Oops. Sorry About My Wednesday Mistake

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

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

“Dr. will call Friday with scan results.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"'But just be real.'"

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

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

A Week of Worry

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

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

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

But not this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not true.

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

I'll let you know what the scan reveals.

A TGB READER STORY: The Sunflower Meditation

By Judy Anderson

Hi, Ronni. Several months ago, you made a list that stuck with me. It did so because I’d recently done a meditation that evoked your desire to be surrounded by puppies and kittens who would tumble and play and make little kitten noises and generally entertain themselves by squirming in and out of the circle of your arms.

Here is that sunflower meditation:

The field is covered with millions of yellow sunflowers: some giant size, nearly two feet across, some as small as a quarter. I love these sunflowers, they are so cheerful that I yearn to bury myself in them.

Instead, I sit down, pulling them toward me, rubbing my face with their scratchy black seed heads.

Voices. I look up. Laugh. I’ve never seen such a sight. The sunflowers have all turned into yellow cats and kittens, millions of them. Some 10 or 20 of them have assigned themselves to me, leaving an overflowing basket of yellow kittens on my lap.

They’re crawling in and out of the basket, meowing in their sweet little kitten voices, looking up at me, hoping I’m Cat Mom with milk. Mom cats try to keep up with their babies. Some shy cats hide underneath cats not so shy.

More yellow cats than I’d ever seen. There are hundreds of them with jobs: a band of feisty yellow cats patrols the perimeter. Curious big cats at the Cat Border Inspection Station inquire of my provenance.

Jellicle cats, want tips on breaking into Broadway. Muscular tough yellow cats patrol the subway stations in New York, tiny mischievous cats put their cold noses in my ears, and Quizzical Cats call out to each other with the answers to Cat Jeopardy.

A big floppy avuncular cat crawls onto my chest and stares me down, looking for a serious tete a tete. I pretend to understand him and respond in my version of Cat Talk.

He nudges me, commanding my attention. Full of advice, he nods his head sagely, pats my cheek with his big soft paw, and says, “It’ll be okay, it’ll be okay.”

* * *

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

Living and Dying

Well, I've gone and done it again - read yet another book on dying when I said I wouldn't do that.

This one, titled Dying: A Memoir, by Australian writer Cory Taylor who died of melanoma in 2016, is a whole lot more autobiography than death but there are a few points that resonated with me.

Taylor's book is not the only one that speaks about working through anger as a universal response to a medical death sentence.

Most books about death do that but I've never experienced it and as I may have mentioned in the past, the one thing I have learned all on my own through 77 years of life is that if it happens to me, it happens to thousands, millions of others.

I'm pretty sure that just as we each find our own way to live our lives and no two are alike, that applies to dying too – at least for those of us who are privileged to be given some time to contemplate this monumental transition into the unknown.

I've never asked myself, “Why me?” That is not to say I'm more virtuous than anyone else; it just doesn't occur to me. I'm more likely to ask, “Why not me?” and perhaps that's related to the fact that everyone in my family dies of cancer. What else should I expect.

Another assumption in much of the writing about dying is that we-the-dying spend a good deal of time reflecting on our pasts. Really?

Once again, not me. I've been parsing my past for all these 77 years. I know my regrets, I've made as much peace as possible with my transgressions, learned what life lessons I could glean and moved on.

How I feel about the past is how I feel about an award I once won. I wanted it badly and was thrilled when my name was called. But the next morning I was disappointed that I couldn't summon the same feelings of joy and excitement as the night before.

Of course not, I eventually realized. Because it was yesterday. What's on for today is what I cared about that morning.

A third concern of death writers – amateurs (those who are dying) and professionals (reporters and “experts”) - is dealing with unhappiness and depression.

That can't be easy but again, not me.

Some of my attention nowadays is taken up with the anticipation of death in the relatively near future. I'm almost accustomed to it now as an appendage to most of what rolls around in my head.

Which is usually about the day's priorities. I'm very much a live-in-the-now kind of girl which is to say, death sentence or not, is there something yummy for lunch?

Have I told you that food is a great, good advantage of my personal cancer predicament? As the nurses regularly remind me, keeping up my weight is crucial to my well-being so that I don't fall into frailty. That means I can eat pretty much any- and everything I please.

The higher the calorie count the better and it should include a lot of animal protein, fats of all kinds and most other stuff I used to think is unhealthy for me. Well, in fact it is still unhealthy, but as one of the oncology nurses told me, “The cancer will kill you faster than the diet.”

So keep eating. (I'm fairly certain there are a couple more orange cranberry muffins in the freezer.)

What I am finding, at least for the moment and subject to change over time, is that dying isn't too different from living. Certainly that “predicament” is never out of sight or mind, but for now it doesn't matter much in day-to-day life.

Yes, I count out my pills once a week, I show up for chemo sessions and worry a bit about what a new scan will show about how or if the chemotherapy is working while ruminating on this ultimate existential quandary.

It doesn't feel too much different from life before diagnosis.

ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities - Hollywood

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.

* * *


I've done a column on Los Angeles, but Hollywood is rather a special case so it gets its own column (only because there are enough songs to justify that – never let a chance go by).

TOM RUSSELL is fond of writing about real people, and he does it so well.

Tom Russell

In this case it's the playwright and author William Faulkner, who spent some time in Hollywood as a screen writer (which included The Big Sleep and To Have and Have Not). Tom's song is appropriately named William Faulkner in Hollywood.

♫ Tom Russell - William Faulkner In Hollywood

BONNIE RAITT should know about Hollywood as she was born and brought up there (or thereabouts).

Bonnie Raitt

She later went east to college in New York, but more especially to the folk and blues clubs there, also hoping to improve her guitar playing skills. And boy, did that pay off in spades. Her contribution is Marriage Made in Hollywood.

♫ Bonnie Raitt - Marriage made in Hollywood

Someone who has occasionally teamed up with Bonnie for concerts is BOZ SCAGGS.

Boz Scaggs

I’ve always thought of Boz as a fine guitarist but it was his singing that brought him to world notice with several big selling albums in the seventies. Singing or playing, it doesn’t really matter. Here he is with Hollywood Blues.

♫ Boz Scaggs - Hollywood Blues

THE EVERLY BROTHERS certainly seem to know the pitfalls of trying to get a job in Hollywood.

Everly Brothers

Although by the end of the song we realise that there’s an ulterior motive behind their concern. They just want their baby back, rather than have her become a success. Little Hollywood Girl.

♫ Everly Brothers - Little Hollywood Girl

Although better known as an actor in Australia, JON ENGLISH was also a singer, songwriter and guitarist.

Jon English

When young, he was a member of several bands in Sydney until he was plucked to perform the role of Judas in the original Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar. From then on, Jon alternated between music and acting, including roles on TV as well as Gilbert and Sullivan and the like.

Alas, he died a couple of years ago. From his time as a musician we have Hollywood Seven.

♫ Jon English - Hollywood Seven

CLEO BROWN is yet another artist who was born in Mississippi and went to Chicago. In her case, her family moved when she was still a kid.

Cleo Brown

It was there that Cleo learned to play the piano. She started playing on the vaudeville circuit and later took over Fats Waller’s radio program when he left.

During the downtime, she had a couple of newcomers play to give them a bit of a break – Dave Brubeck and Marian McPartland. Cleo’s contribution is When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan.

♫ Cleo Brown - When Hollywood Goes Black And Tan

Here’s a first: this is the first time that BILLY JOEL has appeared in my column. Oops, I just checked and found that that was a little fib, he has appeared once before. I’m getting a bit unrememberful in my old age.

Billy Joel

Nothing against Billy, it’s just the days are rare when I think, “Oh, I must play some Billy Joel”. Today is one of those days and it’s one of his hits, Say Goodbye to Hollywood.

♫ Billy Joel - Say Goodbye to Hollywood

EDDY BELL (whoever he is) has obviously been influenced by Chuck Berry and also, to a lesser extent, Bobby Bare. Could do worse than those two.

Eddy Bell

I hope Chuck received some royalties from the song Johnny B Good is in Hollywood.

♫ Eddy Bell - Johnny B Good Is In Hollywood

THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND are mostly thought of as a country influenced band, but they began their existence in Hollywood (or environs).

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Of course, around the time they started, The Byrds, The Dillards, Rick Nelson and others were dabbling in country sounding music mixed with rock so it was in the air. They acknowledge both streams that made them a success in Hillbilly Hollywood.

♫ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Hillbilly Hollywood

Trust DORY PREVIN to bring us down with her song, although if you don't listen to the words it sounds rather jolly.

Dory Previn

Actually, none of the songs today could be called happy go lucky. But Dory's is particularly depressing. Perhaps that's the general theme of Hollywood.

♫ Dory Previn - Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign

INTERESTING STUFF – 2 February 2019


Today is Groundhog Day on which Punxsutawney Phil predicts how much longer winter will last depending on whether he sees his shadow.

Here's a story about how this annual ritual came about – and it's not even very interesting, but there you are.


As anyone not hibernating knows, this past week gave the U.S. a record-breaking cold spell, a dangerous one that killed several people.

In no way ignoring that terrible outcome, there suddenly are dozens of videos online of people showing what happens when you throw boiling water into sub-zero air. Actually, it's beautiful. Take a look:

How does this happen - that water turns instantly to snow? And why does the air need to be super cold? Wired magazine explains for us:

”Actually, this is a great example of water in all three phases: solid, liquid, and gas. The boiling water starts off mostly in the liquid phase. However, since it's so hot, the water has enough energy to make the transition from liquid to gas.

“Hot water evaporates faster than cool water, which is why this trick works better with boiling water.”

There is a more detailed explanation at Wired.


Take a look at this – footage of horses playing aorund in deep snow earlier this month in Austria. Who knew horses enjoy snow?


Here is a nice little video showing off a few items in the vast collections at the Smithsonian Institution.


The wild monkeys of Gibralter appear to have fleecing tourists down to a science.


The YouTube page tells us that

”...real-life caveman Angelo Mastropietro has made his hermit dream a reality - by spending over £160,000 turning a 700-year-old cave, carved into 250 million year old sandstone cliffs in the the Wyre Forest, into his dream home.

“The 38-year-old, originally from Worcestershire, was living a high-flying life as the head of a successful recruitment company in Australia when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. The condition led to him being temporarily paralysed - and inspired him to seek a simpler life.”

I'm not so sure about “simple” but this cave home has all the modern conveniences and is amazing.


You know how it goes: you bring home a tiny little kitten (or puppy), so fragile and so cute. Then the next thing you know, like human children, the animal if full grown and you can't remember when that happened.

Now we can see how that works right in front of our eyes.

”A photographer from Warren Photographic Ltd documented the growth of their silver tabby Maine Coon kitten named Freya over the course of 10 months.

“The photographer then distilled this footage into a brilliant 26 second time-lapse that shows Freya growing from a tiny newborn kitten to a gorgeous long haired cat.”

* * *

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.

New Social Security Legislation Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

On Wednesday this week, Representative John Larson (D-CT), Chair of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced the introduction of the Social Security 2100 Act.

There are more than 200 co-sponsors for the legislation – all Democrats – even though the bill includes some conservative elements. As long-time Social Security and Medicare advocate, Nancy Altman, explained in Forbes:

”These include a tax cut for middle-income seniors and other Social Security beneficiaries who are currently required to pay federal income tax on their benefits.

“They also include the restoration of Social Security to long-range actuarial balance for three quarters of a century and beyond.

“In addition to requiring the wealthy to contribute their fair share, the legislation would gradually increase the Social Security contributions (FICA) of workers and their employers. FICA, which currently applies to wages up to $132,900, would also apply to wages above $400,000.

“The FICA rate, currently at 6.2% on employees and employers, would increase by .05% a year — 50 cents a week for an average worker — until it reaches 7.4%.”

Even with such strong support among House Democrats, the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate or White House this time. But in the past few years, the political atmosphere about Social Security has shifted from all talk all the time of cutting it because the program is bankrupt (it is not) to expanding it.

Representative Larson is committed to holding hearings throughout the country to debunk such myths and educate the public on the importance of Social Security to all Americans:

“'We need to educate and unmask so many of these myths,' Larson told [Reuters reporter Mark Miller].

“'We need to talk about why Social Security is an earned benefit and not an entitlement. Certainly it is something you are entitled to, but the word makes Social Security sound like a poverty program or a handout. Nothing roils people who have been paying into the program their entire lives more.'”

Keep that in mind: don't let anyone tell you Social Security is a “entitlement”. It is an EARNED BENEFIT that every working American pays for through payroll deductions during his and her working life.

Be sure you let your Congress person know you support this legislation and remind them every now and then how important this is – even if they already support the legislation. You can do that here via telephone, email or postal mail.

The legislation may not make it through the Senate this year, but it will happen eventually. A majority of American support it – even President Trump during his 2016 campaign (although I do know that he can change his mind on a dime).

* * *

My former husband, Alex Bennett, and I had our regularly scheduled Skype conversation on Tuesday.

Somehow it turned into mostly a bitch session - complaints about minor things that are unlikely to get fixed so what's the point. Maybe it's just blowing off steam on entirely unrelated issues going on with the government in Washington, D.C.

Letting Go When it is Time to Die

In last Friday's discussion here of physician-assisted death, reader Mary left, in part, this comment about who should have the right to use this service:

”I’d take this even further than if one is terminally ill,” wrote Mary. “I would definitely include Alzheimers. I would want the choice to be able to end my life if I was just old, tired, not feeling well and simply ready to go having had a good long life.”

This got me thinking about my Great Aunt Edith.

She was a fascinating woman, ahead of her time by miles but today isn't the place for her full story, just the end of it.

For 20 years or so leading up to Aunt Edith's death at age 89, I in New York City and she in Portland, Oregon spoke on the phone for an hour or so every weekend.

We talked about everything under the sun and although current affairs and politics were high on our agenda, there were books and movies and recipes and and all sorts of things to talk about. We never ran silent.

In between, Aunt Edith snail-mailed (no internet yet) me New Yorker cartoons, magazine and newspaper articles and other assorted information she wanted to share with me.

It was a lively relationship even at such a long distance from one another.

After many years, I noticed some slippage in her interests. Fewer snailmail envelopes came my way. Occasionally, she lamented that her old eyes got too tired to read easily anymore or even watch television sometimes. Her political opinions became fewer and more muted compared to the past.

This didn't happen all at once. In fact, by the time I noticed it, it had been there for months, slowly expanding – or, perhaps, I should say contracting. After a year or more, I realized that she was gradually letting go of the world around her.

Her interests continued to diminish until not too far short of her 90th birthday, Aunt Edith died.

Ever since then, I have hoped for a similar death, that when it is time to go, like Aunt Edith, I will have lost interest in the worldly things that engage me and lead me now.

Well, at least until the demise of the Trump era presents itself. I will be mightily pissed off to miss that.

Which brings me back to Mary's desire:

”I would want the choice to be able to end my life if I was just old, tired, not feeling well and simply ready to go having had a good long life.”

My first thought when I read that was, “Of COURSE that should be true.”

One of the things that is hard about being old in the United States, is that the “rules” - that is, the types of care and care homes, medical procedures, medications, health advice and government policy decisions affecting old people are made by people who are not old, who have no personal experience at growing old.

A whole lot of them think they know what is best for old folks. But aside from professional caregivers, they do not. The ultimate decision makers – politicians and corporate honchos – don't know and I don't think they much care either.

One example, pharmaceutical companies hardly ever include people older than 50 or so in drug trials so physicians have no idea how dosages should be adjusted for old people's bodies that function differently from younger adults.

And in the six or seven U.S. states that allow physician-assisted death, the politicians who drafted the legislation severely restricted the circumstances under which it may be used.

Why in the world should this be so? Whatever one's physical and health condition, why shouldn't people be allowed to end their lives when the time feels right to them?

Some have argued that people can shoot themselves or stop eating or chase down other means of dying. But why should they when there is a humane way to death not involving shocking violence or difficulty in carrying it out?

In monitoring myself since my cancer diagnosis 20 months ago, I've noticed a reduction in the intensity of some of my interests. I've dropped many political, current events and even health and ageing newsletters I've read regularly for years.

It feels similar to what I saw with Aunt Edith gradually bowing out of her engagement with life and the world around her.

I am convinced that I have been going through the early stages of this disengagement and I will know better than anyone when it is time for me to go. I've made all the assisted death arrangements with my medical team but I can do it only in one circumstance: when doctors decide I have fewer than six months to live.

Maybe that's not the right time for me. And anyway, why should the state care or regulate when an old person wants to take his/her leave?

A TGB READER STORY: Embrace the Challenges

By W. Christian Koch

We went camping this past week or, as one of my hardcore, outdoor friends calls it, "Glamping". (Glamorous Camping).

Whatever you call it, the family loves it. My adult kids and their spouses/fiance' all flocked back for our little excursion. We are members of a club, so it's something free we can all do together.

We started camping about 13 years ago. While all the trips sort of blend together, the overall sense we get is that of a loving satisfaction of enjoying each other.

Some of the trips didn't exactly go as planned. A couple tire blowouts, steaks falling in the fire, rainy trips, steaming hot trips, and getting lost.

One such event sticks out for me. It was the time we were lost, at night, amidst nothing but corn fields. Man, is it ever dark out there cruising corn fields! We were also low on gas and there was nowhere to turn the camper around. The dirt road we were on just kept going and going and going.

Tensions were running high. Suddenly my mother-in-law, Nancy, exclaimed, "Well, the corn's agrow'n".

The simplicity of her observation broke the tension and every last one of us laughed so hard, we couldn't breath. Eventually, there was a crossroad and we made it to our campground safely and no worse for the wear.

So, what has me recounting such tales? It's another odd moment as I practice the mindfulness technique I learned to manage the chronic pain.

I was spraying off the carpets and tarp we use camping. When I started, there was a familiar aroma that was present that I never noticed while cleaning it in the past. It was the smell of camping.

It was the smoky smell of the dozens of campfires. It was the stains of millions of raindrops, from countless storms, that mixed with dirt as it splashed back on the tarp after hitting the muddy ground.

There is a small spot where the tarp got too close to the heat exhaust and melted a hole and charred it a bit. I looked at the imperfection of that very old tarp (my dad made it for me when I was 14!). I stood there for a moment and concentrated on that smell and the hole. All those memories flooded back and I started wondering why those challenges were so defined while the thousands and thousands of wonderfully positive experiences are sort of lost in a sea of really happy family moments.

I wondered if I really wanted to wash that tarp for fear of losing that aroma that was stirring those memories. Well, I went ahead and washed the dirt off and I'm happy to report the smell that is so pleasant to me was still there.

But it got me to pondering. I look at the beat up, somewhat dirtied and holey fabric of my life and I know I need to wash the dirt of the bad times off so I can continue to be useful.

And I truly do have a sea of terrific memories of a very happy existence thus far. But I'm wondering if I shouldn't keep the "aroma" of those difficult and challenging moments around because they definitely help define who I am and overcoming them has made my life rich and worth living.

It's not that I want to wallow in any "whoa is me pity party", but just like those camping stories that help knit us together as a family, remembering my challenges that I've overcome has made my story more complete.

I just need to remember though, not to get so caught up in how difficult things are or have been, rather take a look around, chill out and say, "Well, the corn's agrow'n".

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


On last week's post about Mary Oliver's poem, When Death Comes, my friend Darlene Costner, who is 93, left this comment:

”The more I ponder death and read what others think, the less I know how I feel. I was so sure that there is no afterlife, much as I wish I would be continuing on another planet or in another form here on earth.

“Now I am experiencing confusion about what to believe. None of us will know what happens until it happens; that much I know. I only know that I DO want to go gently into the good night. I agree with the last stanza of the poem.”

My psilocyben (magic mushroom) session, which took place five weeks ago now, continues to provoke new feelings and thoughts or, if not entirely new, has opened my mind to a re-examination of beliefs that, like Darlene, I assumed I had settled long ago.

Including afterlife.

I can give you all kinds of reasons to explain why I believe there is no such thing but that has not, over a lifetime, prevented me from enjoying speculation about what an afterlife might be. If there were one, of course.

One example: what if this, what we are living now, is the afterlife? What a (horrible) joke that would be.

In recent years, my favorite examination of afterlife possibilities is a 10-year-old book I've written about before, Sum, by neuroscientist, David Eagleman, subtitled Forty Tales From the Afterlives.

The description from the cover of a recent paperback edition explains its enormous charm and extraordinary creativity:

”In one afterlife, you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. In another version, you work as a background character in other people's dreams.

“Or you may find that God is a married couple, or that the universe is running backward, or that you are forced to live out your afterlife with annoying versions of who you could have been.”

As many reviewers of this worldwide best-selling and award-winning book have noted, the book is “teeming, writhing with imagination.”

And so it is. I don't believe a word of the book; I don't believe in an afterlife. But it is still a delight to read and ponder.

During and after my magic mushroom session, I came to see that death is something like the other side of life; they are equal parts of the continuum, inseparable, each impossible without the other.

As inadequate as that and my previous attempts to describe the magnitude of the experience and related realizations are, one of the things I came away with is an important change: that I don't need to believe in an afterlife to entertain the idea of an afterlife. Both can exist simultaneously.

When I say that now, it seems so obvious that it shouldn't need stating. But there you are – sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn the simplest things.

Now it's your turn to take on the afterlife.

ELDER MUSIC: Chip Taylor

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.

* * *

Chip Taylor

Even to music obsessives like me, CHIP TAYLOR isn’t exactly a household name. There are a few of us who appreciate his work and I hope that after today that number will increase.

Chip is probably best known, by those who know about him, as a songwriter However, he is also a performer and recording artist as well. We’ll play some of his well known songs as well as some of the others.

Probably Chip’s most famous song is Angel of the Morning. It was recorded by several people until MERRILEE RUSH got a hold of it and made it a hit.

Merrilee Rush

It was later a bigger hit for Juice Newton, but I prefer Merrilee’s version. Many others have had a go at it as well, from Nina Simone to The Pretenders. Dusty Springfield to Bonnie Tyler, and many more. Here’s the pick of them.

♫ Merrilee Rush - Angel of the Morning

Chip Taylor

Chip was born James Voight and is the youngest of three brothers. The oldest is Barry Voight, who is a geologist and a world-renowned vulcanologist and has been professor of geology at several universities throughout his life. However, when they were young, not yet teenagers, Barry liked to lead the others astray, especially Chip (or James as he was), as you will hear in Barry Go On.

♫ Chip Taylor - Barry Go on

The middle brother is Jon Voight. If that name seems familiar, you’re right: he is the actor and Academy Award winner. That also means that Chip and Barry are Angelina Jolie’s uncles.

Jon was mentioned in the previous song as well as this one, Hey Jonny. The song sounds like an extension of that previous one, as well as another more famous song. It’s really more a tribute to Bill Haley than to his brother.

♫ Chip Taylor - Hey Jonny

I’ll continue the story of sibling rivalry, and this should be familiar to all those out there with brothers and sisters. The song claims to be about how Chip got into the music biz, but perhaps not the way he wanted. Here is Bastard Brothers.

♫ Chip Taylor - Bastard Brothers

The song Wild Thing was a big hit for THE TROGGS in the sixties.


It gained even more fame when Jimi Hendrix performed it at the Monterey Pop Festival and set fire to his guitar and parts of the stage. The song has also appeared in films and, well, just about everywhere.

♫ The Troggs - Wild Thing

For 20 years Chip gave up the music industry and became a professional gambler and a professional golfer. I assume he was successful as 20 years is a long time.

Since his return he has recorded a number of well regarded albums. Some of those were in partnership with CARRIE RODRIGUEZ.

Chip & Carrie

They also toured and performed together. One of the albums they recorded is “Red Dog Tracks”. From that we have Private Thoughts.

♫ Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez - Private Thoughts

Chip Taylor

From really early in his career, before the Black Jack and the golf, Chip was essentially a country performer (in spite of being born and raised in Yonkers, New York). His main gig was writing songs for others and he was very successful at that.

The song Getting Older, Lookin' Back sounds as if it could have been a hit for many singers, but as far as I know it wasn’t. I can see Merle Haggard nailing this one.

♫ Chip Taylor - Getting Older Lookin' Back

Chip Taylor

The same could be said for Clean Your Own Tables. I’m surprised that these songs weren’t covered more extensively. Another one for Merle, I think, but here’s Chip.

♫ Chip Taylor - Clean Your Own Tables

From the album “Cimarron”, an excellent but underrated album, EMMYLOU HARRIS gives us Son of a Rotten Gambler.


I don’t know if the song is biographical (Chip’s biography, that is) or not, but it’s a really nice song.

♫ Emmylou Harris - Son of a Rotten Gambler

Chip Taylor

Coming right up to date with his latest album, released quite recently, Chip performs the song, The Light in Your Eyes.

♫ Chip Taylor - The Light in Your Eyes

Chip Taylor

I’ll end with another song about sibling rivalry and respect. It’s obvious that the brothers still like each other and get along but, of course, there’s always that brother thing. The song is Little Brothers from Chip’s album of the same name. I think it should have been called Little Brother, but that’s just me.

♫ Chip Taylor - Little Brothers

Chip Taylor

That wasn’t actually the end. I thought you might like to hear what Chip does with his two most famous songs. First, Angel of the Morning.

♫ Chip Taylor - Angel of the Morning

And Wild Thing. Chip and Carrie have recorded a live version that owes much to Hendrix, but this is the way Chip first recorded it.

♫ Chip Taylor - Wild Thing

INTERESTING STUFF – 26 January 2019


Would that Facebook would be so diligent with the opposing political point of view.

Marvin's Facebook page is here.




It's a new product that isn't widely available yet and hasn't yet been thoroughly reviewed, but it is worth encouraging since recycling as we do it now is massively ineffective.

”Enter Loop, a program with a mission to "eliminate the idea of waste," says Szaky. Loop takes up the first part of the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle" by creating returnable, reusable packaging for common consumer items.”


”TerraCycle looked at how to solve the root cause of waste, while still maintaining the virtues of disposables, like affordability and convenience... “How does Loop work exactly? You order from the Loop store, and your stuff will be shipped to you. On the first transaction, there's a deposit for the container — say 25 cents for a Coca-Cola.

” “Once it's returned to the store, or sent back in the reusable shipping container, no matter what state it's returned in (even if broken, because the container is the manufacturer's responsibility), you get your deposit back in full, says Szaky.”

Read many more details at Mother Nature Network.


So cute and brave. Oh, yeah, and smart too.


This quotation from reporter Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone> magazine sent in by TGB reader John Gear. It's about newly elected Congressional representative from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“That [Not having big campaign donors] doesn’t make anything she says inherently more or less correct. But it changes the dynamic a bit.

“All of AOC’s supporters sent her to Washington precisely to make noise. There isn’t a cabal of key donors standing behind her, cringing every time she talks about the Pentagon budget.

“She is there to be a pain in the ass, and it’s working. Virtually the entire spectrum of Washington officialdom has responded to her with horror and anguish."


I knew they are smart. I think I even knew, a long time ago, that they do this. It's amazing to see.


Off the coast of southern California earlier this month. What a thrill for the surfer.


For the past month or so, the nurses and medical assistants at the hemotology center where I get my chemo treatments at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) are wearing this teeshirt. I'm doing my best to find a way to buy one.


* * *

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.

Physician Assisted Death

It's also called “Death with Dignity” and “physician-assisted suicide” among another name or two. What is important to know is that it is NOT the same thing as euthanasia which is, by definition, understood to mean that a physician acts to end a patient's life.

Generally, I use the phrase “physician-assisted death” rather than “physician-assisted suicide” because “suicide” is such a loaded word. Also, “Death with Dignity, which is catchy, seems pretentious. Better to just say what it is plainly and simply.

Physician-assisted death, by whatever name, refers to a physician supplying the means of death but with the patient administering the lethal medication. This is legal in seven U.S. States: Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, Hawaii, California, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.

Oregon, where I live, was the first state, in 1997, to legalize physician-assisted death and I'm grateful to have that choice which I will use, depending on circumstances, when the time comes.

In Oregon, it is called the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA). You will find the full statute here.

And these are the are the most salient points of how the law works, from the oregon.gov website:

”The patient must make two oral requests to the attending physician, separated by at least 15 days.

“The patient must provide a written request to the attending physician, signed in the presence of two witnesses, at least one of whom is not related to the patient.

“The attending physician and a consulting physician must confirm the patient's diagnosis and prognosis.

“The attending physician and a consulting physician must determine whether the patient is capable of making and communicating health care decisions for him/herself.

“If either physician believes the patient's judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disorder (such as depression), the patient must be referred for a psychological examination.

“The attending physician must inform the patient of feasible alternatives to the DWDA including comfort care, hospice care, and pain control.

“The attending physician must request, but may not require, the patient to notify their next-of-kin of the prescription request.

“A patient can rescind a request at any time and in any manner. The attending physician will also offer the patient an opportunity to rescind his/her request at the end of the 15-day waiting period following the initial request to participate.”

As you can see, the requirements are fairly strict. Further:

”The law does not require the presence of a physician when a patient takes lethal medication. A physician may be present if a patient wishes it, as long as the physician does not administer the medication him/herself.”

You can find pretty much everything you want to know about Oregon's DWDA here.

TGB reader Elizabeth Kurata reminded me this week about an Oregon couple who, in 2017, chose to use the state's DWDA law to end their lives together. As Time magazine reported:

”On the last morning of their lives, Charlie and Francie Emerick held hands. The Portland, Ore., couple, married for 66 years and both terminally ill, died together in their bed April 20, 2017, after taking lethal doses of medication obtained under the state’s Death with Dignity law.

“Francie, 88, went first, within 15 minutes, a testament to the state of her badly weakened heart. Charlie, 87, a respected ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician, died an hour later, ending a long struggle that included prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease diagnosed in 2012.”

The couple had allowed one of their children, Sher Safran, to make a documentary about the end of their lives, Living and Dying: A Love Story. Here is the trailer:

You can watch the full 45-minute documentary at Vimeo.

Is physician-assisted death a choice you would make for yourself?

Poetry of Dying

Last week, well-known American poet, Mary Olivery, died in her home in Florida at age 83. She had won both the Publitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

In Oliver's obituary, The New York Times reported:

”Her poems, which are built of unadorned language and accessible imagery, have a pedagogical, almost homiletic quality. It was this, combined with their relative brevity, that seemed to endear her work to a broad public, including clerics, who quoted it in their sermons; poetry therapists, who found its uplifting sensibility well suited to their work; composers, like Ronald Perera and Augusta Read Thomas, who set it to music; and celebrities like Laura Bush and Maria Shriver.

“All this, combined with the throngs that turned out for her public readings, conspired to give Ms. Oliver, fairly late in life, the aura of a reluctant, bookish rock star.”

Many TGB readers noted Oliver's passing - so many that it feels like every one of you sent this particular poem of hers. I thank you all and can't imagine how I have missed it all these years.

When Death Comes
By Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence

and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom; taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

A TGB READER STORY: What Will You Share in Your Last Lecture?

By Brent Green who blogs at Boomers

The sad news finally arrived in July 2008. Millions had been watching and waiting. Professor Randy Pausch succumbed to the ravages of pancreatic cancer after a noble fight and a noteworthy battle to make the world aware of the disease that killed him.

As he wisely observed, pancreatic cancer does not have a celebrity spokesperson because its victims do not live long enough. So, during the final ten months of his life in 2007 and 2008, he had become an accidental national celebrity for an engaging "last lecture" and as an intrepid crusader to fight this disease, even though his demise was inevitable.

Dr. Pausch finished his career as Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction and Design at Carnegie Mellon University. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2006, and he undertook aggressive chemotherapies and radiation treatments, but a year later his cancer had metastasized to his liver and spleen.

According to his doctors then, he had merely three to six months of functional health remaining.

Carnegie Mellon, as well as some other universities, has a tradition called “The Last Lecture.” The context is simple but inspiring: What if you have but one last chance to share your experiences and wisdom with others in the form of a lecture? What enduring values, lessons and ideas would you communicate if this is your final chance?

Professor Pausch, who I will refer to as Randy, gave his last lecture in September 2007, but of course, it was not a hypothetical lecture framework in his case. It was reality; he was dying.

But the lecture recorded that day is not about dying; it is about achieving childhood dreams. Randy presented his lecture with enthusiasm, humor, humility, and clarity.

A video recording of this lecture ended up on YouTube, and millions have watched it (approaching 19 million as of this writing). Randy appeared on Oprah's daytime television show and gave a condensed version of the lecture. Jeffrey Zaslow, a journalist with The Wall Street Journal, who had attended the live lecture, worked with Randy to write and publish a small book of wisdom and motivational encouragement entitled, The Last Lecture.

The book topped bestseller lists for weeks following its release in April 2008.

Defying the odds against him, Randy nevertheless lived long enough to see his lecture become a worldwide phenomenon, to watch his book soar to heights of publishing success, to appear on ABC network in an hour-long special with Diane Sawyer, to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show with eleven precious minutes to communicate his powerful messages, to testify before Congress about the need for research into preventing and curing this horrific disease, to fulfill one of his dreams through a cameo acting role in J. J. Abrams’ 2009 cinematic release of Star Trek, to give an address in May 2008 for the Carnegie Mellon graduating class, and, finally, to keep his growing list of admirers informed about his journey through a personal website and blog.

Randy wasn’t just a dedicated professor, a father of three small children, a husband very much in love with his wife, Jai, and a valiant crusader for those afflicted by fatal diseases. At 47 in 2007, he was also a young Boomer man who gave members of his generational cohort a glimpse of how an optimistic generation may tackle the final challenges of mortality and eventual dying.

Through his brave journey, he demonstrated the many ways that this next generation of aging mortals will confront the inevitable: by communicating new narratives about the value of human life, by showing how one’s final months can be dedicated to sharing timeless wisdom with children and young people, and by not going quietly into that dark night.

Randy spent his last days under hospice care, a charitable organization that gives the truest context for reconciliation, remembrance, communication, acceptance, and dignity.

When pondering how the Baby Boomer generation will change dying in the most constructive ways, I realized that those Boomers who address the challenges of a slow dying process would likely choose to die the way they’ve lived: idealistically, intensely and intently focused on creating a legacy for those who survive.

Some will follow in Randy’s footsteps. They will give new meaning to the end of our mortal journeys, leaving behind a wiser nation.

Maybe they will help our fragile species finally understand and accept that human life is precious and each person, given the proper context, can contribute meaningfully to our collective journey, even during the final days of life.

* * *

[RONNI HERE: Here is Randy Pausch's Final Lecture. It has received close to 20 million views and that's on only one of the posted videos. Others of the same lecture have been collecting viewers too.

The lecture runs one hour and 16 minutes and it's worth your time. Here it is:]

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

Cancer and Mood Changes

Did you ever wake up in a bad mood that affects you all day? Was it a dream that caused it? Hormones? Something you ate? Who knows?

Other times you can – sort of – identify the cause: you're frightened about something or worried or sad or unhappy for reasons that are generally obvious. Aside from chronic depression (which news stories tell me is widespread), dark moods eventually lift and we move on.

Nowadays, since I was diagnosed in October with inoperable cancer, I can easily identify the cause of black moods: it is the aftermath of chemotherapy, those days when I'm physically unwell that produce grim thoughts and feelings.

That's when I become convinced I will die before the day is out, before I have finished notes for my healthcare proxy and beneficiary to help her find all the information she will need.

It's when I imagine I will die before anyone thinks I will and lie rotting in my bed until someone wonders where Ronni is.

It's when I can't read or watch television because my deep, dispirited mind tells me there is no point to doing anything because I will be dead soon.

Yes, I know I have told you about how much I believe death is part of life, about how curious I am about these last weeks and months, and how lucky I am to have this have time.

But I also have days with dreadful thoughts that drag me down below where I think I can ever crawl back out again.

At the time, this always feels more real that the good times - until...

Like Saturday morning when the chemo fuzziness and fatigue lift and I'm a normal person again. (And no, I don't need any advice - I'm just reporting the weather from the frontier.)

ELDER MUSIC: A Good Year for the Roses

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.

* * *


Recently, as I write this, the Melbourne Cup was run (in Melbourne, big surprise). This is a horse race and the good people of Melbourne actually get a public holiday for it. Imagine that, a public holiday for a horse race.

It’s held on the same day as America’s elections. I bring this up because each year Flemington race course (where it’s held) is awash with flowers and most especially roses.

To my eyes (not being a gambler) this is the best part of the whole thing. It inspired me to write this column.

ÉDITH PIAF remains the singer against whom every other French singer is judged.

Edith Piaf

Her songs became world-wide hits and this is one of them, La Vie en Rose. Édith wrote the song herself, but due to the arcane copyright laws at the time she didn’t profit from it.

♫ Edith Piaf - La Vie en Rose

BRODERICK SMITH is one of the best, if not the best rock singer Australia has produced.

Broderick Smith

He first came to general notice as the singer for the rock group, The Dingoes. They were a fantastic live band but the quality didn’t really transfer to their records. Pity.

I’ve met him a couple of times and in person he is retiring and modest to the point of shyness, quite unlike the persona he projects on stage. This is Faded Roses.

♫ Brod Smith - Faded Roses

EMMYLOU HARRIS has seven rose songs that are worthy of inclusion.

Emmylou Harris

I had to choose one, of course, and settled on I'll Be Your San Antone Rose. That was Norma, the Assistant Musicologist’s choice as well. The song was written by Susanna Clark, the wife of the great singer/songwriter Guy Clark.

♫ Emmylou Harris - I'll Be Your San Antone Rose

While we’re on roses from that area it’d be remiss of me if I didn’t follow that song by an obvious one from BOB WILLS.

Bob Wills

He recorded a song called San Antonio Rose and then later updated it as New San Antonio Rose. It’s this latter one we have today, as it’s superior to the first one. The singer, as he is on most of Bob Wills’s records, is Tommy Duncan. Bob just makes those irritating comments throughout.

♫ Bob Wills - New San Antonio Rose

Due east of San Francisco you’ll encounter San Joaquin County. It’s the home of the city of Lodi, referenced in one of Creedence’s best songs. We’re not interested in that one today. Someone who sings about that area (and many others) is TOM RUSSELL.

Tom Russell

Tom is one of the finest songwriters around at the moment, and there’d be few others in the last 30 years who could equal him. He also sings really well, as you’ll hear on Rose of the San Joaquin.

♫ Tom Russell - The Rose of the San Joaquin

Getting back to Texas, where we were earlier, we stumble across MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHEY.

Michael Martin Murphey

The Yellow Rose of Texas was almost certainly written by a black American soldier about his mulatto gal back in Tennessee. This man, whose name is unknown, was with Sam Houston when, along with an army of “Texians”, Tennesseeans and others, attempted a large land grab (of Texas) from Mexico.

Of course, the Mexicans had already accomplished a land grab of their own (as had the French and Spanish previously). The Texians were pitted against General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836.

Surprisingly, we know the name of the Yellow Rose. She was Emily West, later adding Morgan after her slave owner. Although from Tennessee, or possibly Bermuda, she was brought to Texas by that owner, James Morgan.

Unfortunately, the town where he set her up was overrun by the Mexicans (James had skedaddled leaving her behind) and the comely Emily caught Santa Anna’s eye. Now, Santa Ana thought he was God’s gift to women; only two weeks earlier he had married another captive, in spite of having a wife back in Mexico.

A couple of days later, Houston was up a tree spying on the Mexican camp. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that this was military rather than voyeurism for Santa Ana didst sport with Em and a champagne breakfast was the order of the day that morning.

Houston ordered an attack and the Mexican army was caught with their pants down, literally in the case of Santa Ana as reports from the time attest.

The Texians won and Emily was granted her freedom for her crucial service and given a ticket to New York. This is the song about her, as close to the original as is possible these days.

Michael Martin Murphey - The Yellow Rose of Texas

I’ll continue the theme of the previous song with DAVE ALVIN. It could be called a companion piece.

Dave Alvin

To my ears Dave has about the finest (male) voice currently in country and roots music. Actually, some might suggest the previous two singers would be in the running as well and I wouldn’t disagree - after all, it was I who brought that up. Anyway, here’s Dave with Black Rose of Texas, a song he wrote himself.

♫ Dave Alvin - Black Rose Of Texas

At the time everyone was surprised when NICK CAVE had KYLIE MINOGUE along to sing on his album.

Nick & Kylie

That album was called “Murder Ballads” and the combination worked well for the song Where the Wild Roses Grow. You can probably guess from the album title that Nick bumps off Kylie. Just because he can, it seems.

♫ Nick Cave - Where the Wild Roses Grow

THE STATLER BROTHERS don’t perform any more, more’s the pity.

Statler Brothers

At their best, which was the entirety of their career, they were the finest harmonizing band around. Certainly the best in country music. Here they perform Bed of Roses (or Bed of Rose’s, take your pick).

♫ Statler Brothers - Bed of Roses

From out of left field, or to be more precise, out of the fifties, I give you FRANKIE LAINE.

Frankie Laine

Listening to the words of the song, I’m struck by the parallels between it and the story of Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly). In this case we don’t know if Rose topped herself after Frankie left. We hope not. See what you think about Rose, Rose I Love You.

♫ Frankie Laine - Rose Rose I Love You

The BLACK SORROWS are the brainchild of, and yet another band started by that musical national treasure, Joe Camilleri.

Black Sorrows

Joe first came to most people’s notice as the main man in Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons; that is most people in Australia. Since then he’s started half a dozen bands, all of which he keeps going. I don’t know how he does it. The Sorrows are the best known of his groups, and Harley and Rose is their best known song.

♫ Black Sorrows - Harley And Rose

I’ll end as I began with an iconic (and I use the word advisedly) singer, PATSY CLINE.

Patsy Cline

As with Édith, she is the one every subsequent country (and many other) singer is judged, and most are found wanting in comparison. I know this is unfair, but it happens.

Fortunately, we still have a lot of music that Patsy recorded. One of those is A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold).

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

INTERESTING STUFF – 19 January 2019

This is an extremely short Interesting Stuff today. I don't know if the internet is just less interesting this week or I'm behind in my regular rounds to see what's out there. So here are three I like.


Zeus is a Husky. He doesn't want to get out of bed. As the YouTube page says,

”He likes to sleep in, which isn't always a bad thing, but when it's time to get up and go outside, he protests. He generally likes going outside in the morning and smelling for any critters that might have passed through the yard during the night. But this morning, he struggled to get motivated to get up. Can't we all relate?!”


Chuck Nyren of Advertising to Baby Boomers sent this video. Technology has come a long way in our lifetimes and what's obvious to you and me, isn't so to two teenagers.


My friend Hank Berez sent this kitty video:

* * *

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.

Fighting Cancer

Is cancer, do you think, the most dreaded word in the English language? If it's not, surely it is in the top five.

Nobody wants to hear that – cancer - about themselves or anyone they love and in my case, when they first told me about my pancreatic cancer in June 2017, it took awhile for me to believe it.

People may not have noticed before but once they are diagnosed and weighing potential treatments they hear a lot about “fighting” cancer. On television commercials, at websites for support groups, on teeshirts and from other patients too. “I'm going to fight this thing,” they say. “I'm going to beat it.”

A year and a half later I'm still wondering what that means, to “fight” cancer. I can't punch it in the nose. Or chase it out of town. Perhaps I'm supposed to be extra vigilant in some secret way to keep it from killing me.

Early on in my cancer odyssey, I rejected the ubiquitous vegetable diets that promise to cure cancer, along with suspicious clinics in other countries. (Do not ever forget: if there were a cure for cancer, we would all know about it.)

I was (and still am) being treated at a world-class cancer center and I figure these doctors, nurses and surgeons know a whole lot more about cancer than I could ever learn on the internet.

So I listened to them. I still do. And I do what they tell me.

The massive Whipple surgery gave me about 10 cancer-free months before two new cancers showed up. There is nothing to help, the doctors tell me now, except chemotherapy that may delay the growth of the cancers for awhile to give me some more healthy time.

So as long as the chemo gives me more good days than bad, I'll continue with the doctors' advice. But “fight” cancer? Not me.

I still don't know what it means I should do but it sounds like it would wear me out or make me unhappy. I feel healthy still most of the time and I want to live the time I have in the best possible ways. Fighting doesn't fit that.

I'm still curious, however, about what people mean when they say that.