Sunday, May 31, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 31

A song you love to sing loudly. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Sunday Stealing

CONVERSATION STARTERS

1. What do you think is the greatest television show of all time? My opinion on this changes, but right now I'll go with The Dick Van Dyke Show. The writing has stayed remarkably fresh -- it seldom seems sexist and it never devolves into racial stereotypes. Every episode is a mix of sophisticated and physical comedy. Dick Van Dyke is so good it's ridiculous, and I like Laura Petrie better than Mary Richards. It's rerun every night on the Decades cable channel.

I'm in good company; it was Orson Welles' favorite show, too.

2. Would you rather win a Nobel Prize or an Academy Award? An Oscar. I shall invoke a great actor and raconteur, Richard Burton, who reportedly said everyone wants an Academy Award because then they'll know how their obituary will begin. (He never won one.)


 
3. What one food would you banish from this earth if you could? I wouldn't. If I dislike a food, I think that's on me, not the food. However, if I could, I'd decree that raw tomatoes never again appear in my salads or on my sandwiches.


 
4. What’s the scariest story you’ve ever heard? Not the morning to ask me this. I woke up in a city recovering from a riot and a country battling not only a virus but crazy citizens who aren't even embarrassed when they refer to wearing a mask to protect their neighbors as "oppression."

 

5. Who is the most famous person you have ever met? Here's the story of the night I met Bruce Springsteen.

6. What’s something you’ve done that most people wouldn’t know or guess about you? I rode an elephant.

7. You’re strapped in a rocket ship about to go to the moon. Are you thrilled? Or terrified? Beyond terrified.

8. What is the correct way for toilet paper to sit on the roll? There is only one answer to this question.


It's stupid how much I care about this.
 

9. Talk about a mistake you made, or something you regret. I stayed too long in a bad relationship.

10. What would be the best gift I could give you? A thing: A Target gift card. I feel like I'm there all the time. An intangible: Serenity.

11. What makes you feel better when you’re sad or stressed? When I look at my cats curled up like fur shrimp.




12. What is the most romantic movie you’ve ever seen? So many to choose from! This morning, I'll go with It's a Wonderful Life. That scene when George and Mary are on the phone ... I cannot wait for that first kiss! Sigh.

 

13. What is the worst date you’ve ever been on? I've had my share of bad dates, but no single "worst" springs to mind.

14. What is the glue that keeps couples together? Loyalty. I think you have to decide to stay.

15.  What was your first crush. Our next door neighbor's son, Billy. His black hair literally glistened in the sun. He was in his 20s, I was in Kindergarten. I used to soap his hubcaps as he washed his car in the driveway and he said I was such a good helper, he wanted to marry me. I was really pissed that he not only wasn't waiting for me, but, since my family was invited to the wedding, I had to watch him marry HER. (Her name was Sandy and she used a lot of hairspray.) He had an undiagnosed heart problem and died suddenly just a few years later.

 
16. When did your parents talk to you about the birds and the bees? Kindergarten. I was in the bathtub when my mom explained it to me.

17. What is your greatest achievement? I've been there for those who need me.

18. Were you close to your parents growing up? My mom, yeah. My dad, not so much.

19. What was the most life-changing event you’ve ever experienced? The 2016 World Series. I know that sounds superficial, but I love baseball. And I come from a family of Cub fans. I felt so connected to those who went before me,  privileged to see something
my dad, my uncle and my grandparents never did.


The final out: It's in Rizz' glove!



20. Have you ever had a falling out with a friend? What happened? Yes. It still hurts. Here's the story, if you want to read it. I just don't feel like rehashing it today.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Systems overloaded

My heart hurts. My soul hurts. Downtown is being looted. Macy's State Street windows shattered. Dumpster fires outside the Hyatt. Police cars bashed with 2x4's. This is not a protest, it's a riot.

•  We've seen Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd murdered, primarily for being black.*
•  There's a virus outside that could kill us. (1400 new cases in Chicagoland today.)
•  Unemployment has escalated to near 20%.
•  Our President thinks it's appropriate to respond to all this by tweeting, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

In the face of all this, some douchebags are still actually complaining about their "oppression" because they are required to wear masks when they get their hair cut!

I just can't stay plugged into it anymore. There's real danger outside my door in the form of a virus. Some of my fellow Americans are suffering very real systemic marginalization, while others insult us all by clinging to their imagined victimization over masks and quarantine.

I had a telehealth session with my new shrink today, and she picked up on my fatigue. It's not unnatural, she said, and it's OK to look away. I think it's more than OK. I think it's advisable.

Instead of the Sunday news shows, I'll tune into church. We're still worshiping on line. The services are so well-attended we had to move from Zoom to YouTube. I'm grateful that my minister loves us enough to keep us safe and in our homes ... and that he will reliably be there tomorrow morning when I need him.


*For contrast, check out how UConn student Peter Manfredonia was handled by the justice system. He's suspected in two murders. Authorities found messages sympathetic to the Sandy Hook killer scrawled in red on his walls. A multi-state dragnet brought him in safely so he can stand trial. Naturally he is white.

George Floyd may or may not have passed a counterfeit $20 bill. He was executed in the street by a bad cop. Naturally he is black.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (1971)

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

1) The lyrics tell us Paul believes it's going to rain. How's the weather where you are today? Beautiful! Sunny and about 70º!

2) Paul sings that he is sorry because he hasn't "done a bloody thing all day." What do you hope to accomplish this weekend? I have to write an email to the President and COO of our agency. My company computer died and I've been working from home on my personal laptop, which isn't fair. That's a lot of wear and tear on a machine purchased with my own money for my personal use. It's just that, when my work laptop crapped out, no one in IT had the authority to issue me a new one and, with everyone working from home, they couldn't reach anyone who could approve a new one. Well, yesterday, Mr. President encouraged us to reach out to him if we need anything, and if he can't approve a new machine, no one can. Still, I'm nervous. He's not the warmest guy you'd ever meet. I should just write the damn thing and get it off my conscience.

3) He also references butter pie, which is made primarily with potatoes (with onions and, of course, butter). That dish is not popular on this side of the Atlantic. Last time you had potatoes, how were they prepared (baked, mashed, hash browned, french fried ...)? I don't remember the last time I had potatoes, but I hope next time they will be mashed.

4) Linda McCartney is credited as co-writer and performer on this recording. Paul and Linda were partners in real life, too; married 29 years, they raised four children together. They often said they tried never to spend more than a few hours apart. Do you enjoy a lot of togetherness, or do you value your personal time? Has your experience with Covid19 and quarantine changed how you feel about this? I am very comfortable being alone. But the pandemic has taught me to value my friendships more and I appreciate it so very much when people reach out by email or phone.

5) Paul and Linda came from very different backgrounds. His family was lower middle class, lived in Liverpool's public housing and received government aid. She grew up in affluent Scarsdale, the daughter of a wealthy theatrical attorney. Do you think it's more important for a couple to share a common background, or to share common interests? Common interests. BTW, I saw Paul at Soldier Field in 1990. We were in the fifth row, and saw a lot that the audience farther back would have missed.  Linda was on keyboards, positioned on an elevated riser behind Paul. He was very solicitous of her, holding her wrist as she moved around behind him in the dark between numbers. By this point, they'd been on the road for a year, so I assume that she was familiar with the stage layout. Yet he continued to look out for her. It was touching.

6) Paul is known for his work ethic. At age 78, he's still making music and performing live. What's your favorite Paul McCartney song?


 

7) In 1971, when this song was a hit, Bobby Fischer was the world's most famous and highest-rated chess player. Do you play chess? No. I don't have the patience.

8) England's Princess Anne turned 21 in 1971. The occasion was commemorated by a formal portrait, taken by celebrated fashion photographer Norman Parkinson. Who took the most recent photo of you? I did. It was a selfie of the top of my head, which I sent to my friend John. He was so curious about how my roots were growing in.


9) Random question: Do you find it more satisfying to work with your hands, or your head? My head. My manual dexterity is not that great.


Fell asleep proud, woke up relieved

Yesterday, Chicagoans took to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd. At first, when I saw this, I was frightened for my city. We're still healing after Laquan McDonald's death. But the afternoon protest was peaceful and respectful, with both police and protesters wearing masks.


From the SunTimes


Peaceful marching is the most appropriately American way to make ourselves heard. George Floyd's conviction and execution under the knee of a brutal cop is certainly a more worthy exercise of our  rights than grabbing a long gun and driving to the state capitol to whine about corona virus safety procedures.

Unfortunately, there was looting overnight. Arrests and two reported injuries. Disappointing to be sure, but I don't believe it was really a protest. I suspect that was opportunistic, and had more to do with stores reopening for business and merchandise returning to store windows as it did with George Floyd.

Still, when I woke up this morning and saw what happened in Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and our neighbors to the south in Lexington, I'm relieved and proud of my city. 



May Music Meme -- Day 30

A song that reminds you of yourself.  Actually, my friend Henry told me this song reminded him of me.

•  Loves her mama (check)
•  Loves Jesus and America, too (check)
•  Crazy 'bout Elvis (check)
•  Loves horses (check)

Yup.


  (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Friday, May 29, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 29

A song you remember from childhood.  (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Thursday, May 28, 2020

I wish today's kids had him

In 1994, when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, my oldest friend's son was in Kindergarten, going to school half days. Because the bombing destroyed a daycare center, she tried to limit his exposure to news coverage. She didn't want him to be scared to return to school.

While she was in the kitchen preparing dinner, she heard Bill Clinton's voice coming from the TV. She went into the living room and saw her little boy, transfixed. He'd been channel surfing and landed on Bill. My friend made a quick decision in the moment. She let the press appearance play out, because she was afraid if she raced over and changed the channel, she'd just be adding drama and import to a moment he may not even understand.

Bill Clinton began:*

The bombing in Oklahoma City was an attack on innocent children and defenseless citizens. It was an act of cowardice and it was evil. The United States will not tolerate it. And I will not allow the people of this country to be intimidated by evil cowards.

He went on to say:

Let there be no room for doubt, we will find the people who did this. When we do, justice will be swift, certain and severe. These people are killers and they must be treated like killers.

He closed with: 

Finally, let me say that I ask all Americans tonight to pray; to pray for the people who have lost their lives, to pray for the families and the friends of the dead and the wounded, to pray for the people of Oklahoma City. 

Bill was followed to the podium by Attorney General Janet Reno. My friend's son was completely uninterested in her and popped to his feet, moving from the TV and heading for something else to do.

"Wait a minute," my friend said to her little boy. "Do you want to talk about this?"

"He's mad and he's gonna catch the guys, and we're supposed to pray."  

When Bill Clinton addressed the nation, he did it in a way that spoke to us all. He sounded sincere, and even a little boy understood and was comforted.

Children know who the President is and what he is supposed to represent. I wish that today's kids had a President who could speak this naturally and compassionately about the pandemic that has interrupted their lives. They can't go to school, they can't play sports or go to dance class, they can't visit their grandparents. They likely know someone who has battled the corona virus, and perhaps even died. 

It would be nice if they could see a President explaining, in simple terms, that hand-washing and masks will help keep us all safe. That he has the nation's best doctors working on this. That we should pray for those who are sick.

Instead, Donald Trump's twitter feed is filled with political grievances against Jim Comey, Barack Obama and Twitter itself. Yesterday, when the nation reached the sobering benchmark of 100,000 Americans dead of the virus, he didn't address the country. He let someone read a statement.

How sad and disappointing (though not surprising). 
Bill Clinton is a far from perfect man. I know, believe me, I know. But he was a good President for his times. I miss having a good President.


*The Clinton quotes are verbatin from C-Span.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 28

A song by an artist whose voice you love. She is known as a leather-lunged lady who can belt, like Judy or Whitney. But singing softly she's just as good. She's a singing actress with a fabulous voice. This is how I sound in my dreams. BTW, this is from Funny Lady, a shitty movie with a fabulous soundtrack. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Cautiously hopeful

I spoke to Henry so long, and so loudly, Monday evening that I woke up hoarse. He called to, of course, complain about his husband, Reg. Complaining is really all he does these days. It's exhausting. For everything Henry complains about is unreasonable. In Henry's worldview, he's always the helpless victim and the only one suffering.

Case in point: He made Reg aware that there was birdshit on the car hood. There were three cars on the street, but only their car was "targeted." Reg replied that he had no explanation and went back to what he doing. ("Just playing on the computer," Henry said.)

Henry said that they don't have $600 to have the car repainted, so this is a problem. What did Reg plan to do about it? Reg grabbed a roll of paper towels and Windex, went out and started to wipe away the birdshit. Henry followed him to tell him he was doing it wrong, that he should be using soap and water. Reg threw the paper towels and Windex on the ground and stormed back into the house, warning Henry to leave him alone. Henry followed him there, too, asking Reg why he was so mad. Words were exchanged. Reg told Henry to leave him alone so he could "just take a fucking nap."

"For how long?"

"Forever!"

Then Henry segued into his problems receiving unemployment and his stimulus check from the State of Florida. I told him the stimulus check was from the Federal government and he should check the IRS website to see where it is. He was dismissive. He doesn't know where Reg keeps their tax "stuff."

"Listen to yourself!" I said, disgusted. "You're an adult! Why don't you act like an adult?"

"What do you mean? I am responsible. I take my pills on time. I walk the dogs."

"Why didn't you clean the birdshit off the car? Why don't you check on your own stimulus check?"

I explained to him that he has no empathy for anyone in his life, that he seems to think we're all public utilities like water, expected to be there when he turns on the faucet. I pointed out that maybe, just maybe, Reg was doing something on the computer that was important to him, that gave him joy ...  Henry interrupted to complain some more and I snapped.

"How am I?" I shouted. "Am I scared of the corona virus? Are my friends and loved ones OK? You don't know because you never ask me about me. All you want to do is bitch about your own life."

"But I try! No one understands me. I try every way I can think of."

"No, you haven't tried every way you can think of. Have you called Dr. Rivera?" She's the mental health professional he saw a year ago as part of couples counseling with Reg. He likes her. His insurance would cover sessions with her.

"Reg would have to drive me. It will make him mad."

"Reg would be proud of you for taking the reins! He would not be mad at all."

Round and round and round we went. Finally he promised to call Dr. Rivera.

"You promised to call Dr. Rivera back in February," I said, sad because I was putting those sweaters away for the season and he still hadn't called.

I told Henry I know how lonely and misunderstood he must feel. I told him his unhappiness hurts my heart. But it's on him to do something to fix it. I reiterated that I love him. I always end each call by telling him I love him.

"I promise I will call Dr. Rivera tomorrow."

Exhausted, I wished him a good night.

Tuesday afternoon I received a pair of texts that made my heart sing.

First,

Left a detailed message for Dr. Rivera. She has not called back. But I kept my promise. 

Then,

I called my state legislator. Her assistant will help get my unemployment $. I am emotional, but I can do stuff. 

Yes, Sweetie, you can! I know you can!

I just hope you will.

 

May Music Meme -- Day 27

A song that breaks your heart.  (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 26

A song that makes you want to fall in love.  The video for this song has been removed for some reason. Here are Don Henley's lyrics.

"The Last Worthless Evening"


I know you broke up with him
And your heart's still on the shelf
It's been over two years for me
And I'm still not quite myself
You can't be with someone new
And you can't go back to him
You're beginning to realize
That it's sink or swim

I see you around sometimes
And my heart just melts
You're lookin' like if you had your wish
You'd be somewhere else
And it just breaks my heart
To see you here this way
Someday I'll get the nerve
To walk up to you and say

This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend
Just gimme a chance
To show you how to love again
This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend
'Cause I'll be there
When your broken heart is on the mend

Every night it's the same old crowd
In smokey rooms
You catch a faint glimpse of love sometimes
But it never blooms
I've been around this block a time or two
And I've made some big mistakes
But girl I promise you, I promise you

This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend
Just gimme a chance
To show you how to love again
This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend
'Cause it won't be long
'Till your little heart is on the mend

People inside their houses
With the shades pulled down

God knows, we could use some romance
In this sleepy bedroom town
I know you're still afraid to rush into anything
But there're just so many summers
And just so many springs

And this is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend, baby
Just gimme a chance, gimme a chance
To show you love again
This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend 'cause it won't be long
'Til your little heart is on the mend

That you'll have to spend
Just gimme a chance to show you how
To love again
This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend 'cause it won't be long
'Til your little heart is on the mend







 (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Feeling grateful and respectful


To those who gave all

This memorial is tucked in a corner of the River Walk. It's a respectful distance from the bars, the hot dogs and the ice cream stands. It touched my heart.


May Music Meme -- Day 25

A song you like by an artist no longer living.  My favorite Aretha (1942-2018) recording was cowritten and originally sung by Sam Cooke (1931-1964). Play along! Click here for prompts.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

It started out promising ...

I made my hotel reservation for Christmas in Key West. Usually I would have done this weeks and weeks ago, but with Covid19, well, it just didn't feel safe or prudent. Yesterday it felt forward thinking and hopeful.

America has been having problems. My dear friends Henry and Reg have been having problems. But I have faith that we -- all of us! -- will be OK. And to prove it, I booked a room at a new-to-me bed-and-breakfast. I've passed it a million times and love the history of this place. There's been a hotel on that spot since 1885!

When Henry called me last night, I was excited to share the news. He claimed he couldn't remember which hotel I was referring to. I thought maybe it was his TBI playing tricks on him. But no, I don't think that's what it is.

Henry only wants to talk about Henry. He got a hair cut yesterday. I asked him if he wore his mask the whole time and he said yes, and so did the stylist. He told me that he expects to be called back to his job at the library soon, but he's frightened. This surprised me, because he's spent so much energy bemoaning his medical leave. He told me with -- tremendous gravity -- that three people in Key West have died from the virus

"Did you know them?" I asked. I thought maybe that's why he thought three was such a staggering number.

"No. But do not worry. I am being careful. So is Reg."

"I'm not worried about you, Honey, I'm worried about me. I live in a hot spot. When I go back to work, it will be in a city where 3000 people died."*

"Oh. That is too bad. I think Reg is sick of me. I am tired of being cooped up with someone who is sick of me ..."

It occurred to me that it didn't matter to Henry who he was talking to. This is upsetting. Not because of our friendship: he had an accident and a resulting brain injury. It is what it is. I am committed to this relationship, come what may.

But Henry's mental condition is deteriorating. He was able to talk about things other than himself five months ago, when we were all together at Christmas. I remember specific conversations about former coworkers and about movies. I don't think he could have those conversations today.

It's hard to watch this because I feel helpless. The one who holds the key to Henry's treatment is Reg. He needs to get Henry to a neurologist who can assess Henry's condition as it is now -- 19 months after the accident -- and review his medications. There isn't a doctor who can do that in Key West, they would have to go to Miami. But with neither of them working, with the pandemic restrictions on travel, it's too hard for Reg to set this in motion.

And there's this: something is stopping him. I think it's Boiling Frog Syndrome. You know how it goes. If a frog is dropped into boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put the frog in warm water that is slowly brought to boil, he'll be cooked to death. Spending 24/7 with Henry, day after day, I'm not sure Reg has noticed Henry's creeping egocentrism.

Oh, how I miss my old friend, Henry!


*I lied for effect. The actual number for Cook County is 2,889.

Sad but true

My friend Patrick posted this on his Facebook feed. He didn't mean to offend me. He was just expressing his painful experience with a certain segment of Christians. Besides, he said he doesn't automatically think of me as Christian because I'm "too loving."

Let that sink in.

I still don't agree with him, but I understand where he's coming from. Let's take the current situation. You can refer to it as the pandemic, or the corona virus, or Covid19, or just the virus. If you still refer to it as the China virus or the Wuhan virus, you are choosing to use a term that you know stigmatizes people. And you just don't care who you hurt.

Certain Christians can flood their conversation, their blogs and Facebook feeds with Bible verses, but when they say China virus or Wuhan virus, they show that they really don't care who they hurt.

Let that sink in, too.





Sunday Stealing


SABOTAGE

1. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again? Person? No. Critter? Certainly.

2. What’s the closest thing to you that’s red? My water bottle, which is purchased at The Coca Cola Store in Las Vegas.

3. Did you meet someone new today? No. But it's not likely I would, since it's still early on a Sunday morning during a pandemic.

4. What are you craving right now? A bit more sleep. I woke up early to go to the bathroom and the cats decided it was time for breakfast. They herded me away from my bedroom and into the kitchen.

5. What comes to mind when I say “cabbage.” Corned beef.

6. What does your last text say? "What did it say?" No, really, that's what it said. My friend Kathy sent me a text saying there was an article I ought to read.

7. Do you bite into your ice cream, or just lick it? Ice cream cones get licked. Ice cream bars get bit.
8. Do you like your hair? No! I haven't been to the salon since February 29. I have an appointment for 1:30, June 6.

9. Do you like yourself? Most of the time.

10. Do you like cottage cheese? Never

11. What are you listening to right now? Willie Geist on the Today Show
12. Is there anything sparkly in the room where you are? Nope

13. How many countries have you visited? Five: Canada, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Germany.

14. Are you sarcastic? Moi? Non!


15. Have you ever crawled through a window? I vaguely remember climbing through the window of a classmate's garage back when I was in high school. We needed the key to the gate around her pool. To be honest, I don't recall if I actually climbed through myself, or helped her do it. 


 

May Music Meme -- Day 24

A song by a band you wish was still together. 2/9/64. Nothing was the same ever again.  (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Saturday, May 23, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 23

A song you think everyone should listen to. You know, I'm surprised how many Elvis songs I've chosen this month. And yes, everyone should listen to this. Here's a message that's far more healing than selfish whining or Qultist imagined "tyranny." Let's put "we" ahead of "me" and dream of a  country "where hope keeps shining on everyone." (Play along! Click here for prompts.)


Friday, May 22, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Battle Hymn of the Republic (1963)

Unfamiliar with Judy Garland's rendition of this week's tune? Hear it here.



Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle. 



1) On May 30, 1868, President Grant presided over the Memorial Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Have you ever visited Arlington Cemetery? Yes. I've been to Washington DC twice and went there both times.

2) On Memorial Day, it is customary to fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset. Will you be flying the flag at your home this weekend? No. I'd like to, but all my windows face the same way, which means the only ones who could see my flag are the next door neighbors. I feel the same way about Christmas lights -- the decorations seems to be lacking something if you can't see them from the street as you pass by.

3) Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, because flowers and ribbons were left on graves of soldiers.  Do you find solace in visiting cemeteries? Not really.

4) The lyrics to this week's song were written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861. Her inspiration was a White House visit with Abraham Lincoln. In 2020, under normal circumstances, public tours of the White House are available but you must request your ticket in advance from your Member of Congress (House or Senate). When you travel, do you plan your trip weeks before you go? Or do you decide how your days will unfold once you reach your destination? If I'm going somewhere like our nation's capital (with many sights to see) or Vegas (with shows to be booked), I plan in advance. Otherwise, I play it by ear.


5) Judy Garland performed this week's song before a live audience as a tribute to President Kennedy, who had been assassinated just weeks before. She knew Kennedy personally and considered this a farewell to a friend. While the performance was difficult for her -- at one point she flubs the lyrics -- she believed it was important, and could perhaps help the country heal. Tell us about a song that reminds you of someone you loved who is no longer with us. This was my uncle's favorite song:


 

He was married twice and had countless girlfriends. I wish I'd asked him which lady was gentle on his mind. He was a very young man when it came out, so maybe it was one of those songs that brought back a happy time in his life and not a specific woman. But I'll never know because I never asked him. I regret that.

6) John F. Kennedy served in WWII and was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps medal and a Purple Heart. His brother Joe also served and was awarded the Navy Cross, but he received his citation posthumously, having died during a flying mission over East Suffolk, England. Here at Saturday 9, we consider everyone who serves a hero and want to hear about the veterans and active military members in your life. 

•  My dad was a corpsman in the Korean War. He was really good at butterfly stitches, which made him popular in the neighborhood. I remember kids with cuts and scrapes coming over with their moms to be tended to, and to avoid a trip to ER. 

•  The uncle I mentioned above served in Vietnam. I was 8 when he was discharged and I invited him to school for show and tell. I was so proud when he showed up in the doorway of my classroom, in his uniform. He looked quite tall, sitting on the radiator, taking questions from my classmates. I remember he stressed teamwork.

•  My oldest nephew was recently discharged from the Navy. He never saw any action, but his service was valuable because he readied the aircraft carriers that did. His first job out of the service began in March. He's now a firefighter in Washington state.

 

7) Memorial Day is considered the beginning of the summer season. Will you be enjoying warm weather this weekend? It's supposed to be in the 80s. Rainy, of course. It's rained a lot this month.


8) Berries are especially popular in summer. Which is your favorite: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries? Strawberries.


9) If you could attend a Memorial Day picnic with any fictional character, which would you choose? Jo, from Little Women. Her father was wounded in the Civil War and must have had comrades who died, so Decoration Day would have special meaning for her. Remembering how willingly the March family did without while her father was away, can you imagine how disappointed fiery Jo would be in some of us today, whining about something as simple as wearing masks, just to protect one another?


Fins to the left, fins to the right


Valerie is our receptionist. Since our office has been shut tight for two months already and will likely be closed for one month more, she was furloughed. No need to have anyone greeting visitors if your office is closed. But she was able to keep her benefits. Which is good, because her son was just hospitalized with the corona virus. He required a ventilator to breathe. A very tall adult male, he's still under 26 and on his mom's insurance. He is, thankfully, expected to make a full recovery.

Ivy is my friend Nancy's daughter. She's a 21-year-old who just finished her junior year at Minnesota's Macalester College. When school let out early this year, Ivy decided not to come home to Chicagoland but instead crashed with a friend who has an apartment in St. Paul. She planned only to stay until stay-at-home restrictions were lifted, but now she can't come home. Both she and her classmate have the corona virus. They are, thankfully, expected to make a full recovery.

So much for the comforting myth that only residents of old folks' homes get the virus.

It's out there. Covid19 is out there, and every day that goes by that it hasn't touched me or someone I love, I'm grateful.


An unexpected honor

Darius wants me on his Zombie Team! He has enlisted me in the group of those who will help him battle the undead after the Apocalypse. Considering that Darius is a lifer at the Western Illinois Correctional Center and has his pick of younger, tougher and meaner combatants, I take this as a compliment.


How did this overweight old lady make a convict's Zombie Team? Barbicide. It's the blue disinfectant developed specifically for salon/barber shop equipment. I became familiar with it back in the 1980s, when I was a writer for a haircare company. This spring, as Lysol and Clorox began disappearing from store shelves, and salons still closed, I thought, "Hmmm ... I bet Barbicide is available." I scored a 16 fl. oz. bottle and, considering I mix just 2 oz. in a 32 oz. spray bottle, this will last me a good long time.

I shared this little detail of my everyday life with Darius and it delighted him. He praised my "intellectual and resourceful move." He reiterated that he worries about me during the pandemic ("How are you is more meaningful now than ever") and says he's interested in hearing how I cope with it.

I'm glad, because my pen pal is hard to write to. I don't want to make my life sound too positive, because his life sucks. He is indoors all day most days, spending up to 16 hours a day in the 11.5 x 8 ft. cell he shares with another man. The food is terrible. He has no privacy whatsoever. 

I am willing to accept that he deserves this. He killed two people. But Christ said, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." And so I'll write him every month. He seems to feel a connection to me now, and helping alleviate another human being's loneliness is, almost literally, the least I can do.

 

May Music Meme -- Day 22

A song that moves you forward. If working out constitutes moving forward, I'll go with this one. They used to play it all the time at the health club, and I loved doing my floor exercises to it. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Let's remember them

From the Chicago Sun Times
Wacker Drive is a main drag in Chicago. It has multiple parallel levels (two in most places, three in others) and snakes through downtown. Cabbies and Uber drivers love Lower Wacker. Since it has all the atmosphere of an unfinished basement, tourists and the faint-of-heart avoid it, and those in the know can zip through it.

It's also the home to Chicago's homeless population. In winter, it's protected from the snow and and in summer, it stays a little cooler. But in spring! It can be pretty awful down there because -- like most unfinished basements -- it leaks when it rains.

This year we've had record-breaking rain, and so it's flooded. Lower Wacker was evacuated. Where will the homeless go? To shelters? Anyone who ends up in a shelter, will necessarily find little public distancing and will be at high risk for the virus. My heart hurts for them.

In a way, I admit I'm jealous of the whiny live-free-or-die, fight-the-tyranny, blame-Obama's-deep-state crowd. They actually believe that the #1 problem in this country right now is that they have to wear masks in public. It must be nice to be so insulated from real pain that respecting your neighbors feels like "oppression." And to be so conscience-free that they aren't even ashamed of themselves.




May Music Meme -- Day 21

A song with someone's name in the title. Little known fact: this was really President Kennedy's favorite song. According to his secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, he'd play this over and over without tiring of it. While he did listen to the Camelot cast recording a lot just before his death, it's because the record was new to him, it was not really a favorite. Jackie, with her unerring sense of what was appropriate to the moment, insisted Life magazine reporter Teddy White mention "Camelot" in his story right after the assassination, and a myth was born. After all, the Knights of the Round Table are more inspirational than Bobby Darin snapping his fingers. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Borrowed from Kwizgiver

If you don't read Kwizgiver, you should!
This is me. Most days I'm fine. Some days I'm depressed. Occasionally I'm scared.

I wish I was one of the silly live-free-or-die, fight-the-tyranny, blame-Obama's-deep-state crowd. Then I'd be fixating on my imagined "oppression" ("Masks infringe on my rights!") instead of worry that I, or someone I love, will contract the virus.

But that's not me.

I believe in STEM. I also believe that God promises me eternal life, but not necessarily an easy one here on earth. So I worry about the virus. I worry about the economy. I get scared.

Then I say a little prayer, remind myself that I'm lucky and loved, and I get on with it.

Because even when I'm not doing my best, I'm still doing.

WWW.WEDNESDAY

WWW. WEDNESDAY asks 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? Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy. I'm using my shelter-at-home time to finally get to books I purchased but, for whatever reason, never touched. This little gem certainly qualifies. This Pulitzer Prize winner written in 1955 by the then-junior Senator from MA, and the edition I've got was copyrighted 1999.

Kennedy profiles eight Senators who took the hard stand, the position that would put them at odds with party and constituents, all because it was the right thing to do.


I just started, but so far it feels like the right book at the right time. I hope during this unprecedented crisis, all Senators will rise to the occasion.

As a lifelong Kennedy girl, I appreciate having JFK's voice in my head. His opinions and actions shaped much of my world view, and so I'm especially glad I picked this book up at a time when I could use a boost to my national pride.

2. What did you recently finish reading?
Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout. The 7th book in the Nero Wolfe series was a delight! Set in 1939, on the precipice of the second World War with the first World War fresh in the national consciousness, Wolfe finds himself at the intersection of international intrigue, finance and murder.

The story starts when the lovely Carla shows up at Wolfe's brownstone. A recent immigrant who speaks with an accent and occasionally slips into Montenegrin, she tells Wolfe's right-hand man Archie that she needs help. She and her friend, Neya, also from the Balkans, have gotten into some trouble with the police and need the help of Nero Wolfe, the world-famous, well-connected and highly-successful detective. Oh yeah, and they can't pay Wolfe's fee.


Why on earth would Wolfe want to help them? She coolly responds that her friend Neya is Wolfe's long-lost daughter.

WHAT?

Wolfe always lived a very male-centric world and became unhappy and irascible in the presence of women. The very idea that he had a child -- a daughter! -- is preposterous. And yet, the man himself acknowledges that it's true.

From there the action escalates. Two men end up dead. The FBI and several embassies don't seem to want these murders solved. Archie and the police were confused. Wolfe, being a genius, can keep it all straight. It's exciting, complex and, at times, very funny. My favorite scenes revolved around the colorful, sexy couturier named Madame Zorca. Was she a suspect, a co-conspirator, or just an irritant who wears lingerie whenever possible? I won't give it away, but she did make me smile.

3. What will you read next?
I don't know.



May Music Meme -- Day 20

A song that has many meanings to you. It's a break-up song that we enjoyed at the beginning of our relationship. It's a funny song about a sad moment. There's a lot going on here. (And yes, Garth joins Justin on stage.) Play along! Click here for prompts.)


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Another bad dream

Any dream that features a Trump loyalist is, by definition, a nightmare. And I just had one with Rudy Giuliani in a starring role. For some reason, he was in a position of professional authority over me. In my dream, he didn't approve of the work I'd just done for my client. "We can do better. No, YOU can do better!" He just kept yelling and yelling at me.

This is my second nightmare in three days. My slumber is not usually disturbed like this. 

I discussed this with Patrick, who mentioned his dreams have been "weird," too. We compared notes, and agree that it's because both of our lives are changing.

I haven't been in the city since mid-March. I haven't gone this long without the sights of the Loop since Peter Frampton was on the charts. I miss it. I also haven't done any in-person socializing in two months. It's been an unreal existence, but I've eased into this unreality. It's become comfortable. And every day I receive another email from corporate:

•  How comfortable are you returning to the office on June 15?

•  How do you feel about taking public transportation?
•  Read the new procedures for cleaning and disinfecting the office. 

I know these messages are meant to make me feel more secure, but they don't. They remind me that I live in a county where nearly 60,000 have died of the corona virus. I am trying to keep things in perspective and remind myself that most people don't get virus and that most who do aren't hospitalized. But that 58,457 number is sobering.*

I appreciate how lucky I am to have a job in this economy, but I can't be unreservedly happy because there is something real to fear outside my front door.

Part of me is afraid to go back to work. Hence, the nightmares.

Patrick is  the maître d of a high-end restaurant in Portland, Maine. After Thanksgiving, when the weather gets rough, business drops off precipitously. They don't need a full-time maître d and he goes back to waiting tables. He doesn't make much money doing this and they really don't need another waiter, either. They just give Patrick that wintertime option because they appreciate how much he adds to the dining experience when they are busy, and they want to keep him happy.

Patrick has worked it out with his boss that he take six months off without pay. All they have to do is keep his job open for him when the busy summer season starts. He then moves down to Key West, moves in with Reg and Henry, and waits tables during South Florida's busy season. It's hard work, but it pays so much better than serving in a half-empty Portland eatery. Also, Reg likes having Patrick around. They have been friends for decades, and Reg appreciates Patrick's support as he deals with Henry's traumatic brain injury.

Well, Covid19 changed all Patrick's plans. He's been unemployed in Key West since mid-March. He has yet to receive payments from Florida's overburdened unemployment system. Yet he couldn't go back to Maine. While he's in terrific shape -- you can bounce a dime off Patrick's derriere -- he has serious health problems. He's HIV positive and he has a defibrillator implanted in his chest. Flying at the height of the pandemic was inadvisable. PLUS the restaurant in Portland closed because of the virus. He had no job there, either.

He wants to go home. He's eager to go home. Being locked in that house with Reg and Henry isn't conducive to good health. He wonders about his backyard in Portland. He worries a lot about money. He has a tenant and they need to talk -- face-to-face -- about finances, since his tenant is currently out of work. 

Restrictions are starting to loosen. His boss hopes to reopen the Portland restaurant in July, and says he's welcomed back if he quarantines himself at home for two weeks. He's booked his flight. He's going home (I think) June 1.

But he's scared to expose himself to all the other passengers as he navigates his way back to Portland. So he's been having weird dreams, too.

Restful sleep: one of the forgotten victims of the corona virus.



*As of 5/18/20.

May Music Meme -- Day 19

A song that makes you think about life. I'm 62 for a moment and the sun is getting high ... (Play along! Click here for prompts.)


Monday, May 18, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 18

A song from the year you were born. The King dominated 1957. I bet some of his tones made their way to me in utero, accounting for my affinity for him. Also, this is just a magical movie moment. I think the tragedy of Elvis was how great he could be with the right material, and how seldom he was given the opportunity to rise to occasion. I believe he died as much of ennui as drugs. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)


Sunday, May 17, 2020

What was Michael Douglas doing in Marquette County?

My traveling companion
I had a bad dream Saturday night. It woke me up with a start and left me terrified. And, like many nightmares, it sounds stupid in the retelling.

I Googled the resort my family traveled to every year when I was a kid, just because I was curious about it after all these years. (See Q.5 in Sunday Stealing.) The kitchens and bathrooms have been renovated in the intervening decades, but the cabins and bar/restaurant are all recognizable as the place I hated all those years ago.

In my dream, I was back there! As an adult, not a child or a teen. Apparently as the guest of Michael Douglas. Now why would Michael Douglas be at a tiny, rundown resort in Marquette County, WI? How did Michael and I know one another? If you going to be analytical, we'll never get anywhere in this dream.

You know who else was there? My friend Kathy and her crazy-lady friend. Kathy's friend doesn't -- to my immense relief -- exist in real life. Her friend tricked Kathy into leading her to Michael and me. This friend had a mass of dyed yellow blonde hair, wore flannel shirts and was convinced Michael Douglas would marry her if not for me. (I suspect Crazy Lady was kinda based on Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, only shorter and pudgier and very likely related to the guy on the porch in Deliverance.)

I don't know where Kathy and Michael were, but Crazy Lady was chasing me between the cottages at night. I saw the orangey-red color of the clapboard. I felt the wet sand and stray grass and stones under my bare feet. Crazy Lady said she was going to kill me. I was desperate.

Kathy suddenly appeared and intervened. I woke up with my heart beating through my pajama top.

Come to think of it, I never saw Michael Douglas in my dream.

Dream logic says being chased in a dream tells me I am running from my emotions. OK, I'll buy that. I am a WASP, after all.