ELDER MUSIC: Together at Home 4
A TGB READER STORY: Life Lessons at the Lunch Counter

Some More Blog Housekeeping

OREGON WILDFIRE UPDATE:
On Friday evening, the air quality where I live returned to “good”, the best ranking on the scale. It creeped up a few points on Saturday but still in the “good” range, remained there on Sunday and is there this morning.

That doesn't mean our terrifying air is done for the year. Some fires are still burning, there might be more, the wind can change. We live – all of us - on so many levels nowadays holding our breath. I haven't unpacked my go-bag.

* * *

Just over a week ago, I posted some blog housekeeping notes about disruptive comments a drive-by reader had left and explained why I banned that person from future commenting.

There will be no banning today. This housekeeping is of a more personal nature – all of you and me.

First: some readers have commented that they are amazed that given my diagnosis of cancer and COPD and that I am now in hospice, I still publish this blog on a regular schedule.

Well, yes, and that is because it is what I do. It is what I have been doing for more than 16 years. It gives shape and form to my days. I love writing this blog. I love trying to say just what it is I mean as truthfully and artfully as I can. And, sometimes I succeed.

It has been interesting these past three years making the style transition from mostly reporting on issues of interest and importance to elders, to a much more personal blog about what it is like to be dying, a topic that is all but taboo in our culture generally so it's not like there is anyone much I can crib from.

It took awhile to find my way but I think it's working fairly well now. I learn more about myself and this final journey during the effort to be as clear as I can be for you, TGB readers, but also from your responses and support.

You make me stronger, more resilient and therefore more capable of dealing with this ultimate fate of every living thing. Just so you know, I'm not nearly as brave as some of you have said. I just wake up each day and go forward within the limitations of this diseased, old body. I have no other answer for what to do than that.

Next: The number of reader emails has increased a lot over the past two or three months. As in the past, I try to answer each one if only, sometimes, with a thank you but it has now gone beyond my capability to keep up.

My stamina wanes week by week now so there is a decreasing number of useful hours in each day. You say the loveliest things but I wear out so easily even just sitting at the computer sometimes that I must cut back the time I spend here.

If you do not receive a return email, please understand that it is only the disease stealing my energy, not that I am dismissing or ignoring you. I read every note I receive.

Not infrequently, emails sound like they are meant for the comments section. I think this happens when subscribers click “reply” in the email they receive with the day's blog post, but those returns go only to me via email.

To comment for everyone to read, click the title of the story in the email. It will open in your browser where you can scroll down, click the word “comments” and add your message to the conversation in the box provided.

Next: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Some things happen at an awkward time for blog publication. Usually, I write blog stories the day before they are to be posted and in doing so, I can miss late-breaking news items.

Last Friday evening was one of those times. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death was announced after I had shut down the computer for the day.

I thought for a few moments I should rewrite Saturday's Interesting Stuff to include that news. But it was the end of my day, I was tired and decided it was such big news that no one needed to hear it from me.

Almost everyone who commented on Saturday mentioned Justice Ginsburg briefly. It is an enormous political event and to some of us, a personal one too.

So let's make some space here today for anyone or everyone who wants to, to talk about Ginsburg in the comments - the ramifications of an “instant” nomination from the president, how that might affect the election and whether anyone besides me doesn't believe a word Senator Susan Collins says about how she will vote about anything. And, of course, the wonderful Notorious RBG herself.

Comments

It makes me boil, inside, just considering the hypocrisy of the GOP senators who meekly follow along with any hypocritical thing that McConnell says/does. Bah! Humbug! I have long advocated term limits on ALL governmental positions, including the judiciary. I'm hoping that the Democrats win both houses and the presidency in a couple of months and that they take the opportunity to make judicial appointees serve for 15-20 years. No one, at the time of the writing of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, could have imagined the average longevity that we enjoy nowadays.

We owe so much to the intellect and actions of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I think of RBG each time I use my credit card - or - even, my name. I recall how I had to threaten legal action toward a company that had sent a credit card, for which I had applied, in my husband's name. This was in 1976, just after the federal law gave us women the right to obtain credit/make purchases in our own name. The state required that I use my husband's surname on legal documents in the 1950s and 1960s - until about 1976. I don't recall exactly how/when the change occurred, but I have used my own surname for over 40 years, now.

Cop Car...

I went through that credit card dance with banks when my husband and I broke up in the 1970s. I'd had a card as you describe with his name. Banks didn't want me to have a card on my own. I've forgotten now how it was finally resolved but I know it took a lot of months.

I do hope there are many others of you writing to senators on the judiciary committee to remind them of their words 2 or 4 years ago, and how we are counting on them to not be hypocrites (as if they give a rat's ass!).

I read the very long and wonderful obituary for Ginsburg in yesterday's New York Times. In it, I found some words that impressed me so much I copied them and will save them in my files. It was during her confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court and she was asked about abortion. She said this:

“This is something central to a woman’s life, to her dignity. It’s a decision that she must make for herself. And when government controls that decision for her, she’s being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

I remember the days when abortion was illegal, when young girls went off to "unwed mother's homes" to have their babies and immediately give them up--or had illegal abortions in unsafe conditions. By the time I had an unplanned pregnancy, abortion had been legalized and every option was open to me. It was an agonizing decision, but I was in my 30s at the time and had a good job with health insurance, so I decided to go through with it. My son is now grown up and married, and I have a granddaughter I adore.

The thing I learned from that experience is precisely what Ginsburg said. A womanmust make that decision for herself. No one can make it for her, ever. It is a difficult and lonely decision, but the government has no right to insert itself in the situation. To anti-abortion crusaders I say, act according to your own conscience and let everyone else do the same.


I love that you love what you do and keep on doing it. Thank you. Like everyone else, I am heartbroken about the death of RBG but her death has inspired me to keep on fighting her fight. Such incredible power in such a tiny body--it makes me smile every time I see a photo of her walking next to someone bigger than she is (and that's pretty much everyone). What a life. What a legacy.

Having a balanced Supreme Court is important. RBG was quite the woman of our times, just found out we are AEPhi (sorority) sisters, too. I thank her for helping to pave the way, and being such a force for all women. (heard a negative that she killed babies) well, if Church and State are separate, wish the people touting this realize that a women's right to choice is important, and back alley and wire hangers and arresting doctors and women for doing what could be life saving for the woman, in cases of rape, incest, and mental health should be available. All that baby saving, and then no health care, or help with child care, or education, well.
Thank you for keeping the blog going and educating us to another Choice, that of being able to not suffer at the end of life. and wishing you a good day. m 5781 begins, 2020

The Democrats are beholden to the same golden idol the Republislime are. Biden had already said he will not end tax breaks for the rich and will not support universal health care. I've held my nose and bites for my entire voting life, 56 years!

Susan Collins and all the rest of them will vote as they are paid to vote.

The IRS decided I was an emancipated minor when I was 16, depriving my widowed mother of the deduction. Over the next almost ten years I built a stellar credit record and acquired a couple of credit cards in my name. When I divorced my first husband, they cancelled my cards, removed my credit rating. We'd been married just over two years and my credit was better than his! Luckily for me, the (male) bank officer I went to in desperation, gave me a very low limit card and told me how to rebuild my financial existence. 1970. Thank you RBG for making lucky women not have to go thru this!


About RBG: It's true. The good die too soon. With gratitude for all she was and her courageous stance for women.

And to you, Ronni, for your example of grace under circumstances...thank you.

So many petitions going around FB about the injustice of this appt. There is NO sense signing them. Years ago I learned Congress takes no heed of petitions, especially this one. I had a friend remind me the party in power has the right to make the appt. period. Republicans were in power with Obama as they blocked everything. So they are just being 'them'. I try to avoid politics right now as it hurts so much. I'm to old for this sh--.

Take care Ronni I'm sure this loss weighs on you.

I can imagine no words about RBG that could be any more fitting than these:

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by the
irradiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Maya Angelou

I am so damn angry and frightened.

The Republications in Congress are an abomination.

Susan Collins is an annoying wuss.

My tribute to RBG's memory was a donation to Amy McGrath's campaign fund.

I am heartbroken by the loss and more frightened than I've ever been for the future of my country.

RBG was so exceptional in so many ways because she did what she believed in and was totally just being who she was. As you do, Ronni, and you, too, inspire the rest of us to be who we are. We can honor both of you by being the best version of ourselves that we can.
Thank you.

What a year of devastation! And we still have over a quarter of it left. I awake at night wondering how much more we can take, and then I conjure up what could happen and realize I should be grateful it's only as bad as it is. Worse could be coming.

Justice Ginsburg's death brought me to my knees. I, too, am frightened for our country. Terrible people are being left to make decisions that will create more fractures in our democracy.

Ronni, thank you for your personal posts. I, along with your other readers, appreciate the effort you are putting into these posts.

Disgusted by the hypocrisy of the Republicans and the cowardice of all of them to do the right thing.
This appointment to the Supreme Court will impact our rights for generations to come. This is not 4 years; it's a lifetime appointment.
We need term limits for federal court judges, Supreme Court justices, and both branches of government.

Between this political year, the pandemic and wildfires/hurricanes, it's hard to keep going. I am really sad this morning and I think a lot of TGB readers are too.

A recent late night email, from my youngest son, with his caption :
NPR news about RBG dying at 87.
Added were the words :
I am proud to say that your granddaughter, Nora (not quite 12) understands what is at stake. I guess we're raising her right.

I've known many women, including my own mother, who have struggled to keep hearth and home together when they had more children than they were able to care for or ever intended to have. Many years ago a co-worker shared with me her story of going into the hospital to deliver her third child and being told she could not have a tubal ligation following delivery unless her husband signed the paper. A few years later I was in the same scenario, but it was 1982 and I was able to make the arrangements with only my signature. It's not that my husband did not agree with me or would have refused to sign hospital paperwork, but the times were different and I was considered the person in charge of such decisions about the control of my own body. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other women, and some men, with similar progressive beliefs were the primary drivers of those changes. It's extremely disheartening to see how backwards we have been going in this current administration.

Out of this time that's so often described as chaotic and dangerous, much has emerged that seems to be trying to guide us out of it, as well. I find it more difficult each day to resist cynicism as a response to some things that are presented as principled initiatives of organized resistance when they really seem to be more interested in your money, and are as misleading and manipulative as some of the forces they claim to fight. Justice Ginsburg was someone whose intentions and principles I felt I could always trust. What a loss. She worked so hard for so long on keeping the arc of the moral universe in an upwards trajectory those who desperately needed that. The response of the president and the others who are smacking their lips at the opportunity presented by her death is abominable. The footage of Lindsey Graham in 2016 discussing the scenario of filling a Supreme Court vacancy during the last year of a president's term was appalling and, as he said, his words should be held against him.

There are rays of hope out there, and, in spite of my leaning towards not signing up for more things these days, I have recently received recommendation by a couple of friends whose judgement I trust and I've signed up on a trial basis to receive daily letters from historian and professor Heather Cox Richardson. So far I'm liking what I'm seeing, but I'll go a bit longer before signing on to full membership. She and those who follow her seem to be intelligent, rational and principled and so far she presents what sounds like a voice of hope in her writing and videos.

I - like so many others - was devastated by RBG’s death. For me, she represented the epitome of intelligence and intellect. And wit!

But there is a personal story I connect with her. A friend of mine and I had traveled to Santa Fe to celebrate the world premiere of OSCAR, a wonderful opera composed by Theo Morrison, my/our old friend. While we excitedly waited for its launch, I noted a crowd of people clustered on the stairs.
At some point, the crowd thinned and
RBG was revealed, grinning and
delighted. My instinct was to join the
mob, but I stayed put and watched.

And then the crowd dispersed and the
opera began.

But that wasn’t the end. At intermission I headed, as arranged,
back-stage to find Theo, our friend.
And he excitedly told me what had just occurred. He was approached
by a small woman, smiling—and
realized at once who she was! My
very loquacious friend was, he said,
struck dumb. She put him at ease, and they had a lovely chat.
I suspect he has been thinking about
her ever since. Certainly now. And I am pretty sure we will phone each other soon. To weep together.

PS: someone mentioned the NYT—
My absolutely favorite photo of Ginsburg is in the main section of
yesterday’s Sunday paper. Ruth on
her first day of her long and wonderful career, dwarfed by those massive columns, grinning from ear
to ear.
I already miss her enormously.

Ruth-Ellen

I don't know what to say, you've all said it so much better. RBG will keep informing us for a long, long time. You too, Ronni.

All of those wonderful things RBG has pushed through to obtain for us and more are now in danger. I have been watching the Republican party for years build toward where they want to be and it has been a steady grass roots and forward movement.

They have now reached the final goal. With the Supreme court 9-3, they will rule and can change the lives of woman, gays, immigrants, poor and also can change sooo many more things, with either Trump or Pence. In fact, with Pence in place , we can become a real christian nation of the Pence type.

Women can be put where they belong --behind men as it was before and should be.
Who knows where this will take us. I think it will gradually become a USA that many well off christian/white men look at fondly as a return to what they refer to as "the good old day".

I thought the Supreme Court would never be ruled by rich or religious white men, but I have been proven wrong and am too sad to even care any more.

These Republicans play dirty and it always was a dilemma for the Democrat's to play in kind, and so always lost. People just don't care, yet. When they wake up. It will be too late. It is almost too late. We are now at the gate.

Thank you, earlier commenters--as usual. RPG accomplished so much, especially for a woman of the "Silent Generation". I hope that most of her accomplishments will endure, even IF they are temporarily muffled for another 4 years.

We must do all we can not to let that happen. EVERY vote will count. The would-be Emperor of tRumpystan must be overwhelmingly, catastrophically defeated. Win/lose: that's all he and his cult followers understand.

Thank you Carol N. for the Maya Angelou poem. Such a perfect description of our loss- and determination to carry on in RBG’s spirit.

She always seemed so surprised at the fuss after the film came out. I'm so glad they made that film.

I don't comment on your blog but just want you to know I read it regularly and want to thank you for doing it. Blogging is what you do, and a lot of us are grateful for that .

Back again to comment on Victoria's post. I have a gut feeling that she is right, or if we are not yet at the gate, we are very near. This coming Saturday, Sept. 26, two events are being held on the National Mall. Franklin Graham and Johnathan Cahn have separately planned -- but I would imagine coordinated -- these events. Graham's event is a National Prayer March, similar to walking the stations of the the cross, but visiting various landmarks on the mall and praying for various groups at each one.

Cahn's event is called "The Return" which will actually be part of a ten day event to be opened with the blowing of the ram's horn, and which will include perhaps thousands of people gathering or virtually participating to pray for extension of time for the earth, as Cahn believes that we are on the verge of annihilation due to spiritual disobedience. At his website there is a list of speakers and it's quite the conservative line-up. They're even bringing in Pat Boone. Despite all the high-tech stuff that I'm sure will be involved, I'm feeling as though we're being transported back to the 1690's, either BC or AD -- could be either one.

I too, am frightened and angry if I admit to it. I love the Maya Angelou poem. It gives me hope.

And, Ronni, Your name is on the Misheberach with much love and gratitude for all you do. Following this blog contributes greatly to my growth and awareness. Thank you.

I can only think of RBG today. I want to cry but I can't.
I too was a wife who was refused a credit card without my husband's signature in the early 70's. But that seems like 100 years ago. So much positive change happened after that-- it seemed to be almost an unstoppable force. In my mind, from the late sixties until 2016. Now I am so reminded of what a giant that RBG was and what a part of the best aspects of feminism that she was.

A word to Kathy...I take Heather Cox Richardson's newsletter and I like it very much. She and Robert Hubbell are journalists I can't do without.

From Page in northern CA

Excellent post today, Ronni.

I too follow Heather Cox Richardson. She has excellent credentials...a history professor at Brown University.

Victoria is correct. We are heading into a nation run by White Nationalism and Far Right Christian zealots. We could end up like the Muslim countries in time.

RBG dying to me was a clear warning a bad omen for the future. But that 40% won’t see it that way until someday it will affect them.

I’m glad I'm old because I am scared for our future and for our country. We have a maniac at the helm and greedy corruption in the Senate Republicans.

Ronni you are the best and I so appreciate what you’ve contributed here for so many years and the realistic way you talk about death and what’s coming not only for you, but all of us. When I think of 5 years from now if Biden loses, I’m ready now.

I have a doc with all the senators' addresses and their quotes. I'd be glad to share but don't know how. This is the first time I've ever posted to a blog

I, too, am deeply saddened with the death of RBG. The loss of her voice on our Supreme Court leaves our country at great risk for the demise of the grand experiment with democracy our nation's founders gave us. The past four years, especially, our government's leadership has betrayed their oath of office to our form of government while deceitfully claiming to do otherwise. We are slowly, steadily, deliberately being taken down the path toward becoming a Capitalistic Theocratic Autocracy with democracy lost in the process.

I refuse to give up on efforts to preserve our Constitutional Democratic Republic no matter the outcome of our upcoming election, however slight my contribution may be including if only my blog posts. I will continue to welcome whatever you choose to write on these issues here, RB, or whatever else you find the energy to share about your life's journey.

Only shortly before she died did I even become aware of RBG and what a loss it has been to me. I am English born living in Australia so perhaps that isn't so strange. I sat down for my lunch yesterday and watched a documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsberg and I am so so impressed by the woman she was. American women have much to be grateful for thanks to her. And of course not just the women.
I read a blog called "A Lot from Lydia" who writes a lot about current politics in USA and she mentioned Ginsberg's last wish i.e.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." ~Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Some of you may remember how the law was changed during President Obama's presidency so that he was not able to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court Bench because he was in the final year of his tenure. That seat remained empty for 8 months. And now we see that this current POTUS is planning to fill the seat vacated by Ginsberg while currently in his final year (hopefully). How is that even possible?
I recommend Lydia's blog. No nonsense information. Just like this one.

I'm sorry that I don't have the mental strength to read all the comments above tonight. I do find the poem, "Where Great Trees Fall," very appropriate for RBG. I finally watched her documentary on YouTube for $2.99 and was in awe. As a young female in the early 1970's, I now know I was totally unaware what she was before the SCOTUS arguing for us. I was a beneficiary and clueless.

I follow closely your personal insights as you progress through life to death, Ronnie. I don't know you, and you don't know me, but inside, it feels differently than that. Just know I'm listening to your every word.

Friday night, I sat at my desk to participate in the virtual Rosh Hashanah eve services from the marvelous Sixth & I synagogue in DC. The high holidays always make me sad and introspective. More introspective than the rest of the year. As Rabbi Aaron was giving his sermon, my spouse poked a head in to tell me Justice Ginsburg had died. It was a surreal moment. On Rosh Hashanah - and how would Rabbi Shira learn as she waited her turn to return fo the bima I worried. Really worried. Our rabbis work at justice. She returned breathing unsteadily. She spoke of the death of the Justice while I sobbed and reached out to others, desperately needing the company of like minded people while still listening to services.

I slept little. John Lewis and RBG! Those who gave meaning to good trouble and justice! Sat., Rabbi Shira spoke more (I think if you go to the Sixth & I website you can link to her sermon) about justice and The Justice.

Friends who were able went to outside the Court and sent me video. So many people that they waited til home to send bc there was no signal bc of the numbers.

Fear and sadness - overwhelming emotions about this country and what will be. Will our prayers on Yom Kippur help?

RBG’s life was a gift especially to women, voters, LGBTQ people and Black people. Her memory is a blessing.

The news on your fires remains almost non-existent on this side of the pond... Im so pleased it’s eased a little (even if only as you wrote the words).
You remain in my thoughts in a daily basis xx

Concerning death. If there is a God(whatever that word means) would it make any sense for him to populate this earth with humans (and everything else) let them live a lifetime and accomplish all they could, and then end their lives forever and ever? I vote No. How about you ?

It is a year of sadness and destruction, even worse than Reagan or Nixon or the Vietnam War. My dearest youngest sister, who died in June from colon cancer at the much too young age of 57, said her vision is that the earth survives, but may look nothing like what it has and does. She was right about many, many things, and I hope about this. Whether I will live to see it (I am 14 years older) - who knows?
Rumi is the originator (as far as I know) of the quote about how the wound is where the light gets in. Perhaps, this great wounding of the world and all its beings will lead to the birth of new life.
In the meanwhile, for RBG and my sister and eventually you, Ronni, I say, "What is remembered lives."
And continue to act in my small ways, as do so many others, to presence justice and love in the world.
Thank you, Ronni, for providing this forum and your perspective to so many of us.

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