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August 2020

ELDER MUSIC: Together at Home 4

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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We are all still locked up at home (okay, maybe we can get out for various things, but still). I really want to thank these and other musicians who make this a bit less grim.

Several of the DOOBIE BROTHERS reunite (virtually) to perform their most famous song, and one that’s really appropriate for this column Listen to the Music.


Alas, we can’t have John Lennon performing his most famous (solo) song. In his place here is STEPHEN RIDLEY. Stephen performs Imagine (and bits of other songs) in a (nearly) deserted London railway station. This piano has been used for many musical videos from back when people could congregate.


Here is a video I had originally had in the first of these columns. It got the flick when I found other songs by both these performers. It’s still worth a listen. It’s by BRIAN MAY (guitarist from Queen, of course) and SHUBA. They perform a Queen song, written by Freddie Mercury and first performed by him, Love of My Life.


The CELLISTS OF THE SEATTLE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA could easily have fitted into the classical version of “Together at Home”, but that was full, so I decided to include them here. It’s one of J.S. Bach’s most famous tunes, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, from his cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147”.


PAUL KELLY is one of the world’s finest singer/songwriters. Here he is with JESS HITCHCOCK. Jess is an up and coming singer, if you can call 10 years as a singer, songwriter, teacher, backing singer, composer as “up and coming”. Together they perform one of Paul’s songs, Every Day my Mother’s Voice.


It was JOHN FOGERTY who was my inspiration to produce these columns in the first place – his were the first of these videos I found. He performs with his kids, a daughter who usually plays guitar, but she’s playing drums on this clip, and two sons who play bass and guitar. Not to forget the family dog.

That means today’s instrumentation matches that of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Here’s the Fogerty family with Tombstone Shadow. This might be the best garage band ever.


IAN MOSS was the guitarist and one of the songwriters for iconic Australian rock group Cold Chisel. JIMMY BARNES was the charismatic singer for the group whose vocal style made Joe Cocker sound like Pavarotti.

On this clip there are some others, including Jimmy’s daughter Mahalia Barnes singing harmony. The song is When the War is Over.


DELTA GOODREM is often described as “The Voice of Australia”. It’s a pity she’s not widely known elsewhere so I’ll do my little bit to help that along. She performs the quintessential Australian song Down Under, first performed and written by Men at Work.


Speaking of Men at Work, here is the main man from that group, COLIN HAY. He’s a solo performer these days, although he often calls on a couple of friends to join him. He does that today when he performs the song Ringo Starr made popular, Photograph. Ringo knew what he was talking about as he was a photographer of some note.


Hands up all those who don’t remember PETER FRAMPTON from the seventies. Okay, a few of you, but back then he was everywhere with one of the biggest albums of all time. You know the one, at least those who didn’t put their hands up. Here’s another Ringo song, It Don’t Come Easy.


KRISTEN MOSCA channels Scott Joplin with her tune, Quarantine Rag. She says that it’s her first original rag, and based on the way it sounds, she has a real future in this genre. Scott is smiling down on her and the rest of us.


I was going to end there but thanks to Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, I found this one, and it’s an appropriate way to end. Here is ARLO GUTHRIE performing the old Stephen Foster song, Hard Times Come Again No More.

Arlo has the help of Jim Wilson on piano, Vanessa Bryan as co-lead singer, the great Stanley Clarke playing bass, a terrific choir and others who are mentioned at the end of the video. It’s amazing how relevant a 160-plus year old song can be.


INTERESTING STUFF – 19 September 2020

WORKERS WHO ARE BEST AT THEIR JOBS

It's amazing skill but also speed – really, really fast.

FAMED RETAILERS THAT HAVE FALLEN INTO BANKRUPTCY

More than 20 iconic retailers that have filed for Chapter 11 perotection this year of the pandemic. It's also a list of stores that have defined the lifetimes of most of the people who read this blog. In no particular order, some of them are:

Lord & Taylor
Brooks Brothers
J.C. Penney
Neiman Marcus
Pier 1
Gold's Gym
Hertz
Dean & Deluca

See the rest of the list and read more at AARP.

ECLIPSE THE BUS-RIDING DOG

From the Youtube page:

”Eclipse, a black Labrador retriever, loves going to the dog park with her human, Jeff. They usually take the city bus together, but one day Eclipse got impatient and decided to hop on by herself..."

Watch the full story:

FLU SHOT REMINDER

It has never been more important than in this year of pandemic to get a flu shot. They have been available for about a month and I got mine – the version that is specifically for old people – a couple of weeks ago.

If your health care provider is Medicare, the shot is free. Well, except for me and others like me. For some reason, the physician or pharmacy or other health care provider who administers the shot is not reimbursed if the patient is in hospice. So it cost me $82.69.

More information at Medicare.gov.

COMEDY WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS – FINALISTS

The finalists are in for the 2020 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. Here are three of them:

FunnyWildlifePhotos1

FunnyWildlifePhotos3

FunnyWildlifePhotos2

You can see all of the nominees here.

And you can vote for your favorite here. The winner will be announced on 22 October.

WHERE CORK COMES FROM

It wasn't until a work trip to Spain in 1988 that I had the slightest idea where cork comes from. A local explained it to me as we drove through a cork farm.

This video, about cork growing in Portugal not only explains it, but shows how it is done.

HOW TO VOTE BY MAIL IN EVERY U.S. STATE

Presidential voting season is almost upon us and many more states than in the past are allowing a form of vote-by-mail. Links are here for deadlines and other information in every U.S. State.

WATCHING HOW BEN AND JERRY'S ICE CREAM IS MADE

Me? I'm a Haagan Dazs person but that doesn't make other brands less good and the manufacturing process is probably similar. This video was made at a Ben and Jerry's factory in Vermont.

BIRD BATH IN THE HANDS OF BIG GUY

According to Big Geek Daddy,

”Birds are attracted to running water so I can imagine that this might not be as difficult as it seems but it’s still pretty spectacular to watch.

“If you love to watch birds in your yard get rid of the traditional bird bath and get one that has flowing water. You’ll be amazed at how many more birds the running water will attract.”

But the running water isn't the real surprise. It's at the end when the camera shows us the big, burly guy who's helping out the teeny-tiny bird.

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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.


The Alex and Ronni Show and a Short Amount of One Other Thing

Thanks to my hospice team – nurse, social worker, spiritual adviser – and my palliative care specialist, I feel safe and well taken care of. Each one of them is dedicated, smart, resourceful, likable and always there when I need them.

But sometimes it's out of their hands.

There is nothing they can do about my horrible night's sleep and today (Thursday as I write this) I am bone-tired, angry, ill-tempered, bilious, cantankerous and ornery.

It's so bad I can't even stand myself.

That's it. That's all I've got for you today. Except for this week's Alex and Ronni Show recorded on Wednesday.


Stumbling Along Toward an Ending

In the time I have been writing here about my approaching demise [counting from the Whipple surgery, it is more than three years] I have felt a need to be upbeat and positive about it in these pages.

The source of this pressure is more confusion than mystery. It is a natural bent of mine to seek the bright side in everything from disappointment to catastrophe. But no doubt I am also influenced by reader input that often favors pluck and fortitude in facing the inevitable destruction that is our mutual fate.

In addition, I am a realist. I do not engage in impossible fantasy as our president does and neither do I ignore difficulties. Most of the time I deal with issues head on and work them out as much as is necessary in the moment, sometimes leaving harder aspects for later.

Well, later has arrived and the truth is, it's not so easy now being my old perky self. The odd thing is that it's not about death itself that has me down some days. It's the deterioration on my way to the end.

Remember a week ago when I wrote about how I look like the Rodin sculpture of The Old Courtesan first thing in the morning? That's just the beginning of the day.

Maybe it's the “worst air in the world” in my neck of the woods due to the wildfires, but when I stand up first thing in the morning now, I can barely breathe. I was doing fine lying down and sitting, but not on my feet so I head (slowly) straight for the oxygen concentrator and plug myself in.

Who knew brushing one's teeth could be such an energy drain. Or walking to the kitchen or measuring out the coffee.

Actually, pretty much everything can take my breath away – in the literal, not exhilarating sense.

I gave up making my bed a few months ago and as of this week, I have hired a cleaning service because it is no longer a matter of taking three rest periods to change the bed; it's that I cannot do it at all. Nor can I push the vacuum cleaner anymore.

Taking out the trash is hard too. It's amazing how heavy those under-the-counter kitchen bags can get so I've taught myself to fill them only halfway before taking them out. Now I have taken to putting them in the car, which is closer to my apartment, and drive the 100 feet to the trash and recycling bins.

At first, I felt stupid making that short drive. Now it is a necessity.

Washing dishes, once a boring chore to me, has become one bright spot among all the stuff that exhausts me. It is the one thing left (aside from sitting) that I can easily do without losing my breath.

Even though I took care of my mother 24/7 during the four or five months she was dying and watched her become weaker day by day, I had no idea it would someday be so hard for me to do the household chores I took for granted for more than 70 years. Or, I suppose, I just didn't apply such decline to myself.

In healthy midlife, I think we can't imagine that we will ever become weak and tired and dependent. Oh, all right, make that “I couldn't imagine it when I was in midlife.” Maybe you knew better than I did.

Did I mention that even bending over is almost beyond my capability now? Do you remember that old joke about the old man who knelt down to get something off the floor and said to himself, “I wonder what else I can do while I'm down here?”

That's me now. Actually, it is not a matter of what more I can do. It's that I'll be heaving for breath for four or five minutes after the two seconds it takes me to retrieve a dropped pencil. I try to hang on tight to things now.

My long-winded point today is that the growing impediments to the simple way of life I have nowadays leaves me tired, weak and then dejected, asking myself, why not use those end-of-life drugs right now?

It's a good question. Except. Except. Another thing I didn't know in my mid-years is how strongly life insists on coursing through a body even as damaged as mine is now. A night's sleep (when I can get it) coupled with coffee and the nebulizer puts things right for a few hours and once again, I cannot imagine not being here.

Last week I discussed some of all this with my palliative care provider in a video call. That day, I was also lamenting that using the end-of-life drugs when the time comes deprives me of the final act of life I had wanted so much and we had previously discussed: to experience in my last moments what death is like.

As he often does, he had a good answer for me. Explaining that death doesn't happen all at once, but over a period of time, perhaps I could transfer that desire for knowing the last moments into tracking my physical and emotional transition to the day when I decide it is time for those drugs. To shadow myself down that road.

That surely animated me and made the hard stuff I'm going through worth the effort – for now or for as long as it does. And sometimes I'll tell you about it here.

There I go again, finding the bright side.


A TGB READER STORY: Memory of a Summer Day

By Janet from Minnesota

On this beautiful summer day, my heart is filled with memories of a lady I used to know. It makes sense that I use the word lady because it implies a gentle manner and is a word that seems to embody who and how she was.

I think we must have met long before my first recollection of her. Nevertheless, the first time she appears in my memory is on a summer afternoon. Her white-grey hair is carefully combed, as always, and she’s wearing one of her floral cotton summer dresses. The pink and white one, I think it was.

She’s standing in the doorway of her tidy little house holding the door open for us, smiling and chattering cheerfully. We would come to repeat this ritual many times over several summers, but that first time and how she looked on that day has stayed with me for all these years.

She always seemed genuinely happy to see us, greeting my mom with a big smile. “Oh, Patsy, how are you? Come on in. Look at all these nice kids. Oh, and here’s my little Jeanne!”

My mom and I and some of my siblings had made the two or three mile walk to her house - an easy trek because it was all downhill (and because I didn’t have a toddler to pick up and carry every so often like my mom did).

After taking our shoes off at the door, we respectfully made our way into her house. It was a curious place to me, simply decorated with old fashioned furniture and knickknacks.

I remember a figurine that sat on a small table by her green and gold lamp. It was of a woman with a fancy hat and gloves and a very glamorous smile painted across her porcelain face.

In the dining room was a corner shelf that held several elegantly flowered teacups with matching saucers. I can still see the bright colors and delicate handles of the teacups and how pretty they looked against the dark wood of the shelf.

I didn’t think about it then, but today I can imagine her placing each teacup in just the right spot and how she must have dusted them one by one, carefully returning them to their proper place on the shelf.

Her windows were always filled with plants. She was a prolific and gifted gardener; one of the many sweet things about her I didn’t truly appreciate until it no longer was.

I’m lucky after all these years to have vivid memories of her flower garden and of her walking gracefully in and out of the rows of beautiful flowers like a butterfly who didn’t want to miss out on a single one of them.

She was at home in the middle of all those flowers, chatting happily about which ones were doing well, which would bloom next and what colors they would be, stopping here and there to select just the right blossoms for a pretty and colorful bouquet to send home with my mom.

After a visit to her flower garden she would send us to the neighborhood store for vanilla ice cream. Carefully opening the ice cream carton from the side, she would slice the frozen treat like a loaf of bread; a thick, delicious square for each of us.

It was a special delight when raspberries were in season. Fresh from her garden, she’d spoon them onto our ice cream in a most generous fashion, the bright red berries atop the sweet ice cream slices making my mouth water with anticipation. I’d be hard pressed to remember having a better treat before or since.

As I write this, my heart overflows with memories of this kind, sweet lady - too many and too tender to write about in one sitting. So just for now, on this beautiful summer day, I will remember her the way she was on those summer days of long ago, greeting us with a smile, making sure our visit was pleasant and special the way a gracious hostess does, and sending us off with more smiles, happy chatter, some homemade raspberry jam, and of course, a bouquet of beautiful flowers. Here’s to the precious memory of you, my dear Aunt Vickie.

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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.]


Random Thoughts on Daily Life While Old

WILD FIRE UPDATE: Fires continued over the weekend producing in my neck of the woods the worst air quality in the entire world, they said. Even healthy people – those without such lung disease as I have and who are young – were cautioned to remain indoors on Saturday and on Sunday.

None of the fires in my area have been contained but there is no imminent danger to my town. In fact, as I was writing this on Sunday afternoon, I received a fire alert that my town has been dropped from the Level 1 evacuation order to Level zero or normal.

Just in case, my bag is still packed and ready to go. The weather people say we may have rain tonight or tomorrow or the next day. If so, that should help the fire fighters.

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Today's post is a few short takes on some thoughts and ideas I would like to develop further but haven't mustered the concentration to do so yet. Or, more likely, am just too lazy to get the work done right now.

DIVERSITY
Since the summer of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, there has been a lot of talk in public conversation and in polls about diversity indicating support for including more people of color, ethnicity and gender.

That is a good thing but I wonder why diversity discussions don't include old people.

LOOKING BACK ON NEARLY 80 YEARS OF LIFE
Being in hospice is a pretty clear indication that my life is on the wane. Nevertheless, I have spent little if any time casting a backward glance over the life I have lived.

Certain episodes come up but they don't linger and when I have tried now and then to find a thread runs through my years, nothing comes to mind. Even so, in general I feel that I have had a good life. Perhaps it is that I have lived as singer Elton John once said he had:

“If you let things happen, that's a magical life.”

That's how it has worked for me. I never had a plan, I just followed my nose from one day to the next, one month and one year to the next. What about you?

THE ESSENCE OF LATE LIFE
If you have a serious disease or two, as I do, daily life gets reduced to its essentials: rest, meals, medications with remaining time devoted to one's individual kinds of pleasures of old age.

I've made a schedule for myself. Medications at certain times of the day, cooking and cleaning up at other, mostly specific times, resting for awhile two or three times a day, moving slowly due to breathing difficulties for such chores at getting the mail, taking out the trash, doing the laundry.

The trick is to leave large enough chunks of time to answer email, do some research, write a blog post or two and include some pleasure reading.

One night of poor sleep and it's all gone to hell. Then it's two days until old age normal routine returns. Surprises are not among my joys these days.


ELDER MUSIC: ...and Poor

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

* * *

We’ve been rich, just last week, and now we’re poor. I don’t know what happened, something to do with the economy, I imagine. Today we have the poor songs.

I’ll start with the poor boy who became very rich indeed, ELVIS.

Elvis

Elvis performed the song Poor Boy in his first film, Love Me Tender. Unlike later films, there weren’t enough songs to release them as a soundtrack album. Instead they were released as an EP (remember EPs?).

Neither the song nor the EP went to the top of the charts. That was about the last time that happened with Elvis. The song is Poor Boy.

♫ Elvis - Poor Boy


JOHNNY RIVERS isn’t as well known today as many of his ilk.

Johnny Rivers

He had several chart topping songs in the sixties and seventies and also wrote a bunch of really good songs. One of those is Poor Side of Town that was covered by Mel Tormé and Ray Charles amongst others.

♫ Johnny Rivers - Poor Side of Town


On his “John Wesley Harding” album, Bob Dylan had a song called I Pity the Poor Immigrant. JUDY COLLINS recorded that same song, but truncated the title to Poor Immigrant.

Judy Collins

This was from her album “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”, probably the most country sounding of hers, but not really a country record.

♫ Judy Collins - Poor Immigrant


CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL didn’t get the respect of some of their colleagues when they were first popular.

Creedence

That was probably because they produced well-crafted songs that the general public really liked, and bought by the millions. However, time is the great arbiter and their songs are still admired and loved today, unlike the 20 minute noodlings their original critics used to indulge in.

Their song is Down on the Corner, which is about Willy and the Poor Boys, from the album that shares that name.

♫ Creedence Clearwater Revival - Down On The Corner


The EVERLY BROTHERS sing an absolute tale of woe about their girlfriend.

Everly Brothers

It seems that our lads took Jenny to a party that got out of hand. She was assaulted, the cops were called, they left her in the lurch and Poor Jenny was banged up in the clink. They don’t seem very contrite; I don’t think this relationship will continue.

♫ Everly Brothers - Poor Jenny


From around about the same time, there’s no mistaking LITTLE RICHARD on this song.

Little Richard

However, it isn’t one of his usual frantic songs. Well, not entirely. It’s a mid-tempo (for him) song called Poor Boy Paul.

♫ Little Richard - Poor Boy Paul


There’s probably an interesting story behind GORDON LIGHTFOOT’s contribution today. That’s because with Gordie there’s always a story that leads to his songs.

Gordon Lightfoot

This one is called Poor Little Allison.

♫ Gordon Lightfoot - Poor Little Allison


Linda Ronstadt had a huge hit with the song Poor, Poor Pitiful Me. This was written by WARREN ZEVON and he recorded it first.

Warren Zevon1

This was from his early self-titled album that had many of his best songs on, many covered by Linda (and other lesser musicians). Here’s what Warren makes of it.

♫ Warren Zevon - Poor Poor Pitiful Me


VAN MORRISON teams up with TAJ MAHAL on an album where Van rerecords some of his songs helped by other singers.

Van Morrison & Taj Mahal

That album is called “Duets - Re-Working the Catalogue”, a fairly obvious title for such an endeavour. Of course, anything by Van is worth the cost, and if we have Taj along as well, that’s a bonus. They perform How Can a Poor Boy.

♫ Van Morrison - How Can a Poor Boy


I always liked RICKY NELSON. I still do.

Ricky Nelson

He had the advantage over other similar performers early on in that he was on television each week, always ending the program with a song. An added bonus was that he had the best lead guitarist around at the time, James Burton, playing for him. Here’s Ricky with Poor Little Fool, written by Sharon Sheeley.

♫ Ricky Nelson - Poor Little Fool


I’ll go out with a blaze of glory with the lesser known and underappreciated blues man JOHN PRIMER.

John Primer

Before going out on his own, John was a guitarist for the great Muddy Waters. You really had to be good to get that gig as Muddy could get anyone he wanted by the time that John played with him. Here’s John with Poor Man Blues.

♫ John Primer - Poor Man Blues


INTERESTING STUFF – 12 September 2020

UPDATE ON OREGON WILD FIRES: So far there has been no order to evacuate but I was busy Friday packing so today's Interesting Stuff seems a bit short.

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SURPRISE OPERA IN A SCHOOL LUNCH ROOM

TGB reader Ali in Seattle sent this great surprise at a Buckinghamshire primary school where an impromptu Opera was staged in the canteen one lunch time.

“Four secret opera singers, disguised as canteen staff, broke into song bringing the room to a standstill with a rousing medley of the Italian classics by Verdi, Puccini and Rossini.

“From soaring soprano to booming baritone, the singers’ stunning performance thrilled the unsuspecting school children whose shocked and surprised reactions were captured on camera by a six strong film crew behind the scenes.”

RIDING A 115-FOOT WAVE

I never even tried to learn how to surf and I am undoubtedly too old to start now but this sure looks exciting. TGB reader Mary Evans Young sent it.

You can find out more about the surfer and his ride here.

AS WE GET OLDER WE TEND TO FORGET THINGS

From Ali in Seattle.

As we get older...

RARE WHITE DEER

This is another from Mary Evans Young. What a magical creature.

You can read about this deer and some other animal rarities here.

WINDOW-SWAP

This is so much fun – windows of places from all around the world. Each video is about 10 minutes long. If you're tired of the view from you own window, it is an interesting respite.

Take a look here. Just click on the image for a new window. The location is in the upper right corner of each frame.

Read more about the website at The Verge and maybe record your own video out your window and upload it.

ONLY A HARMONICA

I promise you never heard a harmonica player like Buddy Greene. Joan McMullin sent this video and the location appears to me to be Carnegie Hall.

There is a whole lot more of Buddy Greene on YouTube.

YOUR CLICK OF ZEN

That headline is what an Oregon Public Broadcasting email called the link to this video of eight or 10 of the most gorgeous insects flying in slow motion while a scientist explains. And it certainly is a lovely few moments of Zen.

ANONYMOUSE

Some years ago I featured Anonymouse here and it's worth doing again. Huffpost published a recent story about the creators, explaining that they are

”A secret group of creatives from Malmö in southern Sweden [who sneak] stunning miniature installations for mice into public spaces in the dead of night.

“The clandestine collective ― called Anonymouse ― incorporates everyday objects into its painstaking recreations, using matchboxes for desks and postage stamps for paintings.

“The group has installed 25 pieces, mostly in cellar windows, in its home city, across Sweden, in France and on the Isle of Man.”

Take a look at this video:

Read more at HuffPost where there are still shots of the interiors of several of the installations.

* * *

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.


Blog Housekeeping: What's Not Allowed Here

UPDATE AT 10:20AM PDT: OREGON WILDFIRES
Several readers have asked how I am doing in regard to the Oregon wildfires. Short answer? I'm freaking out.

Longer answer: The air here is awful and the sky is some ugly color for which there is no name.

In Lake Oswego, we are at a level 1 evacuation order which is the lowest and means pack up while you've got the time. (Level 2 means to pack up and be ready to leave at a moment's notice. Level 3 is leave now, no foolin' around.)

Did I mention I'm freaking out? Well, as much as a person who can't climb a single flight of stairs without stopping three times to catch her breath can freak out.

I'm half packed and as soon as I finish this blog note I'll get back to it. My wonderful neighbor Judy will drive and she has it all planned about where we will go. There is no expressing how grateful I am to her.

Here is the thing – if I had any doubts, I know for sure that I am old now and big surprises all but paralyze me. Yesterday, Judy dropped off a list of what to pack in such a situation as ours that she had printed off the internet and she did it just when I was trying to sort out that particular question.

I perfectly well know how to search the internet for such information. I've been doing that every day for 40 years. But while I dithered yesterday before she arrived, it hadn't occurred to me. I consider that the sign that I am officially old now in every way, dependent on others to think for me - at least in new situations.

Have I mentioned that I am freaked out? If my home burns down, I have nowhere to go. Worse, my mind simply will not pay attention to that question. Just call me Scarlett O'Hara on this point.

* * *

Am I really expected to tolerate a certain type of Christian who feels entitled to publicly hector, lecture and threaten with damnation everyone who does not believe in his or her god?

I think not.

Before I go further, let me congratulate the TGB readers who either responded with restraint to or ignored the recent comment intruder spewing irate Bible talk at what she perceives as heresy. You did better than I would have, or will today.

What is it about some kinds of Christians? You know the type: they are always angry, usually snide and seem eager for those who do not toe their particular line of religiosity to roast in hell.

They talk a lot about love but show not an iota of it to those who believe differently from them.

This one, Sue by name, jumped in on 2 September's story about Canada's ruling on psylocybin use, advocating scripture instead of mushrooms because “psycho-drugs are known to open portals - that need to stay shut.”

Oh lordy, look out for those open portals because – what? Monsters will crawl out? That is what she implied in a response that same day to Celia Andrews, some nonsense about “the use of these to open the third eye portal? Yikes.”

What is in that portal, do you think, that is so terrible and why don't those of us who have used psychedelics know what it is or been dragged down into the primordial swamp?

Sue had something to say, too, on Tuesday's Reader Story by Carole Leskin about faith in a time of horrific, worldwide upheaval.

I had argued with myself about publishing it. There have been troubles with a few religious comment trolls here in the past and I have always had to shut them down.

But Carole's story is not overtly religious, she does not solicit belief in whatever her god is and leaves plenty of room for non-believers or other-believers to think about faith without defining it by her values.

Nevertheless, there was Sue:

”Faith. And i thought there'd be atleast a phrase about whatever happens, the Lord is sovereign and or something along the lines that it's the grace of the Lord Jesus that's getting me through the drama. Shoulda realized the posts would be all about (temporal) salvation by ones own works.”

Besides being offensive, Sue appears to be unaware there are other definitions of faith beyond the religious.

On Wednesday's post about the two lovely children's books, Sue was back to warning of the godly wrath to be rained down upon anyone who does not believe in Jesus.

And with that, Time Goes By is done with Sue. Without notice or recourse, she has been permanently banned.

It makes no difference to me what religious beliefs people hold as long as they do not impinge on anyone else's freedoms and in the case of this blog, they do not disrupt the conversation.

You see, the thing about Time Goes By is that there is a great, good group of smart, interesting, knowledgeable people who take the time and make the effort to comment on the day's topic with original thoughts and ideas that I always look forward to reading.

So I'll be damned (yes, I chose that word purposefully) if I'll let a disruptive, little pissant spew her religious venom. That's not allowed here.


Two Children's Books About Death

It might not surprise you to know that I think about death these days. More than sometimes, less than every day, but not infrequently.

Actually, that has always been so – that I think about dying. Maybe not as pointedly as now that it is almost close enough to touch but it has shadowed me for all my years. Maybe yours too.

For most of my life such thoughts were accompanied by heart-pounding fear and for two or three decades, I pretended I was the one immortal. You would die, but not I.

Of course, such fantasy is unsustainable past middle age even without a terrible disease. Psilocybin late in 2017 smoothed out the rough edges of my dread. (It really does do that).

Or, perhaps living with a terminal illness for three years now one comes to think of death as a not unfriendly visitor – even, at times, a companion.

There's a book about that – about death being a not unfriendly visitor. Cry Heart, But Never Break is classified as a children's book but as with many of them, writing for children sometimes seems to be a way of reaching adults more easily.

I had given my original copy to a friend with a young daughter but recently realized I want to read it again (and, probably, again etc.) so I tracked down another copy online. (Not so easy these days; it is often out of stock.)

It seems to be about how to say goodbye to loved ones who die – and it is that. But it is also reassuring to the one doing the dying (to me, anyway). It is written by Danish children's author, Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Danish artist, Charlotte Pardi.

Here is a reading of the book I found on YouTube:

Of course, death in inextricably linked with life along with the reverse, and The Fall of Freddy the Leaf makes that clear. It is written by the late Dr. Leo Buscaglia who died in 1998.

A friend dismissed Freddy the Leaf as sappy and unoriginal. But you know, death itself is unoriginal – it happens to all of us, even planet Earth itself eventually, and in my current predicament, I find it soothing to read.

Here is a lovely and well-done reading of The Fall of Freddy the Leaf from YouTube:


A TGB READER STORY: When Faith Is What I Need Most

By Carole Leskin

I tried to write something to post today. Something sweet, gentle, funny, or hopeful. But I could not.

Today all I could do was sit and grieve. Overwhelmed. Where am I? What is happening to the imperfect, but basically kind country I knew? Cities and even towns all over the US are burning, looted and destroyed. The military are being used to disperse peaceful protesters. George Floyd is murdered and four policemen, the people who take the oath to stand and protect, are accused.

A Central Park bird watcher is reported to the police. More than 100,000 people are dead from COVID-19 with more every day, as the necessary supplies to help treat it are still not fully deployed.The pandemic rages on.

The number of people unemployed is as great as during the Depression. We cannot get close to people. We wear masks. Our loved ones die alone and have no funerals. Social distancing, a necessity, has become painful isolation, and depression and suicide is a daily occurrence.

The list could easily be longer - but this is enough. And so, many of us spend our time inside and afraid.

There is a terrible irony in what has become the slogan we hear chanted and see on placards everywhere as protesters by the thousands march day after day. Not since the 1960s have we seen anything like it.

"I CAN'T BREATHE!”

George Floyd's dying words. But also one of the last things people of all ages, colors, religions, genders say as they die from covid19. The same can be said by people where air and water pollution is once again killing our environment. And when peaceful protestors are dispersed by gas. There is more - but you all know examples.

The murder of George Floyd has become more than a chant decrying racism and police brutality. It is the cry of the people of the United States - once thought to be the greatest nation on Earth - the slogan for so many in 2020.

I turn to the place - the only place - where I find comfort. Faith.

It's not that I believe G_d can miraculously solve all of this distress. For me, Faith means that there is hope. It asks me to wake up each morning and consider how I might be helpful. Sometimes, Faith is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.

It encourages me to get on with life as best I can, recognizing it is a gift, and knowing that good people are everywhere. Faith is purpose. Faith is potential. Faith is possibility. But it is up to me to do more than pray for help. What happens daily is my responsibility. There are days when I fail.

Somehow, I am still often optimistic. And that, I believe, is Faith.

* * *

[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.]


Elder Bodies (Again)

Thanks to the advance of my two diseases – cancer and COPD – I am a great deal slower these days than I was just a few months ago.

Recently, after I wake in the morning, I have found myself sitting on the edge of my bed for quite awhile – three or four or five minutes or so. It is not that I am worn out from getting into an upright position or that I am thinking about anything, it is – well, I can't tell you why. I don't know.

But one day last week, as I sat there, it occurred to me that had anyone been watching, I would appear much like Auguste Rodin's sculpture of The Old Courtesan (La Belle qui fut heaulmière):

707px-The_Old_Courtesan_(La_Belle_qui_fut_heaulmière)_MET_11398

So, on that morning, I took a good look at myself in the full length mirror and saw that I wasn't far off in my comparison. In fact, she is even in nearly the same position as I had been sitting on the side of the bed looking down - at nothing really.

The image of the courtesan and my reflection in the mirror stuck with me that morning. Surely many, maybe most people would find the courtesan – and, therefore, me – to be ugly. But I don't.

Part of what was rolling around in my head is how interesting the old courtesan is and how many times I had sought her out when I visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art during the years I lived in New York City.

I was younger in those days and recall wondering if she presaged my eventual appearance. Now I know: our bodies are nearly twins and for some reason I'm rather pleased with that.

Here is the text from the page for The Old Courtesan on the Metropolitan Museum's website:

”Incorporated into the left pilaster on The Gates of Hell, the withered old woman evoked a moral connection between sin and the ravages of time. The harrowing veracity of the independent sculpture accords with a statement of Rodin’s: 'Character is the intense truth of any natural [sight], beautiful or ugly.'”

Yes. I'll take intense truth any time.

I was going to have some more to say in this post about our culture's insistence on youth as the ideal of beauty. Then I recalled that I had written about this back in 2013, and it holds up rather well. So I will just link and you can follow if you wish. Here are How to Accept Our Aging Bodies Part 1 and Part 2.


ELDER MUSIC: Rich

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

* * *

We have a couple of columns about rich and poor. Today it’s rich songs. I imagine that most people would prefer to be rich but alas, most people don’t get to be that way. We can appreciate rich songs though.

SAFFIRE, THE UPPITY BLUES WOMEN hung up their guitars, pianos and basses in 2009.

Saffire

Unfortunately, they won’t be getting back together as founder member Ann Rabson has since died. We still have their records though and really good ones they are too. To kick off the rich list here they are performing The Richest Guy In The Graveyard.

♫ Saffire The Uppity Blues Women - The Richest Guy In The Graveyard


Here is an old song by TONY BENNETT and it’s one of his biggest hits.

Tony Bennett

Given the topic most of you will figure out that the song is Rags to Riches. The young Tony’s voice was in terrific shape when he recorded this one.

♫ Tony Bennett - Rags To Riches


The next song was written by Mississippi John Hurt, and he does a fine version of it. However, I think it should be performed by a woman, and the one I have in mind is MARIA MULDAUR.

Maria Muldaur

John had a really lovely laid-back style of guitar playing and Maria employed her old friend John Sebastian to emulate him on her record. This is one of my favourite of Maria songs that’s not on her first two albums.

Mississippi John called his song variously Rich Woman Blues or Richland Woman Blues. Maria used the latter name.

♫ Maria Muldaur - Richland Woman Blues


The first song I thought of for this category is by DARYL HALL AND JOHN OATES.

Hall & Oates

It’s another big hit, one of their biggest. It’s also something of an earworm, or at least it is for me. See what you think, it’s Rich Girl.

♫ Hall & Oates - Rich Girl


During his lifetime there was not another cooler performer than TONY JOE WHITE.

Tony Joe White

He could entertain an audience with just his guitar and himself singing, I know because I’ve been there. Alas, he died a couple of years ago so you won’t be able to experience his magic if you haven’t already. There are still records though, and videos.

There were few more enjoyable performers than Tony Joe in my opinion. Let’s hear Rich Woman Blues.

♫ Tony Joe White - Rich Woman Blues


PATSY CLINE could have fitted in both rich and poor columns with her song. It was just a matter of how the songs panned out.

Patsy Cline

So, here she is trying to decide which one to go for. Listening to the song, I found that she thinks she’d go for poor, so perhaps I put her in the wrong category. It doesn’t matter, any appearance of Patsy is fine by me. A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold).

♫ Patsy Cline - A Poor Man's Roses (Or A Rich Man's Gold)


Many, many years ago I went to a one man show by Nehemiah Persoff. He talked about his life, his acting and many other things. It was an extraordinary performance.

He mentioned the stage show “Fiddler on the Roof”. If I Were a Rich Man was a song from the musical. I don’t have Nehemiah performing it (if he ever did). In his place I’ve found a rather good version by ANTHONY NEWLEY.

Anthony Newley

Anthony was the all round performer – singer (many of his songs hit the charts), songwriter (quite a few film scores), actor (more than 50 films) and writing plays, some of which he performed in.

I liked the line in the song that seems just relevant today: “It won’t make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong, when you’re rich, they think you really know.”

♫ Anthony Newley - If I Were a Rich Man


I mentioned above what a great live performer Tony Joe White was. In concert there was one that might just have been better. If any of you, like me, had the pleasure to see MARTY ROBBINS live you are blessed.

Marty Robbins

We all know what a fine singer he was, possibly the best in country music, but that’s not all he sang. He could do anything as far as I’m concerned. His contribution to today’s topic is Little Rich Girl.

♫ Marty Robbins - Little Rich Girl


THE BLACK SORROWS is the most successful of the several bands founded by Australia’s living national musical treasure, Joe Camilleri.

Black Sorrows

The Sorrows started as a reggae band but expanded to become a rhythm & blues, rock & roll and pop band. They could play anything really, with a bunch of superb musicians and singers. I’ll let you consider who The Richest Man in the World is.

♫ Black Sorrows - The Richest Man In The World


The DESERT ROSE BAND was essentially a vehicle for Herb Pederson (from The Dillards) and Chris Hillman (from The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers).

Desert Rose Band

These days they don’t even bother with the band, they perform as an acoustic duo, and mighty fine they are. However, back when they were still a band, here is For the Rich Man.

♫ Desert Rose Band - For the Rich Man


C. J. CHENIER is a zydeco musician; he plays the accordion and sings. He’s the son of the most famous zydeco accordionist, Clifton Chenier.

CJ Chenier

C.J. was brought up in Texas and was more into jazz and funk. Rebelling against his dad, I suspect. However, over time he absorbed his father’s music and became a master of that style of music, bringing his own musical influences into it. Here he performs Richest Man.

♫ C. J. Chenier - Richest Man


INTERESTING STUFF – 5 September 2020

THE MEANING OF “AMERICAN PIE”

There are people who dislike this song from 49 years ago. Others love it. I'm agnostic but I wish I could figure out why I know the complete lyric by heart.

We were talking about what Don McLean's most famous song means back in the day and some people still do. Here's one explanation from a few years ago found on YouTube.

IS WEATHER REALLY BECOMING MORE EXTREME?

Most of us know the difference between weather and climate but this video goes further than that to show us what is changing.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN IS 175 YEARS OLD

Scientific American is 175 years old this year, the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States.

Scientific American

Poynter reporter, Rick Edmonds, took a look at the magazine then and now as shown in its anniversary issue:

“One piece considers whether a hundred years of successes of drugs and vaccines bred complacency about controlling infectious diseases.

“Among the greatest-hits offerings was a tale of the 19th-century Scientific American editor who designed and built a demo of an air-driven subway — only to have it scuttled for political reasons by New York City’s Boss Tweed.”

You can read more about this venerable publication here.

HOW HIGH CAN BISQUIT GO?

Given the limits of life in a pandemic world, pretty much all of us are looking for ways to entertain ourselves. Here is what the grandchildren of TGB reader Ruth Johnson have been up to.

WHAT THE HECK IS MARIKO AOKI PHENOMENON

Leave it to the Mental Floss website to once again come up with something stranger than I could ever think of:

”In the mid-1980s, a woman named Mariko Aoki sent a letter to Japan’s Hon no Zasshi, or Book Magazine, explaining a puzzling condition: whenever Aoki entered a bookstore, her bowels suddenly seemed to leap to life.

“The magazine printed the letter in its February 1985 issue, and it soon became clear that Aoki wasn’t alone. Other readers mailed in letters detailing similar experiences...”

No one knows what causes this but there are many theories. There is even a lengthy Wikipedia page about the “Mariko Aoki phenomenon”.

The short version is at Mental Floss.

OTTER ESCAPES ORCA JUST IN TIME

The Youtube page explains,

”This is the dramatic moment a genius otter being chased by a killer whale hops onto a boat for safety with just seconds to spare. In the incredible footage, captured in Halibut Cove, Alaska, on Sunday July 26, [2020] the otter is first seen roughly 200 yds away from John Dornellas’ boat, swimming frantically as the orca follows.”

Take a look:

There is more information on the Youtube page.

SOME CREATIVE, EXTRA-CLEVER LIFE HACKS

Most lists of life hacks are pretty much the same but this collection really caught my eye. Here are three examples:

FaceMaskButtons

MessyDog

Reverse Hoodie

There are plenty more at Bored Panda.

BOUBOU PAINTS WITH WHATEVER HE GETS HIS HANDS ON

TGB reader Mary Evans Young sent this story about Senegalese artist BouBou Niang. Here is a short overview of his work.

As Deepak Mehla explains at awesomebyte.com,

”What tools does an artist use? Brushes and palettes, you’d say. But, do you know that Boubou Niang, who uses the sobriquet of Boubou Design, can paint with whatever he can lay his hands on & Not only this, but he can also draw with his eyes closed or standing behind the canvas!”

You can read more about BouBou at awesomebyte where there are half a dozen more short videos of him at work, and additional examples of his paintings on his Instagram page.

TAGGING BEARS IN CANADIAN WINTER

TGB reader Joan McMullen sent this video of Canadian comedian and satirist Rick Mercer tagging along on a winter bear-tagging trip.

This is a load of fun.

* * *

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.


Social Security Payroll Tax Deferral and The Alex and Ronni Show

Perhaps you have seen the news that President Donald Trump declared a Social Security payroll tax deferral through the end of 2020. It went into effect on 1 September which means the 6.2 percent of your pay that is normally withheld will show up in your paycheck.

However, that doesn't mean it is free money. You will be required to pay it back beginning 1 January 2021 when twice the 6.2 percent will be withheld to reimburse Social Security.

The employer half of the withholding remains in effect.

Of course, it is not as simple as I have explained. You see, participation is up to employers, many of whom have complained that it is too complicated to rearrange their systems for the deferral. Some others say they will delay implementing the deferral to take time to ask employees if they want to participate.

This causes additional difficulties, as CNBC explained:

”While it may be easy for a small shop with five employees to determine whether workers would be onboard with a deferral, larger firms with thousands of employees may ask each one whether they want to participate.

“In that sense, it may be easier for larger firms to either skip the deferral altogether or default all workers into it — as opposed to asking each employee what they want to do.”

Federal workers have no choice – they will have their payroll tax deferred.

As CNBC further points out, it would be wise for employees who opt in or whose employers do, to stash away the extra money so that the double-dipping to pay it back in January won't hurt so much.

In that case, obviously, the deferral makes no difference to employees, and it is, of course, useless to the 30-odd million unemployed Americans.

Which leaves one wondering what in the world the president was thinking when he dreamed up the deferral. Some fear his goal is to kill Social Security and according to Nancy Altman, that would be easier than you might think.

Altman, who has a 40-year background in the areas of Social Security and private pensions, is president of Social Security Works and Chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition and campaign, explains in a 1 September 2020 CNN piece how that could happen:

”According to estimates from the independent chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, if all Social Security contributions from payroll tax stopped on Jan. 1, 2021, the nearly 10 million people today getting Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, which averages about $1,125 every month, would see them stop abruptly in the middle of 2021.

“Those 55 million receiving Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance benefits, which average around $1,440 a month, would see them disappear two years later. Social Security would be without money to pay benefits by 2023 (Congress could only stop Trump by enacting veto-proof legislation, a highly unlikely proposition).

“Section 7508A of the Internal Revenue Code allows deferrals for up to one year, long enough to stop the disability insurance payments.

“Killing off the rest of Social Security takes two years longer, but a newly elected President Trump could interpret the statute to permit an additional 12-month deferral with the declaration of a new disaster.

“All benefits could be stopped with just two new disaster declarations. Concerningly, the Supreme Court has found that President Trump has 'broad discretion' in making findings.”

This is terrifying.

THE ALEX AND RONNI SHOW
My former husband, Alex Bennett, and I sat down for another cyber-chat from opposite ends of the country. Of course, Trump came up but we also discussed house cleaning, the virus, magic mushrooms and more.

You can check out Alex's online talk show here.


Canada Issues a Medical Exemption for End-of-Life Psylocybin Use

TGB reader Linda Burdick sent this story from Victoria, British Columbia.

After being diagnosed with incurable cancer, Canadian Laurie Brooks found herself living in a world of anxiety, grief and anger, reports Anna J. James in The Capitol. A trauma therapist friend introduced Brooks to “magic mushrooms” or psilocybin.

”Within ten minutes, Brooks felt relief from the weight of her incurable cancer. The stress and depression had lifted. But psilocybin is illegal in Canada under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act—and has been since 1974.”

(It's up to you but I would read that “ten minutes” part with a grain of salt. Having used magic mushrooms myself for a similar reason, I know it takes longer than that for one's stomach to digest the mushrooms and to feel the effects.)

After her successful use of psilocybin, Brooks worked with a Canadian non-profit organization, TheraPsil, becoming an advocate for the use of the drug in palliative care.

The group helped Brooks, now in remission, petition the Canadian government for an exemption from the law prohibiting the use of psilocybin except in research.

”On August 4, 100 days after submitting the petition, Brooks became one of four Canadians to receive approval from Minister of Health Patty Hajdu to treat end-of-life anxiety with psilocybin.”

That is hardly legalization and it benefits just those four people for now, but it is part of a small-ish trend toward government approval of psilocybin particularly in treatment for end-of-life anxieties.

In July, my U.S. state, Oregon, confirmed that a measure to allow use of psilocybin in a state-regulated environment had qualified to be on the ballot in November.

According to KGW.com, Initiative Petition 34, if passed by voters, will not go into effect for two years, and allows psilocybin to be used in the following manner:

Licenses requirements to provide psilocybin therapy, cultivate psilocybin or own a psilocybin service center

Each therapy recipient goes through a three-step therapy process that includes a screening for risk factors, a supervised therapy administration session and an evaluation afterward to discuss what was learned

Psilocybin can only be taken under supervision at a licensed service center

People cannot leave the center while under the influence of psilocybin

People cannot grow or take psilocybin in their homes

Washington D.C. residents will also be voting on psychedelics in November. Initiative 81, would go much further than Oregon's proposal by decriminalizing psychedelic plants and fungi.

If the measure is passed in D.C., that city will join Denver, Colorado, Santa Cruz, California, and Oakland, California, in recently decriminalizing psychedelic plants and fungi. You can read more about at Washington Post.

Keep in mind that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Decriminalization removes criminal sanctions but may still impose fines or other penalties. Legalization removes legal prohibitions against using a substance.

There is a growing body of evidence that psilocybin works well at reducing fear and anxiety involved with end of life issues. As explained in the KGW.com story,

”A five-year study conducted by New York University’s medical school, in which 29 cancer patients received a single dose of psilocybin or a placebo and nine psychotherapy sessions, found that psilocybin 'decreased cancer-related existential distress, increased spiritual wellbeing and quality of life, and was associated with improved attitudes towards death.'

“The study also found that more than half a year after treatment 'approximately 60–80% of participants continued with clinically significant reductions in depression or anxiety.'”

That's what I took, a single dose of psilocybin. You can read about that experience here and here.

What is important, I think, is that use of plants with psychedelic qualities are becoming acceptable and legal – however slow governments tend to work on such things.

From time to time I use cannabis to help me sleep longer than the three or four hours I get at night without help. It is legal in Oregon, available to any adult at local dispensaries. The “budmasters” behind the counter I have met all tell me that the majority of their customers are old people who use it for sleep or for various kinds of pain.

If psilocybin can help alleviate anxiety and fears of death as it did for me, I see no reason not to make it available. What do you think?


A TGB READER STORY: Topsy-Turvy

By Karpagam “Jeeks” Rajagopal

In these upside-down times,
the human touch, that
most ignored, essential sense
showing concern, and caring,
impossible to misinterpret -
because you can hide your eyes
behind opaque shades,
fake a smile,
mishear deliberately,
have a blocked nose, or be upwind
but you can’t touch gently or kindly
if you don’t feel it in you,
because fingers don’t lie -
has become the thing you yearn for.

A hug to say hello or goodbye,
a gentle touch to show understanding,
acceptance, sympathy or presence,
a celebratory high-five, a kiss on the cheek,
a reassuring pat on the shoulder,
wiping away another’s tears -
Human spontaneity gives way
To second thoughts and permission now.

People hesitate and back away
from the sin that is proximity.
A mask is suddenly political,
and courtesy, civility, and caring
are perceived as oppression,
and a violation of civil liberties.
I look up at the heavens
to help me understand
but Nature is mystified by
our disregard, pettiness, and greed.
The tree canopy is riven
into verdant islands separated
by the blue ribbon river of sky.
Yes, the world has been upended.

* * *

[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.]