Tuesday, September 29, 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? Hank and Jim by Scott Eyman. This examines the half century friendship between two film icons: Henry Fonda and James Stewart. They met as struggling actors in New York, shared a house in Hollywood, and were confidantes until Fonda's death in 1982. 
I hadn't intended to read this now, having just finished the disappointing biography I review below. But I'd been on the library waitlist and it finally became available so ... Anyway, I'm really enjoying it. Lately I've been reading quite a lot of women-centric stories and this one is all about two quintessentially American men. It's a nice change of pace: warm, understated and masculine. But these men were not perfect. They both did things in the mid/late-1930s that -- while not surprising, considering they were handsome and experiencing the first blush of fame and wealth -- were not admirable where ladies were concerned.

I'm at the part where they return to Hollywood after WWII (Fonda receiving the Navy's Bronze Star; Stewart the Croix De Guerre with Palm for missions flown during the liberation) and are resuming their careers. And oh, the careers they had! 8 Oscar nods between them. I'm a big classic film fan and I can't decide which one I love more. As I read this book, I realize I don't have to choose.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. This dual biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her sister, Lee Radziwill, turned out to be a rather unsavory book. Because Lee Radziwill turned out to be a rather unlikable person. I'm surprised this book revealed that, because Lee, who died last year, cooperated with the authors. It makes me think that if Lee comes off this poorly here, she must have been twice as icky in real life.

I get the basic premise of the book: the shy, introspective older sister was for decades the most famous and photographed woman in the world and uncomfortable of the spotlight, while the outgoing kid sister who longed for recognition was consigned to her shadow. I have sisters, so in terms of the sibling rivalry, I am not without sympathy for both Lee and Jackie.

But Lee comes off as staggeringly shallow and self-obsessed. For example, after JFK's assassination, she said, "Finally, I'm free." Yes, it must have been a nightmare for her to be a satellite of the Kennedys, being feted at two White House dinners, traveling with the First Lady to India and Pakistan and with the President to the Berlin Wall. Not to mention that she was now "free" because of a murder.

If you've read anything about Jackie over the years, you won't learn much new here. 

To make my long review short, I don't recommend this book. It's not that it's badly written, it's just shallow and unpleasant.

3. What will read next? A mystery. First Degree, by David Rosenfelt. It's the second book in the Andy Carpenter series I just discovered this past summer.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Monday Madness


1. My uncle once... sent me a check for $160. It was 1978, I was in ongoing, miserable pain and needed a root canal and crown. I didn't have dental insurance, nor did I have the $160 to get the procedure done. To put the $160 in perspective, that was more than my entire week's take-home pay. My rent in those days was $300. I was trying very hard to be independent, but my mom called one night and I started to cry because of the unremitting agony. She didn't have the money just sitting around, either, but she knew who did. She called her brother and voila! A check showed up in the mail with note that just said, "Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas." I called and told him I couldn't accept it because I could never pay it back. He told me that's why he was happy to give it to me -- he knew I wouldn't advantage of his generosity.

Over the years, both my older and younger sisters clashed with my uncle over money. He was at that time a rich man and they thought he was selfish and cheap because he didn't share the wealth with them. I can tell you that isn't true. He just didn't want to be taken for granted.

2. Never in my life have I... smoked a cigarette.

3. When I was five my parents ... had a Lincoln Continental convertible. My dad loved it, my mom hated it. (Her hair!)

 4. High school was... as bad as the tooth ache referenced in #1.

 5. I will never forget to... feed my cat Reynaldo. He won't let me forget! 

 6. Once I met 7... That would be Pit Martin. At the time he played center for the Chicago Black Hawks. He wore #7 and I met him at an autograph event.

7. There’s this boy I know ... who was bullied in school. His classmates called him "gay" because he prefers cats to dogs and likes to hold babies. He was only 9 years old and didn't really know what "gay" meant. Anyway, his mom moved him out of that school district and he's doing better. He now lives downstairs from me.

8. Once, at a bar, I ... was asked if my drapes matched the carpet. I was en route to the ladies room, more than a little tipsy, and didn't understand why this stranger would be interested in how my apartment was decorated. While I was washing my hands and checking my makeup in the mirror, it dawned on me what he was asking. I was so angry, I went looking for him in the bar but couldn't find him.

9. By noon, I’m ... done with lunch.

10. Last night I ... fell asleep with the TV on.

A beautiful sight

 Ok, so this year there was none of the hoopla that accompanied 2016. No crowd, no police were required to keep order, no helicopters hovering overhead to cover the event for the national news. Management just changed the marquee sometime before midnight and released this photo.

But you know what? It's still sweet. Not a single Cub player has come down with the corona virus. Some of the guys have slumped, some have been injured, but they've been there to pick one another up. I'm proud of my guys.

Bad Covid19 Karma

In August I posted about Theresa. She just opened a fabric/yarn shop outside Chicago. It's been a tough go during the pandemic, but she's managed to keep the doors open.

The store's policy is simple: customers and employees both must wear masks when they interact. Theresa states it loud and often. So when an elderly woman placed an order by phone, she was told plainly that when she came to the store to pick up her thread, an employee would be happy to walk the order out to her car and wait while she checked it for accuracy, but that she had to be wearing a mask when she rolled down her window. This policy was reiterated in the confirmation email.

When this woman pulled up to pick up her order, she was defiantly maskless. Concerned about her employees' safety, Theresa took the order out herself, handed it to the woman through her car window, and wordlessly turned and walked away.

The woman shouted after her, "You're supposed to stand here while I check my order!"

"You're supposed to wear a mask," Theresa responded.

The woman got home and left Theresa a blistering Google review. Theresa was bereft. She's working so hard to keep her staff safe and employed, and being called "arrogant" and "rude" won't help her little business survive.

GUESS WHAT: The 78-year-old woman is now on a respirator. The others in her sewing circle have posted prayer requests for her recovery from the corona virus. I learned about this from Theresa, who was unable to sleep after hearing the news. The sewing circle was founded to help old friends from the Class of 1960 stay in touch. Now they're all at risk.

I feel the way Theresa does. This is a tragedy, and an avoidable one. It's probably playing out right now in all 50 states.

Covid is not red or blue. It's not a member of the deep state. It is a virus. Be smart. Be considerate of the people you meet. Wear a mask.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Sunday Stealing

 Life, Entirely

1. Something someone told you about yourself that you never forgot. I don't remember if my mom said it and my best friend agreed, or if my best friend said it and my mom agreed, but one evening in 2004 the two of them concluded that no one is as happy as I am when I'm happy.

2. What are your 3 top pet peeves. Special Covid edition: People who spread conspiracy theories about the virus and its treatment; people who don't wear masks; people who don't social distance.

3. List five places you want to visit.
Special Covid edition: Wrigley Field, a movie theater, the zoo, Key West to see Henry and Reg, the voting booth (early voting begins October 19). 

4. Share something you struggle with. Special Covid edition: missing my friends; anger at assholes who spread conspiracy theories about the virus and its treatment; ping-ponging between anxiety and depression.

5. Post words of wisdom that speak to you.
"What man has done, man can do."

6. Something you always think “what if....?” about. I try not to do this often because it makes me sad. But usually it's, "what if my oldest friend hadn't moved to Southern California?" I think she and I would both be happier.

7. Five blessings in your life. My cats, my health, my regular paycheck, my health insurance, my friends.

8. Something that you miss.

9. Post about your zodiac sign and whether or not it fits you. According to Cosmopolitan, Sagittarians are optimistic (usually, when there's not a fucking plague), restless (not really), progressive (REALLY!) and can't stand to be bossed around (oh, very, very true!).

10. Think of a word. Search for it on Google images.  Write something inspired by the 11th image. My word: "Gubernatorial." I love saying that word. The 11th image: Wikipedia's 2006 map of the nation's governors.

My inspired comment: I do not miss Rod Blagojevich.

11. Write about an area of your life that you’d like to improve. I would like to roll with it better. I'm not feeling as resilient as I once did.

12. What made you laugh out loud today.
It's Saturday night as I answer these. Today I got my hair cut, and my stylist and I laughed a great deal. He just bought his first new car in a decade, and is freaked out by the advanced driving system. His car "nags" him.

13. What are your goals for the next 30 days.
My niece is getting married in a couple weeks. I'd like to stay on budget and not overspend.

14. Your highs and lows for the month.
My highs: In September, I've done some good work for my client and I'm happy with my home improvements (new ceiling fans and smoke detector). My lows: There was a shooting in my nephew's dorm at WIU. I'm still upset about it. Why the hell would a college freshman bring a gun to school? What is wrong with people?

15. Favorite movies that you never get tired of watching.
So many! The first two that come to mind.

16. Books you have read more than once. The one I just reread recently is The Diary of Anne Frank. It's haunting. Especially now, when we have somehow elected a President who believes in "the racehorse theory" and complimented a white audience on their "good genes."

17. Something about which you feel strongly.
That we vote out the President who talks about "the racehorse theory" and "good genes." Such a man would never be welcome in my home, yet he resides in The Peoples House. (There's a link to JoeBiden.com at right.)

18. Five things that make you really happy.
The Central Division Champion Chicago Cubs; all the pumpkin spice foods at Trader Joe's; singing with my shower radio; when I do laundry and find I got all the stains out; my cats are happy and healthy.

19. What are you excited about?
My niece's wedding and THE NL PLAYOFFS! Go, Cubs, go!

20. Three celebrity crushes.
I'm reading a dual biography of Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, so they're top of mind (and awful cute). And Redford is their heir.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to reach for my swoon bottle.

Go, Cubs, Go!


My guys finished first! Thank you, gentlemen!


Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Do You Want to Dance? (1972)

Even though I'm naturally blabby, I'm limiting myself to one word answers.

1) Do you check your cellphone first thing in the morning? NO

2) Are there dirty dishes in your sink right now? ALWAYS

3) Have you laughed yet today? NO

4) Have you written a check in the last week? NO

5) If you met someone who shared all your strengths and weaknesses, would you like him/her? NO

6) Is a bride ever too old to have a big wedding? YES

7) Do you put potato chips in your sandwich to make it crunchy? NO

8) Have you ever taken a nude photo of someone (not a baby)? NO

9) On Monday, will you be playing Bud and Mimi's cool new meme, Monday Madness? NATURALLY


Friday, September 25, 2020

"You got that right"

I took advantage of one of these last, lovely warm days (74ยบ) and slipped out for a quick, half hour morning walk. Just to the bank and to Target for a six pack of Dr. Pepper (my new drink of choice). On the way home, I was approached by a 60-something woman pulling a cart.

"Do you know where the pantry is?"

Yes indeed I do. And she was almost there. Only I didn't know how to give her directions because I stupidly never took note of the name of the church that is home to the food pantry.  There are four houses of worship almost symmetrically located on four corners. The food pantry is in the basement of the one directly across the street from my church.  And it is ... dunno.

So I offered to walk her over there. She said she would appreciate that. She was wearing a mask, even though we were walking up the street. But I could see she'd put on eye makeup. Her hair was done. She was better dressed than I. So I was worried about her dignity. She'd obviously never visited the food pantry before and I imagine it wasn't easy for her.

So I made conversation. I told her how, when my nephew was very young (or maybe it was my niece), he asked why, if there's one God, we need four different churches. I told her that my first reaction was, "Why doesn't he come up with these deep questions when he's with his mother?" She laughed and said, "You got that right."

Then she brought up the weather, saying it was "a good day for a walk." I told her I don't mind the cooler days we know are on the horizon, but my toes will miss breathing free. She laughed and said, "You got that right."

I wanted to hug her and tell her not to be nervous or embarrassed, we were almost there.  Instead, I suggested she take the el back from a different nearby stop because it has escalators and stairs would be hard with that cart. She laughed and said, "You got that right."

I hope I made her comfortable. There but for the grace of God go I. I mean it. Walking with her felt uniquely spiritual.

I took note: it's the Presbyterian church that gives the food pantry space in their basement.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Our President just posted this on Twitter


He invited people to this Jacksonville, FL rally. Obviously he's proud of how he packed them in.

According to the CDC, more than 302,715 new cases if the corona virus were diagnosed last week. And this is how our President responds. 

Remember, these are people who support him. But his need for the cheap sugar high that comes from applause is more important to him than their safety.

No, he is not managing this pandemic well. No, he does not care about us.

This is why I'm ridin' with Biden. If you haven't contributed yet, please consider doing so. Even $5 would help. And, to borrow from Michelle Obama, our lives depend on it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Tuesday, September 22, 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 Fabulous Bouvier Sisters by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. This dual biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her sister, Lee Radziwill, is by the writers who authored Furious Love.  That book was the extraordinary, sweeping tale of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and their epic love affair. This one, alas, is nowhere near as good.
Lee, who died last year, cooperated with the authors. You'd think that would give the book greater authenticity, but it's weighed down by an unintended consequence: a lot of distracting Lee-centric detail. For example, in 1959, Lee acquired an English country home that she decorated in her own perfect taste. Pages are devoted to how she daringly chose theatrical designer Renzo Mongiardino and worked with him to realize her vision. OK ... but there was very little about Jackie's life in 1959. She was living in Washington with her toddler daughter and her husband -- the junior Senator from Massachusetts -- and the family was gearing up for his Presidential run. Nary a mention of any of that, which I find far more interesting than Lee's choice of wallpaper. 

I guess that's the problem with the book thus far (I'm about halfway through). Lee's life is seldom as interesting as Jackie's -- an observation Radziwill heard often and resented mightily. But "the fabulous Bouvier sisters" remain the subject of enduring interest not because they were once the star debutantes of Newport society. It's because Jackie became a historical figure when she married John F. Kennedy, and then from the White House, she captivated the world. Sorry, Lee. I'll finish the book, but so far, I wouldn't recommend it.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace. This novel is about a quartet of Type A Washington women: our first female President, Charlotte Kramer; her first-ever female running mate, the colorful Tara Meyers; her first-ever female White House Chief of Staff, Melanie Kingston; and network reporter Dale Smith, who is having an extramarital affair with America's First Gentleman.

The author is the same Nicolle Wallace who has her own show on MSNBC every day. Before that, she was briefly a co-host on The View, and before that, she was a Washington insider -- a veteran of George W. Bush's White House and John McCain's Presidential campaign. She puts her entire resume to use in this gossipy, sexy political thriller. I'm guessing that while on The View, she learned to be conversant on designer duds. Dior, Jimmy Choo and Vera Wang are name-dropped here to entertaining effect. First in the White House Press Room and now at MSNBC, she's probably picked up on how alternately competitive, resentful and supportive TV reporters can be. Working for President Bush, she experienced how the White House responds to fast-moving events. And as part of McCain's campaign, she learned a thing or two about sassy Vice Presidential candidates who can't resist the limelight.

I had great fun with this book. It's like a drugstore candy bar: empty calories, not too memorable, but pleasurable while it lasts. (PS The acreage of the title refers to the White House grounds.)

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

One less thing to worry about

It's taken him a week to mention it, but my friend John is fine.  Our little drama began last Wednesday, when my friend -- aged 65, with diabetes and heart trouble -- mentioned that he was feeling rundown and "monitoring for symptoms." I texted back that now would be a good time for him to take his "Medicare out of the box and give it a try," though if I know my bud, he still hasn't signed up for. (He has until October 3, and I'll bet you anything he'll wait until October 2.)

We exchanged messages throughout the week like always -- Cubs, mostly, with a rather poignant exchange about RBG -- but I scrupulously avoided nagging him because it does more harm than good. He just shuts down and goes into hiding.

Today he rewarded my patience and restraint with a text letting me know he's "fine." PHEW!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, my art director found out over the weekend that she was exposed to the virus. She went to look at a condo and the realtor who showed her the place reported that he's tested positive. Today she went and got a walk up test. She'll find out definitively later this week, but the tech who administered the test was upbeat. Since my AD was with the realtor 9 days ago now and has shown no symptoms, odds are very good she's OK.

I'm very glad that, although she and I work together for hours every day, we do it from our respective homes.

And I am so fucking ready for this virus to be over.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Monday Madness

 Nobody Knows You When You're Down & Out

1. When did you last feel down and out? On the 1st. I get paid 2x/month, and that paycheck on the 1st just doesn't go far enough.

2. What do you do to feel sexy? I haven't felt sexy since this quarantine began. It's just not on my mind.

3. If you could be somewhere else, where would you be and why?
The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. This is the first season I haven't been to a Cub game since sometime in the 1980s.

4. What have you always wanted to do? Cross country ski. I think I would enjoy it because I like snow and bright, still, cold days.

5.  What do you appreciate the most about your life at this time?
That I'm not sick. Really. We've lost more than 199,900 Americans to the corona virus this year. I feel lucky it hasn't come closer to me.

6. If you could be someone else, who would you be and why? Jennifer Aniston. Because she's talented and pretty and she seems very nice. And rich. Rich would be good. I think of her when I'm doing something really inconvenient or unpleasant, like standing in the mud while waiting in the rain for the bus. I think, "This wouldn't happen to Jennifer Aniston." Last time I mentioned that I wonder what similar vexations she does suffer, someone responded that Brad Pitt left her. (Really? I hadn't heard!) I don't consider losing one's husband equal to being caught in the rain and I still wonder what little things can go wrong in life when you're talented and pretty and nice and really rich.

7. Have you ever made a fool of yourself? If yes, spill. In March, at the beginning of covid work from home, I was invited to my first remote webex meeting. Distracted, I dialed from my home phone as if it was my office desk phone -- meaning I hit 9 for an outside line, then 1 and then 1 for the meeting code. Which means I had accidentally called 911 and summoned the police. I am such an idiot.

8. What have you always wanted to do but haven't? I haven't yet tried cross country skiing since I answered #4. ๐Ÿ˜‰

9. What do you think about the talk about traveling to Mars? I don't. I'm not against space exploration, it just doesn't interest me.

10.  If you could bring back someone who has passed, who would it be? My answer to this changes, depending on when it's asked. I know I recently answered by saying my grandfather. But right now, I miss my mom.


Saturday, September 19, 2020



1. A person I’m glad to have in my life. My shrink. I went back into therapy in February, when I was wrestling with how deeply my friend Henry hurt me. (Henry is recovering from a traumatic brain injury and I know his behavior is going to be erratic. However understanding that intellectually and dealing with emotionally are two different things.) ANYWAY, during this pandemic I've been similarly struggling. I get anxious and I worry that I'm no longer able to keep anything in perspective. She's been a very valuable, objective sounding board for me.


2. Something I find comfort in. The crack of the bat. I really love baseball.

3. My favorite part of the morning.
Feeding the cats. Seeing them healthy, happy and content is a good way to start the day.

4. My favorite memory. The final out of the 2016 World Series. CUBS WIN!

5. An accomplishment I’m proud of. I won a Clio. In my industry, it's a big deal.

6. An opportunity I’m grateful for.
Every day is an opportunity I'm grateful for.

7. My favorite song (and why).
This one always lifts my spirit. BTW, Monday is the 21st of September.

8. A future event I’m excited about.
Seeing Joe Biden take the oath of office.

9. My favorite area in my home.
My bathroom. I love soaking in the tub.

10. Something beautiful I saw today.
Blue skies and green lawns.

11. My guilty pleasure.
The most fabulous bad movie EVER. I love every wretched moment.

12. Something I love about a family member. My niece's commitment to her cat, Annabelle. She adopted Annabelle as four years ago. Suddenly the cat has developed some very unsavory behavioral problems. My niece and her fiance have been ferrying this cat to and from the vet for months now and trying everything anyone suggests. The only time she bristles is when it's suggested they just "get rid of Annabelle." The way my niece looks at it, Annabelle is giving her and her future husband a good exercise in how they deal, as a couple, with adversity. I'm very proud of her.

13. A compliment that made me feel good.
Al from my classic movie group thinks every one of my insights is brilliant and repeats them on the group's web page.

14. The item I treasure the most.
There's a ceramic trolley car that belonged to my favorite grandfather. He kept his cufflinks, tie clasps and licorice throat lozenges in there. When I was a little girl, it fascinated me, and he'd take it off his dresser and let me examine it. After my grandparents died, and their house was being prepared for sale, my mom slipped over there and rescued it for me. I love it because of it reminds me of Grandpa, and because my mother so thoughtfully retrieved it for me.

15. My favorite part about nature.
My cats. It's like having a little nature in here with me.

16. A book I loved reading.
These are the two that are currently beside by bed. I don't know why, but as The Trump Show spins faster and further out of control, I find terrific comfort in the pages of big picture books, looking at icons doing beautiful, graceful things.

17. A freedom I’m grateful for. My First Amendment right to dissent.

18. My favorite part of the evening.

19. One good thing that happened today.
I'm answering this on Saturday, and I had a nice, chatty conversation with my friend Joanna. It was good to reconnect.

20. How I show gratitude for my friends.
I make myself available.




How to describe this week?

 How about memorable? 

The good.  

•  I aced a presentation. My internal agency team was, per usual, skeptical about my abilities and my work product. But my client was happy and impressed. 

•  Even better, a client at the same company -- one I worked with in years gone by -- specifically requested my help on something. If this continues, my internal agency team will have no choice but to get out of my way and let me work.

•  The Cubs Alec Mills pitched a no-hitter!

The bad. 

Oh, dear Lord, how to start?

• A shooting on the WIU campus, in the very dorm where my nephew was studying! He's fine, but it was terrifying for all of us. What on earth would possess a college student to bring a gun to his dorm room in the first place?

•  My oldest friend suddenly had surgery on her bladder. She's had an infection for three years that hasn't responded to treatment. They finally isolated the problem months ago but were slow to act on it. The reasons were logistical and financial, and since she's on Medicare/Medicaid she really doesn't have much say in the matter. All of a sudden on Tuesday, they told her to show up at the hospital on Wednesday! I don't like the sound of any of this. But then, she did need the surgery if she's ever to feel relief and I guess it went well. I got lots of really loopy texts from my doped up friend.

•  My friend John is "feeling rundown." No fever, but no energy, either. He's a 65-year-old diabetic who battles congenital heart disease, so naturally I'm worried. Also, he's been frequenting his favorite bar regularly. He assures me it's safe because they have given him his own "socially distanced covid corner table." I want to yell, "There's a fucking pandemic! Watch TV and drink at home!" But I nag John too much as it is, so I'm trying mightily to keep my mouth shut about this. He texted me last night but he didn't mention his health, which I guess is a good sign. He just wanted to commiserate because ...

•  Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. In February 2016, when Justice Scalia died, Republicans said it was too close to the November Presidential election for Obama to nominate a successor. In September 2020, the same Republicans are saying Trump should name RBG's successor, even though we're having a Presidential election in less than 60 days. They not only deny science, they disregard calendars. They are ... what's the word I want? ... oh, yeah! They are assholes.

•  Then there's this: One of my neighbors knocked on my door last night to let me know there was water seeping into the laundry room. I went down there with her and damn, she was right. Water was also flooding out of the boiler room next door. Now what? I reported it as an emergency and both the electrician and the plumber came over. It seems the boiler's "automatic feed water valve" broke. I have no idea what that means, other than WATER! Here's a photo I took for the management company (they seem to feel this could be the result of negligence on the electrician's part when he fired up the boiler, and they want evidence).

I have a ton of work to do this weekend, but I'm not touching it until tomorrow. I need a day to rest and recharge.

This one hurts

"I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks."

You've all heard the story: at the beginning of her career, the brilliant Ruth Bader Ginsburg had trouble finding employment because she was a woman with a child. When she interviewed, men didn't see a graduate of Cornell and Columbia or the first woman to be on two major law reviews (Columbia and Harvard). They saw a woman with a child. 

She went on to argue six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court. If you're reading this, and you're a woman with a career, you got a leg up from RBG. 

I also loved her love story. Her husband, Martin, was a successful tax attorney and endlessly proud of his more prominent wife -- unusual for a bride and groom who got hitched in the 1950s. And she was devoted to him. While they were both law students, shortly after the birth of their first child, he became ill with testicular cancer. She attended both his classes and hers and typed his papers for him, all the while caring for their new little girl. She did this because she loved him and because they were partners, ultimately married 56 years. They remind me of a real-life Jo and Professor Bhaer. Just writing this makes me misty.

Farewell, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Thank you. For all of it.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Frankie and Johnny (1966)

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

1) When this record was initially released in 1966, it never cracked the Top 20. Critics were harsh, saying that Elvis had not kept up the times. How about you? Do you consider yourself up-to-date on today's music? Not at all. The last "new" artist I was seriously into was Amy Winehouse, and she's been dead for 9 years. But mentioning her gives me an excuse to post this again. I loooooove this song.


2) The song is about a woman named Frankie and Johnny, the man who does her wrong. Who is the most recent person to do you wrong? (It doesn't have to be in romance; it could be the person who cut in front of you in line at the supermarket.) Okay, I'll go with an incident at the supermarket. One of our local stores will let you pay for an item but designate it for the food pantry. The checker then scribbles out the UPC with a marker and puts it somewhere behind the counter. Twice/week, the store delivers the donated items to the food pantry. (I checked with food pantry.) 

ANYWAY, as the checker was ringing up the items in my basket, I mentioned the pasta was for the food pantry so he shouldn't bag it. He looked at me like I was a crazy lady. "Okay then!" he said too loudly. He handed me my bag and then the spaghetti separately, saying oh-so condescendingly, "Here's your food pantry pasta."

"Why are you giving this to me? Don't you know how to handle pantry donations?" I challenged, loudly. The manager came over and walked him through it. I had to bite my tongue to stop from chirping, "Okay, then!" back to him.

I get being new at a job. I get that there are things to learn. But really, you could see in his face that he thought I was just some dotty broad randomly sharing my charitable impulses with a stranger. And you know what? So what if I was? He was rude and mean.

3) Elvis sings that Johnny cheated with "a chick named Nellie Bly." The real Nellie was an estimable woman, a pioneering 19th century journalist. Can you think of another song that mentions a real person? Marc Cohen's "Walking in Memphis" has all kinds of references to Elvis.


4) This song was recorded for a movie by the same name. Elvis played a riverboat gambler. When did you last play a game of chance? There's an Illinois Lottery ticket in my wallet. Maybe I'm a millionaire!

5) Actor Harry Morgan had a supporting role in the movie. He's remembered as Officer Gannon on Dragnet and Col. Potter on M*A*S*H. Gannon was a good cop but could be particular about his food and surroundings. As a career soldier, Potter didn't mind roughing it every now and again. Which character are you more like: fussy Gannon or outdoorsy Potter? Gannon.

6) Elvis' leading lady was Donna Douglas. She filmed her part during her summer hiatus from TV's The Beverly Hillbillies. Have you ever had a summer job? Back in high school, I spent a few weeks working in a souvenir shop at the zoo. It sold really expensive safari-themed purses, scarves and jewelry. No one ever came in, which is a good thing because I lived in terror of balancing the register at the end of the day.

7) Though not remembered as an actor, Elvis was a bona fide movie star. In 1966, he was listed (with Paul Newman, Sean Connery, John Wayne and Richard Burton) as one of the world's biggest box office draws. Who starred in the last movie you watched? Gene Tierney and Clifton Webb. This is one of my all-time favorites. While I just rewatched it Thursday, I remember the first time I saw it. While traveling on business, trapped in a crappy motel in Dallas, it completely transported me to glamorous 1940s New York.

8) In 1966, Lauren Bacall appeared on the cover of Time with the headline: "The Pleasures and Perils of Middle Age." She was 41 years old and starring in a hit Broadway play. In the article, she explained that in middle age, she had come to understand that "character and a sense of humor are the two things that will carry you through." Tell us about something you understand better or appreciate more today than you did when you were young. People who love me. When I was younger, I obsessed on romantic love and didn't stop to fully appreciate my dear friends and family who hold me in their hearts.

9) Random question: Have you checked out Bud and Mimi's cool new meme, Monday Madness? Yes. You should, too!


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

What the hey ...

I'll remember this morning for a long time. I woke up and flipped on the TV. I heard a "breaking news" story about a shooter on campus at Western Illinois University, where my nephew is a student. The campus was on lockdown.

I told myself to stay calm. My landline phone hadn't rung overnight, and certainly if my nephew was in trouble I would have heard. I got to the kitchen, where my famished cats awaited me and my cell was charging. I figured I'd text my nephew as soon as I fed the cats.

I turned my phone on and saw lots of texts. Uh-oh! Someone had been trying to reach me overnight! But it wasn't my nephew. 

•  My oldest friend (two hours earlier in Southern California) wanted to let me to know she's suddenly having unscheduled surgery. She's suffered with tenacious bladder issues forever now. She's on Medicare/Medicaid, and they have been slow to get her treatment. (The pandemic? The fires? The fact that she's not paying for it? I don't know.) Anyway, she got the word that they were ready to operate. Wednesday, aka today. With all her myriad medical problems, I'm worried that they aren't thinking of her care holistically. The whole "we got a bed, come on in!" thing makes me wonder if they've considered her pre-diabetes, her bipolar disorder, her heart and the way her meds interact. I know the surgery needs to be done, I just hope and pray the doctors are taking her care seriously.

•  John chose to text me overnight Tuesday because he didn't want to talk. (I do the same thing; I used to be famous for leaving boyfriends personal voicemails at the office when I knew they weren't there.) John wanted to explain why he's been incommunicado for nearly a week. My dear friend -- who is 65 and suffers from both diabetes and congenital heart trouble -- is "feeling rundown and monitoring symptoms." He doesn't have a fever, so that's good. But I bet he also still doesn't have a doctor -- I've been nagging him off and on since July -- which is why he didn't want to talk to me in real time. He knows I'll scold. 

It was not yet 7:00 AM! Can you believe it? A shooting ... an operation ... a covid scare ... That's a lot of horror for first thing in the morning. I really wanted to toss my phone out the window so it couldn't hurt me anymore.

But I needed to check on my nephew. He got back to me right away (he's a good boy) and told me not to worry. Yes, it was his dorm where the shooting occurred. It was a roommate dispute between freshmen, settled with a gun! His RA pulled the fire alarm so everyone evacuated, and then the police shut the campus down. My nephew let it slip that, even though it was against covid protocol, he was crashing with his girlfriend in another dorm. GIRLFRIEND? I didn't know he had a girlfriend!

Love in the age of the corona virus.

Tuesday, September 15, 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?  Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace. This is the right political thriller for me to read at this moment. It's about our first female President, Charlotte Kramer. She has the first-ever female White House Chief of Staff, Melanie Kingston. Network star Dale Smith covers the White House and is the first woman in history to find herself in illicit love with America's First Gentleman.
I knew I would enjoy it when it opened with Melanie treating herself to a designer bag. In this beltway fantasy, brilliant and ambitious women wear Jimmy Choos, drink martinis and bake in the sauna as they determine the fate of our nation.  

I like these women and I'm getting a kick out of the book. It's written by the same Nicolle Wallace who worked in George W. Bush's White House and helped manage John McCain's White House bid. Now she's a commentator on MSNBC. She's my TV BFF. She writes like the savvy insider she is, and she's spinning a fun, gossipy, exciting book. It's of no real consequence, but in this season, in the run up to a most consequential Presidential election, that's fine with me. (PS The acreage of the title refers to the White House grounds.)

2. What did you recently finish reading?  The Father Hunt by Rex Stout. This book has everything I've come to love in Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries: twisty plots, minimal violence, maximum atmosphere, and a supporting cast of colorful characters. Every few pages, I felt like saying, "Hello, old friends! I've missed you!"

Which is not to say it doesn't stand well on its own. A case comes to world-famous detective Nero Wolfe through his assistant, Archie Goodwin. Archie meets a woman socially who asks him for help in a personal matter. She wants to learn the identity of her biological father. With her mother's recent death, she thinks this is an almost impossible task. Archie and Wolfe predict it'll take about a week. Boy, are they wrong. Soon the case takes them and us into the worlds of investment banking, network TV and public relations. Along the way, they identify the culprit in a previously unsolved murder. 

Complicating things is the fact that the book is set in 1967. Blood tests aren't considered conclusive in determining paternity. Forget DNA. Do today's mystery writers have it easier, or harder, in our technologically advanced world?

3. What will read next?
Since Eighteen Acres has me all ginned up on girl power, I am considering a biography of one of three women I've long admired: Lucille Ball or Carrie Fisher or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

I loves me some Bryzzo


When Kris Bryant gets on base, and then Anthony Rizzo gets a hit to move him around, we Cub fans say the ball was Bryzzo'd. So far this season, there's been no Bryzzo. First KB was hurt, then he was sick,* then he was slumping. Rizz hasn't been that consistent, either.

BUT TONIGHT! Against Cleveland, my boys Bryzzo'd. KB crossed home plate 3 times and we won 6-5. 

I shall have sweet dreams tonight. Go, Cubs, Go!

*NOT the corona virus, though.

Now HE expects compassion

Three years ago, I was a newbie on our condo association board and found myself embroiled in my first controversy. Nearly 30% of the units were illegally rented. All three of us on the board admitted it was a problem. The issue was how to deal with it.

Our then-treasurer, a young man who loves Ayn Rand and proclaimed himself "all about personal responsibility," wanted to evict all the renters within 30 days. We could have legally done that since they were living here with invalid leases. "Rules are rules," he insisted. 

But the renters signed those leases in good faith! It was the unit owners who rented their condos illegally that were at fault. I didn't want to toss those poor people out into the autumn night. (The 30 days would have been up on November 30.) We fought and fought and finally agreed on a humane compromise -- all renters had to be out in six months, or May 30.

Fast forward three years: guess who wants special permission to rent his unit because of hardship. Yes, it's Ayn Randman. He can't sell his unit for a decent price because of the corona virus, can't afford to pay the mortgage and assessments because he lost his job, and wants to rent it out for a year while he moves in with friends. But "rules are rules," and rentals aren't allowed. Wah wah. 

It gets better. While he has a tenant waiting in the wings, Mr. Personal Responsibility has also asked those of us now on the board to look the other way because he can't scrape together the money to pay a lawyer to put together a rental agreement. Wah wah.

What happened to "rules are rules?" What happened to being "all about personal responsibility?"

Of course, I'm going to vote to let him rent his place because it's the decent thing to do for a neighbor who is struggling during a pandemic. I suggested we let the association lawyer review the rental agreement and we'll absorb the cost (about $200) because a properly-worded lease protects us, too.

But galls me. It really does. 

There's a line from the Hal David-Burt Bacharach song, "Alfie," that keeps running through my mind, "If life belongs only to the strong, what will you lend on an old golden rule?"