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FDA Warns Against Goulish Anti-Aging Treatment AND...

The Alex and Ronni Show at the bottom of this post featuring Ronni's black eye.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week, issued an alert to older people that transfusions of young people's blood as an anti-ageing treatment are “unproven and potentially harmful”.

”The FDA goes on to note that such infusions are known to pose a range of health risks in humans,” reports Ars Technica. “These risks include spreading infectious disease, triggering allergic reactions, and causing lung injuries.

“In some people—particularly those with heart disease—the infusions can also overload the circulatory system, causing swelling and breathing trouble, the agency explains.”

I reported on the goulish “young blood” transfusions two years ago highlighting a private clinic called Ambrosia in Monterey, California, where people could pay $8,000 to have blood plasma from teenagers and young adults pumped into their veins.

Ambrosia's owner, Jesse Karmazin, said then that most participants “see improvement” from a one-time infusion within a month.

Although the FDA did not mention Ambrosia in their warning last week, STATnews reports that

”Karmazin, has yet to report the results of a clinical trial he ran testing the procedure, which involves an off-label use of an approved product. On Tuesday [19 February 2019], however, following the release of the FDA statement, a notice on Ambrosia’s site said it would no longer offer the transfusions.”

Further from Ars Technica:

”The sellers suggest that doses of young plasma can treat conditions ranging from normal aging and memory loss to dementia, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the FDA.”

People have been looking for a fountain of youth since at least Alexander the Great without any luck. But a growing number of researchers throughout the world have been working for years to develop treatments to slow the ageing process and extend the human lifespan.

I would be a lot happier if they would concentrate on those diseases of age listed above. As an old woman living with terminal cancer, I agree with Markus Kounalakis writing at Washington Monthly:

”The latest young blood therapy will likely only go to risk-taking well-heeled early adopters and late stagers. Here’s an alternative: Live a happy life, love, practice random acts of kindness, drink in moderation, and don’t smoke. It’s a lot easier than getting stuck with either a needle or a big blood bill.”

What do you think?

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A TGB READER STORY: Building Bridges

By Michelle Collins

I am almost ashamed to admit it now but there was a time when one of my favorite sayings was “Build a bridge and get over it.” I quoted it to friends who were struggling with how to move on from difficult situations.

I meant well with those words. I thought it was good advice. Figuratively building a bridge to get from one place to another, and a way over difficult terrain. I haven’t thought about or used that phrase in a long time.

I was reminded of it today when I was in my driveway because I could hear the noise from the machines that are pounding the steel supports into the ground for the new bridge that is being built to replace the causeway between Moncton and Riverview.

What I realized is that there are many steps to building a bridge and now that I am older, I know that those steps are the same whether it is a bridge across water or across time.

Before the work started on the bridge between Moncton and Riverview, there needed to be a road built that would redirect traffic around the site. How often do we “skirt the issue” and try to avoid dealing with it?

Sometimes, like that road, it looks better than the way we have been doing things. It has a few twists and turns, a fresh base of asphalt and bright new lane markings. It also creates a new traffic pattern, and we all learn how to navigate this new path. It doesn’t really change things though, it just gives us a different route to get to the same place.

Once that road was built, the next step was excavating the site, and building up the land around the supports would go. Dirt was moved and piled up into hills which were then shaped into ramps. We do that too. We move things from one place to another, tearing down our stories and beliefs and rebuilding a new support.

Then came the steel supports that are being pounded into the ground. As I said, the sound travels, and we hear that steady beat daily. With all that pounding going on, you would think that you could see the progress of the pilings going into the ground. But when you drive past the site, it doesn’t look like anything is moving. Yet, there is a good base already in place, with more to come.

Life is like that too. Moving through challenges often requires us to do the same thing over, with only the smallest steps forward. Then one day, everything is in place.

There are a lot of people working on this bridge and all kinds of machinery. They are going to be at this for years and it could be that some of the people who started on this project will not be there at the end. Each person has their area of expertise, and each has a job to do.

That’s true of the people in our lives as well. Our support networks should be made up of a group of different “experts” and none should be expected to be someone that they are not. We should be grateful for the people who come our way and let them go, if they need to, without guilt or shame.

The bridge is nowhere near finished and for those of us not involved in the process, it’s not clear what is happening. Someone designed that bridge and they know exactly how it will look and what it will take to get it done.

We design our own bridges and even though it might not make sense to anyone else, we need to trust in our vision and how we will get there.

Once the bridge is complete, it will need regular maintenance. Our own bridges will need work as well, to maintain the integrity of the structure.

It’s not always easy to trust in our own abilities to carry us over hard times but with every bridge we build, we learn more about how strong and smart we are and we move on.

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




Crabby Old Lady: Professional Patient

Crabby Old Lady is sick, she is dying and she is busier than she has ever been. That's because she has become a professional patient and she is sure, after this amount of time at it, there must be a certificate of achievement or something she can hang on the wall attesting to her proficiency.

The last time Crabby wrote about being a professional patient 18 months ago, it was from a hospital perspective. She was spending a lot of time there in the early days following her pancreatic cancer surgery and many of those hours or days involve waiting for this doctor, that test or procedure, new instructions and so on.

There is little to do in those circumstances to amuse herself, so Crabby watched how the system functions - “studied” hospital culture, if you will - and learned a lot about a world she had not encountered up close before. She wrote about it here.

But you don't need to be in a hospital for the medical team to pile on the tasks and homework.

Crabby is sure that many of you, dear readers, have experience keeping track of medications, counting out pills into those little plastic boxes once a week. Crabby keeps a chart taped to the inside of a cupboard door in the kitchen to follow when she is filling up the boxes once a week.

Why does it always feel, when they are empty again, as if she last did the counting yesterday? It never ends.

And filling the boxes depends on whether Crabby has kept track of how many pills are left in the bottle. If she forgets to renew the prescription when she's down to five pills, there is the pharmacy to wrangle with to get a refill in time.

The doctors and nurses have asked Crabby to keep a diary of symptoms and side effects from the chemo so she has a little book for that. She also tracks her weight every day to be sure she's not losing. (Never in her previous life could Crabby have imagined that she would one day struggle to maintain weight rather that lose it.)

Before her cancer, Crabby had only the vaguest idea of what chemotherapy would do to her. Of course, she had heard of all sorts of dreadful side effects and she's lucky to have so few – the biggest one being fatigue for several days after an infusion.

That means naps. Sometimes two a day for three days or so. Then there are the two full days a month at the chemo clinic for her infusions. It puts Crabby behind in everything – she is always playing catchup these days.

Both the disease and the chemotherapy have slowed Crabby down. Pretty much everything – cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking a walk, hauling groceries in from the car (in two trips nowadays instead of one) – takes twice as long as it once did.

That leaves a lot less time for social life, leisurely telephone chats with friends far away, reading, other entertainment and writing blog posts. It is the dilemma of the professional patient and Crabby is losing patience with it.

Not that lost patience will change anything. It's just that Crabby didn't expect this drag on her time and she needed to blow off a little steam about it today. Plus, she really does believe she deserves at least a gold star for it.




ELDER MUSIC: 1970 Goes Forth

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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I spent much of 1970 in the San Francisco bay area, initially in Berkeley, and later in Palo Alto and Los Gatos. I got to see and hear a lot of live music that year, at the Fillmore, Winterland, the Family Dog and elsewhere possibly to the long term detriment to my hearing.

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL were generally underrated by critics at the time, but the general public loved them.

Creedence

Their songs and records have stood the test of time,so once again, the public knew something that the critics didn’t. Each album they released around this time contained what has proved to be classic songs. Down on the Corner may be one of those from the album “Willy and the Poor Boys”.

♫ Creedence - Down on the Corner


THE KINKS were the most English of the “British Invasions” bands.

Kinks

Their songs, even whole albums, were about the minutiae about English life. One song that bucked that trend was probably their biggest hit: Lola. The song was banned by the BBC, not for the general content of the lyrics, but because the song mentioned Coca Cola. Can’t have brand names on the Beeb.

♫ Kinks - Lola


MICHAEL NESMITH was really the only ex-member of The Monkees who had a decent career separate from that group.

Mike Nesmith

He was even productive before the group was formed – he wrote the terrific song, Different Drum. Afterwards, he formed several country rock groups and recorded a number of well regarded albums.

One of those was “Magnetic South” on which the song Joanne appeared. The song is a real earworm (for me anyway). You have been warned.

♫ Michael Nesmith - Joanne


BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS’ second album produced a number of hits. It was their first without the guiding hand of Al Kooper, who formed the group.

Blood Sweat and Tears

In place of Al, who did most of the singing on that first album, they had the fine baritone David Clayton-Thomas doing the honours. The song And When I Die was written by Laura Nyro and was first recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary. It was also one the hits for BS&T.

♫ Blood Sweat and Tears - And When I Die


1970 saw SIMON & GARFUNKEL at the peak of their creativity.

Simon and Garfunkel

It also saw their swansong with the album “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. The title song was one of the finest ever put on to vinyl. Perversely, I won’t feature that one, but instead here’s El Condor Pasa (If I Could).

Simon and Garfunkel - El Condor Pasa (If I Could)


By 1970, STEVIE WONDER was starting to make a name for himself as an adult performer rather than just as Little Stevie Wonder, as he was initially known.

Stevie Wonder

It was still a couple of years until he would record his masterpiece album “Innervisions”, however, he was producing fine pop songs like Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours.

♫ Stevie Wonder - Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours


On their second album (“Déjà Vu”), Crosby Stills & Nash brought in Neil Young, because on the first album Steve Stills pretty much played all the instruments and it was agreed that a bit of help would be nice. Naturally, they called the group CROSBY STILLS NASH & YOUNG, but you all know that.

Crosby Stills Nash and Young

The album they recorded was a huge hit as were several of the songs from it, including Teach Your Children. The pedal steel guitar on the song was played by Jerry Garcia.

Crosby Stills Nash & Young - Teach Your Children


After hearing the Staple Singers (or some such group) NORMAN GREENBAUM decided that he could write a gospel song, so he did.

Norman Greenbaum

Naturally, he imbued it with the sounds of the day – heavy, fuzz-tone guitar and drums to the fore, but in spite of that I’ve always liked it. The song is Spirit in the Sky.

♫ Norman Greenbaum - Spirit In The Sky


CHICAGO started out as The Chicago Transit Authority and their first album was under that name. However, the real organization with the same name objected and the group reverted to the reduced moniker.

Chicago

Although somewhat long and self indulgent (it was a double album), a lot of that first record was pretty good. From it we have I'm A Man. This one is typical of the period – heavy wah-wah laced guitar, extended drum solo, a lot of cowbell action, soul-sounding singing. In spite of all that it still sounds good.

♫ Chicago - I'm A Man


By 1970, The Miracles were being billed as SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES, because their main man was the singer, songwriter and producer of the group.

Smokey & ;the Miracles

Not just that group, he did the same for many acts on the Motown label. Smokey was hoping to retire from touring but the success of The Tears of a Clown kept him on the road for another couple of years.

♫ Smokey Robinson - The Tears Of A Clown


MUNGO JERRY was a British group who had an ever changing line up whose one constant was the presence of Ray Dorset.

Mungo Jerry

That’s Ray, third from the left. They had quite a few hits in their home country but only one that really impacted elsewhere. That song is In the Summertime.

♫ Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime




INTERESTING STUFF – 23 February 2019

WOLF FAMILIES CARING FOR ELDERS

TGB reader Mary sent this news article about a book, The Wisdom Of Wolves, by Elli H. Radinger and published in England last Wednesday. (Kindle only available so far on Amazon.)

Hero_gray_wolf_animals

I've purchased the Kindle edition but have not read it yet so I'm working on the quite excellent BBC excerpts. It's all fascinating but of course, I honed in on the information about the elders in wolf families. Some quotations to whet your appetite:

”The pups are the beloved and protected treasure of the pack. The whole family looks after them, including aunts, uncles and older brothers and sisters. Old and wounded family members are brought food and never abandoned.
”Elderly or sick wolves, too, are cared for by the pack. Old wolves are invaluable. A pack with just one elderly member has a 150 per cent better chance of winning in battles because of their experience – they will avoid a conflict they don’t think they can win.

“In a pack known as Silver in Yellowstone, a young whippersnapper had become leader but treated the old deposed head with great respect – because the old gentleman was a master in the difficult art of bison-killing.

“When they die, there is genuine grief. Cinderella, one of the females from the park’s ‘Druid’ pack, died during a hunting trip. Her partner retreated into the den where they had raised their pups and howled for the next three days.

“Six months later, his skeleton was found in an area where he had spent many months with his partner. How he’d died remained a mystery. Could it have been a broken heart?”

Of course the article and the book are about wolves of all ages and the article can be found at the Daily Mail website.

BEING 97

Reader Jack Handley sent this video of 97-year-old Herbert Fingarette, a U.S. philosopher who once published a book about death. As the video page notes, in that book

”Fingarette contemplated mortality, bringing him to a conclusion that echoed the Epicureans: in non-existence, there is nothing to fear.

“But as Being 97 makes evident, grappling with death can be quite different when the thoughts are personal rather than theoretical. Filmed during some of the final months of Fingarette’s life, the elegiac short documentary profiles the late philosopher as he reflects on life, loss, the many challenges of old age, and those lingering questions that might just be unanswerable.”

Fingrette died in 2018.

TIGGY WINKLES WILD ANIMAL HOSPITAL

Maybe I'm including this today only because the name of the place grabbed me. Note that this is a place for WILD animals. From the YouTube page:

Sprained paw? Broken wing? Tiggywinkles will get you back to roaring health. With over 10,000 animals coming through the door each year, Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital is the busiest (and cutest) in all of Europe.”

The hospital is named after the beloved Beatrix Potter children’s book character> The hospital employs around-the-clock doctors and nurses who treat injured and sick wild animals that are then released back into the wild.

50 PEOPLE TELL US THE WORST THINGS ABOUT THEIR STATES

Weather is a big topic:

AMERICANS WHO'VE NEVER MET A PERSON OF ANOTHER RACE OR RELIGION

The Atlantic reports on this phenomenon (emphasis is mine).

”In general, the proportion of Americans who seem to live in fully homogeneous communities is small: In terms of identities such as race, religion, and partisan affiliation, only one-fifth to one-quarter of people usually said they seldom or never encounter people unlike themselves.:

I'd say that's a fairly high number in a nation that likes (well, until recently) to tout its diversity. (Statue of Liberty, anyone?) According to The Atlantic report,

”They seldom or never meet people of another race. They dislike interacting with people who don’t share their political beliefs. And when they imagine the life they want for their children, they prize sameness, not difference. Education and geography seemed to make a big difference in how people think about these issues, and in some cases, so did age.”

More on the divide at The Atlantic.

MAKING SOAP THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY

In Nablus, West Bank. It looks to me to be back-breaking work. But it's interesting to watch. Take a look:

SECRET TO LONG LIFE

John Gear sent this tweet and as various conditions of elderhood pile up (it's not the conditions themselves so much as the number of them that accumulate and need to be dealt with), I can't say I disagree.

STRAY CAT COMMUTER MONITOR

Laughing Squid tells us:

”An observant, stray calico cat who fit perfectly into a curved ticket gate at a station in Tel Aviv, Israel, watched intently as commuters attempted to scan their train passes to get through.

“Surprisingly, not many people paid attention to the cat nor did they even notice that she was there.”

KITBUL – FROM PIXAR

A charming, little animated story. From YouTube page:

”Kitbull...reveals an unlikely connection that sparks between two creatures: a fiercely independent stray kitten and a pit bull. Together, they experience friendship for the first time.”

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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.




Dropping Things in Old Age (Again)

EDITORIAL NOTE: One of those things they don't tell you is how everything you do when you get old takes longer and/or tires you more than when you were younger. It's been a busy week and I find myself sitting here without a story for today and no time to write one.

But that gives me a chance to repeat the all-time most popular blog post on TGB. When it was first published, it was titled
Have You Been Dropping More Things as You Get Older?

People have been leaving new comments all through the three years since it was first posted and it comes up sometimes in comments on other blog posts. So, here is the original. See what you think.

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It is hard to be sure but it seems to be so for me. And it is really annoying.

For example, one day last week, I dropped a spoon on the kitchen floor. I picked it up, rinsed it off and as I reached for the towel, I dropped in again. Damn.

A day or two before that, I had dropped the shampoo bottle in the shower – a new, full one that barely missed my toes. Later that day, I dropped the two-quart, plastic box where I store the cat's dry food, scattering it all over the kitchen. Damn again.

Not long ago, I dropped a nine-inch butcher knife – that one could have been disastrous – but on another day I was lucky to be standing on a carpet when I dropped my mobile phone so it didn't break.

None of these occurrences is important individually and probably not even in their proximity to one another. But they made me wonder if dropping stuff is a “thing” with old people. So I took to the internet.

There is a lot of unsourced and untrustworthy health information online and that is always dangerous for “low information viewers,” as it were. The first I found was a large number of forums where people with no expertise were freely offering their uninformed opinions.

In answer to inquiries about dropping things, many instantly went to fear-mongering: Based on nothing at all, they advised people to see a doctor right away because it could be an early symptom of MS, ALS, Huntington's disease and more.

That's nuts. Those were anonymous forums, for god's sake. I hope no one takes them seriously.

Digging deeper at more reputable websites, I found that sometimes dropping things can be among the symptoms of serious disease but only one symptom, a minor one among dozens of others anyone would notice long before worrying about dropping something.

Checking further, I found that dropping things is not a big enough issue with growing old to warrant much notice.

In fact, a webpage of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for training elder home staff is the only direct mention of elders dropping things I found.

”The sense of touch changes,” they report. “In older adults the sense of touch may decrease as skin loses sensitivity. Pressure, pain, cold and heat do not feel the same as they used to feel. Decreases in touch sensitivity may cause residents to drop things.”

That reference to skin losing sensitivity reminded me that a few years ago, I discovered through personal experience that old people often cannot be fingerprinted, particulalry with electronic scanners, because their fingerprints are worn off.

When I wrote about that here three years ago, I quoted Scientific American magazine:

”...the elasticity of skin decreases with age, so a lot of senior citizens have prints that are difficult to capture. The ridges get thicker; the height between the top of the ridge and the bottom of the furrow gets narrow, so there's less prominence. So if there's any pressure at all [on the scanner], the print just tends to smear.”

That would certainly affect sense of touch and the ability to know if you are holding things tightly enough. A report from Oregon State University [pdf] concurs with Pennsylvania report supplying a bit more medical information:

”With aging, sensations may be reduced or changed. These changes can occur because of decreased blood flow to the nerve endings or to the spinal cord or brain. The spinal cord transmits nerve signals and the brain interprets these signals.

“Health problems, such as a lack of certain nutrients, can also cause sensation changes. Brain surgery, problems in the brain, confusion, and nerve damage from injury or chronic diseases such as diabetes can also result in sensation changes.”

I finally found the most pertinent answer to my question at The New York Times. Noting that fine touch may decrease in old age,

“Many studies have shown that with aging, you may have reduced or changed sensations of pain, vibration, cold, heat, pressure, and touch. It is hard to tell whether these changes are related to aging itself or to the disorders that occur more often in the elderly...”

This Times information is quoted from A.D.A.M., a private source of medical information for health professionals and other paid subscribers.

So what I have deduced from two or three hours on the internet is that barring injury or disease or, perhaps, waning strength that affects one's ability to grip strongly, maybe elders do drop things more frequently.

Maybe a diminishing sense of touch in general means that we cannot effortlessly perceive the appropriate strength of our grasp as automatically as when we were younger. At least, that's what I choose to believe for myself until someone enlightens me further.

Following on that, for the past few days I have been making a conscious effort to be sure I am holding whatever is in my hand tightly enough that it will not slip.

I want that to become second nature because the knife I mentioned was a close call and I certainly don't want to drop a cup of hot coffee on my foot or the cat.

Does any of this ring a bell for you?




On Living With Health and Ill Health

Thank You: You guys are amazing. This year's donation drive ended on Monday and your generosity is stunning. There will be no problem in securing the services necessary to keep TimeGoesBy open online and available for at least five years after I've died.

You are a terrific group of readers that any blogger would envy. Thank you so much.

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As most of you know, my most recent cancer test reported remarkably good news. The radiologist's review of the CT scan stated in part that

”Since 11/28/2018, markedly improved appearance of the lungs with decrease/absence of multiple new and enlarging nodules from the most recent study. Appearance is similar to 10/5/2018 staging CT. No definite new nodules.

Wow. We all rejoiced. It doesn't mean the cancer is being cured. This chemo can't do that. But it is doing what it is meant to do – slow the growth of the cancer so that I will have a longer healthy period of time than I would have without the chemo.

One of the strangest things (to me) associated with this cancer is that if not for chemo side effects, I would not know I have a deadly disease.

Do away with chemo brain, loss of appetite and general fatigue that plague me for three, sometimes four days following the chemo infusion every two weeks and I would feel like I did before I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – healthy.

Which is how I feel for 10 or 11 days at a time after those side effects subside, until the next infusion starts the process again.

It's as though I live a double life now - about 25 percent of my time as a sick person; the rest of it as a healthy person.

The intensity of the fatigue (the worst of my side effects) is hard to predict – sometimes I am tired but mostly functional, other times barely capable of crawling out of bed.

The contrast between healthy days and not healthy days has given me a new perspective on how I (and, I suspect, many other people) differentiate between those of us who are healthy and those who are not.

Until I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2017, I had lived 76 years in good health, nothing much more serious than a bad flu now and then. I smoked cigarettes for many years but beyond that I paid a reasonable amount of attention to healthy behavior – eating well, exercising regularly.

I hardly ever thought about my overall health and always assumed most people were as healthy as I had been. Now that I have reached old age – a period of time when, as we here all know, a large number of health issues, minor and deadly serious, can upend our lives – I have gained a new perspective.

These days, I look at healthy people of all ages with wonder. They wear their health so easily, as if it will always be there, and until recently I was a member of their tribe, unaware that my health status would ever change.

Now, on the days when I feel as normal as before the cancer and I can almost pretend that I can ignore the cancer, there's an itch in the back of my (saner) mind repeating something like, “Don't get too cocky, honey. You know how quickly this can change.”

And, eventually, will change.

I don't have any conclusion to this rumination. I'm just surprised how, for so many years, I took my good health for granted.




A TGB READER STORY: Unusual Learning Experience

By Jo Ann of Along The Way

Along the way I’ve been enjoying sharing with interested others some of what I’ve learned. More importantly, or at least equally importantly, I’ve benefited from acquiring new information generously shared in many ways by others.

An actual experience, or a real-life event, is a basic concrete way I initially began to learn, as I recall one story my mother told me that occurred when I was only a toddler.

Sitting on a blanket under a peach tree’s shade where she had placed me while she went back inside the house for a moment, she heard me begin to loudly cry. Rushing to the kitchen door, she observed I was grasping in my little hands a fallen ripened peach.

Soon she noticed what was attracting me were cute little flying insects crawling around on the fruit’s juice-dripping bruised flesh. She saw that I was picking off between my thumb and forefinger what were bees that were angrily stinging me. That was one of my early concrete experiences from which I have learned to never pick up live bees.

My education became more advanced through different learning means as I became older. Observing others, listening to advice, reading are some of the ways in which I’ve accumulated information to help me adapt and survive in this topsy-turvy world in which we live.

That’s not to say I was always wise enough to learn from first-time experiences or followed advice, but I generally eventually learned, sooner or later. Those examples would be stories of a more complex nature, but following is one of those advanced variety, combining observation, and information from another, my mother.

This experience occurred during my highly anticipated first train ride. I was elementary school-age when my mother and I departed on a long overnight train trip through several states. We were traveling to a city to stay overnight with relatives we’d never met in the hope that my older brother would be granted a pass off his nearby U.S. Navy base to see us that Christmas holiday.

My brother was awaiting deployment to an undisclosed military location overseas during WWII – the unspoken concern we had was whether we would ever see him again. We learned of his Pacific Theater submarine service assignment in Australia when he returned home following discharge at the war’s conclusion.

Traveling at night, Mother had expected I would soon tire, then fall asleep in our coach seats – lulled by the repetitive numbing drum of train rail sounds, vibrations and the car’s rocking motion. The train stopped periodically to take on new passengers and allow others to exit.

One segment of the trip was somewhat eventful when a rather colorful woman boarded, whose behavior intrigued me more than sleeping did. She was lurching about from seat to seat, laughing, conversing and extending friendship somewhat loudly to numerous, primarily male passengers, before finally leaving the train at another stop.

The conductor, after toning her down a bit several times, eventually felt the need to reassure my mother that the woman made this trip regularly most weekends, so he knew of her and we shouldn’t feel alarmed.

The explanation for the woman’s erratic behavior my mother ultimately gave me was essentially words to the effect that this somewhat respectable-looking woman was a “lady of the night” seeking a companion. I don’t recall if anyone left the train with the woman.

Years later, especially after becoming a parent myself, recalling those years in the 1940’s when so many subjects were taboo for speaking about aloud, I chuckle to myself about the likelihood this was not a real-life teaching event opportunity every parent would aspire to explaining to their child. This was definitely a memorable entertaining learning experience for this little red-haired girl.

New experiences have presented me with prime learning events throughout my life. Everything was new to me when I was first born, but gradually became more familiar when encountered again. Anything new or different, contrasting with what I’ve subsequently come to know, has become more pronounced, attracting my attention.

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




A Book, a Podcast and Goodbye to the Donations Drive

AT LAST: FINAL DAY OF DONATIONS
This is it – the last day of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

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Different

Two years ago
I was “the one”
who ran to hold the bus
for a slow-walking older friend...

and now I don't.

Two years ago I could spend all Saturday
on a flea market, department store shop,
no need for a break or a sit down
because I was tired...

and now I can't.

Two years ago
I didn't have periods of fatigue, didn't
need moments to pause in the day,
didn't contemplate the idea of a nap...

But now I do.

That poem comes to us from Jane Seskin, working psychotherapist and writer and having now read her latest collection, I feel like I've found a soulmate in regard to elder issues.

SeskinBooknoborder Seskin is saying many of the same things about growing old that I've written about here for 15 years – she just does it more eloquently than I do. Here's another from her book, Older Wiser Shorter:

Talk To Me

Hey, is there someone who's
supposed to warn you of the
health stuff as you age?
Doctor? Friends? The internet?

No one sounded the bell for me on
belching, dehydration, constipation
or flatulence. No talk of elongated
earlobes, receding gums, facial hair

or that I would get winded and need
to pause in the middle of the sidewalk
to catch my breath. Were body
malfunctions too private to share?

Did I not make the time to ask the
questions? Did you not want to
tell me about my physical future?
I want to know what's normal and

what's not. Maybe...maybe we
could just be a little more honest
and vulnerable with each other.
Perhaps we could connect on a

deeper level through sharing our
stories, even the scary ones, of
our health fantasies and fears and
what makes each of us feel better.

There aren't very many people – actually, there is hardly anyone at all – talking about these real, day-to-day surprises that afflict our old age. Which is what makes me excited to have found a soulmate on “what it's really like to get old.”

In fact, I'm pretty sure the medical community knows more about cancer and diabetes than about Jane's list of belching, flatulence, facial hair and rest. And no one ever talked about this stuff when we were younger, so surprises – mostly unpleasant ones – become key elements of growing old.

Not that everything is a complaint. Here are a couple more poems from Jane's book that resonated oh so strongly with me:

Arrangement

Most of the time
I'm in love
with my single life
which is not to say
I don't have room
to be in love
with a good man,
but this time around
I think I'd just like
custody,
say Wednesday
evenings
and every other
weekend.

Ha! I cannot count how often I've had exactly that thought. Here's another, more whimsical than some others:

Movement

I look behind, in front,
around. No one
on the street.

And then I do
what I've been
yearning to do

since last week
when I saw and
remembered

and then grinned
while I watched
the two little girls.

I skip!

Jane Seskin's book of poetry, Older Wiser Shorter: An Emotional Road Trip to Membership in the Senior Class, is available at Amazon. I highly recommend it.

PODCAST
Back in January, Jodie Jackson of Primaris, a healthcare consulting company, interviewed me about my blog, about ageing and about my cancer diagnosis for the company's blog.

I particularly like the title on the podcast page: The Space Between Life and Death which nicely captures this indeterminate period I'm in now.

We had a fine ol' time talking this over and in addition to publishing the podcast, Jackson excerpted parts that you can read at the website. What struck me is how closely what Jackson and I spoke about meshes with Jane Seskin's poetry. One example:

”What the aging 'experts' didn’t explain or even talk about were daily details about aging,” writes Jackson. For instance, 'I had dropped a knife that came perilously close to my toes.' She wrote about dropping things and the response was resonating.

“'It turns out that old people do drop more things' because their fingers lose sensitivity to touch. 'Yes, me too, me too, me too,” was the cacophony of responses. 'There are all kinds of things like that. Your doctor won’t tell you…the little things you’re going to have to accommodate as you get older.'”

You can read Jodie Jackson's article and/or listen to the podcast at the Primaris website.




ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 2

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
Almost done. This is the next to last day of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

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.

* * *

If this were a radio program, I’d play the first track and ask who you think composed it. As you’re all smart cookies, I imagine you’d say something along the lines of, “Well, it’s rather like Mozart, but not quite. Sort of Haydn, but again just misses. Maybe it’s one of their contemporaries – one of Bach’s sons or similar”. That’s certainly what went through my mind when the radio did just that.

We’re all wrong, of course, or they wouldn’t have asked. It was written by NIGEL WESTLAKE.

Nigel Westlake

“Who?” I hear you ask. Nigel is a young Australian composer (well younger than us – he tuned 60 recently) and this work is nothing like all the others of his I’ve heard.

It sounds like a piano concerto and he calls it Diving with George. George was his uncle and a respected surgeon in Melbourne who liked diving (with scuba gear, not jumping off a board into a pool).

♫ Westlake - Diving with George


GIOVANNI VIOTTI was an Italian composer and violinist whose fame for playing the violin spread far and wide.

Viotti

Gio was violin teacher to Marie Antoinette, but when the French revolution came he decided it was safer in London. He had some trouble there too, but that was resolved eventually and became a British citizen.

He’s best known for his compositions for violin, but he wrote works for other instruments as well. Going with his strength, here is the third movement of his Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major, G. 44.

♫ Viotti - Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major G. 44 (3)


JOHN FIELD was an Irish composer and pianist.

John Field

His father and grandfather were both musicians (violin and organ respectively) so he had a head start. The family moved to London when John was about 10 where he had lessons from Muzio Clementi. Later John and Muzio toured Europe playing piano to great acclaim.

John is regarded as the person who invented the nocturne. Chopin took notice of this and made it his own. Here’s one of John’s inventions, the Nocturne No. 1 in E flat major, H24.

♫ Field - Nocturne No.1 in E Flat Major H.24


I imagine if you’re going to be an opera singer, it might help to have a name that’s one of the most famous in the field; in this case the singer is AIDA GARIFULLINA. Look out for her folks, she’s wonderful.

Aida Garifullina

We won’t have something from her namesake opera, instead it’s by NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV.

Rimsky-Korsakov

Nik wrote the opera “The Golden Cockerel”, but he knew it had no chance of being staged as it was an implied criticism of monarchy, and the Czar would have none of that.

It finally got staged a few years later, and even then he had to change it a bit to satisfy the censors. From that, Aida sings Hymn to the Sun.

♫ Rimsky-Korsakov - The Golden Cockerel ~ Hymn to the Sun


These days, after J.S. Bach, ANTONIO VIVALDI is probably the best known baroque composer.

Vivaldi

Tony had a considerable influence on J.S. who grabbed some of his compositions and created variations on them. I don’t know if this is one of those – probably not because he wrote a hell of a lot of music. Here is the second movement of Sonata for Oboe and Continuo RV 53 in C minor.

♫ Vivaldi - Sonata for oboe and continuo RV 53 in C minor (2)


There is a story that Henry VIII wrote the tune Greensleeves. It’s possible, but the odds are stacked against that being true. The tune was certainly around during his time as you’ll hear.

DIEGO ORTIZ was a Spanish composer and writer on various musical subjects who lived in the sixteenth century.

Ortiz

His life coincided with Henry’s and one of his compositions is called Recercada No 7 sobre la Romanesca. To my ears this sounds like a first draft of Greensleeves. See what you think.

♫ Ortiz - Romanesca Recercada 7


JOHANN HUMMEL was born in Pressburg, nowadays called Bratislava in Slovakia. Back then it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Hummel

Early on Jo caught the ear of Mozart who decided to take him on as a pupil, and also invited him to live with the Mozart family for a while (that turned into two years).

He was later a good friend of both Beethoven and Schubert and he taught Mendelssohn. The piano was his main instrument and today we have the third movement of his Piano Trio No. 1 in E-Flat Major, Op. 12.

♫ Hummel - Piano Trio No. 1 in E-Flat Major Op. 12 (3)


ISABELLA LEONARDA was born in 1620 in Novara, Italy.

Isabella Leonarda

She was put into a convent when she was 16, and held many posts within that due to the influence of her prominent family. This allowed her to compose music, and she became the most productive woman composer of her era.

Not surprisingly, most of her music was for the church, including her Motet Op. 6 No 5, Ave suavis dilecto. This is sung by LOREDANA BACCHETTA.

Loredana Bacchetta

♫ Leonarda - Motet Op. 6 No 5. Ave suavis dilecto


JOSEPH-FRANÇOIS GARNIER was a French Composer and oboe player.

Garnier_JF

He was born into a family of modest circumstances – his father was a cobbler – but his uncle was in the music trade. Unc took young J.F. to Paris and got him a job playing the oboe in the Royal Academy of Music which became the Paris Opera after the revolution.

He was a whiz on his instrument and stayed there a long time. He became their main oboe player (and he occasionally played flute), later premiering some of his own compositions. One of those is his Symphonie Concertante No. 2 for 2 Oboes & Orchestra. This is the first movement.

♫ Garnier - Symphonie Concertante No. 2 (1)




INTERESTING STUFF – 16 February 2019

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day four (of six) of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

ONE TOWN UNDER ONE ROOF

All 200-plus people in remote Whittier, Alaska, live in one, 14-story building. Take a look:

More information and more video at curiosity.com.

HOW NOT TO WAKE A LADY LION

This is probably not what he was expecting.

NEW MEDICARE CARD

If you recall, last year new Medicare cards were sent out with new random ID numbers rather than our Social Security numbers. Last week, medicare.gov announced that card mailing is complete and you should have received yours by now.

”Haven’t gotten your new Medicare card yet? Sign in to your secure MyMedicare.gov account to see your Medicare Number and print your official card. If you don’t have a MyMedicare account yet, sign up for free at MyMedicare.gov today!

“Alternately, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE and our call center representatives can help you get your new card.”

DENALI – A TRIBUTE TO MAN'S BEST FRIEND

My friend John Gear emailed this video of a lovely tribute to man's best friend.

WHAT WILL CLIMATE IN YOUR CITY FEEL LIKE IN 60 YEARS?

Unless you are among the deniers, you know Earth climate is change. The University of Maryland has put together a map show how the climates of several hundred U.S. cities are expected to change in the next 60 years.

ClimateMap

Go here to use the interactive map. There is more information about the project here.

SNOW DAYS AT THE OREGON ZOO

A whole lot of animals playing in Portland, Oregon's recent snowstorm.

GHOST APPLES

I never heard of this before and it's amazing. Beautiful – a winter special effect.

RESCUE OF A OLD DOG WITH A BROKEN HEART

A homeless dog on Romania finds a forever home in the United States.

More information and more photos at Laughing Squid.

* * *

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 – Not Me, A Poem

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day three (of six) of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

Last week, a reader named Joseph Burns left this comment on a post from the first year of this blog's existence, September 2004:

”I read this out to my year 10 form, you could hear a pin drop, almost in tears towards the end, but think each child got something from the poem.

“And to me it’s not just a poem it’s a reminder of life, so so true. Whoever wrote this has captured it so true. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏"

I think after 15 years this is definitely worth a repeat. I've included my original introduction from 2004.

* * *

This poem is floating around the Web here and there. According to some, it was found among the "meager possessions" of an old woman who died in the geriatric ward of a Dundee, Scotland hospital, and was later published in the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association for Mental Health.

That all may be apocryphal. I can't find any reference, except in relation to the poem, of the publication or its organization. Those who retrieved the poem did not record the woman's name nor is there a year attached, but that is not important. This is a cry from the heart, whoever wrote it, to not be made invisible in old age.

It would do us all well to remember this poem when we are frustrated by someone old moving too slowly in front of us and when we find ourselves with an older relative or friend whose mind is perhaps not as quick as it once was.

Herewith, then, the poem titled Crabby Old Lady.

What do you see, nurses, what do you see,
what are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes.

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
when you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
and forever is losing a stocking or shoe.

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will
with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
as I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother,
brothers and sisters, who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty - my heart gives a leap,
remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, I have young of my own
who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty my young sons have grown and are gone,
but my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more babies play round my knee,
again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
and I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old woman and nature is cruel;
'tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
there is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
and now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
and I'm loving and living life over again.

I think of the years - all too few, gone too fast
and accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,
not a crabby old woman; look closer - see ME!




Happy Valentine's Day

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day two of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

* * *

Perhaps you have noticed that this is Valentine's Day – a perfect time for me to again thank you all for your continuing support of this blog and especially your many good thoughts, prayers and well wishes throughout the ups and downs of this cancer predicament in which I find myself.

Valentines-day-lettering

Sending all good Valentine's Day greetings to each and every one of you.




Annual TimeGoesBy Donation Week 2019...

Plus The Alex and Ronni Show. But first:

Here we are again for the fourth year in a row with the TGB Donation Drive. I began this annual fundraiser to help pay for the services I use to keep this blog advertising free.

In particular, I think email subscribers over this past year probably appreciate not having their mailings splattered with ugly ads since I added that service thanks to your donations.

Donations also pay for email and domain name registrations along with the #$%^&* increase twice each year in the price of internet access.

They also allow me to subscribe to the most important news and information publications as even more of them this year have placed their sites behind paid firewalls. This and more help keep the TGB website an ad-free zone on the internet.

You would be right to wonder, given the news of my incurable cancer, if donation week is still necessary – and indeed it will undoubtedly be the last one. Let me explain starting with this quotation from “John” in the comments from last Wednesday's post:

”What's the plan for this blog? Out in time, the farther the better, but when 'the battle ends' will we be able to re-read 'Time Goes By' for some span of time?

“Perhaps there is a designated successor already in the wings for seamless handoff. Or, it is (irreplaceable) Ronni or nothing and TGB will simply just be gone.”

Good questions, John, that I have been sporadically working on for several months. Dozens of readers, like John, have written to ask what happens to TGB when I die and I have decided to pay ahead for each of those services listed above for the five years following my death. When that happens, ownership of the blog, domain ownerships, etc. will pass to my friend, healthcare proxy and heir.

It's not set in stone to happen but I am also looking for a blogging successor. It's tricky. The person needs to be old enough to have some personal experience with ageing – above 60 I would say at the young end up to any age but with a better life expectancy than my current one.

The person should closely share my political and societal opinions on elders and ageing, be a reasonably good writer with a willingness to keep up with news and politics related to ageing in all its aspects, have a passion for ageing issues along with a decent sense of humor about it all.

With the news of my latest CT scan reported here Monday, I'm guessing I might have more time than I thought to find this special person.

I love doing this blog, and I am grateful to all of you, dear readers, for your fine contributions in the comments. It's your smart, thoughtful, and funny conversation that makes TGB special and I want to find a replacement who can continue making this blog one of the best collaborations online between producer and readers.

Which brings us to this week's fourth annual donations drive. As in the previous years, I will make this as unobtrusive as possible – at least a bit less annoying than NPR donation drives, so let's get started.

HOW TO DONATE
The campaign consists of this introductory blog post (including the latest Alex and Ronni Show episode at the end) with a link to the Paypal donation page and a MUCH shorter version of this invitation to contribute at the top of each post through next Monday. The “rules” are these:

  • No one is required to donate. Nothing about TGB will change if you do not. This is entirely voluntary.

  • If you do choose to donate, no amount is too small. Whatever is comfortable for you is all that matters.

  • You do not need a Paypal account to donate. When you click on the link below, the Paypal donation page will open (it's a little slow sometimes) where you can donate via credit card, debit card or, if you have a Paypal account, by a money transfer - each in any amount you want.

  • The Paypal site works in the United States and internationally.

To repeat: Donations are voluntary. Nothing changes if you do not donate. Here is the Paypal link which you will also find near the top of the right sidebar.

As I said, donation is voluntary. I don't want anyone to feel coerced. For those of you who have set up a recurring donation, you might want to cancel that and if you are still inclined to donate, do it as a one-time. It will save you some scrambling perhaps, when I have shuffled off this mortal coil, setting your account straight.

* * *

As I noted on last year's donation drive kick-off post:

Having cancer certainly does rearrange one's priorities and I have thought hard about this extra time on Earth I have been granted. I've never been interested in a bucket list and unless you count my longing to live again in New York City, nothing I yearn for.

What I like these days is my comfortable apartment while making the main part of my daily life the production of TimeGoesBy. It has become much more to me than a blog; it is a gathering place for like-minded elders to talk about what it's like growing old, and I learn so much from you.

And now, here is this week's Alex and Ronni Show.




A TGB READER STORY: My Auntie Mame and Uncle Elvis

By Lyn Burnstine

I grew up with a plethora of uncles. On my mother's side, I had four half-uncles, two of whom I never knew since they lived far away on the west coast, and two half-uncles-in-law (my half-aunts' husbands). Have I lost you yet?

I was very close to the Illinois uncle who lived the nearest: in fact, he lived with us once for a few weeks and we eagerly awaited the Kansas uncle's visits, also.

My grandmother, their step-mother, had finished raising those two youngest ones and they loved her dearly. On my father's side there was one uncle-in-law and five uncles, who all looked just like my father. One had died as a young man, but the others I knew because they lived nearby.

Most of the socializing we did was with relatives: dinners back and forth from one home to another and reunions every summer at a park or churchyard.

But there was one whom I adored, unrelated but connected by something as strong as blood-ties.

My mother had grown up with few neighbors in her little rural community. She was so much younger than her step-brothers who left home while she was still a youngster. Fortunately just up the road a piece - as my grandmother would have said - was a handsome, charming couple with three little girls.

The youngest was named for my mother, so I assume she was born after the two families became close friends. The four girls were inseparable. Time went by, people grew up and scattered but Aunt Mame and Uncle Elvis moved into town, and so did my parents, my sister and I.

We must have gone to see them frequently, because often in my dreams I find myself walking on their street sure that I'll recognize their house when I see it, and knowing that it would be a safe haven from something that was threatening me in the dream.

But my most vivid memory comes from a time, a few years later, when I was envying my sister her flute and ability to play in the band. Our dinky school had no band activities for elementary-level students so I would not be eligible until I got to high school (I snuck in a few toots on my sister's flute when she wasn't around, though).

One day when we were visiting back in Flora from where we'd moved to follow my father's renewed teaching career, Uncle Elvis offered me a wooden piccolo and training in how to play it. It was the first time I had realized that this tall, kindly man, whom I picture always in a fedora and long overcoat towering over us all, was anything but my beloved Uncle Elvis: he was also the local band teacher!

I was thrilled and learned quickly; I already was a good pianist and a crackerjack sight reader. (I always said I could play something the first time as well as I'd ever play it again.)

I practiced for hours every day till my pinkies got used to the curled position and stopped cramping painfully. And that little wooden piccolo had the sweetest tone of any I ever played, bar none. Joy of joy, that very fall the high school band teacher instituted a training band in the seventh and eighth grades, and I got to play the piccolo as well as a wooden flute loaned to me.

Uncle Elvis became a hero in my eyes; sweet, little dumpling-faced Aunt Mame remained a shadowy figure in my memories. The connections lasted through my early-married years when their oldest daughter was living in the same town in Mississippi as my husband and I, and she and her unconventional husband became our friends and first babysitters.

Vesta, whom I always thought of as the vestal virgin since she was single till 49 had married Harry, a former rodeo clown and outrageous adventurer. What a strange mating that was.

In much more recent years, I was looking through old pictures and found one of Uncle Elvis and Aunt Mame as young newlyweds and was amazed at how gorgeous they were - her cute and tiny, him tall, dark-haired and full-lipped like the other Elvis.

There must have been lots of little girls who had crushes on that young Elvis, their band teacher but he was my Uncle Elvis.

* * *

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




Cancer Tests and Magic Mushrooms

Wow oh wow oh wow oh wow.

After all your wonderful well-wishes on Friday's post, I wish you could have been there on the telephone with me and my new oncologist Friday. As we were getting through the preliminary niceties, he interrupted us saying, “Let me get to the point first.”

The thing about that is you wait and wait and wait, rocketing back and forth between fear and confidence, and suddenly the answer is right there, right now.

Sharp intake of my breath on my part and then he says – this is close to verbatim:

“The CT scan shows the size of the lesions in your lung have decreased by half and some are no longer detected at all. The one lesion in your peritoneum is not visible.”

This does not mean the cancer is curing itself. It means the chemotherapy is doing what it is supposed to do – slow the growth of the cancer to give me longer healthy time to live.

The doctor is so encouraged that if the news is as positive when the next scan takes place in two months, he will extend the scan interval to three months.

For now, however, Wow oh wow oh wow oh wow.

Chemo continues every two weeks until it doesn't work anymore. No one knows how long that is – it's different for every patient. But I'm encouraged now that I will still be here for my 78th birthday in April. For a long time I didn't believe that.

MAGIC MUSHROOMS
A couple of comments last week are of some concern to me. In one of them, the writer says that since I was fearfully anticipating the test results, my psilocybin session that freed me from my paralyzing fear of dying, must have failed.

Perhaps the writer doesn't understand that humans can't live with two and more emotional conditions, even strong ones, at once. I thought everyone knew this.

I can be, and was simultaneously, scared of test results and not afraid to die.

He also suggested that to maintain the results, I would probably have to have regular psilocybin trips. I don't suppose it would hurt and I have supplies for micro-doses but it certainly hasn't failed for me although I don't know about other people.

Speaking of psilocybin and other psychedelics used as therapy for depression, anxiety and PTSD among other conditions, I was surprised and pleased to see that in at least one survey, a majority of Americans support the use of these drugs for treatment.

As reported at YouGov that conducted the survey in 2018,

”Despite the stigma surrounding these controlled substances, new data from YouGov shows that many Americans are ready to embrace psychedelic therapies.

“What’s more, a relationship appears to exist between higher levels of education and increased support for psychedelic research and treatments. At each increasing level of education, there's a corresponding increase in support for medical research into the potential benefits of psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, and ketamine.

“53% of all respondents support medical research into psychedelic drugs, and this number increases to 69% for respondents with graduate degrees.”

Here is the YouGov chart on support for psychedelic therapies among education levels:

Psilocybenchart

Both the state of Oregon and the city of Denver already have ballot measures approving such use of these drugs ready for a vote in the 2020 election.

You can read more at YouGov.

Again and from my heart, thank you for your many words of love and support through not just this latest test scare, but for the entire 20 months so far since my original diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I love you all.




ELDER MUSIC: Monk

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.

* * *

Thelonious Monk

Today's column might be a bit challenging for people who aren't as in love with the music of THELONIOUS MONK as I am. He is my all time favorite jazz pianist, one who I managed to see a couple of times as he came out to this wide brown land in the sixties.

Monk's music is replete with dissonant harmonies and strange twists as if he were anticipating classical music of the mid-twentieth century. Only Duke Ellington, of all jazz composers, has had more of his compositions recorded by others. It's not others I'm interested in. I like to hear the real thing, and so will you if you stick with me.

Most of the music today was composed by Thelonious, including this one, Hackensack, presumably named after the place in New Jersey.

♫ Hackensack


Thelonious Monk

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes was written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach back in 1933. The Platters’ version is the best as far as I’m concerned. Monk puts his distinctive take on the tune.

♫ Smoke Gets in Your Eyes


In Walked Bud is a tribute to his friend and fellow jazz pianist Bud Powell. It seems that Bud once tried to stop police from beating Thelonious but there are varying accounts of what happened next.

Whatever happened, Bud received a severe beating himself that troubled him for the rest of his life, probably causing him to turn to drink and drugs. Thelonious recorded the tune several times, the last one with the great jazz singer JON HENDRIX supplying vocals.

Jon Hendricks

♫ In Walked Bud


Just a Gigolo was written by Leonello Casucci and Julius Brammer in 1924, and was originally called Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo. Irving Caesar supplied English words to it in 1929, and gave it its English title. It’s been recorded often, but never like this.

♫ Just a Gigolo


Thelonious Monk

Straight No Chaser is another of his compositions. It features his long time tenor sax player CHARLIE ROUSE.

Charlie Rouse

♫ Straight No Chaser


GERRY MULLIGAN was THE baritone sax player in jazz.

Gerry Mulligan

He started out in California but eventually played with everyone who mattered. He was a main participant in the famous “Birth of the Cool” sessions with Miles Davis. He probably wrote more of that than he is generally credited with.

Here he teams with Thelonious on one of Monk’s most famous tunes, Round Midnight. Everyone’s had a go at this one.

♫ Round Midnight


Thelonious Monk

Thanks to the Columbia Record Club (remember that?), the first album of Monk’s that I owned is “Monk’s Dream”. From that album, here is the title track. Charlie Rouse features on this one too.

♫ Monk's Dream


Thelonious Monk

Duke Ellington knew his way around a piano keyboard. He also knew how to write a good tune or two. Just like everyone else in jazz (and a lot elsewhere) Thelonious tackles one of his tunes, It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing).

♫ It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)


JOHN COLTRANE joins the fray now.

John Coltrane

He and Thelonious play Ruby, My Dear, a tune named for Monk’s first love (or so he said). It later had words written for it and Carmen McRae recorded a fine version, but it’s Monk and Coltrane today.

♫ Ruby My Dear


Here is the first appearance on record of Charlie Rouse with Monk. It also has Thad Jones on cornet. The tune labors under the awkward name of Jackie-ing.

♫ Jackie-ing


Thelonious Monk

It has nothing to do with his music, and he was famous for this: he really liked hats. Just thought I’d mention it.

Thelonious recorded quite a few solo albums, just him playing piano. I guess it meant that no one had to anticipate where he was going with his playing, which, if you’ve listened all the way until now, can be quite an exercise.

From his complete solo recordings compilation we have the old standard, These Foolish Things.

♫ These Foolish Things




INTERESTING STUFF – 9 February 2019

MY CANCER TEST RESULTS

What an outpouring of thoughts, hopes and prayers from you, dear readers, on yesterday's post about my mistake in regard to CT scan results. Apparently all your efforts worked.

My new oncologist telephoned Friday at the time we had agreed to with excellent news. At both cancer locations, one lung and the peritoneum, lesions have decreased in number. Exactly what the chemotherapy is designed to do. Woo-hoo! I thank you all and will have more information on Monday.

93 YEAR-OLD'S DEATH BED REGRET

Thank you, John Gear, for sending this tweet. I know exactly how this man felt and I'll be furious with the cosmos if the same happens to me.

Some comments at Twitter.

CONTAGIOUS LAUGHTER ON BELGIAN SUBWAY

Okay, it's just a commercial for Coke but it was fun to watch and I got a good laugh too.

IF I COULD TALK

The other animal videos today are nowhere near such tear jerkers as this.

TEE HEE - CAT TREE IN FULL BLOOM

CatTree

A BALL OF YARN NAMED PURL

Purl, directed by Kristen Lester and produced by Gillian Libbert-Duncan, features an earnest ball of yarn named Purl who gets a job in a fast-paced, high energy, bro-tastic start-up and tries to fit in.

LOWE'S MAJESTIC HOWL

As YouTube explains:

”A sweet dog named Löwe who had never howled before, found her voice by watching a video of another dog howling on the computer...It took quite a while to finally get her to howl, and when she did we were not prepared for the majesty of her regal voice.”

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DUMB ASS AND A SMART ASS

Hank Berez sent my favorite animal video this week.

* * *

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

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” 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.




Oops. Sorry About My Wednesday Mistake

On Wednesday, I told you I would get the results of my latest CT scan yesterday, Thursday. Wrong.

Right here on the desk in the notebook where I keep important information from meetings with doctors and nurses, in big, black letters, it says:

“Dr. will call Friday with scan results.”

I would like to blame chemo brain for my mistake but it had been two weeks since my last treatment so that is probably not the cause. Chemo brain can make you stupid for a few days but it had subsided by the time I was screwing up the Wednesday post.

So, assuming I do hear the results sometime today and to spare you, kind and gentle readers, any test-results-wait-anxiety I may have infected you with on Wednesday, I will slip in the salient information on the Interesting Stuff post tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I ran across a recent BBC story about “cancer cliches” - words and phrases that many cancer patients reject.

We discussed this a bit last August when I explained why I dislike phrases like “battling cancer” and “fighting cancer”. BBC cites a survey of 2000 people who have or have had cancer, reporting that I'm not alone.

”Calling a person's cancer diagnosis a 'war' or a 'battle' and saying they had 'lost their battle' or 'lost their fight' when they died, were other unpopular descriptions, according to the poll carried out by YouGov.

“Articles in the media and posts on social networks were found to be the worst offenders for using such language.

“Mandy Mahoney, 47, has incurable metastatic breast cancer...Mandy said it was not necessary for people to 'swallow a textbook and come up with all of the key phrases' to talk to someone with cancer, and it is fine to not always know what to say.

"'If you tell me it's awkward and you don't know what to say I will find a way to make that right for you, and actually on some occasions I might say 'we don't have to talk about it'.

"'But just be real.'"

There is more detail and a different opinion from a body builder at the BBC site.

I know there are a number of TGB readers who have or have had cancer. How you do you feel about these words and phrases?




A Week of Worry

While some of you are reading this today, I am at the medical center to drop off a couple of vials of blood with the phlebotomists (wonderful word), meet with my new oncologist and then undergo an ultrasound scan to (gulp) determine if the chemo I've been taking for two months is doing what it is meant to do.

What that is, is to slow the growth of the cancer – it cannot cure the cancer - thereby giving me some number of extra months of healthy life.

Because the scan happens every two months, it is easy to forget about it for six or seven weeks and get on with everyday life.

But not this week.

My previous chemotherapy regimen failed at its job so I know what that conversation with the doctor is like.

This is my first scan since the new chemo began and I'm nervous. You might even say scared. How about frightened, terrified and unnerved?

They all apply and sometimes, this week, it had been hard not to cry. Anticipation is a bitch.

There is no dearth of advice on coping with what a couple of websites call “scanxiety” - itself a grossly inept attempt to make light of a serious health predicament.

Worse, the advice itself doesn't improve things. It ranges from surrounding oneself with positive people and thinking of scans as maintenance (clearly written by someone who never had cancer) to this deeply misleading nonsense:

”Even when we do find that cancer has spread, we can usually craft a plan to control the disease so it doesn’t continue to spread and cause more problems.”

Not true.

Which leaves me exactly nowhere except to tough it out. I wish it were not so but I'm pretty sure that a not small percentage of you, dear readers, have been exactly where I am right now. Somehow we survive the anticipation.

I'll let you know what the scan reveals.