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The Alex And Ronni Show

Before we get to the latest edition of The Alex and Ronni Show, some housekeeping notes.

In the past couple of weeks, I've had some trouble breathing. The simplest things like bending over to tie my shoes or just taking out the trash can leave me heaving to catch my breath. Actually, it's been hard to do almost anything more energetic than sit at the computer these past days.

On Wednesday, my oncologist ordered a new CT scan which shows that the cancer in my lung is getting worse than expected at this point causing the shortness of breath.

A different chemo may help and the side effects, as they have been explained to me, are probably manageable. I'll begin next week and we will know within two weeks or so if it is helping.

As I think I mentioned not long ago, all my life I have kept journals with the goal of helping make sense of my world and figure out what I am thinking or believe. With this cancer diagnosis, I moved some of that to this blog and many of you have been kind enough to assert that these posts are a help to you and others.

To the degree that is so, I am grateful that my meandering thoughts and reports about my predicament have some value. Your comments buoy me, make me feel better and often contain useful information or, even better, make me laugh.

When I started this blog 15 years ago, of course I had no idea this is where it was heading. And I didn't know how important this “job” would become to me. I segued straight from work when I retired to this new work. I still love doing it and I will continue for as long as possible. It is what I do.

Some of you comment privately via email and I appreciate that too. But because of this latest cancer development and its effect on my energy, I can't get nearly as much done as before. Although I've tried (and mostly succeeded) answering all your email notes, I need now to take that pressure off myself.

So you're welcome to email me still, but I won't be able to answer anymore. I hope you will understand.

And now, here is the most recent Alex and Ronni Show recorded last Tuesday before I had received this latest cancer news.

Cancer Update – 28 November 2018

Because I'm at Oregon Health & Science University today for doctor appointments and a chemo session, it would make better sense for me to have saved this post for Friday or Monday. But it's been on my mind for a few days so why not.

What continues to amaze me is that I can be under a death sentence and still feel as good as I do. All cancers are different in different people but I did not understand before that it is possible for a terrible disease to be secretly ravaging your body while you go about your daily business unaware.

Not counting chemo after-effects, I wouldn't know I'm sick if the doctors hadn't told me.

Well, most of the time. It took two days after my previous two chemo sessions before the flu-ishness took over. I spent the following two days in bed feeling pretty much as I have with any past bout of influenza – aches, pains, sleepy, miserable - and then I got better.

That was the first time. The second time, the sickness lasted longer by a couple of days and following that, my energy has been the lowest I've felt since last year's surgery. Not to mention a few days later when out of nowhere my temperature jumped to 102F. But it was back to normal by morning.

Still, I have more good days than not and as long as that is so, I will continue the chemo. I know some cancer patients forgo chemo altogether and that's their choice. Mine, according to the doctors, slows the growth of the tumors and will give me six to eight months of reasonably good life before the cancer takes over.

And I definitely need the time. It's amazing how much work it is to die.

My end of life documents are in place. Arrangements have been made for my financial accounts to be available to my heir immediately following my death. She and I have regular conversations so she's aware of a good deal of what she needs to know.

Nevertheless, I am making a booklet for her with the details of all my household and other accounts, computer passwords, necessary email addresses, locations of important papers, insurance, auto information, etc. There is a whole lot more to do than I had realized at first thought.

And I still haven't arranged for my cremation. I can't tell you why that is and I need to get it done. For god's sake, it only takes a phone call.

Also on the list is to clean out all the detritus from the house. Guess how far I've gotten with that.

So these things, with the blog, are my days. I have no idea how other people in my predicament spent their time but I like my little life and want to keep it for as long as I can.

Oh, did I mention I lost most of my hair after the last chemo session. Do you recall that phrase people often use about their hair “coming out by the handful?” They aren't kidding. It's exactly true.

Four or five days after the chemo infusion, I was shampooing my hair in the shower and a huge handful came out. Then another. And another. And another leaving me with four or five hanks of hair hanging from unrelated areas of my head.

It was ugly so I chopped them all off and tried to even out what hair remains with the scissors. I have no doubt I'll lose the rest after today's chemo session. I have plenty of hats and a wig is also in my near future. I don't want to scare people with my bald head.

Day to day, I worry that the doctors will find reasons to stop the chemo before my six-to-eight months are done.

And I'm frightened some of the time in an overall, existential way that makes it hard to breathe. I may have a solution for that I'll tell you about soon.

Meanwhile, here's something I'll bet you didn't know about cancer: it takes away your cooking skills.

Okay, not exactly. It's just that I have lost all interest in and patience with cooking. After a lifetime of finding it to be an interesting, creative, not to mention tasty outlet, cooking has become way too tedious and time-consuming.

Nowadays, if I can't just heat it up in the oven or microwave, I'll eat a peanut butter sandwich. I am also investigating restaurant delivery services.

A TGB READER STORY: The Elusive Monster

EDITORIAL NOTE FROM RONNI: Well, aren't you a prolific bunch - there are now seven months of reader stories backed up which takes us through winter, spring and into summer. You know, I may not live that long.

I try to publish your stories more or less in the order received and although a number of you have sent two or more stories, I don't publish a repeat author until everyone else has been published once. The list is getting too long to easily sort through every week, so if you could hold off sending any new stories at least until spring, I would greatly appreciate it. I'll let you know when I'm running low.

* * *

By Darlene Costner

There's a specter living in my house and his main purpose is to drive me insane. He is an evil prankster bent on making my life miserable.

I first noticed his presence when he made all of my kitchen cabinets higher so that I can no longer reach the top shelf and even reaching the middle shelf forces me to stand on my toes.

Then he must have howled with laughter as he knocked things from my hands, forcing me to clean up the ensuing mess. That wasn't enough fun for him so he lowered all the floors in my house.

Of course, this means that I am unable to use my thumb and must try to retrieve the item using my two longest fingers. That is a very difficult tactic, let me tell you. That gave my ghostly housemate such a good time that he now performs that prank many times a day. Such cruelty!

He has other tricks up his sleeve (Do ghosts have sleeves?) He is constantly moving things from where I know I put them. I have to spend hours looking for that note that I had just minutes ago.

That must have given the spectral imp so many laughs that he does it more and more often now. Not only does he move them, but he puts them where they are right in front of my eyes but impossible to see.

I don't have a clue how he manages to mess with my mind but this trick gives him the most glee of all. He erases words from my memory. It's really maddening to be having a nice conversation and suddenly my ghost yanks a perfectly ordinary word from my vocabulary causing me no end of embarrassment as I frantically look for a substitute word.

Oh how I am becoming so exasperated with my infuriating spectral visitor.

He must find that watching me fall is hilarious because he shoves me down at the most unexpected times. That's his most vicious trick. Even though my hands are on the walker, he finds a way to give me a backward shove and I end up with the walker on top of me. He has no thought for my feelings at all.

I am sure that he has other pranks that he intends to play on me in the future. At times I think I see him watching me through the crack in the door and is plotting his next move. Reminding me of the little poem:

I saw a man upon the stair
And when I looked he wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he would go away.

(Variations attributed to different poets; Mearns and Antigonism, among others)

"Miracle" Cancer Cures

It's bad enough when you are diagnosed with cancer. Later, when they tell you it's untreatable, you think you've heard the worst. But you would be wrong.

What you didn't know before is that on the sidelines waiting for just the right moment to move in are the ghouls and charlatans.

The first email, sent via the “contact” link on this blog, arrived a few weeks ago. It wasn't from a name I recognized, not someone who comments or had privately emailed me before.

There is a treatment, the writer said, at a private clinic in California that cures cancer with supervised fasting over several months of residence at their luxurious spa.


Since then, four or five more cancer cures have arrived via the blog email from people who are strangers to me. One of them provided a link to a professional-looking website (anyone can pay to have that done.) featuring a movie-star handsome man that uses protons they say results “in strong cure rates.”

Another uses cancer immunotherapy to achieve long-term remission for years, “and even decades.” The latest hot cancer "cure" is cannabis that, it is claimed, shrunk a teenager's cancer cells after chemo had failed.

And so on.

In April 2017, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration sent out letters to 14 companies telling them “to stop making the bogus claims or face possible seizures of their products and criminal prosecution.” From the Washington Post:

”The letters covered more than five dozen unapproved products that the companies said could prevent, treat or cure cancer, the FDA said. The items included pills, ointments, oils, drops, teas and diagnostic devices.”

That list doesn't begin to cover the types of quack treatments from swindlers preying on people at the worst moments of their lives. Wikipedia has a huge long list of a hundred or more unproven and disproven cancer cures.

Several websites publish a simple list of frequently used phrases that should alert anyone to phony cures:

Treats all forms of cancer
Miraculously kills cancer cells and tumors
Shrinks malignant tumors
Selectively kills cancer cells
More effective than chemotherapy
Attacks cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact
Cures cancer

Another phrase charlatans commonly use – alternative – is particularly insidious because there is a real place for alternative treatment to complement legitimate cancer medications. The Mayo Clinic has a handy chart about that:


Let me be clear about “miracle” cures: if anything cured cancer, WE WOULD ALL KNOW ABOUT IT. It would not be a secret. Someone would already be rich and getting richer from it.

Cancer patients are desperate, hoping against hope that the diagnosis is wrong, that a different treatment will magically work, that someone has the secret ingredient to give them more days, months, years of life. These are not foreign concepts to me recently.

But make no mistake, the people who sell useless, sometimes dangerous, unproved treatments are evil, depraved and cruel. What they do is a form of faith healing (at least one uses real snake venom) tricked out as medicine and they make me hope there is a hell.

ELDER MUSIC: Classical - Various 7

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.

* * *

Continuing with the series of music that has caught my ear.

It seems that JOHANN AMON could play any instrument that he wrapped his hands, mouth, fingers or anything else around.


He was also a particularly fine writer of pretty much every genre of music you can imagine. Why he’s not better known is a mystery. As an example of what he could do here is the first movement of his Quintet for flute, horn, violin, viola, cello and bass I expect he could play all of those.

Quintet is the title of the piece, but I counted six instruments. (Throws up his hands). Anyway, it’s Quintet No. 2 in E minor, Op. 118.

♫ Amon - Quintet No. 2 in E minor Op. 118 (1)

EDVARD GRIEG is best known for his marvelous piano concerto and the music he wrote for Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt. He later pulled apart that music and created several suites that have become hugely popular.


On his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Ed wrote a piece of music as a present for his wife called Wedding Day at Troldhaugen (where they were married). How good is that?

♫ Grieg - Wedding Day at Troldhaugen

The song, O Waly Waly dates from the sixteen hundreds. Many have tinkered with it over time including Benjamin Britten who wrote a couple of arrangements for it. Others have orchestrated it as well.

It was a standard for folk artists in the sixties and they generally called it The Water is Wide. In a classical setting here is YVONNE KENNY, the Australian soprano, usually associated with the music of Mozart and Handel.

Yvonne Kenny

♫ Britten - O Waly Waly

MARKUS GRAUEL probably wrote the next piece of music but that “probably” is good enough for me. He doesn’t seemed to have stood still long enough to have his photo taken, so we don’t know what he looks like.

He was born sometime in the early eighteenth century, no one seems to know exactly when, the somewhere is what’s now Germany. There are only six known compositions of his – a few are thought to be lost (maybe more than a few).

This might be one of his though (probably), the Concerto A Major for violin & viola. Here is the first movement.

♫ Grauel - Concerto A Major (1)

MICHÈL YOST was a French clarinet player from the middle of the eighteenth century and by all accounts a brilliant one. He’s another for whom no picture seems to be available.

Mike also wrote music, pretty much for that instrument (although there are some for others as well). That’s pretty much the sum total of what we know of him. One of his works is the Clarinet Quartet No. 1. This is the first movement.

♫ Yost - Clarinet Quartet No. 1 (1)

Here is something by that prolific composer ANONYMUS. That is not a misspelling (well, it is but it's the name on the CD), and in this case it refers to anonymous Habsburg violin music. That’s as much information that I have, apart from the name of the composition: Sonata No 4 in D major.

♫ Anonymus - Sonata (N°4) in D major

MICHAEL BALFE was an Irish composer who started his music career as a violinist and an opera singer (simultaneously, it seems).


He also wrote operas (29 of them), some of which were very successful at the time (mid-nineteenth century), not just in Britain, but France, Germany, America, Australia even.

From his opera “Satanella (or the power of love)” we have Thanks, Thanks, My Friends. The characters singing are Count Rupert (a landowner) and Stella (a princess) plus various others warbling along in the background.

♫ Balfe - Satanella ~ Thanks Thanks My Friends

FRANZ FREYSTÄDTLER was an Austrian composer and piano teacher. We’re really having a bad day for visual representations – that’s the problem with selecting rather obscure composers.

He was taught composition, piano and the organ by Mozart and Michael Haydn’s father-in-law. Talk about learning from the best.

At one stage he was thrown in the clink for apparently stealing a piano from the Austrian army (just think about that for a moment). Mozart intervened and things were smoothed over.

His compositions are pretty much all for piano in some form or other, including the interestingly named Concerto Facile in D major. This is the second movement. To my ears that’s a forte piano being played, rather than the modern instrument.

♫ Freystädtler - Concerto Facile in D major (2)

JEAN-BAPTISTE JANSON was pretty much contemporaneous with Mozart.


J-B though, as you might be able to guess, was French. Although he was principally a cello player he became a teacher of the bass at the Paris

Conservatoire. He managed to survive the reign of terror, but didn’t live too long into the nineteenth century. Here we have him with his preferred instrument with the first movement of his Cello Concerto in D major.

♫ Janson - Cello Concerto in D major (1)

We can fade out now, just as this piece of music does. The composer is GIACOMO PUCCINI.


The music is from one of his most famous and best loved operas, “La Bohème”. It’s the duet at the end of act one when the lovers (as they are by now) wander off to meet their friends at the café. It’s called Ehil Rodolfo! O soave fanciulla.

♫ Puccini - Ehil Rodolfo! O soave fanciulla

INTERESTING STUFF – 24 November 2018

[EDITORIAL NOTE:] After the last couple of Interesting Stuff editions, you knew we were heading in this direction. Right? An entire Interesting Stuff devoted to animal videos. Couldn't help myself.


TGB reader Trudy Kappel sent this video of a young panda Bei Bei at the U.S. National Zoo having a fine old time in an early snow. The YouTube page explains:

"The giant pandas are most active in cold weather and enjoy tumbling and rolling in snow.”


Another TGB reader, Mary Symmes, sent this one. The videographer, Steve Hathaway, found this elusive sea “thing” in October near New Zealand, ending a search of more than a decade:

“'I’ve always wanted to see one,' Hathaway said in an interview Wednesday discussing the 26-foot-long pyrosome — a colony of tiny sea animals that link together into a free-floating mass.

“Their mysterious features and bioluminescent glow have caused some scientists to dub them the 'bizarre unicorns of the sea'. They reportedly feel like an exquisitely soft feather boa.'”

You can read more at the Washington Post.


I know, you're expecting “hee-haw, hee-haw” but you would be mistaken. According to Laughing Squid:

”While out one day in the Irish countryside, Martin Stanton captured footage of his favourite donkey, who’s name is Harriet, as she sweetly serenaded the humans who passed by in a gorgeous, operatic soprano voice.

“According what Stanton posted on the Facebook group Ireland From the Roadside, his Harriet never learned to vocalize properly.”


The video tells it all. Just watch – you'll be happy you did.


So there are are, taking the kids on a leisurely drive through Yellowstone National Park looking at the beauty and critters and this happens.

Nothing to do but sit back and wait until the buffalo feel like moving along even if it might be awhile. (Filmed by Arun Binaykia in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park in 2016.)


Reader Joan McMullen sent this recently. I posted it a couple of years ago but it's worth a rerun here in my neighborhood in Lake Oswego.


According to Mother Nature Network,

”A team of marine scientists have discovered a very rare shark nursery, 200 miles west of Ireland while investigating Ireland’s deep ocean territory.

“This rare occurrence was discovered during a recent SeaRover survey by the Marine Institute’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Holland 1...”

To learn more, visit here and here.


The YouTube page explains:

”...we found Rilu on side of a road 2014, he was only 2 months old, skinny and very scared, meowing for help. He has been in our care ever since and his 'ability' to break down the traditional cat-dog animosity and create a special bond and friendship with our rescue dogs has amazed us all.”


Long time TGB reader Darlene Costner sent this wonderful video – a great way to end today's collection.

* * *

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.

Crabby Old Lady and the Holiday Season

At the risk of being labeled a Grinch, Crabby Old Lady is tired of the holiday season already. She always is by now, the day after Thanksgiving. There are a whole lot of good reasons:

It starts in September. That's when Crabby saw her first Christmas TV commercial this year. Let Crabby repeat: IN SEPTEMBER. That turns over four damned months - ONE-THIRD of an entire year - to a holiday that in public has little to do with anything but asks that everyone spend lots of money.

Even before Halloween, half the shelves in Crabby's local “drug” store were filled with artificial trees, chimney stockings, ornaments and other Christmas tchochkes.

Some people refer to Happy Holidays thinking they are being inclusive but that's just window dressing. The American holiday is only about Christmas. Have you ever tried to find a box of Hannukah candles among the mounds of Christmas tinsel? Crabby has had to buy them online for years.

If you don't count the silly and stupid songs, there is a lot of gorgeous Christmas music in the world. But by November, having already heard it constantly repeated through every tinny store speaker too many times, it's not beautiful anymore – It's just annoying earworms.

And woe to any retailer who doesn't join the Christmas decoration parade. We're all brainwashed and it has nothing to do with a Christian holiday. It's all and only about excessive consumerism. Did you know that a couple of years ago five people were killed in the Black Friday rush and 105 injured?

However, just so you know Crabby Old Lady isn't entirely a curmudgeon, she has a fondness for the British tradition of Christmas adverts, lavishly produced by the country's large (and some smaller) retailers.

This year John Lewis and Co. sucked in Crabby with The Boy and the Piano, a story about:

”...the power of a gift. And how that gift inspired, changed and influenced the course of a little boy’s life. That little boy just happens to be Elton John.

"The film begins in present day and works backwards chronologically through Elton’s life right until the moment on Christmas morning when he received the special gift that changed his life.”

A large number of the British Christmas adverts have been published on the internet (“Already?” says Crabby). You can watch a bunch of them here.

The Good Ship This End Up

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we chose a name for the ship we here at Time Goes By are traveling together on my last great adventure in life? We voted, settling on This End Up.

Let me back up a bit. Last week one of my most favorite friends came to stay with me for a few days. Stan James, who is a blockchain engineer (you're on your own to figure out what that is), lives in Boulder, Colorado and he is one of the few people left in the world who often communicates by snailmail.

Postcards show up regularly along with the occasional actual letter on paper in an envelope. They always look something like this:


Yes, Stan is a master at beautiful, gorgeous, amazing calligraphy.

Somehow, until this trip, Stan had neglected to tell me that his art is not confined to paper. He is also what I am calling for now a beach calligrapher.

Here is Stan himself with one of his sand creations:


Since we are celebrating one of America' iconic holidays tomorrow, here is an appropriate creation from Stan for the season:

Happy Holidays

And now, the piece de resistance for the denizens of Time Goes By, take a look at this fantastic sand creation just for us:

Isn't that wonderful? It makes me want to cry with joy. You can find much more of Stan's sand calligraphy on his Instagram page.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


By Kate Gilpin

Like a lot of people who live alone, I have always kept cats. I have one now and his name is Tribble. I've been living with him as long as I lived with my parents, and a lot more comfortably. He got his name because he fit furrily into the palm of one hand when we met.

Trib is a big, gentle, smoky Persian and in his prime he looked like a cross between a large muff and a Sumo wrestler. He kept me company through a divorce, watched me quit smoking, helped me landscape the yard and saw The Shining with me at home in a terrified embrace one Halloween night.

When he was much younger, he stole a piece of raw liver as long as his body off my kitchen counter and clenching it in his tiny teeth, he fled through the house, out the door, around the back and front yards and into the house again before I caught up with him.

He still had the liver in a death grip when I pried it loose. I had it for dinner, and so did he.

Tribbie shouldn't have lived past about three. He showed early signs of feline leukemia and was expected to die within a few years. He suffered from an intermittent series of fevers, tonsillitis, rashes, abscesses. In between weird ailments, he had a wonderful time but almost every month I hemorrhaged money at the pet hospital.

When he was seven he got cancer on his back. The veterinarian excised it and Trib mysteriously quit getting sick after that. It was as if he and the virus had been fighting up till then and he finally won. Last spring he turned eighteen.

He's lost a lot of weight and about half of his hair is gone. He fetches up those horrifying inexplicable yells that old cats all do and he sits for long periods in one spot, looking vague.

He has taken to using the back part of the living room as a litter box. His hind legs don't work properly any more and this summer, I found out his kidneys are beginning to fail. He's not likely to see nineteen.

When I hold Tribbie and stroke him now, I can feel every bone under the skin. His fur is dry and stiff, what there is of it. His abdomen is swollen and doesn't feel quite right. I pop two or three pills into his little gap-toothed mouth daily, and give him an injection every other week. He goes to the doctor twice a month.

There has been talk about having him put to sleep at some point but so far he's still happy to be here, and he still loves yogurt.

The thing is, I feel bad about it all the time. The other day I realized that I am angry with him because he's leaving me. It was the same feeling I had when my mother was in her late eighties and I noticed that she had quit being interested in things.

You know what I mean, they're not gone, they're just not really the same person any more.

Well, of course, we're not any of us the same person any more and in my mother's case, it was in some ways an improvement. But Tribble is my cat, which means my feelings about him are not very complicated: they are simple and sweet, like him, and seeing him gradually disappear is so painful that I'd rather not watch. It makes me cry whenever I think about it.

So I find myself avoiding it. I've gotten into planning ahead. I've decided to scatter his ashes in his favorite part of the garden. I might hold a wake for his friends.

I expect to find another cat in a year or two and I'd like to get a dog. I've wanted to have one for years but couldn't because Trib would never put up with it. I'm going to get a big dog, some kind that has the same tank-like, fuzzy charm as Persians.

Then it's time to feed Tribble and hold the back door open so he can walk into the yard. The cat door is getting hard for him to climb through. It's November now and we're having a warm spell. Sunday afternoon. I'm watching him hop slowly down the steps. He's going to patrol the territory.

He starts at the lobelia bordering the dead vegetable patch, pauses to yowl at the bench in the corner by the yellowing grapevine. He limps with dignity to the far path, stopping by the early camellia, sniffing a persimmon fallen among the bright leaves of its tree. He's sitting tall on the grass now.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.

Bumbling Along in My Predicament

Beginning two days after my chemo sessions every two weeks, I have a rough couple of days of after effects. It's mostly like a fairly bad flu – aches and pains and chills but no fever.

I crawl out of bed every now and then, check email for personal messages, have something to eat even when I'm not hungry because it's good for me and crawl back into bed.

In general, so far, given my predicament, I'm willing to make this trade-off – about three days of debility for 11 days of feeling good. Especially so after my blood tests at last week's treatment were normal.

The chemo treatments delay the growth of the cancer – for some unnamed period of time - giving me a few more months, they say, of healthy life, if it can be called that. Whether this is a rational choice on my part is a mystery to me.

Mostly, I'm just bumbling along, taking the advice of the doctors and nurses who, of course, have vastly more experience than I do at end-of-life cancer. Whether I'm right or wrong doesn't seem to matter much to me.

One of the things I'm grateful for is that my sense of humor remains. Let me tell you a little story that happened last week.

You who have been around through this entire adventure know that last spring I underwent two separate surgeries to place stents in my body to stop a dangerous internal bleed that was caused by the original, extensive surgery for pancreatic cancer.

The new surgeries were performed by a different kind of doctor than the one who did the cancer surgery.

A few days ago, a young woman called to book a six-month follow-up appointment with that surgeon telling me that before we met that day, he wanted me to have a certain kind of scan. Realizing she was unlikely to have read my medical record before making the call, I asked if I could skip the scan since my condition is now terminal.

There was a moment of silence at her end and before I could stop myself, I heard these words pop out of my mouth: “You know, a case of the surgery was a success but the patient died...”

Another stunned silence at her end and all I could do was laugh and apologize. But was there ever a more perfect moment for that old joke?

Like I said, I'm just bumbling along through this predicament of mine.


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.

* * *

With Nothing, Something and Everything out of the way, that means that now Anything goes. So it shall be.

It’s obvious that I should start with Anything Goes, the song written by COLE PORTER.

Cole Porter

Although many have recorded the song, to me, having the writer sing his own song is always my first preference. And so it is today. This is Cole’s version.

♫ Cole Porter - Anything Goes

Although far from the best singer in the world, KRIS KRISTOFFERSON sure can write a good song. He’s a pretty good actor too, but that’s going a bit off topic.

Kris Kristofferson

Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again) originally turned up on his “The Silver Tongued Devil and I” album. A while ago, he went back into the studio and rerecorded many of his famous songs, including this one.

That album is called “The Austin Sessions”, and it’s that version I’m using today.

♫ Kris Kristofferson - Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)

KEELY SMITH is most remembered for her partnership with Louis Prima.

Keely Smith

However, after that partnership sundered as well as their marriage, Keely went on to have quite a decent solo career. From that later career we have I Would Do Most Anything for You.

♫ Keely Smith - I Would Do Most Anything For You

ELVIS gets into act with a song fairly early in his career, if 1962 can be called fairly early for him.

Elvis Presley

It’s a song I was only vaguely aware of called Anything That's Part of You. This was the b-side (remember when records had two sides?) to Good Luck Charm, and is notable for the distinctive sound of Floyd Cramer playing the piano, and I think it’s a really nice song.

♫ Elvis - Anything That's Part of You

From the previous generation of performers, someone who was also quite influential in his own way is BOB WILLS.

Bob Wills

Bob’s music was also part of the various streams that lead to rock & roll, but this track is probably not one of those. It just goes by the name of Anything.

♫ Bob Wills - Anything

TIMI YURO had one really big hit, but she also had quite a few others that made the charts back in the sixties.

Timi Yuro

Her song today isn’t one of those, it turned up on one of her albums and is called Be Anything (But Be Mine).

♫ Timi Yuro - Be Anything (But Be Mine)

The SONS OF THE SAN JOAQUIN obviously modeled themselves on the Sons of the Pioneers.

Sons of the San Joaquin

They are a family band with two brothers and a son, and they harmonise and otherwise sing beautifully. Their repertoire is mainly cowboy songs and the like. One of those is That’s Why I'll Never Want To Be Anything But A Cowboy.

♫ Sons of the San Joaquin - That s Why I'll Never Want To Be Anything But A Cowboy

There were several contenders for the song I Can’t Give You Anything but Love. In the end I went for MEL TORMÉ.

Mel Torme

It was a tough call as it’s one of the most recorded songs in history. Even I don’t have all of those, but of the many I have I liked Mel’s the best. Sorry Billie, you missed out today. A rare occurrence.

♫ Mel Tormé - I Can't Give You Anything But Love

HOWARD TATE was a soul singer who wasn’t particularly well known by the general public.

Howard Tate

He was well known in the music industry though, and Janis Joplin recorded a couple of his songs. He had a number of charting songs in the sixties and retired from the music biz in the late seventies.

An enterprising DJ rediscovered him early this century which led to a second career until his death in 2011. Howard’s contribution is You Don't Know Anything About Love.

♫ Howard Tate - You Don't Know Anything About Love

BONNIE RAITT was destined to be a musician.

Bonnie Raitt

Her father was the Broadway actor and singer, John Raitt and her mother was the pianist, Marjorie Haydock. Bonnie received a guitar for Christmas when she was eight years old and hasn’t looked back.

Later, instead of studying in college, she’d hang around blues clubs and gig with various blues legends. That paid off as she’s one of the world’s great slide guitarists. Although she probably doesn’t believe this, she sings I Don't Want Anything to Change.

♫ Bonnie Raitt - I Don't Want Anything To Change

INTERESTING STUFF – 17 November 2018


I may have mentioned that I was a big Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) fan on its first run from 1988 to 1994 and I've watched the entire series two or three times since.

One of the many great things about the show was medical care. Broken arm? Just hold a mobile phone-sized device over and it healed in a couple of minutes. Something just as simple and quick for cancer and I expected these advance in medical science to be here by the time I might need them.

No such luck but get this:

”On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Commander Riker had an impressive ability to receive head wounds. Luckily for him, Dr. Crusher could whip out the 'dermal regenerator,' a handheld sci-fi tool that healed skin wounds with a colorful laser.

“Luckily for us, Kaushal Rege and colleagues at Arizona State University are developing essentially the same thing. Well, close enough. In a new paper out from the journal Advanced Functional Materials, the engineers successfully repaired animal wounds with a silk and gold nanomaterial activated by a laser.

But wait. There's more:

”Because near-infrared light can penetrate fairly deeply into tissue, Ghosh and colleagues hope to use the technology to eventually repair things like blood vessels and nerves—tissues that are often deep in the body and time-consuming to repair...

“Ghosh expects the cost of the silk-gold material will not be prohibitively expensive, and the lasers would be a one-time equipment cost for medical centers.”

If the current living rat tests go well, the researchers will move on to pigs and, eventually, humans.

You can read more at ieee Spectrum.


Last week, New York City held its annual marathon that runs through all five boroughs. As you might imagine, non-fans who need to get around town are frustrated by the delays. Here's a terrific video of them try to cross streets as the long line of marathoners are passing by.


I know I've posted about ice hotels before but I like them, winter is here (well, it feels like it where I am) and why not? Although there are many ice hotels around the world now, this is the original:


I guess this second ice video means I'm fairly impressed with arrival of cold weather this year. This one – a student film – is about an ice castle in New Hampshire built each year by a team of engineers and artists. The story is as much about two young sisters who visit the castle.


This item came from my friend John Gear who practices consumer law in Salem, Oregon, and when John says something is powerful, I listen. Here is what it is about – from nursinghome411:

"I am writing to let you know that we are launching a new 'Tell YOUR Story' tool that will enable residents, families, ombudsmen, and those who work with them tell their story about nursing home or assisted living care. The form is available here.

“One can fill out the form on the website, download it to fill out on a computer or phone, or print out a hard copy to mail in. All personal identifying information is kept confidential unless the individual provides specific permission otherwise.

“Stories about resident care can have an enormous impact on advocacy for better care and dignity. We would appreciate any help you can provide in getting the word out and passing this along!”

If you have such a story to tell, please do that at this website.


I have a vague sense I've posted this video before but it is nice to watch and kind of soothing in it way seeing how the animals go about their daily lives.


Sunday TGB music columnist Peter Tibbles and his Assistant Musicologist sent this story. It is a map of the United States made up entirely from titles of over 1,000 songs about place names in the country.

Here's a piece of the west coast:


And here is a piece of the east coast.


You can see the whole thing at We Are Dorothy. It is a retail website in London where you can buy the map – I am not promoting that, just letting you know.


Squirrel intelligence and agility gets put to the test in this obstacle course. They are such clever little critters.


TGB reader Celia sent this video of animators' idea of what they would be like if animals were round? It's funny. Enjoy.

There are more inflated animals here.

* * *

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.

“At Death's Door, Shedding Light On How To Live”

EDITORIAL NOTE FROM RONNI: Last Friday, I published a link to a news story by Judith Graham about my terminal cancer diagnosis. She interviewed me for a long time, interviewed some people who know me and wrote a terrific piece.

We covered a lot of territory in our conversation and I would like more people to read it than followed that link last week.

Unlike almost every other news organization I know of, Kaiser Health News (KHN), which publishes Graham's columns, not only allows others to republish their stories in their entirety, they even supply the html. So, here it is on TGB today.

The original can be found here and the archive of Judith's columns is here.

* * *

By Judith Graham, at Kaiser Health News

Nothing so alters a person as learning you have a terminal illness.

Ronni Bennett, who writes a popular blog about aging, discovered that recently when she heard that cancer had metastasized to her lungs and her peritoneum (a membrane that lines the cavity of the abdomen).

There is no cure for your condition, Bennett was told by doctors, who estimated she might have six to eight months of good health before symptoms began to appear.

Right then and there, this 77-year-old resolved to start doing things differently — something many people might be inclined to do in a similar situation.

No more extended exercise routines every morning, a try-to-stay-healthy activity that Bennett had forced herself to adopt but disliked intensely.

No more watching her diet, which had allowed her to shed 40 pounds several years ago and keep the weight off, with considerable effort.

No more worrying about whether memory lapses were normal or an early sign of dementia — an irrelevant issue now.

No more pretending that the cliché “we’re all terminal” (since death awaits all of us) is especially insightful. This abstraction has nothing to do with the reality of knowing, in your gut, that your own death is imminent, Bennett realized.

“It colors everything,” she told me in a long and wide-ranging conversation recently. “I’ve always lived tentatively, but I’m not anymore because the worst has happened — I’ve been told I’m going to die.”

No more listening to medical advice from friends and acquaintances, however well-intentioned. Bennett has complete trust in her medical team at Oregon Health & Science University, which has treated her since diagnosing pancreatic cancer last year. She’s done with responding politely to people who think they know better, she said.

And no more worrying, even for a minute, what anyone thinks of her. As Bennett wrote in a recent blog post, “All kinds of things … fall away at just about the exact moment the doctor says, ‘There is no treatment.’”

Four or five times a day, a wave of crushing fear washes through her, Bennett told me. She breathes deeply and lets it pass. And no, psychotherapy isn’t something she wants to consider.

Instead, she’ll feel whatever it is she needs to feel — and learn from it. This is how she wants to approach death, Bennett said: alert, aware, lucid. “Dying is the last great adventure we have — the last bit of life — and I want to experience it as it happens,” she said.

Writing is, for Bennett, a necessity, the thing she wants to do more than anything during this last stage of her life. For decades, it’s been her way of understanding the world — and herself.

In a notebook, Bennett has been jotting down thoughts and feelings as they come to her. Some she already has shared in a series of blog posts about her illness. Some she’s saving for the future.

There are questions she hasn’t figured out how to answer yet.

“Can I still watch trashy TV shows?”

“How do I choose what books to read, given that my time is finite?

“What do I think about rationale suicide?” (Physician-assisted death is an option in Oregon, where Bennett lives.)

Along with her “I’m done with that” list, Bennett has a list of what she wants to embrace.

Ice cream and cheese, her favorite foods.

Walks in the park near her home.

Get-togethers with her public affairs discussion group.

A romp with kittens or puppies licking her and making her laugh.

A sense of normalcy, for as long as possible. “What I want is my life, very close to what it is,” she explained.

Deep conversations with friends. “What has been most helpful and touched me most are the friends who are willing to let me talk about this,” she said.

On her blog, she has invited readers to “ask any questions at all” and made it clear she welcomes frank communication.

“I’m new to this — this dying thing — and there’s no instruction book. I’m kind of fascinated by what you do with yourself during this period, and questions help me figure out what I think,” she told me.

Recently, a reader asked Bennett if she was angry about her cancer. No, Bennett answered. “Early on, I read about some cancer patients who get hung up on ‘why me?’ My response was ‘why not me?’ Most of my family died of cancer and, 40 percent of all Americans will have some form of cancer during their lives.”

Dozens of readers have responded with shock, sadness and gratitude for Bennett’s honesty about subjects that usually aren’t discussed in public.

“Because she’s writing about her own experiences in detail and telling people how she feels, people are opening up and relaying their experiences — things that maybe they’ve never said to anyone before,” Millie Garfield, 93, a devoted reader and friend of Bennett’s, told me in a phone conversation.

Garfield’s parents never talked about illness and death the way Bennett is doing. “I didn’t have this close communication with them, and they never opened up to me about all the things Ronni is talking about,” she said.

For the last year, Bennett and her former husband, Alex Bennett, have broadcast video conversations every few weeks over YouTube. (He lives across the country in New York City.) “What you’ve written will be valuable as a document of somebody’s life and how to leave it,” he told her recently as they talked about her condition with poignancy and laughter.

Other people may have very different perspectives as they take stock of their lives upon learning they have a terminal illness. Some may not want to share their innermost thoughts and feelings; others may do so willingly or if they feel other people really want to listen.

During the past 15 years, Bennett chose to live her life out loud through her blog. For the moment, she’s as committed as ever to doing that.

“There’s very little about dying from the point of view of someone who’s living that experience,” she said. “This is one of the very big deals of aging and, absolutely, I’ll keep writing about this as long as I want to or can.”

Meeting My Son...Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

EDITORIAL NOTE: Today's edition of The Alex and Ronni Show, in which we discuss the subject of today's blog post, is at the bottom of this story.

* * *

It was a whim. I've never had much interest in my ethnicity; my face pretty well tells the story so if you don't want to build a family tree – I don't - why bother.

But those DNA websites were having a sale late last year and if my mildest curiosity had not been worth $99 to me, $59 seemed reasonable. I ordered the kit.

A month later, this message appeared in an email via the DNA site. It was a shocker:

”Dear Ms. Bennett,
“It appears you and I are related in a fairly intimate way.”

“Fairly intimate way?” Talk about a gift for understatement - it was a 50 percent match: my child.

Let me back up more than half a century.

I was barely 21, just a kid, when I became pregnant in 1962. Although “the pill” had been available for a year or so, I was not using it and abortion, whatever one's moral beliefs, was illegal. When I told the baby's father, he couldn't get away from me fast enough. I never saw or heard from him again.

In addition, I knew that on just about every level, I was not at all prepared to be a mother. All that left only one option.

We were called unwed mothers in those days and there was a profound stigma attached. Suddenly, girlfriends were too busy to hang out and I certainly could not stay at my job once my condition became evident. Except for my mother, I was alone.

What I did have, however, was a warm and down-to-earth obstetrician who took good care of me and with his staff, found an adoptive family I would have chosen myself. In fact, I did – I was told a lot about them and allowed refusal rights.

One amusing story I haven't thought about for years until now, as I write this: Well into the pregnancy I woke weeping one morning, wailing that I was supposed to give birth to a baby but had a cat instead. It was one of those dreams that was as real as real.

A dream cat notwithstanding, in February 1963, I gave birth to a healthy, (human) baby boy and he went home with his adoptive family at the same time he would have with his birth mother.

TomWark400x400 Which brings me back to late last year. Tom Wark is in his mid-fifties now. He is married for the third time with a four-year-old son and lives in the Napa Valley. He is a wine expert, owner of a public and media relations company targeting the wine industry. His wine blog, Fermentation, is here.

Early this year, we exchanged some email until May when I dropped away, or so it must have seemed to Tom. Part of it was the two surgeries I underwent to stop the internal bleed that threatened my life then but that wasn't entirely it.

I felt awkward. I didn't know what to say and I didn't know what is expected in such circumstance. I did not and don't feel motherly toward Tom but neither do I believe I should.

Motherhood – and fatherhood – have nothing to do with giving birth. They are about day-in and day-out care and loving of a child no matter what. I have no experience with that nor any of the rights attached.

So although I felt uncomfortable about dropping out of the email conversation, I wasn't sure how to pick it up again. Then, three weeks ago after reading my recent emails about the return of cancer, Tom reached out by email.

Since then, we have had two lengthy telephone conversations with more planned. Tom says that in certain photographs he can see a resemblance between us. I can't. But we have discovered other similarities.

We were both good students except for science and math mainly because neither of us were interested in those subjects. We are both more literary types. We love books and own a lot of them. In my case, they are my friends and I'm betting Tom would say that too.

Further, we share a love of time travel stories, and we've both read everything Gore Vidal ever wrote. Some personality traits seem near matches too.

Oh, and Tom noted that we each started our blogs way back in 2004, when they were a brand new media platform.

After these two long phone chats, I am most interested now in learning more about Tom and what I think I see as similar mindsets – how we tell stories, for example, and the kinds of connections we make getting from one subject to another.

Most of all, after our first conversation which lasted two hours, for several days I felt a warmth and closeness that, in my experience, doesn't show up until I've known someone for a long time. It happened again after our second conversation. I am comfortable with this man.

Plus, I really like Tom's understatement in his first email. I'm always so proud of myself when I can do that, but it's not easy to pull off – at least for me.

* * *

If you would like to see Alex's entire two-hour show with other guests following our chat, you can do that at Facebook or Gabnet on Facebook or on YouTube.

A TGB READER STORY: The Pier, the Birds and the Moment

By B. Henry

An airplane sneaks through the fog over Lac St. Louis.

Canada geese sing homecoming harmonies.

I'm in my car, staring at the lake where we swam as kids.

The lake ice has melted.

The water is high.

Another plane tiptoes in.

A man sits in his car, reading.

We're two cars, side by side, on the pier.

He looks at me, nods and smiles.

I smile and nod back.

I sip my coffee and think about a jumble of senior words overheard at the local coffee spot.

Words like this:

"My friend is in the hospital. She can't move from the neck down. She may never walk again. The doctors are doing tests. I call her every night. A nurse puts the phone by her ear."

"He's 94 years old, driving without a license. His doctor refused to sign the paper. I should notify the police. He's going to kill himself or someone else. If the cops pull him over, it's gonna be game over. Maybe it's just gossip. What should I do?"

"Her world has become smaller since she moved into that senior home."

"No car. No visits. No garden."

"Everything is in the past."

v"So listen to this: My three neighbours help each other, even though they are not related. One woman cuts lawns, the other one cooks and the boyfriend repairs stuff. They found a way to age in place."

"Ah, I know who you mean. She walks the ILR halls and knocks on doors. Sometimes she puts her thumb over the peephole so you can't see who is there. She's losing it."

A ship passes. It's going somewhere.

But where are we going?

More words:

"I'm not sitting there."

"I don't like that man."

"I want to bop him one."

"Now Sam, you know a bop too far becomes a boom."

"Yeah, I know that."

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: This feature, TGB Readers' Stories, appears every Tuesday. Anyone age 50 and older is welcome to submit a story. You can do that by clicking the “Contact” link at the top of every TGB page or at the Guidelines/Submissions page.

Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting a story. It will save me a lot of time.

Making Dying Part of Living

Two or three or four weeks ago, a reader commented that I should not tell anyone about my terminal cancer diagnosis because I would then be identified only by that fact instead of all the other descriptions that could be said of me.

Two assumptions come with that reasoning: (1) that I care if people know I am dying (I do not) and (2) that dying or, at least, talking about it is taboo.

The second item is all too true. In the U.S., we hide dying from friends, neighbors, co-workers, even family sometimes so that death, when it arrives, is a shock to everyone left behind.

Certainly, everyone who finds him/herself in my position has the right to play it out any way they want. But I think keeping it secret does a disservice to the person, to the people who know and care about him or her and to the culture at large.

It makes the great final act of life too much a mystery and more frightening than it needs to be.

Did you know that only about 20 percent of deaths occur at home? That wasn't always so. Until 100 years ago, give or take, most people died in their own bed surrounded by family and loved ones. When the dying was extended, everyone, including the children, were involved in the caregiving.

When I was kid, about half my friends had one or two grandparents living with them. Some were healthy, some were not and it was not uncommon for a friend to tell me that she couldn't go bike-riding that morning because she was taking care of Gran while her mom was shopping.

An ailing grandparent was such a commonplace that we kids accepted it and, when it sometimes happened, the grandparent's death was – well, part of life which, I believe, is as it should be.

We are born, we live, we die. But we too often omit the third act from view.

It is the dying, rather than death itself, I am concerned with, and I become more convinced every day now, as I live with this death sentence, that it is a gift.

A gift of time that allows me to say the things I always ought to have done but too often have not. Of time to remember. Time to wonder at the great unknown. And time to talk. Oh god, yes. To talk and and talk and talk with those who will do so with me, about everything under the sun.

We are doing that here in these pages and your comments, thoughts and stories are enriching my final days.

Even though I have met only a few of you in person, we've been friends of a certain kind for a long time. Imagine how you would feel if, when the time comes, someone posted a note saying I died yesterday of cancer, and you had known nothing about it until then.

Would you feel betrayed? I think I would. Would you wonder why the disease had been kept a secret? I would. And I think I would feel cheated to be able to leave only a note of condolence rather than having had this wonderful conversation we are carrying on now.

No one wants to die but I cannot see the point in pretending my death is not visible on the horizon. In accepting that, I can surrender to life in full, keep moving forward and be as much in the here and now as humanly possible.

Dying is as much a part of living as birth. We should treat it with as much significance and honor it during every last day we have.

ELDER MUSIC: Everything

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

* * *

We’ve had Nothing and Something. I imagine it’s time for Everything, and here it all is, and I think we cover just about every genre of popular music today. Well, every one worth considering.

Well, everything I’ve ever said about BILLIE HOLIDAY still holds true today.

Billie Holiday

She was unique, and I use that word advisably. Often given second rate material to record, she made them into polished gems of songs. And when she tackled great songs Billie made them even greater.

Billie suggests that Everything Happens For The Best. I don’t know about that, but let’s hear what she sings.

♫ Billie Holiday - Everything Happens For The Best

KEITH JARRETT made a couple of albums with the late great jazz bassist CHARLIE HADEN which are really fine if you like elegant stripped back jazz.

Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden

Charlie’s swinging bass playing gives an added dimension to Keith’s lyrical piano playing. Everything Happens to Me.

♫ Keith Jarrett - Everything Happens to Me

With her contribution CATHERINE RUSSELL sounds like a throwback to the thirties.

Catherine Russell

She isn’t from that era, of course. Catherine is quite up to date. From her recent album “Strictly Romancin'” she sings in her inimitable style, Everything's Been Done Before. I can see her singing this in a Paris club, backed by Django and Stéphane.

♫ Catherine Russell - Everything's Been Done Before

PAUL KELLY is unusual in the ranks of male songwriters because he writes many songs from the female point of view.

Paul kelly

He took a short story by Raymond Carver and turned it into the song, Everything's Turning to White. The story was called “So Much Water, So Close to Home”, which is the name of Paul’s album from which the song is taken.

♫ Paul Kelly - Everything's Turning to White

JOHNNY ADAMS had a multi-octave singing voice that he used often to great effect.

Johnny Adams

He was yet another talent from New Orleans and was quite at home singing soul, jazz, blues, gospel and rock & roll. Today’s song, I Want To Do Everything For You, is mostly in the soul genre.

♫ Johnny Adams - I Want To Do Everything For You

The BELLAMY BROTHERS are a successful country duo whose music has crossed over into the mainstream pop arena.

Bellamy Brothers

This isn’t confined to the obvious places – America, Australia, the UK – they’ve had charting songs in Europe, Japan and several African countries. The song today is from a rather fine album called “Rebels Without a Clue” called When The Music Meant Everything.

♫ Bellamy Brothers - When The Music Meant Everything

You don’t hear whistling much in songs anymore, it used to be quite common. The whistler today, okay, it’s quite short, is CHRIS SMITHER.

Chris Smither

Chris is a blues/folk/singer-songwriter of renown. His life performances, usually just him and an acoustic guitar, are really worth catching. Here he sings (and whistles) Everything on Top.

♫ Chris Smither - Everything on Top

I could have done without those strings on the next song. After all, when you have NAT KING COLE and THE GEORGE SHEARING QUINTET, that should be enough. It certainly is for me.

Na King Cole t& George Shearing

Nat and George and friends (and those damn strings) give us Everything Happens To Me.

♫ Nat King Cole and George Shearing - Everything Happens To Me

SAM COOKE should need no introduction from me for the readers of this column.

Sam Cooke

It’s generally considered that he invented soul music, along with Ray Charles, but he didn’t live long enough to see its full blossoming. Such a pity. He sings I Lost Everything. I guess that’s a little prophetic.

♫ Sam Cooke - I Lost Everything

I like to throw a song from left field into columns now and then, and today’s contribution is from the LOUVIN BROTHERS.

Louvin Brothers

The Louvins were an influential duo whose songs were taken up by later country and rock performers, most notably The Byrds and Emmylou Harris. It seems they have Plenty of Everything but You.

♫ Louvin Brothers - Plenty of Everything but You

INTERESTING STUFF – 10 November 2018

EDITORIAL NOTE: Again this week, my selections are heavy on animals. I hope you enjoy them.

* * *


That's what Bryant Johnston, long-time physical fitness trainer to 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a reporter after RGB fell last week and broke three ribs:

"To all the stressed out people in America," Johnson told The Cut, "remember that the justice is TAN. Now, I always use that acronym: TAN. She’s tough as nails. You think three ribs are going to stop Justice?

"We probably won’t train at least for another week or so just to give the ribs a chance to heal because the ribs are just very sensitive areas that you just gotta give them a chance to heal. And then we’ll pick back up just like we usually do, and I’ll take in account for the ribs and we’ll just kinda ease and move in a little bit easier around ‘em."

Thank god she is TAN. We need that woman on the Court.


Julien Tabet is a young French artist who says he likes to surprise people.

”...imagining the improbable fascinates me...,” he says. “My works deal mainly with animals for a lot of reasons. Animals are different from humans because they are so much more humble and innocent.

“But what I like the most is that they can be mysterious due to their anonymity. I love to dream up the way animals act when we aren't watching them, kind of like Toy Story.

I think his work is magic:




There are more fantastical images at Bored Panda and at Tabet's Instagram page.


We may have elected a Democratic-majority House of Representatives on Tuesday but that doesn't mean Congress will suddenly function.

The Washington Post and ProPublica got together to produce a short animated video, How Congress Stopped Working, that includes some predictions about whether it will soon get better.

Warning: This is not encouraging:

You can read more at the Washington Post and at ProPublica.


The YouTube page tells us:

”An inquisitive cat in the Luxembourg city of Esch-sur-Alzette, saw something move across the street and immediately trotted over to investigate. Upon discovering it was a rat, the cat began the chase.

“This tough little rat, however, turned right around and instead became the chaser...nipping at the poor kittie’s heels all around the streets.”


This is so cute:

”A noble German Shepherd named Thorin,” says the YouTube page, “very gently sniffed out a bevy of baby quails who were chirping away while crawling around on a comfy shag rug. After meeting these little birds, Thorin sat down and stood guard over them, remaining completely affable even when they climbed upon him.”


I may have mentioned that I can no longer read stories about climate change. Just the headlines make me weep for our beautiful big blue marble home in space.

Then there is this from the BBC. It won't change much, but it's good to read:

”The ozone layer, which protects us from ultraviolet light, looks to be successfully healing after gaping holes were discovered in the 1980s. The Northern Hemisphere could be fully fixed by the 2030s and Antarctica by the 2060s.

“A new United Nations report says it's an example of what global agreements can achieve.”

Read the entire story at the BBC.


Undoubtedly you know that maps made for a flat surface distort the size and shape of land masses. Climate data scientist and interactive mapmaker, Neil Kaye, has made an animated gif to show the differences in the size of countries between flat and globe-shaped maps.

”Because the Mercator Map distorts land size in accordance with increased distance from the Equator, countries like Greenland, Russia, Canada and the United States look so much larger than much of the rest of the world.”


Read more at Laughing Squid.


A succinct little video about the way humans bury their dead has changed from the earliest days of humankind to the present.


Most of us get stuck with annoying earworms from time to time, a tune stuck in our brain that won't go away.

Susana Martinez-Conde, writing at Mental Floss, has five suggestions for banishing them. One of them is to listen to a “cure tune”:

”The same study also found that some subjects used competing songs, or 'cure tunes,' to control their earworms. The researchers identified 64 such tunes, with six of them named by more than one person.”

Another suggestion is to chew gum:

”Chewing might hinder the motor programming involved in speech articulation, and therefore could keep people from subvocalizing (saying the words to the songs in their heads). They found that vigorous gum-chewing did reduce the number of unwanted musical thoughts, but...”

Read the rest at Mental Floss. I have no idea of any of these work.


The Comedy Wildlife awards are back again this year with some of the funniest animal photography you've ever seen. A sampling of finalists:




The 2018 winners will be announced next Thursday, 15 November, in a ceremony at Foyles in Charing Cross, London.

Meanwhile, you can see a lot of more of the finalists at Bored Panda (click through for the entire five pages of entries) or at Comedy Wildlife Photos.

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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.

Writing and Coping Until the End

EDITORIAL NOTE: Judith Graham, who writes the Navigating Aging column at Kaiser Health News and who I've known for several years, interviewed me about my cancer diagnosis along with my decision to write about it for this blog. It was interesting for me to try to answer her wide-ranging questions as best I could and she pulled it all together in her usual excellent manner.

Oddly, although I wrote today's blog post yesterday before I read Judith's story, they turned out to be sort of companion pieces. You can read Judith's story here.

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One of my oldest blog friends sent an email earlier this week noting:

”'s heartening to know that you're not going to turn your blog into a 'Watch me die,' fiasco but continue it as a 'Watch me live' play-by-play.”

My thought was then and still is, “Oh god, I hope he's right. I'm not sure.”

In this final life predicament of mine, I'm flying blind. No one is prepared for this and in my case, I am unwilling to read about how others, knowing their approximate expiration date, have navigated the remaining time.

Writing is how I help myself figure out things. I was doing it a long time before there were blogs, even a long time before there was an internet and when I decided to let you, dear readers, in on my cancer diagnosis, I also declared to myself that I would write whatever was on my mind - or as close as I can determine - as if I were writing in one of my old analog journals.

What is new on Time Goes By now is that there will be fewer reported and researched posts. Most will be like this one, conjured from the thoughts and feelings flitting around the synapses of my brain.

These are easier to write, less time consuming and I need the extra hours in a week now. One thing I have learned in this first month is that knowing death is relatively imminent means there is a lot to do to be ready. When not procrastinating, I am busier than before this happened.

My end-of-life documents are long-since prepared and appointments with medical people are arranged for the next couple of months.

But there is homework to do and decisions to be made about palliative care issues and assisted dying, cremation to arrange, many last letters to write, visits with beloved friends, cleaning out my home of what will become useless detritus when I'm gone and much needed quiet time with myself.

Surprises eat up time too – more time, it feels like, than when such things happened “before.”

A week ago, hot water disappeared from my pipes and it was determined that a new water heater was required. Wh-a-a-a-a-t? At this particular moment in my swiftly shortening life, when I have a last chance to ponder my soul's relationship (or not) with the universe, my water heater dies? Before I do? Who thought that was a good idea?

And dear god, have you noticed what it costs to replace a water heater these days? Geez.

A day or two later, while carrying a big bundle of dirty laundry to the washing machine, I tripped on a dragging towel or bed sheet and crashed to the floor, banging my knees and my forehead horribly.

Although I quickly determined that nothing was broken or bleeding, the pain was terrible - throbbing away. I lay on the floor for a bit catching my breath and after a couple of minutes burst into tears – heavy, deep, uncontrollable sobs that went on and on.

My wits were still enough with me that I could tell right away, it being my first cry since this diagnosis, that my weeping was not at all about the pain in my knees and head.

While I lay there and in keeping with my slighlty off-center sense of humor, a cartoon I had seen recently came to mind of a woman lying on her floor. Parodying that awful TV commercial, she says, “Help. I've fallen and can't think of a reason to get up.”

Nor could I. For awhile.

After 15 or 20 minutes that old, impossibly cheerful Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields song intruded on my misery: “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.” Really? At this point in my life I've turned into that much a Pollyanna?

Apparently so.

The Day After the U.S. Midterm Election

On the morning after the 2008 presidential election, the first thing I heard on the news was an announcement of who intended to run for president in 2012.

And so it has been ever since. If we have not heard yet today who will run in 2020, we soon will (they can't help themselves, these politicians), thereby continuing what has become the perpetual 24/7/365 political campaign.

There is no governing in the U.S. anymore - just campaigning.

Except for issues that affect old people in particular, Time Goes By is not a political blog. But yesterday's election is different.

As many have said, it is a referendum on President Donald Trump and probably by the time this post is published today or you are reading it, we will know whether he succeeded in helping the Republican party maintain control of the entire federal government or if the Democrats managed to take the House and/or the Senate.

As I write this on Tuesday, I am worried about either outcome. If Trump prevails, it is frightening to imagine what legal and illegal acts his sense of empowerment will unleash on the country and the world. It will not be pretty.

And if the Democrats manage to wrest control of some part of the government, it is frightening to imagine what legal and illegal acts (in addition to his claiming victory anyway) Trump's sense of empowerment will unleash on the country and the world. It will not be pretty.

This election is my last. I was first allowed to stay up late to track the vote count in the 1952 election between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson - I was eleven years old – and I have been doing it in every election since then.

When Trump was elected in 2016, before I knew of my cancer diagnosis, I told anyone who would listen that whatever else happened, I would be pissed off big time if I did not live long enough to see how the Trump era ends (everything ends eventually).

Count me pissed off. And count me pissed off further that if special counsel Robert Mueller III drags his feet, I may not know that outcome either.

But at least I have seen this election and because nothing else today is as much on anyone's mind, let's see what we have to say about it in an open political thread below.