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Lockdown is Not So Bad for Some Old Folks

Throughout the U.S. lockdown I've been saying to friends (and may have mentioned in these pages), that staying home is more tolerable for old folks than younger ones.

Now, along comes John Leland, one of the finest reporters and writers at The New York Times, to back me up.

Noting that “People age 70 and up account for two-thirds of all coronavirus deaths in New York, though they make up less than 10 percent of the population,” he continues,

'Yet many New Yorkers in this age group are thriving during this catastrophe — skilled at being alone, not fearful about their career prospects, emotionally more experienced at managing the great disruption of everyday life that is affecting everyone.”

That's pretty much what I was thinking and it's nice to have confirmation from another source, especially one I respect so much. Unlike me, however, Leland spoke with half a dozen old people in New York who are making good use of their at-home solitude. A sampling:

“'I'm fine,' [Janet] Wasserman said the other day, taking a break from her research and twice-daily walks with her dog. 'I’m not complaining. In 85 years I’ve seen just about everything that can happen on this planet.

“'If you haven’t lived as long as I have you might think this was the worst thing that ever happened. But people who know history know the difference.'”

Ninety-nine-year-old Sterling Lord is eager to start a new literary agency from his home but frustrated that he can't hire assistants during lockdown:

“'Am I nervous about the virus?' he said. 'Yes. But not that nervous...I have not been out of the house at all since this thing began. It’s very little change. With my work, it’s very easy for me to go the whole day without going outside.'”

In January, 89-year-old Gordon Rogoff lost his husband to Parkinson's disease. He told Leland,

“'Those of us who are older are singled out for a form of house arrest. I like it, actually. I’m recovering some sense of space and time that’s been lost in the hectic arrangements in which we live on a daily basis.

“'I hadn’t realized how deeply immersed in the bustle of contemporary life I have been. One musician, for example, said to me, This is the sabbatical I’ve longed to have. I can see the point, I really can.'”

Leland tell us that despite the grim statistics of nursing home deaths and frightened, isolated elders, the old ones “offer a counternarrative of resourcefulness and perseverance.” As Gary M. Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told Leland,

“'The reality is that older adults as a group have a positivity bias,' or tendency to see the good side of situations...

“'Their pessimism and anxiety tend to abate with age. They’re no longer striving for material achievements, so what matters to them now is what’s emotionally satisfying. They’re more likely to say, I’ve been through this before.'”

Well, none of us has been through a pandemic before but I have noticed in recent years that I don't get as disturbed by bad news as when I was younger. I suppose it helps, in this virus circumstance, to be a homebody like me.

What about you?


By Lynn Marler

It was a wealthy junior high (middle) school in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1960’s. The popular kids all had the right clothes and straight teeth. Even most of the unpopular kids had the right clothes and good teeth since this was a wealthy area; most of the kids’ dads worked in the Cold War defense contracting industry or were orthodontists or plastic surgeons.

I was not in the popular kids group; once in a while that group of kids who are “almost popular” would lower themselves to speak to me, but the real popular kids at the top, never.

(Oh, the popular guys would hang around outside the cafeteria after lunch every day and “bark” at the least-pretty of us unpopular girls that they considered to be “dogs”, but talk to us? Naw.)

I existed in that shadowy area between unpopular and almost unpopular. My dad made as much money as the other dads who worked for defense contractors, but since dad had too many mistresses in addition to whomever he was married to at the time, there was never money for new school clothes, cars were repossessed, our house was full of broken-down furniture, and so on. So I didn’t have the money to fit in and my oddball personality didn’t help either.

But there was a girl who had it worse than I and the other non-popular kids did. Everybody called her Dinosaur Girl since she carried a toy dinosaur around with her at all times; she absolutely loved dinosaurs.

She’d talk and whisper to it while riding the school bus. Sure, it sounds odd for a 12- or 13-year old to be carrying a toy around and talking to it. But if no one else will talk to a girl because they think she’s weird, because she gets good grades and “girls aren’t supposed to be too smart” and because she doesn’t wear the “right” clothes or have the “right” hair and, most horrific of all, doesn’t seem to care much about her appearance, her dinosaur buddies may be all she has to talk to.

(I don’t remember what kind of dinosaur she usually carried around, but too bad it wasn’t a Tyrannosaurus Rex that came alive and attacked Charlene Cheerleader and Johnny Jock when they picked on her. Because pick on her they did, constantly.)

Looking back on it, it occurs to me that she may have been on the high-functioning end of the Aspergers/Autism Spectrum. Or maybe she wasn’t on that spectrum at all; maybe she was just different from the rest of us.

I do remember that she was completely verbal and got very good grades. I lost track of her after graduating from junior high and she didn’t attend the high school I did.

Maybe she ended up running a section of the Smithsonian or the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. (I wouldn’t be surprised: those good grades she got.)

Or maybe she ended up with a non-career type job but was happy enough spending her time off in the science section of her local library. Or maybe she married a nice guy and had some nice kids that thought it was cool that Mom loved dinosaurs too.

Whatever happened, I hope she’s had a happy adulthood. I hope the hell that the other kids put her through in school is a memory that she’s been able to rise above.

You see, although I never actively picked on her, I’m as guilty as those who did because I never stood up for her either. Being in that shadowy purgatory between “in” and “out” groups, I was afraid to draw any attention to myself. To say that I was *terrified* of the popular kids is only putting it slightly too strong. But that’s only a reason, not an excuse.

So, Dinosaur Girl (and I now say that with all respect - heck, I bet at least those schoolboy jocks enjoyed the Jurassic Park movies), if you should happen to read this, I am sorry ‘till the end of my days that I didn’t stick up for you, so sorry.

And I hope you would approve of the stuffed dolphin I have, even though it’s a mammal.

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

“You are an Anomaly” Said the Oncologist

What an amazing amount of loving kindness you all left in the comments of last Monday's post. There are not good enough words to say how much you all mean to me. The best I can do is, thank you.

* * *

After several minutes of pleasantries at the beginning of our tele-medicine conversation, the oncologist told me that my most recent CT scan is “not bad.”

Not bad in the sense that although the cancer has increased in my lung since the previous most recent scan, the growth has been slow. This is surprising, he said, because I have had no chemotherapy (meant, in my case, to slow cancer growth) for a year.

And, apparently, it is enough of a surprise to classify me as an anomaly – an outcome that is not what is expected with my type of cancer and treatment. Don't let that fool you, though. The cancer continues to do what cancer does – grow and spread.

For now, said the doctor, additional chemotherapy is not recommended due to COVID-19's propensity to attack lungs and my impaired immune system. Of course, the chemo clinic takes every precaution against infection but nothing is perfect and I am more susceptible than people without lung or breathing difficulty. So no chemo and I am not certain that if it were recommended I would do it again.

What I didn't tell you in last Monday's post where I announced my week-long hiatus, is that the largest part of the reason for that downtime last week was to keep my anxiety to myself. It's always that way for me: pretty much full-time mental paralysis waiting to discuss a CT-scan with the doctor.

You might recall this paragraph from a week ago:

”And in recent weeks, what I believe to be late(r)-stage cancer symptoms: increased fatigue, body pains...waning appetite, weight loss and a golf-ball-sized growth I discovered four days ago on an inner thigh.”

The waning appetite had already begun to turn itself around when I spoke with the oncologist on Wednesday and the weight loss is righting itself too.

As to the body pains, the doctor said he could prescribe an opioid but I will wait. So far, over-the-counter medication is working and in the past seven or eight days, I have had almost as many pain-free days as painful ones.

So there you are – the cancer is on the move, although not too quickly. Appetite and weight are back to what is normal for me. Pain is controllable. And – oh yes, that golf-ball-sized growth in my groin.

Not cancer. I had to see a doctor in person to deal with what is called, she told me, Bartholin Gland Cyst. I was her second case of it that day.

It is relatively common and usually treated with an antibiotic and/or drainage of the cyst. I've opted for door number one for now and so far it is down to less than half its largest size.

So, that turned out to be a minor distraction compared to the daily upkeep of cancer and COPD.

There is no missing the fact that I am slowing down. Although the heavy fatigue I mentioned last week has morphed into lighter fatigue, there are those pesky pains. When there are none, I spend the day on alert, waiting for one to stab me here or ache there.

I am trying to stop doing that, with no discernible success yet.

You would think by now that I would have this living-with-a-terminal-disease stuff down pat. But no. My body keeps coming up with new ways to get at me, and my mind seems to have a mind of it own – dragging me around to check out some of the darker corridors of my thoughts.

Nevertheless, living is still good most of the time, and I'm not ready to trade it for anything else – especially now that I am officially an anomaly.

ELDER MUSIC: Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

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.

* * *

Leon Redbone

Well, we’re not going to go along with the title of the column today.

LEON REDBONE died last year at the age of 127, or so claimed his obituary, which apparently he wrote himself. He was probably only a bit more than half that age, but who can tell with Leon.

He was born in Cyprus, and his birth name was probably Dickran Gobalian – I’m not surprised he changed it. He first came to be noticed as a performer in Toronto. He met Bob Dylan at a folk festival in the early seventies and Bob talked him up such that he was no doubt responsible for Leon getting a recording contract.

Leon specialised in songs from the early years of the 20th century, and he performed them as they were originally written, often with introductions that most of us hadn’t realised they had. He was a national treasure (of several nations) and he died too soon.

If you like music from the first half of the 20th century, this column is for you.

It’s only appropriate that we start with the name of the column. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone. It was written by Sam Stept and Sidney Clare, and it was published in 1930. Leon indulges in a little uncharacteristic yodeling on this one.

♫ Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

Leon Redbone

A while ago I had a column on songs that had introductions that most of us didn’t realise had one, and as I mentioned, Leon likes to include those. This is one such.

Shine on Harvest Moon first made its appearance in the Ziegfield Follies in 1908, performed by Nora Bayes and Jack Norwortth. They also wrote the song. There have been at least two films made with the title – one a western and the other a musical.

♫ Shine On Harvest Moon

Leon Redbone

There seem to be two Christmas Islands, one in the Pacific and another in the Indian Ocean. The Pacific one was used by the British and later the Americans to test hydrogen bombs. Now, from my undergraduate physics studies, I know about the half-lives of the various radioactive by-products of such events so I'll give that one a miss.

The other is an Australian dependency not far from Indonesia. This is one of the places that our current appalling government occasionally sends refugees for processing in "facilities" that resemble maximum security prisons.

So when Leon sings "How'd you like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?" my answer is "I wouldn't." It's a pleasant sounding song though, Christmas Island.

♫ Christmas Island

Leon Redbone

You Nearly Lose Your Mind was written by Ernest Tubb and he recorded the first version of the song. Leon’s version is quite different from Ernest’s which, of course, was a country song. Many others have recorded it, but Leon really does it justice.

♫ You Nearly Lose Your Mind

Leon Redbone

The song Roll Along Kentucky Moon is most associated with Jimmie Rodgers, but he didn’t write it. That was Bill Halley. I don’t know if he’s related to the astronomer who first tracked the comet that bears his name (the early rock & roller spelt his name differently). Leon performs it in the style of the Singing Brakeman.

♫ Roll Along Kentucky Moon

It was claimed by one critic that one real revelation of the album “Whistling in the Wind” is Leon's take on Love Letters in the Sand, a song that he said has been almost impossible to listen to since Pat Boone ruined it back in the 1950s. My sister would disagree with that sentiment, and even I would to an extent.

However, I’ll agree that Leon really nailed the song, and he also included the introduction that few of us knew existed.

♫ Love Letters in the Sand

Leon Redbone

Champagne Charlie refers to Charles Heidsieck, who started one of the more famous brands of champagne. Actually, a couple of others in his family also founded champagne brands bearing that name in part as well.

Charlie went to America and it’s claimed that he introduced the wine to that country. I have my doubts about this as both George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were fond of French wines and both had considerable cellars.

Charlie was thought to be a Confederate spy during the Civil War, but nothing was proved. It seems that later he owned Denver until he sold it. He was certainly one of the more interesting characters in history. Here is his song.

♫ Champagne Charlie

Leon Redbone

Little Jack Little was doubly appropriately named as he was shorter than anyone reading this column, I’d imagine. Had he been Australian, he’d have been called Lofty or some such – we’re more into ironic nicknames than Americans are.

He was a band leader in the 1930s and also wrote songs. One of those was When I Kissed That Girl Good-Bye.

♫ When I Kissed That Girl Good-Bye

Leon Redbone

There are several songs called Mississippi River Blues. The one that Leon performs was written and first performed by Jimmie Rodgers. The semi-yodel at the beginning of the song, and later on as well, would have given that away.

♫ Mississippi River Blues

Leon Redbone

Ain’t Misbehavin’ (or as Leon calls it, only slightly more grammatically, Ain't Misbehaving) was written by Fats Waller and Harry Brooks. At least they wrote the tune. The words, which is what we most remember, were written by Andy Razaf.

The song is most associated with Fats who recorded it several times over the years. This is what Leon does for it, sounding more like Mississippi John Hurt than Fats.

♫ Ain't Misbehaving (I'm Savin' My Love For You)

Okay, imagine this: let’s get another singer to sing with you. That’s pretty easy. Perhaps he could also play the drums. Well, that reduces the field somewhat. Let’s say that he’s the most famous rock & roll drummer in history. Right, there’s only one RINGO STARR, and he’s present on the last song.

Leon Redbone & Ringo Starr

He and Leon perform My Little Grass Shack. We might also want a chorus as well. Put on your hula skirts for this one.

♫ My Little Grass Shack


Hello, everyone. I'm almost finished with my week off from blogging but here's a short episode of Interesting Stuff that turned up. I will be back to regular posting on Monday.


Here's something to wake you up on a caronavirus morning. I posted this movie dance compilation several years ago and now it has turned up again. It's worth a second go.

It is the best of a lot of dancing from the movies, edited together with one song. The star of this, I believe, is the video editor.

The music is Footloose by Kenny Loggins. Here is a list of the movie clips that are included:

Dirty Dancing, Flashdance, White Nights, Perfect, Saturday Night Fever, Blue Skies, Pulp Fiction, High Fidelity, Clerks 2, American Pie, Billy Elliot, Footloose, True Lies, Grease, Honey, Phantom of the Opera, Step up, Step up 2, Moonwalker, West Side Story, Moulin Rouge, Mary Poppins, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Strictly Ballroom, Happy Feet, Singing in the Rain, Fame, Fame2009, Save the Last Dance, Mamma Mia, Mask of Zorro, Coyote Ugly, Wild Hogs, Get Smart, Airplane, A Knights Tale, High School Musical and Austin Powers.


Even though I was taking last week off from this blog, Alex and I recorded a new episode of The Alex and Ronni Show. It's mostly about the virus – do any of us talk about anything else nowadays?


On 23 March, 43 workers at Braskem America, a factory in southeastern Pennsylvania that makes the raw material, polypropylene, needed to manufacture PPE such as masks and gowns, checked into the job and didn't check out again for 28 days. Here is a local TV report about the voluntary lockdown:

“'We were just happy to be able to help,' Boyce, an operations shift supervisor and a 27-year veteran at Braskem America, told the Washington Post.

“'We’ve been getting messages on social media from nurses, doctors, EMS workers, saying thank you for what we’re doing. But we want to thank them for what they did and are continuing to do. That’s what made the time we were in there go by quickly, just being able to support them.'”

Aren't people wonderful. So many step up in whatever way they can.


TGB's Sunday music columnist, Peter Tibbles, was the first to send this video. The Youtube page tells us that it is Roy Zimmerman and The ReZisters, featuring Sandy Riccardi. Made in collaboration with the Raging Grannies of Mendocino. The Lion Sleeps Tonight words and music by Solomon Linda. Parody lyrics by Ede Morris, Roy Zimmerman, Melanie Harby.


The just cracks me up. Take a look.



There are a bunch more photos of social distancing animals at Bored Panda.


Enough TGB readers sent in this video that I am just going to assume no one here objects to the comedian's – uh, colorful language. Here is Vic's message to the U.S. government.


Thank Hank Berez for this:

* * *

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.


By Steven J. Rubin

I am 76 years old, soon to be 77. I have had two hip replacements, two back surgeries, a recent broken shoulder, two arthroscopic knee surgeries, numerous spinal injections, the usual broken bones, pulled muscles, sprained ankles, etc.

In the trunk of my car you will presently find the following: a tennis racket, tennis shoes, hiking poles, hiking shoes, biking shoes, biking helmet, biking gloves, a gym bag containing necessary workout apparel (shorts, tee-shirt, sneakers) and swimming gear (a towel, swim suit, goggles, etc.), golf clubs, golf shoes.

In the winter you will find skis (both downhill and cross-country), two sets of ski poles, two pair of ski boots, skiing helmet, winter hiking boots and poles, the aforementioned workout and swim apparel, and the detritus left over from summer.

I am, to put it mildly, in total denial.

And there is more! I pay monthly dues to - not one - but two fitness centers. I have a personal trainer. I joined a hiking club called “The Monday Mountain Boys.”

Truth be told, the mountain boys have yet to see my face. And I haven’t seen my personal trainer in months. Most cruelly, I have been unceremonious kicked out of my tennis group. This, the result of a broken shoulder incurred while attempting to run down a drop shot, deviously and deftly placed sent by my opponent.

“Stay home,” I was told, once I had recovered. “Don’t try to do something you can’t.” Or more depressingly, something you can no longer do.

I have a season’s pass (a “senior” season’s pass!) to the local ski mountain. I am among the first to renew that pass every year. Oh, I manage to drag myself up there every once in awhile and make my way down the bunny slope.

Riding up the chairlift, I have visions of past ski runs. Was I that young man who competed in NASTAR races in places such as Aspen, Snowmass, and Breckenridge? Alas, no longer. Now, it’s two hours on the slope and home in time for my afternoon nap.

I still bike, but at such a pace that I struggle to keep vertical. I avoid hills or walk when I can no longer pedal. I understand e-bikes are now the fashion for the senior set and I intend to check that.

I have my skis tuned every fall. I have my tennis racket re-strung every spring in the hope I will be welcomed back into the tennis fold. I take the occasional spinning class, work out as best I can, lifting a few weights, staggering through a slow trot on the treadmill. But these days, the class I regularly attend is my senior exercise class - alternately dubbed the “lift and lunch bunch” or the “crunch and brunch gang,” depending on the time of day we meet.

Do I decry this fast evolving decrepitude? Of course I do! But what is to be done? “An old man is a paltry thing,” W. B. Yeats intoned. And I fear he was correct.

You would think I would give up this foolishness, this self-delusion. I tune my skis for what? The half-dozen runs a season down the bunny slope? I let my former tennis partners know I’m ready. I wait in vain.

My wife tells me it’s time to take up a life of the mind. Friends urge me to join their book clubs. They worry about me. “Nobody ever got hurt,” they remind me, “sitting on the couch reading a book!” But I demur.

Is this really what I want? I know I’m deceiving myself, thinking I’m the athlete I once was, or even close to that. But so what? I’m here. I’m playing on this side of the grass, as one of my golf buddies intoned one day after he managed (as I often do) to take 10 shots to reach the green.

The poet Dylan Thomas tells us to “not go gentle into that good night.” And I won’t. At least as long as my knees hold out - and my shoulder and my back and my hips. I’m good for another season. Or so I tell myself. So what if I’m living in a fantasy. Given today’s headlines, it beats the real world!

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

Time Goes By Takes a Break

Maybe I've been in lockdown too long and need something different. Or perhaps I've been pushing myself too hard (although it would be difficult for you to find anything I've accomplished around the house recently) and need a rest.

Just as likely, it could be that I want some time to quiet my mind so to think and feel what I have known since mid-2017 – that the days of my life are numbered. I've tended to forget – or avoid – that reality for a great deal of the past year.

Around 90 percent of people who are told they have pancreatic cancer are dead within a year of diagnosis. Me? In June, it will be three years. I only recently (make that this morning, Saturday) made a list of the major events during that time period:

• Whipple surgery with five or six months of recovery
• Two much smaller surgeries to fix an internal bleed
• Three rounds of chemotherapy
• A remarkable psilocybin session
• Tests showing me to be cancer-free
• Tests showing cancer spread to a lung and peritoneum
• COPD diagnosis
• Pulmonary rehab for COPD

And in recent weeks, what I believe to be late(r)-stage cancer symptoms: increased fatigue, body pains some of which would be funny if they didn't hurt so much, waning appetite, weight loss and a golf-ball=sized growth I discovered four days ago on an inner thigh.

It is placed in such a spot that I know there's a joke to be made about growing balls (or, anyway, one) at my age but it hasn't come to me.

Certainly the two doctors with whom I have tele-health appointments this week will tell me what is what about all this. I suspect at least one will want to book an in-person visit which, in our virus-ridden world, rather freaks me out. I mean, those docs work at a giant medical center with five hospitals, a medical school and many kinds of clinics.

Not that I won't go anyway.

When I was diagnosed, I chose to chronicle here what I thought, at the time, would be at most a year about my journey with one of the most deadly cancers. But the months kept passing and here we are in 2020.

I'm going to have a rest now, hear what the doctors say and return in about a week. Meanwhile, tomorrow there will be a new Reader Story and on Sunday next, there will be Peter Tibbles' music column. Unless something changes, I'll be back here a week from today.

Meanwhile, thank each of you for always being such a wonderful, responsive audience and excellent participants in the commentary. This blog grew into a collaboration a long time ago – it is what makes it special.

Be well and stay safe.

ELDER MUSIC: Nearly / Almost

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.

* * *

Here is another column based on a random word, or two words in this case that have similar meanings. I started with “nearly” but didn’t have nearly enough songs for a column, thus the extra word. The reason for the column is right down at the bottom, so have patience.

HAWKSHAW HAWKINS is rarely mentioned these days, and on the few occasions his name comes up it’s usually only in the context of one of the people on the plane with Patsy Cline when it crashed.

Hawkshaw Hawkins

Before that, he was quite a popular country singer, but unlike Patsy he was quickly forgotten. I’ll do my little bit to revive his status a little with You Nearly Lose Your Mind.

♫ Hawkshaw Hawkins - You Nearly Lose Your Mind

A song with almost the same title is I Almost Lost My Mind. There were several contenders for this one, but I decided, with the help of Norma, The Assistant Musicologist, that it should be SAFFIRE, THE UPPITY BLUES WOMEN.


Alas, Saffire called it quits in 2009, and founder member Ann Rabson has since died, so there will be no reunion of the original members. Here is their song.

♫ Saffire The Uppity Blues Women - I Almost Lost My Mind

Another suggestion from the A.M. is DOUG ASHDOWN.

Doug Ashdown

I thought that musicians never retire, but it seems that Doug has done just that. This is a pity as he’s one of Australia’s finest singer/songwriters. Never mind, we still have his records (and his memories for some of us who saw and heard him a lot).

From an early album of his we have the song, I Can Almost See Belfast From Here.

♫ Doug Ashdown - I Can Almost See Belfast From Here

There are many contenders for Almost Like Being in Love. I imagine that each of you can pick one that you like. There were many I liked, but I finally settled on PEGGY LEE, for no real reason.

Peggy Lee

I just thought that we haven’t had Peggy for a while, so let’s go with her, and here she is.

♫ Peggy Lee - Almost Like Being in Love

The A.M. said that I should have a different version of the next song, because I said that it was going to be Tammy Wynette. After some consideration, I decided she was right, and I would use the gentleman who wrote and first recorded it, DAVID HOUSTON.

David Houston

I think it works better as a song from a woman’s point of view, but it’s really a universal theme. David is Almost Persuaded.

♫ David Houston - Almost Persuaded

I remember this song back when I was a whippersnapper sung by Ernie Sigley. Now there’s a name to conjure with for those Australians reading this column (both of you). Sorry Ernie, but I’m going with THE DREAMWEAVERS.

The DreamWeavers

Again for the Aussies, Ernie and I are both supporters of the Footscray Football Club (I refuse to call them by their new name), and in keeping with the name of the column, they are pretty much nearly Premiers a lot of the time, they almost make it (Americans might substitute the Boston Red Sox).

That is until 2016 when they really did (yay). This has nothing to do with the song, I just thought I’d waffle on for a bit about nearly and almost. It's Almost Tomorrow.

♫ The Dreamweavers - It's Almost Tomorrow

Here’s another performer that The A.M. approved of once she discovered she was present today. She is RHIANNON GIDDENS.

Rhiannon Giddens

It’s impossible to categorise Rhiannon: she studied opera, plays bluegrass banjo (and many other instruments), sings the blues as well as any around, was a Grammy winner with the group the Chocolate Drops and has some terrific solo albums to her credit. She’s really worth getting to know.

From one of her solo albums we have The Love We Almost Had.

♫ Rhiannon Giddens - The Love We Almost Had

Those who have been listening to quality music for the last 50 years or more will need no introduction from me for VAN MORRISON.

Van Morrison

He is one of those rare artists who not only made great music when he was young and in his prime, he has kept on doing that right up to the present time. Here he is from quite some time ago with Almost Independence Day, from the album “Saint Dominic's Preview”.

♫ Van Morrison - Almost Independence Day

I don’t know why TANITA TIKARAM isn’t better known.

Tanita Tikaram

She a terrific singer and songwriter (and she looks pretty good too). I guess it’s this thing that talent is not enough, it probably comes down to how much exposure you get on the various social media.

Anyway, I’m not one for that sort of thing, but I’m happy to expose her (as it were) to people who like good music. She sings We Almost Got It Together.

♫ Tanita Tikaram - We Almost Got It Together

CHUCK BERRY thinks that he’s Almost Grown.

Chuck Berry

Of course when he wrote and recorded the song he was well into his thirties. That was the same for all his early songs, but he did have a talent for getting into the zeitgeist of teenagers at the time. The time being the fifties, naturally.

♫ Chuck Berry - Almost Grown

Now we come to the reason for this column. I found this clip on Youtube and was flabbergasted. I wondered when I had last heard and seen a male singer as good as this.

It’s taken from a concert version of the musical “South Pacific”. What I thought on seeing it was “Eat your heart out Ezio Pinza”. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, the singer is BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL, playing Emile De Becque.

For those like me who aren’t familiar with Brian, he’s a regular on Broadway and has won a Tony award (and was an on-going character of “Frasier” for a while – I remember him from this but he didn’t sing).

Here is the song that caused my flabbergastation, This Nearly Was Mine.



Here's a video about the history and operation of the two U.S. hospital ships, now in New York City and Los Angeles that are helping with coronavirus treatment. They are much older than I knew.


A German woman named Talitha Girnus posts many photo updates of her hedgehog and Bengal cat.

”...the two have become inseparable,” reports Bored Panda. “Talitha takes pictures of them against stunning backdrops as they all go on adorable adventures together. Not going to lie, their photos make me want to pack a suitcase and travel the world just like them (after the lockdown ends, of course).

“'A few months after I adopted Herbee from a girl who couldn’t keep him due to severe allergic reactions, I adopted Audree. She was three months old when I got her and she was originally already reserved for someone who wanted to breed with her. But the lady canceled on her two days before I called,' Talitha told us.”

Take a look:



More cute photos at Bored Panda and at Istagram.


Someday, after COVID-19 is history, people will ask what the heck? These earrings? Why?


See and read more here.


According to Bored Panda,

”The designers of Home Advisor took the last 500 years and digitally remade the same kitchen based on the trends and/or necessities of that century. The project is called 500 years of kitchen design. Every single kitchen is unique and you can see that each century has held different standards for them.”

From the 1600s to mid-century modern (1900s), take a look at the video:

More information at Bored Panda.


Here is some more doggerel from reader Henry Lowenstern, this one titled, The Blame Game.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Recently, I've mis-stated Henry's last name in some posts. It is Lowenstern, not Lowenstein. My apologies to Henry.]

The President wants everyone to know
that it was not he who was slow
to react to the coronavirus crisis.
The blame, he says, should go to
the World Health Organization (WHO),
the Obama administration
and to the governor of any state
that managed to procrastinate.
His administration, he declares, deserves and wants
plaudits for its excellent response.


We humans are not the only ones who are self-isolating. Some members of the animal kingdom live that way all their lives, according to the World Wildlife Fund. As The Guardian reports:

”Occupying our oceans for more than 100m years, marine turtles are terrific navigators, in some cases swimming hundreds of thousands of miles between feeding and nesting grounds. They prefer to interact or congregate with only one other turtle for short periods for mating or nesting.

“...Once the hatchlings emerge, they will begin a long solo journey in the ocean where, if they manage to survive, they will remain alone for many years.”

Photograph: Jürgen Freund/WWF

More self-isolating animals at The Guardian.


TGB reader, Joared, sent this with a note that she poached it from someone whose name she does not recall:

"Isolation Day 10 –
"Struck up a conversation with a Spider today. Seems nice. He's a Web Designer."



Bob Dylan surprised fans again on Thursday by releasing his second new song in three weeks, I Contain Multitudes. As Rolling Stone reports,

”He nods to David Bowie (rhyming 'all the young dudes' with the title phrase), Edgar Allan Poe ('Got a tell-tale heart/Like Mr. Poe/Got skeletons in the wall/Of people you know'), Irish poet Anthony Raftery’s 'The Lass From Bally-na-Lee,' and William Blake, among others.

“And occasionally, he may be intent on pure shock: 'I’m just like Anne Frank/Like Indiana Jones/And them British bad boys the Rolling Stones,' he sings.

Here is the song and you can follow the lyrics here.

More at Rolling Stone.


Matt Chirico made this video of New York City. He explains on the Youtube page:

I felt I needed to document how much the #coronavirus has changed #NewYorkCity. New York on pause has turned the city that never sleeps into an empty and desolate city. These popular spaces, which are normally overcrowded with visitors are now left bare.

“I made this short film to capture the new tone of NYC. Please share to help slow the spread so that we can get back to our beloved city that never sleeps!

All these years since I had to leave – my god, how I miss my city.

* * *

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.

Stress in a Time of Virus Demons

Among the various virus demons, time has gone all squishy on me. Many times a day, five minutes feels more like 15, or it can be the reverse – clock hands refuse to move forward. Either way, I'm usually confused about time and I've been wondering if it's stress.

It's been about three weeks since lockdown got serious. I had been telling friends that being mostly housebound is probably easier for retired people because we've had time to organize daily routines around something other that a job. Now I'm not so sure.

Perhaps stress – not to mention fear – are causing life, including keeping track of time, to go wonky. I've never believed all stress is bad. For most of my working life, I needed to meet several deadlines a day. Often, these were not suggestions. They were your television set (that's you, currently reading this) going black if I didn't do A, B and C. It could take a good deal of tension to make that happen on schedule.

Many years ago, when I was producing a daily, live television show, as the stage manager was about to count down the five seconds to air, he got the attention of everyone in the studio with, “Okay, everybody, tense up.”

And so we did, alert to any- and everything that could go wrong during that hour while keeping the show moving smoothly. And it worked. But lots of other stress and anxiety isn't as successful or benign.

Increasing numbers of media stories are advising us about mitigating stress. It's all pretty much the same which doesn't make it less important. These are the highlights:

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media about the virus

Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate – whatever techniques work well for you

Eat healthy, well-balanced meals

Exercise regularly to the extent that you can

Get plenty of sleep

Make time to unwind. Do some other activities you enjoy

Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row

Most of these instructions are part of my day. Eat well, exercise daily (except weekends), sleep at least seven hours (with the help of edible cannabis), practice deep breathing, talk with friends and there's always this blog to work on when the news gets to be too much.

However, it is not like we have any practice at maneuvering through a deadly pandemic. No one alive remembers the 1918 flu when it has been estimated that at least 50 million people worldwide died with about 675,000 deaths occurring in the United States.

If that doesn't scare you...

What's more, an increasing number of people in the U.S. are protesting against stay-at-home orders, saying they will take their chances with the virus.

The problem with that attitude, of course, is that it is not just their own lives they are putting at risk, it is anyone in their vicinity. Reports such as that along with the president's continuing failed leadership sometimes leave me terrified.

Jane Brody, writing in The New York Times reminds us,

”Sustained anxiety increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, digestive problems, clinical depression and, ironically, infectious diseases like Covid-19 by weakening the immune response to a viral infection.”

Brody also tells us that doing something good – for neighbors, essential workers and strangers who lack adequate resources – can help bolster positive feelings.

”I've gone through closets and bagged tons of clothing to give to those in need,” she writes, “and I’ve contributed to a GoFundMe site that is raising money to provide meals for workers at the neighborhood hospital, which also helps support local restaurants now limited to takeout only.”

That really works. I told you recently about the food delivery person who texted me a heartfelt thank you after I left a $20 tip. I did that because I had no smaller bills but there is no price on how good it made me feel and now I keep $20 bills in hand just for that purpose.

Another thing I do to calm my mind is tell Alexa to play Gregorian chants. I keep them going in the background sometimes for several hours.

And there is this. Here is what the Youtube page tells us:

”Each year a large herd of sheep visits Shafer Vineyards during springtime here in Napa Valley. They come to naturally mow the abundant cover crop that grows in our vine rows, which is an important part of our approach to sustainable farming. Everyone at the winery loves it when the sheep arrive.

“There's something about their presence that is calming, cheering, and peaceful. During the upheaval and uncertainty in the world right now, we wanted to share the pastoral beauty of this with you.

“These images of beautiful sheep grazing in our vineyards are set to the music of songbirds, the vineyard breeze, occasionally the geese on our pond, and of course the sheep themselves.

We've repeated one hour of footage to give you a total of six hours of wine country tranquility.”

It works for me. Maybe it will for you, too. And maybe you could share what it is you do to keep the virus demons at bay.

Trying to Do Coronavirus Safety Correctly

As I walked back from the mailbox a couple of days ago, I stepped off the path about six feet to keep the prescribed personal distance between me and a neighbor walking in my direction.

“How are you doing?” I said, as she passed.

She answered slowly, “This is really hard”.

No kidding. The rules for surviving this pandemic aren't necessarily unclear. It is that there is so damned much to keep track of and that makes it easy to screw up.

That day I had faced my usual mailbox confusion. Do I need a mask for the 200-foot walk and back? Should I wear nitrile gloves? I wore the gloves and mask that day. Sometimes I don't.

Back at my apartment, I dumped the two envelopes and one package on the porch table where I had left a bottle of antiseptic spray, paper towels, a trash bag, a paper shopping bag and scissors.

After cutting the package's plastic wrapper open, I dumped the contents into the clean paper shopping bag and stuffed the wrapper into the trash bag.

Then I opened the two envelopes, dumped them in the trash bag (recycling has become less of an issue these days when I am concentrated on avoiding the virus), and wondered if I needed to wipe down the contents.

I decided that since it had taken several days for them to arrive in my mailbox, any viruses were probably dead so I didn't need the antiseptic spray after all. Then I took the paper shopping bag, scissors, spray bottle and paper towels into the house, leaving the trash bag on the porch.

After removing the gloves into the kitchen trash, I started washing my hands to the tune of Happy Birthday when fear hit me: I had not taken off my shoes before entering the house and I had held the package, as I walked home from the mailbox, against my sweater.

Holey moley. I stepped out of my shoes and walked barefoot back to the laundry room where I ditched the sweater, my cloth mask – and, for good measure, my pants - in the washing machine.

All that after just a five-minute trek to get the mail.

I will spare you the details of the much longer cleaning routine after grocery shopping. But even on this short foray outdoors I screwed up, so you can imagine how badly it goes with the more complicated, twice-monthly food runs involving both store and home with many more possibilities for contamination.

Never yet have I done all this without mistakes - it doesn't help that I am constantly refining the routine. And so I worry then, for a week, waiting to see if symptoms appear.

My neighbor is right – it is hard trying to keep ourselves and those around us safe during a dangerous pandemic. Of course, this is new to us. We've never done it before which may account, in part, for the mistakes I keep making.

Another part is that it takes so much time from, for me, an already shortened day just because I tire so easily and it takes me much longer than during most of my life to do all the ordinary tasks I hardly noticed before: washing up dishes, sweeping the floor, folding laundry – you know, just normal, daily stuff.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

A TGB READER STORY: Marilyn of My Young Dreams

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

When I was a preteen in the 1950s, my cousin and I were fervent Marilyn Monroe fans. We subscribed to movie magazine - Photoplay and Modern Screen - with a feature on our favorite movie star in most every issue.

We made up scrapbooks and pasted in every possible picture and article we could find. When I visited my cousin in Philly, I always brought my updated scrapbook. We reviewed our new insertions immediately, and most seriously.

I also loved Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, the beautiful celebrity power couple of the time. In the spirit of today’s media name couplings, maybe they would have been known as “CurtLeigh.”

But Marilyn was my idol, bar none. I followed her life story and career faithfully. I can’t tell you how many times I saw her on the silver screen in the 1950s, in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Jane Russell, How to Marry a Millionaire with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, The Seven Year Itch where she stood over a subway grate with her white skirt blowing, and with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in the perpetually hysterical Some Like it Hot.

The vibrant Technicolor productions brought the Hollywood experience to the Plaza Theater in my small New Jersey downtown. My allowance covered both the 50 cents admission and a box of Raisinets, the movie treat in those days along with Good & Plenty and Bonomo Turkish Taffy.

I decided to write to Marilyn Monroe herself at the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio to let her know I was a loyal fan and request an autographed picture.

On a day I will always remember, I arrived home from school to open a large envelope with a matte finish 8x10 black and white photo of Marilyn wearing a sparkling diamond necklace and leaning against a beautifully draped satin background. The personalized inscription in bright red ink read, “To Barrie, Warmest Regards, Marilyn Monroe.”


My mom gave me permission to place a long-distance telephone call to my cousin to share this amazing news. She could not wait for my next visit.

Fast forward to my adult life and an episode on Antiques Roadshow in 1999. A woman brought in the same exact photo of MM with the handwriting in red ink. The ephemera expert flipped out and said that Marilyn herself had used red ink, whereas the secretaries had used blue or black ink.

The appraiser estimated the value of the signed photo at $5,000!

I screeched, and then danced around the living room. I had saved the photo for more than 40 years, protected in a brushed gold wood frame worthy of the famous star.

Several years later, my internet research turned up information that the appraiser was mistaken. It was determined through archival research and handwriting analysis that the studio secretaries also signed for Marilyn in red.

Comparing my sample to verified signatures, I saw that the autograph on my photo came up short (it does have some value as a studio-signed fan photo, but only at a small fraction of an original).

My hopes to sell it to help pay a substantial portion of my daughter’s first year college tuition were dashed. But now I get to keep and treasure the photo - and the memory - of the sweet, sad and talented movie star I adored.

Rest in peace, Marilyn of my young dreams (1926—1962).

* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

What It's Really Like to Get Old

That headline is the subtitle of this blog. It always has been and that's not going to change. It says quite nicely what Time Goes By is about.

A TGB reader who signs his comments John and is a Trump supporter has been complaining of late about politics in TGB posts:

”What does politics have to do with what it is really like to be old?” he wrote last Thursday. “Sure, it comes into play with certain legislation like social security and medicare, or even, to a degree, the government response to Covid-19, but it should not consume a large chuck (sic) - seems like over half - of the Alex and Ronni Show and it also frequently bleads (sic) into the daily blog posts.”

This is not the first time John has complained about politics at TGB and now the repetition has come to irritate me. I spent more time over this past weekend thinking about John's comment than I care to admit.

Part of it could be that all Trumpers are at best annoying and further, apparently do not object, for example, to ripping small children from parents' arms and disappearing them. That alone, to me, disqualifies someone from membership in the human race.

But ignoring that atrocity (not to mention others) is so common among Trumpers that it can't be all the reason John's complaint kept interrupting my weekend.

I finally realized that my objection lies closer to the topic of this blog than I originally imagined. It is the ageism in what John complains about – the implication that politics is better left to younger people, that it has nothing to do with growing old.

That's just balderdash. Let me explain.

The word “ageism” was coined in 1969 by the late Robert N. Butler, a physician and gerontologist who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his first book, Why Survive? Being Old in America.

Butler's definition of ageism includes prejudicial attitudes toward old people and old age in general; discriminatory practices against old people; and institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes of old people.

That's way too dry but what it means in practice is people, often as young as 40 or 45, not being hired due to their age (it's happened to me and to plenty of you who are reading this). It also means medical care being denied and it means being excluded from drug trials, among other shameful acts.

And it means dismissing or ignoring old people's opinions and points of view just because they are old which brings us back John's objection to politics at Time Goes By.

As is said so often now, we are living in an unprecedented time. There is hardly anyone alive who recalls the 1918 pandemic and now the world is living through our own 2020 Coronavirus pandemic with a uniquely unqualified leader.

A leader who politicizes everything, even the health care of stricken people by granting or withholding life-saving equipment to hospitals depending on the level of fealty to him personally of the people making the request.

This is not the United States I grew up in, studied in school and have believed in all my life. It is the behavior, instead, of a tinhorn, wannabe dictator who does not appear to mind 21,000-plus deaths so far of Americans as long he can crow about how perfect he is.

God help us, but on Sunday, he actually tweeted this:

He apparently believes that being the only president in history to declare a disaster in each and every state is a win for him.

This while tens of thousands of U.S. citizens have died and are continuing to die. Even the caregivers are dying due to the president's policies. Some who hang out at this blog or people we know and love may die due to this man's inability to think beyond the next television camera pointed in his direction.

Is this dire virus situation political? You betcha it's political. A president's number one responsibility is to keep the people of the United States safe. That's it. Everything else is secondary. But the president has not done that, is not doing that. And that makes this political.

John has said he doesn't like politics being talked about at a blog whose slogan is “What it's really like to get old.” Does he mean that old people should back off from the political scene – maybe even from voting?

How is politics not as much about what it is really like to get old as anything – and everything - else?

Maybe there is a hint in another part of John 's comment, the part where he castigates the Democrats for going with Joe Biden as their nominee for president this year:

”I am shocked,” writes John, “that the democrats (sic) are trying to unload an arguably nearly senile individual as their apparent candidate.”

No. What IS shocking is John's statement. It is the definition of ageist. The word senile is kin to the N-word and has no place in civil society. It is descriptive of nothing and is meant only to be insulting to old people. That is not allowed at this blog.

ELDER MUSIC: Classical Whatnot 2

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.

* * *

Here is some more interesting music to add to your whatnot.

MADDALENA SIRMEN was born Maddalena Lombardini in Venice to a poverty-stricken family in the middle of the 18th century.

Maddalena Sirmen

One of the teachers at the orphanage where she lived was the famous composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini who noticed her talents and took her under his wing. She later married another violinist, Ludovico Sirmen and they toured Europe together.

She was a better composer than Ludo, and reports from the time suggest she was a better violinist as well. From her Violin Concerto No 6 in C Major is the first movement.

♫ Sirmen - Concerto No. 6 in C major (1)

MARIE JAËLL started life as Marie Trautmann in Alsace.

Marie Jaell

She showed great promise on the piano from an early age and had serious lessons from age five. She joined the Paris Conservatoire at 16 and immediately won the piano prize. She later met and married fellow pianist Alfred Jaëll, who was friends of Chopin, Brahms and Liszt.

The couple embarked on an extensive piano playing tour of Europe, England and Russia. Later still, Marie settled down to write music and develop better piano playing techniques.

A lot of her compositions involve the piano, but not all of them. This one does though, the Piano Concerto No 2 in C, the fourth movement.

♫ Jaëll - Piano Concerto No 2 in C (4)

ELENA KATS-CHERNIN is Australia’s finest living composer, and I would contend that she’s in the top half dozen worldwide.

Elena Kats-Chernin

This one is rather tongue in cheek. I ran past Norma, The Assistant Musicologist, what we should play of Elena’s. She and I are big fans of the long running radio talk show Late Night Live.

This is serious stuff, one of the most intelligent of such things in the world. For some time its theme music was Russian Rag, which Phillip Adams, the host, referred to it as The Waltz of the Wombats. That’s the way the A.M. and I know it as well.

♫ Elena Kats-Chernin - Russian Rag (Waltz of the Wombats)

FANNY MENDELSSOHN wrote the best string quartets since Beethoven.

Fanny Mendelssohn

Indeed, they might even be better than his. Not better than Haydn’s or Mozart’s, but she’s up with the best in this regard. Her brother, the famous Felix, always said that she was a better composer than he was.

As more of her music comes to life, it’s obvious that there is some justification for what he said. Here is the fourth movement of her String Quartet in E-Flat Major.

♫ Mendelssohn F - String Quartet in E-Flat Major (4)

HENRIETTE RENIÉ was a French composer and harp player.

Reni é& Friend

That’s Henriette with a friend of hers, an even more famous harpist.

She started out on the piano but when her dad took her to a concert that featured the harp prominently, she was hooked. She was yet another prodigy and was a student at the Paris Conservatoire before she was ten.

Henriette won several prizes at the age as well, and later became famous or her playing, which was frowned on by polite society. She didn’t care.

A gifted teacher, Henriette also wrote the book on harp playing and was instrumental (sorry) in the creation of the chromatic harp. As you can imagine, most of her compositions are for the instrument, including the Concerto for Harp and Orchestra. This is the third movement.

♫ Renié - Concerto for Harp and Orchestra (3)

ANNA BON was an Italian composer and performer.

Anna Bon

Her dad was an artist who also wrote librettos, and her mum was a singer. Anna started music training when she was only four. In her late teens she joined her folks in Bayreuth, later to become famous for its Wagner operas. Anna was employed as “chamber music virtuosa”, and it’s there she wrote her six flute sonatas (before the age of 16).

Later the family joined the court of the Esterházy family and checking the dates, she would have overlapped with the great Joseph Haydn. So, here is one of those flute sonatas, Flute Sonata No 4, Op 1 in D Major. The first movement.

♫ Bon - Flute Sonata No 4 Op 1 in D Major (1)

CLARA SCHUMANN was born Clara Wieck and she was a child prodigy on piano, violin and as a singer. There seem to be a bunch of prodigies today.

Clara Schumann

It turns out that Robert Schumann was a pupil of her father’s and one thing led to another and they decided to get married (Clara and Robert, not her dad). Trouble is Clara was only 18 and dad wouldn’t give his permission, so they sued him and won their case.

Robert seems to have been a sickly and troubled lad, but they stayed together until he died. Clara outlived him by 40 years. She toured extensively giving piano concerts for the rest of her life – she lived to 76 – and she composed quite a few pieces, mostly for piano. One of those is the Romance for Violin and Piano, the third movement.

♫ Clara Schumann - Romance for Violin and Piano (3)

ANNA AMALIA was the ninth kiddie of Karl I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and Princess Philippine Charlotte of Prussia.

Anna Amalia

In the way of these things, she also had to marry some knob, in this case Ernst August II Konstantin, Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Ernie died young, when Anna was only 19, but she had already had a son, and as he was too young to rule, she took over the responsibilities.

It seems she was really enlightened, turning Weimar (for that’s where she was) into a cultural hub, drawing many writers such as Goethe, Schiller, Herder and others to the area. Musicians as well. She established a library that’s still around and it’s one of the most important one in Germany.

Unlike many of her ilk, when her son came of age, she turned over running things to him and she concentrated on composing music. She was really good at that. One of her notable compositions is the Divertimento for Piano, Clarinet, Viola and Cello. Here is the second movement.

♫ Anna Amalia - Divertimento for Piano Clarinette Viola and Cello (2)

SOPHIA DUSSEK was born Sophia Corri in Edinburgh.

Sophia Dussek

Her father was Domenico Corri, also a composer of some note at the time. Besides, he was a music publisher in London, which was handy – the family had moved there. It was there where she met and married Jan Dussek, from Bohemia. The marriage wasn’t successful and they split up and went their separate ways.

Sophia was a singer, pianist and most notably, a harp player. It was for this that she wrote most of her music, including this one – the first movement of Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op 2.

♫ Dussek S - Sonata No. 3 in C minor Op 2 (1)

MARIA SZYMANOWSKA was born Maria Wolowska in Warsaw, Poland.

Maria Szymanowska

Somewhere along the line she married Józef Szymanowski and they had three kids. They then split and later Jó died of cholera and Maria made a (very successful) living touring Europe as a concert pianist.

She eventually ended up in St Petersburg as a court pianist. Her compositions were mostly for the piano, as this one is. Nocturne in B-Flat Major.

Maria Szymanowska - Nocturne in B-Flat Major

ÉLISABETH JACQUET was born in Paris with a lot more names than that, as was the style at the time.

Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre

All the members of her family were musicians, or had some connection to music – instrument makers and so on – so it was only natural that she’d going into the family biz.

She was yet another prodigy, and even when she was young she performed for all the bigwigs, including the biggest wig of the lot, Louis IV (the self proclaimed sun king).

Later she suffered a series of tragedies, her husband, son, mother, father and brother all died of various diseases. She kept on trucking though, writing and performing. One of the things she wrote is the Violin Sonata No 1 in D Minor, the second movement.

♫ Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre - Sonata No 1 (2)



Personally, I can never get enough of Willie Nelson and this weekend was made for someone like me.

Today, at 8PM Eastern Daylight Time, Nelson will host At Home with Farm Aid streaming live on AXS-TV and at the Farm Aid website which will also feature Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews.

Willie was quoted in Rolling Stone about the live concert:

“...I’m so grateful for the farmers, ranchers and farmworkers who are on the frontlines sustaining all our communities. Now, more than ever, stay strong and positive.”

You can find out more about the live concert at the Rolling Stone and at the Farm Aid websites.

Then, on Sunday, A&E will broadcast Willie Nelson: American Outlaw, filmed during an all-star tribute concert to the Willie in Nashville in January.

A&E has released a track from the program, City of New Orleans. Here it is:

Other performers include George Strait, Jimmy Buffett, Chris Stapleton, Dave Matthews, Eric Church, Emmylou Harris, Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Norah Jones and the Little Willies. Find out more at Rolling Stone and A&E.


Medicare announced this week that it will cover (1) out-of-pocket costs for lab tests for COVID-19 and (2) all medically necessary hospitalizations.

This includes if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and need to stay in the hospital under quarantine instead of being discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay.

Read more at Medicare's Coronavirus page.


This came from TGB reader Joan McMullen. Jeanine Levy says on her YouTube page,

”Being quarantined from the Corona Virus takes it's emotional toll. Please enjoy my funny journey from the spice cabinet, toilet paper shortage, to melons...”



One America News Network (OAN) is a far right, conservative network that the president frequently mentions positively, particularly when he is angry with Fox News for lack sufficient fealty to him.

Last Sunday on his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver gave us his take on the network.


Most, if not all, of U.S. zoos are closed due to the virus. Texas State Aquarium took the opportunity to show its sloth, Chico, some of the denizens of the aquarium.

”As a bit of a local celebrity,” explains the YouTube page, “Chico can't tour the Aquarium on most days without being mobbed by his adoring fans. But with our temporary closing, our sleepy sloth Chico was treated to an eye-opening adventure through our Gulf of Mexico exhibits!”

Note how the dolphin, near the end, turns upside down in his tank to see Chico hanging upside down.


This one titled Separation.

I used to be able to make the case
for a neighborly embrace
whenever we met,
but now, instead,
at your insistence,
I am keeping my distance,
and try to greet
you from six feet.


As the Washington Post tells us daily, “Democracy dies in darkness” and that is what Vice President Mike Pence is doing because he doesn't like how CNN is covering the daily White House rally. CNN reports:

”Pence's office, which is responsible for booking the officials on networks during the pandemic, said it will only allow experts such as Dr. Deborah Birx or Dr. Anthony Fauci to appear on CNN if the network televises the portion of the White House briefings that includes the vice president and other coronavirus task force members...

"'When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air,' a Pence spokesperson told CNN.”

CNN says it cuts away from the broadcast to check the information that is often less that factual. More at CNN.


Like Willie Nelson, Randy Newman is also one of my favorite musicians. Randy has written a new song for our times which he recorded at home. It is titled Stay Away. You can follow the lyrics at the You Tube page.


Some of these are amazing. And cute too.

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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.

Questions. Time Goes By Gets Questions

TGB reader Kath left this comment about reader stories:

”All the readers' stories you feature are of such a high quality and so lovely - could a selection of them be made into a book as a charity fundraiser?”

This is a good idea but my answer hasn't changed since, in years past, readers often asked about collecting some of my blog posts into something like a best of TGB book:

I'm old. I have two life-threatening diseases due to which I barely keep day-to-day life together. I have about six or seven productive hours a day during which I must do everything – EVERYTHING – I once did during a full 16-hour day including a job.

Not to mention the copyright issues. Readers retain the copyright to their stories and it would be a lot of time-consuming work to get clearances.

So this isn't going to happen. My only suggestion is that you could save stories you like to your computer or print them.

Longtime TGB reader Nana Royer had this suggestion on Wednesday's post:

”What about a zoom meeting for Ronni's fans? The idea occurred to me when watching Millie Garfield's show. I've been using zoom for my book club, Great Decisions meetings, committee meetings, cocktail hour, and it works great.

“I have a paid account, which many of you may have, which allows more than 40 [minutes] viewing, and up to 100 guests. If we go without a password requirement, then it would be easy to sign in as the info could be posted here...It might be fun to meet and greet all of you who comment and follow Ronni.”

I think it could be fun too but my answer is the same as for the first question: I don't have time to manage this and probably not time to attend.

And there is one other crucial thing about Zoom: the program apparently has and still can install malware on users' computers. You can read about it here and here and many other places around the web.

The company says it is fixing the problems but three months has been mentioned as a time frame. I used it once this week, but when I'm done writing this blog post, I will delete it. Some say the Zoom warning is overblown but with all else that is going on, I don't see the point of taking chances.

There is a story at Medium debunking the Zoom naysayers but even it has a 12-point list of instructions how how to make a Zoom meeting secure.

If anyone wants to create a Zoom meeting for TGB readers, let me know when and how and I will publish an announcement on Saturday's Interesting Stuff post.

A reader in Italy along with a few other readers who, like me, live with COPD asked about what exercises I do. I developed my daily workout from the exercises I learned from the registered nurses at pulmonary rehab. I won't give you specifics because I'm not an RN and I have no idea how such exercises might be different for people with COPD or asthma or other lung problems that may also be combined with other health issues.

Generally, however, it goes like this: I'm careful to do warm-up and cool-down stretches – standing and on the floor – at the beginning of my 40-minute workout and at the end. In between there is a combination of all four types of exercise: aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance.

Some of my routine is adapted from the workout I did daily for many years before I was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 but I'm not capable of working at it as hard or as long as I did back then. That does not mean, however, there is no value to my health in what I do now.

As I did during the three months of pulmonary rehab, I use oxygen during my exercise routine. The nurses explained that being able to breath more easily during exertion gives me a more productive workout than without oxygen when I would need to stop frequently to catch my breath.

Speaking of breath, using “pursed-lip breathing” at the end of each series of exercises and throughout the day has helped my breathing a lot. Here is a video I found on how to do it:

Diaphragmatic breathing is also useful. There are instructions from WebMD.

Including three months in rehab where I learned these techniques, I've been working out five days a week for more than five months. I dislike it as much as I ever did and many mornings my lesser self tries to talk me out of doing it.

But somehow I get myself in gear for it because - here's the kicker: No matter how much I want to not do it, about halfway through the routine I already feel much better.

It works psychologically too: if I've wakened in a bad mood (not hard in these virus days), exercise changes that. I even start smiling a bit. So I doggedly get it done each day and it makes a big difference in my ease of breathing.

If you have lung disease and/or have not been exercising regularly, I recommend it but please, don't start without talking with your physician or pulmonologist.

Okay, now I am turning the tables on you to ask a question instead of answering them.

Among all the lovely birthday greetings I received this week was a snailmail card that included – wait for it – a face mask. Is there anything more precious these days? I have an order in for a batch of them from China but it will be a few weeks until they arrive. So this is amazing; I almost cried.

Here is the problem. I don't know who sent it; the charming card has no signature. There is no return address except “Knoxville, TN”. So 'fess up, my Tennessee benefactor and let me thank you by name.

The Alex and Ronni Show 7 April 2020

But before we get to that...

Yesterday was my birthday. Several weeks ago, I had made plans for a birthday lunch with my friend, Kirsten Jacobs, but you all know what happened to that idea. We have vowed to do it whenever the time comes for it to be safe to visit a restaurant – and each other – again.

Thank all of you who knew my birthdate from past years and who sent e-cards, paper cards, email messages and blog comments with wishes for a happy day. It was happy thanks, in part, to you.

Yesterday was a Tuesday, the day of the week when I publish a reader story, and I decided not to disrupt that schedule just for my 79th birthday.

It seems to me that 79 isn't a particularly notable birthday. However, I am surprised to be here for it. Doctors told me in June 2017, that I had (have still) pancreatic cancer. Two years later, they said I also have COPD.

Pancreatic cancer kills almost 90 percent of its victims within a year and back in 2017, I just wanted to live long enough to read the Mueller Report. Well, that didn't change much, and now I want to live to see the November election.

It's birthdays and other kinds of anniversaries that always make me wonder if I'll be be among the living for the next one. Maybe. Maybe.

Two other things happened yesterday. I attended my first Zoom meeting, Ask Millie, with my east coast friend Millie Garfield, her son Steve Garfield and half a dozen other people.

That was fun and I may need to explore how I can use it. Steve posted the video of us all at Millie's blog.

Also, my former husband and I recorded our biweekly Alex and Ronni Show. Mostly he and I talked about – what else? - the virus. Here it is.

A TGB READER STORY: The Morning Has Past

By Nancy Rubuliak

A number and a name were written on the backside of a receipt for lumber bought over 30 years ago to build the deck at the rear of my house. Seeing the writing in his hand, I felt a stab and realized I had little in my possession written by him.

Words left as evidence that he once was, once had existed. Words given time. It was 12 years since I had returned from the last trip to Paris. Two weeks after my return my father would die in a hospital bed with my mother sleeping beside him on a cot.

I remember the phone ringing that morning early and going there before dawn. I had long since laid to rest the notion that the man from Paris would bring true love but at that time I had not yet come to that fact.

My father’s death created an empty space which now remained as the permanent artifact of loss. The sensation of vacancy in a place where once was felt warmth, security and unconditional acceptance. He had helped build the deck that still stood, although some parts were now in need of repair.

He had departed slowly, over time, incrementally like eroding rock outcrops. Weather and time slowly chiseling away at the weakest points. At first one does not notice such an invisible assault but over time forces play like in the great canyons of the Southwest to etch away massive stretches of land leaving open space.

I kept thinking about this landscape since my return. How the past was layered, dense and buried or pouring out, dissipated, transformed and dispersed. Some of it scattered to the four directions, some flowing away with torrential rains or running out like from a broken hourglass spilling from great standing stones and spires.

He eroded over time until he was uncertain of where he was and what had been his life. I was never forgotten but in the last months he lived in a dream state, an endless stream of scenarios rose to plague him, onerous tasks to be done with too few hands, calamities great and small besetting him alone, always the perpetual themes of trouble and responsibility.

His handwriting was unmistakable. Even now the memory of seeing it makes me sad. How much more I would have asked him, wanted to do with him. It had never been easy. My mother had claimed him and only when he was dying and she was exhausted was there space for me.

There had been times, too, I had also been mortified by him like in my teens seeing him in the shopping mall in his rubber boots looking like the farmer he was. His honesty had been an embarrassment to me. I had been ashamed of him. All this now under layers of living, sedimentary, compacted with time and passing years.

What becomes of us? Do we, too, scatter into the four directions? Flow away to join the great oceans?

The sun was low and I noticed the shadows falling through the day on the west and later the east walls of the living room. Shadows that only came at this time of the year, forgotten once the sun turned around and began to grow again. Turning, churning, time was always rearranging the world around us, and in the end we too would reenter those same sands.

I wondered if that was why the dawn and the setting sun so moved us? Perhaps at these times we see transmuted what is both incomprehensible and unrefutable. I am remembering the sun setting at Church Wells and the light the next morning at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the two of us.

[Note: Written after travel with Susan to the Colorado Plateau Sept 2018.]

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

A Serious Jones for Ice Cream

Last week here, I headlined one story, Is There Anything Else to Talk About?. And so it is every day now in every news outlet: all about the virus.

It took up the major part of an hour-long telephone conversation on Sunday with a friend in New Jersey. It takes up the most space in email with others. When I'm reading online news, I always gravitate to virus headlines - anything else feels irrelevant to life today.

When I'm not talking, listening or reading about the virus, I'm thinking about it. It intrudes everywhere. When the sun came out yesterday, I developed a serious jones for ice cream. I don't eat it much in winter and this was the first time this year it had come to mind.

I actually picked up a pen to make a list of what else I might pick up at the grocery when I went for the ice cream. Then I remembered. Uh-oh. Lockdown. Plenty of food in the house, except for ice cream.

So I stayed home.

(Please do not send ice cream. The freezer is full to the top with food.)

From the beginning of the virus, I believed in face masks but then I got confused when a variety of so-called experts said they don't work. Now that they have changed their mind, I have made several no-sew masks for myself from old bandanas and wondered if I need one to go to the trash or mailbox.

It is rare that I see anyone when I make one of those runs, but I decided to err on the side caution anyway. The cotton masks are hard for me to breathe through and I was winded when I got home so I have redesigned the no-sew masks with fewer layers for me to breath a little easier.

Reading the virus news online or watching it on television is fraught in its own way. I try to avoid the president altogether, and I am awed again and again by the amazing bravery of the medical professionals who, undoubtedly exhausted, go into the firestorm of potential infection and possible death every single day.

I know the fear I felt last week going to the grocery store. The intensity of it must be so much more for medical professionals. What is that moment like for them, the one when you wake up, maybe a little fuzzy in the head still from sleep, first thinking about getting up and BAM! - you remember what your job is like now. Is today the one when you will catch the virus?

How do they do that, I wonder, keep going to work day after day? I feel so helpless, that there is nothing I can contribute and then I weep for all of us but especially for those on the front lines.

I experienced a small, happy respite from all the mixed-up sad, hopeful and hopeless, fearful, worried feelings on Friday when I made my first pandemic meal delivery order.

Like everything else, it involves thinking about the virus. I arranged online for the delivery person to leave the order on the table on my front porch and knock on the door.

But what about a tip? I fished an envelope out of the desk, wrote “Delivery Person” on the outside and then found I had only $20 bills in my wallet. Recalling the medical professionals, first responders, grocery clerks and all the others who risk their lives for the rest of us, I couldn't see that delivery to people's homes is much different. So $20 it was.

Not long after my lunch arrived, I received a text message from the delivery guy telling me it was his first day on the job, I was his first delivery and that I had helped him start his new job in the best possible way.

That text message was the bright spot in my day too. In this tiny way, it was the first time I have felt useful and actually did something good for someone who is, unlike me, risking his life at his job every day.

It feels self-indulgent to be ruminating on these little incidents in my home-confined life. After all, we're all doing the same thing and I hardly have a unique perspective. But even when I try to read a book or watch a movie, my mind wanders to the world's predicament.

It's not just the virus itself. What is equally fraught is the lack of executive and managerial expertise at the top of the U.S. federal government. Many state governors have stepped into the void as much as they can but by statute, they lack the power of a president who, in this case, has abdicated his sworn duty to the country.

Your turn now, in the comments below.

ELDER MUSIC: Homeward Bound

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.

* * *

(Part 1, Home is Where the Heart Is, is here.)
(Part 2, Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig , is here.)

Here I am back home again, I’m here to rest. All they ask is where I’ve been, knowing I’ve been west. Sorry, I was channeling Tim Hardin. Just ignore that song as it doesn’t appear today.

After a column of rock & roll/doowop and another that was mostly jazz, here we are with all the rest. These are all over the place, but the quality is there nonetheless.

It’s a bit hard to tell where ERIC BIBB calls home.

Eric Bibb

He was born and raised in New York, then went and lived in Paris. After a while he settled in Stockholm and he has spent some time living in London. Of course, like most musicians he’s on the road, pretty much constantly, so when he sings Heading Home, it’s difficult to tell where that is.

♫ Eric Bibb - Heading Home

Given the title of today’s column, you knew that this song had to be present. After all these years there are many versions of it, but naturally I’m going with the original by SIMON & GARFUNKEL.

Simon & Garfunkel

It’s taken from their album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme”. This was an album that you could take over to your new gal’s place, put it on and see what happens. Oops, sorry, too much information. Homeward Bound.

♫ Simon & Garfunkel - Homeward Bound

It’s been a little while since I had the great PATSY CLINE in a column, so I’m going to remedy that now.

Patsy Cline

There were three or four of her songs I could have included, but the one that fit the best is When Your House Is Not a Home, written by Little Jimmy Dickens.

♫ Patsy Cline - When Your House Is Not a Home

The Lovin' Spoonful recorded the song Darling Be Home Soon, but that version is rather over-produced in my opinion. The main man from the Spoonful and writer and singer of the song, JOHN SEBASTIAN, regularly sings it in concert.

John Sebastian

It’s one of those versions we have today. The song has been recorded by many over the years, but I still prefer the man who wrote and first sang it. He usually closes his show with it, as he does here with just himself playing acoustic guitar and Paul Harris on piano.

♫ John Sebastian - Darlin' Be Home Soon

For a talented bunch of musicians, it’s a bit of a surprise that the BLUES PROJECT recorded only one studio album.

Blues Project

There were quite a few live albums, however. The group included Al Kooper who went on to form Blood Sweat and Tears (and was thrown out of that group after their first album) and Steve Katz who played the guitar and sang the song we have today. He was also in BS&T.

Also present was Danny Kalb, one of the finest lead guitarists of the era, but also one of the least known. Anyway, here is Cheryl's Going Home from that single studio album “Projections”.

♫ Blues Project - Cheryl's Going Home

CROWDED HOUSE began life in Melbourne as a three-member band consisting of one New Zealander and two Australians.

Crowded House

The membership has fluctuated over the years but the two constants are Neil Finn and Nick Seymour. Although they called it quits some years ago, there have been (and continue to be) reunion concerts, tours, albums and the like. You just can’t keep a good band down.

From their early success, they perform Better Be Home Soon.

♫ Crowded House - Better Be Home Soon

It’s always hard to categorise GREG BROWN.

Greg Brown

I’ve always thought of him as a poet who sings and plays. Indeed, one of his albums (his best in my opinion) is called “The Poet Game”. The first album of his I bought is called “Slant 6 Mind”, from which the song I’ve chosen is taken.Of course, since that first one I’ve done my best to root out all his other albums.

The song is Why Don't You Just Go Home.

♫ Greg Brown - Why Don't You Just Go Home

Keeping it in the family, here is Greg’s wife, IRIS DEMENT.

Iris Dement

Iris is a terrific singer and songwriter in her own right, but today she performs one of Greg’s songs: The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home. It’s from a tribute album for Greg.

I’m quite ambivalent about tribute albums for people who are still alive and performing. I guess it makes someone some money for someone.

♫ Iris DeMent - The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home

I first discovered HERB PEDERSEN when he was a member of the Dillards.

Herb Pedersen

After he went solo, he recorded a couple of really terrific albums. Later he teamed up with Chris Hillman, from The Byrds, first as the group The Desert Rose Band, and later just the two of them as an acoustic duo. From Herb’s album “Southwest” here is Harvest Home.

♫ Herb Pedersen - Harvest Home

What a loss to the music business it was when LEON REDBONE died recently.

Leon Redbone

Fortunately, we still have his records. One of those is called “Long Way From Home” which fits right into our category today. From that we have Sweet Mama Hurry Home or I'll Be Gone, written by Jimmie Rodgers, which we could have guessed by the bit of yodeling in the middle.

♫ Leon Redbone - Sweet Mama Hurry Home or I'll Be Gone

Going back some years, at least as far as the performer is concerned, we encounter BING CROSBY.

Bing Crosby

You could pretty well guarantee he’d be present today, given the topic. Bing always projected himself as a home-loving family man, even if the reality was at odds with that. Today it doesn’t matter, it’s the song that counts, When My Dreamboat Comes Home.

♫ Bing Crosby - When My Dreamboat Comes Home

If they made a film of MARY GAUTHIER’s life, critics would dismiss it as too unbelievable and over the top.

Mary Gauthier

However, it’s her life but I’m not going to try to précis it as I couldn’t do it justice. After some of the things she went through, she turned to songwriting and singing at age 35. Mary hasn’t looked back and has garnered many awards since then. From her album “Trouble & Love”, this is Walking Each Other Home.

♫ Mary Gauthier - Walking Each Other Home

After he recorded a great half album called “Super Session” with Mike Bloomfield (the other half wasn’t bad), AL KOOPER decided to do something similar – that is a jam album in rock style, just as jazz players had done for years.

For this one called “Kooper Session” he employed guitarist SHUGGIE OTIS, son of the band leader Johnnie Otis.

Al Kooper & Shuggie Otis

I’ve selected the song Lookin' for a Home. Shuggie is really some guitarist, and you should know that when he recorded this, he was only 15 years old.

I’m sure when you listen to it you’ll probably think, “Oh that’s a pleasant enough soulish song. Why is he talking up Shuggie because he’s only playing some okay rhythm guitar?”

Then about half way through, Shuggie cuts loose. Remember he was 15. It’s a shame they faded the track, I would have liked to have heard more of it.

♫ Al Kooper & Shuggie Otis - Lookin' for a Home