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.


That felt good

Henry reached out to me this afternoon. It's the first time we've spoken this month. I probably let it go longer than I should have, but I'm still too wounded by the bruising I received in mid-February. I wasn't sure I could trust him.

He's never been far from my thoughts, of course. I've kept up with him through Reg and Patrick. And, of course, I've come to care for Patrick and Reg as individuals, too, not just as links to Henry. Naturally I want to know how that whole Key West household is doing through this corona virus pandemic.

Anyway, we had a nice, hour-long chat this afternoon. He was paranoid about catching the virus, but that didn't surprise me. Paranoia is to be expected after a brain injury like his. I tried to reassure him. I don't know if I succeeded, really, but at least we weren't arguing!

Then I changed the subject to my new little MacBook Air. It's not quite two weeks old and I'm still not sure what I'm doing on it yet. He told me how to save a Pages document as a Microsoft Word doc. This saves me the expense and agita of downloading Microsoft Word, and I'm truly grateful.

It was also good for Henry to feel accomplished. Today he wasn't a problem or a burden or a special case. Today he was my hero.

It was good for both of us.

Really, this talking on the phone thing might just be what saves me while in self quarantine.

Be like Rizz!

From MLB.com

Anthony Rizzo is doing his part to help during the coronavirus pandemic. The Cubs' star first baseman is helping keep necessary workers fed, thanks to the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation.

Nurses at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, one of the top pediatric providers in the United States, are continuing to care for patients, so Rizzo’s foundation is providing daily warm meals for the staff.

Better yet, the food is coming from Chicago-area restaurants, so it’s helping both the hospital and the food service industry at the same time. That’s a “double win,” Rizzo pointed out.

I'm so proud of my favorite Cub!

Thursday, March 19, 2020


I won't be going back downtown for quite a while. At least two weeks. Maybe longer. Without the tourists, office workers, servers and bar tenders, retail counter people, salon stylists and nail techs heading to work, the streets are going to be empty.

What does this mean for the homeless? What will they do without all the foot traffic, without the strangers who are willing to share their change? Now, when hygiene is so important, where will they wash their hands and go to the bathroom? Starbucks has been very sympathetic to their plight, but now Starbucks is closed.

They're going to get sick. Some are going to die.

Some give loving care to the dogs and cats by their sides. Others are veterans. All of them are people.

Thinking about it breaks my heart.

I just made a contribution to The Night Ministry, a group that is providing street medicine to the homeless during this crisis. If you have anything to spare, I encourage you to find a resource in your own community.

A suggestion from Kathy

My friend Kathy is over 70 and has health issues. So I'm going to keep close tabs on her during this corona virus scare. If a day goes by without a Facebook post or a text, I'm reaching out.

Lest you think I'm a saint, let me dispel that. I get a lot from our calls, too. Over the decades of our friendship, we've had our problems but those are in the past now. There's a mellowness and affection in our every exchange now. I treasure them.

And, every now and then, there's a valuable little nugget that I didn't know before. For example: she pointed out that Listerine is an antiseptic and contains 21% alcohol. Since it's designed to kill germs in the mouth, it's effective on toothbrushes and thermometers. It also cleans minor cuts and blisters. Since she couldn't find alcohol or hydrogen peroxide at her favorite store, Dollar General, she tossed an extra bottle of Listerine into her cart.

I've been taking my temperature every day, so I added a bottle to my cart, too.

Meanwhile, on Facebook

I can't take credit for either one, but am happy to share both.
Let's promote laughter and love.

Oh, yes I did!

I tried to join a webex meeting this afternoon. Distracted, I dialed as if I was at my desk. Which means I first dialed 9 for an outside line, then 1, then the meeting code, that began with 1. Only I didn't need to dial for an outside line. So I'd dialed 911. The Emergency Number.

I'm such an idiot.

When I explained to the dispatcher, she was very gracious, but told me that a squad car was en route anyway.

I felt so bad that I waited downstairs for the police and when she arrived, I came out in the rain to tell her I was OK. The officer, too, was gracious, telling me no apology was necessary and she was glad nothing was wrong.

I was drenched in guilt and humiliation. Oh yeah, and this caused me to miss the meeting. The first real work I've had all week!

My boss had given me a quick overview of what the content was going to be, and so I was able to give him a few topline ideas anyway. I don't think anything will come of it, or this project, but at least I did what was asked of me.

And I have an anecdote for when someone asks me what I did in self quarantine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It's making a comeback

I see us all talking on the phone a lot more over the next few weeks ... or months. Tonight I talked with John for nearly two hours. I've chatted with Kathy and a coworker, too.

I like talking on the phone. It comes easily to me. But I know it's not the same for everyone. For example, John doesn't much care for it. Still, he did it. For if we are going to stay in touch during this pandemic, the phone is our best option.

Talking to John both calmed me down and energized me. Today I watched a little less news. I vacuumed, on a Wednesday afternoon! I'm easing into this.

There's still no work, but I'm trying not to obsess about that. This job is coming to an end, and maybe for me, this is a gift of sorts, a chance for me to transition into the next stage of my life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


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 Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig by Jonathon Eig. The corona virus has put baseball on hold, and I miss it so! So I reached for this book, about one of the game's genuine heroes.

His is a great American story. The son of immigrants, physical strength was his way out of the slums. Painfully shy, he was at his most comfortable with physical activity. Even after achieving superstardom, he worried about disappointing the fans, the press and his bosses. He took nothing for granted.

He enjoyed touching relationships with the powerful women in his life. He unabashedly adored his mother and doted on her for all his life. He loved his bold, outgoing wife, Eleanor, who was by his side to the end. 

The author, Jonathan Eig, clearly respects Lou and loves baseball and it shows in the writing. "Gehrig found his joy ... in the reassuring feel of a leather ball with raised stitches squeezed in his left hand." (God, I miss baseball!)

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but I was drawn to this novel about Princess Margaret, the royal rebel of her generation. 

This story takes us from Margaret's days as King George's pampered younger daughter, through sister Elizabeth's ascension to the throne, her heartbreaking love affair with Captain Peter Townsend, and her combustible relationship with sexy, swaggering Antony Armstrong-Jones. The Margaret we meet on these pages is exasperating, petulant, yearning and energetic. Just when you want to slug her, she says something that touches your heart. Just when you want to hug her, she throws a drink in someone's face.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. Our narrator, the fictional Vera, has a great back story and as Margaret's lady-in-waiting, she has a front row seat to Her Highness' life. But Vera is a rather weak willed girl whose values seem a bit askew. I wish there'd been someone in the book who I wanted to unreservedly root for. I realize that, in real life, no one is all good or all bad. But since Vera is completely fictional character, the author could have made her a bit more likeable.

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