A TGB READER STORY: First-Born

By Jeanne Parvin

My husband and I brought our new baby home to our little furnished apartment. We were inexperienced – how to lay her down in the crib, how to cover her properly. And she cried so loudly.

I paced with her in the middle of the night to keep her quiet so my husband could get the sleep he needed to get up and go to work the next day. The visiting nurse said she had strong, healthy lungs. (Loud!)

My mother-in-law came by to pick up the baby’s laundry and brought it back all clean and fresh. She loved folding those tiny garments. She loved her first grandchild.

Now my mother-in-law is dead. My husband is dead. My first-born daughter is in her 50s now. She gives me hugs on a regular basis to make sure I still feel loved.

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EDITORIAL NOTE: You are a prolific bunch of writers and there is now a backlog of reader stories to carry us almost to summer. So for awhile, I am not accepting new stories until we work through some of the ones already on the list.




My Son, My Family

Take a look at this photograph – shot at my home on Saturday evening:

TomKathyHenry20181208E

Nearly 56 years ago when I was 21 years old, I gave birth to a boy whom I arranged to have adopted. On Saturday, I met Tom, his wife Kathy and their four-year-old son, Henry, in person for the first time.

[For readers just now catching up with this story, the background is here.]

They arrived at noon bearing food and gifts and we spent the next seven hours eating, drinking good wine (well, not Henry) and talking. Talking and talking and talking.

We told stories about ourselves and our families, we hugged a lot, we laughed, we grinned ourselves silly, with Henry's little boy voice tinkling in the background (he's a very well-behaved kid).

Henry brought me a gift he had made himself – this beautiful cup I'm using now for coffee as I write this post on Sunday morning, and will use every morning from now on as I answer email and read the news. Here it is among some of the detritus on my desk:

HenrysCup

In ways I cannot explain, I feel like I have always known these people, that they have always been a part of my life. We settled right in as soon as they arrived. Of course, there are thousands of details about their lives I don't know, but I know the essence of their being.

By the end of our day, they had made me feel part of their family and I hope they felt the same in return. But none of these words come anywhere close to the love I feel with them. And comfort with them.

When they left in the evening, I was happy and sad, too, sad that they don't live down the street or across the road from me. But they will be back. We made plans for that.

I have been teary in the best possible way since Saturday evening. How did I get so lucky that this happened. Just in time.

Look at these wonderful people, my son and my daughter-in-law.

KathyTom20181208B680




ELDER MUSIC: 1959 Yet 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.

* * *

1959 was the year I was uprooted halfway through high school (and halfway through the year) from my small country town and deposited in a really big city (Melbourne).

That was for a couple of reasons: to keep the family together (my sister had already made that move), and to ensure a good education for the next kid (me) as my big sister really had to struggle to do that on her own – she was the only person in her year 12 class.

It was also a pretty good year for music.

It was with the group THE TEDDY BEARS that we first encountered Phil Spector. This was ostensibly a trio; the other two were Marshall Leib and Annette Kleinbard. There were others who came and went, most notably Sandy Nelson who had a later career as a drummer.

Teddy Bears

Phil wrote the song To Know Him is to Love Him for the group and particularly for Annette to sing the lead. It was their only hit. Annette later changed her name to Carol Connors and had a successful career as a songwriter.

♫ The Teddy Bears - To Know Him Is To Love Him


Does music from this year get any better than this? That’s a rhetorical question to which the answer is no. That’s because we have THE PLATTERS.

Platters

The only question really is which song to play. I decided on one of their best, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

♫ The Platters - Smoke Gets In Your Eyes


BILLY GRAMMER was both a singer a fine guitarist.

Billy Grammer

He was one of the few who had a signature guitar made and named for him. Not just that but the company changed its name to the Grammer Guitar Company. He had a few hits during his career, the biggest of which was Gotta Travel On.

♫ Billy Grammer - Gotta Travel On


COL JOYE was the second biggest rock & roller in Australia at the time.

Col Joye

He was the one the parents liked rather that the outrageous Johnny O’Keefe whom the kids liked. Sort of like Ricky Nelson and Elvis in that regard. Col’s contribution is Bye, Bye Baby Goodbye.

♫ Col Joye - Bye bye baby goodbye


By this year, FATS DOMINO had been making records for at least a decade, so he knew what he was doing by this stage.

Fats Domino

One of the things he did really well was the song, I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Some Day.

♫ Fats Domino - I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Some Day


Along with two or three others, GUY MITCHELL was a breath of fresh air in the early fifties. He, and they, showed this kid that there might be some interesting music out there amongst all the dross.

Guy Mitchell

Guy kept making good records as the decade went on, one of which is Heartaches by the Number.

♫ Guy Mitchell - Heartaches by the Number


FRANKIE FORD was another native of Louisiana who took up music at an early age.

Frankie Ford

After some minor success he was used as a backup vocalist. When he did this for Huey “Piano” Smith with Huey’s song, Sea Cruise, the record company decided to release Frankie’s version as Huey already had a couple of songs on the charts. Frankie did likewise with the song.

♫ Frankie Ford - Sea Cruise


You can be pretty certain that MARTY ROBBINS would be present this year.

Marty Robbins

Marty seems surprised that seventeen and eighteen year olds were getting together. Oh, Marty, Marty, Marty they’ve been doing that since we evolved into humans (and no doubt before that). She Was Only Seventeen.

♫ Marty Robbins - She Was Only Seventeen


By now anything the EVERLY BROTHERS recorded was guaranteed to top the charts.

Everly Brothers

This is a tale of woe that the lads don’t want Mary to know about; that is that they’re banged up in the clink. She might figure that something’s wrong when they don’t come home. Take a Message to Mary.

♫ Everly Brothers - Take A Message To Mary


PHIL PHILLIPS received a pittance from his recording of Sea of Love.

Phil Phillips

He wrote the song, recorded it and saw that it hit the top of the charts, selling more than a million. He recorded an album but refused to have it released due to the shonky deal the record company struck with him.

He’s still trying to get his due after all this time. It’s particularly galling as the song has been covered quite often and was used in the successful film of the same name.

♫ Phil Phillips - Sea Of Love




INTERESTING STUFF – 8 December 2018

[PERSONAL NOTE: For the second Saturday in a row, today's is a shorter than usual Interesting Stuff. I just ran out of time.

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REPUBLICAN VERSION OF IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Apropos of yesterday's post about the Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life, my friend Jim Stone sent this video - a Republican version of the film. Enjoy.

WHERE ARE ALL THE OLD PEOPLE GOING TO LIVE?

My friend Chuck Nyren who blogs at Advertising to Baby Boomers is one of the best observers I know of the absurd. This time he has taken note of the recent upsurge in concern over where all the old people are going to live.

“It used to be that old people lived wherever they lived – and that was that...” writes Chuck.

“Now there are choices. So many choices you could have a multiple strokes just thinking about them. There’s staying put (aka aging in place) where you don’t go anywhere and you’re taken care of by people or robots.

“Or you can buy a motor home, drive it around for a few years until you get bored, then park it somewhere.

“Or you can purchase a ready-made tiny house and have a helicopter dump it in one of your children’s backyards.”

Or – read the rest of Chuck's take on old folks' 21st century living arrangements here.

ALL THE VERMEERS IN THE WORLD IN ONE PHONE APP

Johannes Vermeer made few paintings in his lifetime – just 36 that have been authenticated and they are scattered among 17 or 18 collections in seven countries – hard for most people to be able to see in a lifetime.

”Now, the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague...has teamed up with Google Arts & Culture in Paris to build an augmented-reality app that creates a virtual museum featuring all of the artist’s works,” reports The New York Times.

9TO5Google tells us:

”Google Arts & Culture is leveraging augmented reality for a new Pocket Gallery feature. Opening the app and camera will display a virtual seven-room exhibition space that you can tap to enter with the ability to drag, pinch, and resize to move around.

The app is available for phones with a camera for iOS and Android.

OLDEST KNOWN CAVE PAINTING FOUND IN BORNEO

As the Los Angeles Times reports:

”In limestone caves hidden deep in the jungle of Borneo, archaeologists have discovered the oldest known figurative drawing created by a human artist, dating back at least 40,000 years.

“The ancient artwork is incomplete, but appears to depict a large mammal — probably a type of wild cow — with an oval-shaped body, thin legs and a spear sticking out of its rump.”

(You might want to turn off the annoying audio on this video. It astonishes me how badly produced many news videos are.)

AUTOMATION GONE TOO FAR?

As David Neevel explains on the YouTubepage:

”I'm always looking for ways to be more efficient in my shop. Voice commands are one way. Automation is another way. And I combined those two ways into one.

“Why? Efficiency. Have a look at my candy thrower, beer thrower, ibuprofen thrower, and other robots and marvel with me: What will I accomplish now that I don't have to throw ibuprofens at my own mouth any more? I can't wait to find out.

“Google end dictation. No don't type that. Stop the dictation. Google stop. Google stop. God damn it. Post video google.”

This is so silly. Take a look:

MANDARIN DUCK IN MANHATTAN

Have you heard the story about the Mandarin duck, native to Asia, who has been hanging out in the pond in New York City's Central Park for the past month or more?

If not, believe me, you've never seen a duck as gorgeous as this one – well, I hadn't.

You can read more in The New York Times and at The Los Angeles Times.

* * *

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.




It's a Wonderful Life

Because my son and his family are due here this weekend so we can spend some in-person time together, I've been looking for a quick way out of having to think too hard for a post today while I get ready for their arrival. This may be a nice solution.

Crabby Old Lady's disdain for the months-long holiday season in the U.S. notwithstanding, there is at least one classic Christmas movie I watch almost every year.

Is there anyone alive who can resist Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life?

Like two other favorites of mine - Casablanca and The Third Man - I pretty much know the entire script by heart but, like many little kids, I still enjoy having a familiar old story retold to me.

Back in the 1930s through part of the 1950s, there was a popular radio program titled Lux Radio Theater. The show recreated Broadway shows and, later, popular movies for radio audiences using the original actors. I listened to a lot of these when I was growing up.

One of the great values of radio (and, these days, podcasts) over television is that you can do all kinds of other things while listening and last year, I discovered that some of these old radio programs are available for free on Youtube.

This has come in handy in recent weeks as, due to the lung cancer, my energy level has diminished a great deal and I need to do everything much more slowly than before, leaving less time for video or TV.

So I've substituted podcasts and some old radio shows to listen to while I get other mindless chores done.

This “Lux Radio Theater” production of It's a Wonderful Life was first presented on 10 March 1947 starring the original actors from the movie, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed who, of course, your grandchildren have probably never heard of. Oh well.

You're stuck with Lux soap commercials but they're kind of interesting in their own right as advertising artifacts from a distant past. There is no video – just the black screen and the audio. I hope you find time to enjoy it.



Dying, Death and Spiritual Questions

A reader named Elizabeth Kurata left a comment with these questions last week:

”I don't think I've read anything about this subject on your blog - your own spiritual beliefs, about what happens after death, in your opinion, or at the moment of death.

“Do you believe in heaven & hell? Do you believe they are places? Do you believe in a Soul? What about Consciousness? What do you think happens after death?”

Well, Elizabeth, I am pretty sure you've found a topic I have not, in 15 years at this blog, written about. One reason, the biggest reason is that I don't think there is anything at all more private and personal in life.

Also, it is undoubtedly too difficult a subject to carry on in this arm's-length kind of written forum where direct response to one another is difficult.

Also, in the realm of spirituality and religion, people believe what they believe and often hold so fiercely to those beliefs that there is nowhere to go with a discussion.

People are free to believe whatever they want and we in the United States should know that better than some other places. It is a large part of how we became a country.

Me? I am nominally Jewish but don't do anything about it except light yartzeit and Hannukah candles. I've always suspected that I just like candles.

But what is important about yartzeit is all that day, every time I see the flame, I think about that loved one, keeping them alive in my heart year after year after year, never letting go. I think it is a beautiful ritual for anyone, Jewish or not.

Mostly, in regard to the questions inherent in religion, spirituality, souls, the great hereafter, and all that goes with it – I am agnostic. I have no beliefs in those areas. Does individual consciousness survive death? I suspect not but who am I to say.

Although I generally have no religious beliefs, I do believe that the ancient sacred texts of religions are mostly good blueprints for how to live a good life. And the language of some can be breathtakingly beautiful – the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer are two that are worth reading again and again even if you are atheist, agnostic or of another religion. Plus you might learn something about living.

What I do believe is that most of us, most of the time, with or without belief in a higher power, live by our better instincts that are innate. Except on days when I don't believe that.

I have no idea what happens after death. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. But what I do know is what astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tells us in a statement that makes me weep with awe and joy: “We are all stardust.”

Take a listen to him:




A TGB READER STORY: The Big Yellow Pot - A Story of Love in the Kitchen

By Trudi Kappel

We met at a party in July. By October, my birthday month, we were an item. My birthday was the first traditional gift giving occasion of our relationship. Knowing his thrifty nature, I wondered if he would buy me a present or even a card.

I was delighted when he invited me out for a birthday dinner, recognition of the occasion. He arrived at my apartment carrying, not only a card but also a large heavy wrapped package. WOW! A restaurant dinner, a card and a present! This was special.

When I opened the box, I was nonplussed. It contained a big yellow enamel cast iron Dutch oven. I saw myself as a career girl, not a homebody but I thanked him with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.

I doubted the relationship would last, sensing our different views of my life plan. After five decades we are still an item and we still cook in that Big Yellow Pot. The pot is a metaphor for the relationship - durable and don’t be stingy with the spices.

We are showing some wear. Grey hair for us, chipped enamel for the Big Yellow Pot. We endure and we cook together!




How to Run a Comfortable, Friendly Blog with Great Conversation

Last week, my friend janinsanfran, who blogs at Where is the Way Forward, left this comment:

”If you have the energy and the desire, I think your blog friends would greatly appreciate your writing about how you've managed to make this place an oasis of healthy interaction among your readers.

“So many internet spaces have turned out to be such disappointments, but here reading comments is part of the delight.”

Isn't that true, about how good the comments are on this blog. What I write wouldn't be half as interesting without the followup from TGB readers.

janinsanfran is right about how so many other places on the internet become impossible to read, filled with trash talk, personal attacks, generalized hatred, even pornography sometimes.

My first favorite forum for good online conversation, 25 or 30 years ago, succumbed to such trolls and had to be shut down. I vowed I would never let that happen to TGB and I've been successful. Here are some of my self-imposed rules to make that so.

No personal attacks against me or commenters. There are no second chances on this one and no prior notice. If a personal attack appears, I delete it as soon as I see it and I ban anything from that IP address from being posted in the future.

No advertising masquerading as a comment. This happens more than you would think. The message is structured to sort of look like a comment but it is always poorly done and there is always a link to something that is for sale (or pornography).

As with personal attacks, I remove these as soon as I see them and ban the IP addresses forever. No prior notice, no explanation.

No links of any kind in comments. This sounds like a harsh rule but it saves readers and me an enormous amount of time and distraction. First, some are links to commercial products and services. This site accepts no advertising in any form including trying to slide retails sites past me as a comment.

For that and other reasons, it is necessary for me to check all links and there is not time for that in my world even before I was diagnosed with cancer. So I delete all links no matter who they are from, even if I know the person, because, in addition, any links suggest to others that they are allowed to be posted.

And, sorry, but most of you do not know how to do the html to make a proper link so if I allowed them I'd need to spend even more time untangling the html.

These three immutable rules have helped keep Time Goes By an attractive and comfortable place for anyone to hang out without fear of being attacked. Aside from the three rules, anyone is allowed to say whatever they want.

But there is more than just rules.

I always acknowledge sources of facts and information and link to them whenever possible whether they are research sites, media or from TGB readers who have supplied useful information. People can then make their own choice about whether to dig deeper into topics.

It has become part of wallpaper now, hardly noticeable, but many years ago, I made a deliberate decision to share something about my personal experience or observation when it is pertinent to whatever I am writing about.

Humans are uniquely designed to learn through storytelling – we've been doing it for millennia, passing on information and lore from our experiences to the next generations.

When I share something about me, it gives readers permission to do that too and together, every day, we build a rich compendium of stories to add to our knowledge.

Or sometimes, just to laugh with one another. That's important too.

One last thing, in ageing for all these years and now with end-of-life issues, I write about things that other people often don't - the everyday things I've noticed in my life or run across in my reading that don't seem to be part of general literature of growing old or dying.

The first big one that worried me when I posted it was urinary incontinence. I thought readers might run away in droves at such an icky subject. But no. So many people had their own stories and I realized from that experience that there were a lot of things that needed to be discussed in the open. And so it has been ever since.

Most recently, in my current predicament, I find that about 90 percent of the literature about dying that I've read over 15 years is by, for or about caregivers. I may have told you already that I have learned these past 18 months that caregivers of all kinds are different from me and most people I know.

They dedicate their lives to helping people often in the most dire circumstances of their lives and beyond caregivers' expertise, their kindness and love and care is almost beyond reason. They are special people.

But, as much as has been written about them – hundreds of books, thousands of articles and studies – very little is written for, by or about the person doing the dying. Maybe there is a handful.

And so, on that subject, I am trying to do what I've done in the past for the other ignored aspects of ageing. By my documenting one person's end-of-life journey, readers have been leaving many stories from their own and loved ones' end-of-life predicaments, and by that we are all enriched.

So janinsanfran, that's at least some of what I've tried to do to make this a safe and comfortable place for people to have their say and I think it has worked most of the time.




ELDER MUSIC: Do You Know You Are My Sunshine?

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.

* * *

Sunshine is something I know well as I was born and bred in Australia and this country has a lot of it. I’ll bring you some of it in the form of songs.

I’ll start with the title of the column, Do You Know You Are My Sunshine? I think we know the answer to the question, but THE STATLER BROTHERS ask it anyway.

Statler Brothers

The Statlers are a guilty pleasure for me. I really like their harmony and interweaving singing. Here they are with the title of the column.

♫ Statler Brothers - Do You Know You Are My Sunshine


The answer to the previous question is “Yes”. It doesn’t matter, I’m going to play it and I’m going right back to the source, JIMMIE DAVIS.

Jimmie Davis

Jimmie was a singer and songwriter (and twice Governor of Louisiana) and he wrote the song along with Charles Mitchell. His wasn’t the first recording of the song, but I think he deserves to sing it today in spite of politics: You Are My Sunshine.

♫ Jimmie Davis - You Are My Sunshine


Ain't No Sunshine would be BILL WITHERS’ most famous song.

Bill Withers

That’s probably due to the multiple “I Know”s in the song (26 of them). It wasn’t just this song though, he has had quite a few hits over the years, but it’s Ain't No Sunshine we’re going with today.

♫ Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine


I’ve never really known what to think of DONOVAN’s music.

Donovan

He’s recorded so much rubbish over the years that it’s easy to dismiss him, however, when I listen to the best of his songs, and there are quite a few of them, I’m forced to revise my opinion. So, old flippy-floppy me has chosen Sunshine Superman.

♫ Donovan - Sunshine Superman


I have no such qualms about TOM RUSH though, as long time readers would already know.

Tom Rush

Tom’s a regular visitor to these columns and from his fine album “The Circle Game” we have Sunshine Sunshine.

♫ Tom Rush - Sunshine Sunshine


KATRINA AND THE WAVES is a group with both British and American members.

Katrina & the Waves

They evolved from the British band The Waves and the American one, Mama’s Cookin’. After getting together and bit of to-ing and fro-ing with various musicians, our group was born. They perform their best known song, Walking On Sunshine.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist just walked in and said that this one is the pick of the sunshine songs. Not my first choice, but it’s certainly good enough to be included.

♫ Katrina And The Waves - Walking On Sunshine


DION DiMucci is best known to most of us as a Doowop and pop singer from the fifties and early sixties.

Dion

After that though, he evolved into a rather fine folk/blues singer. He didn’t sell a lot of records in this style but he certainly impressed the critics. From that period he sings Sunshine Lady from the album “King of the New York Streets”.

♫ Dion - Sunshine Lady


DOUG SAHM first came to be noticed by the general public as the main man from the rock group The Sir Douglas Quintet (from Texas, in spite of the name).

Doug Sahm

Afterwards, Doug was a leading light in the resurgence of roots music and also Tex-Mex, combining the music of Texas and Mexico. He was a bit of a prodigy and could play pretty much any instrument he lay his hands on. Alas, he died far too young.

From his album “Groover's Paradise” he performs Beautiful Texas Sunshine.

♫ Doug Sahm - Beautiful Texas Sunshine


STEVIE WONDER had the help of Jim Gilstrap and Lani Groves on You Are the Sunshine of My Life.

Stevie Wonder

Indeed, Jim sang the first two lines and Lani the next two. Stevie finally gets to warble along after that. The song made the charts around the world and topped them in several countries.

♫ Stevie Wonder - You Are The Sunshine Of My Life


WILLIE NELSON launches into jazz mode for his sunshine song.

Willie Nelson

Well, sort of jazz, it’s still Willie, of course, and I’ve always thought of him as essentially a jazz performer working in country music. Anyway, Willie asks us, or someone, to Bring Me Sunshine.

♫ Willie Nelson - Bring Me Sunshine