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Ronni Bennett, 1941-2020

Yesterday, at 6:28 PM local time, Veronica "Ronni" Bennett passed away. Ronni bravely documented the aging process, with her Last Great Gift being the documentation of her death. We spoke for sometime yesterday, and throughout our conversation, she circled back to you. It was very important to Ronni that this amazing community continue to have a place to come and discuss this amazing journey we are all in together. Your support and love was a gift that Ronni never could have imagined when she started this blog 16 years ago, and she was forever grateful for each and everyone of you.

We all will feel the pain of this loss for a long time to come, and although 30 years her junior and far from a writer, I will continue to make TGB accessible, and comments are always welcome. I will make many mistakes, I am sure, and please forgive my lack of HTML understanding, but I will get there.

I will leave you with knowing that she was ready. Just before she died, she said, "When you get here, it is really nice. I am not afraid." – Autumn


The Alex and Ronni Show – 30 October 2020

We have come up today on a new episode of The Alex and Ronni Show, recorded on Wednesday.

When I started this blog 16 years ago, I subtitled it (see banner above) “what it's really like to get old” and for a lot of years that's what I tried to do - research, write about and ruminate on how we age.

Then, three years ago, the universe hit me with cancer followed shortly by COPD and I knew from the start where that ends. So I made a course correction in the topic so to write as openly and honestly as I can muster about what it is like to know you are dying – the good, the bad, the whatever else - because that is what interests me these days.

But today's conversation with my former husband, Alex Bennett, seems to be a throwback to those early years of the blog – just a couple elders talking about ordinary old-people stuff, some laments, the compensations we make for our growing list of infirmities – sort of what “it's really like to get old.”

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

Old Lady Fancy Pants

If, like me, you have a big-deal disease or two such as cancer and COPD, there is one thing you can count on: nothing stays the same and hardly anything gets better.

That's the cosmic joke. (There are more earthly ones too.)

In the first instance, such diseases progress. No pleading, no appeal to divine intervention, no miracles. It is the diseases' job to grow and from your and my point of view, get worse.

I've always thought it is weird that it works that way. When the disease does what nature compels it to do, it eventually kills its host (in this case, that would be me) and therefore itself. What use in that?

In terms of earthy jokes, my hospice nurse visits on Monday mornings. Aimee-the-wonderful checks my vitals, goes over my medications, discusses my well-being – or, recently, lack thereof – and then we discuss my future, such as it is.

As you who have read this blog for a good while know, I had a long respite until last February when chemotherapy stopped working. I began slowly slipping down hill and the speed has since since accelerated.

Drugs have helped but I haven't needed a nurse to tell me what's happening.

Not long ago, Aimee-the-wonderful began gently hinting at what I'm likely to expect next. She asked about incontinence. Ewwww. But there you are.

I've been retaining water – bloating – for a while which Aimee says will at some point unexpectedly break through – overload, muscles weakening, etc. and that I should purchase what some manufacturers call life-changing absorbent products.

Adult diapers.

There hasn't been a problem yet, but I've only just begun taking the diuretics to rid my body of excess water so who knows. Particularly during the night.

I perused such products on the internet, decided on pull-ups because they work like every other kind of underpants and made my purchase hoping for the best as to size since the websites have little to say about what small, medium, etc. mean.

It was my first chance to try this out on Monday with my first evening incontinence pill at bedtime. I yanked a pair out of the tightly wrapped package, shook the panties open and to my utmost surprise, found they they are trimmed in – wait for it – frilly lace. Yes, you read that right: frilly lace.

Is there anything else to do but giggle? So I pulled them on, pranced around in front the full-length mirror and had a big hearty guffaw at myself – old lady fancy pants.

A TGB READER STORY: For a Few Mysterious Minutes

By TGB reader Jean-Pierre

Some years ago - before I got to be eighty-five with a miserably sore hip - I was walking my youngest grand-daughter to the play park on a golden Fall day when she said, quite unexpectedly, right out of the blue, "I'm glad I chose my Mother and Father."

She was a toddler, barely five minutes into this crazy world, remember - and when it soaked in, I said, "I'm glad you did, too, Charlotte."

She spent a few minutes explaining why her Mother was kind and her Father was responsible, and then she was back to herself, eager to hit the swings and the roundabout, the adult expressiveness reverting to its usual chatter.

Charlotte's eighteen now and starting university - with a penchant for roller skating, playing guitar and offbeat hobbies.

But it's hard not to forget that for a few mysterious minutes, somewhere between chasing the dog and looking down the path for the play park, that little tad revealed some tantalising unknown where we might get to choose the manner of however many futures we have.

* * *

[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.]

Monday Time Out

As I noted at the end of Saturday's Interesting Stuff post, it's been a few rough days in a row – weakness, lethargy, disinterest, lots of sleep and not much else. Even one of my top two or three favorite small pleasures, a hot bath, has been hard – it's too difficult to get out of the tub.

There is nothing new on cable news, just repeats of what the hosts said last hour and the hour before that, etc. My mind is too addled to read.

I sit in bed or at the computer and stare into space for long periods of time quite comfortably.

What is lovely are the email notes from you, dear readers. You say the nicest things and I wish I could answer every one. But I am just too weak right now So I'm taking a time out today, and tomorrow is reader story day so I have two whole days to rest.

Please don't think I am ignoring you. It is just that my body is screaming REST at me and so I am doing that.

Thank you all for being there. It means everything to me.

ELDER MUSIC: Classical Whatnot 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.

* * *

Here is some more music I thought well worth a listen.

FRANCESCA D'ADDA was born in Milan and lived most of her life in that city.

D'Adda  Francesca

She really didn’t start composing and playing music until her husband, an architect and her cousin, died. She married again (another architect) to someone who was really well connected. That probably helped her somewhat. Her main output was music for duets and trios, mostly involving the piano, her main instrument. Today’s offering is her Trio in E-flat major, Op. 18, the first movement

♫ D'Adda - Trio in E-Flat Major Op. 18 (1)

MICHAEL BALFE was an Irish composer who lived for much of the nineteenth century

Michael Balfe

He wrote a couple of dozen operas, hundreds of songs and some cantatas. These days he’s pretty much only known for one of his operas, “The Bohemian Girl”. From that we have I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls. This is sung by the wonderful GRETA BRADMAN.

Greta Bradman

Australian readers (and some English ones as well) will recognise that surname, and yes, she is the great man’s grand-daughter.

♫ Balfe - I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls

While we’re in Australia, here is the wonderfully named Van Diemen's Band. That sounds like the name of a folk group, but they’re a classical ensemble led by Catherine Jones. They play a composition by NICOLA FIORENZA, who was born in Naples and was a violinist and composer around the end of the Baroque period and the beginning of the Classical.

 Nicola Fiorenza

The piece I’ve chosen is his Cello Concerto in F major, the fourth movement.

♫ Fiorenza - Cello Concerto in F major (4)

Continuing this theme for a bit longer, a while ago Australian pianist Gerrard Willems recorded all of BEETHOVEN’s piano sonatas and piano concertos. I produced a column on it at the time called The Beethoven Obsession.


From that collection here is the most famous of them all, the Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat, Op 73 called “Emperor”, the second movement. To my ears it sounds as if Leonard Bernstein listened to it before he wrote the music for “West Side Story”.

♫ Beethoven - Piano Concerto No5 E flat Op73 'Emperor' (2)

We've had the real Beethoven, now for the pretend Beethoven. I'm talking about FRIEDRICH WITT.

Friedrich Witt

Fred was born the same year as the great man but outlived him by nine years. One of his symphonies was the “Jena Symphony”, so-called because it was discovered in that city and was initially attributed to Beethoven because of the similarity to his early ones. Someone else found another copy a couple of years later with Fred’s name on it, and there goes that theory.

It’s still the same piece of music but, hey, it’s not Beethoven. The same sort of thing happens with paintings. Anyway, this isn’t that one, it’s his Symphony No.6 in A minor (known as Alla Turca), the third movement.

♫ Witt - Symphony No.6 in A minor (3)

FRANTIŠEK JIRÁNEK was a Czech composer of the Baroque era. I could only find one supposed picture of him, and it was very dubious, so I didn’t use it.

Fran almost certainly was a pupil of Vivaldi as he was sent to Venice to improve his musical skills. After that he returned to Prague for a while until he left for Dresden where he was employed by the Prime Minister. He remained in that city for the rest of his life.

The influence of Vivaldi is obvious in his works, one of which is his Concerto for Oboe, Strings and Basso continuo in B flat major, Jk 17, the first movement.

♫ Jiránek - Concerto for Oboe Strings and Basso continuo in B flat major Jk 17 (1)

In spite of her name MARIANNA MARTINES was born and lived most of her life in Vienna – her father was from Spain.

Marianna Martines

Upstairs in the apartment building where the family lived was a struggling young musician called Joseph Haydn. Marianna became a superb pianist and apparently a beautiful singer. Many of her works feature vocal performances.

As she got older, Marianna and her sister (neither of whom married) hosted musical soirees at their home that attracted many distinguished guests, including Haydn and Mozart. Her compositions were well regarded in her time, and it’s believed that Mozart modeled a couple of his choral works on hers.

Here is the first movement of her Overture in C Major. I always thought overtures were a single piece. I guess I was wrong.

♫ Martines - Overture in C Major (1)

Those with long memories of such things will now probably have a flashback to when they were young and used to watch TOM AND JERRY cartoons, I know I did.

Tom & Jerry

This next piece was featured prominently in one of them. Indeed, it was the basis for the whole cartoon. I looked it up on Youtube, and it’s still a lot of fun. The piece of music I have in mind is by FRANZ LISZT.

Franz Liszt

It’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor, S. 244. In this case it’s a piano only version arranged by Vladimir Horowitz and played by one of the finest pianists around, Lang Lang.

♫ Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 In C Sharp Minor S.244 (Lang Lang)

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN was the most prolific major composer in history.

Georg Philipp Telemann

He wrote thousands of compositions, and I’m not talking about little things – some went on for hours. He was good friends with both Handel and Bach, indeed he was god father to one of Bach’s sons (who was named after him).

With all those compositions you can bet he came up with some interesting instruments to compose for, otherwise it would have got really tedious.

We have one of those today, his Sonata for two chalumeaux in F major, the third movement (or maybe the fourth, there seems to be a one and a halfth movement for some reason).

A chalumeau is the forerunner of the modern clarinet. It started out as a folk instrument, but composers started using it due to its mellow sound.

♫ Telemann - Sonata for two chalumeaux in F major (3)

MICHAEL HAYDN had the bad luck of having an older brother who was the best known composer in Europe at the time, also one of the best.

Haydn Michael

Michael was no slouch at the composing business such that quite a few of his compositions were attributed to big brother Joseph for decades, centuries even.

It’s only with modern scholarship that they have been restored to their rightful owner. I don’t know if this is one of those, his Horn Concerto in D Major, P. 134, the first movement.

♫ M Haydn - Horn Concerto in D Major P. 134 (1)

INTERESTING STUFF – 24 October 2020


I'm pretty sure I posted this a few years ago but it recently turned up again and I find it as impressive and encouraging as before. According to the Youtube page,

”When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable 'trophic cascade' occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix."


Cats being as enigmatic as they are, I'm not sure there is much satisfactory explanation here but it's worth a few minutes of your time.


More cat vids showed up this week so here are two political ones. This from Tony Sarmiento:


And a kitty reminder in case you have not yet voted:


My friend John Gear sent this. It might be a little raw for some but hey, we're all grownups here.

More here.


A small, important life lesson for us all.


TGB reader Mary Evans Young sent this lovely video.


Yesterday, Friday, was a really rough day for me. Not pain as sometimes happens. Without tempting fate by saying too much out loud, that has been increasingly controllable.

But tiredness, dejection, weakness so deep I can barely walk across the room or write even a few words on the computer screen - so much so that I almost skipped preparing this blog post for today. Then, as a distraction, I checked email and found a note from friend Edie Birken.

It doesn't change the circumstance or what I'm feeling about it but it makes it go easier. This is what she sent:


* * *

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.

Quotations on The Time Before Dying

It has been a long time since I posted a list of quotations about age and dying. In fact, it is probably years. But I don't stop collecting them – my god, people have a lot to say about death, at least in short form – so here are a few for your perusal and commentary.

Not too many today because quantity becomes overwhelming and they lose meaning. So just a few. Many wise men and women have left behind worthy ideas about death for us to ponder.

* * *

“It is too bad that dying is the last thing we do, because it could teach us so much about living.” - Robert M. Herhold
(As it seems to be doing for me.)

“For my part, I would like to die fully conscious that I am dying...slow enough to allow death to insinuate itself into my body and fully unfold, so as not to miss the ultimate experience, the passage.” - Marguerite Yourcenar

“...I count as the greatest good fortune to have these few months so full of interest and instruction in the knowledge of my approaching death.” - Alice James

“There is only one solution if old age is not to be a parody of our former life, and that is to go on pursuing ends that give existence meaning – devotion to to individuals, to groups or causes, social, political, intellectual and creative work. - Simone de Bouvoir

“The first part of life is for learning. The second for service, and the last is for oneself. It is a time for discover inner richness and for self-development and spiritual growth. It is also a time of transition and preparation for dying. The closer we come to death, the closer we come to reality and truth.” - Gay Gaer Luce

“Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment.” - Dag Hammarskjold

Are there any short and pithy such quotations you would like to add?

A Day in the Life of Old Age

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Although this list is true, it is not meant to be overly serious. Try to see the humor.]

Wash face
Brush teeth
Aim body toward kitchen
(don't trip on the oxygen cable)

Start coffee
Take first pill of the day
Lay out next two pills
Assemble nebulizer equipment
Spend 10 minutes breathing with nebullizer

Check phone for overnight messages
Check overnight email
Delete at least half of it
Send morning email greeting to my “are you still alive” buddy

Answer personal and blog email
Check the day's to-do list; delete what is possible to avoid doing
Read the morning news while listening to morning news for the latest
(Two hours have passed)

Take pre-breakfast digestion pills
Shower and dress – slowly
Prepare breakfast
Find reading material for breakfast
Round up breakfast digestion pills - eat

Clean up kitchen
Plan lunch
Have a 30-minute lie-down
Spend time (10 minutes to two-plus hours) planning next blog post
Work on blog post / answer incoming email

Second 10-minute nebulizer session
More blog work
Take a break with household accounts and mail
12 noon pills
Prepare, eat lunch

Clean up kitchen
One-hour lie-down or nap (or longer)
2PM pain pills
Check to-do list and finish what I can

Edit blog post and set up to publish
Slow walk to trash and snailmail box
Small chores, water plants, lists, etc.
Sit quietly for awhile, maybe read
Begin dinner

Pre-dinner pills
Clean up kitchen
Count out next day's pills
Hot bath

Collapse on bed – movie, book, or...

Just look at this – it's all maintenance, every item of it and I've omitted at least half the chores along with phone calls, chatty email with friends, getting sidetracked with a magazine or book, etc.

I wrote all this out for myself a couple of days ago and was appalled at the banality of it. But guess what. If you don't count the pain when it happens and the chunk of time for blog work, it gives me a lot of hours to think about all the stuff I end up writing about here.

Not the mention time to think about all the stuff I don't tell you.

Still – it is kind of joke if you look at it that way. What's your day like?

A TGB READER STORY: Dancing with the Monkey

By Dave Clark who blogs at Just a Geezer

I’ve seen actors on the screen,
clowns at the circus
dancers at the ballet,
singers at the opera,
musicians at the concert.

But I have never seen anything to compare,
to my 2 year old grandson,
when he first saw a mechanical monkey,
playing a tune and smashing cymbals together.

The boy watches,
stomps his right foot, then his left,
leans to one side, then the other.
He giggles and laughs,
but best of all he smiles---no beams.

A grin that spans his whole face.
is worn like a badge
and shows he is in a perfect place,
loving every moment.
And as he sways,
he hasn’t the faintest idea what worry is.

My God,
I know that expression,
it’s pure joy,
something I have pursued my whole life,
but never found.

As he wobbles, claps, and bounces
he is as close to heaven on earth
as any human can be.
Maybe I too felt like him early in life,
but if I did, I lost it.
and never found it again.

If I could give him a gift,
It would not be money,
It would not be power.
It would be to help him keep that delight,
to stay so happy that others
feel gladdened by his very presence.

I don’t know how to do it,
I don’t where to find it,
I don’t even know what I’m looking for,
but I will do everything I can
to keep him glowing with happiness
the way he does
when he dances with the monkey.

* * *

[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.]

Guidance For My Near Future

I'm not certain this is of much of a useful blog post or of interest to anyone but myself but what the hell, I'll write it down anyway so I have something to compare next week, next month, next...

Daily now I realize that what I was feeling yesterday, how much energy I had then, whether I slept well or not last night, how strong or weak I feel this morning, whatever I think I want to get done today – it is all under control of my body. I - that is, my personal self or intention - have almost nothing to do with it.

My body chooses what it will do now and it has taken me to an updated version of “man plans, god laughs.” In this case, “old woman plans, body laughs.” A different joke every time although they generally relate to waning.

In a head-slapping moment a few days ago, I realized resistance is futile. The body knows what the body knows and striving even for the smallest things has morphed into acceptance. If I can't get the trash out, it can go in the morning. That attitude fairly new for me – I've always been a get-it-done-now kind of girl.

Most of my life has been striving for something – a bigger, better, more successful TV show to produce, a script to write, a website to build, an award to win. Always a goal. I haven't dug that deep into it yet, but I suspect I will find I didn't need to do all that. That life would have gone on well enough, satisfactorily, without pushing so hard.

It feels good now to be just easing on down the road – or working on getting to that point.

Those of you who have been on this cancer/COPD trip with me from the start might recall that three-and-a-half years ago, as I was wheeled in the surgery for the massive Whipple procedure, I said I just wanted to live long enough to read the Mueller Report.

That, as we know, turned out to be a dud and my new goal for many months was to vote in the 2020 election.

AND I DID IT. We vote by mail in Oregon. I filled out my ballot on Saturday, my wonderful neighbor Judy dropped it at collection point at City Hall and for sure, I have never in my near-80 years voted in a more important election.

Having now performed this crucial act of public responsibility, I'm going to continue to slow down. I want to use the gift of time the universe has bestowed on me to consider and contemplate life, living, loving and then - finding a way to let go, when the time comes, in peace and maybe even joy.

But not quite yet – heh. I need just a little more time.

ELDERMUSIC: A Soupçon of Ellington

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.

* * *


This is not an overview of DUKE ELLINGTON’s career; that would take several columns. Instead I’ve selected mostly small groups, rather than his orchestra because that’s my preferred option.

Also, most of the selections feature other famous jazz musicians, so if you like piano jazz in small combos, this is for you.

Duke & Hawk

Duke made one album with COLEMAN HAWKINS, but what a fine album it was. It has the prosaic title “Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins”. This was from 1962 and it’s surprising it took so long as Duke had been asking Hawk to collaborate for a couple of decades or so.

One of the tracks is a reworking of Duke’s Mood Indigo.

♫ Mood Indigo

Duke & Teresa

I always think of TERESA BREWER as a fifties pop singer, but there was more to her than that. In 1973 she recorded with Duke in what turned out to be his last recording session. That album is called “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing”.

From that we have Satin Doll, a song Duke wrote with Billy Strayhorn and Johnny Mercer.

♫ Satin Doll

Duke Ellington

Probably the most famous song associated with the DUKE is Take The A Train. It was written by Billy Strayhorn, a regular composer and arranger attached to the orchestra. The most famous version was recorded in 1941, but the one I’m featuring is just Duke with a drummer (Ben Riley) and bass player (Larry Gales).

♫ Take The A Train

Duke & Al

Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me was written as an instrumental by Duke back in 1940. Later Bob Russell wrote words to it and it’s been recorded by just about every good singer around (and a few not so good ones, I imagine).

One of the best of those is AL HIBBLER. Al is generally considered the finest male singer who performed regularly with Duke’s orchestra. He later sang some of the finest ballads in the fifties

♫ Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me

Duke & Trane

As with Coleman Hawkins, JOHN COLTRANE only made one album with Duke. That’s a real shame as this is a really fine record, and I suggest that you look out for it if you’re interested in jazz. It’s another with a prosaic title: “Duke Ellington & John Coltrane”. From that album here is Stevie.

♫ Stevie

Duke & Alice

C Jam Blues is another of Duke’s famous tunes. Everyone who is anyone in the world of jazz has recorded it. It’s usually an instrumental, but several folks put words to it and turned it into a song.

ALICE BABS, who was Swedish, and the Duke recorded an album together (“Serenade to Sweden”) which featured the tune (although the words aren’t readily discernable). To my ears Alice listened closely to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

♫ 'C' Jam Blues

Duke & Hodges

Unlike a couple of others in today’s column, JOHNNY HODGES and Duke Ellington made a couple of albums together. The one we’re interested in is called “Back to Back”.

Johnny is particularly soulful on this record and the backing band is first class - that’s Harry Edison playing the trumpet, Less Spann on guitar, Jo Jones on drums and Sam Jones playing bass. They play the old tune. Beal Street Blues.

♫ Beal Street Blues

Duke & Mahalia

“Black, Brown and Beige” was an extended jazz suite that Duke wrote and he and his orchestra performed it Carnegie Hall in 1943. Besides the recording of that concert, Duke also recorded the entire work in the studio with MAHALIA JACKSON on vocals.

There were a couple of alternate takes of some of the tracks that were included on the album. From that here is Part IV, also known as Come Sunday.

♫ Black Brown and Beige ~ Part IV (aka ''Come Sunday'')

Duke  Mingus & Max

Duke gets a bit more avant-garde than usual when he teams up with CHARLES MINGUS and MAX ROACH. It almost crosses over into free jazz. There were no rehearsals and everything on the album was the first take.

They were contracted to record a second album but tensions were so fraught among the musicians that it didn’t eventuate. From that first and only album here is the title track, Money Jungle.

♫ Money Jungle

Duke Ellington

I’ll end with DUKE on his own – you can’t get a smaller group than that. He plays Solitude.

♫ Solitude

INTERESTING STUFF – 17 October 2020


According to Twitter,

Comment thread is here,


Last week, the Social Security Administration announced there will be a 1.3 percent cost-of-living (COLA) increase for Social Security beneficiaries beginning in January 2021.

In addition, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $142,800 from $137,700. But wait, there's more.

”For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2021 are announced in December.”

That is, the new Part B premium amount is not available until then. You can read more here.

According to CNBC, some House lawmakers are proposing an emergency three percent Social Security COLA (in place of the 1.3 percent announced). This is just me talking, but I wouldn't count on it.



”Hurricane Delta put everyone on high alert, including Ricardo Pimentel. He works in an animal sanctuary called Tierra de Animales in Mexico. He knew that he needed to protect the animals living there, so Ricardo did everything he could to ensure their safety during the hurricane.

“However, Ricardo knew that all the animals wouldn’t fit in the shelter and that the building wasn’t hurricane-proof, so he took the dogs, the cats, and other animals and brought them into his own home. There were about 300 animals in his house during the hurricane. Ricardo had a lot of food and other necessities prepared for the animals, so everything went smoothly.”

There are a lot more photos of the doggos, kitties, chickens and more at Bored Panda.


Friend and TGB reader John Gear sent this sad outcome. Or, maybe the bull is enjoying himself.


TGB reader Joared of Along the Way sent us this gem which, she says, she stole from WiseWomanWeb.



I don't know if any of these actually help food last longer but some of them seem worth a try.

Freeze And Preserve Fresh Herbs In Olive Oil
The herbs will infuse the oil while freezing, and the ice cubes are very handy for cooking: just pop one out and use as the base of a dish. Works best with rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano. Dill, basil, and mint should always be used fresh

HerbsinOliv eOil

Wrap The Crown Of A Bunch Of Bananas With Plastic Wrap
They'll keep for 3-5 days longer than usual, which is especially helpful if you eat organic bananas. Bananas also produce more ethelyne gas than any other fruit, so keep them isolated on the counter


Store Potatoes With Apples To Keep Them From Sprouting

The are a whole lot more food preserving hacks at Bored Panda.


This time of year I usually publish live video of the bears at these falls catching salmon before their winter hibernation.

This time someone recorded a few of the difficulties they bears run into:

”While some bears make fishing on the lip of Brooks Falls look easy, others find holding their balance a bit more difficult. From Lefty's belly flop to Grazer chasing after her clumsy cubs, we've had many laughs watching over the years.”

My friend Jim Stone sent this video.


From TGB reader Judy Carrino/

* * *

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 -16 October 2020

Not that I set out meaning to avoid the president's name in this episode of The Alex and Ronni Show, but somehow Alex and I got to the end with it coming up only once – and we backed away as fast as we could.

This time we talked quite a bit about this end-of-life journey I'm on, riffing off the story I posted on Wednesday, Choosing a Life or Letting It Happen.

I think with Alex I got a lot closer to what I was trying to write on Wednesday but missed a few points then. See what you think.

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

Choosing a Life – Or Letting It Happen

Reflecting on the life I have lived is not something I have much dwelled upon during these several years of living with terminal cancer and COPD. I've always been more of a now person than a then one.

Not that I don't remember things or that they don't come to mind or up for discussion. But mostly, now is more compelling for me.

Perhaps it was true for you, too – that in school, there were two or three or four or so classmates who from a young age knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up and lo - they actually did that, doctor, lawyer, auto mechanic, whatever they fancied.

But not me. I had no earthly idea what I would do when I grew up – even when I grew up.

All I knew from my lower middle-class family was that it was up to me. Maybe it was not said quite out loud but the idea instilled was that my parents had gotten me to working age and now I had to follow through to support myself.

Looking back, my mother was right about insisting I take typing class in high school and that kept me employed for the several years it took until a career trajectory began to come into view. (An overview of my career is recounted here.)

Even though at the time I believed I was choosing this job, rejecting that one, making a lateral change for better pay, location, whatever, sometimes it has felt like someone or something else was making the decision.

It is rather amazing the number of interesting jobs that dropped into my lap over the years from unexpected telephone calls, even from strangers once or twice who had heard of me from someone and thought we should talk about working together.

Not to go all woo-woo on you but now and then I have wondered if I really chose the men or the friends and others in my life. Did someone or something direct all this? There are people who believe such things.

Without going down the free will rabbit hole, so speaking of this in the most prosaic sense, I have felt at times over the years that I have had nothing to do with my life, that it was written down before I got here and I'm just following the script.

At nearly 80 years into my life now, it is still kind of fun to ponder such notions, but there is a growing sense inside me, too, that I have arrived somewhere – that one way or another I am coming to enough. No more striving, just accepting.

But that imperative to survive I mentioned the other day is still deep and strong. My god, it does hang on; illness doesn't affect that. And there is still a great joy in living each day – well, each good one. And here is how part of that goes:

Many years ago, I worked for a woman I didn't like much. She didn't like me either. But we were both smart, good at our jobs and respected one another so it worked out.

One day I was surprised to learn that she was a boxing fan, that her father had taken her to all the matches he attended in their town when she was a kid and it had stuck with her.

Me? I blurted out rudely that I couldn't think of any more boring way to spend an evening. And then she said to me, “Ronni, everything is interesting if you pay attention.”

Since then, that piece of news has never failed me. Choosing my life? Pre-ordained life? That I am right on script during this final chapter? Or am I just getting weird in the late days of my predicament?

What matters is that all of it is just as interesting as everything else has been since JoAnn explained it to me.

The Face of Time

By Anne Burack-Weiss

“My contemplations are of Time
That has transfigured me.”

- W.B. Yeats The Lamentation of The Old Pensioner

It is said that by a certain age a woman has “the face she deserves.” And about 70 or so it becomes a map of the person within.

I have seen old women like that. Nuns. Vegans. Those for whom a swipe of chap-stick has always sufficed as a makeup regimen. You could imagine that they looked like they always had - themselves grown older.

I look like a different being entirely.

Yes, I overdid the red meat and red wine, baked in the sun before SPF 75, was often less than generous in word or deed. But hey, I was not the real life embodiment of Dorian Gray – whose suddenly uncovered picture revealed decades devoted to dissolute pleasure.

I anticipated a face where glimpses of a younger self could still be seen. I had imagined laugh lines, evidence of good cheer, soft white curls affirming a tender nature.

I had not imagined wrinkles flowing every which way, eyelids at half mast, elongated ear lobes, a nose that neatly nestles in the cross cut pleats of my upper lip - brown spots punctuating the terrain.

Transfigured is indeed the word. A metamorphosis, a shifting and sliding as inevitable as the grooves the receding tide etches on the sand.

I look to the photograph of my great grandfather – Isaac Lander. It is a studio shot circa 1930. He is four years younger than I am now, a decade past the biblically allotted three score and ten.

We never met. All I know of him is that he was born in a small town on the border of Lithuania in 1845, emigrated to Boston with a wife and five children at the age of 50. I cannot begin to imagine a life so different from my own.

And yet.

Remove the skullcap and replace with a color-assisted mess of curls, shave the beard but for a few random strands undetected in the 10X magnifying glass and there you have me - the hooded eye lids, the elephantine ear lobes, the nose like the front end of parenthesis.

I look again. He seems to be engaged with someone or something outside the frame. The expression in his eyes is soft, interested, curious. He looks weighed down by the years but still open to life.

Yeats concludes The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner, “I spit into the face of time/That has transfigured me.” But looking into Isaac’s eyes , I wonder...

Could it be that our old faces may not, in fact, be ones we deserve or even earn? Could it be that the vagaries of the lived experience – the choices we make in youth and middle age, the good and bad luck that comes our way, even gender differences take us only so far – until the immutable rules of genes, gravity and time take over?

We do our best, grow old (if we are lucky!) wither, die.

As I carry Isacc’s face – our face –from the 19th to the 21st centuries, I am as the flowering plants that cheer the days I spend indoors on cold winter days. They are something to look forward to as I come downstairs for coffee each morning.

I buy them when they are in bud, tend carefully through the height of their beauty and dispassionately view their withering. They may not bloom again. But somewhere gardeners are preparing new plants from their seeds.

Let's You and Me Have a Bit of a Chat Today

It didn't start out this way 16 years ago, but it has been a good, long while now since this blog became a more collaborative effort between you, dear readers, and me than just one woman's scribblings.

You supplied a bunch of terrific suggestions last week on the story, Age Friendly Adaptations, Adjustments and Workarounds and you leave plenty of other smart observations and thoughts that continue to help me in what I have been calling my predicament.

You also continue to embarrass me with lovely comments about how brave I am, how well I am handling this, how much I have helped you or that you have learned from me, as I write about moving forward toward my death.

For certain, I am no expert on anything. My knowledge after nearly 80 years on Earth is as wide as a prairie and shallow as a desert ditch. A little of this and that. No more.

However, after so long at it now, you have convinced me that I am providing something of value to a good many of you. Stuff that you print out and save in various ways and pass on to others. I take pride in that.

You are right, I think, that I have a good deal of common sense and an ability to accommodate with a measure of equanimity the slings and arrows thrown my way. I seem to have been born not a “why me?” person, but a “why not me?” person. And aren't I lucky for that. It saves a lot of grief and self-pity.

Before I get to where I intend to be going with this essay, let me take one little detour.

It was only a couple of weeks ago, I think, I that said in a housekeeping post that I am tired a lot now and I don't have the energy to answer all email that comes my way.

If I did not say so directly, let me do so now: that was meant to tell you to stop sending so much. There are thousands of you and one of me and it doesn't matter that you tell me not to answer. When I receive a nice email or one with a good idea for Saturday's Interesting Stuff, I feel the obligation of a thank you, and I feel guilty if I skip it.

Yes, that's on me, not you, but there is a reason I mentioned the word “collaboration” at top of this post and I need you to step up a little.

Two or three mornings ago, I opened my email inbox to 28 (!) reader emails. In fact, one reader had sent nine of them. A few others sent two or three and then there were the singletons. I was defeated.

Most had attached an MP4 video file, almost all of which never play correctly and I am announcing now that I officially will never try to open one again.

Plus, I've been riding the internet video horse-y every day since about 1992. Except on the rare occasion it is something brand new, only twice a week or so does someone send a video I haven't seen before.

So, unless you can send me a link to an established, online video service like YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter etc., that allows re-posting, then don't. I don't have a lot time left for foolin' around with poor technology.

Back to my original intent:

Just about every philosopher and other important thinker throughout history has observed of the human condition that we are born, we live and we die. It is as simple as that.

Two children's books I noted here a few weeks ago made that point and I unexpectedly run across it regularly enough that I have come to believe the universe is banging away at me with something I need to pay attention to, to practice:

We are born, we live, we die.

Just Saturday, having a lie-down in mid-afternoon, the universe reached out to me in that regard again.

I tuned in the movie Charlotte's Web - the good one from 2006 – which I had never seen and had not read in book form for at least half a century. And there at the end, Charlotte the spider says to Wilbur the pig:

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die.”

Believe that quotation now as from me to you.

You who read here regularly know that I have in my possession the end-of-life drugs Oregon allows terminally ill patients to use to leave this world on their own terms.

But let me be clear. I am not suicidal. Although each day becomes a little harder to live now, I continue to choose life because there are still good days and – as far as I can tell, even with all the philosophers', thinkers', Freddy the leaf's and spiders' reminders - to live is the imperative.

What I would ask of you is this: collaborate with me. Let us help each other. Take what you find valuable here and pass it on. There are not a lot of places in our lives where we can talk as openly as we do here about this end-of-life stuff, and so many other people are frightened to do so. Or even to hear.

So collect it, pass it on, add to it from what others say here, expand on it, explain, show us your strengths and your fears, be true and be real.

Don't preach. Don't tell people how to do it. Just show one another what it is like for you and let them decide. But don't let end-of-life be a secret. We can help each other find our way.

ELDER MUSIC: 1956 Yet Again

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.

* * *

1956 was in the grip of the first flush of rock and roll, however, most of the songs today don’t reflect that because other sorts of music were still dominant at the time.

In spite of what I just said, I’ll start with one of the creators of rock music. If only BO DIDDLEY could have copyrighted his guitar style and the groove he created he could have made a fortune as much of the music of the sixties was based on what he created.

Bo Diddley

The Rolling Stones especially built their early career on Bo's style of playing. You have to admire Bo who made a career performing songs named after himself. This isn’t one of them, it’s Who Do You Love?

♫ Bo Diddley - Who Do You Love

EDDIE FISHER had a couple of hits this year.

Eddie Fisher

The really forgettable Dungaree Doll was one of them, but we used that one in a previous version of this year. Another one, equally as “good” is Cindy, Oh Cindy.

♫ Eddie Fisher - Cindy Oh Cindy

The song Sixteen Tons was a double crossover hit – it crossed over from 1955 to 1956 and also crossed over from the country charts to the pop. The man responsible was TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD.

Tennessee Ernie Ford

Rather surprisingly for a singer from both genres, Ernie was a classically trained singer. Also unusual for a country song, the clarinet is featured prominently.

♫ Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons

If I mention BILL HALEY AND HIS COMETS, I imagine that there is one song that springs to mind.

Bill Haley

That wasn’t his only hit; there were quite a few others. One of those, and probably his second most remembered song, is See You Later Alligator. The song was written by Bobby Charles, a New Orleans songwriter and occasional singer. He wrote quite a number of hits for performers from that city (although Bill isn’t one of those).

♫ Bill Haley - See You Later Alligator

FRANKIE LAINE claimed his was a jazz singer, not a pop performer. He made a few jazz albums and based on those he’s right about that. However, most of us remember him as a pop performer, especially singing cowboy songs.

Frankie Laine

One of those is certainly Moonlight Gambler, just because of the backing rather than the words.

♫ Frankie Laine - Moonlight Gambler

The song Green Door has been recorded a few times over the years. It was written by Hutch Davie and Marvin Moore. It first saw light of day in a version by JIM LOWE.

Jim Lowe

Jim released a bunch of records over the years, but none sold anywhere near as many copies as Green Door. There are many theories about the club mentioned in the song. Marvin has said that it was about a club in Dallas. He even mentioned the city in an early draft of the song.

♫ Jim Lowe - The Green Door

JAMES BROWN seems out of time – either a throwback to an earlier time, or anticipating music a decade or more in the future.

James Brown

I’ve always thought of him as a performer from later decades, but here he is right in the middle of 1956 with Please, Please, Please, one of his earliest records.

♫ James Brown - Please Please Please

As a complete contrast, FATS DOMINO is right at home this year.

Fats Domino

Fats had had hit records from 1949 and continued doing that to the rest of the decade and beyond. Here is an oldie, but still a goodie, Blueberry Hill.

♫ Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill

THE PLATTERS were easily the finest Doowop/pop/rock singing group of the decade. Only The Drifters would give them a run for their money.


Although not their first hit, The Great Pretender is probably their most memorable. They were blessed with one of the finest singers in the business, Tony Williams.

♫ The Platters - The Great Pretender

PATTI PAGE dominated the charts in the fifties.

Patti Page

She sang what was then considered throwaway pop songs, but 60 years later are considered classics of the form (at least by me). One of those is Allegheny Moon.

♫ Patti Page - Allegheny Moon

This was the year that ELVIS really hit it big.

Elvis Presley

He had half a dozen chart toppers, starting with Heartbreak Hotel. Besides that one, there were others you know, perhaps including I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.

♫ Elvis - I Want You I Need You I Love You

INTERESTING STUFF – 10 October 2020


Thank TGB reader Ali in Seattle for this one. And hurray for the captain.


On Monday 12 October at 8PM U.S. eastern time, there will be an online, exclusive event to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Among the participants are Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Stacy Abrams, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren and many more.

Anyone may attend but you must register. You can do that now here.


This video is short and less than dramatic in the search for a young, special needs boy lost in the forest at night. I'm impressed with the calm manner of the police in a frightening situation.


My New York City friend Annie Gottlieb sent a story about why people should not offer quack cancer cures to friends who are sick.

I've written about this here and here and probably elsewhere. But there is a line in The Guardian story, written by Steven W Thrasher, that hit home, particularly recently as my energy wanes:

”...if you want to do something to help someone in distress, as George Carlin famously riffed, unplug their clogged toilet or paint the garage. Don’t tell a sick or injured person what they should do, because it’s a sneaky and harmful way of dealing with your own fear of death.”

These days, I am most grateful for help taking with things like taking out trash and breaking down delivery boxes for recycling and other seemingly simple tasks that can now be so difficult for me.

You should read the entire article. It is definitely worth your time.


I know, I've been showing you baby panda pictures every week for at least a month and today is no different because – TA-DAH! Now we know it's a boy. Here's the Washington Post video of is vet exam this week:


You know how old film footage always looks jerky and out of time? This one, a snowball fight from 134 years ago, has been colorized and speed-adjusted and now it looks almost so modern that it could have been shot yesterday. Take a look:

You can read more about it at Bored Panda.


TGB's Sunday music columnist Peter Tibbles, who lives in Melbourne, sent this video of a baby wombat and kangaroo friends.


Also from Peter Tibbles. The video is old, seven years, and fuzzy but you're going to be happy to see it.


Youtube bills this as the best bear fight ever. I don't think I buy that – it looks to me like a couple of buddies just rough housing around one day in the woods.


It's the cutest thing.

* * *

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.

Age Friendly Adaptations, Adjustments and Workarounds

It's not always that we can't do it anymore (although that can become true), but that we can't do it the way we have always done it before now - “it” being a usually increasing number of things that become more difficult.

Earlier this week I was talking with my friend Jan Adams when this came up in conversation. Jan, who lives in San Francisco, has been blogging at Happening Here for as long as I have been doing that at TGB although Jan focuses on the much larger scale of human political and common good.

”I've been yammering here,” she writes on her home page, “about activism, politics, history, racism and other occasional horrors and pleasures since 2005. I intend to continue as long as the opportunity exists.

“In this time, that means activism and chronicling resistance. Perhaps it always has, one way and another.”

We were both a lot younger when we began our blogs 15 years ago. We had not run into many of the limitations that have creeped into our lives now. Jan is much more athletic than I've ever been so she has more joint and muscle pains than I. Nowadays, however, with COPD and cancer, I seem to be catching up in number if not in kind.

We decided to call our topic “adaptations” to old age. Jan reminded me in an email that I've been saying forever that old age is so much richer (maybe even wiser) than increasing infirmity. But that doesn't mean we can ignore the inevitable.

So here are some adaptations, adjustments and workarounds we have adopted. See what you think and what you can add to them.

Done. Finished. Gone. As Jan explained:

”Don't stand on a ladder to change a light bulb without a supportive friend present. :-) I did this the other day and fell; no damage this time, but I will not repeat the stupidity.”

I was a little ahead of Jan on the topic of ladders. A few months ago, I placed my foot on the bottom rung to change a light bulb and instantly thought, “Last time you did this is the last time you ever will have done this.” And so I saved myself a fall.

As I've published reports of my disease progression in these pages, more than a few of you have yelled over the internet, “get a shopping service” and “get a cleaning service”.

You were all correct, of course, and as of a few weeks ago, I've finally succumbed. What a difference. The only complaint I have so far is that the food shoppers do not seem to understand that if there is a wrinkle in the tomato skin, it is not fresh. But it's not inedible so I let it go.

I have never liked walking into my room with an unmade bed but now, it takes three sit-down rests just to tidy up the covers and pillows. So I don't anymore. And I have found that it doesn't bother me at all.

With COPD, I can lose my breath entirely just bending over for two seconds to pick up something I've dropped. It's worse after plowing around in a lower cupboard for the right cooking pan – five minutes of heaving to get my breath back to normal.

A friend in New York suggested I just leave the two or three pans I use most often in the sink after washing or on the counter. It works perfectly.

I have always hated those plastic bathtub mats but more than ever I need one to be sure I won't fall in the shower. The problem is that they get icky slimy on the bottom and they are really hard to clean and there is that pesky COPD bending/breathing problem.

So one day in a fit, I threw out the mat and decided to worry about it later. Well, later turned up the next morning and the closest thing to help was a hand towel. It works.

I stood on that in the tub, it didn't slip and it took only ONE second to bend over to pick it up, ring it out and dump it in the washing machine. Where has this idea been hiding my whole life.

Sometimes, walking slowly, I can get to the mailbox and nearby trash bins without breathing too hard. That is, unless the trash I'm carrying weighs more than about five pounds.

And, sometimes, even lightweight trash is hard to carry without losing my breath. So I've given up my carport which is twice as far from my apartment as the parking lot and I leave my car there at the end of the walkway.

Now I take the trash to my car, drive the 300 or 400 or 500 feet (I've never learned how to estimate that kind of distance) to the bins and mailboxes. At first, I felt kind of stupid doing this but not anymore.

And now it is your turn. In the astonishing number and kinds of infirmities that can afflict elders, solutions must vary widely but I'm guessing there are plenty we learn from and share with one another.

Give us your best in the comments below.