INTERESTING STUFF – 17 October 2020

MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT NOBEL PRIZE SURPRISE

According to Twitter,

Comment thread is here,

SOCIAL SECURITY 2021 COLA increase

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.

MAN SHELTERS 300 ANIMALS IN HOME DURING HURRICANE DELTA

ManShelters300dogsFromHurricaneDelta

”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.

BULL REDUCED TO BEING GLORIFIED GOAT CLIMBING FRAME

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

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO GROW THIS YEAR?

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

OlderCrankier

FOOD STORAGE HACKS

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

PreservingBananas

Store Potatoes With Apples To Keep Them From Sprouting
ApplesandPotatoes

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

BEARS FALLING OFF BROOKS FALLS

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.

LOTSA LOTSA ANIMAL LOVE

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.

Platters

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

SEXIST TAKEDOWN

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

TRIBUTE TO JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG

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.

ONTARIO, CANADA, PROVINCIAL POLICE RESCUE

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.

DON'T TELL CANCER PATIENTS HOW TO CURE THEMSELVES

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.

NATIONAL ZOO ANNOUNCES THE SEX OF THEIR BABY PANDA

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:

COLORIZED AND SPEED-ADJUSTED 1886 SNOWBALL FIGHT

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.

WOMBAT AND A KANGAROO BABIES

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

NOW WHO'S THE SCAREDY CAT

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

BEAR FIGHT IN FINLAND

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.

WHEN A BUTTERFLY PHOTO BOMBS A LITTLE KOALA

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.

LADDERS
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.

SHOPPING AND CLEANING
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.

STOPPED MAKING THE BED
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.

POTS IN THE SINK (OR ON THE COUNTER)
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.

BATHTUB MAT
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.

TRASH, MAILBOX AND THE CAR
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.


Crabby Old Lady and the Ghoul

In the scheme of things that is our planet's terrible predicament, this is not important. But it is the first message Crabby Old Lady encountered from the world outside her home on Tuesday morning and it deflated her for an hour.

It shouldn't have done that. But Crabby tires more easily now and it is harder to control her emotions. Mornings are the most difficult until the pain meds kick in. (Actually, Crabby suspects caffeine is easily as potent but she rolls with both to be able to get moving.)

So some random person emailed asking Crabby to promote on her blog an e-book he says he has written about being a hospice musician. Crabby would even receive a free copy, he wrote, plus he wants to publish one of Crabby's blog posts sometime “in the next six months” on his blog which does not, at this time, exist.

What? Not a word of acknowledgment about Crabby's current condition and that his personal money-making schemes might not be on her agenda? Not a word – not, “gee, sorry about your impending demise?”

After Crabby's one-sentence, impolite reply, he asked in response how he was supposed to know Crabby doesn't like to share.

Huh?

The more Crabby thought about this, the more she realized it is of a piece with the kind of world we live in now since COVID took over. It has become an acceptable position in life to not care about anything beyond our individual selves.

The White House is a ghost town now that the infected president is breathing in all the rooms with no mask. Aides, household workers, the press are afraid to go near him.

Except for the daily count, our 200,000 plus coronavirus dead are barely ever mentioned. Millions of Americans mourn their loved ones, isolated and alone.

We cannot touch. We cannot hug. Certainly not kiss. Now they tell us that 12 feet is a more realistic safe distance than six feet from one another. And some ghoulish stranger wants Crabby Old Lady to sell his book for him while she is dying.

Crabby suspects it's getting close to time for her to go - before she loses all faith in humanity.


A TGB READER STORY: A Perspective on Time

By Melissa Hart

I’m sitting on my patio on a cool Arizona morning, drinking my tea and observing my yard. The birds are active, lizards are scurrying about, and the occasional rabbit gets under the fence, or perhaps there’s a nest under the shed.

Some mornings I’m thinking about the details of the day ahead, but today my mind wanders to deeper things.

I’ve watched the seasons go by from my spot on the patio. Birds come and go. Plants grow, get big and need to be trimmed. Nature continues on and it kes no difference if we’re here or not. It moves forward with no regard to our situation, our desires or our fears.

Time goes on.

We are currently stuck at home. Time passes; sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Some of us have family and friends nearby, some at a distance. Some of us have none at all. Some welcome alone time; some dread it.

This event is a fraction, a speck of our lives. Our lives are but a speck in history. Who will remember us? Have we made a difference? Will we make a difference? Will future humans look at our remains and relics and speculate about us?

Time is measured in eons. In geologic time the continents move imperceptibly. Glaciers come and go. Earthquakes happen. Floods, fire. The land changes in the present as it has in the past.

The dinosaurs wandered the earth for millions of years. Did they ponder their existence? Then the earth changed and they were gone. The earth was different, but life continued.

We have changed the face of the earth, too, for growth and survival and also by ignorance and greed. We have fought nature, but nature eventually adapts and continues.

Time goes on.

In reality, the future is always uncertain, except for this: We are here. We grow old. We pass on to whoever or whatever our next stop is. If we are lucky we have known joy, contentment, love. We have made a difference to someone. We found meaning in our lives.

My hope is that humans will eventually coexist with each other and with nature. But the world will exist with or without us. The future is always there, whatever part we play in it.

* * *

[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.]


The Busy-ness of Dying

Except for people who are caregivers to an ageing friend or relative (there are many), we don't know much about getting sick in old age and dying – at least, not in the public sphere.

It has been decades since Americans commonly lived in multi-generational households so we don't see the changes, the work, the anxiety, the worry and even the relatively minor but ongoing irritations of keeping an ailing person's body and soul together until time to leave.

In the United States, we keep most of this stuff private, unmentionable, as though it is not fit for discussion in polite company. Even in what is now, arguably, the worst period of time during our lives, the Americans really do insist on behaving like Good Time Charlies about old age and health.

And that doesn't help anything.

I could apply those thoughts to our current political/virus/POTUS situation, but I would rather be personal today. Although it has been building for awhile, I realized recently that I haven't been this busy since I worked full time.

Hardly an hour passes in each day where there is not a requirement to attend to the treatment or maintenance of my diseases. From comments over the years, I know I am not alone in these procedures so feel free to join in below.

It starts when I wake in the early morning. Sometimes it feels like I can't find the energy to go through the morning readiness ritual. I feel weak, sometimes I think my legs are shaky. They are not, but they feel that way. I work through it.

Wandering slowly into the kitchen, I start the water for coffee, count out the first three pills (two for pain before it appears, one related to breathing). Then I set up the nebulizer – 10 minutes of breathing an infusion that gets my bronchial tubes working.

That finished, coffee is ready and I settle in at the computer to check email, news, the day's to-do list. If taking out the trash and going to the mailbox are on the agenda, I remind myself do it following the 2PM nebulizer treatment – I can walk more easily for a short time then.

Sometimes there is a morning phone call with a friend, always welcome. I drink coffee, think about breakfast and sort out the pills related to food and digestion that need to accompany meals.

Sometimes now, I lie down for half an hour after breakfast, using supplemental oxygen while I rest. By then, it is almost 10AM and time for the next nebulizer treatment.

One morning a week, my hospice nurse comes by to consult with how I'm doing, offer suggestions, order medications and generally have a nice visit. Every two weeks, the social worker comes by one morning.

By then I am alert and active enough to think about writing the next blog post. Or, at least, make some notes for it.

Whatever I'm doing at the desk, in the kitchen, with the paraphernalia of my disease maintenance or household chores, I am careful to keep a tidy area around it all because it takes so long and so much of my reduced energy to clean up if I let it go beyond what mess I can make in about 10 minutes.

Sometime in the morning, I check my supplies of medications to see what is getting low. Hospice supplies them now but I need to track my needs for them.

After the 10AM infusion, I'm ready for some serious blog work or household accounting or some other boring but necessary chores of life. As the time ticks by, I'm keeping an eye on the clock for my noon pain pills followed by lunch.

Eating now has its own complications in terms of appetite and, sometimes, pain. If I get off schedule, I'll not eat at all and after a lifetime of fighting the same excess 10 or 15 pounds, I am now in more danger of too much weight loss. I don't think my thighs have been this small since I was 12.

From somewhere around noon until 4PM is my golden time. I mostly feel good, am pain-free, can feel a decent amount of energy flowing and can get a lot of writing or any other kind of non-physical work done. It's also when I take out trash and check the mail – my short walk of the day.

From then on, I'm slow. I might take a nap. Mostly, I lose track of time during these couple of hours. I might walk back to bedroom and then see that 20 minutes have passed when all I did was pick up a book I left there. I never have any idea what happens to that much time.

Six o'clock brings dinner, more pain and other pills, another nebulizer treatment and I am finished for the day.

It strikes me that this is an incredibly boring inventory of one sick-old-woman's daily life - yet there is plenty I have omitted. There is hardly any time left for me to just be.

One of the larger considerations in recent weeks as the daily chores have increased, is wondering when I make time to consider those end-of-life drugs sitting in a cupboard across the room.

When what seems now so long ago that I decided to take that route to my death, I don't believe I understood how difficult it would be to choose the time – I thought I would just know.

Of course, I wasn't nearly as weak and sick then as I am now. I hadn't even considered that I could feel fatigue so deeply as I do sometimes.

Nevertheless, it is the route I have chosen. There is not an option, like my mother had, to just stay in bed until I expire. There is no me to take care of me in that circumstance as I did for her.

All the medical professionals I have talked with about this, all of whom have been present at patients' use of the drugs, tell me they believe each one chose the right time. For several months I have trusted them in this. Right now, today, I am not so sure I will do that well.

Meanwhile, I am so damned busy.


ELDER MUSIC: Peter Paul & Mary

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.

* * *

Peter Paul & Mary

After school and university where he learned and sang folk songs, PETER YARROW started performing “professionally” at the Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village. I used quotes as they weren’t paid but passed around the hat.

By this stage he had acquired a manager, the now famous Albert Grossman who suggested Peter should be part of a group. Albert knew MARY TRAVERS whose singing impressed Peter. Albert said that she was great if you could get her to work. I guess they managed that.

Mary was friends with a comedian named NOEL STOOKEY who was performing at the Gaslight. They chatted with him and although he knew music and played a little, it was in the fields of jazz and classical. He didn’t know any folk songs.

The others taught him some and after deciding to use Noel’s middle name of Paul, a group was born.

PETER PAUL & MARY became the most popular of the folk-inspired groups of the sixties.

Peter Paul & Mary

Besides the folk songs, the group performed the works of then unknown, but up and coming, songwriters like Tom Paxton, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver and others. They did more than anyone else to get those names into the purview of the general public.

One of those they featured was Gary Shearston. Gary was already an established folk singer in Australia when PP&M heard the song of his called Sometime Lovin'. It appeared on the album just called “Album”.

♫ Sometime Lovin'


Peter Paul & Mary

We’ll have a couple of the songwriters mentioned above, starting with John Denver. It was through PP&M’s version of Leaving on a Jet Plane that I first became aware of John. It certainly wasn’t the last time.

♫ Leaving on a Jet Plane


Bob Dylan would certainly have been the finest songwriter in the second half the twentieth century without being kick started by recordings of his songs by PP&M and Joan Baez, but they certainly started his career a bit earlier.

One of those early songs is Don't Think Twice, It's Alright. Bob was being his usual enigmatic (and perhaps spiteful) self when he wrote this one.

♫ Don't Think Twice It's Alright


Peter Paul & Mary

Otto Preminger wanted a theme song for his film “Hurry Sundown”, so he contacted Earl Robinson to write one. Earl called on Yip Harburg to help him. In the end Otto didn’t use the song but PP&M’s arranger heard the song and got them to record it. Theirs was the first version of Hurry Sundown.

♫ Hurry Sundown


Peter Paul & Mary

PP&M were the first to record the songs of Laura Nyro, another singer/songwriter. One of her songs they recorded before anyone else is And When I Die. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, said that Blood Sweat and Tears did it better, but our group today did it first.

♫ And When I Die


Peter Paul & Mary

Gordon Lightfoot’s version of For Lovin' Me will always be the definitive one. However, PP&M did a find version and kick started Gordie’s career south of the 49th parallel.

♫ For Lovin' Me


Peter Paul & Mary

Here is another song of Bob’s. It’s from the time he was holed up in Woodstock after the motor cycle accident that broke his neck. Also present was his backing group who eventually became better known as The Band. They made music together in a big pink house they rented for that purpose (and for some of the group to live in).

They played music for their own enjoyment, but also wrote songs that they, and especially Bob, thought would be suitable for others to record. One of those is Too Much of Nothing, which he sent to PP&M.

♫ Too Much Of Nothing


Before there was Bob Dylan writing songs there was Tom Paxton. He was the original singer/songwriter in the New York folk scene to do that. His songs were so good that many think some of them are traditional, but they’re not. One such is The Last Thing on My Mind. We’re not playing his version today, but I urge you to seek it out if you haven’t heard it.

♫ The Last Thing on My Mind


Peter Paul & Mary

Yet another singer/songwriter, the one who started it all for the folk boom of the sixties, Woody Guthrie. His song is Deportee, just as relevant today as when it was written many decades ago.

Today’s version is taken from the album “Lifelines” where our group got together late in their career with a bunch of other people. Singing on the song are Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman (both from The Weavers), Tom Paxton, Richie Havens, Dave Van Ronk, Odetta and John Sebastian. Now there’s a backing group.

♫ Deportee


Peter Paul & Mary

A second song from John Denver, and this is one where the title doesn’t appear in the lyrics – something Bob used to do quite often. The song is For Baby (For Bobbie). Mary sings this one on her own, and splendidly at that.

♫ For Baby (For Bobbie)


A songwriter we haven’t encountered yet in this column is Fred Neil. He is most famous for writing Everybody’s Talking but PP&M didn’t record that one. Instead we have his next best known song (amongst those who know these sorts of things) is The Other Side of This Life.

♫ The Other Side of This Life


Peter Paul & Mary

I’ll end with another Gordon Lightfoot song, from very early in his career. The A.M. and I both like this one, but we are very nitpicking about some of the words of the song. I like the one Gordie recorded first, she is in favor of a later version (which even Gordie performed later).

The song is Early Mornin' Rain, and this is the later version.

♫ Early Mornin' Rain


INTERESTING STUFF – 3 OCTOBER 2020

EDITORIAL NOTE: Interesting Stuff if shorter than usual today. The week just got away from me but I hope you'll enjoy these.

72 WONDERFUL YEARS OF MARRIAGE

This is just lovely. Photographer Sujata Setia tells us on the Bored Panda page:

”Vera was only 18 when she first laid eyes on Mel at a hospital, and he himself had only recently returned from serving in World War II as a Royal Engineer...

“When I got the opportunity to run a photography masterclass in Wales, I had to visit Mel and Vera to gift them images that would showcase their eternal love.”

Here is their wedding photograph:

MelAndVeraWedding

And here they are today:

MelAndVeraNow

There are 16 more photos of Vera and Mel at Bored Panda and it's worth your while to take the time to look at them.

YET ANOTHER HORRIBLE DANGER

Wild fires continue in Washington, Oregon and California. What I didn't know before now is the danger of underground fires. As the Youtube page explains:

'Dangerous fires are still burning underground. Don Tesdal, a volunteer firefighter with the Idanha-Detroit (Oregon) Fire District, was in Detroit over the weekend doing fire mop up when he came across a serious problem many might miss.”

“From above the mound it looked like a little smoke. But below it was an active fire just waiting for the chance to get out.”

WHY DOES AUTUMN HAVE TWO NAMES?

According to Atlas Obscura, all our seasonal names have complicated origins but there is only one with two names – fall and autumn.

”Autumn shows up in English first around the late 14th and early 15th centuries, though it coexisted with 'harvest' as a loose description of the season for another 200 years.

“Fall is different. It first shows up in the mid-16th century in England, primarily at first as 'the fall of the leaf,' which was shortened to just 'fall.'”

Of course there is more to it than that. If you like words, their origins and etymology, check out the story of the seasons' names at Atlas Obscura.

THE WEIRDNESS OF WATER

Good old ordinary water, right? Pollution notwithstanding, it's all over the place, the entire planet. Actually, it's all over the universe and it does not follow the known laws of chemistry. Take a look at this:

SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL ZOO'S BABY PANDA

The Smithsonian National Zoo is keeping us up to date with new baby panda video nearly every day. Not long ago, we showed you one of the first and here is another of the baby getting its first medical checkup.

There is more panda cuteness here and here.

IT MUST BE PET PHOTO AWARD SEASON

I keep running across contests for funny pet and animal photos. Here's one that turned up at Bored Panda this week - The Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2020. Three examples:

Elke-Vogelsang_SQUIRREL

Beth-Noble_There-goes-dinner_00000968-5f732dccc7d69__880

Darren-Hall_Poodle-Chaos_00001484-5f732ddd62c80__880

More at Bored Panda.


Rough Times Personally and Politically, Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

What a conversation you guys had on Wednesday following the so-called debate the night before. I didn't join in but I followed along and you were doing quite well without me.

I gave up the “debate” after the first 25 or 30 minutes. There was no point in going further. Well, there was no point after the first three minutes; we've seen that Donald Trump every day for nearly five years. Nothing changes except that he becomes more monstrous.

Apparently, he is now calling for militia at voting stations. Armed?

Undoubtedly, my patience is stretched because personally, it has been a rough couple of weeks in terms of my diseases. In a previous post I mentioned the lack of sleep – three nights (not quite in a row) without a single moment of shut-eye.

Finally, after a night of sleep for eight, uninterrupted hours, the world felt sunny again. I think that sleep may be a cure-all. Well, maybe not for cancer and COPD but it sure does help my mood.

Daily life has changed quite a bit in a short period of time. Here's what I do best: sit. Or lie down. Oh, I'm capable of personal care. And I cook, minimally but enough to eat. I clean up the kitchen. All of it slowly.

A cleaning services comes now every two weeks along with a food shopping-and-delivery service. I should have done those two things a long time ago but it is hard to give up the life-long routines of living – even when you know you are dying.

Or rather, it is for me – who knows about other people. When I arrived to care for her during her final months, my mother went to bed and assumed I would take care of everything – everything – from then on. And I did.

Back to our annus horribilus of politics for a moment:

What is wrong with people who are sitting on the political fence and say they don't know who to vote for. Come on. The Trumpers are irredeemable so we ignore them to the degree that we do not let them win or force a coup.

But undecided? Really? You can't tell the difference between life under Trump and life under Biden? Then begone with you. You're not fit to call yourself American.

Harsh? You betcha. The United States is fighting for its life.

Biden may not be the ideal candidate for this terrible time we live in but he is decent. He believes in democracy. He will do everything possible with the help of the best and brightest people we have to control the virus and set our poor, troubled, wobbly ship of state on a better course.

Trump, on the other hand, will do everything in his power to stay in office (there is plenty he can do and he has plenty of enablers already in place) and turn himself into dear leader for life. I am terrified for our country and you should be too.

Here is this week's Alex and Ronni Show. I can't recall right now what we talked about but it's not as important as what I just wrote.

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


The Morning After the First 2020 Presidential Debate and

Two days after the New York Times Trump tax document dump.

I'm writing this note a couple of hours before the Tuesday evening debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and Donald J. Trump because I'll be too tired to think straight after the debate – or angry or frustrated or alarmed or...

And I won't be wide awake enough to be cogent first this on this morning after.

So it's up to you, dear readers, to write this blog post today.

What's your take on what may become the most important presidential stand-off in the history of the republic to date?

I'll follow along today and join in here and there.


A TGB READER STORY: About a Scent

By Brenda Verbeck

The ability of a scent to stir a memory is an amazing thing. And it can be an immediate trigger for evoking the feelings associated with an event.

I have never used Coty’s Emeraude, but having been the victim of overzealous perfume sales people in stores like Bloomingdale’s I’ve been hit with it from time to time. Actually, it’s an indelible imprint in my brain, as well as on my olfactory equipment.

When I was a teenager, I spent summers at my aunt’s bungalow colony in Rock Hill, New York. It was adjacent to another small town called Glen Wild and I became part of a small group made up of locals and a few of us who were summer kids. The local boys had cars or trucks and it was great fun to go driving around the country roads in the evenings.

On this particular evening, when I was probably around 13 or so, we passed an accident. Clearly it had just happened. The car was off to the side of the road at a crazy angle. The people in the car, I think there were four of them, were lying helter skelter.

We backed up and got out of the cars, running to see if they needed help. They did. This was on a pretty much deserted back road, not close to any homes and remember, this was around 1949 – well before cell phones were even a concept

I could see that one of the men was bleeding from his ear. Having had a course in first aid as part of my high school curriculum I knew that it meant that he had a fractured skull. The others seemed mostly dazed though there may have been bruising, contusions, what have you. But we had no idea. We were just a bunch of kids wanting to do the right thing.

So we somehow got them into our cars and drove them to Monticello Hospital. The one woman was in the same car I was in and she absolutely reeked of a strong perfume. Never one for strong perfumes, which tend to give me a headache, I felt engulfed, trapped by this overwhelming aroma. And I also felt very sad. I was worried about the man with a probable skull fracture and I also felt very helpless.

We had no idea what happened to them after we dropped them off at the emergency entrance, but that scent stayed on my clothes for days, and in my nostrils forever. I identified the scent on one of my forays through a department store soon after that, probably Namms in downtown Brooklyn.

Wherever I am and someone is wearing it, my nose knows, and it evokes an immediate response of sadness.

Fortunately, few people today, at least in the world I inhabit, wear scents out of respect for the many who have allergies, and lighter scents, generally, seem to have become more popular; so it has not assailed me for a long time, but I know that one whiff of Emeraude puts me on a dark country road, feeling sad and helpless. Funny that.

* * *

[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.]


Trump Wants to Buy Your Vote – Don't Let Him

In recent weeks, polls have shown that presidential candidate Joe Biden is leading President Trump in polls of people 65 and older by double digits. That might have something to do with Trump telling his followers that COVID-19 affects hardly anyone younger than 18, framing

”...the pandemic as largely impacting older Americans, as he argued for school districts to resume in-person learning,” reported AP.

. “'Now we know it affects elderly people with heart problems and other problems,' Trump said. 'If they have other problems, that’s what it really affects. That’s it.'”

That did not sit well with one elder voter in Florida according to AP:

”Trump’s recent remarks made Liz Cillo, a 72-year-old retiree from St. Petersburg, laugh bitterly. 'We’re dispensable. We’re old. I feel as though he’s never showed any empathy or compassion toward us.'”

Trump is flailing in many areas of the voting population but until now, elders have been a mainstay of the Republican Party. So – Trump being Trump – he announced last week that he will attempt to opening purchase votes from old people.

As CNN tells it:

”...President Donald Trump said Thursday -- less than six weeks before the election -- that he will send $200 drug discount cards to 33 million Americans on Medicare.

“The unprecedented move, however, has raised many questions, including how the roughly $6.6 billion in benefits will be funded...

The White House says that the cards will be offset by savings from another of Trump's drug price proposals, which would link the cost of certain Medicare drugs to the price in other countries. But that controversial measure was unveiled in an executive order in mid-September, and it's unclear when it will actually take effect, if ever.”

Translation: The drug card proposal does not exist.

After Trump's announcement on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the $200 discount cards

”...will be funded by a Medicare trust fund, an administration official said, using money rarely spent on such pilot programs.

“Medicare is funded by two trust funds held by the U.S. Treasury. The trusts pay for hospital care and administering the federal health-insurance program for seniors and the disabled. They are funded through payroll taxes, income taxes paid on Social Security benefits and other sources.

“The Medicare trust fund that pays for hospital care is expected to become insolvent by fiscal 2024, according to the Congressional Budget Office, two years earlier than projections done before the coronavirus pandemic. The other fund is on more solid financial footing.”

This is crazy. It doesn't not work on any level. It is so bad that even big PhRMA has rejected it:

“The announcement comes after the Trump administration sought to negotiate a similar discount-card program with drug companies, but the drug industry’s main trade group, PhRMA, walked away from the discussions,” reported WSJ.

“'One-time savings cards will neither provide lasting help nor advance the fundamental reforms necessary to help seniors better afford their medicines,” an official at PhRMA said last week.”

It's not even clear to anyone with knowledge that this pay-for-votes ploy is legal.

Should Trump manage to push through this dubious scheme and get it done in time for discount cards to arrive before you vote, what will you do?

Here's what I have planned:

• Secure a sturdy envelope.
• Address it to President Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. NW 20500
• Cut card in half and place in envelope
• Include a note - “You cannot buy my vote”
• Attach enough postage
• Place in local mailbox

Imagine if all 33 million U.S. elders do that.


ELDER MUSIC: Friends

ELDER MUSIC: Friends

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.

* * *

At times like this we need all the friends we can get, quite a few of whom these days will be on Zoom or Skype. Similarly, for a few years after I discovered Time Goes By and when I got this gig, I could count Ronni as the best friend I had never met.

That all changed of course when Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and I visited Oregon (a couple of times) and stayed with her in Lake Oswego.

Here are some friends songs.

RAL DONNER was cursed by having a voice that was uncannily like Elvis’s.

Ral Donner

I bet all those Elvis impersonators wish they could claim the same thing. Ral was never an impersonator, indeed he really hated it when it was pointed out to him (which was quite often). See what you think when he sings Girl of my Best Friend.

♫ Ral Donner - Girl Of My Best Friend


MIKE MCCLELLAN would be a super-star if he lived in a bigger country. Well, he is here in Australia.

Mike McClellan1

Mike recorded several albums in the seventies and eighties, but they have been deleted. There are a couple of collection CDs as well as several more recent albums, but it’s still difficult to source his early music unless you have the vinyls.

From that early period, here is a song he still performs quite often, Lovers Never Wind up Friends.

♫ Mike McClellan - Lovers Never Wind Up Friends


Quite coincidentally, I discovered Larry McMurtry’s book, All My Friends are Going to be Strangers, around the same time that I first heard MERLE HAGGARD perform (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers.

Merle Haggard

I assume for Merle there was a bit of tongue in cheek going on as his backing band was called The Strangers.

♫ Merle Haggard - (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers


After his initial success as a pop star and member of a Doowop group DION DiMucci turned into a fine blues and folk performer.

Dion

One of the first albums of his that demonstrated that was “Sit Down Old Friend”. Here is the song Sit Down Old Friend.

♫ Dion - Sit Down Old Friend


PERCY SLEDGE is probably best known for one song and what a great song that is. It’s not the one we have today, however.

Percy Sledge

There was a lot more to him than that one. Besides being one of the finest soul singers, he was also a bluesman of note as this shows on My Old Friend the Blues, from the album with the same name.

♫ Percy Sledge - My Old Friend The Blues


On the surface. JIMMY BUFFETT seems to be the friendliest musician around. I hope he’s really like that.

Jimmy Buffett

From one of his early good albums (most of his early albums were good), “Son of a Son of a Sailor” Jimmy tells us about his African Friend.

♫ Jimmy Buffett - African Friend


By far the most critically successful and popular band in Australia in the seventies was SKYHOOKS.

Skyhooks

They liked to dress up in outlandish costumes but their musicianship was impeccable. Besides that they, thanks to main songwriter Greg Macainsh, addressed issues about Australian suburban life, particularly Melbourne whence they hailed.

The song All My Friends Are Getting Married is more laid back then their usual fare.

♫ Skyhooks - All My Friends Are Getting Married


From easily their finest studio album, “American Beauty”, the GRATEFUL DEAD want to be a Friend of the Devil.

Grateful Dead

Of course, although they only recorded two or three good studio albums, their milieu was live performances at which they excelled. As they are no more, it’s good that there are a number of fine live recordings. “A number”? I wouldn’t be surprised if every concert they ever performed is out there somewhere.

Anyway, here’s the song, with Phil Lesh playing bass as the lead instrument.

♫ Grateful Dead - Friend Of The Devil


HERMAN'S HERMITS came from Manchester (not far from Liverpool) at the height of Beatlemania.

HermansHermits

Unlike most of their contemporaries, they were a straight pop band and had a clean cut image – they didn’t frighten parents the way other bands at the time did. In spite of that (or maybe because of it) they produced really fine pop songs, most of which still hold up today, including My Sentimental Friend.

♫ Herman's Hermits - My Sentimental Friend


The members of the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND must be friends as they’ve been together with little change to their lineup since the sixties.

Nittys

They have even recorded a song along that line called Partners, Brothers and Friends. Here it is.

♫ NGDB - Partners Brothers And Friends


Back around 1970, I discovered a record by SPIDER JOHN KOERNER and WILLIE MURPHY.

Spider Joh n& Willie

This is a really wonderful album and in keeping with the theme of the column, my friends thought so too. The album is called “Running Jumping Standing Still” and I now have it on CD so it might still be around somewhere.

It’s the only thing they did together and it’s a collection folk-blues, ragtime piano, country and even a little jazz thrown in for good measure. In keeping with our category, their song is Friends and Lovers. Spider John sings the lead on it.

♫ Spider John Koerner & Willie Murphy - Friends and Lovers

There is one song I’m sure you were all expecting, but as you can see, I didn’t include it. I expect that there will be comments about that.


INTERESTING STUFF – 26 September 2020

EDITORIAL NOTE: It feels to me that this has been a momentous past week filled with terrible portents, especially from the president who refuses to say he will leave his post if he is defeated in November. I don't have words.

So a few of today's entries fall to heavier side of the scale.

* * *

IN HONOR OF JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG

You remember Founders Sing, don't you. The Youtube group who debuted in February with their tune, The Day Democracy Died.

They have been releasing these original political songs ever since and this week they gave us I AM RUTH – By Founders Sing, In Honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

YOUNG PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO BELIEVE VIRUS MISINFORMATION

The number of new virus infections is not getting better. In fact, it is skyrocketing. This week, The New York Times reported,

”In a survey of 21,196 people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, researchers identified a clear generational divide.

“Respondents 18 to 24 had an 18 percent probability of believing a false claim, compared with 9 percent for those over 65, according to the study [pdf], conducted by researchers from Harvard University, Rutgers University, Northeastern University and Northwestern University.”

People were asked to gauge their acceptance of 11 false claims:

”Those included false claims that the virus originated in people who ate bats, that taking antibiotics protects against the disease and that only people 60 or older are at risk of being infected.”

Read more at The Times. Talk to the young people in your life about staying safe.

AOC'S MESSAGE TO THE FUTURE

The Guardian reports that young people yesterday led strikes around the world calling for urgent action on climate change.

”Greta Thunberg led a strike in Sweden, which was limited to 50 people by the country’s lockdown laws – 'so we adapt', she tweeted, with a picture showing strikers more than 2 metres apart. The day of action also marked the 110th week of her own school strike, which began in August 2018.

“'Fridays For Future and the youth climate movement are striking again around the world, in a safe way and following Covid-19 guidelines, to demand those in power treat this like the urgent crisis it is,' she said.”

Relatedly, TGB reader Mary Evans Young, sent this pertinent 18-month-old video from U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez titled A Message from the Future.

In the U.S., we are in the final weeks of fighting for the existence of our country, even for democracy itself. Untold environmental damage has been done by our president and his minions in just the year and a half since OAC's video debuted. So don't let up. Register to vote. Help others to register. Plan your vote.

Read more about the worldwide children's crusade at The Guardian.

OBVIOUSLY THIS DOGGEREL FROM HENRY LOWENSTERN...

...cannot be ignored at this blog. Titled Down and Out.

When you are feeling down and out,
give Ronni Bennett a shout.
She's a long-time blogger
and memories cataloger
who writes about her ills
and the long-remembered thrills
that bring smiles to her face
and maybe will help erase
some of the despair
that afflicts your debonair.

IMPOSSIBLY YOUNG WILLIE NELSON

I've been listening to a lot of Willie Nelson lately – the old stuff and the newest too. He's 87 years old now. But in truth, he's ageless.

This is a medley he sang at Grand Ole Opry in 1965. Did you know Willie wrote Patsy Cline's huge hit, Crazy? I didn't until now.

NEW YORK'S RUBBER STAMP SHOP

Do people even use rubber stamps anymore? I guess so. According to the Youtube page,

”John Casey is the owner of East Village mainstay Casey Rubber Stamps, a local landmark that has endured for almost two decades.

“The iconic stamp and ink shop, located on East 11th Street in downtown New York, is beloved by locals. For years, residents and tourists alike have swung by to buy and make their own novelty rubber stamps.”

This short film is from Eric Maierson and Leandro Badalotti for Atlas Obscura.

THE BELUGA AND THE SEAGULL

This whale could have the gull for lunch in one bite but he (she?) didn't. Instead, they played.

* * *

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.


When Bad Days Turn Good – Part 2

On Wednesday in Part 1, I wrote about sleepless night terrors and how it seemed reasonable to me, during one of them, that we ought to be able to blink our eyes – or something similar – and quietly die.

I doubt I would have written about it had not my friend, Annie Gottlieb, in New York City, following that night sent a couple of quotations one of which seemed to have been written precisely for what I had experienced.

Her second quotation came into play a day later.

After that long night with not a wink of sleep, Thursday was generally a lost day. I got a few things done but not much. Plus, my nebulizer and oxygen didn't have nearly as strong an effect as they normally do.

My hospice nurse, who made her scheduled visit that day, gave me a new prescription to help with energy and appetite and rearranged how I take a couple of other drugs to try to help me sleep.

By bedtime that night, I was as exhausted as I've ever felt. I worked at staying awake as long as possible so if I slept, I would not wake at some ungodly early hour and ruin the next day too, but I succumbed, I think, at about 9PM.

When I woke, I was shocked to see that I had slept until just after 5AM. Eight whole hours of uninterrupted, dead-to-the-world sleep. Wow. And then I saw the two half-pills on my table that I had intended to take when I was ready to turn out the light. I had forgotten to do that and still slept all through the night.

What a day I had on Friday. I almost forgot that I have cancer and COPD. Of course, that exists only in my head (and heart). As soon as I walk too fast down the hall or try to carry something weighing more than about five pounds, I am sharply reminded with extreme shortness of breath.

But within the parameters of my diseases, I had a great day and I was thrilled. I don't remember when I last felt so good. And it lasted all day until normal bedtime. I even walked out to the trash bins and mailbox with greater ease than in a long time.

On Sunday, Annie sent her two Rilke quotations and here, following on my spectacularly good Friday, is the second one which, Annie says, Rilke told to a woman friend who was helping to care for him:

“Never forget, dear friend, life is a glory.”

Oh, yes. Life is such a glory – even as small a life as mine has become now, thanks to age, disease and pandemic - and it was in full force for me on that Friday.

The mystery, of course, is how Annie knew to send those two quotations exactly when I could use and enjoy them so perfectly and personally.

Thank you, Annie.

Sleep disturbances are a well-known affliction among old people. The Sleep Foundation notes,

”As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age. In fact, research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood.”

It's not my purpose today to report on elder sleep issues, causes and what to do about them. (Maybe soon.)

Mostly with these two posts, I wanted to marvel out loud at how sometimes the universe pulls a couple of its smaller components together in such perfect concert.