The Morning After the First 2020 Presidential Debate and

Two days after the New York Times Trump tax document dump.

I'm writing this note a couple of hours before the Tuesday evening debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and Donald J. Trump because I'll be too tired to think straight after the debate – or angry or frustrated or alarmed or...

And I won't be wide awake enough to be cogent first this on this morning after.

So it's up to you, dear readers, to write this blog post today.

What's your take on what may become the most important presidential stand-off in the history of the republic to date?

I'll follow along today and join in here and there.


A TGB READER STORY: About a Scent

By Brenda Verbeck

The ability of a scent to stir a memory is an amazing thing. And it can be an immediate trigger for evoking the feelings associated with an event.

I have never used Coty’s Emeraude, but having been the victim of overzealous perfume sales people in stores like Bloomingdale’s I’ve been hit with it from time to time. Actually, it’s an indelible imprint in my brain, as well as on my olfactory equipment.

When I was a teenager, I spent summers at my aunt’s bungalow colony in Rock Hill, New York. It was adjacent to another small town called Glen Wild and I became part of a small group made up of locals and a few of us who were summer kids. The local boys had cars or trucks and it was great fun to go driving around the country roads in the evenings.

On this particular evening, when I was probably around 13 or so, we passed an accident. Clearly it had just happened. The car was off to the side of the road at a crazy angle. The people in the car, I think there were four of them, were lying helter skelter.

We backed up and got out of the cars, running to see if they needed help. They did. This was on a pretty much deserted back road, not close to any homes and remember, this was around 1949 – well before cell phones were even a concept

I could see that one of the men was bleeding from his ear. Having had a course in first aid as part of my high school curriculum I knew that it meant that he had a fractured skull. The others seemed mostly dazed though there may have been bruising, contusions, what have you. But we had no idea. We were just a bunch of kids wanting to do the right thing.

So we somehow got them into our cars and drove them to Monticello Hospital. The one woman was in the same car I was in and she absolutely reeked of a strong perfume. Never one for strong perfumes, which tend to give me a headache, I felt engulfed, trapped by this overwhelming aroma. And I also felt very sad. I was worried about the man with a probable skull fracture and I also felt very helpless.

We had no idea what happened to them after we dropped them off at the emergency entrance, but that scent stayed on my clothes for days, and in my nostrils forever. I identified the scent on one of my forays through a department store soon after that, probably Namms in downtown Brooklyn.

Wherever I am and someone is wearing it, my nose knows, and it evokes an immediate response of sadness.

Fortunately, few people today, at least in the world I inhabit, wear scents out of respect for the many who have allergies, and lighter scents, generally, seem to have become more popular; so it has not assailed me for a long time, but I know that one whiff of Emeraude puts me on a dark country road, feeling sad and helpless. Funny that.

* * *

[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.]


Trump Wants to Buy Your Vote – Don't Let Him

In recent weeks, polls have shown that presidential candidate Joe Biden is leading President Trump in polls of people 65 and older by double digits. That might have something to do with Trump telling his followers that COVID-19 affects hardly anyone younger than 18, framing

”...the pandemic as largely impacting older Americans, as he argued for school districts to resume in-person learning,” reported AP.

. “'Now we know it affects elderly people with heart problems and other problems,' Trump said. 'If they have other problems, that’s what it really affects. That’s it.'”

That did not sit well with one elder voter in Florida according to AP:

”Trump’s recent remarks made Liz Cillo, a 72-year-old retiree from St. Petersburg, laugh bitterly. 'We’re dispensable. We’re old. I feel as though he’s never showed any empathy or compassion toward us.'”

Trump is flailing in many areas of the voting population but until now, elders have been a mainstay of the Republican Party. So – Trump being Trump – he announced last week that he will attempt to opening purchase votes from old people.

As CNN tells it:

”...President Donald Trump said Thursday -- less than six weeks before the election -- that he will send $200 drug discount cards to 33 million Americans on Medicare.

“The unprecedented move, however, has raised many questions, including how the roughly $6.6 billion in benefits will be funded...

The White House says that the cards will be offset by savings from another of Trump's drug price proposals, which would link the cost of certain Medicare drugs to the price in other countries. But that controversial measure was unveiled in an executive order in mid-September, and it's unclear when it will actually take effect, if ever.”

Translation: The drug card proposal does not exist.

After Trump's announcement on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the $200 discount cards

”...will be funded by a Medicare trust fund, an administration official said, using money rarely spent on such pilot programs.

“Medicare is funded by two trust funds held by the U.S. Treasury. The trusts pay for hospital care and administering the federal health-insurance program for seniors and the disabled. They are funded through payroll taxes, income taxes paid on Social Security benefits and other sources.

“The Medicare trust fund that pays for hospital care is expected to become insolvent by fiscal 2024, according to the Congressional Budget Office, two years earlier than projections done before the coronavirus pandemic. The other fund is on more solid financial footing.”

This is crazy. It doesn't not work on any level. It is so bad that even big PhRMA has rejected it:

“The announcement comes after the Trump administration sought to negotiate a similar discount-card program with drug companies, but the drug industry’s main trade group, PhRMA, walked away from the discussions,” reported WSJ.

“'One-time savings cards will neither provide lasting help nor advance the fundamental reforms necessary to help seniors better afford their medicines,” an official at PhRMA said last week.”

It's not even clear to anyone with knowledge that this pay-for-votes ploy is legal.

Should Trump manage to push through this dubious scheme and get it done in time for discount cards to arrive before you vote, what will you do?

Here's what I have planned:

• Secure a sturdy envelope.
• Address it to President Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. NW 20500
• Cut card in half and place in envelope
• Include a note - “You cannot buy my vote”
• Attach enough postage
• Place in local mailbox

Imagine if all 33 million U.S. elders do that.


ELDER MUSIC: Friends

ELDER MUSIC: Friends

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.

* * *

At times like this we need all the friends we can get, quite a few of whom these days will be on Zoom or Skype. Similarly, for a few years after I discovered Time Goes By and when I got this gig, I could count Ronni as the best friend I had never met.

That all changed of course when Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and I visited Oregon (a couple of times) and stayed with her in Lake Oswego.

Here are some friends songs.

RAL DONNER was cursed by having a voice that was uncannily like Elvis’s.

Ral Donner

I bet all those Elvis impersonators wish they could claim the same thing. Ral was never an impersonator, indeed he really hated it when it was pointed out to him (which was quite often). See what you think when he sings Girl of my Best Friend.

♫ Ral Donner - Girl Of My Best Friend


MIKE MCCLELLAN would be a super-star if he lived in a bigger country. Well, he is here in Australia.

Mike McClellan1

Mike recorded several albums in the seventies and eighties, but they have been deleted. There are a couple of collection CDs as well as several more recent albums, but it’s still difficult to source his early music unless you have the vinyls.

From that early period, here is a song he still performs quite often, Lovers Never Wind up Friends.

♫ Mike McClellan - Lovers Never Wind Up Friends


Quite coincidentally, I discovered Larry McMurtry’s book, All My Friends are Going to be Strangers, around the same time that I first heard MERLE HAGGARD perform (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers.

Merle Haggard

I assume for Merle there was a bit of tongue in cheek going on as his backing band was called The Strangers.

♫ Merle Haggard - (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers


After his initial success as a pop star and member of a Doowop group DION DiMucci turned into a fine blues and folk performer.

Dion

One of the first albums of his that demonstrated that was “Sit Down Old Friend”. Here is the song Sit Down Old Friend.

♫ Dion - Sit Down Old Friend


PERCY SLEDGE is probably best known for one song and what a great song that is. It’s not the one we have today, however.

Percy Sledge

There was a lot more to him than that one. Besides being one of the finest soul singers, he was also a bluesman of note as this shows on My Old Friend the Blues, from the album with the same name.

♫ Percy Sledge - My Old Friend The Blues


On the surface. JIMMY BUFFETT seems to be the friendliest musician around. I hope he’s really like that.

Jimmy Buffett

From one of his early good albums (most of his early albums were good), “Son of a Son of a Sailor” Jimmy tells us about his African Friend.

♫ Jimmy Buffett - African Friend


By far the most critically successful and popular band in Australia in the seventies was SKYHOOKS.

Skyhooks

They liked to dress up in outlandish costumes but their musicianship was impeccable. Besides that they, thanks to main songwriter Greg Macainsh, addressed issues about Australian suburban life, particularly Melbourne whence they hailed.

The song All My Friends Are Getting Married is more laid back then their usual fare.

♫ Skyhooks - All My Friends Are Getting Married


From easily their finest studio album, “American Beauty”, the GRATEFUL DEAD want to be a Friend of the Devil.

Grateful Dead

Of course, although they only recorded two or three good studio albums, their milieu was live performances at which they excelled. As they are no more, it’s good that there are a number of fine live recordings. “A number”? I wouldn’t be surprised if every concert they ever performed is out there somewhere.

Anyway, here’s the song, with Phil Lesh playing bass as the lead instrument.

♫ Grateful Dead - Friend Of The Devil


HERMAN'S HERMITS came from Manchester (not far from Liverpool) at the height of Beatlemania.

HermansHermits

Unlike most of their contemporaries, they were a straight pop band and had a clean cut image – they didn’t frighten parents the way other bands at the time did. In spite of that (or maybe because of it) they produced really fine pop songs, most of which still hold up today, including My Sentimental Friend.

♫ Herman's Hermits - My Sentimental Friend


The members of the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND must be friends as they’ve been together with little change to their lineup since the sixties.

Nittys

They have even recorded a song along that line called Partners, Brothers and Friends. Here it is.

♫ NGDB - Partners Brothers And Friends


Back around 1970, I discovered a record by SPIDER JOHN KOERNER and WILLIE MURPHY.

Spider Joh n& Willie

This is a really wonderful album and in keeping with the theme of the column, my friends thought so too. The album is called “Running Jumping Standing Still” and I now have it on CD so it might still be around somewhere.

It’s the only thing they did together and it’s a collection folk-blues, ragtime piano, country and even a little jazz thrown in for good measure. In keeping with our category, their song is Friends and Lovers. Spider John sings the lead on it.

♫ Spider John Koerner & Willie Murphy - Friends and Lovers

There is one song I’m sure you were all expecting, but as you can see, I didn’t include it. I expect that there will be comments about that.


INTERESTING STUFF – 26 September 2020

EDITORIAL NOTE: It feels to me that this has been a momentous past week filled with terrible portents, especially from the president who refuses to say he will leave his post if he is defeated in November. I don't have words.

So a few of today's entries fall to heavier side of the scale.

* * *

IN HONOR OF JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG

You remember Founders Sing, don't you. The Youtube group who debuted in February with their tune, The Day Democracy Died.

They have been releasing these original political songs ever since and this week they gave us I AM RUTH – By Founders Sing, In Honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

YOUNG PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO BELIEVE VIRUS MISINFORMATION

The number of new virus infections is not getting better. In fact, it is skyrocketing. This week, The New York Times reported,

”In a survey of 21,196 people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, researchers identified a clear generational divide.

“Respondents 18 to 24 had an 18 percent probability of believing a false claim, compared with 9 percent for those over 65, according to the study [pdf], conducted by researchers from Harvard University, Rutgers University, Northeastern University and Northwestern University.”

People were asked to gauge their acceptance of 11 false claims:

”Those included false claims that the virus originated in people who ate bats, that taking antibiotics protects against the disease and that only people 60 or older are at risk of being infected.”

Read more at The Times. Talk to the young people in your life about staying safe.

AOC'S MESSAGE TO THE FUTURE

The Guardian reports that young people yesterday led strikes around the world calling for urgent action on climate change.

”Greta Thunberg led a strike in Sweden, which was limited to 50 people by the country’s lockdown laws – 'so we adapt', she tweeted, with a picture showing strikers more than 2 metres apart. The day of action also marked the 110th week of her own school strike, which began in August 2018.

“'Fridays For Future and the youth climate movement are striking again around the world, in a safe way and following Covid-19 guidelines, to demand those in power treat this like the urgent crisis it is,' she said.”

Relatedly, TGB reader Mary Evans Young, sent this pertinent 18-month-old video from U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez titled A Message from the Future.

In the U.S., we are in the final weeks of fighting for the existence of our country, even for democracy itself. Untold environmental damage has been done by our president and his minions in just the year and a half since OAC's video debuted. So don't let up. Register to vote. Help others to register. Plan your vote.

Read more about the worldwide children's crusade at The Guardian.

OBVIOUSLY THIS DOGGEREL FROM HENRY LOWENSTERN...

...cannot be ignored at this blog. Titled Down and Out.

When you are feeling down and out,
give Ronni Bennett a shout.
She's a long-time blogger
and memories cataloger
who writes about her ills
and the long-remembered thrills
that bring smiles to her face
and maybe will help erase
some of the despair
that afflicts your debonair.

IMPOSSIBLY YOUNG WILLIE NELSON

I've been listening to a lot of Willie Nelson lately – the old stuff and the newest too. He's 87 years old now. But in truth, he's ageless.

This is a medley he sang at Grand Ole Opry in 1965. Did you know Willie wrote Patsy Cline's huge hit, Crazy? I didn't until now.

NEW YORK'S RUBBER STAMP SHOP

Do people even use rubber stamps anymore? I guess so. According to the Youtube page,

”John Casey is the owner of East Village mainstay Casey Rubber Stamps, a local landmark that has endured for almost two decades.

“The iconic stamp and ink shop, located on East 11th Street in downtown New York, is beloved by locals. For years, residents and tourists alike have swung by to buy and make their own novelty rubber stamps.”

This short film is from Eric Maierson and Leandro Badalotti for Atlas Obscura.

THE BELUGA AND THE SEAGULL

This whale could have the gull for lunch in one bite but he (she?) didn't. Instead, they played.

* * *

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.


When Bad Days Turn Good – Part 2

On Wednesday in Part 1, I wrote about sleepless night terrors and how it seemed reasonable to me, during one of them, that we ought to be able to blink our eyes – or something similar – and quietly die.

I doubt I would have written about it had not my friend, Annie Gottlieb, in New York City, following that night sent a couple of quotations one of which seemed to have been written precisely for what I had experienced.

Her second quotation came into play a day later.

After that long night with not a wink of sleep, Thursday was generally a lost day. I got a few things done but not much. Plus, my nebulizer and oxygen didn't have nearly as strong an effect as they normally do.

My hospice nurse, who made her scheduled visit that day, gave me a new prescription to help with energy and appetite and rearranged how I take a couple of other drugs to try to help me sleep.

By bedtime that night, I was as exhausted as I've ever felt. I worked at staying awake as long as possible so if I slept, I would not wake at some ungodly early hour and ruin the next day too, but I succumbed, I think, at about 9PM.

When I woke, I was shocked to see that I had slept until just after 5AM. Eight whole hours of uninterrupted, dead-to-the-world sleep. Wow. And then I saw the two half-pills on my table that I had intended to take when I was ready to turn out the light. I had forgotten to do that and still slept all through the night.

What a day I had on Friday. I almost forgot that I have cancer and COPD. Of course, that exists only in my head (and heart). As soon as I walk too fast down the hall or try to carry something weighing more than about five pounds, I am sharply reminded with extreme shortness of breath.

But within the parameters of my diseases, I had a great day and I was thrilled. I don't remember when I last felt so good. And it lasted all day until normal bedtime. I even walked out to the trash bins and mailbox with greater ease than in a long time.

On Sunday, Annie sent her two Rilke quotations and here, following on my spectacularly good Friday, is the second one which, Annie says, Rilke told to a woman friend who was helping to care for him:

“Never forget, dear friend, life is a glory.”

Oh, yes. Life is such a glory – even as small a life as mine has become now, thanks to age, disease and pandemic - and it was in full force for me on that Friday.

The mystery, of course, is how Annie knew to send those two quotations exactly when I could use and enjoy them so perfectly and personally.

Thank you, Annie.

Sleep disturbances are a well-known affliction among old people. The Sleep Foundation notes,

”As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age. In fact, research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood.”

It's not my purpose today to report on elder sleep issues, causes and what to do about them. (Maybe soon.)

Mostly with these two posts, I wanted to marvel out loud at how sometimes the universe pulls a couple of its smaller components together in such perfect concert.


When Bad Days Turn Good – Part 1

What I learned the hard way last week (why are so many lessons hard ones?) is that as my cancer and COPD advance, it is crucial – actually, mandatory if I want to function in even the smallest ways - that I get at least six hours of sleep, a couple more is better.

Without that, I am weak as a kitten in mind and body. Carrying a coffee cup from the kitchen to my desk when I'm that sleep-deprived, is a slow trek of only eight or 10 steps but it makes my legs shake, although I get stronger as the day progresses.

On two nights last week, separated by one night of a good, deep sleep, I lay awake the entire night. Whichever sleeping potion I had taken had failed entirely, a second dose didn't help and my thoughts got darker as the hours piled up.

I was ache-y, exhausted, restless and generally miserable. Even trying to use the time to sort through some ideas I had been recently toying with didn't work. My brain was fried, the blanket was snarled, the pillows were hot, my left foot hurt like hell and I just wanted it all to stop. By any means.

At that point, dying seemed reasonable and welcome. Right there and then. Just let go.

As I lay there, it began to feel like it could be just that easy to do. Why all the fuss we humans make about it, I thought. I could end all my discomfort by dying. Turn out the light so to speak. Tell my heart to stop. Be done with it all.

As I considered my impossible idea, it wasn't the same to me as committing suicide. Taking action to end one's life involves mostly violent intervention – a gun, a knife, a rope, a high roof and even those death with dignity pills I have tucked away involve mixing a series of drinks and taking them in the correct order at timed intervals.

If nothing else prevented me from doing one of those things, my exhaustion did. At that point in the night, just getting out of bed was beyond the realm of the possible.

As my sleepless stupor continued, I became indignant that I couldn't end my life by just thinking it. It's my life so why not.

Of course, it doesn't work that way but I began to believe it ought to and the idea had stuck with me even after I finally got some good rest a night later and lost my desire to end it all.

And that was that. With many years of poor sleep behind me, I have a lot of experience with dark thoughts on sleepless nights. I know it is best not to dwell on them.

But sometimes the universe has other ideas. A couple of days later while the idea of simply blinking out still popped up in brief moments, a long-time blog and New York City friend, Annie Gottlieb, sent me this quotation from the celebrated poet and novelist, Rainer Maria Rilke. He wrote it, she told me, when he was ill with leukemia:

“We were such wonderfully good friends, my body and I, I don’t know at all how it happened that we separated and became foreign to each other.”

Oh my yes. Me too. It is close to perfection in encapsulating that late-night death fantasy from a few nights earlier.

Until my cancer diagnosis three years ago, my body and I were great good friends and now we are not. I'm a bit less neutral about what has happened between us than Rilke sounds; more than feeling separated and foreign, I feel my body has betrayed me.

But isn't it wonderful to be given a well-conceived metaphor to further one's understanding.

Part 2 of When Bad Days Turn Good on Friday.

* * *

The organization that provides my hospice care is Care Partners, a non-profit that supplies hospice and palliative care to five counties in northwest Oregon. I have a wonderful nurse who is also my case manager along with a social worker and a non-denominational spiritual adviser with others to call on as needed.

They are all excellent and one other thing that gives me comfort: there is always a live person on the other end of the telephone line, a nurse, so that I can have real human help at my fingertips at any hour of the day or night.

This week, I'm blushing a bit that Care Partners published a story about this blog and linked to the first story I posted about entering hospice. Their home page is here.

[Part 2 is here.]

A TGB READER STORY: Life Lessons at the Lunch Counter

By Barrie N. Levine who blogs at “Into the 70s – 72 is the New 72”

When mid-summer rolls around, I remember the year – 1963 - that I was summarily fired from my summer job. Not fair!

I had just completed my freshman year and needed to earn expense money for the fall semester. I was thrilled to get hired at the five-and-dime lunch counter in my New Jersey hometown.

I proudly wore my starched yellow uniform with the white apron, designating me as part of something important, in this case a variety store with a name recognized throughout the country. Not Woolworth’s, but close [W. T. Grant & Company].

I learned how to make malted milkshakes, ice cream sodas, floats, sundaes and banana splits. Now I was a grownup, privy to the mysteries of creating soda fountain drinks. I took my responsibilities seriously - when I wiped down the counter, it was spotless to welcome my next customer.

I acquired several regulars. An older man, a fatherly type with horn-rimmed glasses, ordered an apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream every day. When he situated himself on the red vinyl swivel seat, I brought over his pie and coffee without asking. He always left five cents for a tip under the cup and saucer.

I enjoyed my new community of co-workers and loyal customers, and the ebb and flow of the day - breakfast rush hour, slow mid-morning, quick turnover of office and retail employees at their thirty minute lunches, kids and their mothers ordering soda fountain treats after school, then closing down at four with the rest of the evening free to hang out with my friends.

Another girl was hired but she wasn’t as conscientious in her duties. She was a permanent hire whereas I was there temporarily, the college girl passing through on the way to her future.

I saw her insert the malted milk canister into the spinner - but apparently not far enough. It flew off the spike and hurtled into mid-air like a missile off course. Fortunately, it landed on the floor, but not before ejecting strawberry malted all over the place, including on my yellow uniform.

My boss, enraged, walked up to me and shouted, “Miss Weiner, did you do that?”

I denied it and tried to explain but he didn’t listen, much less believe me. Didn’t my reputation for perfect attendance and proficiency make a difference?

The strawberry malted dripping off my uniform convinced him of my guilt. The new girl - whose uniform was spotless because she was behind the line of fire - stood silent while I took the fall.

My boss ordered, “Turn in your uniform and don’t come back.”

I stammered, “But, but, I wore my uniform to work today...“

“Okay, then get it back here first thing tomorrow morning if you want your tips for the week.”

I held back tears. The entire incident - from disaster to dismissal - happened within all of five minutes.

I waited at the bus stop in my yellow outfit covered with pink streaks stunned at the injustice meted out to me. The stains didn’t come out in the wash and I expected my boss to dock my pay for the damage. But I kept the name tag - really, who else named Barrie would they need it for?

The public humiliation I experienced burned for weeks. By then, it was too late in the summer to find another job.

In September, I returned to college and moved on with my life armed with a tougher shell and slightly more prepared for the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” I continued my food service line of employment working in the college dining hall, learning to carry five hot meals balanced on my left arm.

But nothing - not even the life lesson at the lunch counter - prepared me for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November.

Still, I’ve always wondered if Apple Pie Guy cared enough to ask anyone why I was suddenly gone.

* * *

[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.]


Some More Blog Housekeeping

OREGON WILDFIRE UPDATE:
On Friday evening, the air quality where I live returned to “good”, the best ranking on the scale. It creeped up a few points on Saturday but still in the “good” range, remained there on Sunday and is there this morning.

That doesn't mean our terrifying air is done for the year. Some fires are still burning, there might be more, the wind can change. We live – all of us - on so many levels nowadays holding our breath. I haven't unpacked my go-bag.

* * *

Just over a week ago, I posted some blog housekeeping notes about disruptive comments a drive-by reader had left and explained why I banned that person from future commenting.

There will be no banning today. This housekeeping is of a more personal nature – all of you and me.

First: some readers have commented that they are amazed that given my diagnosis of cancer and COPD and that I am now in hospice, I still publish this blog on a regular schedule.

Well, yes, and that is because it is what I do. It is what I have been doing for more than 16 years. It gives shape and form to my days. I love writing this blog. I love trying to say just what it is I mean as truthfully and artfully as I can. And, sometimes I succeed.

It has been interesting these past three years making the style transition from mostly reporting on issues of interest and importance to elders, to a much more personal blog about what it is like to be dying, a topic that is all but taboo in our culture generally so it's not like there is anyone much I can crib from.

It took awhile to find my way but I think it's working fairly well now. I learn more about myself and this final journey during the effort to be as clear as I can be for you, TGB readers, but also from your responses and support.

You make me stronger, more resilient and therefore more capable of dealing with this ultimate fate of every living thing. Just so you know, I'm not nearly as brave as some of you have said. I just wake up each day and go forward within the limitations of this diseased, old body. I have no other answer for what to do than that.

Next: The number of reader emails has increased a lot over the past two or three months. As in the past, I try to answer each one if only, sometimes, with a thank you but it has now gone beyond my capability to keep up.

My stamina wanes week by week now so there is a decreasing number of useful hours in each day. You say the loveliest things but I wear out so easily even just sitting at the computer sometimes that I must cut back the time I spend here.

If you do not receive a return email, please understand that it is only the disease stealing my energy, not that I am dismissing or ignoring you. I read every note I receive.

Not infrequently, emails sound like they are meant for the comments section. I think this happens when subscribers click “reply” in the email they receive with the day's blog post, but those returns go only to me via email.

To comment for everyone to read, click the title of the story in the email. It will open in your browser where you can scroll down, click the word “comments” and add your message to the conversation in the box provided.

Next: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Some things happen at an awkward time for blog publication. Usually, I write blog stories the day before they are to be posted and in doing so, I can miss late-breaking news items.

Last Friday evening was one of those times. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death was announced after I had shut down the computer for the day.

I thought for a few moments I should rewrite Saturday's Interesting Stuff to include that news. But it was the end of my day, I was tired and decided it was such big news that no one needed to hear it from me.

Almost everyone who commented on Saturday mentioned Justice Ginsburg briefly. It is an enormous political event and to some of us, a personal one too.

So let's make some space here today for anyone or everyone who wants to, to talk about Ginsburg in the comments - the ramifications of an “instant” nomination from the president, how that might affect the election and whether anyone besides me doesn't believe a word Senator Susan Collins says about how she will vote about anything. And, of course, the wonderful Notorious RBG herself.


ELDER MUSIC: Together at Home 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.

* * *

We are all still locked up at home (okay, maybe we can get out for various things, but still). I really want to thank these and other musicians who make this a bit less grim.

Several of the DOOBIE BROTHERS reunite (virtually) to perform their most famous song, and one that’s really appropriate for this column Listen to the Music.


Alas, we can’t have John Lennon performing his most famous (solo) song. In his place here is STEPHEN RIDLEY. Stephen performs Imagine (and bits of other songs) in a (nearly) deserted London railway station. This piano has been used for many musical videos from back when people could congregate.


Here is a video I had originally had in the first of these columns. It got the flick when I found other songs by both these performers. It’s still worth a listen. It’s by BRIAN MAY (guitarist from Queen, of course) and SHUBA. They perform a Queen song, written by Freddie Mercury and first performed by him, Love of My Life.


The CELLISTS OF THE SEATTLE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA could easily have fitted into the classical version of “Together at Home”, but that was full, so I decided to include them here. It’s one of J.S. Bach’s most famous tunes, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, from his cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147”.


PAUL KELLY is one of the world’s finest singer/songwriters. Here he is with JESS HITCHCOCK. Jess is an up and coming singer, if you can call 10 years as a singer, songwriter, teacher, backing singer, composer as “up and coming”. Together they perform one of Paul’s songs, Every Day my Mother’s Voice.


It was JOHN FOGERTY who was my inspiration to produce these columns in the first place – his were the first of these videos I found. He performs with his kids, a daughter who usually plays guitar, but she’s playing drums on this clip, and two sons who play bass and guitar. Not to forget the family dog.

That means today’s instrumentation matches that of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Here’s the Fogerty family with Tombstone Shadow. This might be the best garage band ever.


IAN MOSS was the guitarist and one of the songwriters for iconic Australian rock group Cold Chisel. JIMMY BARNES was the charismatic singer for the group whose vocal style made Joe Cocker sound like Pavarotti.

On this clip there are some others, including Jimmy’s daughter Mahalia Barnes singing harmony. The song is When the War is Over.


DELTA GOODREM is often described as “The Voice of Australia”. It’s a pity she’s not widely known elsewhere so I’ll do my little bit to help that along. She performs the quintessential Australian song Down Under, first performed and written by Men at Work.


Speaking of Men at Work, here is the main man from that group, COLIN HAY. He’s a solo performer these days, although he often calls on a couple of friends to join him. He does that today when he performs the song Ringo Starr made popular, Photograph. Ringo knew what he was talking about as he was a photographer of some note.


Hands up all those who don’t remember PETER FRAMPTON from the seventies. Okay, a few of you, but back then he was everywhere with one of the biggest albums of all time. You know the one, at least those who didn’t put their hands up. Here’s another Ringo song, It Don’t Come Easy.


KRISTEN MOSCA channels Scott Joplin with her tune, Quarantine Rag. She says that it’s her first original rag, and based on the way it sounds, she has a real future in this genre. Scott is smiling down on her and the rest of us.


I was going to end there but thanks to Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, I found this one, and it’s an appropriate way to end. Here is ARLO GUTHRIE performing the old Stephen Foster song, Hard Times Come Again No More.

Arlo has the help of Jim Wilson on piano, Vanessa Bryan as co-lead singer, the great Stanley Clarke playing bass, a terrific choir and others who are mentioned at the end of the video. It’s amazing how relevant a 160-plus year old song can be.