Cancer Treatment: It's Always Something (and a Book Giveaway)

In a repeat from last November, I appeared at the clinic for my Wednesday chemotherapy infusion last week but when the usual blood tests came back, my red cell count was too low for treatment.

The infusion was canceled and like last time, the tram took me from the waterfront campus to the OHSU hospital up on the hill for an overnight transfusion of blood. Two units this time instead of four.

And because I now have an internal bleed, a whole lot of tests:

  • Repeated vitals: blood pressure, temperature, heart rate

  • The usual bloodlettings for the lab

  • EKG

  • X-ray

  • rectal exam

  • combined colonoscopy (including the infamous prep)/endoscopy

There were probably other tests I've overlooked. Later, to help combat the anemia, an infusion of liquid iron which, the doctor informed me, looks pretty much like motor oil – and so it does.

I've been home since Friday evening, mostly sleeping due to the truth of the old hospital joke about it being nowhere to get any rest.

As I've mentioned here before, the staff at every level at OHSU is excellent. This time there were more doctors than in the past – maybe eight or ten or more - each with his/her area of expertise in regard to the internal bleed that needs to be dealt with.

All of them and the nurses, the CNAs and everyone else who attends to patients, are smart, knowledgeable in their areas of expertise, kind, caring and just plain nice people.

Next steps are that this week, I have a bunch of medical appointments to see what the decisions or choices may be.

Meanwhile, I have some new medications to take and what an awkward schedule they require. There is one I must take an hour before each meal, another to take 30 minutes before breakfast and dinner but not lunch, a couple that cannot be taken in combination with certain others and so on.

I'm working off a brand-new, home-made chart to keep it all straight.

Remember way back when I said I would not allow myself to become a professional patient? What a crock. The pill schedule alone ensures that I need to be aware of time and medications all day every day.

The doctors tell me the bleed, small that it is, is at the site of a connection between hoses (or whatever other body part) made during the Whipple precedure in June. If my interpretation is correct this is, essentially, a mechanical problem not a cancer issue. I'll know more later this week.

This all came out of nowhere for me. You see, I thought for the time-being, my job was, to the degree possible, to withstand the side effects of chemo until it was done in March.

I didn't count on an all new, out-of-the-blue medical event. There is not much difference at my end (as opposed to the doctors') between this and being hit by a truck in terms of how it interrupts my life.

But that thought also is a reminder that to extent possible, I must go on living as I choose. I can complain about the pill schedule, about being tired too much, about additional medical appointments and about the next unexpected medical intrusion but there is no point in letting them take over my life completely. That would be a terrible mistake.

As far as I know, pancreatic cancer is random. It might have been you, but this time it's me and there is no point in being miserable about something I can't change. Just live. And laugh. And make the best of what I have.

I know that sounds like I've gone all Pollyanna on you but is there another choice? I don't think so.

* * *

About two weeks ago here, I told you about a book of essays, No Time to Spare, by Ursula K. Le Guin. A few days later, TGB reader Lynn Lawrence emailed to ask for my snailmail address to send me a book.

NoTimeToSpare225It arrived within a couple of days - the Le Guin book. Lynn had missed my posting about it but had read an excerpt somewhere else and thought it was perfect for me. So we decided together via email, that I would offer another book giveaway – just one this time and do thank Lynn for it if you win..

We'll do it the same way as always with giveaways here:

Just tell me in the comments below that, “Yes, I want to win the book.” Or, you could say, “Me, me, me.” or anything else that indicates your interest.

The winner (you can live in any country) is selected by an online random number generator and I will have your email addresses from the comment form. I will then email the winner to get your snailmail addresses to send off the book.

The contest will remain open through 12 midnight Pacific Time on Tuesday 16 January 2018, and the winner will be announced on Friday morning's regular post, 19 January 2018.



ELDER MUSIC: Recent Discoveries

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

* * *

Here are some recent discoveries of mine. "Recent" is a rather flexible term, it could mean six months (or more by the time this column is shown). However, it also means that none of these artists have been used in any of my columns before.

They are only my discoveries, some of you might be going, "Oh, I've known about him/her/them for quite a while now", but that's okay, you can hear them again.

It just goes to show that good music is still being made, as most of these are considerably younger than we are. So, here they are in no particular order.

MEGAN HENWOOD will probably be lumped into the "folk" category because she plays her own songs on acoustic guitar.

Megan Henwood

Also she sounds a little like Joni Mitchell. Like Joni, she doesn't restrict herself and adds elements of jazz to her performances as in this one where a trumpet pops up at the end that shouldn't work, but does so beautifully.

Megan performs mostly around Britain, whence she hails, and from her third album "River" we have Fresh Water.

♫ Megan Henwood - Fresh Water


Unlike most of the others today, SAMANTHA FISH can really rock out. Well, the others probably can if they wanted to.

Samantha Fish

Samantha's best known for playing blues and rock and roll but she has said that she doesn't want to be typecast and likes try all sorts of music. To demonstrate that, in the track I've chosen she backs off from her usual sizzling electric guitar work and adopts a softer, more country approach. The song is Belle of the West.

♫ Samantha Fish - Belle of the West


JARROD DICKENSON has the help of CLAIRE WARD (his wife) on his own song, Your Heart Belongs to Me.

Jarrod & Claire

Well, all the songs he records are his own. He's yet another singer/songwriter from Texas, although based in New York these days, at least when he's not touring Europe, especially Britain and Ireland.

Jarrod and Claire perform Your Heart Belongs to Me.

♫ Jarrod Dickenson - Your Heart Belongs to Me


I mentioned to Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, that the next artist is not who she thinks it is before I played this next track. "Not Emmylou, you mean?" she asked when it got rolling. "Correct, it's DORI FREEMAN".

"Who?" She replied. Sorry Dori – I said that these artists today are new to me, and the A.M. too, it seems.

Dori Freeman

Dori claims Peggy Lee and Rufus Wainwright as influences but perhaps her Appalachian upbringing made a contribution or the generations of musicians on both sides of her family. Whatever it is, here she is with Still a Child.

♫ Dori Freeman - Still a Child


Speaking of Emmylou, here is a song by that name. The performers are the rather prosaically named FIRST AID KIT, but don't judge a book, or a group, by its cover.

First Aid Kit

You wouldn't think, just by listening to them, that they are Swedish. They are sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg. It shows how much anyone can miss: I first heard the soEmmylou this year (it may be last year by now), but it's been around for six years or so. Oh well, at least I've finally found it.

♫ First Aid Kit - Emmylou


I was first made aware of ANTONIA BENNETT thanks to my friend Ann.

Antonia Bennett

She suggested that I check her out, so I did, and because of that she's included today. I assume Antonia knows what she's doing as she is Tony Bennett's daughter. She also performs similar sorts of songs to those that her father sings, including Love is a Battlefield.

♫ Antonia Bennett - Love is a Battlefield2


Speaking of the offspring of famous musicians, LUKAS NELSON is Willie's son, and hearing him sing, he couldn't be anyone else's.

Lukas Nelson

Lukas performs in a band called Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, and their repertoire covers many genres – rock, folk, country, soul, R&B and anything else that catches their attention. I was trying to figure out what song this one reminded me of, but The A.M. cut to the chase: "He's channelling John Hartford. Gentle on my Mind".

She was right. It also reminded me a bit of Bob Lind. Could do worse than those two. The song is Just Outside of Austin. Lukas's dad plays some guitar on the track.

♫ Lukas Nelson - Just Outside of Austin


And now a singer who boggled my mind when I first heard her (and continues to do so). What power, but she keeps it under control, demonstrating that there's a lot more there when needed. She is LIZZ WRIGHT.

Lizz Wright

She started out singing gospel music and moved on to blues and jazz. Later she incorporated folk elements. It seems that she can sing anything she wants to. Today, she's rather gospelly with Seems I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You.

♫ Lizz Wright - Seems I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You


WILLIE WATSON first came to general notice as a member of the group Old Crow Medicine Show.

Willie Watson

Since going solo he's recorded a couple of albums called "Folksinger Vol 1" and "Folksinger Vol 2". On several of the songs on the second one Willie has the help of THE FAIRFIELD FOUR.

Fairfield Four

The Fairfields are not recent discoveries of mine, and the songs they perform with Willie are the best ones on the album. There are few better singing groups to have at your back than them. They all sing yet another song called On the Road Again.

♫ Willie Watson - On the Road Again


I imagine you're way ahead of me on my final choice. BEV GRANT is probably not new to you as she's been around for quite some time (sorry Bev). It's just that's she's new to me.

Bev Grant

Bev's from Portland, Oregon, where she began singing in a band with her two sisters. She headed out on her own to New York, there to write and perform her songs and became active in good causes. She is the founder and director of the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus.

From her recent album "It's Personal", she sings Small Town Girl, pretty much the story of her journey.

♫ Bev Grant - Small Town Girl



Sorry: No Interesting Stuff Today

It's Friday evening as I write this and I'm just now home from the two nights in the hospital. Cancer related, of course.

It was due to a repeat performance of November when I had extremely low red blood cell count. This time, more blood transfusions, plus an internal bleed that involved the necessity of a couple of procedures to figure out where it is and the cause.

I'll explain more next week but now I just need to go to bed. As I'm sure any of you who have been there know that there is no such thing as sleep in a hospital.

One thing for Celia Andrews and Yvonne Behrens-Waldbaum who each won a copy of Malcolm Nance's book: Yvonne blogs at Aging Us.

I didn't get the books in the mail before going to the hospital and probably won't get to the post office until early next week but I'll mail them as soon as possible.

There is so much email piled up that I may not be able to respond to it all. My apologies but there is only so much time in life. Thank you for your patience. I'm fine and be back to my usual self on the blog by Monday.



What It's Really Like to Get Old

Here are the two winners in the random drawing announced Monday for Malcolm Nance's book, Defeating ISIS: Who They are, How They Fight, What They Believe. Two days later, I rolled the handy-dandy, online random number generator and...

Drum roll please:

One of the winners is Celia Andrews who blogs at Celia's Blue Cottage. The other is Yvonne Behrens. Congratulations to you both - and books are on their way.

* * *

You may have noticed that the headline on today's post is the same as the subtitle up there on top in the banner of the blog. I've tried to make that thought a large component of Time Goes By even if not the entire purpose.

When I started this blog back in 2004, there was literally nothing good being written anywhere in the popular press about growing old. I've told the story here many times that the media – and the culture itself – made getting old sound so awful (and they still do) that I thought then I might as well shoot myself at age 62.

But I didn't really want to do that so I started TGB instead.

However, there was an error I've carried through these pages for too long: I've overdone the positive sides of ageing or, maybe, underplayed the difficulties. Or both. And I want to start fixing that.

Getting old is hard. Most younger people (including ourselves back then) have no idea what courage it takes to keep going in old age.

From simple aches and pains with or without a particular cause to the big deal “diseases of age” like cancer, heart disease and others that afflict elders in much greater numbers than young people to counting out medications, following special diets, exercises, etc., it takes a lot of work, a lot of gumption to grow old.

All this came to mind a few days ago when I ran across a list of tweets about a some changes that are common to most old people I know – and that's what makes them funny.

Some might think these are ageist but I think we need to reconsider how easily we (or I, sometimes) throw around that epithet.

I am beginning to see that such a judgment can require more nuance, as we are discovering is so with the accusations of sexual harassment and/or misconduct and/or abuse can be.

A lot of these were good. Here are my favorites:

  • I thought I was just really tired but it's been five years so I guess this is how I look now.

  • The older I get, the earlier it gets late.

  • I'm not saying I'm old but I just had to increase my font size to "Billboard."

  • Hey guys, remember when you could still refer to your knees as right and left instead of good and bad?

  • You know you're getting old when you pull out your high-powered back massager and actually use it on your back.

  • I'm so old, I can remember getting through an entire day without taking a picture of anything.

  • My daughter just asked why we say "hang up" the phone and now I feel 90.

  • I may be getting old but I'm not "let me call you, I hate texting" old.

  • You know you're getting old when you finger cramps up while scrolling down to find the year you were born on a website.

You can see more of them at Buzzfeed but feel free to add your own in the comments.



Housekeeping Notes for This Blog

On Saturday, TGB reader and frequent commenter, Simone, left this message in answer to a comment from Ana on a 2008 post about being old without children:

”Ronni has set the standard here. It's a safe place, and we all like to share our thoughts, ideas, struggles and experiences openly, without reserve and with no rancor toward another.”

Thank you, Simone. God knows I've tried to keep it civil here and for the most part the effort has been successful. This is one of the best, smartest, most interesting conversation spots in the blogosphere where no one need feel shy about speaking up or speaking out.

Well, except for a few who overstep and Simone's comment reminded me that I've been meaning to do this housekeeping post for a month or two – as a reminder.

Let's start with what I consider obvious but apparently is not so to everyone:

  1. Comments containing defamatory, bigoted or hateful language about me or any commenter will be deleted. You get only one shot at this and if it happens, you will be permanently banned without notification or recourse.

  2. Argument, disagreement and opinion are good. Just keep it to the point(s) you dispute, not the writer, and maintain a civil tone. You get two shots at this after which, see the second sentence in number one above.

  3. We are all grownups here and sometimes it's hard to make a point without a bit of colorful language. Go for it – just don't overdo. Deletion or editing of the comment is at my discretion.

  4. Comments that are off-topic are deleted.

HEALTH, MEDICAL, FINANCIAL, LEGAL ADVICE
Advice, suggestions and recommendations in any of these areas are not allowed and are deleted. I don't know who you are, what your qualifications are nor do I have the time to vet whatever is being touted.

NO COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Time Goes By has been an advertising-free zone on the internet for many years and commenters may not include advertising or promotion for any commercial product or service. No exceptions. They are deleted.

The comment form has a space for a URL. If you include the address of your blog or other non-commercial website, your name at the bottom of your comment will become a link to that URL.

LINKS
A few years ago, I stopped allowing links in comments. There are a number of reasons: some people link to their business websites (see immediately preceding item); others post the wrong URL and/or don't know the html to make a proper link; and most of all, I don't have the time to check (and correct when needed) every link.

So, no links in comments. You are welcome to name the website or news article or whatever might make it easy for readers to search what you are referencing.

STRONG SUGGESTIONS
These are mostly to make your comments easier to read so that more people will actually do that.

  • Please use standard capitalization. All-lowercase text is difficult to read and your comment is less likely to be noticed.

  • Even more so, long blocks of uninterrupted text are hard on the eyes, especially old ones like mine. Please leave a blank line between paragraphs by hitting “enter” twice after the last sentence in a paragraph. This is for your benefit too; no one reads two or more inches of solid text.

  • As always, in email and anywhere online, messages in all capital letters are considered shouting not to mention that, as with the first two suggestions, they are hard to read. Please use all caps only for emphasis of individual words or phrases.

  • Finally, if your comment does not appear in the comments section right away, please don't jump to the conclusion that you have been disallowed. Sometimes it takes a few minutes for the host server to publish the comment and sometimes it can be user error – yours. Other times, it might be a program glitch or it can be a server slowdown and on extremely rare occasions, it might be a server shutdown. Try again or give it some time before you start yelling at me via email.

EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS
If you want to comment and are reading TGB in the email feed, DO NOT click "Reply." Remember, you are reading an email and your comment will appear only in my inbox. To comment from the email feed so everyone can read it, you must go to the website:

  • Click the title of the story - it will open in your browser.

  • Scroll to the bottom of the story in your browser and click on the word "Comments". A new page will open with a form for your comment.

  • Write your comment, type your name (it can be any name you want) and, if you want your name to link to your blog or other non-commercial website, type in the URL, although this is not required. You are required, however, to include your email address but it is never published.

  • Click "Post" to publish your comment and you're done.

Several times a week I get a notes from some email subscribers complaining that they are not receiving the email feed.

This happens because the subscription service was originally via Feedburner, owned by Google, which abandoned it six or seven or more years ago. It just sits out there on the internet now gradually deteriorating, and eventually remaining subscriptions fail.

When Google announced they were jettisoning Feedburner, I switched to Feedblitz, a commercial newsletter delivery service for which I pay hundreds of dollars a year. Please use it. Here is how:

  1. Subscribe via the simple form at the top right of every TGB page.

  2. Follow the equally simple instructions when you receive the confirmation email from Feedblitz.

  3. You will then begin receiving TGB in your inbox.

  4. If the Feedburner delivery shows up again in your inbox, use the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email to avoid duplicate deliveries.

There are other things I'd rather be writing about and I'm sorry to take up your time, too, with this note particularly since only a few readers need it. But there has been an uptick lately in over-reach so maybe this is a useful clarification. Thanks again, Simone, for the reminder.



Unsettling Changes and a Book Giveaway

Two items today – one that is probably close to universal among people past a certain age, and a second that undoubtedly has a more limited audience. Doesn't matter – it's all good. Let's start with

CALVIN TRILLIN'S "ALL THUMBS" MEDITATION
Many of you know Calvin Trillin, the long-time New Yorker columnist, humorist, novelist, journalist, food writer, etc. extraordinaire.

About a week ago, The New York Times published Trillin's essay that began with our now-changing usage of our thumbs – both physically and in speech:

”I was on the subway, watching a teenager text on his smartphone," writes Trillin, "when I realized that the idiom 'all thumbs' might be doomed...

“As his thumbs danced over the tiny screen, I realized that 'all thumbs' cannot much longer mean clumsy with one’s hands. And I realized how much I’m going to miss it. It has always seemed to me a way of noting a deficit without being vicious about it...

“But how can that man be labeled all thumbs if the teenager sitting across from me can use his thumbs on his smartphone fast enough to take dictation from a cattle auctioneer?”

This line of thought led Trillin to wonder how many others in his subway car were, like him, wearing a wristwatch

”...as opposed to reading the time digitally on a small device. It was a warm autumn day, and a number of people were in short-sleeves. From what I could see, almost none of them wore a wristwatch.

“That got me to thinking about 'counterclockwise.' When all of the analog watches and clocks are gone, will there be generations of people who don’t know what it means when the instructions say, 'Turn the bolt counterclockwise'?”

Trillin made a related observation about newspapers – the hard-copy kind:

”The train was crowded, but I had a seat. I was the only person in the car who was reading a newspaper rather than staring at a small electronic device — a singularity that should have provided another hint about where I fit in demographically these days.

“At the 86th Street stop, a gray-haired gentleman entered the car and, locking his arm around one of the vertical poles, unfolded The New York Times. I noticed that he was wearing a wristwatch. Catching his eye as he held out the paper to turn a page, I nodded. He nodded. I nodded again and offered him my seat.”

As much as old folks are exhorted to keep up with current trends, there can be a comfort sometimes in recognition of our common experiences of a lifetime whether or not they are fading.

(Because I know many of you do not have a subscription to The Times, I offer these excerpts – unfair as they are compared to the entire essay - because it is such a touching, little tribute to old age (Trillin is 82) and to the memories and habits of a lifetime, some of which may disappear until no one knows what they mean anymore.)

MALCOLM NANCE'S BOOK DEFEATING ISIS
If you live in the U.S. and watch MSNBC now and then, you probably know Malcolm Nance, the widely-respected former cryptology analyst and counterterrorism expert who frequently lends his knowledge of terrorism, torture and insurgency to the cable news channel.

My friend Jim Stone recently met Mr. Nance. I'll let Jim explain:

”I went across the mighty Hudson, and shook Malcolm Nance's hand at a farm which he and various backers are starting to benefit returning veterans of latter-day Republican adventures in foreign lands...

He did not give a talk on any political subjects, but mainly spoke about the project...I bought two copies of his latest tome, ISIS, which I had him sign...He's pretty good, as you probably know, having a steady job on the talk circuit, and he has something to say.”

And then Jim offered to let me give away his two signed copies to TGB readers. And so we will.

DefeatingIsisThe book – full title, Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What The Believe - could have been a dry, difficult read.

Instead, it is well organized and Nance has seen that it is enhanced will photographs, other illustrations, lists, historical context, descriptions of ISIS centers of influence throughout the world, and much more mostly broken up into short, clear sections.

In his review of the book in 2016, U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations retired Colonel Millard E. Moon praised Nance's structure of the book as a reference source and further wrote,

"Nance has done a really good job of providing detailed information about the growth and activities of ISIS components...there is a wealth of factual information on ISIS".

It's a good read if you have an interest in current history, counterintelligence and terrorism in our modern world.

We'll do the giveaway of the two copies as we always do:

Just tell me in the comments below that, “Yes, I want to win one of the books.” Or, you could say, “Me, me, me.” or anything else that indicates your interest.

Winners (you can live in any country) are selected by a random number generator and I will have your email addresses from the comment form. I will then email the winners to get your snailmail addresses to send off the books.

The contest will remain open through 12 midnight Pacific Time on Wednesday 10 January 2018, and the winners will be announced on Friday morning's regular post, 12 January 2018.



ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up in 2017 - Part 2

[Toes Up in 2017 - Part 1 is here.]

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.

* * *

Fats Domino

The world was a better place, a brighter place, a more civilized place when Antoine FATS DOMINO was among us. Alas, we are now diminished.

Fats was one of the many New Orleans piano players and he started recording in the forties. His music, if it had a label besides "New Orleans Music", was rhythm and blues. He continued in that style and it became known as rock and roll.

Indeed, it's often suggested that his 1949 record The Fat Man was the first rock and roll record. Well, there are several contenders for that title, but Fats is certainly a serious option. He had hits right through the fifties and sixties and continued playing into this century.

I thought that the most appropriate song I could choose from Fats is Ain't That a Shame. It really is a shame that he's no longer with us. (He was 89)

♫ Fats Domino - Ain't That A Shame


GÉORI BOUÉ was a French soprano who sang the normal repertoire, and also appeared in films. (99)

JOHNNY DICK was an Australia rock drummer for Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, The Wild Cherries and other bands. (73)

Keely Smith

KEELY SMITH first came to general notice partnering Louis Prima. They had a number of hits, most especially That Old Black Magic, which was a world wide smash.

Keely and Louis married and later divorced. Keely then had a successful solo career and she was well respected by other performers of all stripes. Keely sings Little Girl Blue. (85)

♫ Keely Smith - Little Girl Blue


CALEP EMPHREY was B.B. King's drummer for more than 30 years. (67)

MARIO MAGLIERI was the owner of Hollywood clubs Whisky a Go Go and Rainbow Bar & Grill where many bands and musicians from the sixties to the present made their debut. (93)

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY was the rock star of the opera world. He was born in Siberia, and when he was young he was a bit of a real rock star in those parts. He turned to opera and made his name as a lyric baritone with a voice that curled the toes of most listeners.

He was hailed as the successor to Pavarotti but with his deeper, more resonant voice I think he was a finer singer. Anyone who has seen the YouTube video of him performing the duet from the “Pearl Fishers” would agree.

He sang most baritone roles and many that were supposedly reserved for tenors. Alas, he developed a brain tumor that eventually killed him. Dmitri performs the aria Di Provenza Il Mar from Verdi's “La Traviata”. (55)

♫ Dmitri Hvorostovsky - Verdi La Traviata ~ Di Provenza Il Mar


CURTIS WOMACK was one of the several Womack brothers who made an impact on popular music. He and his brothers started as a gospel group and they later became soul singers. (74)

OLGA HEGEDUS was an English cellist who was co-principal of the English Chamber Orchestra for many years. (96)

JIMMY CHI was an Australian composer, musician and playwright. He is best known for the stage musical, and film, Bran Nue Dae. He also played in a couple of bands and wrote songs for other performers. (69)

Don Williams

DON WILLIAMS was a country singer and what a smooth mellow-voiced singer he was. He was yet another Texas singer (the state is full of them), and he started out singing folk music before taking up the country mantle.

He was greatly admired by his contemporaries and he eschewed the wild life that others seemed to think normal. His folk background serves him well for the song I've chosen, a great Jesse Winchester song, If I Were Free. (78)

♫ Don Williams - If I Were Free


ROGER SMITH was mostly known as a TV actor (77 Sunset Strip and all that), but he was also a bit of a singer, making several albums. He also managed the career of Ann-Margaret, his wife of 50 years. (84)

EDUARD BRUNNER was a Swiss classical clarinettist who performed in chamber groups and orchestras. He later was Professor of Music at a couple of universities. (77)

JOHNNY HALLYDAY was the original French rock and roller who retained his popularity in that country all his life. (74)

Walter Becker

WALTER BECKER was the co-founder, guitarist and bass player for the successful group Steely Dan. Although originally a real group, he and Donald Fagen pretty much did everything on most of their records.

Officially a rock group, they brought elements of jazz into their music. I quite liked some of their music but found that my eyes glazed over if I listened to a whole album. Fortunately, there's only one song today, probably their most famous, Rikki Don't Lose That Number. (67)

♫ Steely Dan - Rikki Don't Lose That Number


RICHARD DIVALL was an Australian orchestral and operatic conductor. He also wrote music and he was one of the leading musicologists at several universities. (71)

RONALD MUNDY was a singer in the DooWop group The Marcels who made a career of putting a different spin on old songs, most especially Blue Moon, their biggest hit. (76)

Kristine Jepson

KRISTINE JEPSON was an American mezzo-soprano who sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala, Covent Garden, the San Francisco Opera and many more. She was an acclaimed interpreter of Mozart's operas, and also performed Verdi, Richard Strauss and Massenet.

Besides the traditional roles, she was a champion of modern opera, particularly works by John Adams, Robert Ward and others. Here she performs the aria La ci darem la mano from Mozart's “Don Giovanni.” The baritone is Mariusz Kwiecień. (54)

♫ Mozart - Don Giovanni K. 527 Act I La ci darem la mano


TOM PALEY was a guitarist, banjo and fiddle player best known for his membership of the group the New Lost City Ramblers. (89)

GEOFF MACK wrote the song I've Been Everywhere which was a huge hit for Lucky Starr in Australia. Many other performers have adapted it to their own countries, but the original is still the best. (94)

Maggie Roche

MAGGIE ROCHE was one of the three sisters who formed the group The Roches. They were a talented trio who sang beautiful and often amusing songs. She performed with her sister Terre as a duo for some years until joined by youngest sister Suzzy to become The Roches.

Maggie wrote most of their songs, including The Married Men, from their wonderful debut album. She sang the lead part on this one. (65)

♫ The Roches - The Married Men


PAT BARRETT was a co-founder and singer for the DooWop group The Crew-Cuts. The group often covered songs originally recorded by black artists. (83)

Although born in France, PHILIP CANNON is generally considered an English classical music composer and music teacher. He mostly worked in an avant-garde style but even so his works are quite listenable. (87)

DAVID CASSIDY was a singer, actor, guitarist and songwriter. He's probably best known for his role in The Partridge Family on TV. (67)

Lonnie Brooks

LONNIE BROOKS was a blues singer and guitarist from Louisiana. He later came to personify the Chicago blues style. He could be cool and elegant and, on the next song, bring the house down with his sizzling guitar playing and singing.

He was mentored early on by Clifton Chenier and Sam Cooke who recognised his talent. Lonnie performs Maybe. (83)

♫ Lonnie Brooks - Maybe


LARRY CORYELL was a jazz guitarist who was a leader in the fusion of jazz and rock music. (73)

DAVID YORKO was the guitarist for the fifties instrumental rock group Johnny and the Hurricanes who had quite a few hits at the time. (73)

MITCH MARGO joined his older brother Phil in the group The Tokens when he was just 13. He became the tenor singer and wrote most of their songs (except for the one for which they are most known). (70)

Bobby Freeman

BOBBY FREEMAN started out in a DooWop group in his native San Francisco. He later became an early rock and roll performer. Later still, he was a respected soul and R&B singer. His most famous hit, Do You Wanna Dance, from 1958, has been covered by hundreds of artists over the years, but no one has done it better than he did. (76)

♫ Bobby Freeman - Do You Wanna Dance


JONI SLEDGE, along with her three sisters, created the successful R&B group Sister Sledge. (60)

JIM FULLER was the lead guitarist with The Surfaris and co-writer of their big hit, Wipe Out. (69)

BUNNY SIGLER was a soul singer, producer and songwriter. He was associated with the production team of Gamble and Huff and they produced many hits from the sixties on. (76)

Peter Sarstedt

PETER SARSTEDT was a British singer, guitarist and songwriter who had a few hits in the sixties. His two brothers, Richard (known as Eden Kane) and Clive (Robin Sarstedt) were also charting performers.

Of the songs with which Peter made the charts, the most famous is Where Do You Go To (My Lovely). This is the versions from the album, it's longer than the hit single. (75)

♫ Peter Sarstedt - Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)



INTERESTING STUFF – 6 January 2018

A KID'S DESCRIPTION OF OLD PEOPLE

TGB reader, Marian Methner, sent this very short story about growing old and her grandson, Zeb.

“My mother, who was quite 'wrinkled' would often remind me to 'use moisturizer,'” wrote Marian. “I too have 'fragile' skin and 'wrinkled' early - whatever that means.

“When one of my grandsons was about 6, gently stroking my face, he asked me, 'do all grannies have ruffles?' So of course my friends and I all love our ruffles!”

No one is born with ageist beliefs – they have to be carefully taught.

ABOUT THAT STORM IN THE EAST THIS WEEK

It was a mess in New York, Boston and other cities where temperatures hit terrible and dangerous lows but what some were calling the “bomb cyclone” storm left only one little inch of snow in Washington, D.C.

The headline on that story by reporter Monica Hesse in the Washington Post read,

”Dear Northerners: We get that this weather is no big deal for you. Now please shut up.”

Hah! Great verbal jab. Read on at The Post.

COLDEST DAYS OF WINTER – HOW CANADA COPES

Another weather item: With record-setting cold temperatures this week, here's a nice, old comedy routine about how Canadians cope with it that TGB's Montreal reader, doctafil sent:

DOGS PLAYING IN THE SNOW

Okay, maybe I'm overdoing winter weather today but there was a whole bunch of good stuff this week.

This is a short compilation video of dogs having the best ol' time in the snow. Like me, you might recognize some of them – at least one clip hales from 2007 – but it's great fun to see dogs enjoying themelves like this. (Don't forget, nothing ever dies on the internet.)

THE STORY OF A 107-YEAR-OLD WORLD WAR HERO

On Thursday, Georges Loinger turned 107 years old. He is a World War II hero, a French resistance fighter who helped save thousands of Jewish children from the the Nazis. Here is a small part of his story.

”...Loinger was born in Strasbourg in 1910 to an Orthodox Jewish family. In an interview published in the French Jewish newspaper Tribune Juive in 2015, he says, 'I was born a German. Mein Kampf was sold in bookstores. On the radio, we heard the speech of Hitler, who was yelling: “The Jews. I will exterminate them.’”

“In 1939, Loinger was mobilized and fought with the French army. When Germany defeated France in June 1940, his unit was captured and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. Because he was tall, blond and blue-eyed, the Germans did not suspect he was Jewish. He managed to escape, return to France and join the OSE as a resistant. By then he was married with two children of his own...”
After the war entered France, it became too dangerous for Jewish children to remain in France so Loinger and his cohorts began hiding the kids with Catholic French families:

“'I took the children to the border of France with Switzerland, next to Geneva, and told them we are going to play with a ball like we used to do. I threw the ball a hundred meters toward the Swiss border and told the children to run and get the ball. They ran after the ball and this is how they crossed the border.

“'This is how their lives were saved. After that, the Italians left France and the Germans came in. It became too dangerous to play ball with the children like this. With the Germans, we didn’t play these games,' he said.

“In this candid and modest narration and others, Loinger explained how he saved many children until September 1943, when the Italians signed an agreement with France and left the country.”

There is much more to the story of Georges Loinger's bravery at Tablet magazine.

BATA SHOE MUSEUM

There are some amazing shoes in this museum in Toronto, Canada, which holds a collection of footwear going back, says the curator, 4,000 years. Here is a video of more recent vintage shoes.

I was disappointed that I couldn't find a video of some of the ancient shoes but here's a photo of sixteenth-century Italian “chopines.”

ShoesItalinaChopines

You can read more about the museum at Atlas Obscura.

I DON'T LOOK GOOD NAKED ANYMORE

No kidding. You should see this wrinkled old body with its two foot vertical scar down my middle. Well, never mind. I didn't mean I would show you.

This is the Snake Oil Willie Band from 2014 singing about that predicament.

The band's website is here.

LONGEST TOWN NAME IN THE WORLD

At 58 letters, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch is the longest town name in all of Europe. The Youtube page tells us that

”...in the 1860s, the name was developed as a way to entice tourists to make the town a stop on their travels. It's an amalgamation of the Welsh words and names for local landmarks, and it's probably the best PR stunt of the 1860s—or today.

Here are the locals pronouncing the name for us:

LIVE BABY EAGLE CAM

This is from TGB reader SuzC who said,

“I'm attaching an entertaining webcam of 2 baby bald eagles, whose fierceness, strength and struggles seem to fit our day these days...“

The video is posted on the Dick Pritchett Real Estate website which explains that this 2017-2018 season is the sixth time the real estate company has provided the live look into this Southwest Florida nest. Three cameras are used that track the birds 24/7 and stream live video directly to this site.

There is more about the eagle cam and its birds at Dick Pritchett Real Estate.

* * *

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 IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.


Early January Cancer Update

When I began chemotherapy in September, six months of treatment sounded like an eternity, not something I needed to think about for a long time.

Instead, I reasoned, just show up once a week for the infusion, take the oral chemo at home daily as prescribed and find out in March 2018 what good, if any, it had done.

Like some other new experiences I have encountered since the June diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, things are not necessarily as easy or as obvious as they were BD (before diagnosis).

First, there was no forgetting. During the day or two leading up to each weekly visit to the chemo clinic, the questions rolled around in my head: Is this working? What will be the outcome in March? Is pancreatic cancer painful toward the end? Will I still be here at the end of 2018? Or not? And so on.

Generally, I have been able to, as they say, hold my shit together when I am with other people. Alone, however, I've been known to pull off the road or street I'm driving on to wipe away the tears at my unknown future.

According to different sources, between five and nine percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are still alive five years later.

(I am not unaware that at my age, 76, I could be dead of all sorts of other things by 2022, but pancreatic adenocarcinoma – the type I and about 85 percent of all pancreatic patients have – is one of the top four or five deadliest cancers so I cannot go around fooling myself about my predicament.)

But there have been questions I haven't asked, places I have not wanted to go or, more truthfully, have not be able to make myself face. One of those, through these three months of chemo so far, is to ask what is the range of possible outcomes from the surgery and now, chemo?

What is there, I have wondered between “Congratulations, no detectible cancer” and “Sorry, it didn't work”? I have not been able to say those words yet.

Until Wednesday this week.

It wasn't on my written list of topics for the medical oncologist. It just popped out toward the end after she had given my other four or five questions positive reponses.

As I felt tears welling up, I also managed to mention that I have a growing terror of what she will tell me in March, and I had only half jokingly been considering asking to keep up the weekly chemo sessions into an indefinite future so the question would never come up.

But my mouth had got ahead my fear and there was the question floating in large letters in the air between us.

The doctor repeated what she said a few minutes earlier, that even with my huge drop in red blood cells last month requiring an overnight stay in hospital to transfuse four units of blood, I am doing well with the treatment.

She believes, she said, based on knowledge and clinical experience, that there is an 85-to-90 percent chance of not finding detectible cancer in March.

Then my tears broke through. Tears of relief.

One of the things they don't teach you in life is what to do when, for example, you are presented with a terrible diagnosis and death looms. After many months of suffering uncomfortable sitting, I finally decided a few weeks ago to buy a new desk chair. But then, wondered I, what difference does it make if I'm not going to live much longer.

I wavered for a few weeks – go head and buy. No, don't bother. But my neck hurt at the end of each day at the desk so I reluctantly bought the chair.

Yesterday morning, after having slept happily on the doctor's prediction, I easily bought a pair of silk pants I've been putting off for months for the same reason as the desk chair. Now I know differently: so what if I die before wearing them more than once; it's not like the price broke my bank.

Yes, I know. Statistics cannot reveal individual outcome, and even the best professionals' predictions can be wrong for all kinds of reasons.

Nevertheless, I was cheered by her answer and more importantly, understood finally that I must go on living - in all ways - until I can't any more from whatever cause, and if that means a new pair of white silk pants, go for it.

After my meeting with the doctor, as the nurse was preparing my infusion, she told me the story of another patient, a man in his 70s, who was in the chemo clinic for treatment of lung cancer.

He told her that 10 years previously he had been successfully treated for melanoma and that 35 years ago he had had the Whipple Procedure. The nurse told me she couldn't figure out if he was lucky or incredibly unlucky.

To me, however, the man's 35-year-old Whipple is what stuck in my mind. I wonder if, even through fear and tears, we are all supreme optimists until the very end.

It was a magnificently clear day Wednesday so I could see Mt. Hood out the windows of my treatment room. That doesn't happen much in winter so I took it as an omen. Whether of good fortune or the black cat variety, we'll need to wait until March.

Mt.Hood2018_01_03fromChemoClinic



"Let Age Be Age"

Not meaning to sound too much like a grinch, finally these endless holidays are done and good riddance. They last nowadays forever – my first Christmas catalog arrived in August – and one of the things I have come to value at this advanced age is routine.

(Although, if the time allotted to end-of-year holidays expands much more, it will become our new routine: all Christmas all the time.)

One of the new-ish reasons I value routine is that it helps speed things along when what needs to get done each day expands with the years:

”An increasing part of living, at my age, is merely bodily maintenance, which is tiresome. But I cannot find anywhere in my life a time, or a kind of time, that is unoccupied,” writes 88-year-old Ursula K. Le Guin in her latest collection of essays, No Time to Spare – Thinking About What Matters.

She goes on to list all the things with which her days are filled – it takes up half a printed page – and she doesn't even mention any of those bodily maintenance chores that, especially since my cancer diagnosis, take up two to three hours a day.

NoTimeToSpare225 Did I say Le Guin's new book is a collection of essays? Well, I'm wrong. It is, instead, a book of blog posts from, roughly, 2010 to recently. (Did you know she keeps a blog? I didn't. You'll find it here.)

But then, blogs generally are essays and Le Guin's have always been thoughtful, ironic, funny and often get within easy shouting distance of real truth, especially about everyday life.

The first section of the book is mostly taken up with growing old and it is nice to find that a well-known person whose work I admire reinforces my own beliefs and point of view.

”It can be very hard to believe that one is actually eighty years old,” she writes, “but as they say, you'd better believe it...If I'm ninety and believe I'm forty-five, I'm headed for a very bad time trying to get out of the bathtub.

In one essay, Le Guin lobbies earnestly for a return to respect for old people:

”Just coping with daily life, doing stuff that was always so easy you didn't notice it, gets hard in old age, till it may take real courage to do it al all. Old age generally involves pain and danger and inevitably ends in death. The acceptance of that takes courage. Courage deserves respect.”

She explains further as she speaks to the value of elders:

”...an old intelligence may have extraordinary breadth and depth of understanding. It's had more time to gather knowledge and more practice in comparison and judgment.

“No matter if the knowledge is intellectural or practical or emotional, if it concerns alpine ecosystems or the Buddha nature or how to reason with a frightened child: when you meet an old person with that kind of knowledge, if you have the sense of a bean sprout you know you're in a rare and irreproducible presence.

“Same goes for old people who keep their skill at any craft or art they've worked at for all those years. Practice does make perfect. They know how, they know it all, and beauty flows effortlessly from what they do.”

As much as I appreciate Le Guin's thoughts on respect for and value of old people, her realism is equally important:

”Existence in old age is progressively diminished by each of these losses and restrictions. It's no use saying it isn't so, because it is so.

“It's no use making a fuss about it, or being afraid of it, either, because nobody can change it...

“A lot can be made of a diminished thing, if you work at it. A lot of people (young and old) are working at it.

“All I'm asking people who are not really old is to...try not to diminish old age itself. Let age be age. Let your old relative or old friend be who they are. Denial serves nothing, no one, no purpose."

This section on ageing is small. Le Guin has pulled together blogs posts on a wide range of topics – her cat “the Pard,” the literature business, anger, belief, “the Pard,” music appreciation, even the Oregon high desert and more about “the Pard.”

When I started reading No Time to Spare late one evening, I expected to get through one or two of Le Guin's blog posts before turning out the light. Instead, I read half the book before sleep overtook me.