INTERESTING STUFF – 9 March 2019

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME BEGINS AT 2AM SUNDAY

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Spring forward again. If like me you still have clocks that don't update digitally, you need turn them forward one hour on tonight.

If you feel like you just did this yesterday in reverse, you're almost right. We did it just last November. But at least we don't need to think about it again until November.

If you are interested in the history and background of daylight savings time and recent efforts to do away with it, there is more than you could ever want to know at Wikipedia.

THE BLESSINGS OF AGE

Even if you quibble with a few of these elders' attitudes about growing old, mostly they are happy with their generally quiet lives – unlike the media's urging us to join outlier old people who climb mountains and bungee jump.

Here is a short documentary by Jenny Schweitzer Bell titled, The Blessings of Age.

There is more information at The Atlantic.

THE AWESOME OPOSSUM

I don't often think about opossums (opossi?) but as this video tells us, they are a lot more interesting than I imagined.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S INSTAGRAM PHOTO CONTEST

National Geographic is probably more well-known for its stunning photography rather than the articles it illustrates. The organization just published the current winners, runners up and others from the recent contest. Here are two to whet your appetite:

NGbldings

NGiraffesAnuroop Krishnan

You can see the rest at Bored Panda.

MEDICARE FOR ALL

For going on two years, I have racked up about a million dollars in treatment for pancreatic cancer. And I have not paid a penny more except for a supplemental plan and the small Medicare deductible each year and Part B premium.

Everyone, not just old people (and a few others) should be free from financial worry when they are sick. Without that, in my case, there is no way I could have paid for it and I would undoubtedly be dead now.

There are some new political/policy movements to figure out how to expand Medicare to everyone. It won't happen as quickly as Congressional Democrats seem to think, but I believe this conversation period will lead to it eventually.

Comments can be read at Twitter.

NEW TWILIGHT ZONE

The original Twilight Zone TV show was broadcast from 1959 to 1964 and is still a popular choice on Netflix and other streaming service – well, it certainly is with me.

Here is the trailer for the new imagining of it:

The new program premiers on 1 April. Unfortunately for me, it will be exclusively on CBS All Access, a pay service I do not subscribe to, so I won't know if it is as well done and compelling as the original.

FLYING WITH THE BIRDS

We end today's Interesting Stuff with two videos of birds from two realms: sky and ground.

According to Big Geek Daddy,

”Christian Moullec takes us some amazing flights with his birds in this wonderful video. He has been helping birds migrate from Germany to Sweden since 1995. His efforts have raised awareness about the disappearance of migratory birds in Europe.”

DAILY LIFE OF BACKYARD BIRDS

Bored Panda tell us:

”Lisa, who goes by the name Ostdrossel on her social media, has always been fascinated by nature and birds, so when following her love to Macomb County in Michigan from Germany, she had an urge to get a little closer to the birds in her yard that are uncommon in her homeland.

“She began exploring the ways to make it possible and as a result, she has thousands of images capturing different gorgeous bird species, their funny expressions, majestic poses and sometimes crazy behavior.”

A couple of examples:

Birdbathtwochattng

Birdfedder[peanuts

Many more are at Bored Panda.

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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.




Growing Old My Way

Earlier this week, long-time TGB reader Elizabeth left, in part, this comment:

”The culture we live in insists that 'living to the fullest' means an incessant pursuit of experiences. One MUST travel in retirement. One MUST attend cultural events. In some circles, one MUST volunteer or be politically active.

“The idea of a bucket list is another piece of that pressure to do, do, do. After a lifetime of working and raising a family, I am able to live fully the way I want to...

“My paternal grandmother once commented on how annoying she found the recreational staff at her senior residence. They were so worried that she didn’t participate in the (to Grandma) condescending song fests and games. She kept saying that she was finally able to do exactly what she wanted.”

Elizabeth is correct. The only old people to whom American culture pays even a small amount of respect are the ones who act like younger adults, 40-year-olds for example.

You know the headline stories: a 102-year-old park ranger; an 80-year-old who climbs Mt. Everest; a 91-year-old marathon runner.

These elders are outliers who, via glorification of their physical advantages, we are urged to emulate. Not the tens of millions of us who carry on daily activities the best we can, without too much complaint (if you don't count Crabby Old Lady), while navigating the large and small and sometimes frightening difficulties of old age.

In the media hubbub surrounding the recent Academy Awards, I saw a headline announcing that movie producers are now embracing older actors and stories about old people. No, they are not - not unless their name is Judi Dench or Maggie Smith or Helen Mirren. (It helps to be British.)

And in general, there are just three storylines:

The aforementioned extreme sports stories (that always imply “if he can do it, what's wrong with you?”)

Love in old age (aren't they cute)

Spunky elders (with or without terminal disease) who carry on through every adversity, designed and guaranteed to leave the entire audience weeping when they die at the end

In supporting roles, elders are almost always the objects of ageist humor.

As Elizabeth points out, it is close to universally true that people who have not yet reached old age think we're doing it wrong if we are not behaving like 40-year-olds.

Until you're old, you probably have no idea how chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and dozens of others hamper one's ability to do the things that were easy at age 40.

And that doesn't include plain old tiredness, the fatigue that comes along just because you are old now and your body slows down.

People sometimes say it's too bad there isn't an instruction book for getting old. I think it's a good thing NOT to have that book, not to have an arbitrary “expert” telling us what we should be doing.

Remember, there is no right way to grow old. Do it your way and do it proudly.




Crabby Old Lady on C.R.A.F.T. and Typing Errors

Trying to live with a couple of the irritating artifacts of old age – that's what we're talking about today.

TYPING ERRORS
There was a time over many years when Crabby Old Lady could type faster than most people and do it accurately, without hitting wrong keys. It was easy for her to do 125 words-per-minute in those days.

Crabby hasn't timed herself lately but there really is no point since she cannot get through a single line of type nowadays without errors – sometimes several. Because in general, such as cooking or writing with a pen, Crabby does not have hand/eye coordination difficulties, she's chalking it up to old age.

There is a fairly large collection of activities that are not symptoms of dire disease but nevertheless are annoying and slow Crabby down. Typing errors are near the top of the list because Crabby types a lot.

It's so bad recently that she can no longer shoot off even a quick email to a friend without reading it carefully for errors. Even in as short a note as three lines, Crabby often finds half a dozen mistakes.

There is no solution, no backtracking to the days of near perfection in typing that Crabby can find, so she resigns herself to everything involving a keyboard taking twice as long as it once did.

Just to show you what it's like, Crabby going to finish writing this post leaving all the errors intact. Have fun.

C.R.A.F.T.
At the top of Crabby Old Lady's annoyance list is C.R.A.F.T. It was only a few weeks ago that she discovered this acronym and prompty named ie perfect for the irritating situation: “Can't Remember A Fucking Thing.”

Every old person knows the story: make a list for the grocery market, leave it at home (C.R.A/F/t) and even if it had only three items om oit, Crabby gets home with only two. Tthe third one is lost is the ether forever until she needs whatever it is and it's not in the cupoard.

The weird thng is, she remembers the item was on the originalshopping list as soon as she realizes it is missing. How does memeory work, anyway, that Crabby can't remember an item on the list but two wqeekslater recallsit was on the list.

Convervations are the worst. Halfway through a sentence, a word Crabby needs will not appear in her mind. Zero ip there in the vocabulary section of her brain. Her favorite, if it were not so annoying was the time she shouldn't remember the word for scissors.

Here solution that time was to pantomime cutting with her first two fingers while saying, “that thing you cut paper with.” But most of the time even a dedcriptijom like that will not come to mond.

C.R.A.F.T. leaves a lot of holes in conversations and most often it isn't the name of an item that disappears but the entire idea Crabby was talking bout or rwis;;u e,barrassing, the punchlineto a storyl.\

And that common belief that if you don't try to remembere, it will reappear?

Yeah, sure. right after you arrive home or haveh ung up the phonel.

Just to be clear, none of this has anything to do with dementia. It's common to just about all old peple and win't kill you – although it might irritate you to death.

You know, maybe if Crabby Old Lady complains enough, lets off enogh steam about all the memory irritations, she'll die without a single thing bothering her/




A TGB READER STORY: Around the Pond

By Karpagam “Jeeks” Rajagopal

I watch the avian life around the pond at work every day and I have decided that it's really a high-school class with wings.

The geese are the jocks - always daring each other to stupid stunts like bracing to land on the water and digging in with their heels to create maximum skid and backsplash in minimum space.

They are constantly eating and doing the follow-up bodily functions, strutting with that hip-swivel and radiating a "Wanna make something of it?" attitude.

The ducks are the regular kids - shy around everyone else but comfortable with each other, splashing their wings in each other's faces, diving to show off their underwater "holding my breath" duration to their brethren but mostly quiet and well-behaved - aspiring "Teacher's Pet" candidates.

The cattle egret is the loner Goth, his plume always groomed like a mohawk 'do' quietly pacing the edges, apparently harmless but playing his cards close to his chest. Taciturn and morose, he comes and goes at will, embracing his inner introvert with wings and beak.

The pelicans show up when the mood takes them, serenely confident in their size, fishing ability, beak capacity and wingspan. They are the bosses - too dignified to mingle, willing to grace the others with their aloof company. “Don’t envy me because I’m beautiful”, they seem to say coyly, knowing full well that they are the “in” crowd.

The gulls are the newcomersn- outsiders determined to make their mark, trying hard to look interested but really keeping an eye on the hierarchy in an effort to make a power play for top spot.

They look ready to play dirty if needed, their weapons carefully sheathed as they study all the angles with ulterior motive. Their beady eyes have that gleam of back alley shenanigans, and they look ready to say, “Wanna make something of it?”, and to take it out to the alley at the least provocation.

The ravens fix everyone else with a beady eye, content to flaunt their nerdy "intellectual superiority" card when needed, fully aware that this environment does not play to their strengths. They privately gag at the food choice the geese have made, much preferring to dumpster-dive for more calorific bounty. They would be the cafeteria lady’s nemesis.

And then there's the Cooper's hawk - terrorizing principal/hall monitor/crossing guard. He eyes them all with insolence, secure on his perch.

He watches them intently, occasionally swooping dangerously close to the noisy gaggle of geese, causing them all to harumph, settle their ruffled wings and look around in wide-eyed innocence as if to say "What? What'd we do, huh? We were just minding our own business."

All the other birds bustle about their own business - teachers, custodians and helpers. They don't have time for this flighty behavior, they say, even as they watch the fun. There's work to be done and somebody's got to do it.

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




Living While Dying

Snoopy-cartoon

As much as I like the Snoopy cartoon - which is all the more admirable for its simplicity – dying is, nevertheless, more complicated than that.

Some people die quietly in their sleep, others die suddenly in, for example, a traffic accident, while another group of us slowly dies while being treated with drugs meant to extend of our lives even though we know the disease will eventually kill us.

Twenty-seven years ago, my mother chose no chemotherapy. She didn't want to be sick or drugged during her final months of life. I chose differently. So far the chemo side effects are minimal and the professional guesstimates of extended life sufficiently long to make the treatment worthwhile – at least, to me.

You might have guessed that I have put a lot of thought to this interim period. Back in June 2017, when I was first told I had pancreatic cancer, I made a bunch of decisions at least two of which have proved fruitful.

  1. Spend every day living to the fullest extent I desire

  2. Talk about my “predicament” as much as I want

For number 1, I have surrendered to life and living as fully as possible because what other choice is there? I don't have the first idea of other possibilities.

One thing that gets in the way is that I feel apologetic when the simple life I lead comes up in conversation, when someone asks about my bucket list (none) or fulfilling lifelong dreams, etc.

I don't know why I'm touchy about my life and I'm working on figuring it out. In addition to having cancer I'm old, nearly 78, and I'm slower than I used to be. There was a time when I tried to hide that.

Nowadays I have no difficulty behaving like an old person even though American culture recognizes (begrudgingly) only old people who act like younger adults.

The amazing plus side of number 2, talking openly and often about my cancer and about dying, is that when I do it, it is easier for the people I'm speaking with to do so too. And writing about my predicament on this blog has freed up readers and friends to leave messages that stick with me every day, long after they are said.

My friends Gail and Jim wished me “a safe and harmless journey.” Isn't that lovely. And not long ago, another friend, Wendl Kornfeld, signed off with “May you live long enough.” Both of these being beautifully inspiring.

But we need to talk more about dying until it becomes a normal part of life. It wasn't always hidden away, you know. Until 100 years ago or thereabouts, most people died at home among family and friends. Even the children were involved.

Personally, I am fascinated with these final weeks and months of my life, eager to let myself follow natural inclinations to wherever they take me.

Palliative care physician and author Kathryn Mannix also believes it is time to break the taboo surrounding death, as she explained in this March 2018 video from the BBC:




ELDER MUSIC: Sleep

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 last, a topic we all indulge in. I suppose there’s always the chance that you might nod off during today’s column, given the topic. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen as there are some good songs that are worth a listen.

I’ll start with HOAGY CARMICHAEL who wrote songs for a living, and occasionally sang them.

Hoagy Carmichael

One such song is Two Sleepy People, which he wrote with Frank Loesser. It’s probably best known to people of our vintage from the version by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross from the film Thanks for the Memory where they also sang the title song. Here we have Hoagy and Ella Logan singing it.

♫ Hoagy Carmichael - Two Sleepy People


The EVERLY BROTHERS are having Sleepless Nights.

Everly Brothers

This is one of several of their songs covered memorably by Emmylou Harris (and others as well). Their songs were so well crafted, either by them or others, that people really want to sing them. In this case the song was written by song writers Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.

♫ Everly Brothers - Sleepless Nights


DAVE COHEN also recorded under the name David Blue.

Dave Cohen

The first time I encountered him (on record) was on a disk called “Singer Songwriter Project” where he and three others performed their own songs. One of Dave’s was called I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning, later covered memorably by David Bromberg.

♫ Dave Cohen - I Like To Sleep Late In The Morning


What a cad was HELEN SHAPIRO’s bloke.

Helen Shapiro

He gave her the flick at midnight, presumably after they were doing something or other. I’ll leave that up to you. There was only one thing she could do (well, I suppose there were several things, but we won’t go there either). She sings I Cried Myself to Sleep Last Night.

♫ Helen Shapiro - I cried myself to sleep last night


WILLIE NELSON has by far the best song today. It’s probably not the only column where I could say that.

Willie Nelson

Willie’s song is from his extraordinarily good album “Red Headed Stranger”. Any song from that would be worth featuring, but Can I Sleep in Your Arms is the only sleep related song.

♫ Willie Nelson - Can I Sleep in Your Arms


BOBBY LEWIS couldn’t sleep at all last night.

Bobby Lewis

If that isn’t a cue for a song I don’t know what is. That song is Tossin' and Turnin', a song that not only made number 1 on the charts it was also the number 1 song for 1961. Okay, there wasn’t much competition that year, but it’s still a good effort.

♫ Bobby Lewis - Tossin' And Turnin'


There’s a personal angle to GORDON LIGHTFOOT’s song, but I’m not revealing anything.

Gordon Lightfoot

It came from around the time that the album “Summer Side of Life” was released, which naturally I bought back then. The song I’m talking about in my roundabout way is Talking in Your Sleep.

♫ Gordon Lightfoot - Talking in Your Sleep


Instead of talking in her sleep, HANK WILLIAMS’ honey was crying in her sleep.

Hank Williams

Perhaps it was Helen (above), but probably not as he skedaddled, and Hank seems to be still around (in song terms, not in life, unfortunately). Hank sings (Last Night) I Heard You Crying In Your Sleep.

♫ Hank Williams - (Last Night) I Heard You Crying In Your Sleep


I’m sure if I mention THE TOKENS, those who know that group will know which song comes next.

The Tokens

I suspect that, like me, without resorting to Wiki, you couldn’t name another of their songs. It doesn’t matter, this one is worth hearing. The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

♫ The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)


MERLE HAGGARD wrote the song Don't Ever Let Your Lover Sleep Alone and it appeared on a duet album called “Old Loves Never Die” with LEONA WILLIAMS.

Merle Haggard & Leona Williams

In his autobiography, Merle said that he wished that he’d made a solo album instead, that Leona was just using him to further her career. I don’t know if that’s so, but I’ll have to say that I haven’t heard of her outside this album. She seems to be an okay singer though.

♫ Merle Haggard & Leona Williams - Don't Ever Let Your Lover Sleep Alone


Now that you’ve got to sleep, be careful you don’t Sleepwalk. That’s a cue for SANTO & JOHNNY who had a big hit with the tune way back in 1959.

Santo & Johnny

Santo and Johnny were brothers Santo and John Farina from Brooklyn and their father gave them both guitars. The tune evolved from the brothers jamming after one of their gigs.

♫ Santo & Johnny - Sleep Walk




INTERESTING STUFF – 2 March 2019

PAY IT FORWARD, ACTS OF KINDNESS

And oh what those acts can do. From Tom Delmore.

MOLLIE THE BEAGLE ADOPTS AN ORPHANED POSSUM

You know fro these posts that I can't get enough of interspecies friendship. Here's another.

THE GREAT ICE ORCHESTRA

You've heard of ice hotels? This is an ice orchestra. The Youtube page explains:

”Tim Linhart was sculpting ice in Colorado when he decided to try something new: creating a giant, frozen violin. When a friend jokingly asked how Tim thought his violin would sound, it sparked an idea. Why not make an entire, functional orchestra out of ice?

“That was 21 years ago. These days, Tim is based in Sweden and gathers his icy ensembles to play in cosmic igloos. Grab a seat, and best don’t forget your coat.”

A NAZI NIGHT AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

From the Youtube page:

”In 1939, 20,000 Americans rallied in New York's Madison Square Garden to celebrate the rise of Nazism - an event largely forgotten from U.S. history.

A Night at the Garden, made entirely from archival footage filmed that night, transports audiences to this chilling gathering and shines a light on the power of demagoguery and anti-Semitism in the United States.”

Margaret Talbot wrote about this film in The New Yorker last week.

TALKIING GARGOYLE AT DENVER AIRPORT

Laughing Squid tells us:

"When the newly-renovated airport was re-opened, management decided to take the campaign even further by perching a rather garrulous gargoyle in the middle of the brand new Jeppesen Terminal. The 243-year-old patinaed creature hilariously engaged with skeptical travelers, disbelieving tourists, curious little children and even a custodial employee or two."

Take a look:

OCTOPUS ESCAPING THROUGH A ONE-INCH HOLE

It's not that I haven't seen this before, it's that it still amazes me.

BEFORE WINTER IS OVER, MY BLIZZARD STORY

From Cop Car who blogs at Cop Car's Beat. Back in 2005, Cop Car related her 1983 big blizzard story here and I followed up with this one of mine. It seems a good time to repeat these:

”I lived in Greenwich Village, downtown, and the production office of the ABC-TV television show I worked on was at Columbus Circle, about three miles north.

“Overnight, the snow had piled up, closing in on two feet. The wind was blowing and the snow showed no signs yet of diminishing.

“Everyone else in our small office lived out of the city or on the east side where subway travel was not easily usable, but there was some work that HAD to be done (no email yet in those days or VPN networks), so it was up to me because my commute was to walk one block from my home to the subway and then one block to the office at the other end of the ride.

'I bundled up: longjohns, two or three sweaters, knee-high, fleece-lined boots, hat and - important to the story - an extra-large, bright blue parka I'd been given on a cold-weather shoot; it had a giant ABC logo on the front of it.

“Columbus Circle is well-known in New York City as a dangerously windy corner and that proved true when I climbed out of the subway there. It was blowing hard - that tiny kind of snowflake that is not quite sleet, but hurts when it hits your face.

“I wrapped my arms around a light pole while I peeked between gloved fingers to see when it might be safe to cross the street - Broadway - which lives up to its name, very broad and on that day, icy and slick.

“At last, the few cars looked far enough away that I could cross and have time to pick myself up, if I fell, before a car could slide into me.

“As I let go of the light pole to step off the invisible curb, a giant gust of wind blew me down on my back in a huge snowdrift. With all four limbs flailing in the air, I must have looked like a big, blue-clad turtle on its back.

“Now, remember the ABC logo on my parka? As I tried to right myself, I saw a camera pointed right at me. A camera with a CBS-TV logo pasted on it. The cameraman yelled through the wailing wind: 'You'll be on CBS tonight, baby.'"

WILD RED SQUIRRELS DOING SOME VERY HUMAN THINGS

From the Laughing Squid page:

”Swedish/Dutch photographer Geert Weggen has created a wonderfully whimsical photo series of surprisingly cooperative wild red squirrels performing some very human tasks such as taking photos, riding a bicycle, playing piano, having tea, riding different vehicles, rowing a boat and enjoying a nice campfire.

“Weggen stated that he became a full-time photographer in 2013 and these squirrels and birds are his specialty.”

A couple of examples:

Squirrel2

Squirrel1

And here's a video of Weggen and one of the red squirrels.

More still images of Weggen and red squirrels at Laughing Squid.

HONEY BADGER RESCUES BABY FROM LEOPARD

The Mother Nature Network (MNN) page tells us

“Don't mess with mama...One hungry leopard in South Africa learned this the hard way recently as it zeroed in on a possible meal. In the tense video, the leopard begins to attack a baby honey badger until it is viciously undone by the cub's mother.

“Honey badgers are known to be fearless, but taking on an adult leopard is bold even by their standards. This clash shows how strong their maternal instincts can be.”

More at MNN.

* * *

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.




Cancer Update – 1 March 2019

I wrote about some of this last week, but I'm coming at it from a different direction today.

It was November 2018 the last time I wrote a cancer update. The good thing is that not much has changed in terms of the disease since then – but my behavior and attitude drift from here to there and back again.

Some of that is a result of chemo side effects. A difficult one is loss of appetite. It's important for my continuing health to keep up my weight but for several days after a chemo infusion, I can barely put a bite in my mouth without retching and in four or five days, I can lose that same number of pounds.

When my appetite returns I spend the next week stuffing myself with all the high calorie food I can eat to increase my weight before the next infusion. And then I start over again.

More difficult than the weight loss and gain, however, is fatigue. I feel fine for two days or so following the infusion; then I'm exhausted for two or three days, sometimes needing two naps and early bed each day for that period of time. After that, I feel like a normal, healthy person until the next infusion.

The most difficult thing that comes with loss of appetite and fatigue is a really bad mood. Terrible mood for two days or so during which it feels like it's time to bring this to an end as I run scenarios of my final day.

It doesn't matter that I've experienced this often enough now to know that it lifts entirely within two days. Knowing that doesn't make getting through it easier.

And yet. And yet.

With all that, what a remarkable series of events I'm living through, especially for a short-timer whose life is unwinding now during a period I had expected to become slower and quieter until time to go.

Instead, some of the most extraordinary events of my life have been taking place:

Meeting the son (and his family) I gave up for adoption 56 years ago

Fulfilling my long-held intention to have a magic mushroom experience in the face of impending death

And, a near dispensation from chemotherapy side effects

No, I didn't forget the appetite problem, fatigue and horrible mood. But compared to the long list of those and other potential side effects I was given to expect when I began this chemotherapy (some of them quite icky), I been lucky beyond measure.

The side effects I have are short-lived – about three days every two weeks – and astonishingly, they have become lighter and easier to tolerate with each infusion.

No one can tell me how much time I have left. It depends on how long this chemo is effective and how the cancer develops from here. My stamina and energy are down; it takes about twice as long to do almost anything I once did faster but I don't dislike the slower pace.

I seem to want more time alone than before and spend some of it digging around for a deeper understanding of myself and of the meaning of life. Fat chance I'll get anywhere with that second one but why not try.

This blog is important to me. I write it as least as much for myself – to figure out what I think and believe – as for you, dear readers.

Living is easier now without ambition, worldly goals and urges to compete. The worst that can happen (“you have incurable cancer”) has happened now and I've become accustomed to knowing that. It's all right.

In fact, this simple, little life I have may be the most contented I have known in my near 78 years. How did I get so lucky.

I know there are a goodly number of TGB readers who have and/or are living through similar circumstances. Does any of this resonate with you?




FDA Warns Against Goulish Anti-Aging Treatment AND...

The Alex and Ronni Show at the bottom of this post featuring Ronni's black eye.

* * *

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week, issued an alert to older people that transfusions of young people's blood as an anti-ageing treatment are “unproven and potentially harmful”.

”The FDA goes on to note that such infusions are known to pose a range of health risks in humans,” reports Ars Technica. “These risks include spreading infectious disease, triggering allergic reactions, and causing lung injuries.

“In some people—particularly those with heart disease—the infusions can also overload the circulatory system, causing swelling and breathing trouble, the agency explains.”

I reported on the goulish “young blood” transfusions two years ago highlighting a private clinic called Ambrosia in Monterey, California, where people could pay $8,000 to have blood plasma from teenagers and young adults pumped into their veins.

Ambrosia's owner, Jesse Karmazin, said then that most participants “see improvement” from a one-time infusion within a month.

Although the FDA did not mention Ambrosia in their warning last week, STATnews reports that

”Karmazin, has yet to report the results of a clinical trial he ran testing the procedure, which involves an off-label use of an approved product. On Tuesday [19 February 2019], however, following the release of the FDA statement, a notice on Ambrosia’s site said it would no longer offer the transfusions.”

Further from Ars Technica:

”The sellers suggest that doses of young plasma can treat conditions ranging from normal aging and memory loss to dementia, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the FDA.”

People have been looking for a fountain of youth since at least Alexander the Great without any luck. But a growing number of researchers throughout the world have been working for years to develop treatments to slow the ageing process and extend the human lifespan.

I would be a lot happier if they would concentrate on those diseases of age listed above. As an old woman living with terminal cancer, I agree with Markus Kounalakis writing at Washington Monthly:

”The latest young blood therapy will likely only go to risk-taking well-heeled early adopters and late stagers. Here’s an alternative: Live a happy life, love, practice random acts of kindness, drink in moderation, and don’t smoke. It’s a lot easier than getting stuck with either a needle or a big blood bill.”

What do you think?

* * *




A TGB READER STORY: Building Bridges

By Michelle Collins

I am almost ashamed to admit it now but there was a time when one of my favorite sayings was “Build a bridge and get over it.” I quoted it to friends who were struggling with how to move on from difficult situations.

I meant well with those words. I thought it was good advice. Figuratively building a bridge to get from one place to another, and a way over difficult terrain. I haven’t thought about or used that phrase in a long time.

I was reminded of it today when I was in my driveway because I could hear the noise from the machines that are pounding the steel supports into the ground for the new bridge that is being built to replace the causeway between Moncton and Riverview.

What I realized is that there are many steps to building a bridge and now that I am older, I know that those steps are the same whether it is a bridge across water or across time.

Before the work started on the bridge between Moncton and Riverview, there needed to be a road built that would redirect traffic around the site. How often do we “skirt the issue” and try to avoid dealing with it?

Sometimes, like that road, it looks better than the way we have been doing things. It has a few twists and turns, a fresh base of asphalt and bright new lane markings. It also creates a new traffic pattern, and we all learn how to navigate this new path. It doesn’t really change things though, it just gives us a different route to get to the same place.

Once that road was built, the next step was excavating the site, and building up the land around the supports would go. Dirt was moved and piled up into hills which were then shaped into ramps. We do that too. We move things from one place to another, tearing down our stories and beliefs and rebuilding a new support.

Then came the steel supports that are being pounded into the ground. As I said, the sound travels, and we hear that steady beat daily. With all that pounding going on, you would think that you could see the progress of the pilings going into the ground. But when you drive past the site, it doesn’t look like anything is moving. Yet, there is a good base already in place, with more to come.

Life is like that too. Moving through challenges often requires us to do the same thing over, with only the smallest steps forward. Then one day, everything is in place.

There are a lot of people working on this bridge and all kinds of machinery. They are going to be at this for years and it could be that some of the people who started on this project will not be there at the end. Each person has their area of expertise, and each has a job to do.

That’s true of the people in our lives as well. Our support networks should be made up of a group of different “experts” and none should be expected to be someone that they are not. We should be grateful for the people who come our way and let them go, if they need to, without guilt or shame.

The bridge is nowhere near finished and for those of us not involved in the process, it’s not clear what is happening. Someone designed that bridge and they know exactly how it will look and what it will take to get it done.

We design our own bridges and even though it might not make sense to anyone else, we need to trust in our vision and how we will get there.

Once the bridge is complete, it will need regular maintenance. Our own bridges will need work as well, to maintain the integrity of the structure.

It’s not always easy to trust in our own abilities to carry us over hard times but with every bridge we build, we learn more about how strong and smart we are and we move on.

* * *

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




Crabby Old Lady: Professional Patient

Crabby Old Lady is sick, she is dying and she is busier than she has ever been. That's because she has become a professional patient and she is sure, after this amount of time at it, there must be a certificate of achievement or something she can hang on the wall attesting to her proficiency.

The last time Crabby wrote about being a professional patient 18 months ago, it was from a hospital perspective. She was spending a lot of time there in the early days following her pancreatic cancer surgery and many of those hours or days involve waiting for this doctor, that test or procedure, new instructions and so on.

There is little to do in those circumstances to amuse herself, so Crabby watched how the system functions - “studied” hospital culture, if you will - and learned a lot about a world she had not encountered up close before. She wrote about it here.

But you don't need to be in a hospital for the medical team to pile on the tasks and homework.

Crabby is sure that many of you, dear readers, have experience keeping track of medications, counting out pills into those little plastic boxes once a week. Crabby keeps a chart taped to the inside of a cupboard door in the kitchen to follow when she is filling up the boxes once a week.

Why does it always feel, when they are empty again, as if she last did the counting yesterday? It never ends.

And filling the boxes depends on whether Crabby has kept track of how many pills are left in the bottle. If she forgets to renew the prescription when she's down to five pills, there is the pharmacy to wrangle with to get a refill in time.

The doctors and nurses have asked Crabby to keep a diary of symptoms and side effects from the chemo so she has a little book for that. She also tracks her weight every day to be sure she's not losing. (Never in her previous life could Crabby have imagined that she would one day struggle to maintain weight rather that lose it.)

Before her cancer, Crabby had only the vaguest idea of what chemotherapy would do to her. Of course, she had heard of all sorts of dreadful side effects and she's lucky to have so few – the biggest one being fatigue for several days after an infusion.

That means naps. Sometimes two a day for three days or so. Then there are the two full days a month at the chemo clinic for her infusions. It puts Crabby behind in everything – she is always playing catchup these days.

Both the disease and the chemotherapy have slowed Crabby down. Pretty much everything – cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking a walk, hauling groceries in from the car (in two trips nowadays instead of one) – takes twice as long as it once did.

That leaves a lot less time for social life, leisurely telephone chats with friends far away, reading, other entertainment and writing blog posts. It is the dilemma of the professional patient and Crabby is losing patience with it.

Not that lost patience will change anything. It's just that Crabby didn't expect this drag on her time and she needed to blow off a little steam about it today. Plus, she really does believe she deserves at least a gold star for it.




ELDER MUSIC: 1970 Goes Forth

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

* * *

I spent much of 1970 in the San Francisco bay area, initially in Berkeley, and later in Palo Alto and Los Gatos. I got to see and hear a lot of live music that year, at the Fillmore, Winterland, the Family Dog and elsewhere possibly to the long term detriment to my hearing.

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL were generally underrated by critics at the time, but the general public loved them.

Creedence

Their songs and records have stood the test of time,so once again, the public knew something that the critics didn’t. Each album they released around this time contained what has proved to be classic songs. Down on the Corner may be one of those from the album “Willy and the Poor Boys”.

♫ Creedence - Down on the Corner


THE KINKS were the most English of the “British Invasions” bands.

Kinks

Their songs, even whole albums, were about the minutiae about English life. One song that bucked that trend was probably their biggest hit: Lola. The song was banned by the BBC, not for the general content of the lyrics, but because the song mentioned Coca Cola. Can’t have brand names on the Beeb.

♫ Kinks - Lola


MICHAEL NESMITH was really the only ex-member of The Monkees who had a decent career separate from that group.

Mike Nesmith

He was even productive before the group was formed – he wrote the terrific song, Different Drum. Afterwards, he formed several country rock groups and recorded a number of well regarded albums.

One of those was “Magnetic South” on which the song Joanne appeared. The song is a real earworm (for me anyway). You have been warned.

♫ Michael Nesmith - Joanne


BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS’ second album produced a number of hits. It was their first without the guiding hand of Al Kooper, who formed the group.

Blood Sweat and Tears

In place of Al, who did most of the singing on that first album, they had the fine baritone David Clayton-Thomas doing the honours. The song And When I Die was written by Laura Nyro and was first recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary. It was also one the hits for BS&T.

♫ Blood Sweat and Tears - And When I Die


1970 saw SIMON & GARFUNKEL at the peak of their creativity.

Simon and Garfunkel

It also saw their swansong with the album “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. The title song was one of the finest ever put on to vinyl. Perversely, I won’t feature that one, but instead here’s El Condor Pasa (If I Could).

Simon and Garfunkel - El Condor Pasa (If I Could)


By 1970, STEVIE WONDER was starting to make a name for himself as an adult performer rather than just as Little Stevie Wonder, as he was initially known.

Stevie Wonder

It was still a couple of years until he would record his masterpiece album “Innervisions”, however, he was producing fine pop songs like Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours.

♫ Stevie Wonder - Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours


On their second album (“Déjà Vu”), Crosby Stills & Nash brought in Neil Young, because on the first album Steve Stills pretty much played all the instruments and it was agreed that a bit of help would be nice. Naturally, they called the group CROSBY STILLS NASH & YOUNG, but you all know that.

Crosby Stills Nash and Young

The album they recorded was a huge hit as were several of the songs from it, including Teach Your Children. The pedal steel guitar on the song was played by Jerry Garcia.

Crosby Stills Nash & Young - Teach Your Children


After hearing the Staple Singers (or some such group) NORMAN GREENBAUM decided that he could write a gospel song, so he did.

Norman Greenbaum

Naturally, he imbued it with the sounds of the day – heavy, fuzz-tone guitar and drums to the fore, but in spite of that I’ve always liked it. The song is Spirit in the Sky.

♫ Norman Greenbaum - Spirit In The Sky


CHICAGO started out as The Chicago Transit Authority and their first album was under that name. However, the real organization with the same name objected and the group reverted to the reduced moniker.

Chicago

Although somewhat long and self indulgent (it was a double album), a lot of that first record was pretty good. From it we have I'm A Man. This one is typical of the period – heavy wah-wah laced guitar, extended drum solo, a lot of cowbell action, soul-sounding singing. In spite of all that it still sounds good.

♫ Chicago - I'm A Man


By 1970, The Miracles were being billed as SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES, because their main man was the singer, songwriter and producer of the group.

Smokey & ;the Miracles

Not just that group, he did the same for many acts on the Motown label. Smokey was hoping to retire from touring but the success of The Tears of a Clown kept him on the road for another couple of years.

♫ Smokey Robinson - The Tears Of A Clown


MUNGO JERRY was a British group who had an ever changing line up whose one constant was the presence of Ray Dorset.

Mungo Jerry

That’s Ray, third from the left. They had quite a few hits in their home country but only one that really impacted elsewhere. That song is In the Summertime.

♫ Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime




INTERESTING STUFF – 23 February 2019

WOLF FAMILIES CARING FOR ELDERS

TGB reader Mary sent this news article about a book, The Wisdom Of Wolves, by Elli H. Radinger and published in England last Wednesday. (Kindle only available so far on Amazon.)

Hero_gray_wolf_animals

I've purchased the Kindle edition but have not read it yet so I'm working on the quite excellent BBC excerpts. It's all fascinating but of course, I honed in on the information about the elders in wolf families. Some quotations to whet your appetite:

”The pups are the beloved and protected treasure of the pack. The whole family looks after them, including aunts, uncles and older brothers and sisters. Old and wounded family members are brought food and never abandoned.
”Elderly or sick wolves, too, are cared for by the pack. Old wolves are invaluable. A pack with just one elderly member has a 150 per cent better chance of winning in battles because of their experience – they will avoid a conflict they don’t think they can win.

“In a pack known as Silver in Yellowstone, a young whippersnapper had become leader but treated the old deposed head with great respect – because the old gentleman was a master in the difficult art of bison-killing.

“When they die, there is genuine grief. Cinderella, one of the females from the park’s ‘Druid’ pack, died during a hunting trip. Her partner retreated into the den where they had raised their pups and howled for the next three days.

“Six months later, his skeleton was found in an area where he had spent many months with his partner. How he’d died remained a mystery. Could it have been a broken heart?”

Of course the article and the book are about wolves of all ages and the article can be found at the Daily Mail website.

BEING 97

Reader Jack Handley sent this video of 97-year-old Herbert Fingarette, a U.S. philosopher who once published a book about death. As the video page notes, in that book

”Fingarette contemplated mortality, bringing him to a conclusion that echoed the Epicureans: in non-existence, there is nothing to fear.

“But as Being 97 makes evident, grappling with death can be quite different when the thoughts are personal rather than theoretical. Filmed during some of the final months of Fingarette’s life, the elegiac short documentary profiles the late philosopher as he reflects on life, loss, the many challenges of old age, and those lingering questions that might just be unanswerable.”

Fingrette died in 2018.

TIGGY WINKLES WILD ANIMAL HOSPITAL

Maybe I'm including this today only because the name of the place grabbed me. Note that this is a place for WILD animals. From the YouTube page:

Sprained paw? Broken wing? Tiggywinkles will get you back to roaring health. With over 10,000 animals coming through the door each year, Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital is the busiest (and cutest) in all of Europe.”

The hospital is named after the beloved Beatrix Potter children’s book character> The hospital employs around-the-clock doctors and nurses who treat injured and sick wild animals that are then released back into the wild.

50 PEOPLE TELL US THE WORST THINGS ABOUT THEIR STATES

Weather is a big topic:

AMERICANS WHO'VE NEVER MET A PERSON OF ANOTHER RACE OR RELIGION

The Atlantic reports on this phenomenon (emphasis is mine).

”In general, the proportion of Americans who seem to live in fully homogeneous communities is small: In terms of identities such as race, religion, and partisan affiliation, only one-fifth to one-quarter of people usually said they seldom or never encounter people unlike themselves.:

I'd say that's a fairly high number in a nation that likes (well, until recently) to tout its diversity. (Statue of Liberty, anyone?) According to The Atlantic report,

”They seldom or never meet people of another race. They dislike interacting with people who don’t share their political beliefs. And when they imagine the life they want for their children, they prize sameness, not difference. Education and geography seemed to make a big difference in how people think about these issues, and in some cases, so did age.”

More on the divide at The Atlantic.

MAKING SOAP THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY

In Nablus, West Bank. It looks to me to be back-breaking work. But it's interesting to watch. Take a look:

SECRET TO LONG LIFE

John Gear sent this tweet and as various conditions of elderhood pile up (it's not the conditions themselves so much as the number of them that accumulate and need to be dealt with), I can't say I disagree.

STRAY CAT COMMUTER MONITOR

Laughing Squid tells us:

”An observant, stray calico cat who fit perfectly into a curved ticket gate at a station in Tel Aviv, Israel, watched intently as commuters attempted to scan their train passes to get through.

“Surprisingly, not many people paid attention to the cat nor did they even notice that she was there.”

KITBUL – FROM PIXAR

A charming, little animated story. From YouTube page:

”Kitbull...reveals an unlikely connection that sparks between two creatures: a fiercely independent stray kitten and a pit bull. Together, they experience friendship for the first time.”

* * *

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.




Dropping Things in Old Age (Again)

EDITORIAL NOTE: One of those things they don't tell you is how everything you do when you get old takes longer and/or tires you more than when you were younger. It's been a busy week and I find myself sitting here without a story for today and no time to write one.

But that gives me a chance to repeat the all-time most popular blog post on TGB. When it was first published, it was titled
Have You Been Dropping More Things as You Get Older?

People have been leaving new comments all through the three years since it was first posted and it comes up sometimes in comments on other blog posts. So, here is the original. See what you think.

* * *

It is hard to be sure but it seems to be so for me. And it is really annoying.

For example, one day last week, I dropped a spoon on the kitchen floor. I picked it up, rinsed it off and as I reached for the towel, I dropped in again. Damn.

A day or two before that, I had dropped the shampoo bottle in the shower – a new, full one that barely missed my toes. Later that day, I dropped the two-quart, plastic box where I store the cat's dry food, scattering it all over the kitchen. Damn again.

Not long ago, I dropped a nine-inch butcher knife – that one could have been disastrous – but on another day I was lucky to be standing on a carpet when I dropped my mobile phone so it didn't break.

None of these occurrences is important individually and probably not even in their proximity to one another. But they made me wonder if dropping stuff is a “thing” with old people. So I took to the internet.

There is a lot of unsourced and untrustworthy health information online and that is always dangerous for “low information viewers,” as it were. The first I found was a large number of forums where people with no expertise were freely offering their uninformed opinions.

In answer to inquiries about dropping things, many instantly went to fear-mongering: Based on nothing at all, they advised people to see a doctor right away because it could be an early symptom of MS, ALS, Huntington's disease and more.

That's nuts. Those were anonymous forums, for god's sake. I hope no one takes them seriously.

Digging deeper at more reputable websites, I found that sometimes dropping things can be among the symptoms of serious disease but only one symptom, a minor one among dozens of others anyone would notice long before worrying about dropping something.

Checking further, I found that dropping things is not a big enough issue with growing old to warrant much notice.

In fact, a webpage of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for training elder home staff is the only direct mention of elders dropping things I found.

”The sense of touch changes,” they report. “In older adults the sense of touch may decrease as skin loses sensitivity. Pressure, pain, cold and heat do not feel the same as they used to feel. Decreases in touch sensitivity may cause residents to drop things.”

That reference to skin losing sensitivity reminded me that a few years ago, I discovered through personal experience that old people often cannot be fingerprinted, particulalry with electronic scanners, because their fingerprints are worn off.

When I wrote about that here three years ago, I quoted Scientific American magazine:

”...the elasticity of skin decreases with age, so a lot of senior citizens have prints that are difficult to capture. The ridges get thicker; the height between the top of the ridge and the bottom of the furrow gets narrow, so there's less prominence. So if there's any pressure at all [on the scanner], the print just tends to smear.”

That would certainly affect sense of touch and the ability to know if you are holding things tightly enough. A report from Oregon State University [pdf] concurs with Pennsylvania report supplying a bit more medical information:

”With aging, sensations may be reduced or changed. These changes can occur because of decreased blood flow to the nerve endings or to the spinal cord or brain. The spinal cord transmits nerve signals and the brain interprets these signals.

“Health problems, such as a lack of certain nutrients, can also cause sensation changes. Brain surgery, problems in the brain, confusion, and nerve damage from injury or chronic diseases such as diabetes can also result in sensation changes.”

I finally found the most pertinent answer to my question at The New York Times. Noting that fine touch may decrease in old age,

“Many studies have shown that with aging, you may have reduced or changed sensations of pain, vibration, cold, heat, pressure, and touch. It is hard to tell whether these changes are related to aging itself or to the disorders that occur more often in the elderly...”

This Times information is quoted from A.D.A.M., a private source of medical information for health professionals and other paid subscribers.

So what I have deduced from two or three hours on the internet is that barring injury or disease or, perhaps, waning strength that affects one's ability to grip strongly, maybe elders do drop things more frequently.

Maybe a diminishing sense of touch in general means that we cannot effortlessly perceive the appropriate strength of our grasp as automatically as when we were younger. At least, that's what I choose to believe for myself until someone enlightens me further.

Following on that, for the past few days I have been making a conscious effort to be sure I am holding whatever is in my hand tightly enough that it will not slip.

I want that to become second nature because the knife I mentioned was a close call and I certainly don't want to drop a cup of hot coffee on my foot or the cat.

Does any of this ring a bell for you?




On Living With Health and Ill Health

Thank You: You guys are amazing. This year's donation drive ended on Monday and your generosity is stunning. There will be no problem in securing the services necessary to keep TimeGoesBy open online and available for at least five years after I've died.

You are a terrific group of readers that any blogger would envy. Thank you so much.

* * *

As most of you know, my most recent cancer test reported remarkably good news. The radiologist's review of the CT scan stated in part that

”Since 11/28/2018, markedly improved appearance of the lungs with decrease/absence of multiple new and enlarging nodules from the most recent study. Appearance is similar to 10/5/2018 staging CT. No definite new nodules.

Wow. We all rejoiced. It doesn't mean the cancer is being cured. This chemo can't do that. But it is doing what it is meant to do – slow the growth of the cancer so that I will have a longer healthy period of time than I would have without the chemo.

One of the strangest things (to me) associated with this cancer is that if not for chemo side effects, I would not know I have a deadly disease.

Do away with chemo brain, loss of appetite and general fatigue that plague me for three, sometimes four days following the chemo infusion every two weeks and I would feel like I did before I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – healthy.

Which is how I feel for 10 or 11 days at a time after those side effects subside, until the next infusion starts the process again.

It's as though I live a double life now - about 25 percent of my time as a sick person; the rest of it as a healthy person.

The intensity of the fatigue (the worst of my side effects) is hard to predict – sometimes I am tired but mostly functional, other times barely capable of crawling out of bed.

The contrast between healthy days and not healthy days has given me a new perspective on how I (and, I suspect, many other people) differentiate between those of us who are healthy and those who are not.

Until I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2017, I had lived 76 years in good health, nothing much more serious than a bad flu now and then. I smoked cigarettes for many years but beyond that I paid a reasonable amount of attention to healthy behavior – eating well, exercising regularly.

I hardly ever thought about my overall health and always assumed most people were as healthy as I had been. Now that I have reached old age – a period of time when, as we here all know, a large number of health issues, minor and deadly serious, can upend our lives – I have gained a new perspective.

These days, I look at healthy people of all ages with wonder. They wear their health so easily, as if it will always be there, and until recently I was a member of their tribe, unaware that my health status would ever change.

Now, on the days when I feel as normal as before the cancer and I can almost pretend that I can ignore the cancer, there's an itch in the back of my (saner) mind repeating something like, “Don't get too cocky, honey. You know how quickly this can change.”

And, eventually, will change.

I don't have any conclusion to this rumination. I'm just surprised how, for so many years, I took my good health for granted.




A TGB READER STORY: Unusual Learning Experience

By Jo Ann of Along The Way

Along the way I’ve been enjoying sharing with interested others some of what I’ve learned. More importantly, or at least equally importantly, I’ve benefited from acquiring new information generously shared in many ways by others.

An actual experience, or a real-life event, is a basic concrete way I initially began to learn, as I recall one story my mother told me that occurred when I was only a toddler.

Sitting on a blanket under a peach tree’s shade where she had placed me while she went back inside the house for a moment, she heard me begin to loudly cry. Rushing to the kitchen door, she observed I was grasping in my little hands a fallen ripened peach.

Soon she noticed what was attracting me were cute little flying insects crawling around on the fruit’s juice-dripping bruised flesh. She saw that I was picking off between my thumb and forefinger what were bees that were angrily stinging me. That was one of my early concrete experiences from which I have learned to never pick up live bees.

My education became more advanced through different learning means as I became older. Observing others, listening to advice, reading are some of the ways in which I’ve accumulated information to help me adapt and survive in this topsy-turvy world in which we live.

That’s not to say I was always wise enough to learn from first-time experiences or followed advice, but I generally eventually learned, sooner or later. Those examples would be stories of a more complex nature, but following is one of those advanced variety, combining observation, and information from another, my mother.

This experience occurred during my highly anticipated first train ride. I was elementary school-age when my mother and I departed on a long overnight train trip through several states. We were traveling to a city to stay overnight with relatives we’d never met in the hope that my older brother would be granted a pass off his nearby U.S. Navy base to see us that Christmas holiday.

My brother was awaiting deployment to an undisclosed military location overseas during WWII – the unspoken concern we had was whether we would ever see him again. We learned of his Pacific Theater submarine service assignment in Australia when he returned home following discharge at the war’s conclusion.

Traveling at night, Mother had expected I would soon tire, then fall asleep in our coach seats – lulled by the repetitive numbing drum of train rail sounds, vibrations and the car’s rocking motion. The train stopped periodically to take on new passengers and allow others to exit.

One segment of the trip was somewhat eventful when a rather colorful woman boarded, whose behavior intrigued me more than sleeping did. She was lurching about from seat to seat, laughing, conversing and extending friendship somewhat loudly to numerous, primarily male passengers, before finally leaving the train at another stop.

The conductor, after toning her down a bit several times, eventually felt the need to reassure my mother that the woman made this trip regularly most weekends, so he knew of her and we shouldn’t feel alarmed.

The explanation for the woman’s erratic behavior my mother ultimately gave me was essentially words to the effect that this somewhat respectable-looking woman was a “lady of the night” seeking a companion. I don’t recall if anyone left the train with the woman.

Years later, especially after becoming a parent myself, recalling those years in the 1940’s when so many subjects were taboo for speaking about aloud, I chuckle to myself about the likelihood this was not a real-life teaching event opportunity every parent would aspire to explaining to their child. This was definitely a memorable entertaining learning experience for this little red-haired girl.

New experiences have presented me with prime learning events throughout my life. Everything was new to me when I was first born, but gradually became more familiar when encountered again. Anything new or different, contrasting with what I’ve subsequently come to know, has become more pronounced, attracting my attention.

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




A Book, a Podcast and Goodbye to the Donations Drive

AT LAST: FINAL DAY OF DONATIONS
This is it – the last day of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

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Different

Two years ago
I was “the one”
who ran to hold the bus
for a slow-walking older friend...

and now I don't.

Two years ago I could spend all Saturday
on a flea market, department store shop,
no need for a break or a sit down
because I was tired...

and now I can't.

Two years ago
I didn't have periods of fatigue, didn't
need moments to pause in the day,
didn't contemplate the idea of a nap...

But now I do.

That poem comes to us from Jane Seskin, working psychotherapist and writer and having now read her latest collection, I feel like I've found a soulmate in regard to elder issues.

SeskinBooknoborder Seskin is saying many of the same things about growing old that I've written about here for 15 years – she just does it more eloquently than I do. Here's another from her book, Older Wiser Shorter:

Talk To Me

Hey, is there someone who's
supposed to warn you of the
health stuff as you age?
Doctor? Friends? The internet?

No one sounded the bell for me on
belching, dehydration, constipation
or flatulence. No talk of elongated
earlobes, receding gums, facial hair

or that I would get winded and need
to pause in the middle of the sidewalk
to catch my breath. Were body
malfunctions too private to share?

Did I not make the time to ask the
questions? Did you not want to
tell me about my physical future?
I want to know what's normal and

what's not. Maybe...maybe we
could just be a little more honest
and vulnerable with each other.
Perhaps we could connect on a

deeper level through sharing our
stories, even the scary ones, of
our health fantasies and fears and
what makes each of us feel better.

There aren't very many people – actually, there is hardly anyone at all – talking about these real, day-to-day surprises that afflict our old age. Which is what makes me excited to have found a soulmate on “what it's really like to get old.”

In fact, I'm pretty sure the medical community knows more about cancer and diabetes than about Jane's list of belching, flatulence, facial hair and rest. And no one ever talked about this stuff when we were younger, so surprises – mostly unpleasant ones – become key elements of growing old.

Not that everything is a complaint. Here are a couple more poems from Jane's book that resonated oh so strongly with me:

Arrangement

Most of the time
I'm in love
with my single life
which is not to say
I don't have room
to be in love
with a good man,
but this time around
I think I'd just like
custody,
say Wednesday
evenings
and every other
weekend.

Ha! I cannot count how often I've had exactly that thought. Here's another, more whimsical than some others:

Movement

I look behind, in front,
around. No one
on the street.

And then I do
what I've been
yearning to do

since last week
when I saw and
remembered

and then grinned
while I watched
the two little girls.

I skip!

Jane Seskin's book of poetry, Older Wiser Shorter: An Emotional Road Trip to Membership in the Senior Class, is available at Amazon. I highly recommend it.

PODCAST
Back in January, Jodie Jackson of Primaris, a healthcare consulting company, interviewed me about my blog, about ageing and about my cancer diagnosis for the company's blog.

I particularly like the title on the podcast page: The Space Between Life and Death which nicely captures this indeterminate period I'm in now.

We had a fine ol' time talking this over and in addition to publishing the podcast, Jackson excerpted parts that you can read at the website. What struck me is how closely what Jackson and I spoke about meshes with Jane Seskin's poetry. One example:

”What the aging 'experts' didn’t explain or even talk about were daily details about aging,” writes Jackson. For instance, 'I had dropped a knife that came perilously close to my toes.' She wrote about dropping things and the response was resonating.

“'It turns out that old people do drop more things' because their fingers lose sensitivity to touch. 'Yes, me too, me too, me too,” was the cacophony of responses. 'There are all kinds of things like that. Your doctor won’t tell you…the little things you’re going to have to accommodate as you get older.'”

You can read Jodie Jackson's article and/or listen to the podcast at the Primaris website.




ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 2

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
Almost done. This is the next to last day of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

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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.

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If this were a radio program, I’d play the first track and ask who you think composed it. As you’re all smart cookies, I imagine you’d say something along the lines of, “Well, it’s rather like Mozart, but not quite. Sort of Haydn, but again just misses. Maybe it’s one of their contemporaries – one of Bach’s sons or similar”. That’s certainly what went through my mind when the radio did just that.

We’re all wrong, of course, or they wouldn’t have asked. It was written by NIGEL WESTLAKE.

Nigel Westlake

“Who?” I hear you ask. Nigel is a young Australian composer (well younger than us – he tuned 60 recently) and this work is nothing like all the others of his I’ve heard.

It sounds like a piano concerto and he calls it Diving with George. George was his uncle and a respected surgeon in Melbourne who liked diving (with scuba gear, not jumping off a board into a pool).

♫ Westlake - Diving with George


GIOVANNI VIOTTI was an Italian composer and violinist whose fame for playing the violin spread far and wide.

Viotti

Gio was violin teacher to Marie Antoinette, but when the French revolution came he decided it was safer in London. He had some trouble there too, but that was resolved eventually and became a British citizen.

He’s best known for his compositions for violin, but he wrote works for other instruments as well. Going with his strength, here is the third movement of his Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major, G. 44.

♫ Viotti - Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major G. 44 (3)


JOHN FIELD was an Irish composer and pianist.

John Field

His father and grandfather were both musicians (violin and organ respectively) so he had a head start. The family moved to London when John was about 10 where he had lessons from Muzio Clementi. Later John and Muzio toured Europe playing piano to great acclaim.

John is regarded as the person who invented the nocturne. Chopin took notice of this and made it his own. Here’s one of John’s inventions, the Nocturne No. 1 in E flat major, H24.

♫ Field - Nocturne No.1 in E Flat Major H.24


I imagine if you’re going to be an opera singer, it might help to have a name that’s one of the most famous in the field; in this case the singer is AIDA GARIFULLINA. Look out for her folks, she’s wonderful.

Aida Garifullina

We won’t have something from her namesake opera, instead it’s by NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV.

Rimsky-Korsakov

Nik wrote the opera “The Golden Cockerel”, but he knew it had no chance of being staged as it was an implied criticism of monarchy, and the Czar would have none of that.

It finally got staged a few years later, and even then he had to change it a bit to satisfy the censors. From that, Aida sings Hymn to the Sun.

♫ Rimsky-Korsakov - The Golden Cockerel ~ Hymn to the Sun


These days, after J.S. Bach, ANTONIO VIVALDI is probably the best known baroque composer.

Vivaldi

Tony had a considerable influence on J.S. who grabbed some of his compositions and created variations on them. I don’t know if this is one of those – probably not because he wrote a hell of a lot of music. Here is the second movement of Sonata for Oboe and Continuo RV 53 in C minor.

♫ Vivaldi - Sonata for oboe and continuo RV 53 in C minor (2)


There is a story that Henry VIII wrote the tune Greensleeves. It’s possible, but the odds are stacked against that being true. The tune was certainly around during his time as you’ll hear.

DIEGO ORTIZ was a Spanish composer and writer on various musical subjects who lived in the sixteenth century.

Ortiz

His life coincided with Henry’s and one of his compositions is called Recercada No 7 sobre la Romanesca. To my ears this sounds like a first draft of Greensleeves. See what you think.

♫ Ortiz - Romanesca Recercada 7


JOHANN HUMMEL was born in Pressburg, nowadays called Bratislava in Slovakia. Back then it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Hummel

Early on Jo caught the ear of Mozart who decided to take him on as a pupil, and also invited him to live with the Mozart family for a while (that turned into two years).

He was later a good friend of both Beethoven and Schubert and he taught Mendelssohn. The piano was his main instrument and today we have the third movement of his Piano Trio No. 1 in E-Flat Major, Op. 12.

♫ Hummel - Piano Trio No. 1 in E-Flat Major Op. 12 (3)


ISABELLA LEONARDA was born in 1620 in Novara, Italy.

Isabella Leonarda

She was put into a convent when she was 16, and held many posts within that due to the influence of her prominent family. This allowed her to compose music, and she became the most productive woman composer of her era.

Not surprisingly, most of her music was for the church, including her Motet Op. 6 No 5, Ave suavis dilecto. This is sung by LOREDANA BACCHETTA.

Loredana Bacchetta

♫ Leonarda - Motet Op. 6 No 5. Ave suavis dilecto


JOSEPH-FRANÇOIS GARNIER was a French Composer and oboe player.

Garnier_JF

He was born into a family of modest circumstances – his father was a cobbler – but his uncle was in the music trade. Unc took young J.F. to Paris and got him a job playing the oboe in the Royal Academy of Music which became the Paris Opera after the revolution.

He was a whiz on his instrument and stayed there a long time. He became their main oboe player (and he occasionally played flute), later premiering some of his own compositions. One of those is his Symphonie Concertante No. 2 for 2 Oboes & Orchestra. This is the first movement.

♫ Garnier - Symphonie Concertante No. 2 (1)




INTERESTING STUFF – 16 February 2019

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day four (of six) of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

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ONE TOWN UNDER ONE ROOF

All 200-plus people in remote Whittier, Alaska, live in one, 14-story building. Take a look:

More information and more video at curiosity.com.

HOW NOT TO WAKE A LADY LION

This is probably not what he was expecting.

NEW MEDICARE CARD

If you recall, last year new Medicare cards were sent out with new random ID numbers rather than our Social Security numbers. Last week, medicare.gov announced that card mailing is complete and you should have received yours by now.

”Haven’t gotten your new Medicare card yet? Sign in to your secure MyMedicare.gov account to see your Medicare Number and print your official card. If you don’t have a MyMedicare account yet, sign up for free at MyMedicare.gov today!

“Alternately, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE and our call center representatives can help you get your new card.”

DENALI – A TRIBUTE TO MAN'S BEST FRIEND

My friend John Gear emailed this video of a lovely tribute to man's best friend.

WHAT WILL CLIMATE IN YOUR CITY FEEL LIKE IN 60 YEARS?

Unless you are among the deniers, you know Earth climate is change. The University of Maryland has put together a map show how the climates of several hundred U.S. cities are expected to change in the next 60 years.

ClimateMap

Go here to use the interactive map. There is more information about the project here.

SNOW DAYS AT THE OREGON ZOO

A whole lot of animals playing in Portland, Oregon's recent snowstorm.

GHOST APPLES

I never heard of this before and it's amazing. Beautiful – a winter special effect.

RESCUE OF A OLD DOG WITH A BROKEN HEART

A homeless dog on Romania finds a forever home in the United States.

More information and more photos at Laughing Squid.

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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.




Crabby Old Lady – Not Me, A Poem

TIME GOES BY DONATION WEEK REMINDER
This is day three (of six) of the 2019 TGB donation drive to help support the costs of maintaining Time Goes By for the next five years. You can read the details on Wednesday's post.

Whether you donate or not, nothing will change. TGB will always remain advertising-free with never a membership fee or paid firewall. If you would like to help support the work that goes on here, click the button below. If not, which is perfectly fine, scroll down for today's post.

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Last week, a reader named Joseph Burns left this comment on a post from the first year of this blog's existence, September 2004:

”I read this out to my year 10 form, you could hear a pin drop, almost in tears towards the end, but think each child got something from the poem.

“And to me it’s not just a poem it’s a reminder of life, so so true. Whoever wrote this has captured it so true. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏"

I think after 15 years this is definitely worth a repeat. I've included my original introduction from 2004.

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This poem is floating around the Web here and there. According to some, it was found among the "meager possessions" of an old woman who died in the geriatric ward of a Dundee, Scotland hospital, and was later published in the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association for Mental Health.

That all may be apocryphal. I can't find any reference, except in relation to the poem, of the publication or its organization. Those who retrieved the poem did not record the woman's name nor is there a year attached, but that is not important. This is a cry from the heart, whoever wrote it, to not be made invisible in old age.

It would do us all well to remember this poem when we are frustrated by someone old moving too slowly in front of us and when we find ourselves with an older relative or friend whose mind is perhaps not as quick as it once was.

Herewith, then, the poem titled Crabby Old Lady.

What do you see, nurses, what do you see,
what are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes.

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
when you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
and forever is losing a stocking or shoe.

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will
with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
as I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother,
brothers and sisters, who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty - my heart gives a leap,
remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, I have young of my own
who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty my young sons have grown and are gone,
but my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more babies play round my knee,
again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
and I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old woman and nature is cruel;
'tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
there is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
and now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
and I'm loving and living life over again.

I think of the years - all too few, gone too fast
and accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,
not a crabby old woman; look closer - see ME!