Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tomorrow, tomorrow! I love 'ya, tomorrow!

Soon it begins again: The August Happiness Challenge. Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

I'm in and you're invited to join me. Visit me with a link to your daily August happy, and I'll come read it. I've found that experiencing other peoples' everyday pleasures is a great mood lifter.

It helps if your August Happiness Challenge posts are marked with an icon. Just something that means "happy" to you.
Meet my 2018.


That word

On Monday, Napoleon's dad, Caleb used the word "chemotherapy." So it's true: his wife Randi has pancreatic cancer. She's recovering from chemo at a cancer center in the far west suburbs, where doctors are monitoring something related to her blood. Caleb seemed glad that she was out of The Mayo Clinic and back in Chicagoland. He is grateful for the care she's receiving. He does not talk much about the future.

Napoleon, on the other hand, was gloriously happy. Wide-eyed and lively. Flipping back and forth on the sidewalk, trying to climb into my purse.

He's such a goodwill ambassador! Tourists love him. An Asian woman and her son, speaking in very broken English, came over with their doggie bag from a pizza place very popular with out-of-towners. (I guess they didn't like deep dish.) The mom handed Caleb the pizza and wished him well and her son shyly, gently bonded with Napoleon. It was so sweet.

A rather affluent couple -- obviously cat fans -- had questions for Caleb about Napoleon. I was happy to act as his character reference, talking about how "chill" Napoleon is, and how he's really never had a bad day in his furry little life. I also said that Caleb was one of the best-read people I've ever met, and indicated the books I brought him. Then I moved along. Caleb seemed to be enjoying the positive attention from a new source and I hope it lifted his spirits. (And I sensed the couple might drop a $20 into his cup.)

Thinking of raised spirits ... At the library book sale, I found a practically new copy of Dewey. The spine was still perfect, the dust cover pristine. When I reached for it, one of my fellow volunteers was gleeful. "Oh, good! I put it out on top, hoping someone would take it!" I told her it was going to someone who was both a book lover and a cat lover. Since I'd volunteered to work the sale, I got this lovely copy for free.

I wrapped it in some dog-and-cat wrapping paper I received as part of a fundraising effort from the ASPCA. I attached a rather silly "get well" card I got in a packet of greeting cards from the HSUS. (A cat with a thermometer in its mouth: "You're sick? That's a cat-astrophe!") I slipped a $5 into the card and presented it to Caleb for his wife.

So in all, it cost me $5. But giving Caleb that gift to take to the cancer center made me so happy. Randi once told me she appreciated that I treated her like a woman, not a homeless woman. I bet the other patients have cards and little gifts near their beds. Now she does, too. Just like any other woman would.

Knowing this little family has taught me a lot about life. I just wish I could foresee a happy ending for them. I have read the statistics on pancreatic cancer survival rates. They are not good. So I shall pray for their peace and comfort.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

For me, for Caleb, for the neighborhood

What a haul! I had over an hour to grab any books I wanted from those left behind at the library's two-day book sale. More than 100,000 books were donated,* and there were plenty left over.

For myself, I took the following:

The Reporter Who Knew Too Much. Mark Shaw. Dorothy Kilgallen fascinates me. She was a media titan for a time, with a syndicated newspaper column and weekly appearances on What's My Line? A successful career woman when women typically didn't have careers. She wasn't especially attractive, or witty or charming. But she (must have) worked very hard. Today, she's all but forgotten. I look forward to learning more about her.

Shadows of a Princess. P. D. Jephson. The opposite of Dorothy Kilgallen is the also fascinating but extremely attractive, witty, charming and unforgettable Princess Diana. Jephson was Diana's only private secretary, beginning when she married into the House of Windsor and staying with her for a time after the divorce.

And the Sea will Tell. Vincent Bugliosi. Best known for locking up the Manson family, Bugliosi went on to be a defense attorney. Did Stephanie help her boyfriend Buck do away with another couple? Buck was convicted. Stephanie hired Vincent. We will see.

Alibi in High Heels. Gemma Halliday. It looks like a lighter-than-air bit of mystery/chicklit. And sometimes that's just what's called for.

Silent Night. Robert B. Parker. A Spenser holiday novel. Guess what's going with me to Key West.

For my book-loving friend Caleb, I selected the following:
Being homeless, he doesn't have TV or a computer for streaming media. So he practically eats books. I know he loves mysteries and he told me he wants to get into athlete's memoirs. Here's what I grabbed for him:

Tough Stuff. Sam Huff. I have no idea who Sam Huff is, but he played football in New York and seems like a tough guy.

Sisters in Crime, Volumes 1 and 2. Short mysteries by famous women crime writers, like Grafton, Paretsky and Muller. Might be a good way for him to meet some new authors.

Wish You Were Here. Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. I know these mysteries are crazy popular and that Sneaky Pie is a cat. No cat has been loved more than Caleb loves his Napoleon, so I think this will be a hit.

Memoirs of a Geisha. Arthur Golden. Caleb's original copy was lost before he got to the end. Now he can finish it!

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. Vicki Myron. It's in practically mint condition. I should wrap it and send it with Caleb as a get well gift to his hospitalized wife.

For my neighbors:
The Free Little Library on the next block was nearly empty. So I picked up a couple James Pattersons, because I know those are popular, and a copy of Chris Matthews' Kennedy and Nixon, because I read it last year and liked it and think everyone should learn more about those two.

Sunday opened for us volunteers, but after we were shooed out at noon, non-profits were welcome to grab freebies. Hospitals, daycare centers, senior centers, neighboring libraries, etc. It made me happy to see a line of folks with wagons, waiting to give good homes to the donated books.

*And only 10, 000 were Steig Larsen's The Girl with titles. (OK, I'm exaggerating, but shit there were a lot of those books on the table!)

Sunday Stealing


30. What color is your watch? I have several watches that I wear in rotation. And I'm not wearing one at all right now.

31. What do you think of when you think of Australia?
"Do you come from a land down under, where women glow and men plunder?" The Men at Work song from the 1980s.

32. Ever ridden on a roller coaster?
Yes, but not in years.

33. Birthstone?

34. Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive through?
I don't have a car, so I imagine it would piss people off if I used the drive through.

35. Do you have any friends on facebook that you actually hate?
Hate is a strong word ...

36. Do you have a dog?

37. Last person you talked to on the phone?
The receptionist at my doctor's office.

38. Have you met anyone famous?
Bruce Springsteen kissed me. It's a story I believe I've told more than he has.

39. Any plans today?
I plan on going over to the library book sale. I believe I can take my pick of the books that didn't sell.

40.  Where are you right now? My dining room.

41. Biggest annoyance in your life right now? That Saturday is almost over and I didn't get anything done. Very frustrated with myself right now.

42. Last song listened to?
"New York State of Mind" by Billy Joel.

43. Last movie you saw?
I just watched an oldie, Prince of

Players, starring Richard Burton. A 1955 movie about Edwin Booth, the stage actor whose career was overshadowed by the misdeeds of his brother, the infamous John Wilkes Booth. It was disappointing, but Burton was awesome, alternately playing Shakespeare, playing the lover and playing drunk.. And thought provoking -- up until now I never gave much thought to how many innocent victims there are to any crime. It's just the rest of the cast wasn't as good as the star. 

Movie trivia tidbit: Raymond Massey played both a Booth and a Lincoln. In this film, he'sthe assassin's father. Decades earlier, he won an Oscar nomination for playing Abe.

44. Are you allergic to anything?
Bee sting

45. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
This time of year, I love my Birkenstocks.

46. What time is it? Just after midnight on Sunday morning.

47. Do any of your friends have children?

48. Do you eat healthy?
More than I did five years ago.

49. What do you usually do during the day?

50. Do you hate anyone right now?
Hate is a strong word ...

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Love Is All Around (1970)

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

1) This week's song is the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a sitcom that originally aired from 1970 to 1977. Were you a fan? Yes!

2) The song tells us that Mary Richards can turn the world on with her smile. Yet the real-life Mary Tyler Moore said she was uncomfortable with her "wide mouth." If you could improve on one of your facial features, which would you choose? My chin. Or should I say "chins," since therein lies the problem.
3) We also hear that Mary can "take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile." What do you think makes a day "a nothing day?" Stress. Other people's drama can take a good day and turn it into a nothing day. Wish Mary would show up, smile, and ratchet it back to good day.

4) Mary works in the newsroom at WJM. Her desk is neat as a pin. Are you neat? Or do you lean to the sloppy side? 

That's me on the left.

5) Mary's best friend, Rhoda, worked as a window dresser at Hempel's department store. What department store did you most recently shop at? What did you buy? I bought Bliss moisturizer, a pullover and a Totes umbrella at Kohl's last month. There's a light fixture waiting for me to pick up at Sears.

6) Mary Richards lived in Minneapolis. What city is nearest to where you are right now? 

7) Originally the part of Mary Richards was written as a divorcee, but in 1970, there were no TV shows that centered around a divorced woman. Think about the women in your life. Are most of them married, divorced, single or widowed? I counted off the seven women I see most often: 3 wives, 1 widow, 3 divorcees.
8) The MTM production company logo featured a mewing kitten. The cat was found in a Minneapolis shelter, and, after her sequence was shot, she was adopted by a crew member who named her Mimsie. What's the name of the last cat -- or dog or hamster or rabbit -- that you petted? Reynaldo, my cat. He cannot be petted too often.

9) Random question -- Would you rather have a job that kept you seated on your fanny or standing on your feet? On my butt.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Lost in the crowd

Today at lunchtime I saw Caleb, pushing the grocery cart carrying Napoleon's carrier, litter box, water dish and food. He was on the other side of Michigan Avenue.

I was happy to see him because I wanted to give him $1 and ask about Randi. I figured if he was driving up to Minnesota to visit her at the Mayo Clinic this weekend, I'd pick up a gift card to help him defray gas cost. Or maybe some single-serve cereal packages to eat in the car, since I learned that cereal is among his favorite things.

But while I was waiting for the light so I could cross Michigan, he crossed Lake Street against the light. I called out to him, but with the traffic sounds he couldn't hear me. When I got across the street, he was already up the street and lost in the crowd.

After I ate lunch and stopped at the bank, I looked for Caleb and Napoleon, hoping they had landed on a corner nearby. Then on the way home, I checked their usual haunts but they weren't there.

I wanted to reach out and show my support. His wife is very ill, miles and miles away. He loves her so much and he can't be with her because he's working overnights here. From across the street, his arms looked so scrawny and I'm afraid he's not eating.

He, his wife and that cat are in my prayers. I'm not confident their story will have a happy ending. They have worked so hard to escape poverty and have come close a few times, but something always thwarts them. It's heartbreaking.

As I was saying ...

This week, Anthony Rizzo attended a fundraiser for NVRQT, a charity devoted to "striking out pediatric cancer." Then he spent a few hours at Lurie Children's Hospital. He regularly spends time with kids battling cancer and asks them to sign his jersey, since they are the heroes. Whenever he goes there, he passes the family waiting room he donated. He says he did that because he remembers how hard his own youthful cancer battle was for his mother.

An All-Star first baseman, he lived his dream and pitched in an MLB game. Oh yeah, he also hit .420 for the week and hit the game winning homer on Thursday, in his 1000th major league game.

And it's only Friday.

Anthony Rizzo is simply all that is right with the world.

Monday, July 23, 2018

That's my Rizz

#44 Anthony Rizzo is all that's right with the world.

He began the day visiting pediatric cancer patients. At the hospital where, last year, he gifted a family waiting room.

Then tonight he became the happiest relief pitcher in the history of the game. Watch the clip and see a man's dream come true He's always wanted to pitch in a major league game.  Look at that the joy on that face!

I had been sad. Now I am not. Because of Rizz.

He looked so thin!

I saw Caleb and Napoleon today. The news is sad. They visited Randi over the weekend at the Mayo Clinic. The doctors finally isolated her problem: she has been ill and not getting well because of her pancreas. But I could tell by what Caleb was saying -- and not saying -- that it's very serious. Is it pancreatitis? Pancreatic cancer? I don't know. But he is very worried.

When she is well enough to travel, they are going to relocate to a rehab facility "just outside Chicago." The two towns he mentioned are both 45 mins. to an hour outside of Chicago. That's by car. They don't have a car. I don't know how he can navigate it between her rehab in the burbs and his job in the city, day in/day out.

He looks terribly thin. Obviously he's not eating. Is it lack of funds? Lack of appetite because he's so worried about his wife? Or is his tooth still bothering him? I didn't ask.

Instead I lightened the mood by mentioning the library book sale. I told him I would grab him as many books by his favorite authors as I can. He requested James Rollins, James Patterson (but not Alex Cross), The Girl in the Spider's Web, and athlete's memoirs. He wants to start reading athlete's memoirs.

Napoleon, however, is fine. I lent Caleb my phone and I watched the cat as he called his friend. Napoleon deigned to let me pet him. He's strong and healthy (and bored by me).

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Happy Reminder

Every year I take the August Happiness Challenge. Here's a brief explanation of the Challenge: "Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world."

You're invited to join me. Visit me with a link to your daily August happy, and I'll come read it. I've found that experiencing other peoples' everyday pleasures is a great mood lifter.

It helps if your August Happiness Challenge posts are marked with an icon. Just something that means "happy" to you. Here's a pair of my past happys.


We already have a winner

Next weekend is my village's library book sale. Every year there's a book that my neighbors donate in big numbers. Usually I have to wait until I wander the sale tables to find the winner of this dubious honor. This year, I helped sort the books and found one book that dominated the donations.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Again. Copy after copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! Just like last year!

In 2016, it was The Help.
In 2015, it was The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
In 2014, it was the first appearance of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo
In 2013, it was The DaVinci Code.
In 2012, it was Sixkill by Robert B. Parker (a Spenser mystery).
In 2011, it was The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. 
In 2010, it was Scarlett, the Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. 
In 2009, it was My Life by Bill Clinton.
In 2008, it was The Da Vinci Code.
In 2007, it was The Nanny Diaries.
In 2006, it was The Corrections. 

Apparently local book clubs selected The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in big numbers, but the readers didn't want to keep the book on their shelves for re-reading. Some copies had been on the shelves of other libraries and somehow made their way to us. Any way, there are so many copies, not all of them will find homes next weekend.

In exchange for my service as a volunteer -- first sorting books, then flattening and stacking packing boxes -- I got to choose a book. I went with this one. It's in beautiful condition, and I've always wanted to read it.

Next weekend, after the sale is over, I can return, show my badge, and take whatever didn't sell. Last year I left with Helter Skelter, a book that ended up having a profound impact on me. Let's see what the 2018 haul has in store.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday 9

Gidget (1965)

1) Gidget was a sitcom that ran only one season. Have you ever seen it? I love(d) Gidget. Especially her hair and wardrobe. She was the epitome of 1960s teen chic!

2) Gidget is a high school student who is more interested in surfing and boys than in the books. When you were Gidget's age, was your top priority getting good grades? Or were you more involved in the social side of student life? Social, I suppose. But those years were difficult ones for me, I didn't feel like I was particularly good at anything.

3) Gidget's father was nearly always unflappable when it came to his daughter's high-spirited shenanigans. Who is the coolest, calmest person you know? My friend Joanna springs to mind. She has faced a lot -- divorce, loss of loved ones, bankruptcy, Hurricane Katrina (!) -- and consequently is confident we can each endure whatever comes our way.

4) Gidget spends as much time as she can at the beach, hanging out with her best friend Larue. Fair-skinned Larue doesn't share Gidget's passion for surfing and prefers to stay on the beach blanket, wearing a floppy hat that protects her from the sun. Are you a sun worshipper? Or, like Larue, are you careful about your exposure to the sun? I'm Team Larue. I used to get such painful sunburns that I don't even go swimming at the beach anymore.

Larue (right) has the right idea.
5) Gidget, the quintessential California girl, was created by Freidrich Kohner, an Austrian-born screenwriter. Can you think of another Austrian import? The Von Trapp Family Singers.

Eternally awesome Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trapp

6) Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller wrote this week's Gidget theme. They also wrote the 1960 hit song, "Everybody's Somebody's Fool." When is the last time you felt foolish? Last month, I literally walked into a glass wall. I was high on pain killers (I really shouldn't have gone into the office at all) and ... well ... I missed the doorway. Let's not speak of it again.

7) This is the show that introduced Sally Field. She went on to win two Oscars and four Emmy Awards. When you think of Sally, what role comes to mind? She completely rocked it as Mary Lincoln in Lincoln. I find First Ladies fascinating, and I've read a great deal about Mary. Biographers and filmmakers are not always kind. Sally Field and Steven Spielberg gave her the dignity she deserved.

8) Today Gidget is a grandmother. Sally reports that her grandchildren especially enjoy "sleepovers at Granny's." Where were you the last time you spent the night away from home? Last month, I went to Springfield, IL, with my friend John to see the Lincoln sites. There is an exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum devoted to the Spielberg movie, and Sally's costumes were there. My friend John found Sally's portrayal of the TV teen so memorable that he referred to her Mary Lincoln as "Gidget in a hoop skirt." A funny line, but so unfair!

9) Random question -
- Describe your perfect lazy afternoon. Not having grocery shopping or laundry hanging over my head. Not checking my watch and worrying about missing this doctor's appointment or that hair appointment. Just doing what I want. Watching a good movie, curling up with a good book.


I can do this job!

There are days when I feel like I add value to my client's efforts, when I know I made a unique contribution. Friday was one of those days.

One of our clients, Doug, really cares about his projects. His passion is touching, especially when you realize that his projects depress everyone else. He promotes care for the long-term ill and disabled. The only time I ever use "toilet" as a verb is when I'm working on Doug's projects.

No one wants to works on Doug's projects. I admit that includes me. It reminded me of my uncle's slow decline via Parkinson's Disease. It reminded me that I am alone and 60. It's not a feel-good.

But it's my job. And it's Doug. And Doug deserves my best effort.

Friday I presented his new brochure to him and his assistant, Becky. I dialed up the energy to 11 because I know Doug isn't used to us matching his enthusiasm. I walked him through it, paragraph by paragraph, photo by photo. I explained why it was on brand, how it was emotionally resonant.

Doug and Becky thought I was hitsville. Not only that, this was the first time our new account supervisor, Amanda, saw me in action. She was as impressed as Doug.

And you know what? Right now, I'm feeling pretty good about me, too.

But then there's Joe

Ok, so Friday's Cub game wasn't so good.

And, after the 7-run 4th inning, it was effectively out of reach.

But we Cub fans still had something to root for. Our manager, Joe Maddon. He is genius!

This game went into the record books. Not (just) because the Cubs sucked, but because Joe allowed three position players to pitch. The final outs were made by third baseman Tommy LaStella, first baseman Victor Caratini and right fielder Ian Happ.

Joe saved the arms of his bullpen for more important fighting on Saturday, and he gave 40,000 Cub fans in the stands something to enjoy in a ridiculous game. You can just imagine them elbowing one another and laughing "Shit! Joe's letting LA STELLA pitch? What will Joe do next?

We have the most audacious, entertaining manager in the majors.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

How awful to be her!

In the heat of the 2016 campaign, I accidentally happened upon a Facebook poster who referred to herself as Julia Sugarbaker, the sassiest character on Designing Woman. It would be unfair to Bernie Sanders to refer to her as the typical Sanders supporter, but she was indicative of "the more progressive" wing of the Democratic Party.

OK, the nuts.

She railed against Hillary for being "an American oligarch," for killing people, for the "neurological disorder" that caused her to "short circuit" during interviews.

She hated on Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile for the unfair way the DNC hated on Bernie. She ignored, of course, that she was getting all of her information from Wikileaks and never stopped to wonder why the Sanders campaign wasn't hacked. (Or the equivalency the Sanders' team emails would likely have revealed, since Presidential campaigns are a rough-and-tumble business.) She ignored how bad it was to take off on Brazile, since Bernie had an issue with women in general and women of color, specifically.

Now, of course, she has to deal with knowing that everything she believed, she was fed by Russia. She was manipulated by an enemy greater than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

She used social media to advance Putin's aims. To borrow from the 2016 debates:


How is the lady herself dealing with all this? I mean, if it was me, and I realized how thoroughly I'd been played, I'd feel terrible. I like to think I'd become introspective, and look at how my passion turned to animus and blinded me to what was happening.

But then, I'm not "Julia." She's coping by ignoring. By moving on. By disseminating more misinformation. She gave an "A-fucking-men" to a post discrediting the intel agencies with this: "Because these same intelligence agencies were proven to have attempted to silence Martin Luther King Jr. through coercive force and legal force in an attempt to get him to commit suicide until his eventual assassination."

Um, that's simply false. There was total antipathy between King and the too-powerful J. Edgar Hoover and MLK was the victim of illegal, immoral and unwise wire taps. But "coercive and legal force" designed to "attempt to get him to commit suicide until his eventual assassination?"

Nyet, comrade, nyet.

But keep saying it. Keep posting it, girlfriend. Keep sowing seeds of racial division as you dance  at the end of those merry marionette strings. Let your hate and your conspiracy fever blind you to what you're actually doing.

PS Here's the perfect evidence of how totally "Julia Sugarbaker" ignores context. The character she has chosen as her "spirit animal" -- the original Julia Sugarbaker from the CBS TV show -- is the creation of Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. Linda and her husband, Harry, did the TV spots for Bill Clinton's 1982 gubernatorial campaign and have been close friends of Bill 'n' Hill ever since. They were involved in every Clinton campaign (his and hers, both) and were advisors in the Clinton White House.

You can't expect her to notice a relationship that's lasted 35 years and played out in public. Because it's true and transparent. Obvious. She foolishly prefers to concentrate on swampy conspiracies.

Remind me to wait another two years before I check her feed again!

Dirty books

That's the unholy truth. Books are like money in that that they really retain dirt.

After work I went to the local high school and sorted books for the library's annual book fair. I handled poetry, lots of poetry -- including self published works, poetry in Spanish, and a collection of Keats and Shelley. Scholarly books that I'm pretty sure won't sell, like a study of the intersection of law and medicine and a volume that compares/contrasts existentialists. Bodice-ripping romances set against the backdrop of war (the wars change but the cleavage on the cover remained the same).

When bending and carrying began to bother my knees, I switched to stacking empty boxes. After an hour, I went home. I'll go again over the weekend. After all, it's estimated that 100,000 books will make their way to the sale tables.

Every day that I work, I get "paid" with the paperback of my choice for 25¢.* I didn't see anything that called out to me especially at the biography/memoir table, and I didn't even peek at the mystery section. There's time for that between now and July 27.

*The volunteer coordinator told me with a wink that hardcovers are "negotiable."

Not good

I spent a little time with Napoleon and Caleb today. I wish I had better news to report.

His wife, Randi, is at the Mayo Clinic. She was driven there in an ambulance. Traveling at a regular speed -- without sirens or flashing lights -- it took about 6 hours. She is simply not getting well, not getting stronger. She is cancer free, and the virus that landed her in the ER in the first place is no longer present. Yet septicemia has set in. Why is she so vulnerable to infection? Why isn't she getting stronger?

Caleb says he's not worried, that he's confident that in MN his wife will finally get the care she needs to recover. He is lonely and sad without her. He can drive up on Friday evening and stay with her until Sunday afternoon. Caleb's boss is lending Caleb and Napoleon his "beater" for the drive. I got the impression that they will be spending their nights in the car, but that Napoleon will, without a doubt, be sneaked into the Mayo Clinic. Randi really wants to see "her baby."

I am heartened that the Mayo Clinic is taking the case of a woman who is nearly indigent. She has been ill almost all of 2018. And in March, after her cervical cancer diagnosis and hysterectomy, the surgeon left a sponge inside of her! I am sure that the Mayo Clinic will treat her with greater respect and care. But I worry about how serious her condition must be that her doctors here felt this was the best option.

While we were talking on the street corner, a woman handed Caleb a grocery bag that included individual serving boxes of cereal (his favorite, I learned today) and a pair of popsicles. After she was gone, he asked me if I wanted the popsicles, since he can't have anything that cold. He has a bad tooth.

After lunch, I stopped at Walgreen's and got Caleb a bottle of "oral pain reliever" (liquid benzocaine) and a $20 Visa gift card. I figured he'll need gas money. When I handed it to him, he said that was exactly what he'll be using it for.

Throughout the day, I sent prayers Randi's way. I did not pray for God to make her healthy and whole. Instead, my heart told me to ask that she be comfortable and peaceful. She has been through so much this year! Cough, fever, infection, cancer, surgery and now more surgery ... I pray that she finds relief from pain and stress and fear.

And, of course, I pray for her guys -- Napoleon and Caleb -- who love her so.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


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? Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles 1964 Tour by Larry Kane. Larry was 21, just out of college, and working in the news department of a Miami radio station. He was a broadcast journalist, not a disc jockey. (In other words, he wanted to be Walter Cronkite, not Dick Clark.) That's why he was lukewarm, at best, about being assigned to the Beatles beat in 1964. He was sure they were a frivolous phenomenon, a flash in the pan, and this wasn't the hard news story he wanted to cover.

Of course, the Beatles changed the world. And being on that tour was a career-making opportunity for Kane.

His non-fan, reporter's perspective gives his tale a tone different than you generally get from Beatles' books. He writes about the entire scene -- the fans, the other journalists, the Beatles' entourage, the local police -- and not just about John, Paul, George and Ringo.

On a personal note, I received this book as a gift from my mom back in 2010. She was so excited for me to read it, but died before I got to it. Thank you, Mommy. I'm enjoying it.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  
Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn. Our narrator is Chet the Jet, a big dog who likes to leap. He works with Bernie Little, a workaday PI. As he likes to say, "Bernie and me, we work cases."

Chet is a good boy with a big heart. He loves smells, he loves to eat (often, but not always, food), he loves balls (but not basketballs), and he loves Bernie (always the smartest person in the room).

But was this a good mystery? It was OK. Having Chet as narrator is a gimmick. An entertaining and most charming gimmick, to be sure, but this book is not about the plot. Thereby Hangs a Tail is #2 of a series. If I happen upon another Chet-and-Bernie, I'll read it. But I won't be seeking this series out.

3.  What will you read next?  
Maybe another biography? Or a mystery. My TBR pile is stacked dauntingly high with both.