Tuesday, 30 September 2014

TGB FORUM: Readers Write the Blog – Day 2

As I explained on Monday, while Peter Tibbles and Norma Gates are visiting from Melbourne, I am taking a mini-vacation and letting you, dear readers, write the blog based on your own topics.

Today's comes from Tamsin. It may, in some instances, be difficult to talk about but I believe it is important to consider, think about and get out into the open.

”Do those who have experienced losing a spouse have any advice for those of us who will be facing that unhappy event in the future? How does life change for a widow or widower?”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, June Calendar: Things Only Old Folks Know

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Monday, 29 September 2014

TGB FORUM: Readers Write the Blog – Day 1

As I repeat ad nauseum, individuals age at different rates and in different ways so that what shows up in one person at 50 may not affect another until 70 or maybe not at all.

As a friend says the same thing: if you've seen one old person, you've seen one old person.

One of my self-assigned tasks since I began this blog more than a decade ago is, in a casual way – I don't keep notes or a chart, to track my own aging.

Sometimes that is as simple as noticing new wrinkles on my body or it can be as complex as trying to figure out if my most comfortable walking speed is slower than it was a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. (The answer is, I can't tell.)

Now, however, I have an additional measuring stick to add to my kit: visiting friends.

Peter Tibbles writes the TGB Elder Music column that appears on Sunday. Last week he and Norma Gates, the assistant musicologist, arrived from Melbourne, Australia, for the second time in two years. I am thrilled to have them staying with me again.

Here is a photo of Norma as we were on our way Saturday for a ride along the Willamette River in an antique trolley.


And here is the little trolley:


When Peter and Norma were here in 2012, with not much extra attention to time management, I kept up this blog every day in relative ease. This time is different. This time I can feel the effects of being a bit older or, at least, that's what I think it is.

It is more difficult now to spend the time I want with Peter and Norma and still find the focus and concentration to write a post each day. So I am not going to.

But you will still have a fresh story each day because you, dear readers, are going to write it.

Thanks to your suggestions, we now have a list of forum topics. We used a couple of them last week and now I will choose one one each day this week (unless I decide to interrupt the flow with something that's on my mind).

Now you might ask why I don't just take a vacation and I could. However, many readers who do not subscribe to The Elder Storytelling Place use the link at the end of each day's Time Goes By post to read that story.

So it's two birds, one stone without much effort on my part. Plus, I enjoyed your conversations on the TGB Forums last week and look forward to more.

Today's topic comes from Charlotte Dahl:

”How have you changed over the years? Do you feel wiser now that you're old? What do you wonder about? What are you grateful for?”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: Merry Sunshine

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

ELDER MUSIC: 1961 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.

What happened in 1961?

  • Boy George (George O'Dowd) was born
  • Parkes radio telescope opened for business
  • Amnesty International created
  • Four Corners first screened
  • The Beatles performed at the Cavern Club for the first time
  • Ken was introduced to Barbie
  • The Hustler was released
  • Hawthorn were premiers (beating Footscray, dammit)

ROY ORBISON wrote Crying about an old flame he saw one day soon after they broke up.

Roy Orbison

He said he was too stubborn to go up to her and try to patch things up so he wrote the song instead. The rest of the world is glad he did.

♫ Roy Orbison - Crying

I first heard Hello Walls sung by FARON YOUNG rather than Willie Nelson, who wrote the song.

Faron Young

Indeed, I liked it so much I bought a 45 of it. Willie hadn't actually recorded the song at this stage, the first time he did that was the following year.

♫ Faron Young - Hello Walls

Besides Roy, CARLA THOMAS wrote a song about someone on whom she had a crush.

Carla Thomas

That song is Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes).

It seems that for the recording of the song, the arranger hadn't turned up. He eventually arrived late and by then the backing musicians were being paid overtime. Carla nailed the song on the first take much to the relief of the record company execs. It hit the charts the first day she started university.

She became the first woman to have a top 10 hit with a song she wrote herself.

♫ Carla Thomas - Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)

DEL SHANNON and his keyboard player Max Crook came up with the song Runaway when they were performing at a club. Max played some unusual chord changes and Del asked him to repeat them. They kept improvising with this until the club owner told them to play something else.

Del Shannon

Del wrote words to the riff that night and they had a hit on their hands. That unusual sound is made by a Musitron, a keyboard instrument Max developed himself.

♫ Del Shannon - Runaway

Wow, what a voice TIMI YURO had.

Timi Yuro

Originally from Chicago, the Yuro family moved to Los Angeles where young Timi used to sing in the family's Italian restaurant (and in local nightclubs much against her folks' wishes).

She caught the ear (and eye, no doubt) of a talent scout who signed her up. She recorded Hurt, a song that Roy Hamilton had recorded previously and it did well on the charts. Here it is.

♫ Timi Yuro - Hurt

The EVERLY BROTHERS continued bringing out terrific songs.

Everly Brothers

This was an interesting record, it had Ebony Eyes on the flip side. The A side though was Walk Right Back. I know that as I bought this 45 too (or received it as a birthday present, or something).

♫ Everly Brothers - Walk Right Back

PATSY CLINE crossed over from the country charts to the pop realm now and then.

Patsy Cline

Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard wrote the song I Fall to Pieces and tried to get someone to record it. Many artists passed on it for various reasons.

Patsy overheard one of them turning it down and was impressed with it and said that she'd record it. Aren't we all glad she did?

♫ Patsy Cline - I Fall to Pieces

This year is chockablock with great voices and here's another one, PAT BOONE.

Pat Boone

Moody River wasn't your standard Pat song. After all, it's all about the protagonist who goes to meet his true love only to discover that she's killed herself. Goodness me, Pat, what were you thinking?

♫ Pat Boone - Moody River

And still the great singers keep on coming. Here's ELVIS with His Latest Flame.

Elvis Presley

The song was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman and originally recorded by Del Shannon, but Elvis did it better (that should go without saying, really).

♫ Elvis Presley - His Latest Flame

DICK AND DEE DEE were Richard Gosling and Mary Sperling, but they changed their names to reflect the stage name.

Dick & DeeDee

They first met when they were at school together. Then, as fate would have it, they went off to different schools and lost touch.

Later, they happened to run into each other and discovered they both liked writing songs. Singing them too. They eventually got a recording contract and released The Mountain's High as the B side of their first release.

A disk jockey accidently played the wrong side and was flooded with calls. They realized they were on to something here.

♫ Dick & Dee Dee - The Mountains High

You can find more music from 1961 here. 1962 will appear in two weeks' time.

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Saturday, 27 September 2014

INTERESTING STUFF – 27 September 2014


The New York Times posted a lovely little montage video of what it's like at the Met a week before the season premier.


This is a funny and masterful take-down of the Miss America Pageant and, in passing, Donald Trump. But it is also something that no comedian I recall has ever done: investigative journalism. Don't miss it.


I wish I had made up that headline but credit must be given to the accuweather website which tells us:

”Alaskan wood frogs freeze solid each year in order to survive the harsh, unforgiving Alaskan winter.”


There is a lot more information at accuweather.com.


Usually, Bev Carney keeps me in good supply of Simon but this turned up some other way. A cat's life is never easy or, at least, that's what they'll tell you.


This is fantastic and wonderful and just my kind of thing. I am amazed I am learning about it at this late date.

There is a parking garage attached to the Kansas City, Missouri library. A very special parking garage. Take a look at the video. I discovered this in an email from Darlene Costner.

A few years ago, someone asked Snopes if a photograph of the garage was legit. It is and Snopes helpfully supplies a short history along with a list of all the 22 books depicted.


It is undoubtedly not news to you that last weekend there was a gigantic march in New York City to raise aware of climate change.

Among the estimated 300,000 marchers were Mayor Bill deBlasio, Al Gore and even U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in a teeshirt and baseball cap.

Jon Stewart's report on The Daily Show is magnificent, especially the section on Congressional climate deniers. You gotta love Stewart's line about the GOP deniers: “pushing a million pounds of idiot up a mountain.”

Stewart's clips of scientist John P. Holden demolishing those neanderthal Congress people are from Holden's testimony at a House hearing. ThinkProgress has longer videos of his testimony that are worth watching.


It's just a stupid game with dumb questions but I took the quiz anyway. It said I would die at 91.

One of the commenters reported that the quiz said he would die at 57 and he was already several years older. But what the heck – it's nothing but a clickbait page and kinda fun to play with.


In the past, I've posted a similar traffic cop but when you're good, you deserve your 15 minutes. Enjoy this with a hat tip to my friend Jim Stone.


Another from Jim Stone. In our high-tech, GoPro world, this seems almost archaic. There is no big-deal excitement, no slam-bang ending. It's just sweet, almost magical and beautifully low-tech. Stick with it through the end and you will be charmed.

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” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably 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.

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Friday, 26 September 2014

TGB FORUM: Finding New Friends in Old Age

Let me thank you all for the terrific forum topics you suggested a few days ago.

My intention was/is to use them only occasionally but with my teeth, preparing for friends who have now arrived and time for writing (not even counting time for research or thinking before writing) has disappeared.

So I'm going to make greater use of those topics in shorter succession. Today, let's consider friendship which several readers mentioned.

As I have frequently mentioned here, if we live long enough, old friends – and relatives too – die. Others move away, or we do. And when we retire, we also lose the day-to-day camaraderie of the workplace, the importance and pleasures of which never occurred to me until I no longer had them.

All of those conspire to shrink our social circles. Here is the topic suggestion Nancy Wick left:

”I'd be interested in getting ideas on how to make friends with people who are younger (even much younger) than you.

It seems to me that the only way to combat being friendless because contemporaries die off is to make friends with younger folks, but I find it really hard to do. At social events, people do seem to congregate in age groups.”

It's a good subject that affects pretty much all elders. So, let's expand Nancy's question a bit to include meeting potential friends of all ages.

Loneliness is not only painful to endure but there are legitimate studies showing that it is twice as unhealthy as obesity and can even lead to premature death.

So pull out all your best ideas, examples and experiences to share with everyone on how we can find new friendships, young and old.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ellen Younkins: Homage to Age

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Elder Dental Care

Perhaps you have already laughed ruefully, recognizing what an oxymoron that headline is.

Unless you are wealthy in your old age, in the United States, dental care beyond much more than an annual cleaning is not personally affordable and traditional Medicare specifically excludes it (although some Advantage plans cover some dental work).

As the medicare.gov website explains:

”Medicare doesn't cover most dental care, dental procedures, or supplies, like cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates, or other dental devices.

“Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) will pay for certain dental services that you get when you're in a hospital. Part A can pay for inpatient hospital care if you need to have emergency or complicated dental procedures, even though the dental care isn't covered.”

In a post last week, I tried to make light of the difficulty I've had being in public without my denture. The reason for not wearing it was, as I explained, that

”...the entire length of gum on one side of my mouth swelled to a gargantuan size. The dentist supplied two kinds of antibiotics for the infection and after two weeks, it is nearly cleared up.”

Not completely. Nearly. The small amount of swelling that remains means the denture still doesn't fit yet and I'm stuck with no upper teeth for a few more days - a bummer in any case but particularly so as my Aussie friends, Peter and Norma, arrive this afternoon.

Worse, this turned out to be a great deal more than the simple, though large, infection I thought it was. As the dentist explained, it had traveled to my sinus and could, from there, enter my brain – potentially a life-threatening event.

Before now, I had no idea such a terrible thing exists. Then, still more bad news: There are a couple of smaller infections in my lower jaw and some other problems that require oral surgery, implants and a new (and better) kind of upper denture.

If I don't have this work done, the dentist and perio guy both told me, infections will continue to erupt probably more frequently and I will lose some (or all) of my remaining teeth.

This is not a surprise to me. I've heard it before but have neglected my mouth for several years because the last time I got an estimate for the needed work, the cost was about two-thirds of my annual income.

It's money I don't have lying around and my income obviously is not enough to pay as I go meaning, also, that there is no hope of saving enough in even five years and maybe not ten – obviously not a useful time frame in regard to teeth and infections.

On Tuesday this week, I met with the dentist to determine the work to be done to give me a healthy mouth, what the most cost-effective way to do it is and to come up with a bottom-line price.

The number brought tears to my eyes: It is about the same as a new, low-end BMW and way more than a year's income.

I fibbed three paragraphs up. I do have money that could pay for this but it certainly is not just lying around.

After the 2008 crash decimated my small savings, what is left is what I call my end-of-life fund. If it comes to needing full-time care in a nursing home, this would cover it for two, maybe three years by the end of which I would hope to be dead.

In no way is the fund meant for dental work but it is there, and I can use what would be a large portion of that fund for my teeth. I would just need to hope for a quick death.

Not everyone is that lucky. On the recent post here following up on community elder services, Barbara Rogers left this comment.

“How do you get economical dental care once you use Medicare for your medical needs? I've paid for 2 "initial exams" this year, but can't afford the "plans" either dentist came up with. To go to yet another one, I'll again have to pay for the initial exam.

“I'm not yet eligible for Clinics, for those who have no resources, but if I pay for these plans, in a year I will be broke. Already being 72, I don't see investing all my savings into my teeth. Any suggestions?”

When, on Tuesday, I nearly passed out at hearing the price of the needed work, the dentist told me that I might qualify for low income dental coverage which, he said, only three or four states, including my own, offer.

I spent most of Tuesday afternoon tracking it down only to find that my income is not low enough for me to be eligible. Then I spent another two hours checking an Oregon program for stand-alone dental plans anyone – Medicare subscribers as well as others – can purchase.

There were a couple of plans with premiums I could actually afford but they did not cover any – not even a portion - of the kind of work I need done.

So I am back to the end-of-life fund. I am fully aware of how lucky I am. I may not have much income, but I own my home with no mortgage. I own my ten-year-old car with only 37,000 miles on it. I have no debt. My credit card is a convenience only, paid off each month and I live quite comfortably.

My heart goes out to Barbara and the many thousands of other elders who cannot afford even basic dental care. The best I can suggest is to diligently mine the possibilities.

Does a local dental school take patients for no or minimal cost? Do you live in a state like mine that offers a dental program if your income is low enough? Can you find a stand-alone dental program you can afford?

Does anyone reading this today have other suggestions? Because the fact is, untreated dental problems cause serious health problems.

The real answer to this is, of course, that the United States, like every other civilized, developed nation, needs to offer universal health care including dental. I suspect that won't happen in my lifetime.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: The Poet Pondered

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

TGB FORUM: Do You Keep Up with Your Previous Profession?

Last week, after a post about available services for elders turned into a lively discussion, I called on you, dear readers, for topic ideas for future forums. You responded with some excellent ideas.

Readers of this blog have a well-established history of compelling, sharp and, often, funny conversation in the comments section below the main story and this forum idea allows more room for that on subjects you choose.

This also leaves me some extra time now and then away from the computer while you still get something fresh rather than an empty page.

This feature will be labeled the headline, TGB FORUM, following by the day's question and I will usually (well, maybe not always) have something to say about it myself before leaving it open for you.

If you click “reply” in your news reader or email program, your comment comes only to me via email. No one else can see it.

To participate in the forum (or any blog post) and read what others have said, you must go to the blog website. Do this by clicking the title of the story. It will then open in your browser and you can scroll down to click “comments” and add your two (or 20 or more) cents.


After retiring, do you keep up with what's happening in your former profession? Why?

In my case, absolutely. I spent my entire career in various forms of media involved with what most interests me: news, politics, world affairs, the varieties of American culture and the media itself.

Back in my working days, they paid me to do that and there was a part of me that never quite got over the amazement I felt at actually making a living doing it.

Since retiring, I've never slacked off. I cannot imagine how I could make sense of the world I live in (to the degree anyone can), without keeping up. What a miss is the morning discussions and camaraderie with fellow workers who shared my interests. But life changes.

Now it's you turn and I'd add just a little to what Trudi asked: if you do not keep up with your previous career, have other interests replaced that? If so, what?

At the Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: The Grocery List

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