Monday, April 06, 2020

Tuesday 4

About Work

1. Describe the best job you ever had and why was it good? (If it was awful, tell us about that instead.) I had my best job between 1996 and 2002. It was great because that advertising agency was run by a great man. It was a real privilege to know and work for him. He demanded good work from us and I was inspired to do my best because of his example. He was a man of integrity and compassion who put The Golden Rule into practice. He died almost a year ago, and this is what I wrote when I heard the news.

2.  How did you learn to do your job?
I'm a writer, and words have always come easily to me. But I've also been lucky to have some very good teachers. One boss, Ed, taught me that writers have to be concerned with formats and layouts, too, and work closely with our art directors if we are to get the message across. Another boss, Barb, taught me how to balance art and commerce. I'm not paid to serve my muse; I'm supposed to serve my client.

3. You are now in charge of your town's public relations committee ... Tell us why we need to move to your town.
We work hard making everyone feel included and welcome. The following sign appears all over town (though not all lawns look this good).

It's lunch time! Build your perfect sandwich for us ... What's in it and on it and what's in our cups? How about ham on wheat? With mayo, lettuce and pickle slices or relish. Potato chips on the side. I'll have ice water or a Coke with my sandwich.

Troubling times in Camelot

Two sad news stories caught my eye this past week.

Maeve McKean and her son, Gideon, were lost in Chesapeake Bay. Maeve was the daughter of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the oldest child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy. Gideon was her 8-year-old son. Because of the pandemic, the Kennedys can't mourn together. Because they're Kennedys, they can't mourn privately anyway. Friends and neighbors have hung home made cards on the trees outside the family home, and the Kennedy clan held an online prayer service in memory of mother and son.

Maeve's mother, Kathleen, is a favorite of mine. She was the first grandchild of Joe and Rose Kennedy, yet no one expected her to to go into the family business because, well, she's a girl and girls born in 1951 didn't get to have political careers. Kathleen showed 'em. In 1994, she ran on the ticket with Parris Glendenning and was Lt. Governor of Maryland for 8 years.

Kathleen -- born on the 4th of July -- actually knew her Uncle Jack and father (who lovingly nicknamed her "Clean Kathleen" because she was such a good girl). She was 12 when President Kennedy was assassinated, and just shy of her 17th birthday when she lost her father. She has worked her entire adult life to be a credit to their memories. Today, she's on the faculty of Georgetown University and a member of the Points of Light Foundation (started by President George H. W. Bush). And, because she's a good Kennedy, she's a fundraiser for the Democratic party.

Clean Kathleen has been married more than 45 years to her first and only husband. I hope they are a comfort to one another at this awful time.

Photographer Peter Beard is missing. He loved Kenya and became well respected for his photos of elephants and big cats. In 1969, his work was championed by JBKO, who invited him to Skorpios. He babysat John Jr. and mentored Caroline in photography. He also had an extra-marital affair with her sister, Lee, which reportedly ended badly. But he and Jackie remained friends until her death.

Some of the Jackie O glitter rubbed off. With his good looks and talent, he became a member of the jet set, hanging around with Andy Warhol, Truman Capote and Mick and Bianca. He was married to model Cheryl Tiegs.

He was more than just handsome and glamorous. Karen Blixen and Salvador Dali were as enamored of his work as Jackie had been.

Now 82 and suffering from dementia, he disappeared last Tuesday from his Montauk home. K-9 units and drones have searched for him, but so far, no luck.

I have hopes that this survivor of the wilds of both Africa and Studio 54 is still all right somewhere. After all, Peter Beard was once gored by an elephant and lived to joke about it.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Sunday Stealing

Gratitude Journal

1. Name a highlight of your day I changed my bed linens Saturday night. I took a moment to enjoy how good it felt to slip between fresh sheets.

2. What made you smile today? I discovered a silly little movie from 1942. The Affairs of Martha is about a maid in a small, upscale New England town who writes a book about what her employers are really like at home. Naturally it causes a scandal and hijinks ensue. Imagine a screwball version of The Help with no racial overtones or danger, where everyone lives happily ever after.
3. What made you laugh today? The "Where's Mayor Lightfoot" memes. People with too much time on their hands can be very creative!

4. Recall a time when you needed encouragement. At the beginning of last week, I felt disconnected and low. I reached out to my friend Patrick, and a coworker just happened to call me. These interactions made me feel much better.

5. What is a luxury you are thankful for I'm getting paid. I realize that many people are experiencing financial insecurity these days, and right now, I'm fine. Maybe not next month, but I managed to stick to my regular budget and pay all my end-of-the-month bills.

6. Favorite childhood memory Here's the first one that comes to mind: When I was about six years old, we had an unseasonably pleasant Easter. My uncle hid my Easter present somewhere in his car -- an exceptionally cool blue Mustang convertible. He drove us around the block with the top down until I found the Easter present he'd hidden for me. (It was a book under the floor mat.)

7. Favorite song–and why? This one always makes me happy, no matter what. Ba-de-ah!


8. Where is your favorite place? Why? As soon as I finish this, I'm crawling back between those clean sheets (see #1). That's one of the benefits of this covid-19 crisis -- I can't go anywhere so I can nap whenever I feel like it.

9. What is your favorite scent Cinammon

10. What is your favorite topic to talk about? Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs' first baseman is a hero, taking care of hospital workers while supporting local restaurants during this crisis.


11. What do you like doing so much that you lose track of time? Farting around on the internet

12. If you had 5 minutes and the whole world was forced to listen, what would you say? This crisis didn't have to unfold so badly. In February, when the World Health Organization was warning of a pandemic, our President was saying, "It's going to disappear. One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear." Imagine how much better off our states would be if he had listened to those around him and mobilized manufacturing a month ago. Remember this when you vote.

13. Whose life do you envy the most, and why? I try not to look at life this way. But OK, for the sake of the meme, I'll say Jennifer Aniston. She's pretty, talented, and she's a doting dog mom ... all in a house that's worth $21 million.

14. What would you different with your education if you got a chance to start over? I'd take it all more seriously.

15. What would you do with your life if you had no fear? I'd pursue love relationships.


Saturday, April 04, 2020

I saw her twice today

There's a stray cat hanging around my condo building. First I saw her disappear under a car in the neighbor's driveway. She moved so fast, I thought I'd imagined her. Then, when I went downstairs to get the mail,  I saw her on our porch. I was trying to figure out how I could get her up here and keep her segregated from Connie and Reynaldo -- social distancing is the order of the day for cats, too -- when the clanging of our elevator spooked her and she ran away.

I didn't chase her. Even if I did catch her, I didn't see how I could keep her comfortable and safe until I could get her to the vet on Monday. (If the vet would even be open on Monday.) Reynaldo is 16 years old. That's the equivalent of an 80 year old person. Now he still leaps and runs around and I believe that, except for his history of kidney trouble, he's healthy. But he's my responsibility and I have to be careful what/who he's exposed to.

Similarly, I have to protect Connie. She's 7 (or about 45 in human years) but she's had myriad health troubles. She has a chronic upper respiratory infection that manifests itself in runny, light-sensitive eyes. Her eyes are bright now but it's taken vigilance to get her healthy and keep her healthy. Plus, she's been exposed to FIP, a form of (wait for it) feline coronavirus. The vet advises me that she can live a normal life, until the opportunistic virus turns a simple malady, like a cold, into something fatal.

I made eye contact with the cat on my porch. I know I could care for her and come to love her. But I can't right now.

At least it won't be too cold tonight.

She looked very clean and healthy. Maybe she belongs to some unwise owner who let her roam and by now she's found her way home.

Because I can't save them all. I want to, but I can't.

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Could've Been (1987)

1) This wistful song is about a love affair that ended. What song reminds you of a long-ago love? "Shameless" by Garth Brooks.

2) It was written by Lois Blaisch, a singer-songwriter who performs at clubs around Los Angeles and has sung outdoors at Disneyland. Would you prefer to attend a concert indoors, or outside under the stars? Indoors. I'm not a fan of hot weather, and these events tend to take place in the dog days of summer.

3) This week's featured artist, Tiffany, appeared on the TV talent show Star Search when she was just 14. She came in second. Though she was disappointed, she admits she learned from it. She studied the singer who won and says it made her a better performer. Can you recall a time when you weathered a tough time and came through stronger? In 2011, I had a cancer scare and a hysterectomy. The ovarian cyst turned out to be blissfully benign. But the summer/fall of tests, surgery and recovery was a tremendous learning experience for me. I learned about my own body, about how I face adversity, and the luxury of trusting and leaning on my friends.

4) Early in her career, she toured Alaska, opening for country legend George Jones. Have you ever visited our 49th state?  No. It's a 6 1/2 hour flight. There are so many places that are nearer that I'd rather see or return to.

5) Tiffany provided the voice of Judy Jetson in 1990's Jetsons: The Movie. Which cartoon did you enjoy more: the space-age Jetsons or the pre-historic Flintstones? Ya-ba-dab-a-doo! I think it's the car.

6) In 2007, she appeared on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and lost 28 lbs. Are you making an effort to stay fit during this stay-at-home period? Every now and again I take a stab at it. For example, on Friday evening I went to the farther away grocery store and carried my bags home, instead of taking an Uber. Yes, a long walk up an empty street to the grocery store was the highlight of my Friday. Maybe my whole weekend!

7) In 1987, when this song was popular, Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What's your favorite Aretha song? Last night, this one was piped into the grocery store and I sang along, so I'll go with it.

8) Also in 1987, third-generation race car driver Marco Andretti was born. Are you a race fan? Nope

9) Random question: Do you find it easy to sit still, or are you fidgety? Fidgety.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Ah, the good old days!

After Hurricane Katrina, President Bush #43 asked his dad, Bush #41, and Bill Clinton to help him mobilize Americans. Together, these two men raised $110 million.

Today, we have four living former Presidents: Carter, Bush, Clinton and Obama.

•  The Carter Center has initiated a program to promote mental health and wellness during the Covid-19 crisis.

•  George W. Bush has made public statements in support of Drs. Birx and Fauci to strengthen the public's confidence in Trump's task force.

•  The Clinton Foundation is making resources available for parents, caregivers and kids who are sheltering in place.

•  Barack Obama's MBK (My Brother's Keeper) organization is concentrating its efforts on underserved communities in this crisis.

All of this is laudable, of course.

But I wonder how much more effective these men -- and their very formidable wives! -- would be if  they joined with Donald Trump. Of course, Donald Trump has never expressed anything but contempt for these men. And let's not forget that he blames his own anemic response to the pandemic on Obama and has threatened to prosecute Hillary Clinton.

I cannot wait for this nightmare Presidency to be over!

That was weird

It's no secret that I don't like Donald Trump. I resent how he panders and pimps my Christian faith to hoodwink his base. Then there's his incompetence. Imagine how different our lives would be today if he had bothered to take this virus seriously back in February.

But I'm not Kathy. My friend has gone around the bend when it comes to our President. She has been too isolated from her grandkids and has been listening to too much progressive radio. She can barely see reality in her rear view mirror.

She suspects that letting people die of the virus, all around the world, is a plot that Trump and Putin cooked up together.

She's convinced that he is going to use the crisis to "cancel" the November election and just declare himself President for another term.

She says she's "surrounded" by Trump supporters.

I told her to take off the tinfoil hat. Her son and one of her adult grandchildren may be Trumpers, but that shouldn't give her a skewed view of life in one the country's bluest states. HRC beat Trump in Illinois, 56% to 39%.

"Have you ever seen anyone wearing a MAGA hat in real life?" I asked her.


"How often do you see Obama shirts?"

"I saw one on the bike trail yesterday," she laughed. "And I still wear mine."

This seemed to make her feel better.

I advised her to quit listening to talk radio and instead listen to music. She got all dramatic and told me that it's her "responsibility as a mother and a grandmother" to know what Trump is up to. I reminded her that Gov. Pritzker has a greater impact on her kids' and grandkids' lives right now. She sounded skeptical.

I know we're each doing the best we can during this pandemic. I understand that sheltering in place can have a great and negative impact on us from time to time. But instead of exhilarating me -- as  calls from friends have done during this period of crisis -- she left me exhausted.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Corona virus and charity

Every year at this time I make a contribution to a charity in memory of my friend's dad. She and her sister loved him dearly and miss him still. I met him a handful of times and found him very impressive -- tall, warm and funny. This year I chose The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. The connection between their good works right now and Dad is clear. Dad grew up in New York, raised his family in Chicago and retired to Florida. The Foundation is providing hot meals to health care workers at hospitals in both Chicago and Florida, and the hospital in Florida is named for Joe DiMaggio (the ideal representative of NY).

Then there's The Night Ministry. They are devoted to tending to the homeless during this crisis. I gave to them because I know some of Chicago's homeless. I worry about them and their pets, all huddled together in tents or under blankets. I worry about how vulnerable and compromised they were even before this crisis.

These contributions were incremental. I've learned over the years that, in times of crisis, it's important to continue to support the charities you contribute to in good times. Otherwise they will suffer in the crisis, too, and won't be able to provide the services that made you love them in the first place.

So I felt conflicted today when I received an email from the head of the prison ministry. He offered to make it easy for us to contribute to our pen pal's individual commissary account so he can buy antibacterial soap, wipes and masks.

I've received two letters now from my pen pal, Darius. They are touching in that he seems so grateful for attention from someone on the outside. He appreciates that, when I write to him, I use notecards instead of letters from my computer because he enjoys seeing the pictures and the colors and my penmanship. I've learned that he takes every opportunity he can to go out "into the yard" -- even in the rain -- because he's desperate for fresh air. He is curious about me, and bets that I was a supporter of Elizabeth Warren's and can't wait to hear if he's right.

I will continue to pray for him, to write to him, to share tidbits about my life and faith and ask him about his. But I'm afraid right now, when it comes to contributing to his commissary account, my wallet will stay in my purse. Because the unvarnished fact is that Darius murdered two people.

I don't want him to get the virus, and I understand that the very nature of prison means that he is at  greater risk for exposure because so many people live in such close proximity. I wish this man, this fellow human being, wasn't at risk. And if I were a millionaire, I'd help him, too.

But I'm not a millionaire. I'm just me. My priorities are the innocent and the vulnerable (The Night Ministry) and heroes on the front lines (The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation). I also want to continue supporting local businesses as best I can. So Darius is going to get my attention and my prayers, but not my cash.

I am peaceful with this decision. I know that God understands.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tuesday 4

This week, let's talk about  home.

1. Do you like the way your home is decorated, or would you tweak things a bit if budget allowed? Oh, I'd tweak! Boy, oh, boy would I tweak! I need new windows. I want to replace the carpeting with hardwood floors.

2.. Do you have any plans/dreams to change anything about your home? Well, see #1. Beyond that, sometimes I think I'd like to move to a new space and start over. Maybe rent next time. Then if something goes wrong, I can just ask Fred Mertz to come over and fix it.


3. What style of furniture do you have or want  to have in your home and why? Lately I have been thinking that a rocking chair would be nice. One with a cherry wood finish. I like cherry and blond wood, not heavy, dark pieces.

4. Tell us about your ideal dream house or dream kitchen if you prefer. I really don't cook very much, so I don't fantasize about my dream kitchen. My dream apartment, though, would have exposed brick. I'd love a counter separating the kitchen and dining room. A patio would be nice. I don't want to live on a low floor. I haven't been on ground level for decades. I think seeing people walking by would creep me out. I like looking out the window and seeing treetops and rooftops.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday Stealing

1. If there's a personal god, what quality would you most like that person to have (and why)? There is a God, and He loves me, no matter what. I find that most comforting.

2. What's your death-row meal? A steak, and a baked potato with lots of butter. Flaky biscuits on the side. Chocolate cake for dessert. All the Coke I can take. A meal this heavy, this sugary, would leave my logy, but what difference would that make under the circumstances.

3. Assuming we make it through this outbreak with minimal loss of life, what do you think our big takeaway should be? I cannot express how appalled I am by the Trump Administration. "One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear." That was our President last month. Scientists knew. Doctors knew. He just wouldn't listen. He wasted a month. He picks spats with governors on Twitter, calls news outlets "Concast," and people continue to get sick and die. Remember this when you vote.

4. What do you find yourself missing more than you would've predicted? My coffee shop brunches. In a booth, with my book. Leisurely enjoying a breakfast someone else made and will clean up after. Such a simple little luxury I give myself each weekend.

5. What brings you the most joy? Not happiness, not contentment -- JOY.  When friends reach out and connect. This week I've gotten calls from John, Patrick, and Kathy, and a long, chatty email from my oldest friend. Joy!

6. Do you find yourself regretting anything you've said or done on social media? Sure. I've engaged with crazy strangers I should have just ignored.

7. What are your favorite and least favorite things about your body and face? I like my green eyes. I dislike my long lost waistline.

8. and your life? I dislike my lack of discipline. I like the company and affection these two provide.
9. How's the self-isolation affecting your libido? Bwah ha ha!

10. Which three places in the physical universe would you most like to visit? I want to go back. I want to revisit vacation spots I haven't had the time or money to return to. Boston, Washington DC, Hot Springs, Colonial Williamsburg, Atlanta all spring to mine. I'll take any three.

11. On whom did you have a crush years ago? Have you ever told them? If only he knew, our lives would be different. (You'd have to call me Lady Gal.)
12. How have your religious views changed since you were in high school? I am more comfortable and peaceful in my relationship with God now. When I was in high school, I was a member of a very conventional congregation that made me feel guilty for questioning how faith fits into daily life. They just didn't get that questioning dogma is not the same as questioning God. I changed religious affiliations and found a spiritual home.

13. If you could change one law, what would it be? I would abolish the death penalty.

14. If you could add one commandment to the original ten, what would it be? I'm good with the 10.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The best $15 I've spent in a while

Today I ordered lunch from my favorite coffee shop. I had the chicken salad sandwich on a croissant, with a side of fries. It came to just under $13, but I gave her $15 and told her to keep the change. Last weekend, when I ordered breakfast to go, the owner was there ... and two waitresses ... and the cook in the back. Today, I believe the cook was there alone.

Last year, when it was announced that our main street was going to be torn up during the summer of 2020, the coffee shop owner bemoaned the impact that would have on her business. Now she's going into summer after spending weeks with her dining room closed.

She works hard to run a good business. The food is made from scratch and sourced locally. Her waitstaff doesn't turn over, so she must take good care of them. I'm happy to support them.

Then there's the pizza place. It's kitty-corner from the coffee shop. I have to remember to order from them this week, too. Their food is fine, not as good as the coffee shop's. But they sponsor a little league team and I've seen the owner pay a homeless man to squeegee down the front door. I'm not forgetting that he gave me a "hero's discount" on my pizza for saving a kitten from under a nearby car. It's my turn to do something for him. I'll order a sandwich from them during the week.

These businesses are the heartbeat of my neighborhood. We're all in this together.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Everybody's Somebody's Fool (1960)

1) Next Wednesday is April Fool's Day. Do you have any pranks planned? Do you expect to fall victim to any April Fool's Day mischief? I'll still be in lock down next Wednesday. Sheltering at home doesn't give me many opportunities to prank.

2) When she was a kid, Crazy Sam would fool her mom by putting bubble wrap under the bath map so there would be a POP! when her mother stepped on it. When you encounter bubble wrap, do you always indulge in a pop or two? Always!

3) While we're using this song to celebrate April Fool's Day, it was written about another subject entirely: heartbreak. The lyrics tell us that at some point, we each get our hearts broken by someone who doesn't love us as much as we love them. Do you think that's true? Yes. I've been in love, and I've been loved, and unfortunately the men I've loved and the ones who loved me haven't been the same men.

4) In 1962, this week's featured Connie Francis published a book aimed at teens called For Every Young Heart. It addressed topics like going steady and schoolwork vs. social life. Do you ever read advice columns or self-help books? When I flip through the newspaper I always check the advice column. I don't know why. The problems never have anything to do with my life. Schadenfreude, I guess.

5) Connie Francis can play the accordion. Sam has never met anyone adept at this complicated instrument -- not even in her high school band. What about you? Do you play the accordion, or do you know anyone who can? No. Nor do I know anyone who would want to.

6) In 1960, when this record was popular, Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird was published. Have you read it? Had to in high school. It really rocked my world. Ah, Atticus Finch! What a hero!

7) Also in 1960, one of Life magazine's best-selling issues had Sophia Loren on the cover. At that time, she was an international film star and considered one of the world's most beautiful women. Who do you consider one of 2020's most beautiful women?  

Reese Witherspoon is the first one that comes to mind. Her features aren't perfect, but she is an accessible, friendly kinda beautiful.

8) A 1960 issue of Vogue acknowledged how expensive it had become to maintain a fashionable wardrobe and asked, "If you were to buy only one thing, what would it be?" If it's good enough for Vogue, it's good enough for Saturday 9: If you could purchase only one new article of clothing for spring 2020, what would you buy? I'm trying not to buy anything for spring/summer. I'm economizing. I'll need a whole new outfit for my niece's wedding this fall.

9) Random question: When someone makes you really angry, are you more likely to respond with stony silence or a big noise? Since I'm so naturally blabby, I find the stony silence is more effective. I think the contrast scares people.


That was thoughtful!

My friend John and I are keeping in contact during this crisis. We text (his preference) and talk on the phone (mine). He sent me a message that, at first, seemed random, but once I took a moment to think, it was meaningful.

"Glad I have those That Girl and Brideshead Revisited DVDs."

Over the decades and decades of our friendship, I gave him those DVDs. How sweet of him to remember, and to mention it.

About me: My throat is still scratchy, third day in a row. But I have no more than the occasional cough and my temperature is 98.6º. So I think I'm just stressing about this (like everyone else!).

Thursday, March 26, 2020

I vacuumed and did my homework

Last weekend, my shrink gave me an assignment: she wanted me to express what I felt my "next chapter" was going to look like. I don't know why, really. She mentioned it at the very end of our hour and I didn't have much chance to question why she thought this was important. 

Anyway, she's the doctor, so today I did it. It took about two hours for me to explore where I think my life will go after this job ends. This was the first long document I've done in Apple's Pages word processing program, so that was interesting.

I tapped into a conference call -- this time without alerting the authorities. And I vacuumed. Second time this week! One of my coworkers called to touch base. And now I'm going to take nap.

That's the deal I've made with myself. I have to be productive before I get to nap. Yesterday I slipped, but today I was on it.

My temperature is 98.3º.

I'm sure Thom Harmann is a nice and wise man

... but I'm not listening to him. At least not these days.

My friend Kathy doesn't have cable, so she's taken to listening to progressive radio. She pays close attention to Stephanie Miller and especially Thom Hartmann, believing they're sharing important information that the major networks miss. I don't know how she could know that, since she doesn't get CNN or MSNBC, but that's not the point. She sincerely believes that Thom Harmann's show would engage me and she wanted to share. I appreciate that.

But I've declined. I have severely restricted my news intake during this pandemic. I listen to Gov. Pritzker, read the Sun Times, watch the local news and the first hour of The Today Show. For an avowed news junkie who has cable news on from the moment I open my eyes, this is quite a switch. But I find it's the best way to stay sane.

I can't bear the minute-by-minute stock market updates and Trump tweets. My local and state governments have a greater impact on my day-to-day life than Washington, and The Today Show keeps me updated on what Dr. Fauci says. When this is over, I'll go back to following the 2020 race to the White House.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Even in 2020, baseball is perfect for 8mm

The narrator is Chicago's own Bill Kurtis, and that line about "sunshine, fresh air and the team behind us" is a quote from Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks.

I love it, love it, love it.

Working from Home: Day 7

Still no work to do. Our client (who is on the verge of canning us anyway) has let us know that they are hesitant to pursue acquisition efforts at this time, lest they appear opportunistic. Also, under normal circumstances, they would be spending most of their advertising dollars on March Madness, and this year there is no basketball tournament. So ...

I'm watching The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967) through the prism of my workplace. That Al Capone was a really bad boss! So unreasonable! Bugs Moran was no bargain, either. He'd spend a lot of time in HR because of all the pejoratives he uses for his Italian-American competitors.

It's a lurid, violent movie but highly watchable. Part of my enjoyment comes from hearing the narration of Paul Frees. I know his voice so well from cartoons.

I've been napping alot these days -- depression, boredom -- and am angry at myself for the time wasted. So I took on two little projects: I disposed of all the pens that had gone dry and sorted the basket of OTC medications on the kitchen counter.

My throat is scratchy today, and that's making me paranoid. I took my temperature again. 97.4º.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Talking to Patrick

Spent over an hour on the phone with Patrick, who is currently living with Reg and Henry in Key West. Times are tough down there now. Henry is overly concerned about the corona virus -- paranoia is not uncommon in patients with a TBI* -- and it's made him a thorn in the side of his coworkers at the library. His boss sent him home. Henry told me it's because he's at special risk for the virus (he's not), but in reality it's because during these days when everyone is on edge, Henry is simply too disruptive an influence at work.

Patrick wanted to bring me up to date about this. Having come to this situation through Henry, I was able to give him some context about Henry's behavior before the accident. Patrick has been Reg's friend since high school, so he was able to give me some insights I didn't have before. 

Then we started talking about ourselves. One another. Away from/apart from Henry and Reg. How we felt about the virus. How our lives are going. Patrick is a year older than I am, so we talked about how scared we about our retirements as a result of the hit the economy is taking. 

It was nice to share this way.

The good that came from Henry's accident is that Patrick and I are now friends. A girl can't have too many friends!

When I hung up the phone, I was happier than I'd been all day.

*He can't help this. He is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury. If you read the section on "Behavioral Impairments," you'll get an overview of my Henry.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

She always made strength appear feminine

My all-time idol, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, may be a fashion icon, but to me, she's a symbol of steel and independence.  She faced adversity and scrutiny and kept going. She lived her life on her own terms and maintained her personal integrity. Others are drawn to her story for the glamor, I look to it for inspiration.

She was certainly feminine but she was never delicate. In his 2012 memoir, Mrs. Kennedy and Me, her Secret Service agent Clint Hill remembers a First Lady who was a jock. She rode horses, cycled, swam, and played tennis ... and he had a hard time keeping up with her.

She was like that throughout her life. These pix of young Jackie Bouvier -- often in action, regularly with muddy and scraped knees -- make me smile.

You go, Girl!

Wisdom from our favorite son

This is the walkway between the now shuttered Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library. Take strength from Mr. Lincoln!

Sunday Stealing


1. Has the COVID-19 affected your work environment? We no longer have a work environment. All of our offices are closed and we're all "working from home." Only I haven't heard of any real work that's been done ... yet. Just meetings. Maybe, as we along with our clients and contractors get more accustomed to wfh, we'll become more productive.

2. How are you feeling about the Coronavirus? Scared

3. Has anybody you know been tested/have you?  No

4. Do you have any friends stuck in any exotic locations? No

5. Have you changed any of your personal habits due to the pandemic? I sleep a lot more. Whenever I feel like a nap, I take one. I mean, why not?

6. What is the craziest thing you've seen or heard about the outbreak? This national toilet paper obsession.

7. Do you think our politicians are doing enough to curb the crisis? Nationally, no. Donald Trump first commented -- dismissively -- about the virus when he was in Davos in January. If only we could get those months back!

On the other hand, I've been impressed and comforted by our Gov. Pritzker during this crisis. He talks to us like adults, explaining his decisions and why/how they've been made.

8. Have you stockpiled anything because of the crisis? Not really. I have a full freezer and my cabinets are stocked, so I'm good. No need to buy more.
9. What do you think you will miss the most if you are subject to a lock in? I am subject to lock in. Once you get your mind around it, it's fine. I can go outside and take a walk (as I did on Saturday, to the post office). I picked up an order from my favorite coffee shop. As long as I stay healthy, I'll be fine.

10. What is the weirdest rumor you've heard about the virus? That it's a deep state Obama plot to bring down Trump. No, really. My 20-something downstairs neighbor believes that. He has family in Italy who told him so or some such nonsense. Oh, well. At least he didn't tell me Bill and Hillary are behind the corona virus deaths.
11. Do you have a favorite meme about the virus? I posted these two earlier in the week.

12. Has the virus made you grateful for anything? That I have a job that allows me to work from home! Restaurant workers don't have this luxury. Truck drivers, maintenance workers and grocery store staff are now our front line. And hospital workers! I am fortunate.

13. Have any of your plans been upset by the outbreak? No.

14. Are you planning do to anything different because of the COVID-19 outbreak? It feels like I'm doing everything different!

15. What do you hope to see in six months time? Baseball!

16. Has the Coronavirus upset your mental health in any way? I suppose. I'm nervous and sad and scared. But isn't everyone?

Friday, March 20, 2020

Saturday 9

Complete Symphonies (2019)

1) Beethoven is one of classical music's best known composers. Do you often listen to classical music? Never.

2) Though a musical genius, Beethoven never learned to multiply or divide. When faced with a simple arithmetic problem, do you do it in your head? Or do you rely on the calculator in your phone or on your computer? I am mathematically challenged and rely on calculators.

3) Beethoven bathed often, which was considered "quirky" for a man of his time. (Understandable, since you had the heat the water, haul it to the tub, and then empty the tub bucket by bucket when you were done.) Do you bathe in the morning or in the evening? I looooove my morning showers. I'm almost always happy when I get out of the tub.
4) Adam Fischer conducts the Danish Chamber Orchestra for this 5-disc set. He began his musical career young, when he sang in the children's choir of Budapest's National Opera House. Have you ever sung in a choir or chorus? I'm tone deaf. I even lip synch hymns at church and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field.

5) Mr. Fischer was awarded the Gold Medal of Arts from the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Tell us about a prize or award you have received. (Yes, that ribbon you earned for penmanship in second grade counts.) I won a Clio back in the 1990s. It's a prestigious advertising award, and now that my career is just about over, I am more proud of it than ever. I haven't mentioned it much in recent years because I won it before some of my coworkers were even born. But now, I look back and I'm proud of it.

6) The Danish Chamber Orchestra is beloved in Demark. When, in 2014, the Danish Broadcasting Company announced it would no longer fund the Orchestra, citizens began a crowdfunding campaign and raised more than $1,000,000 to keep the music playing. Have you ever contributed to a crowdfunding platform, like GoFundMe, Kickstarter or FundRazr? Yes. I'm proud that -- after Henry's accident -- I persuaded 19 of my friends to contribute to his GoFundMe recovery fund.

Here is a preview
7) The Orchestra's "home" is the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen. Where were you when you last heard music played live? In October, I saw a performance of great French songs. I enjoyed it, even though I understood little of it.

8) In 2019, when this boxed set was released, China became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. Are you fascinated by stories about space? Not really. I support research, but I don't read or watch news stories about it.

9) Random question: Tell us about your week. These are extraordinary times, and it might feel good to share. Well, I accidentally summoned a squad car to my home. That's not an everyday occurrence. On the plus side of the ledger, I had a lovely exchange at my vet's office. My cats are on a prescription diet, and they reassured me that, no matter what, they'd help me see to it that my fur babies are OK.