of decades or so.

One of the tracks is a reworking of Duke’s Mood Indigo.

♫ Mood Indigo


Duke & Teresa

I always think of TERESA BREWER as a fifties pop singer, but there was more to her than that. In 1973 she recorded with Duke in what turned out to be his last recording session. That album is called “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing”.

From that we have Satin Doll, a song Duke wrote with Billy Strayhorn and Johnny Mercer.

♫ Satin Doll


Duke Ellington

Probably the most famous song associated with the DUKE is Take The A Train. It was written by Billy Strayhorn, a regular composer and arranger attached to the orchestra. The most famous version was recorded in 1941, but the one I’m featuring is just Duke with a drummer (Ben Riley) and bass player (Larry Gales).

♫ Take The A Train


Duke & Al

Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me was written as an instrumental by Duke back in 1940. Later Bob Russell wrote words to it and it’s been recorded by just about every good singer around (and a few not so good ones, I imagine).

One of the best of those is AL HIBBLER. Al is generally considered the finest male singer who performed regularly with Duke’s orchestra. He later sang some of the finest ballads in the fifties

♫ Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me


Duke & Trane

As with Coleman Hawkins, JOHN COLTRANE only made one album with Duke. That’s a real shame as this is a really fine record, and I suggest that you look out for it if you’re interested in jazz. It’s another with a prosaic title: “Duke Ellington & John Coltrane”. From that album here is Stevie.

♫ Stevie


Duke & Alice

C Jam Blues is another of Duke’s famous tunes. Everyone who is anyone in the world of jazz has recorded it. It’s usually an instrumental, but several folks put words to it and turned it into a song.

ALICE BABS, who was Swedish, and the Duke recorded an album together (“Serenade to Sweden”) which featured the tune (although the words aren’t readily discernable). To my ears Alice listened closely to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

♫ 'C' Jam Blues


Duke & Hodges

Unlike a couple of others in today’s column, JOHNNY HODGES and Duke Ellington made a couple of albums together. The one we’re interested in is called “Back to Back”.

Johnny is particularly soulful on this record and the backing band is first class - that’s Harry Edison playing the trumpet, Less Spann on guitar, Jo Jones on drums and Sam Jones playing bass. They play the old tune. Beal Street Blues.

♫ Beal Street Blues


Duke & Mahalia

“Black, Brown and Beige” was an extended jazz suite that Duke wrote and he and his orchestra performed it Carnegie Hall in 1943. Besides the recording of that concert, Duke also recorded the entire work in the studio with MAHALIA JACKSON on vocals.

There were a couple of alternate takes of some of the tracks that were included on the album. From that here is Part IV, also known as Come Sunday.

♫ Black Brown and Beige ~ Part IV (aka ''Come Sunday'')


Duke  Mingus & Max

Duke gets a bit more avant-garde than usual when he teams up with CHARLES MINGUS and MAX ROACH. It almost crosses over into free jazz. There were no rehearsals and everything on the album was the first take.

They were contracted to record a second album but tensions were so fraught among the musicians that it didn’t eventuate. From that first and only album here is the title track, Money Jungle.

♫ Money Jungle


Duke Ellington

I’ll end with DUKE on his own – you can’t get a smaller group than that. He plays Solitude.

♫ Solitude