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ELDER MUSIC: 1959 Again

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

What happened in 1959?

  • Renée Fleming was born
  • Barbie doll was launched
  • The Twilight Zone made its premiere
  • Hawaii became the 50th state of the U.S.
  • Bonanza premiered
  • The Morris Mini-Minor was released
  • Rio Bravo was released
  • Melbourne were premiers

RICKY NELSON had several hits this year.

Ricky Nelson

He also appeared in a couple of films, most notably Rio Bravo, a film I like a lot. The song I've selected is Never Be Anyone Else But You.

♫ Ricky Nelson - Never Be Anyone Else But You

I'm sure that readers of this column know and love Nat King Cole's Mona Lisa. CONWAY TWITTY recorded a version of the song this year as well.

Conway Twitty

Conway intended it only for an album he was recording, however, it managed to escape and become a big hit. Those who like Nat's version but are unfamiliar with Conway's had better prepare themselves.

♫ Conway Twitty - Mona Lisa

TONI FISHER had a couple of hits around this time.

Toni Fisher

This is a rather odd one. It seems that phase shifting was deliberate. At least, that's what they told us at the time. I think someone stuffed up the recording and they decided to release it as it was and spin that tale.

The song is The Big Hurt.

♫ Toni Fisher - The Big Hurt

NEIL SEDAKA's first hit was a paean to Carole King back when they went to school together and she was named Carol Klein.

Neil Sedaka

I think you'll have guessed the song I'm talking about, Oh! Carol. He put a talky bit in the middle because it worked for The Diamonds with Little Darlin', so he figured it would work for him. Seems he was right.

♫ Neil Sedaka - Oh! Carol

There's always room for The King. Here's ELVIS with A Fool Such As I.

Elvis Presley

This was originally performed by Hank Snow in 1952. A bit later Jo Stafford and Tommy Edwards both had a go at it. No one remembers those versions.

♫ Elvis Presley - A Fool Such As I

Heavens, I haven't had the EVERLY BROTHERS yet. That's remiss of me.

The Everly Brothers

I will rectify that instantly with Take a Message to Mary. The song was written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant who wrote many of the Everly's early hits.

♫ The Everly Brothers - Take a Message to Mary

LLOYD PRICE had several big hits around this time. They were all pretty good and worth a listen.

Lloyd Price

This was the one that sold the most of all his records and gave him the nickname Mr Personality. The song is Personality.

♫ Lloyd Price - Personality

Okay, here's the odd one out for the year. This is DODIE STEVENS.

Dodie Stevens

Those who recognise the name are probably slapping their foreheads because they know what's coming. For the rest of you, sit back and relax to Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces, a song Dodie didn't particularly like but the record company insisted on her recording it. It was a huge hit.

♫ Dodie Stevens - Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces

Here is a song we've had before but that time it was sung in French. Today there's an English version by THE BROWNS.

The Browns

The Browns were sisters Bonnie and Maxine and their brother Jim Ed. Their most famous song was The Three Bells.

♫ The Browns - The Three Bells

JOHNNY O'KEEFE closes the year.

Johnny O'Keefe

There were many visiting performers (to Australia) around this time who wished he'd close the show whenever they were on rather than their having to follow him. Indeed, there were some who made return visits who stipulated in their contracts that Johnny was not to be on the bill with them.

This is because he was one of the greatest rock and roll performers the world had seen. His act was so full on that no one could compete, especially when he performed a cover of the Isley Brothers' song, Shout.

The record is a pale imitation of what happened on stage.

♫ Johnny O'Keefe - Shout (Pt. 1 & 2)

You can find more music from 1959 here. 1960 will appear in two weeks' time.

INTERESTING STUFF – 30 August 2014


Unless you've been under a rock for the past week, you know about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during which mostly celebrities and politicians who want a few more minutes than usual in the spotlight sit still to have ice water poured on them.

It is intended to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease and from some reports, it seems to be working. Me? I'm more interested in the non-celebrities who have taken the challenge and today, let's look at two of those who are at the extreme ends of the age spectrum.

First, here is Jack Reynolds, a Brit wearing only Union Jack boxer shorts – he's 102 years old and he celebrated after the icy drenching with a glass of whiskey.

Read more about Jack here.

At the other end of the age scale is another Brit, two-year-old Scarlett who, after being soaked in ice cold water, dropped the F-bomb on her mother:

Unfortunately, since I first saw this, the video has been pulled from YouTube and I'm really sorry you can't see it. The kid says to her mother in a little two-year-old girlie voice, "Fuck your mouth," and it's really funny.

No harm done but even so, someone believed little Scarlet needed to make a formal apology for her naughty language. You can watch the 14-second video at Mediate but I prefer that website's punchline to the event:

“Okay,” Scarlett mumbled, before running out of her mother’s grasp to the fucking swingset.”


This 15-minute video report about how robots are taking over all but the most menial jobs went viral last week. It's worth watching:

It sounds like a miserably awful work future for humans. There is a good discussion here from Richard Eskow about how true this prediction may or may not be.


I have a guest room. In winter, I keep the door closed so that I don't need to heat the room and the door stays closed most of the rest of the year unless guests are expected.

I'm pretty sure a month or two sometimes go by when I don't enter the room. That may be why this photo in the Guardian forced me to rethink the closed door policy:


That is a giant wasp nest discovered in a spare bedroom in Winchester, England:

”A man who went into a rarely used spare room in his mother's home was shocked to discover that 5,000 wasps had made a giant nest in the bed.

The nest, 3ft wide x 1.5ft deep, was still expanding and the insects had chewed through the mattress and pillows to build it.

When pest controller John Birkett was called to the scene he realised it had been growing for several months.”

There is more to know in the Guardian story - some interesting comments from that exterminator too.


After a two-week vacation, Jon Stewart returned to The Daily Show this week and immediately took on the media response to events in Ferguson following the shooting of Michael Brown. It is Stewart at his indignant best.


That's the name of a real TV show that will debut on We tv in the fall. The president of that network says it is

“ of the most unique and compelling show concepts we’ve ever seen.” “Our featured couples will get a once-in-a-lifetime experience, while our viewers will get the kind of bold, break-through-the-clutter programming they increasingly associate with WE tv...”


Actually, it is a copy of a program that has been broadcast in Britain for the past year. Here is an excerpt from the first episode:

You can see the entire first British episode here and/or read more here about the U.S. version of Sex in a Box.


We have always been told how smart dolphins are but I still think we don't give them (or a lot of other animals) enough brain power credit.

Watch this video sent by Alan Goldsmith:


My question about why someone, anyone, would pay to have a life size statue of President Barsack Obama made and then place it on a bench on the front porch goes unanswered.

My second question is why anyone would steal it. But they did, leaving it on a park bench with a six-pack and some cigarettes.


Here is the original news report with video. And here is Mediaite's follow-up after recovery of the statue.


When he sent me the link, my friend Jim Stone wrote “How did I not know this?” in the subject line of his email. I had exactly the same thought when I watched this video about plastic wrap and aluminum foil:

I checked both boxes in my kitchen: yup – those little tabs are right where the man in the video shows us and in more than half a century of using those products, I've never noticed them before. My life is changed.


Jim Stone was on a roll that day when he sent the plastic wrap video and this one too. It is a short film based on a lovely, little true story written by Bob Perks.

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

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

Me and My Elderblog

Ever since Facebook launched in 2004, and even moreso following Twitter's online birth two years later, people who think they are in the know have been predicting the death of blogging – translation: long-form writing.

The prognosticators often include the news and magazine media. The future of written communication, they have been telling us, is in 140 characters or thereabouts.

If that turns out to be true, I'm glad I'm old and will die before long. Outside of “Fire, run,” “Dinner's ready” and “I love you,” there isn't much I care about that can be said in one sentence.

In the past couple of years, apparently in backlash, some young entrepreneurs have founded websites specifically to promote longform reporting and other kinds of writing. Vox is one, also Longreads, The Verge and Matter among them.

They and others are fine antidotes to an internet world overflowing with Buzzfeed-style listicles.

A week so ago, Curbed founder Lockhart Steele wrote a (longform) piece at The Verge rethinking the future of blogging which he had forsaken a few years ago:

”I loved those days: writing post after post after post, day after day, forces a different mindset as a writer,” he said. “You loosen up; you get conversational.”

No kidding. I know all about that as do many of you who regularly comment here and those who keep your own blogs.

So strong is the pull of that “old-fashioned” style of daily writing for Steele, whose successful Curbed website was sold to Vox Media not long ago, that he announced the resurrection of his old blog:

”Thinking about all this has stoked my desire to get back in the game myself. So, today, I'm raising my personal blog,, from the dead.

“Over there, on a daily basis, I'll be blogging about Vox Media editorial, as well as things that have nothing to do with our company, such as restaurants and — indulge me here — the Red Sox.

“Part of my goal is to offer a clearer window into what's going on in the Vox Media world; the other, simply, is to regain the practice of daily blogging.”

Lockhart Steele is much younger than I am and still in the career game so to a degree, blogging is a sideline but he's convinced me of his love for the form and its day-to-day nature. That is a large part of how blogging became my raison d'etre.

It didn't start out that way but in the decade I've been publishing, it gives me reason to get out of bed each day, has fueled my interest in new-ish elder issues such as the Village movement I am now part of, provides the space to hold forth on the main mission here, aging in general, and more.

Steele and I have a lot of in common. As blog topics, he has Vox, I have aging. We each indulge some of our other interests – his Red Sox, my politics. We both like the daily practice of writing in the peculiarly bloggy manner that he correctly identifies as conversational.

Not to mention the actual conversation, the back and forth among readers. There is no such thing on Twitter or Facebook where there is no space – read: length – for actual thought or, with so many unrelated interruptions, any reasonably cogent exchange of thought among the people who post comments.

So I was happy to see Lockhart Steele's disquisition on blogging. I'm sticking with it whether longform writing succeeds elsewhere or not.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Bettijane Eisenpreis: Witnesses to History

Preparing for Grandparenthood

On Tuesday's post about not having borne children and therefore having an old age without grandchildren, Karen Swift mentioned this in her comment:

”My first grandchild will arrive in November...I have been thinking a lot about exactly what kind of grandmother I want to be. Did any of you think about that ahead of time? I don't think I want to leave it up to my instincts!”

What an interesting question. Enough so that it was rolling around in my head when I woke way too early Wednesday morning (2:30AM) unable to go back to sleep. It has never occurred to me before that one might plan grandparenthood.

As I tried to wonder what kind of grandmother I might have become, the first image that popped into my head was Auntie Mame.

Or, maybe, something like my great Aunt Edith who was the closest thing I had to a grandmother.

She was 15 years old when she left home to join a traveling dance troupe, became a successful business woman, dressed oh-so elegantly, took me to fancy restaurants – just the two of us – listened when I talked and made me feel like I could grow up to be anything I wanted.

Then I realized she had some crucial experience I lacked: although she never married, she raised my father, her nephew, from the time he was 10 years old.

I suspect to be any good at grandparenting, one needs to have had some reasonably close knowledge of what kids are like and my experience is, essentially, zero.

So today, I am leaving Karen Swift's question up to you, dear readers, who are grandparents (that means men too). Soon-to-be parents make all kinds of preparations for the birth of their babies. Does grandparenthood need planning too?

Did you think about what style you'd take on? Or did you just follow your instincts? Did your children lay down any rules for you?

Our world has changed so much in the past two, three, four decades; does that make relating to young children today different from when you were raising your own? If so, how?

Let us know along with anything else that comes to mind that you think would help out Karen Swift.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Dear Dairy

A Book Deal For You

I discovered the English writer, Julian Barnes, in 1984 with the publication that year of Flaubert's Parrot, and I haven't stopped reading him since.

In the past decade, Barnes seems to have become almost as consumed with growing old, old age in general and contemplation of death as I am and he has been writing about them in powerful ways so beyond my attempts that I may as well be living on a lesser planet. I recommend them all:

The Lemon Table - short stories about growing old (2004)

Nothing to be Frightened Of - essays about his ancestors, real and imagined, and their contemplation of death (2008)

The Sense of an Ending - novel of a middle-aged man forced to confront his past (2011 – Man Booker Prize)

Pulse - another brilliant short-story collection some of which touch on age and grief (2011)

Last week, I re-read Barnes' 2013 memoir of the grief he has lived following the death of wife of 30 years, literary agent Pat Kavanaugh. You wouldn't think the first two sections of Levels of Life – on 19th century ballooning and on Sarah Bernhardt – would have anything to do with that. You would be wrong.

The book is unforgettable - stunning achievement, beautiful, intense, heartbreaking, eloquent, profound and shattering.

I am telling you this today because as I returned the paperback to the shelf, I discovered a hardback edition. Huh? Blame it on old age memory, I guess. Apparently I bought the soft cover without checking my unread books pile.

So one of you wins today. As we have done in the past, let me know if you are interested in owning Julian Barnes' Levels of Life.

You can do that in the comments below by typing, Yes, I want the book. Or, Count me in. Or, Me, me, me. Or however else you want to indicate your interest.

The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and I'll mail off the book to you. The deadline for comments is 12:01AM Pacific Daylight Time on Friday 29 August I'll announce the winner in this space on Monday 1 September.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: You Can't Stop a Laugh

Being Old Without Children

In February 2011, I posted a story about being old and childless titled, Having No Children – Regrets? It was popular. There were many more of comments than other days with a lot of thoughtful discussion.

But I had forgotten it until last week when a reader named Kelly left this comment on the post:

”I turn 50 in 45 days and find myself unmarried, no kids and my career in shambles. I needed this article today.

“Usually spend less than an 4 hours a year on facebook, but just spent two hours looking for pictures to put on a personal project. It was difficult to see all my family members with their kids and grandkids - milestones, trips, homes, my life became empty in a matter of minutes.

“Until I read this. I am forever grateful.”

(By the way, there are more comments – or, sometimes, private emails to me - than you would think from people, usually not regulars, who appreciate the insights in the conversations here. A large part of that is you, TGB readers, who contribute so much useful information so take a bow.)

Throughout my life I have often said that aside from putting a gun to one's head, there are hardly any decisions that are irrevocable. But not having children is one of them – for women, after a certain age, there is no going back.

Kelly's comment last week reminded me that childlessness, chosen or through circumstance, can be an issue in old age and that it's worth repeating this post. Time Goes By has gained many new readers since 2011, and I'm eager to hear from you. If you recall this post from 2011, maybe you have more to say.

Here is the original post with a few minor tweaks but no substantive changes.

Many elderbloggers post photos of their grandchildren, tell cute stories about them and about the the joys (or, sometimes, heartaches) of grandparenthood.

I can't do that. I didn't have children, a choice I renewed through the years.

When I graduated from high school in 1958, many of the women (girls, really) in my class married right away – some within a week or so in weddings they had planned throughout our senior year. Two or three were already pregnant and the rest couldn't wait to become mothers, as was generally expected of us in those days.

Although few women attended college in mid-20th century America and marrying at 17 or 18 was common, going from the confines of school and home to what I considered the equally confining boundaries of suburban domestication was not for me.

I wanted to live on my own, explore the world around me, meet new people, travel to faraway places, go dancing, drink wine and talk politics all night. I wanted to find out what kind of person I would become and I knew in my bones I would never get to do those things if I was keeping house and changing diapers. I'll do that later, I told myself, much later.

That is not to disparage those who chose the marriage path so young; it just didn't sing to me and I knew I was nowhere near grownup enough yet to raise babies.

Six or seven years later, I did marry – one of the larger mistakes of my life. It was apparent before a year had passed that we were not going to make it and although I hung on and hoped for six years, I made sure there were no children.

Bad marriage but good choice about kids because at age 31, I found myself with no husband, no home and no job.

That righted itself and for the next several years, I created a terrific career, dated some extraordinarily interesting and accomplished men and did not marry any of them.

The late 1970s arrived and many of my friends had married, moved off to married-people land, had babies and we had little in common anymore. I cannot express how deeply I did not (and still do not) care about the relative merits of Pampers and Huggies or of various brands of baby carriages - conversations I struggled to politely endure when visiting those friends. It's probably a genetic failing if not a moral one.

But I was fast approaching 40, a good cutoff date for pregnancy, and it seemed time to seriously consider motherhood before it was too late. So I spent the next year or so weighing the question.

It was clear, I reasoned, that I was not a woman who bubbled over with maternal longing. On the other hand, I am thoroughly responsible and if a baby or two were thrust my way, I'd throw myself into it – Pampers, soccer games (ugh) and all – because, well, how can you not. There is no other choice than to do the best you can to successfully guide a kid from the cradle to adulthood.

I had been on my own for more than 20 years by the time I was doing all this thinking and journaling and wondering about children. I was curious about that kind of life, about the feeling parents described of overwhelming love for their newborns that was different from other kinds of love.

And I had certainly been awed watching friends' children go from babbling to full sentences within a short space of time. The thrill, if the child is your own, must be amazing.

Another consideration was that there was no potential husband on the horizon. Would I be willing, was motherhood important enough to me, to bear a child and raise him/her on my own? And if so, should I? Was it a good or right thing to do, to choose half a home for a kid from the getgo and not from later circumstance, divorce or death?

That part was easy for me – no. I could not imagine holding down a full time job, the odd hours mine demanded, the travel, weekend work, deadlines, etc. while juggling the needs of a child without a father. And I did not want the disappointment of coming home to a caregiver who told me the kid took his/her first step that day or spoke a first word while I was gone. It would break my heart.

(Just so you know, I'm aware there is much more to motherhood than those two milestones, but it was on my mind then.)

Of course, I also could not avoid the question of whether I would be sorry, regretful when I was old, that I did not have children. There was no way to know.

So I decided that if, in the next couple of years, a man I wanted to marry appeared in my life and he wanted a child, I would do that. But not on my own.

Time passed, the man did not materialize and here I am more than 30 years later, never a mother and therefore not a grandmother.

Do I have regrets now? Only in the sense of missing an experience so common to most of humankind. I am equally curious about having married young and spent 50 or more years with the same person – how different from my life and what an astonishing connection that would be to have lived intimately with one person for so long.

But I also wish I knew what it is like to walk on the moon or be able to sing like Kathleen Battle or dance with Fred Astaire. I would like to have worked in the White House, to know it from the inside. Or Congress.

I wish I had asked my mother and father a whole lot more questions than I did. And I wish so much that I were smarter than I am and could understand many things about which I fall short of “getting.”

Some of these are impossible, others are choices and none are regrettable. Nor is not having children/grandchildren and I suspect that turned out just right for me. But then, how would I know?

I'm pretty sure grandparents could tell me how much I am missing but I don't feel a hole in my life. Overall, it's turned out pretty well. I'm comfortable with my life, and I wonder if other childless elders have regrets about that. Or not.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Comparisons: Yesterday and Today

Shakespeare's Old Age

I am the first to admit that my knowledge of Shakespeare is spotty and even that may be overstating it.

Something like a hundred years ago, I read all 37 plays along with some learned commentary and have re-read or seen some of them performed since then but I am hardly conversant.

Nevertheless, even I know Shakespeare took a dim view of old people, right? His assessment is familiar to most of us with the “All the world's a stage” monologue from As You Like It that includes the bard's seven ages of man, the last two being:

The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

This aligns well with a few other age references in the plays or, anyway, that's what I thought until I read an essay by University of Massachusetts Amherst psychology professor, Susan Krauss Whitbourne last week.

Before I go further I must note that as so many otherwise educated people do, she gets life expectancy in Shakespeare's time wrong stating,

”Shakespeare lived to the age of 52 (he died on his birthday), which at that time was over 20 years past the life expectancy of 30.”

Actually, people in Shakespeare's time commonly lived well past his age of death.

As we have discussed here before, 30 would be life expectancy at birth in a time when it is estimated that around 30 percent of children did not live to adulthood. In fact, Shakespeare's father and mother lived to be 70 and 68 respectively, his sister Joan lived to 77, as did his daughter Judith.

Okay, I'll get off that hobby horse of mine now and move on to the more interesting part of Professor Whitbourne's essay in which she acknowledges that although many people, like me, assume Shakespeare's gloomy attitude toward age is common throughout his works,

”In fact, not all of the lines from Shakespeare that have stayed with us are as negative, including praise of an 'aging' Cleopatra: 'Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety,' and the truly old servant Adam in As You Like It, who proclaims 'Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty.'

“In The Merchant of Venice, we hear from Gratiano, 'With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.'

“Although tragic in the context of the play, on its own this line from the last act of Macbeth suggests that Shakespeare may have come to regard aging as more than just a phase of life to be mocked or feared: 'And that which should accompany old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends...'”

So Shakespeare's judgment of old age was more nuanced and not nearly as negative as it is thought to be.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: The Turtle That Looked Toward the East

ELDER MUSIC: U.S. States, Alabama to Georgia

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.

I thought of doing songs about the states from my home country but as there are only six of them, that wouldn't make much of a column.Then I wondered if there was a country than had more and besides, had a bunch of songs written about them as well.

After much searching (okay, you know I'm flapping my tongue here, or my fingers to be exact), I came up with the various states of the United States (perhaps the name of the country might have given me a clue).

There sure are enough of them, and enough songs too, although a few were rather difficult and half a dozen others had an embarrassment of riches. I mostly tried to avoid the obvious tunes.

So, in alphabetical order, here they are.

Alabama125I'm always happy to include TOM RUSH and when I found he had an Alabama song - well, look no further.

Tom Rush

There was quite a selection of songs for the state but my prejudice in favor of Tom swayed my judgment. His song is Alabama Bound, one of his early ones from his days as a young folkie.

♫ Tom Rush - Alabama Bound

Alaska125North to Alaska was the obvious choice for a song about that state so naturally I'm not using it.

Instead I give you MARIAN CALL, one of the most interesting young singer/songwriters going around at the moment.

Marian Call

She sings about trying to fit in her adopted state with the song I Wish I Were a Real Alaskan Girl.

♫ Marian Call - I Wish I Were a Real Alaskan Girl

MARK LINDSAY came to prominence as the singer and sax player for the rock group Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Mark Lindsay

That group had a revolving cast of band members with only Paul and Mark as constant fixtures.

Arizona125In parallel with that group, Mark had a bit of a solo career as well. One of the hits from that time is called Arizona.

It's really a song about a woman not the state, but that's close enough for this column.

♫ Mark Lindsay - Arizona

ArkansasTONY JOE WHITE had a couple of songs about Arkansas.

Tony Joe White

That wasn't because he was from there – he's Louisiana born and bred. I guess he just liked the sound of the name.

The chosen track is Up in Arkansas which he plays and sings in his trademark style.

♫ Tony Joe White - Up In Arkansas

CaliforniaCalifornia was the easiest state from my point of view, or perhaps it was the hardest.

That's because there are so many songs about it. Once I spotted JOHN STEWART in my search results I didn't bother looking any further.

John Stewart

Whenever I visit San Francisco, which is not often enough as far as I'm concerned, I feel quite at home. So, like John, I think I have California Bloodlines in my heart.

♫ John Stewart - California Bloodlines

Colorado125I knew without searching that RUSTY WIER was going to be the man for Colorado.

Rusty Wier

His song is one that Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I think is particularly amusing. We've made jokes along the lines of the song for decades now. It's called The Coast of Colorado.

♫ Rusty Wier - The Coast Of Colorado

Connecticut125Connecticut gets a couple of old stagers singing together. They are JUDY GARLAND and BING CROSBY.

Judy Garland & Bing Crosby

They need no introduction from me. The song is just called Connecticut.

♫ Judy Garland & Bing Crosby - Connecticut

Delaware125Poor old Delaware, they have the most groan-worthy song of all.

And with that introduction, people with long musical memories will know about what I speak, particularly when I mention PERRY COMO.

Perry Como

Actually, I could have used Delaware's song for half the other states. You'll understand when you play it, you who don't know the song (and I can't imagine there'd be many of you). The song is just called Delaware.

♫ Perry Como - Delaware

FloridaThe first person I thought of when it came to Florida is Jimmy Buffett who has written a bunch of songs about the state.

I decided against including Jimmy and instead went for someone who has probably written even more. That person is BERTIE HIGGINS.

Bertie Higgins

Bertie had a hit with the song Key Largo which was about the film as well as the place. The one today is simply called Florida. It has a big dramatic, over the top beginning. Just ignore that bit.

♫ Bertie Higgins - Florida

Georgia125Georgia was a tough decision because there are so many great songs about the state.

If I haven't chosen your favorite, and that's quite on the cards, that's the reason.

In the end I settled on LEVON HELM to perform that state's tune.

Levon Helms

Levon was the drummer and one of the singers for The Band. That's really all that needs to be said. His song is Watermelon Time in Georgia.

♫ Levon Helm - Watermelon Time in Georgia

More states in two weeks' time.

INTERESTING STUFF – 23 August 2014


One of the best things about having this blog is the interesting people I get to meet. Let me tell you a little story.

A few weeks ago I got an email from a TGB reader named Donna Jensen who will soon be 80, lives in a town near mine and, she wrote, owns a 1956 Thunderbird convertible named Ava. Could we have a photo in the car together?

Don't ask, she said, it's just a bucket list thing.

1956 Thunderbird convertible??? Named Ava??? Are you kidding? I'll be there in a New York minute. Finally, on Tuesday, we met at a local Starbucks, took a ride in her fantastic car, had a wonderful chat about life and the Villages movement and stuff and here's the photo:

Donna, Ronni and Ava

I am thrilled to have this photo of us in such a fantastic, beautiful car, and so pleased to have made a new friend.

Wait, this is not enough. For a car as gorgeous as this, you need to see the whole thing:



That's all I'm going to say – that and pay close attention. It happens fast. (Thank you to Jim Stone)


Remember a couple of weeks ago when I showed you how some Chinese retailers are dressing up peaches in panties? Now the Chinese are growing pears in the shape of babies. Look at this:


You can see more photos and find out how it's done at the designboom website.


That's the time of day an 85-year-old woman chose for her suicide last week rather than live through the indignity of advancing Alzheimer's disease. As the Vancouver Sun reported:

”On Monday morning shortly before noon, Gillian Bennett dragged a foam mattress from her home on Bowen Island to one of her favourite spots on the grass, facing a craggy rock cliff, the place she had chosen to die.”

This is a photograph of Ms. Bennett with her cat Cosmo last year.

Gillian Bennett 2013

Bennett...chose to take her own life with a draught of good whiskey, a dose of Nembutal mixed with water and her husband of 60 years by her side,” the Sun story continues.

“'I held her hand,' said Jonathan, a retired philosophy professor. His voice is reflective, resonant, measured. “'I agreed with her choice.'”

Read more here where you can also see a video about Gillian Bennett and more photos of her and her family. There is a website, Goodbye & Good Luck!, which Gillian wrote about her decision. (Hat tip to Cile who blogs at cilesfineline)


Millions of us are fans of the Netflix series, House of Cards which stars Kevin Spacey as the treacherous member of Congress, Frank Underwood.

Particularly given the current mediocre level of congressional behavior, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan let his sanctimony show last week when he said that House of Cards “disgusts” him. As Truthdig reported:

”According to Politico, Ryan said, 'I watched the first couple of episodes until [Frank Underwood] cheated on his wife with that reporter. It turned my stomach so much that I just couldn’t watch it anymore.'

“Really? You made it through canicide, but infidelity is too much to bear?”

For the rest of us who delight in Spacey's cathartic portrayal of Congressional chicanery and evil, here is a collection of clips from the series to help hold us until next year when season three opens. Watch Underwood as he breaks the fourth wall to tell us what he really thinks. Enjoy.


Here's a nice little map that shows the buying power or, actually, the relative value of $100 among the various 50 states.


That's way too small to read - here's a larger version. In my state, Oregon, I gain $1.21. Go see where your state stands.


With the 24/7 coverage of Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown, we have gotten a good look at what the militarization of a police force looks like. It ain't pretty and John Oliver had a go at the phenomenon on his HBO show last Sunday.


A beautiful, bittersweet little story about unexpected best friends and that life doesn't always turn out the way you want it to.


From Darlene:

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

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

Elders Reading for Pleasure II

It wasn't planned, but apparently this has become book week at Time Goes By. Yesterday, we featured the poetry of Dorothy Trogdon and Wednesday's report on a list of 100 best novels chosen by two male journalists led to requests in the comments for a list written by a woman.

As serendipity would have it, on that very day one of my regular newsletter subscriptions supplied such a list compiled by University of California professor Sandra M. Gilbert.

Probably because academics can't help themselves, Ms. Gilbert carries on at excessive length about the definition of the word best, on the question of ranking writers and on second-guessing herself even before she presents her list.

In Gilbert's defense, the entire exercise of creating her list is in response to yet another recent 100 best American novels list from an architect, David Handlin, whose disquisition on the definitions of the individual words of his title, 100 Best American Novels, is mind-numbing – or maybe that's just me.

Personally, I don't think these lists are worth arguing much about - there are so many good books in the world but "good" in this context can't be anything but subjective. I enjoy perusing the lists and I usually am reminded of a few I mean to get around to reading.

Today's list differs from Wednesday's in at least three ways: there are many more titles from the mid- and late-19th century, more titles by women writers and none are ranked in order of merit. Personal opinion: there are more on this list that are not deserving.)

So here is Sandra M. Gilbert's list. You can read her entire article here.

Oh, wait, one more thing. On Wednesday, Peter Tibbles pointed out that the 100 list was actually only 99. As if to makeup for that omission, Gilbert's list comes in at 101.

  1. Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple (1791)
  2. Lydia Maria Child, Hobomok (1824)
  3. Susan Warner, The Wide, Wide World (1850)
  4. Fanny Fern (Sara Willis Parton), Ruth Hall (1855)
  5. Harriet E. Wilson, Our Nig (1859)
  6. Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills (1861)
  7. Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)
  8. Elizabeth Drew Stoddard, The Morgesons (1862)
  9. Louisa May Alcott, Work (1873)
  10. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward, The Story of Avis (1877)

  11. William Dean Howells, A Modern Instance (1882)
  12. Sarah Orne Jewett, A Country Doctor (1884)
  13. E.D.E.N. Southworth, The Hidden Hand (1888)
  14. L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
  15. Jack London, The Call of the Wild (1903)
  16. Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906)
  17. Gertrude Stein, Three Lives (1909)
  18. Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome (1911)
  19. Mary Austin, A Woman of Genius (1912)
  20. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915)

  21. Edith Wharton, Summer (1917)
  22. E. E. Cummings, The Enormous Room (1922)
  23. Jean Toomer, Cane (1923)
  24. William Carlos Williams, The Great American Novel (1923)
  25. Willa Cather, The Professor’s House (1925)
  26. Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy (1925)
  27. Ellen Glasgow, Barren Ground (1925)
  28. Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925)
  29. Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)
  30. Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers (1925)

  31. Edna Ferber, Show Boat (1926)
  32. Nella Larsen, Quicksand (1928)
  33. Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel (1929)
  34. Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (1930)
  35. Ellen Glasgow, The Sheltered Life (1932)
  36. Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)
  37. Henry Roth, Call It Sleep (1934)
  38. Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind (1936)
  39. Pietro di Donato, Christ in Concrete (1939)
  40. Katherine Anne Porter, Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939)

  41. Jane Bowles, Two Serious Ladies (1943)
  42. William Saroyan, The Human Comedy (1943)
  43. Joel Townsley Rogers, The Red Right Hand (1945)
  44. Anne Petry, The Street (1946)
  45. Jean Stafford, The Mountain Lion (1947)
  46. Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948)
  47. Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951)
  48. J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
  49. Conrad Aiken, Ushant (1952)
  50. E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web (1952)

  51. Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
  52. Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha (1953)
  53. Randall Jarrell, Pictures from an Institution (1954)
  54. Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)
  55. James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room (1956)
  56. Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
  57. Paule Marshall, Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959)
  58. Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus (1959)
  59. H.D., Bid Me to Live (1960)
  60. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)

  61. Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
  62. Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle (1961)
  63. Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools (1962)
  64. Mary McCarthy, The Group (1963)
  65. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)
  66. Frank Herbert, Dune (1965)
  67. May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing (1965)
  68. Richard Fariña, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (1966)
  69. Bernard Malamud, The Fixer (1966)
  70. Samuel R. Delany, The Einstein Intersection (1967)

  71. N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn (1968)
  72. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
  73. Joyce Carol Oates, them (1969)
  74. Alice Walker, The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970)
  75. Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo (1972)
  76. Eudora Welty, The Optimist’s Daughter (1972)
  77. Tony Hillerman, Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)
  78. Erica Jong, Fear of Flying (1973)
  79. Toni Morrison, Sula (1973)
  80. Diane Johnson, The Shadow Knows (1974)

  81. Alison Lurie, The War Between the Tates (1974)
  82. E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime (1975)
  83. Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (1975)
  84. Bharati Mukherjee, Wife (1975)
  85. Joanna Russ, The Female Man (1975)
  86. Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977)
  87. Meridel Le Sueur, The Girl (1978)
  88. Helen Barolini, Umbertina (1979)
  89. Octavia E. Butler, Kindred (1979)
  90. Toni Cade Bambara, The Salt Eaters (1980)

  91. Tina de Rosa, Paper Fish (1980)
  92. Joyce Carol Oates, A Bloodsmoor Romance (1982)
  93. Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982)
  94. Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)
  95. Edmund White, A Boy’s Own Story (1982)
  96. Paula Gunn Allen, The Woman Who Owned the Shadows (1983)
  97. Cynthia Ozick, The Cannibal Galaxy (1983)
  98. Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street (1984)
  99. Louise Erdrich, Love Medicine (1984)
  100. Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John (1985)

  101. Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Crossing the Bridge


As I tell the publicists who contact me about books they are flogging, I don't “review” books, I write about a few of them I like. Not many more than half a dozen a year.

The reason for so few is that I already spend the greater portion of my days reading, researching, thinking and writing about getting old. I need some time for my other interests and a great deal of that is reading for personal pleasure.

Not that I don't enjoy what I do for this blog but it is not my entire life.

A lot of the time I choose which books to tell you about from what I've been reading on my own. Other times they fall into my lap and today's came from Dan Peters who is the publisher at Blue Begonia Press in Washington state.

He emailed to tell me about this book at the instigation of his father Doug Peters who, writes Dan, is a “HUGE fan” of Time Goes By and often mentions the poetry featured here.

TWLCover125 The book is “Tall Woman Looking” by Dorothy Trogdon who lives on Orcas Island in the San Juans, and much of her poetry deals with aging, art and marriage.

Dan tells me that she published this, her [so far] only book of poetry, in her mid-eighties, 2012:

”She's a trained art historian, has a masters degree in architecture from Harvard, but because of generational gender traditions was never employed as an architect.

“She raised a family and supported her husband, also a Harvard trained architect. She returned to poetry only recently, in her late 70's and early 80's and came to our attention through the former state poet laureate.”

This is the title poem, Tall Woman Looking:

I stand at a window looking across the grass
to the house where I lived as a child

and I see that it matches my memory exactly -
brown shingled siding, blue hydrangeas,

and in the yard an old birch tree hammered
by a woodpecker every April.

Then the clack-clack of my father's typing,
a hiss of steam from my mother's iron – I hear them,

and I see in his room upstairs my brother,
bent over an airplane kit of tissue and balsa.

How heedlessly, how blithely I fled those safe
and quiet waters! Now when I think of that

skinny, long-legged, brown-eyed girl,
of the happy life she led there,

the irreplaceable years of hopscotch,
Sunday night waffles, new skates for Christmas,

my heart stakes its claim. I shall mine
that streambed as long as I live.

It is easy to tell you the kind of novels I like – I can rattle them off without effort. Not so with poetry the language of which, it seems to me, is generally so different from prose it might not be English.

This, Coda, is another from Trogdon's book that I particularly like - something about how the language weaves together:

Now I am beginning to say goodbye,
now on the very last May evening.
My kimono is the color of mist.

But the fragrance of lilacs from the garden
comes to me in the dusk, and I am in no
hurry to go. Perhaps the rose grosbeaks
will come to the olive trees tomorrow.

Perhaps the hives will be heavy at harvest,
perhaps one day we will turn to each other
and begin at last to speak of love.

Here is Ms. Trogdon herself reading Strange How You Stay at the launch party for her book:

You will find more readings by Dorothy from her book here and here.

And, you can purchase “Tall Woman Looking” at the Blue Begonia Press website.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: Partying Hearty

Old Enough to Have Always Read for Pleasure

Sometimes I wonder – well, more than sometimes – if we old folks are the last generation to have the habit of reading for pleasure.

I don't mean to imply that younger people are less literate necessarily, or dumber or not as interested in reading as we are. It's just that there are so many other things to fill time nowadays: movies, television, internet, video games, smart phones and tablets with apps and more apps.

Electronic screens are hard to ignore, some say they are addictive, and even toddlers can handle an iPad with aplomb.

Most of us, people about 65 and older, grew up - at least in our earliest years - without those distractions. There were radio and movies, the latter mostly on weekends, and television didn't arrive where I lived until I was in high school.

When I was a kid, most of my free time in the house, and that of my parents too, was spent reading. It started young and it became a lifelong habit. When everything else is done, when nothing demands my attention, I almost always reach for a book.

Recently, over at the Counterpunch website, journalist Jeffrey St. Clair published a list of 100 Best Novels in English that he and his friend, the late Alexander Cockburn, had compiled together before Cockburn's death two years ago.

I know from a decade of your comments that many TGB readers are book readers so I suspect you would be as interested in what these two smart guys came up with as I am. They made some rules for themselves - these are three of them:

Nothing older than 1900
No repeats – one book per author
Unlimited peremptory challenges for authors they dislike

Unlike listicles that plague the internet these days, this is a list I believe no inveterate reader could resist – carefully chosen from stories remembered well enough to discuss intelligently. In addition, they ranked the books in order, one to 100.

I don't know enough of the books to argue with the ordering, particularly their choice for first place, Ulysses by James Joyce. The book, a decades-old edition, sits on my shelf still, never read beyond 40 or 50 pages. I never could make sense of it.

But there are plenty of other authors I would expect and was pleased to see, among them Gore Vidal, Hillary Mantel, Kurt Vonnegut, Ralph Ellison, Henry Miller, Hammett, Wodehouse, Kerouac, Steinbeck, Heller, Waugh, LeGuin, Kesey and even Eric Ambler – because they intentionally included genre fiction as well as literary fiction.

My recall of plots, characters and merit of the books I've read is not anywhere near as good as St. Clair's and Cockburn's, and there are many others on the list I still intend to read – but who knows if I will.

When I was a young woman, I believed there was plenty of time in life to read everything I wanted to before I die. Now at 73, I know I will die with the unread pile decidedly taller than what I've read.

It's worth stopping by Counterpunch to read Jeffrey St. Clair's entire introduction to the list. And let us here know what you think about it. What you've liked, what you skipped, which most strongly remain in your memory.

  1. Ulysses: James Joyce (1922)
  2. Absalom, Absalom!: William Faulkner (1936)
  3. Gravity’s Rainbow: Thomas Pynchon (1973)
  4. Native Son: Richard Wright (1940)
  5. Orlando by Virginia Wolff (1928)
  6. The Rainbow: DH Lawrence (1915)
  7. Under Western Eyes: Joseph Conrad (1911)
  8. Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison (1952)
  9. The Violent Bear It Away: Flannery O’Connor (1960)
  10. Tropic of Cancer: Henry Miller (1934)

  11. The Golden Notebook: Doris Lessing (1962)
  12. The Sun Also Rises: Ernest Hemingway (1926)
  13. Wide Sargasso Sea: Jean Rhys (1966)
  14. The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse (1938)
  15. Tender is the Night: F. Scott Fitzgerald (1934)
  16. Giovanni’s Room: James Baldwin (1956)
  17. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)
  18. At Swim-Two-Birds: Flann O’Brien (1939)
  19. On the Road: Jack Kerouac (1957)
  20. JR: William Gaddis (1975)

  21. Pale Fire: Vladimir Nabokov (1962)
  22. End of the Affair: Graham Greene (1951)
  23. Red Harvest: Dashiell Hammett (1927)
  24. Mumbo Jumbo: Ishmael Reed (1972)
  25. A Lost Lady: Willa Cather (1923)
  26. The Hound of the Baskervilles: Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
  27. Far Tortuga: Peter Mattheissen (1975)
  28. The Iron Heel: Jack London (1908)
  29. Jazz: Toni Morrison (1992)
  30. The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck (1939)

  31. Their Eyes Were Watching God: Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
  32. Nothing Like the Sun by Anthony Burgess (1964)
  33. Riddle of the Sands by Erksine Childers (1903)
  34. The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West (1936)
  35. Catch 22: Joseph Heller (1961)
  36. Beat the Devil: Claud Cockburn (1951)
  37. The Indian Lawyer: James Welch (1990)
  38. The White Hotel: DM Thomas (1981)
  39. Neuromancer: William Gibson (1984)
  40. The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold: Evelyn Waugh (1957)

  41. Light Years: James Salter (1976)
  42. Almanac of the Dead: Leslie Marmon Silko (1991)
  43. Death of the Heart: Elizabeth Bowen (1938)
  44. The Monkeywrench Gang: Edward Abbey (1975)
  45. Slaves of Solitude: Patrick Hamilton (1947)
  46. The Left Hand of Darkness: Ursula K. LeGuin (1969)
  47. Novel on Yellow Paper: Stevie Smith (1936)
  48. A Feast of Snakes: Harry Crews (1976)
  49. Vida: Marge Piercy (1975)

  50. The Man in the High Castle: Philip K. Dick (1962)
  51. Naked Lunch: William Burroughs (1959)
  52. A Place of Greater Safety: Hilary Mantel (2006)
  53. Voss: Patrick White (1957)
  54. Dog Soldiers: Robert Stone (1974)
  55. Animal Dreams: Barbara Kingsolver (1990)
  56. Cat’s Cradle: Kurt Vonnegut (1963)
  57. Sometimes a Great Notion: Ken Kesey (1964)
  58. Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (1944)
  59. The Known World: Edward P. Jones (2003)

  60. Written on the Body: Jeanette Winterson (1993)
  61. Disgrace: JM Coetzee (1999)
  62. Call It Sleep: Henry Roth (1934)
  63. July’s People: Nadine Gordimer (1981)
  64. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)
  65. The Black Prince: Iris Murdoch (1973)
  66. Julian: Gore Vidal (1964)
  67. The Killer Inside Me: Jim Thompson (1952)
  68. An American Dream: Norman Mailer (1965)
  69. If He Hollers, Let Him Go: Chester Himes (1945)

  70. The Secret History: Donna Tartt (1992)
  71. Flaubert’s Parrot: Julian Barnes (1984)
  72. Matterhorn: Karl Marlantes (2009)
  73. The Last Good Kiss: James Crumley (1978)
  74. Salvage the Bones: Jesmyn Ward (2011)
  75. Underworld: Don DeLillo (1997)
  76. The Radiant Way: Margaret Drabble (1987)
  77. Regeneration: Pat Barker (1991)
  78. Snow Crash: Neal Stevenson (1992)
  79. Ray: Barry Hannah (1980)

  80. Tripmaster Monkey: Maxine Hong Kingston (1989)
  81. The Golden Gate: Vikram Seth (1986)
  82. Lucky Jim: Kinglsey Amis (1954)
  83. Day of the Locust: Nathaniel West (1939)
  84. Gateway: Frederick Pohl (1977)
  85. Machine Dreams: Jayne Anne Phillips (1984)
  86. Two Serious Ladies: Jane Bowles (1946)
  87. Mr. American: George MacDonald Fraser (1980)
  88. Zuleika Dobson: Max Beerbohm (1911)
  89. The Dogs of March: Ernest Hebert (1979)

  90. The Deceivers: by John Masters (1952)
  91. Sleeping Beauty: Ross McDonald (1973)
  92. The King Must Die: Mary Renault (1958)
  93. Tree of Smoke: Denis Johnson (2007)
  94. House of Splendid Isolation: Edna O’Brien (1994)
  95. Lucy: Jamaica Kinkaid (1990)
  96. Affliction: Russell Banks (1989)
  97. Gaudy Night: Dorothy L. Sayers (1935)
  98. Flicker: Theodore Roszak (1991)
  99. Greenmantle: John Buchan (1916)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Lost and Found

87-Year-Old Evicted for Using Legal Weed

There are so many things wrong with what has happened to Lea Olivier that it's going to take some unpacking to understand it all. Before I get to that, let me stack up two or three presumptions about where I'm coming from.

First, the law is the law. Right? We live in a country of laws and we don't get to pick which ones we obey. But what if one law conflicts with its opposite? What happens then?

Second, moving from one home to another is hard. Physically hard. I know. I've done it twice in the past eight years and I'll think for a long time before I do it again because unless you are financially able to pay someone to do all the packing, it is exhausting.

I was 69 last time I did all myself. Lea Olivier is 18 years older than that. Here's what's happened to her.

Olivier has a physician-approved medical marijuana card. She smokes the drug to help control arthritis pain but since Amendment 64 passed in Colorado, she doesn't really need the card because it is legal now for adults to purchase and use cannabis there.

Well, it's legal unless you live in federally subsidized housing and because Olivier does, that means the federal government can bigfoot Colorado law and Ms. Olivier. She isn't the first, explains reporter Jim Mimiaga in the Cortez Journal, only

”...the latest victim. She has lived there for five years but says she has been ordered to vacate her rent-subsidized apartment on Central Avenue for allegedly violating the illegal-substances policy.

“'A compliance officer said they smelled pot coming from my residence,' she says. 'I don’t think it was even me...'

“Olivier, who lives alone, is now faced with finding alternative housing, but is concerned she cannot afford it on her fixed Social Security income.”

Smelling pot coming from a residence seems like flimsy evidence for eviction but federally subsidized renters are also subject to “annual inspections of apartments,” according to the newspaper.

[Imagine! Federal authorities can search your apartment once a year for drugs just because it is subsidized. I had no idea that happens. Apparently if you are poor, you are automatically suspected of being a drug user.]

And the federal rules about pot smoking in these apartments are a farce:

Olivier said property managers instruct residents to leave the boundaries of the apartment complex if they want to consume marijuana...

“'They told us to go beyond a certain gate, or leave in our car and go somewhere else, but we cannot keep anything in our car if it is parked on their property,' Olivier said. 'It is ridiculous...'”

Terri Wheeler, who is the executive director of Housing Authority of Montezuma County in Colorado, admits there is a big problem with conflicting marijuana laws:

“There is an appeal process for residents who are found to be violating drug laws. While regulations are strictly enforced, they are administered with a practical approach based on circumstances.

“'We’re not cold about it, warnings have been given for marijuana...' Wheeler said. 'We know there are valid medical uses for marijuana, but we have to comply with HUD regulations or we lose our subsidies for people who need housing assistance.'”

How about a “practical approach based on circumstances” of legal use and, in this case, age?

Are we sure that we want to be throwing an 87-year-old elder out of her home because she smokes a doobie or two? Even if the federal government doesn't legally approve, her state does.

I am fully aware that the law is not always fairly enforced but doesn't it seem egregiously awful that zillionaire criminal bankers, for example, walk free after impoverishing millions of Americans (many elders included) while the same government is now throwing an old woman out of her home?

Throwing her out for something so minor that it is invisible compared to what those rich bankers did?

Lea Olivier sounds like a woman who is accustomed to looking out for herself:

“I’ll live in a tent, or my car if I have to,” she said. “I’ve got 10 days to move, but when I get knocked down I get back up.”

She shouldn't be forced to do that.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Trudi Kappel: The Psychology of Paint

Today is Millie's 89th Birthday


I'm pretty sure Millie Garfield is my oldest blog friend. She was about six months ahead of me, in October 2003, when she started My Mom's Blog.

I am also pretty sure that I discovered her blog while I was developing mine and we then “met” in 2004, in the way we all do over the internet and began exchanging email.

Three years later, when I was living in Portland, Maine, I took the train down to Boston to have lunch with Millie. Here's a photo shot by her terrific son, Steve Garfield (who has his own website here).

Ronni Bennett and Millie Garfield

It is exactly ten years ago today that I began celebrating Millie's birthday with a special blog post because it was her 80th and round numbers should always be noted.

Millie80 I had not yet learned that sunflowers – so right, of course, for an August birthday – are Millie's favorite flower. This year, I found a lovely, little time lapse video of a giant field of sunflowers following the sun:

Don't forget what Helen Keller said, Millie:

Keep your face to the sunshine
and you cannot see the shadow.
It's what sunflowers do.

Maybe loving sunflowers accounts for Millie's sunny personality. She laughs more than most people I know. So a big hug and happy 89 years, Millie. Have a great celebration.

You can help give Millie a big blogosphere birthday by leaving greetings in the comments below or going to her blog and leaving a message there.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chlele Gummer: The Joke Was on Me

ELDER MUSIC: 1958 Again

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

What happened in 1958?

  • Mary Chapin Carpenter was born.
  • Bobby Fischer won the U.S. chess championship at 14
  • Alaska became the 49th state of the U.S.l
  • Johnny O'Keefe had his first hit (Wild One)
  • The Quarrymen recorded their first song
  • The first Cod War began between Britain and Iceland
  • "Vertigo" was released
  • Collingwood were premiers

That Old Black Magic was first recorded by Glenn Miller in 1942. Versions by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald and many others quickly followed.

Marilyn Monroe sang it in the film Bus Stop. The first time the song really impinged on my brain was when LOUIS PRIMA AND KEELY SMITH had a hit with it this year.

Louis Prima & Keely Smith

This is still my favorite version, maybe because of that.

♫ Louis Prima & Keely Smith - That Old Black Magic

PAT BOONE has a really wonderful singing voice and I'm happy to include him in these columns when he's not doing those dreadful covers of Little Richard, Fats Domino and other great R&B Music.

Pat Boone

Here he gets a bit too religious for my taste but if you don't listen to the words, it's pretty good and Pat sings it really well. A Wonderful Time Up There.

♫ Pat Boone - A Wonderful Time Up There

Before BOBBY DARIN became a lounge singer (and a jazz singer and a folk singer and a country singer) he was a rock and roll singer.

Bobby Darin

Bobby wrote the song Splish Splash when disk jockey Murray the K bet him he couldn't write a song that began with the words "Splish Splash, I was takin' a bath.”

He not only could, he got it to the top of the charts.

♫ Bobby Darin - Splish Splash

Now for one of the most gorgeous songs of the decade, sung by TOMMY EDWARDS.

Tommy Edwards

This year wasn't the first time that Tommy had recorded It's All In the Game. He already had a minor hit in 1951 with a different (and inferior version) of the song.

The words of the song were written by Carl Sigman and the tune is by Charles Dawes, a bank president and amateur piano and flute player. Later he was also vice president of the U.S. (Calvin Coolidge was the big cheese).

♫ Tommy Edwards - It's All In The Game

JOHNNY CASH puts in an appearance with Guess Things Happen That Way.

Johnny Cash

I could do without all the background singing, a choir plus a DooWop group by the sound of it. Nothing can detract from Johnny's singing though.

♫ Johnny Cash - Guess Things Happen That Way

Bobby Darin once said that the biggest mistake of his life was not marrying his true love, CONNIE FRANCIS. Connie said the same sort of thing.

Her parents disapproved of him and her father ran him off at gunpoint. That's not really relevant, just a bit of gos I thought I'd throw in.

Connie Francis

The origin of Who's Sorry Now goes all the way back to 1923. A bit later than that it was used in the film A Night in Casablanca with the Marx Brothers. Johnnie Ray had a go at it and, of course, so did Connie.

♫ Connie Francis - Who's Sorry Now

RICKY NELSON's hits were coming thick and fast by now.

Ricky Nelson

One of the ones for this year is Poor Little Fool. The song was written by Sharon Sheeley when she was only 15 after being encouraged in that endeavor by Elvis.

She got the song to Ricky and after it became a success, she went to work for Eddie Cochran. Goodness, she got about a bit.

♫ Ricky Nelson - Poor Little Fool

Although he released a number of records, there's only one that we remember as a hit for ROBIN LUKE.

Robin Luke

This was the year for it and it is Susie Darlin', a song he wrote for his young sister. Robin left show biz and is now a professor at the University of Missouri.

♫ Robin Luke - Susie Darlin'

A song for everyone in 1958 who had a crush on someone older. Come on, admit it, it was quite common. THE PONI-TAILS capture that angst with Born Too Late.

The Poni-Tails

This wasn't their first record; they had a couple before this one. Indeed, this was the B-side of the record that was also going nowhere until some DJs flipped it over and started playing the song we have today.

♫ The Poni-Tails - Born Too Late

Although he had records before Lonely Teardrops, this song turned JACKIE WILSON into a big star.

Jackie Wilson

It is a great soul/R&B song. Unfortunately, it didn't end happily for Jackie. He collapsed on stage while singing this song in 1975, lapsed into a coma from which he didn't recover and died nine years later.

It's still a good song though.

♫ Jackie Wilson - Lonely Teardrops

You can find more music from 1958 here. 1959 will appear in two weeks' time.

INTERESTING STUFF – 16 August 2014


Mimi Rosenthal has an interesting-enough life story without having become, starting at age 99, a tattooed lady. She graduated from college when hardly any women did that, raised two kids and ran a travel agency for many years.

But let her tell the story. You're going to wish, as I do, that Mimi is a friend of yours. (Hat tip to TGB reader Jane Cornwell)


Even though I once worked on The Dick Cavett Show (way back in the early 1970s), I haven't watched the late-night chat shows in decades. I'm beginning to believe I should; from online clips, there's a lot of good television happening there these days.

This one is Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon, doing his parody impression of Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood character from House of Cards in a sketch that takes him down to a New York subway platform.

There is no way in the world anyone could see this ending coming and it's fantastic (although you do need to be a bit familiar with the late-night host wars from a couple of years ago).


I eat a mostly vegetarian diet not for any moral or environmental reason but to be able to eat enough to feel full and thereby help maintain my weight loss. Meat, including chicken, is too high in calories to be able to do that.

I had no difficulty giving up meat. But for anyone who wants to but is having trouble, they might try getting bitten by this bug. Well, except that it's too dangerous:

"...hundreds of people across the United States can no longer eat red meat because of a bite [from the lone star tick]...

"...the body’s immune system goes on high alert—causing a severe allergic reaction that could be deadly. The victim suffers from hives and itching, and his or her throat could swell shut. Some people who have been bitten carry EpiPens (epinephrine shots) in case of another attack...

"Doctors are still figuring out how long the allergy could last. Some patients recover, while others remain allergic. Understandably, those who have suffered serious reactions resist eating red meat again."

You can read more here and here.


The Senior Planet website is subtitled Aging with Attitude and this week, my friends there have asked readers to choose one of 12 videos they have featured over the past year that best represents the phrase.

You might recognize two or three that you've seen on Time Goes By. Senior Planet and I have a shared sensibility about aging so we frequently feature the same things.

Here is one of the videos at Senior Planet that you haven't viewed here:

If you've got some time today, go on over to Senior Planet to watch the other videos you haven't seen. It is a grand idea to show all 12 videos of aging with attitude in one fell swoop.

See them all here.


We've seen magician Criss Angel in these pages before doing some nice little table magic. But today's video is nothing that simple or cute.

Wikipedia tells me that Angel is the most watched magician on the internet and after seeing this illusion, I don't doubt it. Amazing and – warning – creepy. (Hat tip to Darlene Costner)


Thank Darlene again for this one. Of course, you know from the first frame that is not real. But it is a lovely story about cross-species friendship and it is lovingly and well produced. Enjoy.


Darlene's on a roll this week. Here's another from her. It feels almost like a joke but from what I could find, the story is true and was reported in a news website for children.

Anyone who loves language – a lot of TGB readers do – will like this. Here goes:

No dictionary has ever been able to satisfactorily define the difference between "complete" and "finished." However, during a recent linguistic conference, held in London, England, and attended by some of the best linguists in the world, Samsundar Balgobin, a Guyanese linguist, was the presenter when he was asked to make that very distinction.

The question put to him by a colleague in the erudite audience was this: “Some say there is no difference between ‘complete’ and ‘finished.’ Please explain the difference in a way that is easy to understand.”

Mr. Balgobin’s response: “When you marry the right woman, you are ‘complete.’ If you marry the wrong woman, you are ‘finished.’ And, if the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are ‘completely finished.’”

His answer received a five minute standing ovation.


Several readers sent me this video of a southern California weatherman doing standup at a conference on aging. Well, maybe HE thinks he's doing standup. I think he need to stick to the weather. The jokes are hackneyed and his delivery is terrible.

But hey, maybe that's just me. See what you think.


Jeanne Robinson really IS funny. This is called Don't Bungee Jump Naked from her DVD titled, Flat Out Funny - and that she certainly is. If you can manage it, give us one more hat tip to Darlene Costner for sending this one. She's had a busy week.

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

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

Elders, Sex and HIV/AIDS

Do you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2011, people aged 50 and older accounted for 24 percent (7,771) of the estimated 32,052 AIDS diagnoses in the United States that year?

That would be “diagnoses” - new cases only. As a story at Aging in Stride reports:

”Many people believe the stereotype that only young people need to worry about HIV/AIDS. But the truth is, seniors are also at risk.

“Today’s higher divorce rates, changing attitudes about sexuality and older adults, and the use of Viagra and similar drugs mean that seniors are now more likely than ever to be exposed to the virus.”

Further, when exposed, elders more easily become infected than young people due to aging immune systems that are less capable of fighting off disease along with underlying health conditions that can make elders more vulnerable to contracting communicable diseases.

In addition, HIV can more easily be overlooked in old people and therefore diagnosed much later in the disease's progress making it harder to treat. As the Aging in Stride story explains:

”...the first signs can be minor. AIDS symptoms can mimic other age-related conditions.

"For example, the most common type of pneumonia in AIDS patients can be mistaken for congestive heart failure; HIV-related dementia may be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's; the fatigue and weight loss caused by AIDS might be interpreted as just 'normal aging.'"


But testing is easy. You can ask your physician for a test and there are many local clinics that offer free testing. In most states results are private.

Or, at this website from the CDC, just plug in your Zip Code for a list of nearby testing locations. The page also has a list of frequently asked questions about testing for both HIV/AIDS and other STDs.

Plus, there is a page at the CDC with more questions about testing that anyone could devise on his or her own. It's a good resource.

Prevention is equally important. As more elders are dating these days and meeting strangers on dating websites is more acceptable, practicing safe sex is crucial. Before beginning a new relationship, both of you should be tested.

And always use a condom. If it has been many years since you last used them, perhaps you need a refresher course.

If so, here is a whole page of YouTube videos on how to use both male and female condoms. This video is a well-done lesson from Planned Parenthood on male condoms:

Today's post mostly mentions HIV/AIDS because an old friend was recently diagnosed so I have been thinking about it. But everything here applies to all STDs.

Sex is a good thing. I believe everyone should have as much as it as they want. Just be careful. Please.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Old Age: I Believe

When I'm an Old Lady

Many of you are probably familiar with that poem by Jenny Joseph adopted by the certain elder women as their anthem. It is titled Warning and is entirely responsible for hordes of women wandering the streets of cities in the U.S. (maybe the world) dressed identically in red hats and purple dresses.

Of course, I can't read Ms. Joseph's mind but I'm pretty sure she was using purple dresses with red hats as a metaphor for claiming independence in old age from societal pressure to behave in a prescribed manner and did not mean it literally.

Unfortunately, it is comformity that the poem has spawned instead. Although I once vowed to never print Warning on this blog, you need to know the first few lines to understand the rest of today's post:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter...

(Full text of the poem is here.)

A poem that covers similar ground has recently come to my attention. It more irreverent, funnier and I'm pretty sure no one will turn this one into an annoying society.

According to what I can find around the web, When I'm an Old Lady was written by Joanne Bailey Baxter of Lorain, Ohio, published in 1991. At least, that is the best information I can find.

It's from Dave Baxter, who says in a comment on this website in 2005, that he is Joanne's son:

”My mother wrote this poem many years ago and has had it published in several local papers and senior group newsletters,” he wrote. “She would just like to see her name listed as the author.”

And so it shall be. Here is When I'm an Old Lady by Joanne Bailey Baxter. Have fun.

When I'm an old lady, I'll live with my kids,
and make them so happy, just as they did.
I want to pay back all the joy they've provided,
returning each deed. Oh, they'll be so excited.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

I'll write on the wall with reds, whites and blues,
and bounce on the furniture wearing my shoes.
I'll drink from the carton and then leave it out.
I'll stuff all the toilets, and oh, how they'll shout.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

When they're on the phone and just out of reach,
I'll get into things like sugar and bleach.
Oh, they'll snap their fingers and then shake their head,
and when that is done I'll hide under the bed.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

When they cook dinner and call me to meals,
I'll not eat my green beans or salads congealed.
I'll gag on my okra, spill milk on the table,
and when they get angry, run fast as I'm able.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

I'll sit close to the TV, through the channels I'll click,
I'll cross both my eyes to see if they stick.
I'll take off my socks and throw one away,
And play in the mud until the end of the day.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

And later in bed, I'll lay back and sigh,
and thank God in prayer and then close my eyes,
and my kids will look down with a smile slowly creeping,
and say with a groan. "She's so sweet when she's sleeping!"
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ross Middleton: The CIA (An Australian Perspective)

Happy Ten Years, Oliver Bennett

It was a long time ago, 1987, when the veterinarian referred to my then-cat as “elderly.” I was shocked.

“He's only ten.” I said. “I've known lots of cats who live to be 19 or 20 and I've read of cats who live even longer.”

“That doesn't mean they aren't elderly,” said my vet.

I mention this today because my current cat and best friend Oliver, better known as Ollie, is celebrating his tenth birthday. Here is what he looked like at about 11 weeks soon after I brought him to his new home in Greenwich Village from Philadelphia where he was born.

Ollie 11 weeks2

He is a well-traveled cat who has also lived in Portland, Maine, before moving to Lake Oswego, Oregon, with me four years ago.

Ollie is a Savannah cat, a hybrid. He is about 15 percent serval - a medium-sized wild cat native to central Africa; the rest of him is Serengetti and Bengal, two other hybrids. (I don't believe that hybrid domestics are a particularly good idea but that's a story for another day.)

So, to celebrate this decade with my furry friend, here is a post about him from seven years ago when he was three. It was fun to write and produce and maybe even readers who have been here for that long will enjoy seeing it again.

It is titled How Ollie the Cat Lost His Outdoor Privileges.

This tale of Ollie the cat begins in mid-2006, when he and his housemate, Ronni, moved from Greenwich Village to a new home in Portland, Maine.

The Maine apartment is much bigger than their New York City home – specifically, much longer with lots of room for a young cat to gallop from one end to the other (when he is not snoozing).


For an entire year, Ollie the cat lived inside this house and took pleasure, when windows were open, in ka-ka-ka-ing at the birds and squirrels who hang out on the electric lines in front of the house.


During that first year, Ronni did not allow Ollie on the deck because cats are known to get distracted while stalking birds and bees and butterflies. Who knows, he might forget himself and take a flying leap off the second-floor deck.


It was a distraction when Ronni, on a beautiful day, took lunch or dinner among her flowers and plants or read a book lying on the chaise longue, purchased just for that purpose, while Ollie screamed through the screen door demanding to join her. But Ronni has lived with cats all her life and knows their wandering ways. So Ollie was deprived of the one thing he wanted most – to be outdoors.


It wasn’t easy keeping Ollie in the house. Cats are born experts at whisking between human feet when they want to get somewhere they are not allowed. Especially when Ronni was carrying dirty clothes through the kitchen door and back hall to the laundry room or was hauling the big watering can to the deck, Ollie sometimes escaped, but not for long. Ronni is practiced at catching errant cats.


Still, it was tiring for Ronni to keep constant watch on Ollie when doors were opened and closed and she did feel sorry for the little fellow who desperately wanted to frolic in the fresh air and take in the heady aromas that only cats and dogs can smell. And so, when the snows had melted and spring arrived, Ronni relented.


At first, she stayed with Ollie when he played on the deck so she would be there to grab him if his interest in a bug took him too close to the edge. But humans – or, at least, Ronni – are more easily bored with bug stalking than cats and in time, Ollie was allowed on the deck alone.

In fact, when Ollie altered their morning routine by yelling to have the kitchen door opened before breakfast and even, sometimes, before sunrise, Ronni left all the doors open on good weather days so Ollie could come and go at his whim. And all was well - or close enough, if you don’t count regurgitated dead bugs on the rug.


When it wasn’t raining, Ollie spent most of his summer days on the deck chasing bugs or snoozing on his favorite outdoor chair. It was his habit to check in with Ronni at her desk a couple of times in the afternoon or, on hot, humid days, to loll around indoors stretched out on the cool porcelain of the bathtub. And on a few occasions, he spent the night sleeping on the chaise. Ronni tried that one time herself and understood the attraction on a cool summer night.


Ollie likes to eat at about 5:30PM and if Ronni hasn’t filled his bowl by then, he tracks her down and taps her on the arm in a certain way that means, “Hey, it’s dinner time. You don’t expect me to eat those leftover crumbs from breakfast, do you?”

Several days ago, Ronni looked up from her laptop and realized it was an hour past Ollie’s dinner time. He had not reminded her and she had not seen him since early afternoon. Where could he be? She checked the deck. No Ollie.


Ronni called his name from the kitchen - he usually comes – but no Ollie. She checked behind the sofa…


No Ollie. She checked his cupboard hidey-hole…


No Ollie. She checked the guest room closet…


Still no Ollie. She looked under the bed. There were some lost cat toys, but…


…no cat. She hadn’t done laundry that day, but just in case, she checked the washer and dryer…


They were empty - of a cat, anyway. She checked behind Ollie’s favorite deck chair where garden equipment is kept.


No Ollie. The cat was gone, gone, gone. How could that be? wondered Ronni. Then it struck her in all its horror - perhaps Ollie had fallen off the deck. You see, there is a six-inch lip of flooring beyond the fence of the deck. Ronni could never watch when Ollie patrolled out there.


Heart pounding, Ronni grabbed a flashlight – dusk was settling in – and ran downstairs to the small back yard. She looked behind every bush and flower and weed. With great relief, Ronni found no dead or injured cat. She looked up at her deck – it was a long way down.


Back upstairs and again on the deck, Ronni pondered this mystery of the disappearing cat and softly called his name. Was that a meow she heard? She called again. Yes, yes, it WAS a meow. But where was it coming from? The adjoining laundry room? No cat there.

Ronni called to Ollie again from the deck. There was no doubt this time; it was Ollie’s voice – coming from the yard.

Ronni raced downstairs to find Ollie peering out from under some plants behind the birdbath.


Even after several hours on the loose, Ollie wasn’t ready to come home and he nearly evaded Ronni's grasp. But cats sometimes forget humans are bigger and stronger than they are.

He yowled as Ronni caught him by the tail, but what’s a little pain, thought Ronni, compared to being squashed beneath a car’s tire or torn apart by the rumscullion cats who prowl the yard at night. Nevertheless, he fought her all the way upstairs.

How did Ollie get to the yard? Did he fall by accident and just happen not to hurt himself? Did he forget where he was and leap after a bug? Or did he carefully calculate the distance and deliberately jump to the ground from the second floor?

We will never know. But two mornings after Ollie’s escape, Ronni woke to a dream image of him sailing off the deck with all the magnificent grace of feline gazelle.

And that is the tale of how Ollie the cat lost his outdoor deck privileges. Ronni is certain she lost a few weeks off the end of her life due to stress and fear.

When she recovered, she was angry with Ollie. So angry, in fact, she is publishing this formerly secret, inelegant photo of him in the chair where he will undoubtedly spend more time now.


After all that and because the web is such a cat-crazy environment, let's just wallow in it today and tell each all our best cat stories. (If you happen to be a dog person, there's nothing wrong with a good dog story too.)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Maureen Browing: Beware of Loose Gravel

Stupid After Lunch

Anyone who knows me well or, more particularly, talks with me in the afternoon or evening knows that my conversation then is peppered with such phrases as, “Oh, what is that word?” or “Well, I don't recall the name right now; maybe it will come to me later” or “Never mind, I forgot where I was going with this train of thought.”

It has been thus for so long now that I warn people: “We shouldn't try to do anything that takes brain power after about 2PM because by that time of day, I get stupid.”

It's not an excuse. It's true that I am much smarter in the morning and get more stupid as the clock hands pass noon.

This is a large impediment to accomplishing the work that matters to me: this blog and the Villages development that alone more than fill eight hours of every day.

In addition, my physical strength and energy wane at about the same pace so each day is a scramble to get everything done (blog and Villages work, the daily exercise program, shopping, bill paying, cooking, cleaning - you get the idea, pretty much anything other than lying about as a slug) before 3PM or so.

The difference in my capabilities between morning and afternoon/evening is so pronounced, it is almost like I am two different people. Now, science has provided me with a possible explanation.

"'Time of day really does matter when testing older adults,' says lead author John Anderson. 'This age group is more focused and better able to ignore distraction in the morning than in the afternoon.'

“He and his colleagues note that their study provides the strongest evidence yet that there are measurable differences throughout the day in brain function for older adults.”

John Anderson and his colleagues at the Rotman Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences and the University of Toronto published their results in the journal, Psychology and Aging.

It's a small study so more work may be needed. Nevertheless, the differences between ages and time of day are clear.

The initial study involved 16 young adults between the ages of 19 and 30, plus 16 older adults between the ages of 60 and 82. Between 1PM and 5PM, each person was given a sequence memory test while irrelevant words and pictures appeared on a screen as their brains were scanned with fMRI:

”The older adults who were tested in the afternoon showed signs of 'idling,' the researchers say, which means they were showing activations in the default mode - a set of regions that are activated when a person is resting or thinking about nothing in general.

“This could indicate that the adults were having a hard time focusing, because when a person is fully aiming their attention at something, resting state activations are suppressed.

“[However,] the team found that when another group of 18 older adults was tested in the morning between 8:30 and 10:30 am, they performed significantly better.

“In detail, they focused on fewer distracting items than their peers who were tested in the afternoon, and they even closed the age difference gap in performance with the younger adults.”

It has been known for awhile that old brains are more easily distracted than young ones, that elders commonly have more trouble focusing. And increased forgetfulness in old age (without dementia) even has its own name – senior moments.

Except for my daily personal experience, this is the first I have found that the time discrepancy may be a natural phenomenon of aging. And of course, as the authors point out, these results have important consideration for all cognitive research in elders:

"[Dr. Lynn Hasher, senior author on the paper,] adds that ignoring time of day when testing older adults on certain tasks 'may create an inaccurate picture of age differences in brain function.'"

In my case, maybe I've always had an old person's brain; the afternoon decline has been a difficulty for most of my adult life. I was in my mid-30s when my boss joked one day to the rest of the staff, “If you need Ronni to do anything, you'd better ask her before 3PM.”

Although I had not paid attention before then, when she said it, I knew she was right. It seems always to have been so that my mind slows way down not long after lunch.

You an read more about the studies here and here.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Word of Mouth