Thursday, May 26, 2022

Gov. Abbott should just shut up about Chicago

And here's why: 3 of 5 traceable guns recovered by Chicago police come from other states. Including his beloved Texas.

Yes, my city is awash with guns. I have written about it many times. But using Chicago as an example of why gun laws don't work is ingenuous and, from Abbott, it's ugly.

If we had uniform national gun laws, or if the governors of Indiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Texas behaved responsibly, guns from their states wouldn't be flooding Illinois.

So Tuesday morning, when you hear the grim weekend gun violence stats from Chicago, spend a second to wonder where those guns came from. And ask yourself why Gov. Abbott feels it's tasteless and sick to "use" the death of young Texans for political gain, but he's cool with exploiting our grief.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #259

The 13 most successful movies. I love movies. I love lists. So I love this movie list. It's adjusted for inflation (after all, in 1939, moviegoers paid 25¢ a piece to see Gone with the Wind), and includes income from network TV, DVDs, and streaming services. 

1. Gone with the Wind (1939)

2. Star Wars (1977)

3. The Sound of Music (1965)

4. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

5. Titanic (1997)

6. The Ten Commandments (1956)

7. Jaws (1975)

8. Doctor Zhivago (1965)

9. The Exorcist (1973)

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)

11. Star Wars: Episode VII -- The Force Awakens (2015)

12. 101 Dalmations (1961)

13. Star Wars: Episode V -- The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

This list is as of 2020, so recent blockbusters like The Batman aren't included.

I've seen 9 of these 13. What's your tally?

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.



 

Scary and sad, but not necessarily bad

I just talked to Reg. The sheriff took Henry away in handcuffs this evening, and he has been admitted to the hospital for (I think) 72 hours.

My darling Henry is not violent, but the sheriff (who knew him before the accident) believes that he is so confused he is a danger to himself.

It started with phone calls. Henry misses his friend Connie very much and has been calling her number. The thing of it is, Connie has been dead for six years and her phone number assigned to someone else ... someone who doesn't appreciate these calls. 

Then there have been calls to his former boss at the library. Henry wants to know when, since covid quarantine is over, he can return to work. Miguel reminded Henry that he retired and left the library's employ in April 2021. Henry demanded to know why Miguel was lying,

Finally, he called the sheriff. Henry reported that his father (who is at least 85 years old and lives in Puerto Rico) had broken into the house and was threatening him. It was his husband, Reg, who has every legal right to be there. When the sheriff arrived, Henry insisted that Reg was an imposter. That's when the cuffs came out. In a call from the police station, which the sheriff overheard, Henry kept referring to Reg as his father and demanding he leave. 

When I think of Henry, confused and in the hospital, my heart hurts. On the other hand, he just may finally be where he needs to be. He is desperately in need of care

So I am scared and sad, but also hopeful for the first time in months.



Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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? First Ladies: The Ever-Changing Role from Martha Washington to Melania Trump by Betty Boyd Caroli. I love reading about our First Ladies because I believe you can tell a lot about someone by the partner they choose ... and because they reflect what America expects of women at any given time in history ... and, since the job is so ill-defined, it's cool to see where each woman's imagination and talent take her.

This book satisfies me on all counts. We've had 46 Presidents, and each one has had a hostess at his elbow for public events. The book is about 500 pages, so it can't dive very deep into any of these women. As Caroli says at the outset, she scrimps on some who have received much attention (for example, JBKO -- pictured above reading on the hood of her car -- has 600+ listings on Amazon; Eleanor Roosevelt has her beat with more than 900) to shine a light on those that history and pop culture have overlooked. The book also discusses women like Harriet Lane, who was not married to a President but still presided over the White House.

So far, I am intrigued by the phenomenon of "invalidism" of upper class 19th century American women, as represented by the majority of our First Ladies. Exhaustion, painful limbs, chronic colds ... all kept them from performing public duties -- and the attendant harsh public scrutiny -- for months at a time, and the nation seemed to accept this unblinkingly. (Mary Lincoln, Sarah Polk, and Julia Grant were notable exceptions.) The author wonders if this "invalidism" wasn't the only way these women had to rebel. They couldn't control their lives, or the spotlight their ambitious husbands thrust them into, but they could control their bodies.

Betty Boyd Caroli is an entertaining story teller. If you have an inner nerd, you may enjoy this. I am!

2. What did you just finish reading? The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle. Iris, a school guidance counselor, and Will, an IT wizard, have been happily married for seven years. As the book opens, they agree they are ready to add a child to their family. To celebrate, Will gives Iris a ring from Tiffany's. It's like this is the best their life will ever be.

It is.

Will boards a plane at Hartsfield airport. A plane that left Hartsfield goes down. Was he on it? Who is responsible for the crash? Iris' denial, her refusal to believe her beloved Will is dead, takes her places she wishes she hadn't gone. Did her husband have a secret life? Does it matter?

This book fascinated me. It's not only an engrossing domestic thriller, it's an understated study of our reactions to tragedies and grief. I recommend it.

3. What will you read next? A mystery.


 

 

Monday, May 23, 2022

This weekend I slept

I went to the movies, and needed a nap. I sorted laundry, then curled up for a nap. I went grocery shopping, and then put on my pajamas.

I took a covid test, and it was negative. I took my temperature, and it's normal.

I don't feel refreshed, I feel annoyed. I'm not bored, I think I've got a virus of some sort.

I love this weather. 65º and sunny. I missed it because I slept.

AARGH!



Sunday, May 22, 2022

Upstairs, Downstairs

This week has been all about big households and servants.  It wasn't by design. It just happened this way.

•  I'm a big fan of Downton Abbey and caught the new movie at my local theater yesterday. I wanted to see it before I read or heard too much about it. (I loved it.) Anyway, it shares the parallel points-of-view of the aristocratic Crawley family and their loyal staff.

•  My movie group is discussing Cluny Brown, so I have to finish it before tomorrow's meet up. This 1946 movie is about an English girl (Cluny) whose uncle/guardian is concerned about her tomboyish ways and sends her off to a grand country house. There, as a parlor maid, she will see firsthand how ladies behave. There's romance and mistaken identity and hijinks.

•  Then there's our nation's grand house, the one on Pennsylvania Avenue. I'm reading First Ladies: The Ever Changing Role. Because the role has no job description, each First Lady has handled it in her own way. Whatever else she does, there's one constant: Every First Lady is responsible for managing the White House staff of butlers, maids, cooks, and gardeners.

Was there a theme to your reading and watching this week?

Check out other Sunday Salon participants here.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: River of No Return (1954)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Marilyn Monroe performed this song in the 1954 western, River of No Return. In the movie (and at the beginning of this clip) she wears jeans. The wardrobe mistress bought the jeans off the rack at JC Penney's. Yet because of their connection to Marilyn, they are valuable memorabilia. Designer Tommy Hilfiger bought them for a reported $75,000 and today they hang in the closet of Britney Spears. Do you ever shop at thrift stores or websites for second-hand or vintage clothes?  I like ThredUp. They curate things for me, remembering my sizes and colors. I support Goodwill, but mostly by dropping off my gently used goods, not by shopping.

2) In this song, she sounds melancholy as she recalls a lover who has gone. We hope this morning you're feeling more chipper than Marilyn. In one word, describe your mood. Hopeful.

3) In real life, Marilyn's love life was sailing along. During the filming of this movie, her famous boyfriend, Joe DiMaggio, visited her on location in Canada and they were married by the time the movie was released. Joltin' Joe was of course one of baseball's greats. How is your baseball team doing this season? Well, it's a tale of two cities. You see, the Cubs traded my favorite player to the Yankees. So while I cheer for the Cubs -- because I must -- I now also follow Anthony Rizzo and his New York team. The Cubs are struggling, and while I applaud their few-and-far-between victories, I expect little this season (and next). Now the Yankees have the best record in baseball. This overjoys me because I want Anthony Rizzo, now 32, to have another shot at a World Series ring. 
 
To tie this back to Joltin' Joe ... In 2019, Anthony Rizzo's charity made a $1 million donation to The Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. So as much as I hated that trade, there's a wonderful symmetry to him being a Yankee. 
 
4) It was during her romance with Joe that Marilyn learned to cook. She enjoyed preparing Thanksgiving stuffing from scratch. Do you have a favorite recipe to share? It's very easy, but I did manage to mess up the initial batch during my first try.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons any flavor jelly or fruit preserves

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix peanut butter, sugar egg and vanilla until well blended.  Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Make a few holes/dents into the top of each cookie and fill with the jelly.  Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool. 
 
My dream man
5) Over her lifetime, Marilyn had 43 different addresses. She was always a renter until February 1962, when she bought her final home in Brentwood. If you're a renter, do you ever wish you owned? If you're an owner, do you ever think you'd be happier as a renter? Well, I'm a terrible homeowner. There are so many things I should be doing or should have done in this condo but haven't because I'm not handy, didn't know better, and simply hate this sort of thing. Sometimes I'd sell my soul to have Fred Mertz on call to fix everything. But financially, owning just makes more sense. My monthly mortgage payment (which includes property taxes, paid out of escrow) and assessment is a hair under $1,000. I couldn't rent a comparable apartment in this neighborhood for less than $1,400/month. And there's this: I have equity in the place that I can borrow against if I have health problems in my dotage. So I made the right choice. I just have to get my shit together, make a list of what needs to be done, prioritize it, and either do it my damn self or call the handy man.
 
6) Marilyn tended to her famous alabaster complexion with Nivea, which is still available at drugstores today. What's the last thing you purchased at a drugstore? Was it medication? Food or snacks? Health and beauty? Something else? Here's what I just got at Walgreens: zinc, big bandages for that blister on my foot, a 6-pack of Coke, and a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli for the food pantry. (Kids love that!)
 
7) Her signature scent was Chanel No. 5. What fragrance do you wear most often? The Body Shop Warm Vanilla. Yeah, it's their holiday scent but I wear it all year. The spicy scent makes me happy.

8) The year Marilyn's recording was released, John Travolta was born. What's your favorite John Travolta movie? I'm such a romantic sap.
 
 
 
 
9) Random question: What happened to your first car? (Sold? Traded in? Still in your garage?) It was an old Impala. A big green boat of a car. When I moved out, I gave it back to my parents to dispose of. My mom reported that my first car soon became the first car of the high school student who lived across the street, who painted it neon yellow. Besides my mother's disapproval of his color choice, I think this story has a happy ending.

 

Friday, May 20, 2022

That's why it's called "my money"

There's a very poor man on the corner near my office. He loves cats. The care that he lavishes on these strays touches my heart. I know cats. I can tell they trust him, and that they eat and have fresh water, even when he doesn't. Last month he had a kitten one day but not the next. This made me sad. I didn't ask what happened but that would only make me sadder.

This week, as the bus approached my office building, I saw him again. From the window I could see that he had a cat carrier. I was so happy for him. Before I went into work, I stopped in the CVS store in the lobby and picked up a bag of cat food and then a tuna "lunch to go" pouch for him. Doing this brought me great pleasure. Until I brought it out to him.

He was lovely. Happy to see me and proud of the new kitten. He told me the kitten he had last month ran away when he was visiting his sister "out in the suburbs." I felt better about that. A kitten has better luck on her own with lawns and yards than on city streets. He found this kitten in the garage of his sister's neighbor. He laughed that cats just seem to find him. She seemed trusting and very comfortable in his arms. I was also happy to see her in harness.

When I handed him the cat food and the tuna pouch, I said, "Sorry her lunch bag is bigger than yours."

"Only in America," sniped The Streetwise vendor, also on the corner.  Streetwise is a weekly magazine that low-income or homeless Chicagoans can buy for 90¢/each and then sell for $2. In addition to the magazines, the vendors get training in how to land a job and manage their money. The magazine itself can be interesting, with success stories about former and part-time vendors who are now working as well as general interest about life in Chicago.

I would have purchased an issue from that vendor had he kept his mouth shut. But no, "Only in America." Meaning that there was something wrong with my decision to spend more on the kitten than the man.  

Selfishly I was angry because he rained on my parade. I enjoyed bringing the food to this man. I was happy to hear how he found this kitten and to see the pleasure her company brought him. Maybe you have to be able to love an animal to get this. But this cat helped solidify a very human bond between us, and the Streetwise vendor was judging it disapprovingly. That kinda spoiled the moment.

And then there's this: It's my money. I have been completely self-supporting since I was 19. I have been in advertising, an industry not without stress, for more than 40 years now. I earn my money. It's mine. If I want to go to the Chase ATM on the corner, withdraw a $20 and swallow the bill in front of the Streetwise vendor, I can. 

 


 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #258

Thirteen things to do in Chicago. As the summer travel season approaches, I checked out my home base on Tripadvisor. I wanted to learn what tourists will be doing when they visit, and to see if out-of-towners see a side of Chicago I miss.

1. Millennium Park. A beautiful sea of green grass and trees in an urban setting. Great for outdoor concerts in summer. In winter, it's home to the skating rink and the official city Christmas Tree. Home of The Bean (aka Cloud Gate). I'm here whenever I'm downtown because I work across the street.

2. The Magnificent Mile. This strip of Michigan Avenue is gorgeous, with high-end stores and terrific architecture. It's the face we want to show the world, which makes this like our living room.

3. Garfield Park Conservatory. A world-class indoor garden. Colorful and fragrant and exotic. A great thing to do on a rainy day.

4. The Art Institute. The building itself is a work of art. Seeing those lions out front always makes me happy. Inside ain't too shabby, either. Photography, sculpture, stained glass, American Gothic, Nighthawks, Sunday on la Grande Jatte ... I don't go here anywhere near often enough.

5. Chicago River Walk. It makes me happy to see this growing in popularity. The River isn't as breathtaking as Lake Michigan, but it gives you a more intimate view of the City. It's also a great place to people watch, with its bistros and ice cream parlors and kayak rentals.

6. Wrigley Field. The most beautiful ballpark in the country. Home of the Chicago Cubs. Bricks and ivy and history. Babe Ruth played here. If you don't know that I think this place is spectacular, you don't visit this blog often.

7. Architecture River Cruise. We're back to The River. This tour takes you by all the high hard ones: The Merchandise Mart, The Wrigley Building, Sears (Willis) Tower, Marina City ... All the landmarks I pass by without appreciating them. Shame on me.

8. Museum of Science and Industry. Oh my God. This place is a delight. It's massive and it's got something for everyone. Tour a real submarine, see the world's biggest Lego sculpture, watch chicks hatching, ride down into a coal mine, watch a Charlie Chaplain silent movie ...

9. Willis Tower Skydeck. Formerly known as Sears Tower. I have not been back since the name changed. I am that petty.

10. Navy Pier. The most touristy thing on this list. Worth it for the view of the city from The Ferris Wheel. Lake Michigan always makes my heart swell a bit and the fireworks are gorgeous. Just please, don't go to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. No offense to Jimmy, but it doesn't belong here. If you eat here, have the pizza at Giordano's.

11. Field Museum. Devoted to natural history. Meet Sue, the most largest and most complete T. Rex in the world. She's not the only dinosaur, but damn, she's breathtaking. A lot here about evolution, a lot about conservation. I prefer #8 to this one, but it's a matter of taste and interest. (My Cousin Rose adores this place.)

12. Cultural Center. If you like stained glass, you want to come here. This is the original Chicago Public Library, it's over 100 years old, and it is highlighted by two stained-glass domes. It's free, too! There's always a photo exhibit or a concert or something to entertain you.

13. Lincoln Park Zoo. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And aardvarks and toads and plenty of birds. I've heard good things about the craft brews, too. To be honest, I never go here. There's another nearby zoo -- Brookfield Zoo -- that I prefer. It says a lot that Chicagoland can support two zoos.

How well would you do as a tour guide in your hometown?

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.




Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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? The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle. It opens with Iris and Will in bed, enjoying one another on the morning after their 7th anniversary celebration. They are very romantic, excited by the prospect of a baby, and then he's off to Hartsfield for a flight to Orlando.

Hours later, a flight out of Hartsfield goes down. Iris is fleetingly worried until she hears that plane was headed for Seattle. Hubs was going in a completely different direction. But then the airline calls. Will was on the flight to Seattle. Will is dead.

What? Why did he lie to her? How could he be dead when he was so alive in her bed and in her arms just hours ago?

This can't be true. Except it is.

I am very into this book. I find it shocking and engrossing. I hope Kimberly Belle can maintain this level of excitement.

2. What did you just finish reading? Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson. Savannah Cade is an editor at a small publishing house specializing in highbrow non-fiction. That sounds like a great job, doesn't it? But Savannah comes from a long line of overachievers, and compared to her multi-talented, multi-degreed entrepreneurial kid sister, her life is just kind of "meh."

So it means a great deal that she make a success as a novelist. She's been working on her own book for years and keeps the manuscript tucked in a secret hiding place at the office. One day, as she checks on her "baby," she finds critical notes in the margins. So now the editor has her own editor ... one who prefers to remain secret.

I liked Savannah and so I wanted to like this book, but I didn't. It fact, at times it annoyed me. Her living arrangement -- crashing in the guest room of her ex-boyfriend and his fiancee, who just happens to be her aforementioned kid sister -- would not happen on Planet Earth. Plus, the plot is so OBVIOUS! If you don't have the whole thing figured out within the first 100 pages, I don't think you should be allowed to drink, vote, or drive a car.

3. What will you read next? A biography.


 

 

Money well spent

Anthony Rizzo got his 10th home run tonight. Since I've pledged $5/home run to his foundation, this puts me to $50.

Look how happy he is!

Here's where it goes. Meet Rory. Next week he will ring the bell after his final chemotherapy treatment. Three years ago, at the beginning of his battle with cancer, Rory met his hero at Wrigley Field. Last week, when Rizz was in town vs. The White Sox, he posed with Rory again to celebrate how he "hit cancer out of the park." Rizzo helps these kids' families financially, too. Everything from parking in the hospital lot to meals in the hospital cafeteria to daycare for the family's other children while Mom and Dad are with their young cancer patient for chemo ... none of these costs are covered by insurance and all put a considerable strain on a budget when a family is fighting cancer. And that is what Anthony said he learned when he battled Hodgkin's lymphoma as a teenager: cancer affects the whole family.

Of course I hate it that Rizz was traded. But maybe I'm just being selfish. He's hitting well again with the Yankees, he has a real shot at another ring, and now he's helping kids in New York, too. He's still active with Lurie Children's Hospital here, but now there's a partnership with FAO Schwartz in New York. During special promotions, shoppers are invited to round up at the register, and then come fall, NYC pediatric cancer patients will be given gift cards for a toy-buying shopping spree.

By the way, next time you see that stupid fucking meme on Facebook "Who needs an athlete?", think of Rory. Anthony Rizzo has been there when countless children needed him, and if it wasn't for sports he wouldn't have the opportunity to help on such a grand scale.


PS THANKS, BUD! I can't read enough about my favorite most Cub ballplayer.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Still a proud American, still a devout Christiian

A white supremacist shot up a grocery store in a predominantly black area of Buffalo. It was live-streamed on Twitch. Yet I keep hearing that an 18-year-old has a right to an AR-15 and any attempts to reign in social media are part of the "cancel culture." Never mind that the many of these same people are totally into banning books.

I'm supposed to accept that somehow feeding infants at the U.S.-Mexico border is a terrible thing, responsible for the formula shortage. To believe that, I'd have to ignore that Abbott Labs (a top player) recalled their formula and shut down a Michigan factory months ago, which hasn't yet reopened. But why think like a businesswoman when it's so much easier to blame brown babies? And aren't these the same people who decry socialism at every turn? Isn't it obvious the formula shortage has more to do with unchecked capitalism and monopolies than it does immigration? (While I assume it's fun to spread wacky conspiracy theories online, perhaps it would be more helpful to use your keyboard to let mothers know that our neighbor to the north has no such shortages and Canadian companies can ship to the US. WWG1WGA, right?)

The people who resent immigrant babies getting formula before God-fearing 'Murican babies are, generally speaking, the same ones who wish to mandate that every pregnancy end in birth. That's pretty rich. Not only that, it completely ignores the very troubling religious questions within their anti-abortion stance. I am a Christian woman who personally could never have an abortion. I am also an American woman who is not going to tell those of the Jewish faith whose beliefs may be different that their relationship with God is less than mine. I see the danger of legislating the supremacy of one faith over another. I also want to protect the rights of women who don't believe in a higher power at all. Because that is what a patriotic American woman should do. Of course according to many in the blogosphere, I'm a  libtard who needs to get closer to my faith. (Is that really what the Lord had in mind? To establish a Top 10 of who loves Him best?)

I'm reading a book about the First Ladies and I'm learning a lot (Ida McKinley was a thoroughly unlikable yet fascinating woman; must look for more about her). The cover shows Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump. I have been hearing talk about Hillary and Michelle for years. They aren't feminine, they are too butch, they are lesbians or perhaps transgender. Yet of the three women pictured, only one has been photographed nude nuzzling another nude woman, and she was paid for it. I am not judging Melania Trump for modeling assignments Melania Knauss took. I don't know what went into her long ago choices and I don't care. I am judging the hypocritical, silly people who dismiss her gay-for-pay episode and the fact that she's the third Mrs. Trump (21 years younger than the still-living first Mrs. Donald Trump and 6 years younger than her immediate predecessor) in order to elevate Melania to paragon of Christian womanhood, while proclaiming Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are at the vanguard of the fall of the traditional American family.

This morning I am feeling more like a Christian American woman than ever. My heart and head hurt, but I remain hopeful. I keep reminding myself that I am not helpless. I must work harder to get out the vote this November.


Sunday Stealing

FROM THIS SIDE OF THE POND

1. Where do you get your news these days? The Chicago Sun Times, WGN Morning News, MSNBC

2. Do you like crab meat? What makes you crabby? Yes, I like crab meat. Temperatures over 85º make me crabby.

3. Does freedom mean more choices? Have you ever felt there were too many choices? Elaborate. Yes. Yes. Whenever I make a choice about what book to read, movie to watch, vacation destination to travel to, I fleetingly wonder if I wouldn't be happier rereading, rewatching, or revisiting.

4. Barbara Millicent Roberts was introduced to the world on March 9, 1959...that's Barbie to most of us. Did you have Barbies as a kid, or did you let your own children play with Barbies? What well known Barbara (living or not) would you most like to meet? 

 

My favorite Barbie

My favorite Barbra

5. What are three things you value most in another person? Humor, sensitivity, integrity

6. How would you define “old.”  At what age is a person old? According to the Social Security Administration, I can expect to live to 86 (though something tells me I won't make it that long). Therefore, by my calculations, I moved from middle-aged to old on my 60th birthday.

7. A place you’ve been that’s “old.” Tell us something about your visit there. Abraham Lincoln's home in Springfield. This is the only house he ever owned. I have been here many times since I was a little girl. I love walking the halls where he walked.

That little figure in the Cubbie blue shirt is me

8. Something you miss about the “good old days.”  When were they? 2015-2021, when my guys were still together. They were not only good (World Series!), they had chemistry and were a joy to watch.

 

9. In what way are you a 'chip off the old block'? Or if you'd rather, in what way is your child a 'chip off the old block'? I have my mother's affinity for animals. I have my father's temperament.

10. Old fashioned, Old Testament, old timer, same old same old, old glory, good old boy, old wives tale...choose an 'old' phrase that relates to something in your life or the wider world currently and explain. I love listening to the oldies. Every morning, no matter what is going on with my life, when I reach for the shampoo bottle and sing tunelessly with my shower radio, I am happy.

11. July 5th is National Hawaii Day...have you ever been to Hawaii? Any desire to visit or make a return trip? Pineapple, mango, or guava...what's your pleasure? I've been to Hawaii twice. If it wasn't so far and so expensive, I'd love to go back. It's beautiful! Plus, it's America. Why leave the country for Jamaica or the Bahamas when you can stay in the US of A. And I love pineapple.

12. Last time you were 'thrown in at the deep end'? Explain. Many times throughout my career. We're not big on providing training in advertising.

13. Sun, sea, sand, salt...your favorite when it comes to summer? I like leaving the house in summer. No coat. No socks. Clothes are less complicated.

14. Bury your head in the sand, the sands of time, draw a line in the sand, pound sand, shifting sands...pick one and tell us how the phrase currently relates to your life in some way. Bury your head in the sand -- I'm afraid I do that a lot.

15. On a scale of 1-10 (1 = make your own rules and 10=like a warden), how strict were your parents? If you're a parent where on the scale do you land? I'll give them a 5, because my mom wasn't strict at all and my dad would have been, had be chosen to be more involved.


 

 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Little things mean a lot

I'm unhappy and overwhelmed these days. There's stuff going on at work that annoys me. I'm beyond sick of the ongoing dental drama. And then there's Henry. (See post below.)

So I wasn't expecting a little conversation over a slice of pizza to make me so happy. But it did.

I had a hair appointment at 1:15. At noon, my friend Nancy and her husband Paul met me for lunch at the little fast food place next door to the salon. They told me about seeing Steve Martin and Martin Short in Milwaukee. I told them about the TCM Film Festival. We talked about how Nancy and Paul just discovered Blue Bloods and can't get enough -- even though their kids mock them for it.

Then it was time to go. They had to finish sprucing up their daughter's car (she's returning from an Italian vacation it's their surprise "welcome home" to her) and I had my haircut. As we walked out, Nancy said, "It's been more than a month and like Paul and I say, we miss The Gal when we don't see her."

That little comment melted me. I think about it now, hours later, and I'm literally smiling.

I told her that I appreciated hearing that because I worry about my people skills after two years of staying home during covid. She hugged me and said, "You 'people' just fine."

So here's the moral of my story: If it's positive and you're thinking it, say it. It may seem like a little thing to you, but it might mean a lot to the one who hears it.

Henry loved her

My friend Henry called me Friday night. It's the first time I'd heard from him in weeks. He was in tears.

"I got married today," he said.

"To Reg?" I asked. Henry and Reg have been married since 2017.

"No, to Connie's daughter. She just died. It was her dying wish." Connie died in September 2016. She didn't have a daughter. She had a son.

He was grateful the college was closed "for the corona virus" so he didn't have to miss any classes for the wedding. He has not been a professor for approximately 8 years.

"But you're married to Reg. How is this going to work?"

"I am not married to Reg. I love him, but all we have is a piece of paper. I married Connie's daughter in church today. I wanted you to know."

"Thank you. Is Connie's daughter going to live with you?"

"Yes, she will have her own room. I will make sure she does not do anything stupid. It was Connie's dying wish." He resumed sobbing. He told me he miss Connie very much. She was his "second mother."

I told him that, when I come visit him for his birthday, we will go to the Key West Botanical Forest and say a prayer for her. I reminded him that she told me how much she loved that place.

"She is buried in the Jewish cemetery."

"That doesn't matter," I said, "We can pray for her where she was happy. Won't it be nice to remember her when we are among the birds and the flowers and the trees?"

"Yes. She would like that, I think."

This went on for 40 minutes.

I fear Henry is showing signs of schizophrenia. It sometimes happens after a TBI. Especially to those who feel isolated. Henry certainly has spent too much time in his own thoughts, stewing in white wine, since he lost his job at the library last April. I noticed at Christmastime he no longer could taste food and often expressed feelings of persecution.

Or maybe I don't fear it. Schizophrenia can be treated. Maybe getting such a scary diagnosis will shake Henry's husband Reg out of his inaction and spur him to get HELP -- from the county, from doctors, from Henry's congregation.

Henry is so lonely, trapped in that broken brain. He misses his good friends. Both Connie and Ted are dead and he hasn't replaced them. (It's hard to add to your circle of friends when you're over 50, almost impossible when you have a TBI.)

I selfishly miss my friend Henry, just as he misses Connie. I should spend more time thinking about how awful it must be to live in that funhouse that his brain has become.


 


Friday, May 13, 2022

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Give a Little Love (1988)

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

In memory of Naomi Judd (1946-2022)

1) In this week's song, the Judds tell us they aren't impressed by diamonds or foreign travel. If you had your choice, would you prefer a $1,500 diamond pendant or a $1,500 voucher from United Airlines? The voucher! It would enable my oldest friend and I to take a girlfriends' trip or two. Of course, the more mature thing would be to hock the pendant and put the $900 toward my upcoming dental work. Yet this is a fantasy, so why worry about such mundane matters?

2) In the video for this song, the Judds are shown having fun on the beach. Do you have any trips to the beach planned for the upcoming summer months? No. To be completely honest, I'm not a big fan of the beach. If I end up there, I'll wade in and I'm sure I'll have a good time. But it's not something I seek out.

3) Early in their career, this mother-daughter duo performed in clubs venues around San Francisco, where they called themselves The Hillbilly Women. Have you recently been to a bar or restaurant with live music? No. In fact, I recently avoided being in a restaurant with live music! I was having dinner with friends at an Italian restaurant with great food but chose it because this was Friday and they have music on Thursdays and Sundays.Too loud for conversation

4) They moved to Nashville in 1979 in search of greater success. During the three years it took them to score a record contract, Naomi supported the family as a part-time nurse and occasional model. She enjoyed the flexibility so her schedule could accommodate auditions. Do you like having a pre-planned schedule? Or would you rather keep things loose? On my workdays, I like to know what to expect. In my personal life, I'd rather just let things unfold.

5) Wynona sang the Elvis classic "Burning Love" in 2002 Disney movie Lilo and Stitch. What's the most recent Disney movie you've seen? Good goobies! I truly don't recall! Though I did really enjoy Lilo and Stitch. Even extraterrestrial koala bears love Elvis.
 
 
 
 
6) In 2011, Wynona wrote her first novel, Restless Heart, about a country singer struggling with the price of fame. Have you ever tried your hand at writing fiction? Sure. It's fun. A busman's holiday, as they say. That doesn't mean I'm any good at it.

7) Kid sister Ashley Judd is the only woman in her immediate family to not change her first name. Naomi was born Diana, and Wynona was originally Christina. Do you like your first name? It's fine.
 
8) In 1988, the year this song was popular, Sonny Bono went from entertainer to politician when he was elected Mayor of Palm Springs. Have you met the mayor of your town? Nope.

9) Random question: Were you a member of the Columbia House Record Club? Yes! I loved it when those big packages arrived, filled with 12" LPs.

 



Look who's home!

The Yankees are playing the White Sox Thursday-Sunday. So, in a shocking change of pace, I'm watching White Sox baseball this weekend.

It was Yankee first baseman Anthony Rizzo's first game in Chicago since the Cubs so cruelly ripped him from me traded him. Here he is, warming up before the game, greeted by Cub fans who made the trek.

Earlier in the day, he stopped at the headquarters for his charity and signed autographs that will be sent to kids all over the country who are battling cancer. En route to the ballpark he stopped at his old favorite Italian sub shop.   

 

Today he went to Lurie Children's Hospital and visited the pediatric cancer ward. Cameras followed him everywhere. He is still our local hero. (Though Sox fans did boo him last night. Of course they did. Sox fans hate the Cubs so much that they are blind. You'd think they'd be happy that now that he's gone, he's hitting better than ever. Oh well ... Sox fans.)



Thursday, May 12, 2022

Working through my anger

Reg took Henry to two doctor's appointments this week. First time my friend -- who suffered a severe TBI in 2018 -- has seen a neurologist since 2019. Then Henry was checked by his GP, a nice man Henry trusts but is woefully unequipped to treat a case as complicated as my friend's.

The neurologist asked Henry 20 questions. Things like, what day is it, where do you work, etc. Henry got them all wrong. She found this very disturbing and wonders if Henry hasn't sustained further injury. She prescribed an MRI. Reg found this "disappointing." Apparently he wanted the neurologist to tell, by simply looking at Henry, what is wrong and how to fix it. A magic pill would be nice. She's not acting until she sees the MRI results.

The GP says Henry is not getting enough quality sleep and it makes it even harder for his damaged brain to function. Reg found this "disappointing," as well. Perhaps if Henry was under the care of a specialist trained in mental health  -- like the psychologist this very GP recommended back in 2019 -- instead of giving immunizations and prescribing allergy meds, Reg would get a more satisfactory response.

You're probably wondering what the MRI revealed. I'm wondering that, too. No word. My best guess is that it hasn't been scheduled yet. Henry remains at home, befuddled, drinking white wine and watching reality TV.

I'm furious. We didn't need to be here. This wasn't inevitable. 

Ever since Henry lost his job in April 2021, I have seen this coming. My friend needs structure. He needs to feel valued. He has been unraveling. 

At Christmastime, the last time I spent considerable time with Henry, he was angry and difficult, but he wasn't the wine-soaked zombie he has become. I truly believe that, with care, this could have been mitigated.  

Over the holidays I recommended that Reg involve Henry's minister, who could give him things to do within the congregation. The church has a meals-on-wheels program. Henry could help pack the meals or, if they are going to Spanish speaking homes, travel along for delivery because Spanish is his native tongue. Reg never bothered. He doesn't have time. He has a problem with organized religion. Yeah, whatever. If Reg had enlisted the help of the minister and congregation five months ago, maybe Henry would have more stimulation and his mind would not have devolved like this. At the very least, there would already be someone nearby who understands Henry and can help. 

Their friend Patrick and I double-teamed Reg to make sure they got Obamacare beginning January 1. It's the second week in May! Why did Reg wait until now to get Henry help? And why isn't Henry in therapy, as recommended by the GP?

When Reg talks about this situation, it's always in terms of how hard it is for him. He'll have to take a day off work to take Henry to the MRI. It's so stressful to have a husband who is totally dependent. 

Well, fuckety fuck fuck. Imagine how different life would be today if Henry was in the weekly care of psychologist, a PhD who understands brain injuries and would know the danger signs to look for. If he had a full neurological workup in 2021* -- a year ago! -- his medication likely would have been calibrated to reflect his evolving condition. If Henry spent Saturdays volunteering with his congregation, he'd be having conversations and contributing surrounded by people who understand his special situation.

The decision not to do any of these things was Reg's. And Reg's alone.

I believe with all my heart that when Henry has the MRI, the neurologist will accurately prescribe medication that will make a difference. Psychotropic medications are powerful and can have a real and lasting effect. I am confident I will get my dear friend back. And so I am trying to work through my rage.

Being mad at Reg doesn't help. Reg is Henry's husband. Reg and I should be aligned. We should be focused on Henry, and my temper is a distraction that won't help anything.

But oh, I am so angry right now. So very, very angry.

*I cut Reg slack for 2020. With South Florida hospitals overflowing with covid patients, it's completely understandable why Henry didn't have elective tests.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #257

Thirteen facts things about tooth loss. This is very top of mind for me these days.

1. Statistically speaking, the average 65-year-old will have already lost multiple teeth.

2. More than 36 million Americans don't have any teeth at all, though 90% of these people have dentures.

3. The primary cause of tooth loss is periodontal disease. This is a bacterial infection that destroys first the gum and then the bone. (This is me. I'm so typical!)

4. I didn't start flossing until my 30s. I wish I could get those decades back. Flossing can help prevent periodontal disease. (In my case, I ended up getting multiple crowns when I was in my 30s and guess what: they're all wearing out.)

5. Genetics also play a role. If your parents suffered from receding gums (I'm raising my hand), you're likely to, as well.

7. Tobacco use can add to the plaque build up, which leads to tooth decay and gum disease and tooth loss.

8. So does grinding your teeth. You're putting extra pressure on your gum line, which leads to gum recession and -- you guess it! -- tooth loss.

9. To help you avoid all the expense and discomfort of dealing with tooth loss, try to have your teeth cleaned by the dentist twice a year. This is the best way to make sure all the plaque is removed.

10. Stop thinking of mouthwash as something to keep your breath fresh. Instead, thinking of it as a tool in your tooth-saving arsenal and switch to an anti-bacterial rinse.

11. Eat more tooth-healthy foods. What makes a food "tooth healthy?" If it stimulates saliva, it will help wash away bits of food and bacteria that get trapped in your teeth. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often considered "tooth healthy."

12. Drink tap water. Your municipality likely puts fluoride in the water, and that can help fight decay.

13. Brush after every meal. Carry a toothbrush with you if you're eating away from home. (Yeah, I never did this, either. But then, I'm looking at more than ten thousand dollars in dental work, so ...)



Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

 

 

Me and the Paparazzi

No, no photographer is stalking me with his camera. But I am thinking about them today because of today's WWW.Wednesday post. It's decorated with a shot of JBKO reading on the hood of her jeep. I love this photo, even though it was taken without her knowledge and was undoubtedly an invasion of her privacy.

On July 29, 1989, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis turned 60 years old. Photographers swarmed all over Martha's Vineyard to see how she would celebrate. A lunch with glamorous friends? A dinner at a bistro with family, including her son, the Sexiest Man Alive? Only one had her figured out.* 

Jackie and her companion, Maurice Templesman, took his boat out on Menemsha Pond very early in the morning. He stayed on the boat but she swam in to shore. Assuming the car behind hers was empty, left there by someone else enjoying the water this Saturday morning, she obviously thought she was alone. She removed her bathing cap, peeled down her bathing suit (fortunately her back was to the car, its unseen occupant and his camera!) and toweled off. Then she donned a striped pullover, wrapped her hair in a towel, and climbed onto the hood of her car to read while she waited for Maurice.

A morning swim, a good book, and a man she loved. I'm glad that's how she celebrated her 60th. 

I also wonder if I should know all this.

By 1989, she had been the most famous woman in America for nearly 30 years. Only Princess Diana had surpassed her as a cover girl. She was photographed every time she left her home -- whether the White House, her Fifth Avenue apartment, The Christina, or Red Gate Farm on Martha's Vineyard. Every. Time. As this picture illustrates.

She hated it. She took photographer Ron Galella to court and a judge mandated he had to stay 25 feet away from her. When he violated the court order, Galella lost his right to photograph Jackie or her children ever again. At the time, she was pilloried in the press for imperiously stomping all over The First Amendment. In retrospect, I wonder if, had Princess Diana taken a similar firm stance, she might not be alive today. (BTW, Ron Galella died last month. I wonder if Jackie now has to hide behind trees and pillars in Heaven.)

So I consume paparazzi product, even as I empathize with their targets. I'm conflicted about this.

*I'm not giving his name here. See? I'm ambivalent.