Friday, October 30, 2020

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: This Haunted House (1964)

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

1) Loretta Lynn wrote this song to help her cope with the sudden death of her friend, Patsy Cline. When they first met, Patsy was already a star and she helped Loretta become established. Did you more recently advise or receive advice? I advised. I'm always advising. I am a buttinski.

2) She sings that Patsy's is the face she sees when she turns out the light. Do you remember who or what you were thinking about when you fell asleep last night? The salad I ate too close to bedtime. BOY, I was burpy! (I wish my thoughts were more elegant, but there you go.)

3) Loretta maintains her TN ranch is haunted. She says "the moaning woman" is a harmless apparition, dressed in white. Do you believe in ghosts? Not in the Halloween, spooky sense. But in the Christian, I-know-you're-in-Heaven-so-I-know-you-see-and-hear-me sense.

4) Loretta Lynn's Ranch is now open to be public. In addition to horseback riding, fishing and camping, Loretta's ranch features shops that sell locally-sourced jams, jellies and sauces, as well as Loretta Lynn CDs and "Coal Miner's Daughter" glassware and t-shirts. Have you ever brought home an edible souvenir? Or do you prefer to remember your trips with something more lasting, like a coffee mug or t-shirt? I'm big on t-shirts and magnets. Also postcards, but they are becoming harder to find.

5) According to Reader's Digest, The Exorcist is the scariest movie of all time. Have you seen it, and if so, did it scare you? Yes, and yes.

6) Which do you find spookier: haunted houses or cemeteries? Haunted houses. I don't find cemeteries spooky at all.

7) What's the most recent Halloween costume you wore? Minnie Mouse. I believe I still have the dress somewhere. The ears wouldn't be too hard to replace, should I need to dress up again.

8) When you were a kid, did you trade your Halloween candy with siblings or friends? Yes. I swapped with my older sister and was successful. She thought I was a ridiculous nerd because I liked Mary Janes and Bit-o-Honey and would trade chocolate for them. Fine with me, because I could (and do) eat chocolate all year around, and Mary Janes and Bit-o-Honey seemed to only be plentiful around Halloween.

 9) Random question: You meet your very friendly new neighbor. She invites you over for a "get acquainted" cup of coffee tomorrow afternoon and you accept. Then you learn that she was once on trial for an axe murder ... but acquitted. Would you still go over to her house? Why not? I've never (knowingly) spent time with an accused axe murderer before.


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Happy birthday, dear Kwizgiver!


Celebrate her first-ever -- and hopefully only -- pandemic birthday. Head on over to What If This Is as Good as It Gets and share your best wishes (and book recommendations, as well as the title of your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie).

Use your voice!

On November 4, I'm joining in Mimi's Blogblast for Peace.
Why don't you do the same? It would be lovely if we filled the blogosphere with peace signs. During this contentious election season, it's more important than ever to use our blogs to overcome the ugly, angry, conspiratorial voices with calls for peace and truth.

Tuesday, October 27, 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? A Night to Remember by Walter Lord. Written back in 1955, this is considered the definitive chronicle of Titanic's last hours. But it's not dry or boring. Mr. Lord puts us in the dining room with the waiters when the collision takes place, after they've set the tables for a breakfast that will never be served. They thought the problem was a propeller and wondered it if they'd get an extra day in port somewhere while it was repaired. We're with the ship's fireman when he's confused by what he thought sounded like "the tearing of calico," but of course it was ice ripping through steel. It's these details that bring the story to life.  

2. What did you recently finish reading? Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger.  Wow! That is what I said aloud when I finished this story. It is a multilayered, twisty thriller that will keep you guessing to the very end. Then, when you reach that shocking conclusion, you'll say to yourself, "I should have known this all along." All the clues are there. There are no convenient coincidences. Unger took no shortcuts with her plot.

Selena is a mom who just returned to work because her husband lost his job. She finds out through the nanny cam that instead of looking for employment, he's playing with the nanny on the playroom carpet. Selena impulsively shares this with the stranger she finds herself next to on the 7:45 PM train home. That woman reciprocates by saying she feels trapped in an affair with her boss. It's the kind of sharing that's more comfortable with someone you're sure you'll never see again. The stranger muses that it would be nice if all their problems could just "go away." It seems like an innocuous comment. Then, Selena's nanny actually does disappear. What's going on here?

There's thrills and tension but little violence or gore is detailed. I was grateful for that. And the writing is very good. There's a passage at the beginning of the book, when Selena is virtually alone in the office before packing up to take the later train home, that made me miss my office and my pre-covid life so much I nearly got misty.

 3. What will read next? I have some biographies stacked up. I think I'll grab one of those.

Don't disappoint Fraulein Maria












Wear your mask!

Here's the story about the surviving cast members doing their part for public health.



Let's hope it was enough

I'm haunted by President Obama's words at the DNC: "Whatever you have done so far, it's not enough."

As we lope toward the finish line, I've checked my personal stats. I gave nearly $100 more (almost to the penny) to Joe Biden than I did to HRC. Is that enough? I don't know. I purposely held a little back in case more is needed after the election to pay lawyers to protect the sanctity of the vote.

But here's what I'm proud of. Here's what I cling to:

I handwrote 345 postcards to registered Democrats in 12 different states.

Yes, I did that. Yes, it caused a callous.

I comfort myself that while the other side spews venom, conspiracies and lies about Joe on social media, they are likely just "preaching to the choir." (An ironic phrase, when you consider how many of these smut peddlers claim to be Christian.) I delivered facts about voter registration, facts about vote by mail, facts about online resources to guide voters to their polling places.

I feel good about what I've done. I just pray it's enough. Tonight Amy Coney Barrett has been installed to do what Donald Trump obviously expects her to do: rule in his favor after he loses at the ballot box. Now maybe she'll do the right thing and recuse herself when the time comes. Or maybe she'll behave like a jurist and not a political hack. (It is so possible! Look at Justice John Roberts.)

So the vote has to be decisive. I like thinking that one of my postcards is stuck with a magnet to a refrigerator somewhere, reminding the recipient that early voting has started in her district and here's her chance to GRAB HIM BY THE BALLOT!

Go, Joe, go. As Paul Simon sang about another Joe, "Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you." Rescue us!


Monday, October 26, 2020

Meanwhile, on Planet Earth


Cook County is now experiencing a spike.

Betty wants our movie group to transition from Zoom to in-person get togethers because she "misses us" and she is "bored." And, "We have to get back to our lives."

I miss seeing films on the big screen. I'd love to share pizza and beer with fellow movie lovers. 

But Zoom is fine because THERE'S A PANDEMIC!

Betty is a 60 year old mother of two adult daughters. She drives and votes. Scary, isn't it?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Let me tell you about my Saturday

You know how some people can be accused of making their lives look better on social media? I'm not that girl.

First I got my hair cut/colored. Since I wear a mask throughout the procedure, I thought it was safe (wise, even) to wear a hydrocolloid pimple patch on the zit on my chin. I could multi-task: start healing my pimple while sitting in the chair. I was meeting my friend Nancy and her hubs for lunch afterward, so I'd have to remember to get to the restaurant ladies room, wash my hands, remove my mask, remove the patch and replace the mask before my dining partners arrived.

I forgot. I went through the entire lunch* with the patch clearly visible while I ate. I felt like such a jerk when I got home -- like I'd been walking around all day with my slip showing or toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

Then I did laundry. In our communal laundry room. I figured Saturday night was a good time to have the room to myself. I went down, disinfected every surface, washed one load of warm and one load of cold, followed by one load of tumble dry and one of high heat for my towels. Things were going along in blissful solitude. I was just about done when my neighbor came in the back door, spotted me, and wanted to talk condo board business.

At that moment, I was folding my massive white Hanes underpants. I'm also happy to report that, while I was wearing a mask and he couldn't see the new pimple patch I'd applied, I was wearing Crocs with socks. 

Me and Sheila E, living the glamorous life. 


*I had a grilled cheese and ham sandwich with fries and a root beer. $8.94. I mention this because of yesterday's Saturday 9, where it was reported that pop star Ellie Goulding tries to limit herself to $10 for lunch, which some viewed as a lot of money. Sitting at a Formica table, under fluorescent light -- watching Nancy enjoy her pizza-by-the-slice and a shake ($6.93) and hubs have a burger/no cheese, fries and Coke ($9.09) -- I didn't feel like one of the beautiful people. Of course, I was wearing a pimple patch, which will make any girl feel a bit declasse.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Sunday Stealing



1. What is your favorite spooky song. The one I learned in Kindergarten. "Stirring and stirring and stirring my brew. Ooh, ooh! Ooh, ooh! Tip toe. Tip toe. BOO!" My memory of our teacher -- with her back to us, sitting at the piano bench, patiently playing and singing this over and over until we got it right -- is still so clear.

2. What do you want etched on your tombstone? I don't think I want one. Oh, I'm not forestalling death. I just think cremation or maybe donating my remains is a better way to go.

3. Who is your favorite horror movie villain. The evil Nick Simmons from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.


4. Have you ever seen a ghost? Nope.

5. Do you prefer gore, thrillers or supernatural movies? I prefer to be thrilled, I think.

6. What is your favorite scary book? Little Leftover Witch. OK, it's not really scary. But it's one of the first "chapter books" I read on my own, and so it holds a special place in my heart.


7. Have you ever had a tarot card reading? Was it accurate? Yes, and I don't recall.

8. Are you superstitious?  At times.

9. Have you ever used a voodoo doll? No. Sounds very negative and ugly to me.

10. Have you ever participated in a seance? No. Unless a Ouiji Board counts. 

11. Have you ever heard voices when no one was around except you? No.

12. What is your favorite Halloween candy? Kit Kat.

13. What was your most memorable Halloween costume? One year I went as Harpo Marx: curly blonde wig, man's hat and overcoat, bicycle horn. It was fun.

14. Do you like going through haunted houses (not real ones)? Not especially.

15. If someone dared you to spend the night in a haunted house (a real one) would you do it? Hmmm .... I must hear more before I make my decision.


Friday, October 23, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Lights (2011)

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

Run, kid, RUN!
1) This song was inspired by a young Ellie Goulding's fear of the dark. What scared you when you were a kid?
Clowns. The summer when I was 7, we took a train ride to Washington DC. It was overnight, and the train had a "theater" car: folding chairs pointed at a screen. The movie was The Greatest Show on Earth. In it, Jimmy Stewart plays Buttons, who is really a doctor who ran away to join the circus to evade police. He committed euthanasia, put his beloved wife out of her misery. During the movie, he steps up and saves lives, even though it reveals his true identity and sets him up for arrest and the death penalty. I know now that Buttons was a hero. But when I was 7, there were plot points I didn't understand and all I knew is, here was a murderer hiding behind his pointy "I killed my wife" smile. It  terrified me to consider what other clowns were hiding! PS It always amused my mom that I am possibly the only person in the world who grew up afraid of Jimmy Stewart, aka George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life.

2) She thinks back to the room where her brother and sister slept and she felt safe. Did you share a room when you were growing up? Nope.

3) Ellie Goulding grew up in public housing and worked her way through the University of Kent in Canterbury. Back in those days, her favorite job was theater usher because it offered her the perk of seeing plays for free. What's the most recent "freebie" you scored? (This includes a buy one/get one deal, extra points on your credit card, etc.) 
Free shipping from
4) Even though today she is an international music star, Ellie still lives modestly. She describes herself as "still in university mode," and limits herself to $10/day for lunch. Where do you economize?  
I love my CVS coupons. Just today I saved 27% off my bill with coupons.

5) Ellie has proclaimed herself "a cat lady" and often posts pictures of her cats to her Instagram account. What's the most recent photo you took?  
Yes, it's a trash bag full of leaves. I cut back my massive philodendron for the first time in more than a year. She'd been my office plant, and I wanted to show my coworkers that I'd finally given her "a haircut," as they'd all recommended.


6) Ellie appeared on Sesame Street. She, Elmo and Abby thanked clouds for raindrops, lakes, and the water we drink. Would you be thankful for a little rain this weekend?  
No. I don't really like rainy days. I believe the world should be like Camelot, where it never rains until after sundown.

7) In 2011, the year "Lights" was a hit, Prince William married Kate Middleton. Ellie not only attended the wedding, she sang Elton John's "Your Song" for the couple's first dance. Tell us a song that reminds you of a romance in your life.

8) Also in 2011, AT&T abandoned their attempt to buy T-Mobile. Which company is your cell phone carrier? Are you happy with them? 

Consumer Cellular, and yes. I talked my friend John into switching, and he's happy with them, too. It was a battle, though, because he thinks using Consumer Cellular makes him "old." Guess what, John, we ARE old!

9) Random question: What recent experience made you feel old? 

I suppose I could say switching to Consumer Cellular, but it wasn't that. I have a new boss who is between the ages of 35 and 45. I made an I Love Lucy reference (I said I felt like Lucy on the conveyor belt in the chocolate factory) and he had no idea what I was talking about.


Doing the rounds

Two of my closest friends have been to the doctor this week. Our conversations make me feel like a character from General Hospital.

•  Henry had his first appointment with the new neurologist. This neurologist is so new he didn't even she existed. The County, his employers, insisted that he see her. Now. Henry has been clashing more and more frequently with his library coworkers and the public and my guess is that they need some proof that he is disabled to keep him on. He and Reg went to the appointment and Henry raved. He "loved" her. He feels confident that now he has a neurologist he can turn to and who can help him. This is HUGE, because Henry has been resisting seeing a specialist for two years now. I am hopeful that this doctor is bringing Henry that much closer to embracing the fact that he has a TBI and that he needs help if his progress is to continue.

Of course, Henry being Henry, there's a dark cloud amidst this silver lining. He is furious that the County made him see her. He says she is angry about this, and so is the internist who has been treating him. I doubt that that's true. She's a neurologist and he needs her help. (And I bet the internist is delighted to not have to treat his TBI anymore!) He wants to call me again over the weekend to discuss this further. I may not pick up. This is good news, a positive step forward, and I don't want him getting whipped up over the perceived unfairness of the County dictating that he see a specialist.

•  My oldest friend had Botox. In her bladder. Doctors have been recommending this to her for years. She's been resistant because she doesn't want to be shot up "with poison." However she developed a bladder infection that was resistant to treatment and made her so ill that last month she had to have surgery. The urologist who performed that procedure convinced her that, if she didn't want to keep having debilitating infections, she needs to give Botox a try. 

The doctor told her yesterday's procedure was a success, but she's still uncomfortable today. Crampy and tired. So I'm glad these little cacti just arrived. First of all, they're fake, which is a bonus. She has two cats in a very small "mother-in-law apartment" in her cousin's home. I was afraid that, if I sent her real flowers or a plant, her cats would knock them over or view them as a salad bar. Also, I didn't want her to have to find a vase or change the water.

The good news in all this is that they're both going to be feeling better as a result of these trips to the doctor. They're both good people, and they deserve to enjoy comfortable, worry-free days.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Touching base

 I've connected with two old friends this week. It felt good, if not always easy or fun.

Kathy. This phone call was our first conversation of any length since I hung up on her back in July. We're in contact on social media and email, but it's been strained. She is slipping away. Her cognitive decline is disturbing, and it makes her unreasonable and angry. I have tremendous sympathy for her, and am sorry she feels isolated. On the other hand, I can't let her beat up on me because of it. And so I've avoided real-time, one-on-one contact.

Until this week.

I called her and we chatted and it made her happy. She had a list of movie stars -- everyone from Clint Eastwood to "Lenard" DiCaprio -- and wanted me to recommend movies of theirs she could rent from her library. It was arduous. Every few minutes she'd say, "Stop! Slow down! I'm writing down everything you say!" followed by, "Did I write that down already?" 

She asked me how our friend John was. I paused for a moment, not sure how to answer because while I knew he was OK, I hadn't spoken to him in weeks. She started to cry. "I was afraid you'd say he was dead."

The virus is on her mind constantly. Though she lives surrounded by family, her adult grandchildren aren't much help to her because they are Trumpers who believe in "herd immunity." She's literally afraid to have close contact with them and misses them terribly. If I saw fear in my own beloved grandmother's eyes, I'd put on a fucking mask, just to make her feel better. But then, I don't pretend to understand the incredible lack of empathy our President and his supporters never miss an opportunity to display.

She wants us to get together. But she lives 65 miles away, and I don't want her driving to my place (her preference). I was going to offer to take the train out there, but then I don't want her driving to the station, either. Let's face it: I don't want to be responsible for the trip behind the wheel where she kills someone or gets killed. Anyone with her attention span should not be driving.

But I will stay in touch. I will reach out and call her more regularly. It made her happy. It is the least I can do for an old friend who is suffering. And this cognitive decline is real, and it's frightening her.

John. He's back! John went two weeks when he just didn't pick up his phone. He's had the blues. Partly about the virus, partly about the rumors and ugliness being spread against "DemocRats" (like us), partly because he believes Amy Coney Barrett wants to take away his hard-won rights as a gay man. But he knows that he simply can't respond by turning us all away. We love him too much and it frightens us.

At least he knows it now. He kept apologizing to me, and told me that three people he feels close to -- me, Gregory and his Cousin Lori -- all spelled this out to him. I told him he didn't need to apologize any more. He just needs to not do it again.

I get it. I understand the desire to pull in like a turtle. And John certainly has a right to not engage. But I told him, just post on Facebook (he hates Facebook), just send a text. Just let us know that he's healthy and he's eating. That's all I want to know. We can gossip. We can compare notes on our TV watching. We can talk about how much we miss the Cubs. We can always do that another day if he's sad. But in the meantime, all he has to do is raise a flag and let us know he's safe.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Make him hear you

 I know that, as the election approaches, we're all being splashed by what JBKO called the "river of sludge." The innuendo and ugly gossip about the Biden family. The unfounded QAnon rumors. Don't let it get you down. The truth is not on their side, so they traffic in conspiracy.

Remember, here is your chance to vote out the man you heard disparage John McCain's war record. The man you heard admit (and never denied) to Bob Woodward that he knew how dangerous the corona virus was and did little to protect us.  The man you heard wish Ghislaine Maxwell well. The man you heard on the Access Hollywood tape.

America is better than our current President. Here's your chance to make him hear you.


Tuesday, October 20, 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? Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger. I will write this carefully, because I don't want to give anything away. Of course, I'm pretty early into this thriller, and it's so twisty I'm not 100% sure of what I'd be giving away!

Selena is mom of two boys who just returned to work because her husband lost his job. She finds out through the nanny cam that instead of looking for employment he's ... um ... "enjoying" their daycare provider. Selena impulsively shares this with the stranger she finds herself next to on the 7:45 PM train home. That woman reciprocates by saying she feels trapped in an affair with her boss. It's the kind of sharing that's more comfortable with someone you're sure you'll never see again. The stranger muses that it would be nice if all their problems could just "go away." It seems like an innocuous comment. Then, Selena's nanny actually does disappear. What's going on here?
I admit I chose this book for its cover -- a moody illustration of a woman through the window of a train. I love train travel and I miss my old, pre-covid life, which included a commute every workday, where I did my reading. I'm enjoying this story, and know it will inspire many a fantasy when I once again find myself riding the rails.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  My Girls, by Todd Fisher. Todd's "girls" were mother Debbie Reynolds and sister Carrie Fisher. Confession: I'm not a Star Wars fan nor a Debbie Reynolds fan. But I always admired Carrie's writing, wit and courage in sharing her bipolar diagnosis. I looked forward to reading about her by the one who knew her best and knew her longest, her little brother, Todd.

It's a fascinating book. He was famous before he was born, the child of America's Sweethearts. One of his stepmothers was the most beautiful and notorious woman in the world, Elizabeth Taylor. Staff outnumbered the residents in his childhood home. Todd gave me a glimpse into a life I'd never know otherwise.

But at times I was annoyed. As Carrie often said, her family wore their underwear on the outside, meaning Debbie, Carrie and now Todd all had a penchant for oversharing. Because of Todd's candor, it became obvious that he chose his family of origin -- especially his mother -- over the family he was building. I was shocked and disappointed by Todd's apparent insensitivity to his wife Christi as she dealt first with alcoholism and then with cancer, and he was always racing to Las Vegas to be at Debbie's side and help her with her ongoing financial and marital travails. 

Oh, well. I'm not sorry I read it. It was lovely to spend time with the exasperating and extravagantly talented Carrie again, and I'm grateful that her brother shared her essence in this memoir.

 3. What will read next? I've always wanted to read A Night to Remember. Written back in the 1950s, Walter Lord's well-respected chronicle of the last hours of the Titanic is still considered the gold standard. Now I may finally get to it.

Pick up your damn phone!

I love my friend John. We have been friends for 39 years. The hallmark of our relationship is that we tend to take each other as we are. We're comfortable. But as time goes on, I find myself getting angrier with him more often. Because I don't think HE values himself as much as I do. 

For example, in 2016 he lost a toe to diabetes. This did not happen overnight. We're talking about months of showers where he looked down at his numb and discolored toe and ignored it because he didn't want to get bad news. In 2019, he was advised about a defibrillator. Then in fall, he lost his job and his insurance and has done nothing to pursue it. He turned 65 this year so he has Medicare, but you know ... a defibrillator is complicated and not fun.

Naturally I worry about him during this pandemic. He's 65, he's diabetic, and he has a bad heart. And there are plenty of assholes who aren't careful about masks and social distancing and they put my loved ones at risk.

So I'm sooooo mad at him that he willingly goes weeks without answering his phone. Really, we talked, emailed and saw one another all the time before before the corona virus. Now that his health could be compromised every time he walks out his front door, he chooses to go "off the grid."

I believe he still goes to his favorite local bar every night to eat, drink wine and watch TV from his designated socially-distanced corner table. But tonight it's rainy and 55ยบ. There's no more outdoor seating. Drink wine and watch TV at home, for Christ's sake!

And return calls! This week we've all scolded him -- me, Gregory, his cousin Lori -- because he's gone two full weeks without calling any of us. It also bugs me that he's screening us. That he picks up his phone, looks at it, and says, "Oh, it's her," and puts the phone back down, unanswered.

I appreciate that this virus has us all rattled and our moods can be unpredictable. I get how depressing it is to turn on the news and hear Trump airing his special blend of conspiracies and grievances. I also understand and embrace personal freedom and the desire to interact on one's own terms.. But John doesn't have the right to frighten us. 

I think we have a responsibility to the people who love us.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Why can't Christians behave like Christians?

Donald Trump's noisiest supporters seem to be self-identified Christians. As a Christian myself, I find much of their behavior mystifying and disturbing.

Let's take, for example, the Twitter feed of the friend of a friend. He states -- with no evidence whatsoever -- that "Crazy Nancy" Pelosi will employ the 25th Amendment right after the Inauguration, removing "Sleepy Joe Biden" because of his mental decline and enabling "Monster" Kamala Harris to execute her "radical left wing agenda."

This man indulges in name calling and spreads conspiracy theories as truth. (Not to mention that I know no true progressives who are enthralled with Sen. Harris, but never mind that now.) How many commandments has he broken with just that tweet?

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Buckle up for the real ugliness. What if Neilia Hunter Biden wasn't killed in a car accident, but murdered? What if the murderer was her own husband, Joe, who wanted to "traffic" his young boys, Hunter and Beau, to pedophiles? 

What ugly mind conceives of that? What evil mind shares it as truth on social media?

When this election is over, and Trump is just a bad memory, I hope I can have my faith back. My Christian faith is about love and forgiveness, not hateful smut. There's a Bible verse that sums it up: Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgive one another, as Christ forgave you. I know, I know. How dull it is, with no innuendo! No Trumpy bravado or name-calling.  It's just love. Old-school love. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Sunday Stealing


1. What kinds of things do you like to write? Letters, articles, fiction, work assignments ... I enjoy it all except poetry. I'm terrible at poetry.

2. What is your favorite genre of movie. I don't think I have one. Seriously, I love 'em all. Except foreign movies. I don't do subtitles.

3. Your favorite song? It changes. Right now, it's this one.


4. During what situation do your eyes shine the brightest? I don't know because I can't see my own eyes from this side.

5. Summer or Winter? Except for baseball, winter.

6. What do you do when you are angry? I lash out. It's not my most attractive feature.

7, Sleep with lights on or off ? On

8. Are you ok with eating alone in a restaurant? Sure.

9. Texting or calling? Calling

10. What’s your favorite thing about yourself? I'm resilient

11. How do you act when you’re scared? Defensive

12. When you look at the sky do you first look at the moon, or the stars? Moon

13. Do you approach strangers when you are lost? No

14. Tea or Coffee? Tea

15. With sugar? Milk? Lemon? Anything else? Sugar


Detour on the road to Crazy Town

This week marks the second anniversary of my friend Henry's accident. Physically, he has recovered amazingly well and I'm grateful. However, he still suffers the after effects of a brain injury, and he may never completely recover. He is doing well, all things considered. He is able to work and he attends poetry guild meetings. But he struggles with anger, with reason and proportion. He gets whipped up over things that he doesn't understand and can't control and then he veers off into Crazy Town. Once he enters Crazy Town, there's no reaching him.

Tonight he called and we were en route to Crazy Town. His employers are insisting he consult a neurologist (YEA!) and the only one in town can't see him until January. So, Henry says, he's going to be fired on Monday. 

I suggested he have the neurologist send word to his bosses that she can't see him until January. No. They know this and don't accept it. They're going to fire him on Monday morning.

I suggested he call his shrink and ask her to intercede with this employers on his behalf. (I don't think there's anything she can do, but she's a trained professional who can likely talk him down.) No. She doesn't have time for him. They're going to fire him on Monday morning. 

I suggested his GP let his employers know that he's submitted a referral to the neurologist. No. They won't accept that. They're going to fire him on Monday morning.

I'm running out of suggestions here. So I decide to just go with the flow.

OK, they'll fire him Monday morning. Fine. They have to pay severance. Between 9 and 12 weeks. So the worst that can happen is paychecks through Christmas. YEA!

He says I don't understand. Well, we agree on that. I'm tired and I'm running out of suggestions. 

I change the subject. "So you went to the poetry guild today?" I ask him about his writing. I ask him for advice with mine. Hallelujah!  We're talking about something else!

I think I understand what's happening at work. Henry has been clashing more frequently with his coworkers, and they likely need some verification that he is disabled to justify keeping him on. I don't blame them. I love Henry, but I can't imagine what he's like 40 hours/week. I think every one of his coworkers deserves flowers and a big heart-shaped box of candy for understanding and enduring his situation as well as they have.

Henry has been reluctant to see a neurologist because he thinks it means he's "stupid" or "crazy." But he needs to see one. He needs to have an up-to-date assessment and maybe meds. So I think this is all positive.

And personally, I take this call as proof that I'm improving as a friend. I'm learning to deflect, not argue.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Vision of Love (1990)

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

1) The lyrics refer to "sweet destiny." Do you believe in destiny? Not really. OK, sometimes. I admit it: it depends on when you ask me.

2) This week's artist, Mariah Carey, has something to fall back on. She studied cosmetology and worked as a hair sweeper in a salon. When you get your hair cut, do you socialize with the stylist? Yes. I've known him forever. Our families have known one another forever. So we have always have a lot to catch up on.
3) She isn't likely to turn to cosmetology any time soon. Mariah is currently on the best seller list with her autobiography, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. Was the last book you finished fiction or non-fiction? The last book I finished was My Girls, Todd Fisher's memoir.

4) So far, more than 800 people have reviewed Mariah's book on Amazon. Do you review products/services online? I review every book I read on Goodreads. It helps me keep track of what I read/when. If I'm really impressed with service, I'll leave word on Yelp. I just stayed at an Airbnb and left a review there.

5) When she was a high school student, she was nicknamed "Mirage" because she skipped class so often. Did you ever play hooky? I often disappeared after lunch. Especially if the weather was good. I really hated high school.

6) Mariah doesn't apologize for spoiling her dogs, who have been known to travel by limo. Do you know anyone who treats their pets like people? That would be me.

7) In 1990, the year this song was popular, Martina Navratilova won the Wimbledon Women's Singles Tournament. How's your tennis game? Non-existent.

8) Also in 1990, Pope John Paul II toured Mexico. Have you ever visited our neighbor south of the border? Nope.

9) Random question(s): There are Gofundme campaigns for many purposes. Have you ever solicited funds online? Would you? I don't think so, but I'll never say never. After my friend Henry's accident, his husband Reg asked for help to pay the bills during Henry's rehab. It raised $12,500 in just six months. When he later found out about the Gofundme, Henry was mortified, but they really needed the money to stay afloat. My coworker, Carla, started a Gofundme for a friend of hers who was furloughed and then got sick and is facing eviction, which would mean being separated from the much-loved dog she rescued. This fund raised $1,000 in a week. If I found myself in such catastrophic straits, maybe I would start a fund.

On the other hand, some people seem rather shame-free in the things they expect others to pay for. And, speaking of shame-free, if you've had your Gofundme up for more than 30 days and no one has given you a cent, take the sucker down. Show some pride!


Tuesday, October 13, 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? My Girls, by Todd Fisher. Todd's "girls" are mother Debbie Reynolds and sister Carrie Fisher. He refers to this book as "a long love letter and thank-you note to the two most pivotal, extraordinary women I've ever known." And it is. He's touchingly fond and understanding when writing about them. Which is not to say that he whitewashes anything. Forgiving is not the same as ignoring in this book. I appreciate his candor.

2. What did you recently finish reading? First Degree, by David Rosenfelt. Our hero, defense attorney Andy Carpenter, is irreverent, plays Scrabble, and loves both pets and baseball. He's also a multimillionaire. Yes, he ticks all the boxes and qualifies as my dream man. I admit I have a crush on him.

He's our narrator, and the best thing about this book. The plot is good, too. A prospective client confesses to an especially grisly murder. Andy is repulsed and refuses to take the case but, since attorney/client privilege applies, he can't alert the police. What he can do, though, is offer to defend the luckless low-level thug who is charged with the crime. After all, Andy knows this defendant is innocent. 

The story really had me for a long time. There's a lot at stake, many unexpected twists and a genuinely heartbreaking turn of events. Then, at about the 70% mark, it turns out one of the recurring characters just so happens to have an in-law who is a high-ranked government official and that magically opens doors. It felt a little too convenient for me.

But that's just a quibble. I'm sure I'll return to this mystery series (and my fictional boyfriend).

3. What will read next? I've laid hands on A Night to Remember, Walter Lord's well-respected chronicle of the last hours of the Titanic. I'm not 100% sure it's my next read, though. During the pandemic I find books have an outsized impact on my mood. If I'm feeling the least melancholy, I'll go with something else.

The deed is done


My niece is married. She wore her perfect dress: a tea length tulle from David's Bridal. She was inspired by the dress my mother wore on her wedding day in 1955. My niece saw that little b&w photo many times because my mom carried it in her wallet. My niece told me that, when she was a little girl, she fantasized about going wedding dress shopping with her grandma. 

I was thinking along the same lines. My wedding present was a Kohl's gift card, even though they were registered at Amazon and Target. Kohl's was my mom's favorite store, and she loved sharing her "Kohl's Cash" with my niece, so I told the bride and groom they should consider whatever they bought with the card a gift from Grandma.

I was also touched that she requested photos be taken with her and me, and then with the three of us: me, her and her brother. I'm not especially close to my family, and feeling like an important part of my niece's day meant a lot to me.

I really like the groom's family. They hosted the wedding at their house and were so warm and welcoming. And thoughtful! If you didn't have a mask, one was provided for you. But you were wearing one. I appreciated their wisdom and maturity during the pandemic.

We're related!

When my niece married Mark, his family's cat and I became in-laws. We hit it off instantly and he tried to run away with me by climbing into my purse. Alas, they locked him in the basement and foiled his getaway.

My cute little cabin

I was in Holland Michigan for my niece's wedding and stayed at a little coach house. I had it all to myself and was happy here. No photos of the bathroom because it was more "rustic" than I would have liked (the shower stall was a temporary fiberglass affair and the toilet was unreliable) but I would stay here again.

I binged on Batman and did the Batusi in honor of my niece

One thing I learned: just because a municipality allows Uber and Lyft doesn't mean that any of the citizens are drivers. I literally got a "NO CARS AVAILABLE" message! I had to take cabs, and I wasn't crazy about that because the drivers, while very pleasant, weren't big on masks.

Both airports (ORD and GRR) were, however, very serious about masks. I was so happy and grateful to see that. This was my first trip since the pandemic and felt better when my fellow citizens were thoughtful enough to mask up and social distance.