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The Wit and Wisdom of TGB Readers – Part 1

My hospital stay last week was due to another – this time, huge – internal bleed caused by a clot situated on my new stent resulting in a swollen blood vessel.

The clot was removed via a small incision and then a large number of physicians from several disciplines – gastro-intestinal, surgical, interventional radiology, internal medicine, hematology – spent three days working together to figure out what to do to prevent a repeat.

There are established protocols but most of the drugs have not been tested much on past or present cancer patients so the debate went on. And on.

Here is a clue for all of us: when medical care is in question, try not to have a unique condition. If something must go wrong, a common affliction doctors have treated millions of times over many years is a good thing.

The solution, in my case, is a certain blood thinner which, for the next three months or so, I will inject into myself twice a day. For me, it begs the question of how junkies ever get started. Shooting up is a simple procedure but hardly a pleasant routine to which I am only slowly adapting.


Out of fatigue last Friday, instead of a usual one-topic post I asked you, dear readers, to talk among yourselves about anything related to “what it's like to grow old.”

The result is an astonishing collection of wisdom, thoughtfulness, advice, resilience, inspiration, wit and humor from TGB readers like I've never seen all in one place in a single day. You have left me gaping in admiration.

We should not lose this knowledge and experience so beginning today, from time to time I will choose one or more of your comments to expand or expound upon and we'll see what we can learn from one another.

One theme that emerged is limitation.

Lola Sorenson commented on one of my favorite books, Helen Luke's Old Age, published in 1987, in which, writes Sorenson, “...she uses literature (King Lear, The Odyssey, etc.) to illustrate the point that one cannot continue to do and be the same person one was in midlife.”

”She says old age is about something other than being and doing big things. It is about assimilation and reflection and reconciliation, it is a more internal process.

“Helen Luke's admonitions are foremost, are telling me I haven't come to terms with the limitations of age as well as I think I have. I still have the same ideas about accomplishing things, and it is painfully clear to me those ideas need to change...

“But also the crab apple tree is in beautiful bloom, and the sun is shining, and I am ultimately grateful.”

Adaptation, say several readers, is a strong companion to limitation.

”If there's one thing I have learned in old age, is that it is necessary to adapt!,” wrote Sflichen. “Adapt is my new favorite word, and mantra.”

Anne follows on:

”In some ways, I'm able to settle into being an old woman and enjoy a relaxation of demands on myself. I don't know how to elaborate on this except to say I've stopped excoriating myself for not being as disciplined as I think I should be.

“Dammit! I get tired. Having just turned 78, maybe I should accept this and live at the tempo I can manage.”

Oh, the importance of people, face-to-face people. While those doctors took their own sweet time deciding how to treat me, there were moments when I wept silent tears from long hours of boredom hitched up to four IVs and eight or so monitors that confined me to bed.

(Hint: Always bring a BIG book to read to the hospital or a Kindle full of many; I brought only one small book that I finished the first day.)

One afternoon, a 30-year-old surgical intern who had been among a gaggle of physicians who stopped by regularly, knocked on my door. “I hear you're from New York City,” he said as he plopped down in the chair.

He had studied medicine there and for an hour we regaled one another with stories about our mutual love of and enchantment with the town. We smiled and laughed a lot and it was great medicine for me.

Darlene Costner said it more succinctly:

”I had a pleasant visitor over the weekend and, much to my surprise, I felt better then than when I am alone. Is there a message there? I find that I have more energy when I am doing something enjoyable.

Charlene Drewry hit on the importance of attitude and sense of humor which, she noted,

”...are more important than appearances or what other people think or do. Remarkably, I have a choice every day what that attitude will be. I cannot change the past nor the inevitable, so I attempt to play my tune on the one string I have, my own attitude.

Speaking of sense of humor, listen to Odette Brinton:

”I have COPD and trail around my house with 25 feet of oxygen tubing following me around. So far, I haven't hanged the cat, or got my feet tangled.

“For the past year or so I've been in subconscious denial and just KNEW this would go away! Until finally it has sunk in that it will NOT go anywhere and I really do need to do as I am told by the therapists if I want to add some more years to my life. I want to see my son with his teenage daughter, she is 9 and he thinks he is in control. Hah.

“Well, folks, there's my elder life. I hope many if not all of you are as content with life as I (usually) am.”

My god, you are a bunch of resilient, funny, lively, smart people – great examples for too many elders I have met who refuse to adapt to the changes this time of life brings.

Every comment from Friday is worth exploring further and I'll be doing that over time. I don't want to lose this wisdom. It is worth dwelling on.

We won't get out of this alive but we can laugh, cry and learn together while we make these late years a whole lot better for ourselves than the culture at large believes they can be.

ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities - Los Angeles

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.

* * *

Los Angeles

I worked for some time in Los Angeles and it was pleasant enough where I was, but not a place I'd choose to live. However, because it's one of the music centres of the world, there are a bunch of songs about it so it makes my task of choosing them easy.

I found more about Hollywood, enough so that I have a spinoff from this one. That will appear at a later date (or earlier, depending on how we schedule these things). Everyone in the world knows about L.A., so you don't need me to waffle on about it. I'll just play music about it.

One of the most famous bands associated with the city would be THE DOORS.


Not only associated with the city, but they wrote about it as well. Their best known song about L.A. would be L.A. Woman.

♫ The Doors - L.A. Woman

Freeways are synonymous with L.A. and GUY CLARK has written a song about them.

Guy Clark

It almost certainly is the best one on that topic. That's not surprising as there were few better songwriters around than Guy. This is from his very first album "Old No. 1" and it's called L.A. Freeway.

♫ Guy Clark - L.A. Freeway

The last several trips into the country, Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and I were Coming Into Los Angeles. However, we weren't bringing in anything that would be problematic to the authorities. In contrast, ARLO GUTHRIE seems to be doing just that.


The song now is pretty famous as it was included in the film "Woodstock". The version I'll use is the original one from his album "Running Down the Road".

♫ Arlo Guthrie - Coming Into Los Angeles

RANDY NEWMAN’s songs are all ambivalent to some degree.

Randy Newman

“Does he really mean that?” is often the usual response. Sometimes the answer is an obvious “No.” Other times, we can’t really be sure. Make up your own mind about I Love L.A.

♫ Randy Newman - I Love L.A.

In contrast to Randy, WARREN ZEVON seems less sanguine about the city.

Warren Zevon1

Although associated with other L.A. singer/songwriters like Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther and Glenn Frey, Warren’s songs were much darker, violent and more ironic as well. This is his ode to the city, Carmelita.

♫ Warren Zevon - Carmelita

DEAN MARTIN was usually associated in mind with Las Vegas.

Dean Martin

That’d be due to all that “Rat Pack” nonsense, and their almost continuous performances in that city. He was famously born in Steubenville, Ohio, but in this song, Dino assures us that L.A. Is My Home.

♫ Dean Martin - L.A. Is My Home

GLEN CAMPBELL seems to want it both ways (and don’t read anything into that).

Glen Campbell

He claims to be a country boy but he lives in the city, that city being Los Angeles where he was a session musician for quite some time before he became one of the biggest country artists around. His song, that reflects that, is Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.).

♫ Glen Campbell - Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)

KENNY BUTTERILL has said that he admired the great guitarist and songwriter J.J. Cale.

Kenny Butterill

It seems to me that he does more than admire him; he seems to be channeling him as well. There are worse people to emulate. Kenny is rather modest about his achievements – the song I’ve chosen is from his album “Just a Songwriter”. It’s called Making Love in L.A.

♫ Kenny Butterill - Making Love in L.A.

JOHN PHILLIPS was Papa John from The Mamas and The Papas.

John Phillips

He, and they, are associated with Los Angeles, which is where they began as a group. John was the main songwriter and afterwards, he recorded a couple of really fine albums that weren’t very successful, which is a bit of a shame.

From the first of those, “John, The Wolf King of L.A.” is Topanga Canyon, where many of the L.A. musicians hung out (probably still do).

♫ John Phillips - Topanga Canyon

There was a big hit in the early sixties by a group called THE SURFARIS.


Well, they had a few hits but the song I'm interested in is Surfer Joe and it name-checked several places around Los Angeles (and further south). I've recently found an extended version of the song that has even more names, so I'm going with that one of course. Here it is.

♫ The Surfaris - Surfer Joe (long version)

Interesting Stuff – 28 April 2018

Oops – I don't mean to fool you. My intention, after missing last week, was to post an Interesting Stuff today but there was just too much catchup to accomplish yesterday after nearly a week in hospital again.

There is, however, a growing collection of Interesting Stuff so you can look forward to that in coming Saturdays.

For today, here is a simple one I can show you – the Mission Impossible squirrel. It's nearly eight years old so you may have seen it but I don't think you'll enjoy it any less this time.

They're clever littler buggers aren't they, those squirrels?

Missing Here on Wednesday

Mage Bailey of Postcards blog left a note on Monday's post about where I might have been when no story appeared here as is usually routine on Wednesday.

Gilda Radner's Roseanne Roseannadanna character used to say in the early days of Saturday Night Live, "It's always something" and maybe Ms. Radner didn't live long enough (she died in 1989 at age 42) to learn that that is especially true of old people. I was in the hospital again. Another internal bleed. Lots of excellent care and a new skill: I now know how to give myself an injection.

I arrived home last night too late to pull together a proper post but I'm typing this early Friday morning so not to alarm anyone with another extended absence. I am fine, no worries please and maybe let's use today's comments section below as an open forum - we've never done that before. So, anything you'd like to say about anything related - even vaguely so - to growing old.

And I'll be back here on Monday with a further explanation, some of what I learned over my four-day hospital stay that also relates to what it's really like to get old.

Crabby Old Lady Has Three Things to Say Today

Starting with 1. MEDICAL
Crabby Old Lady is sorry to have been absent here for a few days. This blog is Crabby's job. It is what she does. She enjoys it still even after all these years. She learns a lot both from the work that goes into it and from readers too. She misses it when she is away or out of commission for awhile.

To bring you up to date, Crabby's cancer has disappeared or at least gone into hiding and last Thursday, doctors did an amazing maneuver to stop an internal bleed they and Crabby have been keeping eyes on for two or three months.

With two little holes, one in in Crabby's neck and the other in her groin, they used “interventional radiology” to thread their way to the bleed somewhere in her abdomen, insert a stent – not unlike the kind used for heart patients – that will force blood to go where it should be instead of where it has been going.

For Crabby, it was easy – she slept through the procedure – and woke with two small Bandaids covering those two tiny incisions.

There was no pain afterwards and she went home that evening, slept like a newborn babe and felt terrific on Friday, enough to attend her regular current affairs discussion group.

Crabby hopes the stent works; she's tired of anemia, blood transfusions and iron infusions that had become a regular part of treatment.

There are a few words in the English language that are terrifying: for Crabby, “pancreatic cancer” is at the top of the list.

Has Crabby mentioned that 35 years ago her father died of it? Until her diagnosis last year, Crabby had almost forgotten. Now she can't avoid it and the reason is that it appears to be the media's new go-to disease.

Pancreatic cancer is much less common than, for example, breast, lung and prostate cancer but it is much more deadly. Only ten percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are eligible for the only treatment – the Whipple procedure - and many of those patients die soon anyway.

Crabby is deeply grateful every single day that she could undergo the Whipple, that it was successful and that she has recently been pronounced cancer free. She would like to stop thinking those words now but there are reminders everywhere she turns.

There are the ubiquitous cancer treatment commercials on TV, in magazines, even giveaway newspapers and Crabby made the mistake of searching for some information about pancreatic cancer online.

Now, pretty young women with big smiles on their faces follow Crabby everywhere on the web promoting a link to a pancreatic cancer website. It's not unlike those marketing idiots who spend six months showing Crabby ads for the shirt she already bought.

Shirt. Kitchen sponges. Cancer. What's the difference?

It gets worse. This past season, Crabby has seen at least half a dozen television dramas that have made pancreatic cancer a plot point. “Fred won't be back. You know he has pancreatic cancer and won't live more than a couple of months.”

Geez. Thanks.

Over the weekend, Crabby read Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer.

It's a strong polemic with, among other kinds of information, a lot about how cancer tumors in general work and how new types of treatments are being developed at the cellular level.

But even Ehrenreich, among all the different kinds of cancers she might mention, won't let go of making pancreatic cancer the centerpiece.

In the space of two pages she tells readers that Rockefeller Foundation director John H. Knowles died of it in 1979, at age 52; Apple CEO Steve Jobs died of it in 2011; Henry S. Lodge, co-author of Younger Next Year (a dubious assertion) died of it in 2017 at age 58.

Crabby wants nothing more than to leave this horror behind and the media just refuses. Maybe zombies have worn out their fright value and pancreatic cancer is writers' latest ploy to scare the bejesus out of us.

Crabby Old Lady has silenced the cable news channels in her home. No more. The anchors and hosts treat every Trump tweet as if it's a revelation when it is only repetition. Different topic sometimes, same complaint: “I'm so wonderful, why doesn't anyone like me? Throw them all in prison.”

He's an idiot, a con man, likely a criminal but no one with the power to do anything will deal with it. They've always got an excuse. There are 535 members of Congress and even the few good guys are weenies in the face of Trump. They all deserve to be thrown out.

There is only one effective group of activists trying to make the U.S. a better place and they are all 17 years old. Aside from her excellent medical team, Crabby Old Lady is in a very bad mood today.

ELDER MUSIC: Forget Me Not

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.

* * *

Ronni has written quite a few columns on how we forget as we age. Of course, she also made the point that it really is a lifelong phenomenon, not just restricted to the people who will be reading this.

Whenever I decide to do a column on a particular criterion, I usually don’t know what songs will appear in my search. Often there are one or two I have in mind but the rest are as much a surprise to me as they are to you.

Today, it seems there’s a lot of country (or early rock & roll) and soul (or later rock & roll). That’s okay with me, I hope it is for you.

The column was prompted when I heard BOBBY RYDELL sing Forget Him.

Bobby Rydell

That’s a song I haven’t heard for a long time. I won’t say that I had forgotten it (sorry, I hope there won’t be many of those), but it has certainly stuck in my brain from my youth, if more than somewhat buried quite deeply until today.

♫ Bobby Rydell - Forget Him

ARTHUR CONLEY is the first of the soul performers.

Arthur Conley

If I didn’t know this was Arthur, if asked, I would swear that it was Sam Cooke (as did Norma, the Assistant Musicologist when I asked her). Arthur certainly studied the genre, at least it seems so given that his biggest hit was Sweet Soul Music. Today he says I'm Gonna Forget About You.

♫ Arthur Conley - I'm Gonna Forget About You

They don’t make singers like SLIM WHITMAN any more, and that’s a real shame.

Slim Whitman

Slim was huge in the fifties, and sang some of the best songs from that time. One of those is I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know, a song that many people have turned their hand to, and voices too, I guess. Few came close to his version.

♫ Slim Whitman - I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know

Another I had in mind when I started the column is by the KALIN TWINS.

Kalin Twins

They were supposed to take on the Everly Brothers at their own game and we know how that turned out. However, they did have a couple of quite decent songs that made the charts. This is one of them, Forget Me Not.

♫ Kalin Twins - Forget Me Not

Even ELVIS gets into the act with one of his very early songs.

Elvis Presley

This is from the now famous Sun Sessions, back when he was just starting out and recording at Sam Phillips’ Sun studio. Some say that these songs pretty much created rock & roll.

The song is I Forgot to Remember to Forget, recorded by the foremost trio in rock & roll, Elvis, Scotty and Bill (with a little help from D.J. on drums).

♫ Elvis Presley - I Forgot To Remember To Forget

The most entertaining entertainer I’ve had the privilege to see live is MARTY ROBBINS.

Marty Robbins

He was not only a great songwriter (something for which he’s not given enough credit), but he had one of the best voices in the business. And, as I said, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. He’s greatly missed.

A song of his (he didn’t write this one) that many people have performed is Am I That Easy to Forget. I listened to all versions I had and none matched Marty.

♫ Marty Robbins - Am I That Easy To Forget

Someone who should be mentioned along with Otis and Wilson whenever the subject of the greatest soul singers is bandied about is JAMES CARR.

James Carr

He certainly is in my place, and deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Here’s your chance with the song, Forgetting You.

♫ James Carr - Forgetting You

I didn’t get a chance to see PATSY CLINE, more’s the pity.

Patsy Cline

She’s another fine singer who’s always welcome in my columns, and like Marty, sorely missed. We have her records (to paraphrase one of her biggest hits), but there could have been a whole more. Oh well. Here is I Can't Forget.

♫ Patsy Cline - I Can't Forget

Whenever there’s a category where WILLIE NELSON is represented, I’ve found that he nails it, probably better than anyone else.

Willie Nelson

I probably don’t need to introduce him, I could just play the track and you’d know who it was. Willie’s song is I'm Not Trying to Forget You.

♫ Willie Nelson - I'm Not Trying to Forget You

The Nelson family is well represented today, after Willie (and his sister Bobbie playing piano as she normally does on most of Willie’s songs), we have Willie’s son LUKAS NELSON.

Lukas Nelson

Lukas is no slouch in the song writing and singing games too. He’s also a pretty decent guitarist, quite different from his dad, more rock & roll. Indeed, his solo does go on for a bit too long really, but I guess he has to distinguish himself in some way. The song is Forget About Georgia.

♫ Lukas Nelson - Forget About Georgia

Notorious RBG (and Blog Schedule Change)

PERSONAL NOTE: Last week's hospital stay was a surprise that left me with no good way to post stories. This next hospital visit is planned.

As I explained on Monday, an internal blood leak resulting from my Whipple surgery last year needs repair and that is now scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday.

It may or may not be necessary for me to remain in the hospital overnight but no one knows that until the procedure tomorrow. With the various preparations, I've not had time to write a Friday post or the Saturday Interesting Stuff.

But do stay tuned for Sunday's Elder Music column from Peter Tibbles - this week will be songs about forgetting.

I'll see you back here again on Monday.


* * *

There are hardly any admirable people working in high profile positions in the Washington, D.C. federal government these days so today, I want to speak a little of one who is: Notorious RGB, the estimable Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who turned age 85 in March.

A TGB reader, Kathleen Noble, mentioned in a comment on Monday's post that she has seen the new documentary about Justice Ginsburg titled RBG which will be released in theaters on 4 May 2018.

Here is the trailer:

I may not be first in line when the film opens, but I won't be far behind. I have been a fan of Justice Ginsburg for years and years and years. She is my hero. A guiding light. I still want to grow up to be just like her.

She was also part of my inspiration when I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year as she survived that disease (in addition to colon cancer) a long while before I did.

The new film, according to Access Hollywood,

”...focuses on Ginsburg’s role in defining gender-discrimination law and systematically releasing women from second-class status, she argued six pivotal gender-bias cases in the 1970s before an all-male Supreme Court blind to sexism.”

Here is some more information about RBG from the production company press release:

”The film is told through the voices of Ginsburg’s family and friends, former clients and colleagues, her close friend and NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, and historic figures whose paths she has crossed, including the son of her close friend and Supreme Court colleague, the late Antonin Scalia.

“Throughout, interviews with Justice Ginsburg herself add poignant layers to the images and never-before-seen personal home movies that reveal a mostly unknown life of personal challenges, incredible discipline, and a touching, decades-long romance with her husband, the late Martin Ginsburg...

“While vérité scenes and archival news footage illustrate Ginsburg’s career and personal highlights, expert editing weaves Ginsburg’s speeches, writings, and Supreme Court arguments to round out her historic impact on American life.

“What emerges is the definitive documentary portrait of Ginsburg: a complex jurist, scholar, opera lover, wife, mother, daughter, and fierce citizen.”

Okay, okay, I know that's flak from the production company but with a life like Justice Ginsburg's and the extraordinary person she has proved again and again to be, I don't think they are far wrong.

I am certainly not the only Justice Ginsburg fan. In recent years, she has become an icon, especially among young women. Take a look at this short piece about her when the book, Notorious RBG, was published in 2015, that includes a short clip of Kate McKinnon's impression of RBG on Saturday Night Live:

If you have time to spare (more than an hour) here is a February 2018 interview with Justice Ginsburg at Columbia University Alumni Association conducted by CNN's Poppy Harlow:

While I was flailing around trying to sum up Ginsburg for this post, I ran across a YouTube video of five law professors who had been asked to describe her.

Each of the five once served as RBG's law clerk and know her in ways that are impossible for me. I just admire her from a distance but what these five former colleagues tell us rings absolutely true.

Four Days in the Hospital

Thank you for the kind concern many of you showed in the comments on last Wednesday's post and in emails, wondering where I was on Friday and Saturday when the usual posts did not show up. I sure do appreciate your concern. On the other hand, if you emailed and I have not/do not respond, I came home to more than 900 emails on top of all the medical record-keeping, medications and follow-up that need attention not to mention the blog work. I hope you understand.

Here is what happened.

In my little red PT Cruiser, I made my usual way to the lab early Wednesday morning for my weekly blood letting to check various levels including hemoglobin which tells us if and how much the anemia is improving. Or not.

Having done my part to help keep the clinic vampires nourished, I got a haircut and went to lunch with my terrific stylist. When I returned home, there were about six messages from the medical center each with a similar message: Get to the emergency room, your hemoglobin numbers are dangerously low, we need to transfuse you now.”

Oh goody.

But I've done this frequently enough now that it is almost routine. Usually, they pump the blood into me and I go home. This time, nooooo. After three or four months of this, it was time, they told me, to address and correct the underlying cause: repair the location of the bleed that is causing my numbers to tank.

That turned into four days. Because I had not intended to stay over night let alone three nights, I had not brought my laptop so was without an internet connection. Hence, no blog updates.

An endoscopy was performed during which, they say, I suddenly vomited blood that also gushed from my nose. (Amazingly, doctors and nurses and technicians, etc. pay big bucks to study medicine only to regularly encounter such messiness. Me? I was asleep. If they hadn't told me, I would have no idea it had happened.)

As I mentioned once in a past post, the internal bleed is the result of the Whipple procedure surgery for pancreatic cancer. Sometimes it manifests as a loose connection where a hose is attached in a new place. In this case, they believe, a vein has narrowed so blood cannot flow properly causing it, the blood, to go to the wrong places. Hence, my low hemoglobin counts and anemia.

They had left it alone until now, I was told, because sometimes they repair themselves.

But not for me. Too bad.

After two or three days of consults among more doctors than I could count – I met at least 25 new medical people – it has been determined that an interventional radiologist (have you ever heard of that medical speciality? I hadn't) and his team will go into my Whipple-rearranged torso, find the damaged vein and insert a stent – not dissimilar to a heart stent – to keep the vein open and working.

This will happen very soon, within a couple of weeks. Unlike the Whipple, from which I have a scar running from just below my heart to my nether regions, this will involve two small holes through my skin each of which will be covered afterwards with a Bandaid, and I will be able to go home the same day.

As with any kind of surgery, there are risks. Infection, in this case, or a clot later at the location of the stent but the the incidence of those is low, they say.

That's the bad news which is not really so bad under the circumstances; they also considered cutting me open down the middle again.

The good news – actually two pieces of good news - is that a CT scan following the endoscopy showed, as another had six or seven weeks ago, no evidence of cancer.

In addition, the interventional radiologist told me that he and the team are taking on this procedure with the same kind of consideration and attention as if I were a patient who had never had cancer.

I cannot get enough of hearing words like these.

Most of the time I was in the hospital was a waiting game – to find out what they would decide to do. Except for two small meals, I wasn't allowed to eat in case they decided on surgery right away and I learned exactly what the relatively new portmanteau word, “hangry” means.

This may sound odd, but this all is a great relief because it is not cancer. It is the result of the surgery meant to rid me of cancer, a mechanical issue, not a disease problem. That is a good thing.

And here's a lovely sad/sweet story the nurses told me about another patient on my ward. A woman who is terminally ill got married while I was there. Earlier in the day, I had seen piles of paper chains (remember those from our childhoods?) that the nurses were making to decorate the patient's room.

Someone brought flowers. A friend of one of the doctors, a professional photographer, donated his services and the woman was married to her fiance in her room among relatives and friends along with the doctors and nurses caring for her.

You're supposed to cry at weddings and I did, bittersweet tears even though I was in my room and didn't hear about it until it was over.

So that's the story of why I was missing for a few days. I'm back now to my regular schedule.

ELDER MUSIC: Rod Stewart

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.

* * *

Rod Stewart

I came across ROD STEWART rather late in the piece, in the early seventies, after his stints with Long John Baldry, The Faces and Jeff Beck’s group.

He was already a solo performer by the time I discovered him. I was working in Boston at the time and one day we went on a boat trip (I think it was - wine was involved so it’s difficult to remember). There was a (free) juke box and someone kept playing Maggie May over and over, a song I was unfamiliar with at the time, but by the end of the day it was seared into my brain.

I'll only play it the once for you (although that certainly won't restrict you, of course). Certainly his most famous song.

♫ Maggie May

Rod Stewart

My usual policy in these columns is to play the original version of a song, with luck by the person who wrote it. That’s not a hard and fast rule of course, and I’m breaking it again today with a mix of Rod’s own songs and his interpretations of others.

This next song was written by Cat Stevens and I have Cat’s version, and well, not to put too fine a point on it, it’s less than ordinary. That Rod turned that into a great song demonstrates what a talent he is. The First Cut Is The Deepest.

♫ The First Cut Is The Deepest

Here’s a song from Rod’s days with The Faces. It’s more in a soul vein, something that Rod was good at. It’s called As Long As You Tell Him.

♫ The Faces - As Long As You Tell Him

Rod Stewart

Rod wrote the song The Killing of Georgie (Parts I and II) about a gay friend of his who was murdered in New York. Although others thought at the time this was a brave move, Rod disagreed – “He was a friend of mine, why shouldn’t I write about it?” It was released in two parts, as suggested by the title. I’ve used both parts.

♫ The Killing Of Georgie

Rod and Martin Quillenton wrote You Wear It Well, which was included on Rod’s album “Never a Dull Moment”. Martin also played acoustic guitar on the track (and others on the album as well). It became another big hit.

♫ You Wear It Well

Rod Stewart

Norma, The Assistant Musicologist, often says, “Oh, you only choose slow songs.” There is some truth in that, so here’s one to buck that trend, a bit of serious rock & roll. I threw out a slow one to include this one from Rod's days with The Faces, Stay with Me, a bit of hard core rock & roll.

♫ The Faces - Stay with Me

Rod Stewart

Handbags and Gladrags was written by Mike D’Abo who was the singer for Manfred Mann after Paul Jones left the group. It was first recorded by Chris Farlowe who had a bit of a hit with it.

A then-completely unknown singer (you know who I mean) recorded the song on his first solo album “An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down” with Mike arranging the song and playing piano on it. The song vanished without a trace except for those people who bought the album. It later became popular due to word of mouth.

♫ Handbags And Gladrags

Rod Stewart

Here’s a song I could have included in one of my several “Drinking Songs” columns. Fortunately, there are plenty of others to include in those. This is Rod from his days with The Jeff Beck Group, and naturally Jeff lets rip on the guitar. I've Been Drinking.

♫ Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart - I've Been Drinking

Rod Stewart

A song almost as good as Maggie May, and also written by Rod, is Mandolin Wind. We tend not to think of Rod as a songwriter, but my goodness he’s written some beauties.

♫ Mandolin Wind

Rod Stewart

The A.M. must be in despair by now as the songs are getting slower, although this one does speed up a bit and indulges in a fine guitar solo.

Here’s another of Rod’s songs, written with Gary Grainger. I can relate to this one, as I was born the same year as Rod – our parents thinking how ridiculous we looked with our fashions of the time, back when we were youths. I imagine it was ever thus (and probably still is). The song is I Was Only Joking.

♫ I Was Only Joking

Rod has also made some records of the "American Songbook" standards, and while I admire what he did, I prefer to hear Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé or Tony Bennett perform those so they didn’t make the cut today.

After I ended in what I thought was the most appropriate way, I decided to give you a bonus and break the mood. It's something I discovered a while ago, and all I can say is "Oh my".

Here is Rod and AMY BELLE with one of his biggest hits, I Don't Want To Talk About It.

Elders and Cannabis – Part 2

EDITORIAL NOTE: Although today's is a lengthy post, I hope at least some of the information will be useful to you. If it isn't, you could scroll to the bottom for the latest edition of The Alex and Ronni Show. In fact, you could watch it even if you do read the entire post.

* * *

Elders and Cannabis – Part 1 can be found here.)

To pick up from where we left off on Monday discussing legal issues of cannabis, here is a map from Governing showing which states permit medical and/or recreational marijuana – or not. Visit for other variations from state to state.


Cannabis has been used as a medical treatment for thousands of years. Nowadays we know that the two main chemicals in marijuana used for medical purposes are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC gets you high, CBD does not, no matter how much you imbibe, and both are useful in treating medical conditions. At legal dispensaries, in addition to buds of marijuana themselves, you can buy edibles that contain entirely CBD, entirely THC or a combination of both in various proportions.

For my sleep problem, my first try was an edible containing CBD. For me, I might as well have had a glass a water – it did nothing for my sleep. I switched to a THC tincture and it puts me to sleep within about 45 minutes – not enough time to get high or, more likely, to notice that I'm high.

The number of conditions that cannabis helps is long and includes cancer. There are two U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA)-approved pills containing cannabis, Marisol and Cesamet, that are often prescribed to help control nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy.

I don't know if it is still so, but back in the 1990s, my step brother was prescribed Marinol to control some of the effects of AIDS.

The top two reasons elders use cannabis is for arthritis pain and difficulty sleeping. Dr. Igor Grant is a distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and the recipient of one of the rare federal grants allowing him to research the potential benefits of pot. From CBS News:

"'First of all, there is increasing evidence that cannabis is helpful in the management of certain kinds of pain,' Grant said. And it's the kind of discomfort experienced by seniors, like sharp pains felt by nerve damage, caused by things like chemotherapy or diabetes...

“Kerry Stiles, 78, wears a pacemaker. And he discovered pot at the Rossmoor retirement community in Walnut Creek, across the bay from San Francisco. 'I drop it under my tongue, about five or six drops, and that helps me sleep,' Stiles said.”

Moving on from pain and sleep, a January 2018 study from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center reported in Science News found that

”...cannabis therapy is safe and efficacious for elderly patients who are seeking to address cancer symptoms, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, and other medical issues.”

There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective:
For the treatment for chronic pain in adults
Antiemetics in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
For improving patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms (oral cannabinoids)

There is moderate evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for:
Improving short-term sleep outcomes in individuals with sleep disturbance associated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis

There is limited evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for:
Increasing appetite and decreasing weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS
Improving clinician-measured multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms
Improving symptoms of Tourette syndrome (THC capsules)
Improving anxiety symptoms, as assessed by a public speaking test, in individuals with social anxiety disorders
Improving symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

There is limited evidence of a statistical association between cannabinoids and:
Better outcomes (i.e., mortality, disability) after a traumatic brain injury or intracranial hemorrhage

There is limited evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are ineffective for:
Improving symptoms associated with dementia
Improving intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma
Reducing depressive symptoms in individuals with chronic pain or multiple sclerosis

Hardly any of this information is definitive – at least in the U.S. - because, as NORML reported in 2010:

”Lawmakers and health regulators demand clinical studies on the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis, but the federal agency in charge of such research bars these investigations from ever taking place...

“Under federal law, the National Institute of Drug Abuse – NIDA - (along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) must approve all clinical and preclinical research involving marijuana.

“NIDA strictly controls which investigators are allowed access to the federal government’s lone research supply of pot – which is authorized via a NIDA contract and cultivated and stored at the University of Mississippi.”

Nothing has changed with the federal government's position toward cannabis research since this report.

If you can stand one more list, here is a one about possible side effects of from the same study [pdf] done by the U.S. National Academies of Science and published in January 2017:

Substantial evidence:
Statistical association between cannabis smoking and worse respiratory symptoms in respiratory disease with long-term cannabis smoking
Increased risk of motor vehicle crashes
Development of schizophrenia or other psychoses, with the highest risk among the most frequent users
Statistical association between increases in cannabis use frequency and progression to developing problem cannabis use

Moderate evidence:
No statistical association between smoking cannabis and incidence of lung cancer
Impairment in cognitive domains of learning, memory and attention (acute cannabis use)
Small increased risk for development of depressive disorders

Increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide attempts with a higher incidence among heavier users
Increased incidence of social anxiety disorder with regular cannabis use
Being male and smoking cigarettes are risk factors for the progression of cannabis use to developing problem cannabis use
Major depressive disorder is a risk factor for the development of problem cannabis use

Limited or no evidence:
Increased risk of acute myocardial infarction
Statistical association between cannabis smoking and developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Statistical association between cannabis use and death due to cannabis overdose

Due to the lack of research, I don't buy a lot of this list – especially those in the moderate, limited and no evidence categories which is why, with so much anecdotal evidence of the therapeutic value of cannabis, the federal government needs to catch up with the 30 states and approve the research.

Whether the FDA, Attorney General Jeff Sessions or anyone else in the federal government likes it or not, it is only a matter of time now until cannabis is accepted as both a medical treatment and for recreational use, as alcohol is accepted.

In fact, Bloomberg News recently reported that the alcohol industry is concerned as is the soft drink industry. Here is their short video report:

It is true that as we get older, we get sicker: cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, heart conditions, etc. are called “diseases of age” for a reason. If cannabis can help control symptoms, it should be legally available to everyone.

Of course, it's important to consult a physician first. In my case, it was a doctor who first suggested cannabis for my sleep difficulty.

Now, whenever I see my doctors – cancer and primary care – I am handed a printout of my current drugs from their records so I can confirm them. We recently added cannabis to the list so that when prescriptions are being added, subtracted or changed, interactions can be taken into consideration.

For years of illegal marijuana, almost everyone smoked it or, occasionally, made brownies and other edibles with it. I still have a 1996 paperbook titled Brownie Mary's Marijuana Cookbook that includes recipes for pot macaroni and cheese, shrimp casserole and spagetti sauce.

These days, cannabis is much MUCH stronger than in the past. If you are smoking it, what once took a joint or two to get high, requires only a couple of tokes. These days, in addition to hand-rolled joints, there are various kinds of pipes and vaporizers.

In states where cannabis is legal, you can also buy tinctures to take by mouth, creams to rub into your skin, candies along with ingestible oils that come in capsules. Visit this page at Leafly for more information about how to use cannabis.

Most of the links through this story have additional good information about cannabis in general and as related to elders.

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Here's the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show.

Elders and Cannabis – Part 1

PERSONAL NOTE: Thank you for your Happy Birthday comments and emails on Saturday. I spent some quality time with a friend visiting from out of town and otherwise had a quiet day. It was number 77 - a nice one, don't you think?

Although I shied away from acknowledging the thought during my surgical recovery and chemotherapy last year, I don't think I really believed I would be here for this birthday. It's a wonderful surprise and I also frequently think about the support and encouragement you have given me during this ordeal. It has undoubtedly been a big contribution to my now cancer-free status.

Again, thank you so much for your birthday greetings Saturday.

* * *

Did I say cannabis in that headline? That seems to be the latest “approved” name for what the rest of us call pot, weed, maryjane, ganja, dope, hemp, reefer, doobie and tea among probably hundreds of others including, of course, marijuana.

So you know where I'm coming from on this post, I started smoking weed when I was in high school, about age 15 or 16. I still believe it helped get me through the early months of emotional difficulty after my husband and I broke up 15 years later. Most evenings, after work, I'd light up a joint and it kept my mind off my troubles.

But most of my life I've smoked weed because being high is fun. It enhances music, promotes creativity (if you remember to write down your ideas – heh) and is good for all sorts of other activities including sex. Plus, there's no hangover and within three hours or so of imbibing, it wears off.

About ten years ago, I stopped smoking weed altogether because it made me cough so hard. Ageing lungs, I guess. Although I never made the possible connection until this moment, a decade or so ago is also when I started having trouble sleeping. Most nights I woke after three or four hours never able to get to sleep again.

During chemotherapy toward the end of last year I became concerned that it couldn't be good for my cancer treatment that I slept only about half as much as experts tell us we should. I mentioned this to my doctors but they mostly ignored me.

When a new doctor was filling in for one of the regulars, I mentioned it to him. He said, “Oh, just go to one the dispensaries and buy some cannabis. You'll sleep fine.”

And so I have done ever since. It is remarkable how much more alert and sharp I am nowadays with seven or eight hours of sleep a night.

One of the helpers (aka “bud-tenders”) at the dispensary I use told me that the majority of their customers are old people and I've been wondering since then what is known about elders' use of weed. Hence, today's and Wednesday's posts.

Cannabis has been illegal under federal law in the U.S. since 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act went into effect over the objections from the American Medical Association related to medical usage.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration lists cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, the most serious category "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

Schedule II drugs, which are considered less dangerous in this tightly controlled hierarchy, include cocaine, meth and oxycodone,” reports Mic.

Really? They list meth and oxycodone as less dangerous than marijuana? Doesn't anyone at that agency have a lick of common sense? Or they could just read the research.

More than half the states in the U.S. now disagree with the federal government. As of late last year, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Here is the list with bolded names for states that also allow recreational use:

District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Dakota
Rhode Island
West Virginia

Oregon did not legalize weed for recreational use until about two years after I moved here. Before then, late night television commercials for medical marijuana cards were a joke.

Ostensibly meant to advertise medical practices that issued the cards, the ads made clear that even without a health reason, you wouldn't have any trouble getting a card from that physician.

According to a recent story at Alternet, even states that have legalized cannabis retain restrictions that can get a user in serious trouble.

Employers in some of those states can refuse to hire you if marijuana turns up in a pre-hiring drug test.

You will be prevented from legally purchasing fire arms in every state if you are a pot smoker. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) asks potential gun buyers if they use or are addicted to controlled substances and warns on the form:

"The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside."

Even in legal pot states, parents can lose custody of their children for marijuana use and it gets worse, according to Alternet:

”Medical marijuana support groups report hundreds of cases of parents losing custody of their kids, some merely for having registered as medical marijuana patients.

“But there are small signs of positive change on the horizon: California's Prop 64, for instance, includes a provision saying courts can no longer rescind or restrict a parent's custodial rights solely because they have a medical marijuana recommendation.”

If you are poor and live in federally subsidized housing, you can be kicked out of your home for possessing marijuana.

”Under a 1999 HUD Memorandum Regarding Medical Marijuana in Public Housing still in effect, any activity relating to controlled substances, including even medical marijuana, can get you evicted.

“And it doesn't have to be just you. If you live in federally subsidized housing and your grandson gets caught smoking a joint in the parking lot, you can find yourself tossed out on the street.”

When he isn't being publicly berated by President Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions regularly makes noises about beefing up enforcement of federal marijuana law in those 29 states where pot is legal.

Apparently, he is can't see that none of those states is going to give up millions of dollars in tax revenue from legal weed and it won't be long now until the federal government is forced to go along with the states on cannabis. The Feds will happy then, too, to see their portion of pot taxes.

Coming on Wednesday in Part 2: medical uses of marijuana, side effects and information about use by elders. Here is a sneak peak from a STAT report:

"Two papers published [2 April 2018] in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzing more than five years of Medicare Part D and Medicaid prescription data found that after states legalized weed, the number of opioid prescriptions and the daily dose of opioids went way down...

“Previous research has pointed to a similar correlation. A 2014 paper found that states with medical marijuana laws had nearly 25 percent fewer deaths from opioid overdoses.”

ELDER MUSIC: 1960 Yet Again

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

* * *

There are some fine singers here today, today being sometime in 1960. Not all of them fit that criterion, but enough to satisfy those who like a bit of a good warble.

Generally it’s thought that this year was a bit ho hum when it came to music, coming between the excitement of fifties’ rock & roll and the sixties music explosion. We didn’t know that at the time, we just listened to what was around.

What was around, and here we have one of the finest voices from the period, is JIM REEVES.

Jim Reeves

This year gave us his most popular song, the one that everyone could name when they heard his name: He'll Have to Go. The song spawned several answer songs, as that was the fashion back then, but we can ignore them.

♫ Jim Reeves - He'll Have To Go

Here are some more fine singers, this time it’s a group, THE DRIFTERS.

The Drifters

Over time they had some remarkable singers pass through their ranks, particularly Clyde McPhatter and, in this incarnation of the group, Ben E King. Ben is easily the finest singer in the column today (and yes, I realise that Elvis is present). That’s only my opinion; you make up your own mind. The Drifters sing This Magic Moment.

♫ The Drifters - This Magic Moment

1960 was the high water mark for what later became known as "Death Disks". We have two of the best (or insert whatever description you'd prefer), starting with MARK DINNING.

Mark Dinning

Mark was the younger brother of the members of a singing group called The Dinning Sisters (three of them) who were quite successful in the forties and early fifties. They performed in the mode of The Andrews Sisters. One of his sisters (Jean) wrote Teen Angel, and it was quite a hit for Mark.

♫ Mark Dinning - Teen Angel

The other big hit for the year in the same style is by RAY PETERSON.

Ray Peterson

Ray had a couple of hits, and he was quite popular in Australia where he had more. However, he didn’t achieve too much after this year in spite of his also having quite a decent singing voice. Most of you will know his song: Tell Laura I Love Her.

♫ Ray Peterson - Tell Laura I Love Her

By 1960 CONNIE FRANCIS had already had many hit records.

Connie Francis

Her song that I’m including apparently was the B-side of a record whose A-side is a song that I’ve not heard of. Certainly in my country Everybody's Somebody's Fool was a huge hit. I checked with Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and she hadn’t heard of the other one either.

♫ Connie Francis - Everybody's Somebody's Fool

ELVIS always wanted to be a singer in the style of someone like Dean Martin, rather than, or probably as well as, a rock & roller.

Elvis Presley

He certainly achieved that in the last decade of his career, but even earlier he liked to throw the odd ballad into his repertoire. One particularly famous one was a song originally made famous by Al Jolson, Are You Lonesome Tonight?

♫ Elvis - Are You Lonesome Tonight

JOHNNY O'KEEFE was at the peak of his success in Australia. Had he been born in America, he’d have been a worldwide star.

Johnny O'Keefe

He wasn’t, of course, but he was still one of the greatest entertainers who ever strutted the stage. Unlike most today, he didn’t have much of a singing voice, but it didn’t matter, he held the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he hit the stage until he left (after many encores).

Quite a few visiting musicians refused to appear with him as he blew everyone else off the stage. His song for this year is Come On and Take My Hand.

Johnny O'Keefe - Come On & Take My Hand

JACK SCOTT has one of those earworm songs. Sorry about that folks.

Jack Scott

It’s not the worst in that category, but it’ll linger a while if you dare to listen. There were several like that around this time. His contribution is What in the World's Come Over You.

♫ Jack Scott - What In The World's Come Over You

JOE JONES was yet another talented musician from New Orleans. That’s probably a tautology as every musician from New Orleans is talented.

Joe Jones

He had a hit this year with the song You Talk Too Much. It was written by Reginald Hall, who was Fats Domino’s brother-in-law. He offered it to Fats but he turned it down. Joe took it to the top of the charts.

♫ Joe Jones - You Talk Too Much

Jack Lawrence took Charles Trenet’s song La Mer and wrote English words to it, and otherwise changed it quite a bit. A number of people recorded it but it pretty much flew below the radar until BOBBY DARIN had a go at it.

Bobby Darin

Bobby made it a worldwide hit under the name of Beyond the Sea.

♫ Bobby Darin - Beyond The Sea



Following up on last week's poetry day here, this is from long-time TGB reader, former contributor to The Elder Storytelling Place and master of what he calls doggerel, Henry Lowenstern: Reflection he titles it:

In my life so far, I have fit the mold
of husband, father, head of household
and have generally assumed that my role
was to be in full control.
But now, the years have passed,
and I am at last,
retired and relaxed,
though not yet collapsed,
and, despite some aches and pain,
in full possession of my brain.
In sum, I want you to behold,
that I am enjoying being old.


Some researchers hooked up a young snowy owl named Baltimore with a solar powered tracker. And then, one guy followed Baltimore from a beach in Maryland to a island way up in Canada. This video follows the journey. (Thank you, Cathy Johnson, for this.)


Next month, the world will watch what is shaping up to be the biggest royal wedding since Charles and Diana: the nuptuals at Windsor of Prince Harry and his American bride, Meghan Markle.

According to Vanity Fair magazine, the couple is calling on friends for some of the preparation instead of relying entirely on the usual royal wedding planners who are steeped in ancient royal protocol.

”Although Markle and Prince Harry have hired two leading events organizers and catering firms to help them oversee their wedding (there’s apparently a ban on anyone over 40 getting too involved)...”

What can we make of this? Surely Queen Elizabeth will be allowed to attend.


There are no photos or video to show you with this story, but it's really funny. Here's a starter for you:

Back in April 2001, Nick Burchill was traveling for business from Nova Scotia to Victoria, B.C. He arranged also to visit with some old Navy buddies while he was there and he filled a suitcase with a local Halifax delicacy for them, a special pepperoni.

The airline lost the suitcase for day and when Nick retrieved it, he was concerned about the sausage spoiling. So, he left it all on a table near the open window at the Empress Hotel in Victoria to keep it cool while he went out and until he could deliver the gift to his friends.

Here is his description of the hotel room when he returned:

”I remember walking down the long hall and opening the door to my room to find an entire flock of seagulls in my room. I didn’t have time to count, but there must have been 40 of them and they had been in my room, eating pepperoni for a long time.

“In case you were wondering, Brothers’ TNT Pepperoni does NASTY things to a seagull’s digestive system. As you would expect, the room was covered in seagull crap. What I did not realize until then was that Seagulls also drool. Especially when they eat pepperoni.”

That is an excerpt from a letter to the management of the Empress Hotel that Nick recently sent to try to get his ban from staying at their hotel lifted. You can – and should - read the entire story on his Facebook page.

There is some additional information at the CBC and at Bored Panda.

Thanks to doctafil for this funny story.


Google announced in a blog post that it is introducing to its maps wheelchair accessible information for city streets, transit and general navigation.

”To access the 'wheelchair accessible routes,' type your desired destination into Google Maps. Tap 'Directions' then select the public transportation icon. Then tap 'Options' and under the Routes section, you’ll find 'wheelchair accessible' as a new route type.

When you select this option, Google Maps will show you a list of possible routes that take mobility needs into consideration. Starting [15 March 2018], this feature is rolling out in major metropolitan transit centers around the world, starting with London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney.

“We're looking forward to working with additional transit agencies in the coming months to bring more wheelchair accessible routes to Google Maps.”

This is useful not only for those who use wheelchairs, but for people pushing baby carriages, pulling grocery carts, who use crutches and for elders for whom walking and stairs have become difficult.

Here is Google's promotional video:

Google will be rolling out accessibility maps for other cities soon.


You are free to say that my taste buds are less discerning than they might be, but I have never been able to tell the difference among caramel, toffee and butterscotch. Apparently I'm not the only one. Here is Mental Floss's explanation:

”[Caramel and butterscotch] are both made with melted sugar, but they use different ingredients. Caramel is a mix of white granulated sugar, heavy whipping cream, butter, and a dash of vanilla. Butterscotch, on the other hand, is made with brown sugar instead.”

Go visit Mental Floss to find out where toffee fits into the mix.


John Collins, better known as 'The Paper Airplane Guy,' has devoted himself to designing, folding, and flying the world's finest paper airplanes.There is no reason for me to say more – just watch this vedeo and be amazed:

You can read more at Wired. John Collins' website is here.


This, the great Pacific garbage patch has been giving me heartburn and heartbreak since I first learned of it several years ago.

” tells us that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - the massive collection of plastic and floating trash - continues to expand in a region halfway between Hawaii and California - is now three times the size of France...

“A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports on Thursday, March 22, found that the GPGP has grown to more than 600,000 square miles, which is twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France.
“Accumulated in this area are 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 80.000 metric tons, the equivalent of 500 jumbo jets.”

Here is a video about the patch and what it will take to clean it up:

Read more at accuweather and at CNN.


Humans can be so evil. And they can be so kind too.

* * *

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 IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.

Elders and Alcohol

Most of us at this blog are old enough to remember when everyone smoked cigarettes. Betty Davis, Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart, William Powell, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy – all the cool kids back in those days smoked and they also drank. A lot. At least they did so in their movies.

A lot of us, as we came of age, followed the lead of our favorite screen actors - the social media of the day where we could find out what was chic, fashionable and, as far as it was a concept then, cutting edge.

Even so, it was a surprise to me recently when I watched Revolutionary Road, a movie set in 1950s suburbia starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, how much drinking was going on.

It reminded me of my parents as I was growing up in that decade. So much was alcohol a part of their lives that by age 10 or eleven I was expert, thanks to my dad's tutelage, at making a proper cocktail. Martini, manhattan, old fashioned, whiskey sour, gibson, gimlet, gin and tonic – I knew how to mix all the popular alcoholic concoctions of the era.

When I was older, I realized my mother was an alcoholic. She worked full time all her adult life, never drank during the day but made up for it evenings and weekends. She often said she wasn't an alcoholic because unlike real ones, she remembered to eat.

Yeah. Right, mom.

For a long time I thought my father was alcoholic too but over time I came to believe that he drank to keep up with mom. My point is that I was primed for alcohol to be as big a part of my life as it was for my parents and a couple of other relatives who may have regularly abused it.

Apparently, however, I didn't inherit the gene - if that's what it is - or the habit. Certainly I drink, always have, but appropriately if you don't count a few young-and-stupid benders. And it has always been about being social for me; it never occurs to me to drink when I'm alone.

Nowadays, it's even less and that's just as well. In old age, we cannot drink as much or as frequently as we could when we were younger. A couple of years ago, U.S. News and World Report made a list of how alcohol affects older bodies. A sampling, paraphrased:

Tolerance for alcohol declines over time so your blood alchohol content can be higher even if you drink the same amount as before.

Even moderate drinking can affect liver function leading to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Chronic conditions are complicated by alcohol. According to the American Diabetes Association, alcohol can cause dangerously low blood sugar up to 24 hours after drinking.

Alcohol can interfere with prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Alcohol dehydrates the body and can disrupt sleep.

In addition, drinking can impair judgment, coordination and reaction time increasing the risk of falls, household accidents and car crashes. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health:

”In older adults, too much alcohol can lead to balance problems and falls, which can result in hip or arm fractures and other injuries...Studies show that the rate of hip fractures in older adults increases with alcohol use.”

All that is not to say there isn't an upside to drinking. A few years ago, CNN reported on a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology which

”...found that healthy seniors who consume light to moderate amounts of alcohol reduce their odds of developing physical disabilities or dying in the next five years by 23 percent, compared with either heavy drinkers or those who abstain.

Medical News Today (MNT) explained that when studies “report harm associated with consuming alcohol, they nearly always refer to binge drinking, alcohol abuse, or alcoholism.” Earlier this year, MNT listed benefits of moderate drinking on elders culled from a variety of studies:

”A study published in the journal Strokefound that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may lower the risk of stroke in women. The study included self-reported data about the drinking habits of 83,578 female participants of the Nurses' Health Study.

“In a study of 2,683 men and 2,822 women aged between 55 and 80 years, Spanish researchers found that regular, moderate wine drinking might reduce the risk of developing depression, while heavy drinking increases the risk. The participants mostly followed a Mediterranean diet and drank wine in a social context, with family and friends.

“An Italian review of studies published in the European Journal of Epidemiology found that moderate wine and beer consumption reduced the risk of cardiovascular events, but spirits did not.

“Investigators at University College in London reported in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health that moderate drinkers who followed a healthful lifestyle were more likely to see a protective effect on the heart, compared with moderate drinkers who smoked or had a poor diet.

With or without all these studies, I don't have any plans to cut alcohol out of my life. It seems to me that barring negative interactions with disease, conditions and/or medications, moderate drinking is just fine for us old folks if we are so inclined.

Experts have differing definitions of moderate drinking but this one, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines it for people 65 and older as “no more than three drinks in a given day and seven drinks in a week.”

The next question, of course, is how is a standard drink measured. Here's a chart from the NIH:


Next week: elders and cannabis.

April is National Poetry Month

That's what one of the few magazines I still insist upon reading in print, The New York Review of Books, reports.

A short trip around the internet tells us that it is organized by the Academy of American Poets. The current U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, tell us

“Poetry surprises and deepens our sense of the ordinary. Poetry tells us that the world is full of wonder, revelation, consolation, and meaning.”

Indeed, and that makes it a good reason, I think, to celebrate ageing in poetry as there is hardly a poet who has ever lived who did not, both in youth and old age, tackle the phenomenon of growing old.

Is, perhaps, Shakespeare's sonnet, The Ages of Man speech from “As You Like It” (also known as All the World's a Stage), the most well known poem on the subject? The last three lines are killers.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. 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.

Some others take a more humorous approach than Shakespeare. A man named Denny Davis collects poems, quotations, scrapbook items and all manner of interesting things on his website. I could have written this poem, My Rememberer, myself as I'm pretty sure many of you might have:

My forgetter's getting better
But my rememberer is broke
To you that may seem funny
But, to me, that is no joke.

For when I'm 'here' I'm wondering
If I really should be 'there'
And, when I try to think it through,
I haven't got a prayer!

Often times I walk into a room,
Say "what am I here for?"
I wrack my brain, but all in vain
A zero, is my score.

At times I put something away
Where it is safe, but, Gee!
The person it is safest from
Is, generally, me!

When shopping I may see someone,
Say "Hi" and have a chat,
Then, when the person walks away
I ask myself, "who was that?"

Yes, my forgetter's getting better
While my rememberer is broke,
And it's driving me plumb crazy
And that isn't any joke.

P.S. Send this to everyone you know because I don't remember who sent it to me! (noted Denny)

From 1927, I've selected W.B. Yeats' well-known classic, Sailing to Byzantium, written when he was in his early sixties. It is about asking the sages of Byzantium to teach him acceptance of old age.

A few years later, Yeats wrote about this poem in a radio script:

'I am trying to write about the state of my soul, for it is right for an old man to make his soul, and some of my thoughts about that subject I have put into a poem called Sailing to Byzantium.

Here is Sailing to Byzantium with that opening sentence that has been made noteworthy in our era for the book and the film of the same name.

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees,
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

It's been a long while since I've written of poems about old age and in honor of the beginning of National Poetry Month, I think we should all get in on the act this time.

Do you have a favorite? Is there one that has given you new insight into your later years? Or maybe you have written one yourself.

If so, post it in the comments below. If there is something you'd like to tell us about it first, certainly do that. All I ask is that you leave a line space between stanzas for ease of reading - if that is how the poet meant it to be.

Other than that, length doesn't matter; there is infinite space on the internet and of course, it does not have to be from an American poet.

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In celebration of the U.S. National Poetry Month, The New York Review of Books is holding a sale – 30 percent off on selected poetry books. You'll find them here.

How to Prevent Falling

On last week's post about loneliness versus solitude, long-time TGB reader Darlene Costner left a comment about how quickly a fall can occur and one way for old people living alone (unrelated to loneliness) to be prepared for them.

It is a powerful statement and I am repeating it here almost in its entirety. Emphasis is my own:

"I do want to tell those people who say they are going to die anyhow so why have a panic button that unless they are much braver than I am,” writes Darlene. “I would have given all I possessed to have had one when I fell the first time and broke my hip.

"Before I realized I had to get to a phone I sat there wondering how long it takes to die without water. I was in shock at first and must have passed out because when I realized my predicament I was sitting with my back against a cabinet wondering how in the bloody hell I got there.

"I have had worse pain, but it still wasn't fun when I had to move my body so I could roll over on my stomach and crawl to the other side of the room to get a telephone. From the time I fell until help arrived it had taken me 10 hours to get help...

"Another time I fell and to break my fall I instinctively reached for a heavy coffee table made of Belgian glass and it fell on my arm trapping me. I would not have been able to crawl to a phone that time and was soooo glad I could press the panic button around my neck (with the other hand) and help would arrive.

"I do not understand why others have had trouble with them. I have had Alert 1 for years and the only problem I have had was when I accidentally pressed the button and the firemen came and I was surprised to see them. That would not happen with someone who is not hearing impaired because they try to reach you on the phone when you don't answer them asking if you are all right."
The first day of autumn each year is the official Falls Prevention Day of the U.S. National Council on Aging (NCOA). For many years on that day, I have posted information about how to keep ourselves as safe as possible from falling, and here are three good reasons to do that:

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall

Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults

Since my Whipple surgery last June and for the first time in my life I have a dizziness, or vertigo, problem. It occurs most commonly when I get out of bed so I now sit on the edge of the mattress until the room stops spinning.

Sometimes the vertigo turns up for no good reason when I'm walking around the house and I've taught myself to touch a nearby wall, door or piece of furniture until the sensation subsides. It usually takes only a few seconds until I feel steady again.

With one or two exceptions, it is we ourselves who can prevent our own falling. The NCOA has produced a video that, for all its brevity, covers almost everything you need to know about keeping yourself safe at home from falls:

The video makes a visual point of warning against ladders. About 10 days ago, two sets of fluorescent tubes above my kitchen cupboards burnt out. I dragged the ladder from the storage room, climbed up and retrieved the dead bulbs to know what replacements to buy.

Then, THEN it occurred to me that I might be in big-time falling trouble if the vertigo hit me when I was on the ladder. So I saved the new tubes for a 40-something friend who, a few days later, arrived for a visit and installed the tubes for me. It is undoubtedly time, at nearly 77 years, that I turn over ladder climbing to younger people.

Usually on Falls Prevention Day in September, I publish either a long checklist of how to falls-proof your home and/or link to other good information to keep us safe from falling. Here is one of those posts.

Since last autumn I have found another important prevention item I have never seen listed and I have discovered is important.

In addition to and separate from vertigo since the surgery, I am less certain of being steady on my feet. The difficulty in this case is getting my pants on. All my life, I've just stood there wherever I was in the room and pulled them on - one leg at a time, as they say.

You might call it free-styling with nothing to support myself when I'm on one leg. I considered it a daily exercise to improve my balance, but no more. The mild unsteadiness I feel sometimes in general, multiplies when I'm on one leg.

So now, I sit down to pull on my pants or, at the very least, lean against a wall or counter. This, I believe is an important addition that has been overlooked in the lists of falls prevention items.

Darlene's powerful testament reminded me that given the statistics, twice a year is not too frequent to remind ourselves about falls prevention. The life you save may be your own.

ELDER MUSIC: Bullfrogs on my Mind

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.

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Frogs are the proverbial canary in the coalmine when it comes to environmental change and damage. That means many are fast disappearing, which is a great shame, indeed a disaster, as they are an important link in the various ecologies.

Besides, I really like frogs. Anyway, I’ll leave that to people more expert than I am to discuss. I’ll just present some froggy songs.

There is an obvious way to begin the column and I'm taking it. This is CLARENCE (FROGMAN) HENRY.

Clarence Frogman Henry

Clarence not only has a frog in his name (well, nickname) but he also sings about one as well. It was certainly the first song that came to mind when I thought of this column. That song is Ain't Got No Home.

♫ Clarence (Frogman) Henry - Ain't Got No Home

THE LARKS started out as a gospel group. Well, several really, they recorded under a bunch of different names.

The Larks

They used the name The Larks for their Rhythm and Blues records. They were quite popular in the early fifties, but subsequently splintered into several different groups. Here they are with I Ain't Fattening Frogs For Snakes.

♫ The Larks - I Ain't Fattening Frogs For Snakes

MICKEY GILLEY is probably best known these days for the club that bears his name (featured in the film Urban Cowboy).

Mickey Gilley

He started out playing early rock and roll and rockabilly, but was overshadowed by his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis (another rocking pianist). From the early days, Mickey performs Miss Froggy. Gail Collins is also credited on the record but I can’t hear her on this song.

♫ Mickey Gilley - Miss Froggy

Now for some serious music with the great trumpeter DIZZY GILLESPIE. Helping out on this track is the equally great sax player CHARLIE PARKER.

Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker

From a session they recorded in 1950 we have Leap Frog, quite a short tune. My goodness, they were good together.

♫ Dizzy Gillespie - Leap Frog

JEB STUART gives us a little bit of soul music.

Jeb Stuart

I think Jeb is channeling Land of 100 Dances and The Hippy Hippy Shake (and probably other songs) in this one: The Greasy Frog.

♫ Jeb Stuart - The Greasy Frog

PETER PAUL AND MARY seem to be indulging in a bit of bestiality, or perhaps that should be zoophilia. Or amphibiphilia (I just coined that word).

Peter Paul & Mary

This is not one of their most important songs, unless you’re a frog that is. I'm In Love with a Big Blue Frog.

♫ Peter Paul & Mary - I'm In Love With A Big Blue Frog

THE PIGRAM BROTHERS are a seven-piece indigenous band from Broome in northern Western Australia.

Pigram Brothers

Besides playing their own music, various combinations of siblings have also written soundtracks and appeared in films and TV programs. They perform Bullfrog Hole, about places around where they live, with mentions of many animals and birds there.

♫ Pigram Brothers - Bullfrog Hole

Here’s some more jazz, but a style from an earlier period than Diz and Bird. The players are THE FAT BABIES.

Fat Babies

They’re a group from Chicago who like to interpret the styles of the twenties and thirties. Their contribution is Froggie Moore.

♫ The Fat Babies - Froggie Moore

THE DOORS always claimed that they were just a blues band.

The Doors

No one believed them, of course, but they did record one album that demonstrated this aspect of them – "Morrison Hotel". From that album we have Peace Frog. Of course Jim couldn't help himself and put in various Jim-isms.

♫ The Doors - Peace Frog

There are many versions of the song Bullfrog Blues, and it was my job to choose one. Actually, there was no work involved at all, as I was always going to choose DAVID BROMBERG.

David Bromberg

David is a supreme guitar player, but this song doesn't really extend his fingers much although he does play some delightful licks.

I ended the column with this one as it is by far the longest song I've ever used – more than 16 minutes, so if it doesn't float your boat you can go and get a cup of tea and you won't have missed any of the others.

Alternatively, get your cup of tea, put your feet up and go with the flow.

♫ David Bromberg - Bullfrog Blues