Tuesday, October 23, 2018

It's time

"Any change? Please?" So asked the man with the paper cup beside the Starbucks front door. This was a few feet from where Caleb and Napoleon used to sit.

I took the crumpled dollar bill that I always have in my jeans, saved for my favorite street cat, and placed it in the young man's cup.

They're not coming back. It gets dark earlier, it's starting to get cold. I don't know where Napoleon, Caleb and Randi are, but after a month I have to accept that they are gone from my life.

I'm still keeping the paperback mystery in my bag, though. I know Caleb would appreciate it. It weighs little. And I could be wrong. I'm wrong all the time about all kinds of things, you know.

Monday, October 22, 2018


I raised $500 in the last week for my friend Henry. I persuaded 10 of my friends -- none of whom have actually met Henry -- to kick in toward the cost of his rehabilitation and care. I am very proud of this.

It's all I can do, you know. He remains sedated most of the day because when he is awakened, he is angry, and everything must be done to keep him calm so he can heal. But because he is out of it more often than not, there's no way of knowing if he's making any progress.

And so, to stay sane, I concentrate on the cash.

I treasure everyone's gifts. They will not only help dear Henry, they bring me comfort in the here and now. Here are a just a few of the lights that shine especially bright for me ...

• A long-ago boyfriend and his wife. We're all now Facebook friends. You know how, when a relationship ends, you wonder if you handled that well? Well, I take this as an indication that I did handle that breakup OK.

• My Cousin Rose. There has never been a time in my life when I've felt desperate that she hasn't come through for me.

• My niece. She's always broke, you know. Laboring under the crushing weight of her student loans. But she remembers how, when she was a little girl, Henry sent her a Lilly Pulitzer dress to wear on the first day of school. I'd forgotten, but she remembered.

• Kathy. A retiree, she's always broke, too. And yet she pitched in almost instantly. She's been unfailingly kind and attentive throughout this ordeal.

(And, of course, you, too, Snarkela.)

I will keep looking at the list and the dollar amounts. I know love isn't currency and currency isn't love, but right now, it's all I have to stave off the despair.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Sweet City Woman (1971)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The lyrics tell us the singer is on his way to catch a train and he really wants to be on time. When is the last time you were late for something? Work on Friday. But then, I'm always late. I just can't manage to get out of the house on time in the morning, even though I have three (3!) alarm clocks.

2) He sings he's on his way to meet a woman known for her macaroons. What's your favorite cookie? Those clever elves have switched the fudge stripes to pumpkin for fall!

3) His girlfriend's face is so pretty she lights up the city night. How many lights are in the room you're in? How many are switched on? I'm under a ceiling fan. The blades are switched off, but the four bulbs are on.

4) This is the rare top 40 tune that prominently features a banjo. Sam has always been crazy about the sound of a banjo. What sound makes you smile? (It doesn't have to be a musical instrument. Think bacon sizzling, church bells, etc.) My cat Connie's purr. For a compact critter, she has an impressive (and delightful) motor.

5) 47 years after their record was a hit, The Stampeders still tour every summer, playing festivals across the US and their native Canada. Do you enjoy live music under the stars? Or would you prefer to be seated in a theater? I'm a fat old lady with a bum knee. I'll take the theater seat, thank you!

6) In 1971, when this song was popular on the radio, detective shows were popular on TV. Mannix, Ironside and Cannon were all in the Top 20. Who is your favorite TV detective? Before he was SATC's Mr. Big, before he was The Good Wife's Peter Florrick, he was Law and Order's Mike Logan.

7) Also in 1971, the Post Office Department was disbanded as a Cabinet department and became The United States Postal Service. When did you last go to the post office? Were you mailing something? Buying stamps? Picking up a package? Renewing your passport? I sent an American Express giftcard to my friend Reg. Because I wanted a tracking number, I mailed it at the window.

8) Race car legend Jeff Gordon was born in 1971. Do you watch NASCAR? Nope

9) Random question -- Do you have a vaccination scar? If so, where is it? My upper left arm.

The paperback in my bag

I've been carrying The Language of Bees in my briefcase for three weeks now. I don't know anything about it, except it's a period mystery. It's not for me anyway. I picked it up for Napoleon's "dad," Caleb. He goes through books so fast, it's as though he eats them! For this homeless man and his wife, Randi, books are everything -- their only entertainment and respite from the difficult dreariness of life on the street.

But that paperback has been in my bag for three weeks now. I haven't seen Caleb, Randi or Napoleon in nearly a month.

Last time I talked to Caleb, I offered to bring him some clothes from my friend John. Caleb said that of course he wanted them, that if he couldn't wear them himself he knew plenty of others in the homeless community who would appreciate them. But it was Randi he really wished I could help. The anti-cancer meds made her leg swell, and it was hard for her to find clothes. I asked him to check with her, to make a note of the sizes she wants, and I'd see what I can do.

Then I took a few days off to visit my nephew at college. Since I've been back, this little family has

I haven't gone this long without seeing at least one of them since we met, back in May 2017. If it had been a week or two, I would just assume that Caleb was taking extra shifts at the warehouse where he drives a forklift. He's always willing for more hours, better shifts.

But as the weeks melt into a month, I'm afraid it's more dire.  I have nothing to go on but instinct, but I suspect Randi is in the hospital again. She may even have died. It's sad but true -- the survival rates for pancreatic cancer are not good.

I miss interacting with Caleb, Randi and Napoleon so much! They keep me grounded and remind me of what life is like for those outside of my immediate bubble. And I like Caleb, especially. He's curious. Plus, there's a healing power to cat fur.

I hope they're OK. I pray they're OK. I don't think they are OK.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

She knew me!

I worked with an executive at the start of her career with my downstate client. She was smart, to be sure, but all sharp elbows. Of course, she's the client, so she gets to be any way she wants. I know I delivered for her, but I was never sure how pleased she was with my efforts. Shortly after she announced she was pregnant with her second baby, she moved to another part my client's business, which would allow her to work 3 days/week. The company is a big place, and I never saw her again.

That was 8 years ago.

Tuesday she was up in Chicago. New capacity, same job. As she toured our new offices, she caught side of me and called, "Gal!" She gave me a big hug and we chatted for a while. It seems she was always more fond of me than I ever knew.

So that's something good about our heinous open seating. Everyone saw me interact with her and I got a few extra brownie points from management and a lot more respect from my coworkers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

I must remember: this isn't about me

I admit it: I'm really having a hard time with Henry's accident (see post below). He is closer to me than family, and I'm terrified. He has brain damage. What if he doesn't remember me? What if he's different and we aren't friends anymore? I can't imagine my life without him.

His partner, Reg, has been kind of a trick bag. He called three times right after the accident. Saturday he told me that if he didn't update me, Henry would never forgive him. However, by Sunday night, he was clearly annoyed with me. Phyl, the neighbor who drove Reg up to Miami, and is staying with Henry while poor Reg has to go to work, is obviously, a nice woman. But I've never liked her. She drinks too much, smokes too much weed, and is a sloppy drunk. Over the years, I've never enjoyed her company. I've always told the boys that if they want to hang with her when I'm down visiting, great. But I'm good with my own company. I'll stay at the hotel by the pool, or walk Duval Street or have a margarita on the beach. Whatever. Enjoy! I just don't want to see her. It's worthy of note that Reg has never wants to see her, either.

Well, Sunday, Reg kept saying, "Look, I know you don't like Phyl, but ..." I have said nothing negative about Phyl throughout this ordeal. "I know you don't like Phyl, but she's Henry's other half. I'm glad she's staying with Henry, even if you don't like her." Over and over and over!

"I don't matter in this," I finally said. "You do what's best for you."

He told me that the sound of my voice made him cry, and he doesn't want to cry.

I asked him if he wanted to stay at the hotel in Miami another night, because I could make that happen for him. I'd be happy to pay for it. Just tell me how ...

"I'm sick of people asking me questions I can't answer!"

So now I'm just "people?"

I told him he doesn't need to update me anymore. That I'll be happy to get news from his friend, Patrick -- I adore Patrick -- if that would be easier. He said that was fine. I haven't heard from him since.

I know Reg is suffering. The love of his life almost died. If Henry's personality is changed, what will that do to their relationship? And then there's money. If Reg isn't working, he's not getting paid. They were broke before this happened. The enormity and complexity of their financial woes must be crushing.

So I hear from Patrick every day. I am super perky at work and then I go him and go to sleep -- which is stupid because I have to much to do to get my home ready for the next stage of my bathroom remodel. But I'm hurt and scared and I feel very, very alone.

So for inspiration and solace, I turn to my skipper. Cubs manager Joe Maddon. He will help me get my mind right.

I must remember that Henry would want Reg and I to get along. That Reg is doing the best he can in an impossible situation. That I am healthy and lucky to be healthy. That I have to be about love and stay about love.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Key West Man Airlifted to Miami

So read the headline. The Key West man is my friend Henry.

He was riding his bike home Friday night at about 11 PM. He gets off work at about 7:00, so I don't know where he'd been. Dinner with a friend? A writer's guild meeting? Pedaling home, he turned from a side street onto the busy street ... and into a Chevy Van.

At about 6:00 AM, his partner, Reg, was notified by the local police. Henry had been taken to the local Key West hospital, but his injuries were beyond their capabilities and he was airlifted to a trauma center in Miami.

I spoke to Reg briefly during his three hour drive to Miami. My friend is in "critical but stable condition." A broken ankle, which in the scheme of things is no big deal, and traumatic brain injury. TBI, it's called.

I've since heard that Henry is still "critical but stable." I'm told that no change at this point is a "positive" thing, and "the hospital staff is hopeful." What are they hopeful for? His survival? His recovery? Will my friend be all right?

There is nothing I can do but pray.

And curse the fact that, even though they work three jobs between them, Reg and Henry cannot afford a second car. I have always hated the idea of Henry pedaling in the dark. He has always made light of my concerns -- reassuring me that he makes himself very visible to other vehicles with reflectors and lights. But, it seems, last night he was the one who wasn't paying attention. And what would have been a little fender bender between two vehicles is now traumatic brain injury.

I am desolate.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Unbreak My Heart (1996)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Songs like this are enduringly popular in part because each of us has had our heart broken. Give us the name of a heartbreaker from your own life. Dan.

2) Toni Braxton sings that "nights are so unkind." What did you do last night? I watched the Brewers handle the Dodgers. (With my Cubs no longer in the playoffs, I'm all in for the Red Sox and the Brewers.)

3) While this song has Toni singing the blues, in real life her love life is happier. Now aged 50, she's engaged and has been sporting a diamond on her left hand. Do you believe that a bride is ever too old to have a big wedding? Yes. But then, I don't enjoy receptions. I think everyone who is not related to the House of Windsor should pass on big weddings so I won't have to go.

4) Growing up, Toni Braxton's parents severely restricted how much TV their children could watch each day. Ironically, today Toni and her sisters participate in a reality TV show on the WE-TV network, so TV cameras are a big part of their daily adult lives. What TV show do you try not to miss? This Is Us and the new Murphy Brown.

5) She is prone to dry skin and applies Kiehl's Hand Salve to her hands and arms throughout the day. Tell us about a product you're brand loyal to. St. Ives Swiss Formula Scrubs. I've tried 'em all, and not only is the St. Ives family of products is affordable, they're my favorites. (I use apricot on my feet, oatmeal on my face and green tea when my face is starting to erupt.)

6) Toni admits to being "a bit of a germaphobe," and always maintains a supply of hand sanitizer and wipes. What is always on your shopping list? It used to be bottled water, because the village is replacing the sewer pipes and warned us not to drink our tap water until the construction is done. How I resented having to pay extra to drink water! I'm happy to report that, last week, the warning has been lifted and I'm back to good old Lake Michigan water. I credit the fluoride for the way these old teeth are hanging in there.

7) While she is not shy about her body, and has worn revealing outfits on the red carpet, Toni Braxton refused a 2011 offer from Hugh Hefner and Playboy to pose nude. What's the last thing you said "no" to? Working on Friday. I had intended to take Thursday as a vacation day, when my bathroom was finally painted, but my boss talked me into taking it as a work from home day. I wrote four emails for my client's new cyber campaign. Throughout the day on Thursday, I learned that my art director was taking Friday off ... and our traffic coordinator was taking Friday off ... and our producer was taking Friday off ... At the end of the day on Thursday, I told my boss I'd be taking Thursday's vacation day on Friday. He hemmed and hawed, but I said, "Look, without an art director or a producer, nothing I write is going anywhere anyway." He (reluctantly) admitted I was right, so I got a three-day weekend!

8) In 1996, the year this song was popular, Mattel introduced a Star Trek Barbie and Ken set. Have you ever fantasized about space travel? The thought terrifies me! In the movie Gravity, there's a scene where Clooney fatally floats out into infinite nothingness and it thoroughly panicked me. I prefer small, defined spaces, thank you.

9) Random question -- Would you (or did you) invite an ex to your wedding? Maybe I would. There are a couple guys I dated, not too seriously, back in the day that I've stayed friends with. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

How to spend a day off

I slept in. Then I went to a matinee. Playing hooky to see a Redford movie felt very deja high school.

Redford has said this is his last movie. He's 82, and that famous face is certainly weathered. He walks like an old man, too. But the eyes and smile! And he's funny. Over his career, he's never gotten credit for his sly charm, perhaps because his gorgeous exterior overpowered everything else. In this movie, you believe he's a clever rogue, a lifelong criminal who has gotten by on his wits and his charm. You can see why Sissy Spacek finds him irresistible. If this really was his swan song, bravo. (It's a much better note to exit on than Burt Reynolds' sad and sympathetic last turn.)

Then I got a flu shot. Free, with my insurance. Yea! Since it was at the pharmacy in my local BIG grocery store, I picked up a couple rolls of my favorite paper towels on the way out. (I don't want to "choose a size." I want full-sized, all the time!)

Then I had a big, gooey plate of manicotti, and a salad and a beer. The little Italian bistro was playing Sinatra, as they should have.

I fantasize that, when I retire, all my days will be like this one.

Like a boss

On Friday, Princess Eugenie married some guy. I couldn't tell you what the bride even wore, so entranced was I by William and Kate's only daughter, Charlotte. 

It was a windy day, but Charlotte didn't let Mother Nature spoil her pre-ceremony photo op.

Afterward, she executed an Elizabeth-worthy royal wave.

How cute is this kid?

The deed is done!

My bathroom is finally painted! And I learned that honesty is the best policy. On Monday afternoon, once it became painfully obvious that the contractor I hired wasn't showing up, and the other guy who estimated for the job was a ditz, I went back to square one. I found a new painter on Angie's List and called.

I got a person! Usually, when I've called contractors, I've gotten voicemail. I guess office staff is not a priority for painters. Getting their office manager was a very good sign.

Her name is Cindy and she was very kind. She told me that what happened to me happens very often this time of year. Painters who do exterior as well as interior try to get their outdoor jobs done before the weather changes, and consequently they get overbooked. Why don't they call and explain? She had no answer, but she says it happens all the time. So I felt less like a sucker.

I realized that, if I told her that I had to get the work done right away, I was putting myself in a less advantageous negotiating position. But what the hell. Sometimes you have to trust people. So I explained about the tub/tile guy being booked and (gulp!) paid, and that the painting had to be done before the more expensive work could take place. I told her that the radiator had to be painted at least a day before the boiler is turned on. I said, "I'm talking to you like you're my minister or something, aren't I?"

She laughed, said she understood completely and would take care of me. The estimator, Frank, happened to be available at 9:00 on Tuesday morning. She mentioned there was a possibility that she could get a painter to my place on Saturday. They don't usually book work on weekends, but if the painter wants the extra work, they make it available. That was almost great. It's supposed to get progressively colder every night and I wasn't sure the timing would work out with the radiator. But you know what? So what! The worst case scenario is a freshly painted and tiled bathroom with an icky radiator until next spring. Let's do it!

Frank came over and estimated. He talked about the Saturday option, too. He didn't promise, because it depended on whether or not his painters wanted extra work, but he led me to believe that was the best he had to offer.

On Wednesday I got an email estimate. I was expecting it to be high. After all, they knew they had me over a barrel. Also, since they have an office staff. there are more people on their payroll. The price of this efficiency is passed along to the consumer, right?

It was still less than $500, and they gave me credit for an Angie's List coupon that I hadn't even asked for! When I called to accept the estimate, Cindy told me she had good news for me. She had a painter suddenly available for 8:00 AM the next morning!

I know she pulled strings to make it happen. After the painter, Edmundo, left, I called Cindy and thanked her. Then I left positive reviews on Angie's List ... and Yelp! ... and Porch.com. Unfortunately they're not on Home Advisors, or I'd sing their praises there, too.

Even better than the lingering smell of the paint is the feeling that, by being honest, I got honest and compassionate treatment in return.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018


WWW.WEDNESAY asks us three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading?  
And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Henderson. Palmyra is a tiny (less than 5 sq. miles) island south of Hawaii. It's officially "unoccupied," meaning no one lives there -- though US Navy personnel and conservationists stay for short periods. It's on this virtually deserted island that two couples meet, and a real-life mystery ensues.

Mac and Muff Graham, a wealthy couple with a luxury yacht, sailed down to Palmyra from San Diego for a tropical adventure. Buck and Stephanie escape to Palmyra from Hawaii, using their amateurishly rehabbed boat to evade law enforcement. Somehow Buck and Stephanie and the big yacht end up in Arizona ... and no one has heard from Mac or Muff in ages. What happened?

This true story is told with flair by Bruce Henderson and Vincent Bugliosi -- the latter represented Stephanie at trial. It's not high art, but it's entertaining. And as I read, I wonder about the similarities between Stephanie and Muff. On the surface, they appear to be radically different, yet they each got on board and took off for Palmyra, despite tremendous misgivings. Both the society matron and the hippie chick would have been better off if they'd listened to their little voices.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  
Joe Biden's Promise Me, Dad. “I try to be mindful, at all times, of what a difference a small human gesture can make to people in need. What does it really cost to take a moment to look someone in the eye, to give him a hug, to let her know, I get it. You’re not alone?” That's the way Joe Biden lives, and it's inspiring.

I wish I liked this book more than I did. The Biden family story as they say goodbye to their eldest son is told with authenticity and I'm sure it will help others through their grief. But at times, the book reads like Biden's foreign policy CV. I understand that it was important to set the stage, to let the reader know everything else that the Vice President was dealing with as his son fought cancer. But instead of giving me context, this level of detail annoyed me. I didn't care what Joe was doing to smooth the situation in Tikrit, I wanted to know what was going on the hospital room with Beau. 

Still, I'm glad I read it, and I recommend it for a massive dose of much-needed humanity in The Age of Trump.

3.  What will you read next?  
Probably a mystery.

Three Stars Are Born

I saw the Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper remake and thoroughly enjoyed it. While she was very good, for me, he was the revelation. We are given a backstory for Jackson Maine that John Norman Howard and Norman Maine didn't get. The movie makes more sense. And now it's more about abuse and addiction, not the toxicity of fame. I'll never be famous, but I have known families who have suffered the impact of addiction and mental health issues.

But surprising as she is, Gaga isn't Judy. Only Judy is Judy. So here is my long-awaited ranking of the three musical versions of this story.

Winner, and Still Chanpion

Engaging and touching

I've never liked it, and you can't make me


On September 24, Bob came over and estimated the cost of painting my bathroom. Between the 25th and and October 3rd, I exchanged emails with his boss, John. We agreed on a price of $275 for a 4-hour job. To begin at 9:00 AM on October 8.

To begin at 9:00 AM on October 8.

No one showed up.

John could have called ... or texted ... or emailed. He had many ways to reach me. He chose none of them.

I took a day off work for nothing.

I am completely freaking out about how this work will be done before the tub/tile contractors show up to do the major work.

I am livid.

I.took the day to process my feelings, to chill out. And then, before I went to bed, I left this review over and over again. On Yelp and Houzz and Google and Angie's List. I hope I sounded measured and credible, and perhaps saving someone else from this agita.

I wish there was a no-star option. This contractor came over and gave me an estimate, we scheduled a time, and then no one ever showed up for the work. No call, no email, no text. I can understand someone being overbooked, or needing to reschedule. But to allow me to take the day off work for nothing, to ignore the commitment, is unprofessional. No acknowledgement or apology has yet been offered. Approach this company with extreme caution.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1. Have you ever tried to learn (or re-learn) a foreign language as an adult? Which one? What worked for you? I tried to learn Spanish several years ago. My studies were interrupted by surgery/recovery. I never picked it up again. My bad.

2. Do you donate blood? Do you know your blood type? I haven't donated in a while. I'm AB+.       

3. Have you ever been in a play or musical? Not since grade school.

4. Do you use certain text or ring tones for specific people? Who gets their own? Or do you just use the default on your phone? Default

5. When did you get your first digital camera? Do you still shoot on actual film, or all digital now? I'm all digital. I was late to getting a digital camera, but I don't use a camera at all. The quality of the photos on my phone isn't as good, but it's so much easier.

6. What do you think someone else would say the most daring thing you’ve done is? My mother was always amazed at my willingness to travel alone.

7. Do you talk with your hands? Yes

8. Given the choice in a restaurant – would you go with a booth or table (or bar!!!) for seating? Booth

9. What kind of milk did you drink, growing up? And now? Whole milk as a kid, skim or 2% now.

10. How do you keep track of all your passwords? Do you make your passwords super complicated and change them often, or use the same ones over and over? You're assuming that I keep track of all my passwords. I'm a mess. I seem to always be clicking the "forgot your password?" link.
11. Are you a note taker? Yes

12. Do you remember what your first social media posting (or status update) was on Facebook or Twitter – without looking it up? What was it? No, I don't remember.

13. Do you have a “power” song? This song always lifts my spirits.


14. Do you have an eclectic mug collection, or is your stuff all matchy matchy? Very eclectic.

15. Do you have a junk drawer in your house/garage/at

work/wherever? In my kitchen

16. Do you ever get the urge to watch a favorite scene from a movie, and watch just that scene? No

17. Have you ever woken up and felt guilty from a dream you had, or, mad at someone else for something they did in the dream?
18.  How old were you when you took your first commercial flight? To where did you fly? I was 17. I flew from O'Hare to Fort Lauderdale.

19. Are you good at keeping track of your things – or do you easily misplace them? Do you ever leave anything behind when you travel? HA! I'm even worse at this than I am at remembering passwords.

20. Is there any place you go where time seems to stand still? What is it about that place that makes it that way? I used to feel that way about Hot Springs, AR, but I haven't been there in more than a a decade. I suppose it's possible that time has caught up with it by now.

Over a basket of buttermilk onion rings

I don't like onion rings. But I do like Nancy. So I was happy to join her for a basket in my old hometown, after my hair cut.

We talked about the new Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh. Then I told her how much I like her husband, who I spent time with for the first time back in August. Then we got down to the nitty gritty ... family.

Nancy's adult son has addiction issues. He is currently in a treatment center down south. She talked about the impact this has had on her, her daughter, her sister and her mother.

Ah, sisters and mothers! There's the rub.

We talked about therapy, about forgiveness, boundaries and love. Nancy and I have more in common than we knew. I hope I made her feel better, and less alone.

And while I'm still not in love with onion rings, I enjoyed the craft ginger beer immensely!

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Treat You Better (2016)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here. 

This song was chosen because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please share this information about The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Let's spread the word that there's help out there.

1) In this song, a young man advises his neighbor to stop wasting her time with a guy who makes her cry. What is something you regret wasting time on? (It doesn't have to be a romance.) My Farmville 2 farm.

2) Much of this video takes place in a very sparely-decorated apartment. Because Shawn Mendes and the girl he’s singing to both appear young, it’s easy to assume they are both in their first apartments. Tell us about the first place you ever rented. A two-room studio. Fourth floor walk up. Spiral staircase with a beautiful varnished banister. Pretty as that staircase was, it was a nightmare to navigate with my laundry and groceries.

3) It's clear he can hear his neighbors' conversations and arguments through the walls. Are your neighbors quiet? Do you consider yourself a quiet neighbor? We're a pretty quiet group here. I don't hear my neighbors and they've never complained about me.

4) This song received a lot of attention and airplay because it was used in a Southwest Airline commercial. When you last visited an airport, were you traveling yourself or meeting someone? I was landing. Home from my Christmas in Key West.

O'Hare decorated for the holidays

5) This week's artist, Shawn Mendes, was a serious skateboarder during his high school years. Sam has never even set foot on a skateboard. How about you? I somehow manage to get banged up just walking up the street. I shudder to think of how I'd fare on a skateboard.
6) Shawn is happy eating cold cereal with milk for every meal -- breakfast, lunch and dinner. He prefers cereal with almonds in it. What about you? Do you have a favorite cereal?
It changes. These days, I'm into raisins, so Kellogg's Raisin Bran is my cereal of choice.

7) He says he started eating cereal beyond breakfast because it's convenient, and it helps him avoid "junk food" when he's in a hurry. Do you often order your food "to go?"  Not often. Given the choice, I'd rather eat in the restaurant. Unless the dining area is really unappealing. My favorite thin-slice pizza place has terrific food, but the ambience is kind of hectic, so I'm always to-go from there.

8) In 2016, when this song was popular, a German shorthaired pointer named CJ won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. Is there a dog who holds a special place in your heart?
Sweet Pea. She was a squat little black pup who lived on my street. Everyone loved her, because she loved everyone. If you called her name, she would strain at her leash as her little legs brought her to you as quickly as they could. She was old the whole time I knew her -- with a white muzzle and cloudy eyes on the day we met. The last time I saw her was nearly a year ago, and then she was deaf, too, and having a hard time walking. She felt vulnerable, so she was grumpy and snappish. (Wouldn't you be?) Though I still look for her, I suspect she's gone to the Rainbow Bridge. Rest in peace, Sweet Pea!

9) And this week, we're trying a random fill in the blank: I wish someone would create an app that _____________________________________. I'm sorry. I've given this a lot of thought and I've got nothing.


Thursday, October 04, 2018

I'm blessed

Yesterday was a sobering day. I had a 3:30 appointment in my local doctor's office. I feel fine, for the most part, but I wanted her to check out my leg. By 5:00, I was in the hospital, wearing this bracelet and on a table, having tests.

My right leg has been bothering me all year. First there was stiffness in my hip when I first stand up. Occasionally it felt like it was locking on me. Then my hip was okay but my knee hurt so much. Not only when I was walking, but when I was laying down. My doctor suspects arthritis and gave me exercises to strengthen the leg around my knee.

When I rode the rails to Macomb to see my nephew, my knee suddenly stopped hurting. I got off the Amtrak train with a stiffness up and down my leg. It morphed into a pain in my calf.

My calf muscle felt too short for my leg. Perpetually tight.

I get it. I hear you, Body. Something is wrong with my right leg. So I made an appointment with the doctor.

She measured my calves, found the right one was swollen, and sent me to the hospital. STAT. I kept hearing STAT* over and over. The woman in hospital admittance told me that, even though it was late in the day, they were going to do "everything that's not illegal" to get my ultrasound done.

While I was still filling out the paperwork, the tech came and got me. Took me ahead of other people who arrived in the waiting room before me. It seems my doctor had called ahead and alerted the techs boss that this needed to be done now. I was getting so scared. What was wrong with me?

NOT DVT. NOT PHLEBITIS. That's what my doctor was afraid of. It's just edema. Nothing life threatening. Yea! I'm so relieved (and I didn't even know my life was being threatened!)

The LYFT rides came to about $25. After insurance, so will the tests. I am relieved about that, too.

I have my health. I have good insurance to help me maintain it. I am blessed.

*I learned it comes from the Latin "statim," which means "immediately."

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

How I love my guys!

Baseball season is over in Chicago. Earlier than I would have liked, of course. But last night was still glorious.

It came down to this: a one-and-done playoff game with the Colorado Rockies.

•  13 innings.
•  Just minutes shy of 5 hours.
•  The longest Wild Card game in MLB history.
•  The longest plauoff game ever played in Wrigley Field!

There was a ground rule double, with the ball lost in the ivy.

The Cubs went though 9 pitchers -- 3 of them starters in a relief role -- and it got to the point where I was wondering; "Even if we win and advance to the next round, who will be ready to pitch on Thursday?"

Pedro Strop returned from the DL to strike out two and get us out of a jam.

And, most unlikely, Javier Baez caused controversy by hugging Nolan Arenado after Arenado tagged him out. Why is this controversial, you ask? Isn't it a sign of good sportsmanship? Well, not if the ball is still in play. Did Javy mean to commit interference? Ask Javy!

So it was the damndest game. A real thrill ride.

Farewell and thank you, fellas. Go home, relax and heal. I can't wait to see you again in the spring.

I fell in a ditch

No, really. I'm being quite literal here. I fell in a ditch.

The street in front of my building is all torn up. That's what happens when the sewer is being replaced. Some days there are big, earth moving machines out front. Maybe the street's closed to traffic, maybe it's not. Every day feels like Anything Can Happen Day.

Sunday night, at dusk, I was coming home with a bag of groceries and a slice of thin crust pizza. I was thinking about the dog I just passed. It was a wiry little terrier who was being walked by two men. It occurred to me that when I see two women walking together, I assume they're friends, and when I see two men walking together -- especially if they're young and well dressed, like these two dog walkers were -- I assume they're gay.

That's the lofty thought that distracted me at the very moment when I tripped over a metal thing (don't ask) and fell into a ditch.

It took me a long moment to land. I actually formed thoughts as I was falling -- "Am I going all the way down or can I stop myself?" -- and then I landed hard. It took me a while to collect myself, to get my grocery bag together, to get up and head back on up the sidewalk. Somehow my keys fell out of jeans and I had to retrieve them. Limping my way back up to my home, guess who I passed again. Yes, the guys with the terrier.

My knees are still a bright blue and purple mess. But I don't really hurt. And I believe I'm the only one I know who has ever fallen into a ditch. So there's that.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: So Into You (1977)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The singer says that he noticed the lady in question as soon as she walked into the room. Tell us about someone who made a powerful first impression on you. When I first met my friend Joanna at movie group, I was in awe and intimidated. Her hair is always so smooth and shiny, her voice is so measured, her outfits are so coordinated and accessorized. She's so well versed about art and architecture. I'm no dummy, but I have gaps in my education, so I felt out of my depth. To be completely honest, I was surprised that she wanted to be friends with me. But she does! 

As we have gotten to know one another better, I realize that we have a lot in common, and that there are things about herself that Joanna is, indeed, insecure about. Just like the rest of us mortal women!

2) He sings that he's so into her, he can't think about other, more mundane things. Do you find you get easily distracted from your daily tasks? Or do you enjoy seeing your everyday chores through completion? I am fantastically easily distracted when doing chores. I wish I was more focused.


3) The band took their name from Georgia's biggest city. Have you ever been to Atlanta? Yes. Hartsfield is a huge airport but it's very easy to navigate. If you have to be laid over somewhere, Hartsfield is the place. I've also enjoyed my spa sabbaticals at Chateau Elan. I'd love to go back someday.


4) The Atlanta Rhythm Section once played the White House. President Carter's son, Chip, was a big fan and invited them to play at his 28th birthday party. How did you celebrate your last birthday? I turned 60 in Las Vegas. We laughed at Madame Tussaud's, saw a show and had a fabulous dinner at a restaurant called Tom's Urban Kitchen. I had macaroni and cheese made with lobster and shrimp. That was a first, and it was fabulous. (And yes, that's my favorite -- cranberry juice and vodka. It was my birthday, and it was Vegas, after all.)


5) Studio One, where the band made all their recordings, was torn down and replaced by a parking lot. Can you think of a structure that you missed, after it met with a wrecking ball? There was a office building across from my el stop, so I saw it every day. The upstairs was an apartment with a deck and the most beautiful rooftop garden. It made me happy every time I saw it. Since they displayed their Gay Pride flag, I thought of it as "The Gay House." It was torn down in early 2008 to make room for a bigger office building. With the Bush Recession, the new owners lost their financing and all that was there was a vacant lot. In summer 2016, someone else bought the land but no construction has begun. Whatever it ends up being -- restaurant, office building, condo -- it won't brighten my day like The Gay House garden did.


6) This song hit #7 on the US pop charts. 7 is the number most often chosen as "a lucky number." How about you? Do you have a lucky number? Seven. I'm such a cliche.


7) Today the Atlanta Rhythm Section reunites with to play at classic rock concerts. What oldies band would you love to see again? Guess Who. No, really. I'm not asking you to guess, that's the band's name. Their lead singer, Burton Cummings, had the best voice.


8) In 1977, the star of NBC's Chico and the Man, Freddie Prinze, took his own life. Is there a celebrity death you found shocking? Princess Diana. If that death didn't shock you, you weren't alive in 1997. 


9) Random question: What word do you always misspell?
Occasion. If it hadn't been for spell check, I would have just misspelled it again.

Friday, September 28, 2018

So I mailed a card

I got an email from my oldest friend. Or rather, 5 emails. She answered two weeks worth of my messages in one afternoon. Apparently she doesn't go online very often.

I found out that she's seeing a new shrink, a woman named Shelley. So far, so good. She's waiting for an OK to finally get that dental work done. It's been more than seven years since she last had her teeth checked! Since she's a heart patient, her new dentist requires paperwork from her cardiologist. Her son is working for Progressive Insurance headquarters in Colorado Springs. So far, so good.

Oh yeah, and she might have cancer.

There's a lesion on her bladder that requires "visual confirmation," otherwise known as a biopsy. Because she is on Medicaid, it takes a lot of approvals before her uro-gynecologist can perform the procedure. She hopes she won't have to wait too long for the biopsy and results. She says it distracts her from fantasizing about the Beatles.

I am sick with worry. She is in a bad place. She doesn't pick up the phone when I call. She goes weeks without checking her emails.

I am frustrated by her being incommunicado, but I don't blame her. She's on meds for depression. Meds for her heart. Pain killers for her leg. Antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. I know she is either in pain -- psychic or otherwise -- or dopey. I appreciate that, as weak and frustrating as it's been, she's doing the best she can in terms of communicating.

So I sent her a card. It had a little puppy on the front with the words, "Do you need a pug?" And I included a letter, telling her that, since she is so very important to me, I'm glad that she's in her cousin's loving care as she goes through this. I implored her to keep me informed. "Make no mistake: I care."

I signed it, stamped it, and dropped it in the box.

I hope the card, and the love it carries, reaches her in time for her biopsy.