Saturday, January 29, 2022

Doctor's orders

All I really did Saturday was nap and read and watch TV (especially a 1976 made-for-TV movie starring Elizabeth Montgomery and a young-and-cute Anthony Hopkins). I accomplished all this nothing on the strict orders of my shrink, who between 2:00 and 3:00 today listened to me whine and declared that I needed a day of "self care." She steered me toward escaping into the past, where I could forget all that's stressing me out.

And what is stressing me out? Everything and nothing.

The office is reopening 2/22. We will be expected to show up 3 days/week. I don't know how this will work, as the office isn't big enough to hold all of us at a social distance on any given day, but they have 3 weeks to work that out. I am deeply ambivalent about this. There's a freedom to working from home that I will miss. On the other hand, I miss the city and I'm getting squirrelly, spending too much time alone.

Then there's Covid. It seems there's always Covid! Because of O'Hare, there will always be stubbornly unvaccinated citizens passing through Chicago and callously putting me at risk. I'm trying to put a good face on it, literally, and upgraded to N95 masks. But they don't fit me. Not the ones with straps around the head, not the ones with straps behind my ears. So I'll double mask and hope for the best. But the situation makes me sad.

My mind has been wandering to my mortality. I don't think I'm being morbid. I'm not dwelling, but  between the pandemic and Kathy's problems, I'm increasingly aware I'm in the late innings of the game. Like yesterday, out of nowhere, it occurred to me that I'll never see Prince William be King. Reading about Big Papi making the Hall of Fame made me wonder which of my beloved 2016 Cubs team will go into Cooperstown. Kris Bryant, I decided. But I probably will be dead before that happens. 

I'm not afraid of death, per se. I'm good with God and feel confident I'll be welcome in Heaven. But I don't like prospect of getting there. Will I suffer diminished capacity, like Kathy? Will I be scared and in pain, like my mom was? Will the market tank, leaving me broke, because so many dumb douchebags prefer to believe Tucker Carlson over Dr. Fauci and Covid stays with us forever?

I miss Reynaldo. 

My shrink feels my Covid fatigue is pretty standard issue. Normal and understandable, if not healthy. She feels that we're all suffering from it to one degree or another.

In the meantime, where's the remote?


 


Friday, January 28, 2022

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: All of Me (1932)

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


1) In this song, Louis Armstrong calls his girl "baby." What's the last endearment someone used when speaking to you? My oldest friend always ends our calls by saying, "Love you, Dear!"
 
2) He sings that losing his love made him cry. Do you cry easily? No. Though I do cry more than I did 15 or 20 years ago. Life has gotten more difficult, and I've had therapy.
 
3) Louis was born in New Orleans, a city famous for music and cuisine. What's something you love about your home town? Pizza. Here in Chicagoland you almost always have a choice of deep dish or thin crust. I was in Key West recently. Restaurants down there should be ashamed of themselves for what they call "pizza." To qualify for the title, a pizza must be tomato sauce/gooey cheese goodness. Don't settle for less!
 

4) At age 11, Louis unwisely fired a pistol during a New Year's Eve celebration and was sentenced to 18 months in a juvenile detention facility. It was there that he met music teacher Peter Davis, who believed in Louis and taught him to play cornet and bugle. Tell us about someone who believed in you and made your life better. I miss my boss Aaron. He made me feel valued and heard. Aaron has only been gone two weeks. Maybe I'll come to like this new boss as much. (OK, I doubt it.)
 
5) Louis would say that arrest changed his life for the better because it was at the detention center that "me and music got married." After his release, he began playing on streetcorners, or in honkytonks ... any place he could hone his skills. What is something you have worked hard to be better at? Every day I try to be better. Period. Full stop. I can always be a better person. That's what I concentrate on.

6) In the late 1920s, Louis led a jazz band called The Hot Five. His wife, Lil, believed he was too talented not to receive star billing. He just didn't feel ready. She went behind his back and convinced the management at Chicago's Dreamland Cafe to advertise: "The Hot Five, featuring Louis Armstrong: The World's Greatest Trumpet Player." It worked! At the end of the gig, Okeh Records signed him to a recording contract. Can you think of a time when, like Lil, you were glad you asked for forgiveness rather than permission? Often in my work. Sometimes clients have to see how something looks before they realize I was right to break the rules.

7) In 1932, the year this record was popular, the son of aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped and killed. This famous case inspired Agatha Christie to write Murder on the Orient Express. Have you read the book? Seen the movie, the remake or the miniseries?  I've read the book and seen both movies. The 1974 version is better, much closer to the book.
 
 
 
I haven't seen the Britbox TV version, but I've heard good things about it.
 
8) Another aviator was in the news in 1932. Amelia Earhart flew 14 hours from Newfoundland to Londonderry. What is the longest flight you've ever taken? Chicago to Honolulu is over 9 hours. But worth it!

9) Random question: You have the opportunity to travel safely in a time machine. Would you go back to the past, into the future, or say, "no thanks, I'll stay in 2022?" I think I'll stay put. But thank you for offering.

 


Thursday, January 27, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #243

 Thirteen Amazon top sellers. I feel I'm always waiting for a package from Amazon. So are millions of other Americans. Here's what we're buying, as indicated by the best-seller* in major categories.

1.  Beauty and Personal Care: Mighty Patch. These are the top-selling hydrocolloid pimple patches. I use/love patches and I get them from Amazon, but not this brand.

2. Shoes. Crocs Classic Clog. I feel vindicated. I still wear my old-school, original Crocs to do laundry, get the mail and take out the trash. Sometimes I sense judgement. I don't care. I'm my own girl.

3. Women's Clothing. Amazon Essentials Cotton Bikini Brief Underwear/Multipack. I'm a Hanes white cotton brief girl myself.

4. Men's Clothing. Carhartt Men's Knit Cuffed Beanie. Men don't worry so much about hat hair, do they?

5. Household Cleaning. Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. I like a good wipe. I have these in my kitchen and near the cats' litter boxes (but I didn't order through Amazon).

6. Home and Kitchen. AquaOasis Cool Mist Humidifier. It's that time of year! I've got humidifiers running in the bedroom overnight and the living room/dining room all day.

7. Appliances. Silonn Countertop Ice Maker. This one I don't get. It takes 7 minutes to make 9 ice cubes. OK. I guess if I were having a big party -- which I never will -- maybe I'd need a lot of ice cubes. But I'd also need my counter space. I'd just start the day before, making ice cubes the old-fashioned way in my ice cube trays and collect them.

8. Laptops. HP 15". It's cute and surprisingly affordable, but I'm a Mac girl.

9. Office Supplies. Amazon Basics File Folders/Assorted Colors. I never think of Amazon for office supplies. I just buy what I need at the drug store, and if it's not there I tool around on staples.com.

10. Cell Phones. Google Pixel 6/5G/Android. It looks like a lovely phone, but I'm not tech savvy enough to buy a phone from Amazon. I need my Consumer Cellular customer service!

11. Television. TCL 32" Roku Smart TV. I can't get over how affordable TVs are! This is (as I write) $168.

12. Video Games. $10 PlayStation Gift Card. Ha! So I'm not the only one who has no idea what to buy a gamer.

13. Pet Supplies. Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags. Makes sense, doesn't it?

 



Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

*List is updated hourly.


 

Worse, not better

Twelve days ago, Kathy emailed me, letting me know she'd moved in December and had a new address. In and of itself, that's not unusual. Except that Kathy had told me before Thanksgiving that she was moving and gave me the address then. I'd sent her a card from Key West to her new home at Christmas. I asked her if she got the card. She couldn't remember.

Ten days ago, Kathy sent me pictures of her new apartment filled with boxes. She admitted she was "overwhelmed" by unpacking. She was going from a 2BR to a 1BR apartment. Deciding what to get rid of is upsetting her. She also doesn't understand how to get cable and wifi in her new place. I suggested she call on her adult grandchildren who live nearby. They grew up with tech. She said I was "brilliant" and was sending hugs my way.

Yesterday she sent me a text, letting me know that she'd moved in December. She said she had no wifi and can't communicate except through email and her phone. She told me she'd be sending me her new address "soon."

I began noticing Kathy's forgetfulness two years ago. She invited me to spend the day with her. We started by having breakfast together. Her treat, she said. Then we sat down, she requested separate checks. OK, she changed her mind. When the waitress brought the separate checks, she grabbed mine, rolled her eyes and said disapprovingly, "Why would she give us separate checks?"

After breakfast, we went back to her place. I gave her a birthday present, a canvas print of a picture of her camping with her grandkids. She was delighted and put it on her bookcase, admiring it a moment. Then she got up to get me something to drink. Coming back into the room, she saw the wrapping paper she'd left on the sofa and asked, "What's that from? Did you give me a present?"

I asked, more than once, if she'd spoken to a doctor about her forgetfulness. She got angry, and then angrier, at me. She doesn't trust doctors. They over prescribe, they demand unnecessary tests. She had a problem with her brain, but "it's better now." She healed herself. She warned me not to ever mention it to her again.

I am comforted by the fact that her adult grandchildren live nearby. They had keys to her old apartment and hope they have keys to the new one. They can check on her. 

Kathy is also self aware enough to have quit driving "with anyone else in the car." She says she's too easily distracted. I don't think she should drive at all. 

Her birthday is coming up. She will be 74 in the second week of February. 

I am frightened for her.


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

WWW.WEDNESDAY

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? Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Rachel is in love and very happy. She never expected to be either. A successful cookbook writer and PBS cooking show personality, she's always been unlucky with men ... until she meets Mark, a Washington columnist. She leaves her beloved New York and settles into matrimonial bliss with Mark in DC. They buy a house. They have a baby. They vacation with good friends. Another baby is on the way. Life can't get any better.

It doesn't. Mark, an inveterate womanizer, reverts to type. Rachel finds out. Now what?

This is a very funny book because Nora Ephron was a very funny writer. It's also moving, because it's clearly based on what happened when the real-life Nora found her husband, Washington Post legend Carl Bernstein, cheating on her. It's a powerful laugh-through-your-tears combo you don't get often.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Slow Burn by Ace Atkins. Someone is setting fires in Boston. From one side of town to the other. No pattern in choice of target. Who is doing it, and why? A firefighter who lost his best friend in a blaze isn't patient enough to wait for arson to come to a conclusion that can be proved in court, so he asks our hero, Spenser, to investigate

This book has everything I love about the Spenser series: Spenser cracking wise, Spenser and Susan dining spectacularly, Pearl the Wonder Dog, Hawk just appearing as only Hawk can. Ace Atkins is doing right by the old gang created by Robert B. Parker, and I appreciate that.

It also had something new (to me, at least): arson. I didn't realize how hard arson crimes are to solve. As one member of the investigation team says, "All we have are ash and chemicals." Hair, fiber, fingerprints, DNA ... they all get destroyed in a fire. If robbery was a motive, a single item can't be isolated as missing because everything is gone.

The motive in this story was interesting, too. It's so crazy that we can see why Spenser didn't originally see it and how he got sidetracked. But it also makes a mad kind of sense.

3. What will you read next? I really enjoyed my foray back into Spenser's Boston. Maybe I'll scour Goodreads to see if there's another in the series I've somehow missed, or wish to revisit.

 

 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sunday Stealing

STOLEN FROM THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY PENPALS

1. Would you rather be the guest or the host? Guest. I hate having people over.
 
2. What do you like to wear when you feel fancy? Layers. I feel if I'm wearing a jacket or cardigan over a t-shirt, I'm fancy.
 
3. How often do you try something completely new? Depends on the situation. I can be adventurous when ordering in restaurants. I am resistant to change when it comes to process at work.
 
4. Do you enjoy weddings? NO! Hate, loathe, despise, and abominate them. My art director is toying with moving in with her "boyfriend" (they're both near 60 years old, so "boyfriend" kinda creeps me out) and instead of being happy for her, I honestly thought, "I hope it doesn't work out so they don't get engaged and I don't have to go to the wedding." Why can't more people run away to Vegas?

Be like them

5. Have you ever had something customized? All the time. I love giving personalized gifts.
 
6. Do you cook spontaneously or meal plan? I kinda meal plan. For example, this coming week I think I'll be having salmon. Which means I took the salmon out of the freezer and moved it to the frig to defrost.
 
7. Books you like to read over and over. I'm on something of a Nora Ephron binge these days. I just reread (and rewatched) Heartburn, her roman-a-clef about the end of her marriage to Carl Bernstein.
 
8. What are you really good at? I'm good with critters. Cats, dogs and the occasional rabbit. Critters and me, we get along.
 

9. Do you sleep with windows open or a fan on? Right now, both. Which is funny, because it's 20ยบ outside. But I live on the top floor, and heat rises through the floorboards so it can get hot in here. I wish air conditioning rose up through the floor like heat does. It would save me a fortune each summer. Alas, it does not.
       
10. What is the easiest recipe you know? Take keys. Add mask. Go to McDonald's.
 
11. Are you comfortable starting conversation with strangers? Depends on the situation. If it's work related, yes. If it's not, no.
 
12. Do you prefer quiet, or ambient noise when you relax? Ambient noise, please. I have tinnitus, so quiet makes me crazy.
 
13. Who is your most adventurous or exciting friend? Hmmm ... We're all pretty old, or staid, or broke these days.
 
14. What do you eat when you can’t decide what to eat? A bowl of cereal.
 
15. Do you have any funny pet stories? Here's Reynaldo's selfie. I think he showed great potential.


 


A most happy moment

I admit we're not this good looking
My nephew is now an apprentice writer for a baseball website. He will be a full-time staffer after he graduates from college this spring. When he told me about the job, he thanked me for being the one who introduced him to baseball. It was a big moment for me. 

I just found one of his first articles on line. It's about US. Him and me. OK, not really. The article entertained ways MLB could grow their fanbase among a new generation of fans, and my nephew's suggestion is that the league get more involved in intramural sports. He used himself as an example, recalling how, when he was 7, his aunt explained baseball stats to him and showed him how to follow the Cubs in the Sunday paper. Then this aunt took him to his first game was he was 10. Alas, there was no place for him to indulge his enthusiasm for the sport, since his community kept promoting soccer.* Perhaps if MLB threw more money and attention to children, it would reap great rewards in terms of interest, TV ratings, and ticket sales.

I am awesomely pleased. I am reminded of how, in 1964, my favorite uncle introduced 6-year-old me to the Beatles and gave me the soundtrack to my life. I feel like I have paid that forward. I also often wonder how, as a single and childless woman, my life has mattered. I realize I had a lasting impact without really intending to.

Two sentences out of a 300 word article. It's not a lot, but it's everything.

*Auntie's note: He wasn't really very good at it. Could it be he, like me, is not a natural athlete? Or maybe he just truly didn't care for the sport.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: I'm the Only One (1993)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Melissa Etheridge sings this song as though her heart is breaking. What's your favorite love song? Is it about falling in love, being in love, or losing love? Being in love. It always makes me smile. It's simple and sweet and lovely.

2) "I'm the Only One" is a favorite song of American Idol contestants, having been performed four different times. If we were to have a Saturday 9 karaoke night, what song would you do? Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll," because there's very little singing involved. I'm tone deaf.

3) A rocker at heart, Melissa Etheridge began her career in her teen years, playing with local country groups. Which do you enjoy more: country or rock? I once would have said "rock," without hesitation. Now it depends on my mood.

4) In 1985, Melissa sent a demo to Olivia Records, hoping for a record deal. She was rejected. Her debut CD was released in 1988 on the Island label and went gold. Tell us about a time you bounced back from professional adversity. I've had some genuinely horrible bosses. The worst was Patricia (don't call her Patty!). She preferred pink; she even had pink paperclips. She was also batshit crazy. I thought we bumped heads because she was uber political and more about self-aggrandizement than the work. She thought it was because we were adversaries in a past life, and if we didn't work it out now we'd continue clashing for eternity.

5) In her personal life, Melissa has faced major challenges, including breast cancer and the death of her son. She credits music with helping her heal emotionally. What gives you strength? My faith and my sense of humor.

6) Melissa is a vegetarian, so her diet emphasizes plant-based foods like fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables. What was your most recent meal? Would it qualify as vegetarian? Shredded chicken with barbecue sauce, with a side of corn, and an ice cream sandwich for dessert.

7) In 1993, the year this song was popular, a massive storm dropped a record 56" of snow in Mount Le Conte, TN. Have you done much shoveling this winter? We haven't had any accumulation yet this year (which is weird, since it's mid-January). But even if we did, I wouldn't shovel it. The condo association pays a service.

8) One of the most popular movies of 1993 was A Few Good Men, starring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson, who famously said, "You can't handle the truth!" What's the most recent movie you watched? Everything Is Copy, a documentary about writer/director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail) by her son, Jacob Bernstein. I enjoyed it not only because Nora Ephron is a heroine of mine, but because it made me wonder what I would have learned about my mother if I'd taken the opportunity to sit down with her friends and relatives and ask about her life.


9) Random question: Dessert is on us! Describe your perfect ice cream sundae. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream and a cherry. (Cherry is optional. I'm not crazy about the taste, but I like the visual.)

 



Thursday, January 20, 2022

But I thought things would get easier

Today we had a financial planner talk to us about Social Security. It was excruciating. Oh, Social Security is a wonderful benefit that I intend to take full advantage of, and it's commendable that my company invited the planner to address us, free of charge. But he was a terrible presenter. He would explain all these fantastic things about Social Security and I was eager to write it all down, but then he said, "You have to be born before 1954 to take advantage of that." 

A citizen born in 1953 would be 69 years old. I promise you: there are no 69 year olds working at our agency.

Anyway, I did learn something valuable. I'm glad I have the information, even if I'm not crazy about the ramifications. As the law stands now,* if my income in retirement is more than $25,000, I will need to pay at least some tax. However, I won't be required to pay taxes on the entire amount of my Social Security check. Right now,* there's a cap so no more than 85% of my SS payment is taxable.

Do I understand this? Kinda sorta. But here was my key takeaway ...

Retirement will not be easy. I hoped when I stopped earning money, the paperwork surrounding money would be reduced. That's simply not true. I will forever be wondering if I have the right Medicare supplement plan. I will forever be handing documents over to an accountant to do my taxes and keep me out of prison.

Oh well, as Maurice Chevalier once said, "Growing old isn't so bad when you consider the alternative."


*And these laws could change and change again before I start collecting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #242

The Thirteen Most Popular Cat Names of 2021. I live in a two-cat household and spend a lot of time at the vet. I've noticed in recent years that more and more people are giving their pets more "human" names, veering away from "Fluffy" and "Mittens." I see my observation is not unique to my neighborhood. Here are last year's most popular feline monikers.

1. Luna

2. Milo

3. Oliver

4. Leo

5. Loki

6. Bella

7. Charlie

8. Willow

9. Simba

10. Lucy

11. Lily

12. Nala

13. Kitty (the outlier)

None of my cats has gone by those names. Over my lifetime, I've shared my home with Tommy, Little Tommy, Snoozer, Trouble, Annie, Wilma, Tara, Allison, Billy, Joey, Charlotte, Reynaldo, and currently Connie and Roy Hobbs. (My mom named Snoozer and Trouble.)



Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.


This is the aggregate of two lists I found online.

  

 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

WWW.WEDNESDAY

 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? Slow Burn by Ace Atkins. A boarded-up Catholic church burned to the ground and three Boston firefighters were killed. Arson was suspected, but the official results are inconclusive. A firefighter who lost his best friend in the blaze refused to accept "inconclusive" and asked Spenser to investigate. Who could have done this? And why? There are motives aplenty: religion, finances, revenge, or pyromania.

I try to read every book including Spenser and gang as created by the later Robert B. Parker. but somehow I missed this one, published back in 2016. I love being in Spenser's head. He's the perfect combination of integrity and attitude. I can't recall ever before reading a murder mystery where fire was the weapon, so I'm engaged.

2. What did you recently finish reading? 150 Glimpses of The Beatles by Craig Brown. An original, often amusing, but not completely successful look at The Lads. Their story is told in a series of 150 short stories/anecdotes/reminisces. Some are illuminating, some are great fun, and some are just dull. It's more than 500 pages, so I guess it can be forgiven for dragging a bit. I'm just a little disappointed because I enjoyed Brown's previous book, Ma'am Darling (about Princess Margaret) so much more.

I gave it points for style and ambition. I took away points for execution. If you're a fan, like me, you'll get a kick out of it. If not, you may be bored or bedfuddled.

3. What will you read next? I'm looking at my TBR list and I see a pair of former spouses. I've got a biography of Nora Ephron and the new memoir by her ex, Carl Bernstein. Maybe I'll go with one of those.

 

Monday, January 17, 2022

I see her less, but that's OK

This is a perfectly representative picture of my Connie. She is always alert and engaged and usually quite happy. Here she is, contentedly owning the box my flowers came in (thank you, Snarkela!). 

Joe & Connie, two gray cats hanging out
Ever since she came to my life in 2015, she's been more a "cat's cat." She made instant friends with Joey. He was old and failing at that time, with less than a year to live. My little beige demon Reynaldo had become grown bored with the aging, arthritic Joey who wouldn't run or leap anymore. I was grateful Connie filled his last months with companionship.

After Joey died, it was just me, Connie and Reynaldo. I didn't get a third cat. Reynaldo was a little maniac for much of his life, insisting on attention. If he wasn't getting it from me, he could count on it from Connie. His skinny body contained an enormous amount of energy. He needed both of us to keep him amused.

Reynaldo died in September and I thought it would be just Connie and me. But she spent the first full day after without him touring his spots throughout the apartment, meowing. It was like she was calling me to show me he wasn't here on the green chair ... or in the kitty condo ... or on the bed ... it was heartbreaking. She got over her grief but tried to replace Reynaldo with me. We were together all the time. She climbed into my lap as I worked on the computer. She sat on my chest as I lie around watching TV. Over night, she was either sleeping on the pillow next to me or on my butt. 

The office was reopening. I was preparing for a trip to Florida. She would be the only the living being in this condo for hours at a time, for days at a time. I worried about how she would handle it. After all, I'm not only responsible for her health. Her happiness is on me, too. She's such a sweet little thing, I take it seriously.

Roy Hobbs getting spruced up
Enter Roy Hobbs. Since Roy Hobbs joined us in October, Connie has become the Cat Queen. When she decides Roy Hobbs needs grooming, he submits to it. When she decides it's time for them to play, he plays. Never mind that he is easily twice her size and 1/3 of her age. She is the alpha, and he knows it. Fortunately, she is a benevolent despot. 

Alas, I now no longer feel her soft fur next to my face when I wake up in the morning. Instead of sleeping all night on the pillow next to mine, she has returned to her favorite cold-weather spot beside the heater in the living room. But she comes to check on me if I haven't gotten up at the usual time, she follows me, chatting all the way as I go to the bathroom and then to the kitchen. She likes to cuddle a bit after dinner. But most of her time is spent keeping tabs on Roy Hobbs. 

That's what makes her happiest. That's as it should be.

More than just an opportunity to sleep in

Today I celebrated Dr. King's birthday by staying in bed till noon. Then I took a long, leisurely shower and reheated wontons and fried rice. (Yum!) It was lovely, but that's not what today is about.

I also sent postcards to voters, encouraging registered Democrats to make sure they're enrolled in Vote By Mail. We live in a country where as many as 40% of voters believe taking a knee in peaceful protest during the National Anthem is shameful, but storming the Capitol with Confederate flags and MAGA hats is somehow not all that bad. It's important that men and women of good will and good conscience vote, and I'm happy I gave up a wee bit of day off toward that end.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunday Stealing

 From the League of Extraordinary Penpals

1. Do you buy things when you want them or wait for sales? I'm an impulse shopper. While I can be remarkably cheap about some things (I use a tube squeezer key to get every last bit of toothpaste), I have also been known to buy stuff I don't need just because it's on sale.

2. Do you think time moves slowly or quickly? It depends. During a late afternoon meeting, time crawls. While watching a movie I adore, the moments seem to race by.

3. How often do you spend time alone? All day every day. Unless Zoom calls and phone calls count.

 4. What’s something that has changed in the last month? My front door. One month ago today I had a wreath on one side and Christmas cards taped to the other.

5. What’s the best part of your job, profession? Seeing the results. Did my words encourage a consumer to pick up the phone or click "Learn more?" I like knowing my efforts have helped my client's bottom line.

6. How many pens do you have? I have no idea.

7. What is your healthiest habit? Probiotics! My gut is so much more efficient now that I take one every morning and eat Chobani yogurt a couple times/week. 

8. Do you have a favorite postage stamp?

9. Who did you talk to the most this week? Last week, I suppose it was my art director. Or maybe it was Elaine from movie group.

10. What’s on your bedside table? Two alarm clocks and a tissue box.

11. How often do you try something new? It depends on what we're talking about.

12. What are some of your grocery list staples? Coke and 2% milk.

13. Do you have a favorite poet? Nope.

14. What interesting fact do you know? President Kennedy's favorite carol was "What Child Is This?" 30 years after his death, Jacqueline Onassis told a friend that during the holidays, when she'd unexpectedly hear it in a store or restaurant, it touched her heart. She was used to seeing her late husband's name on roads and schools. She had learned to handle coming upon his image in magazines or on TV. It was "What Child Is This?" or "Greensleeves" that never stopped hurting. I wonder if that says more about the power of music or the nature of grief.

15. Do you fold laundry right away or do it later? Right away.



Saturday, January 15, 2022

Well, that was disturbing

My friend Kathy got the keys to her new apartment on December 15. She didn't have to be out of her old place until December 31. The two apartments are in the same small town. For reasons too convoluted to follow, she no longer had the internet at her old apartment and didn't seem clear about how to get it in her new place. She has to go to the local public library to use their wifi. But she managed to email her new address to me. Kathy asked me to share it with our mutual friend, John. Kathy has always been a little in love with John. As much as she enjoys hearing from me, she'd want to hear from him twice as much. I forwarded her new address to him.

When I was in Key West, I sent a postcard to her new apartment. I wrote: Happy Holidays from Florida! Happy new year in your new apartment. John sent a holiday card to the new place, as well.

I just got an email from her, sharing her new address. Again. Asking me to forward it to John. Again.

I responded that I would, and then asked if she received my postcard from Florida. She said she couldn't recall.

She went on to tell me that she's feeling overwhelmed but hopes to be settled in her new place "by spring." Why will it take a retired woman with no other demands on her time three months to unpack a 1BR apartment? 

She's now 73. 74 next month. She is often unhappy, usually confused. I don't want to say she has Alzheimer's or dementia, because I don't know that. She refuses to see a doctor. I worry about her living alone. (Though she does have adult grandchildren nearby.)

I don't want this to be happening.


Return to Beforetimes

My most delicious coconut & rum cocktail
When I worked downtown, I used to love Madison Tavern. It's right there in the train station. It's all solid wood and exposed brick. It used to get crowded with commuters, but it never got so noisy that my friends and I couldn't hear each other. (I hate getting home and finding myself hoarse after hours of yelling over the din.) The appetizers are terrific and the bartenders are generous when they pour.

Then the pandemic shut everything down. With so many people working from home, and so few of us commuting, Madison Tavern suspended operations. 

Well, now they're back! Actually, I believe the reopened before Labor Day, but with one thing or another, I finally made my way back to Madison Tavern. I met Elaine there for dinner. We toasted her last day of work (possibly ever!). I ate and drank too much -- spinach-and-artichoke dip and calamari as appetizers, a burger for dinner, and a rum-and-coconut concoction with coconut shavings on the rim.

Elaine was nice enough to bring chewy treats for my cats. She's such a thoughtful person. I'm so glad I met her through movie group.


Done!

That five character text made me so happy. Patrick tells me that Reg and Henry now have health insurance. Finally. Now I can breathe.

According to a Harvard study, more than half of the households that file for bankruptcy do so because of medical bills. With Henry's TBI, his condition is always evolving, and I've been so worried that something sudden will happen that will land him back in the hospital. And let's not forget, they live in Florida during a pandemic. I just checked the stats: 59,000 new cases were reported yesterday in The Sunshine State, where masks are deemed unimportant.

With no insurance, an illness or hospitalization would be cataclysmic for their finances. And their futures. They aren't young men anymore. Henry just turned 59. Reg will be 62 next month. They simply don't have time to recover after a bankruptcy.


Friday, January 14, 2022

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Bobby's Girl (1962)

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

1) In this song, Marcie Blane confesses she sits at home, hoping Bobby will call her. Do you owe anyone a phone call or email? Yes. I should answer my Cousin Rose's letter. It's on my dining room table so I won't forget.

2) We know Marcie wants to be Bobby's Girl. Let's play the Google Game and find out what you want. Go to your favorite search engine, keystroke your name and "wants," and then search. (For example: "Samantha wants" led us to a math problem that begins: "Samantha wants to purchase a new dress ... " Crazy Sam was tempted to read on because her wardrobe could use sprucing up.) What does Google tell us you want? I want "ideas (shoes, boots and purses)." It's a Pinterest fashion page. I like the hobo bags.

3) This hit record was an accident. Marcie Blaine had just graduated from high school and had a few days before she had to take off for her summer job as a camp counselor. A friend asked her to record a couple songs he'd written, just so he could play them for record labels and song publishers. Her friend was hoping somehow an established star would hear the songs, record them and make one of them a hit. Instead, a producer at Seville Records said he wanted not just the songs but especially the unknown girl who was singing them, and Marcie became a recording artist. Tell us about a favor you're very glad you did for a friend. Friday afternoon, Patrick asked me to call our friend Henry and give him a pep talk. They were online, enrolling Henry and Reg in Obamacare! I hope they finished the process. (They have until midnight tonight.) Henry and Reg need healthcare ... badly. I told Henry that I firmly believe that he deserves Obamacare discounts as a taxpayer, they are not welfare, and he should take them. I haven't heard back from Patrick yet, but I'm feeling good about this. I've been trying to persuade Henry and Reg to enroll since October.

4) By the time summer was over, and Marcie's gig as a counselor was done, she was #3 on the charts. Her record stayed in the "Hot 100" for 19 weeks and, for the second half of 1962, she was the top-selling female singer in the US. What female singer do you listen to most often? I recently stumbled upon a 1994 CD called "Hold Me, Kiss Me, Thrill Me" by Gloria Estefan. It's Gloria's cover versions of her own favorite love songs and it's been my go-to for background when I'm working.

 

5) After "Bobby's Girl" took off, she recorded it in German for the European market. Only she didn't speak German, so she sang it phonetically. Can you sing any songs in a language other than English? "Sie liebt dich, yeah, yeah, yeah ..."

6) Seville rushed Marcie into the studio to make more records. None of them charted higher than #68, and Marcie wasn't having fun. After a year of being a rock 'n roller, she enrolled at Queens College in New York City. What's the most recent class you took? I don't recall a class in a school setting, but I had to endure an online seminar about how to spot phishing emails.


7) In 1962, when this song was popular, the most popular baby names were Michael and Lisa. Are there any Michaels or Lisas in your life? Lots of Michaels. Snarkypants is my only Lisa.

8) Also in 1962, Marlene White, the first African American flight attendant for a major US airline, appeared on the cover of Jet magazine. What's the last magazine you flipped through? Was it in print or online? US Magazine in print. Don't judge me. Sometimes I just want to see Prince William and Duchess Kate looking all royal.

9) Random Question: After enjoying a long, relaxing weekend, do you find yourself more or less productive on Monday morning? It just so happens I have embarked on a three-day weekend! I plan on sleeping a lot. Let's see how I feel Tuesday morning.


 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Thursday Thirteen #241

The Thirteen Most Popular Songs, January 1982.*  I can still sing along with the first 12. Even with the ones I never especially liked (#2 and #4). That's how powerful and influential Top 40 radio was in my life 40 years ago.

1. Physical -- Olivia Newton-John

2. Waiting for a Girl like You -- Foreigner

3. Let's Groove -- Earth, Wind and Fire (My favorite; though I only ever knew the refrain. Hearing it digitally makes the lyrics so much clearer than they sounded through my AA battery-operated Walkman. )


 4. I Can't Go for That -- Hall and Oates

5. Young Turks -- Rod Stewart

6. Harden My Heart -- Quarterflash

7. Leather and Lace -- Stevie Nicks and Don Henley

8. Centerfold -- The J. Geils Band

9. Turn Your Love Around -- George Benson (My then boyfriend loved this one)

10. Trouble -- Lindsey Buckingham

11. Yesterday's Songs -- Neil Diamond (And now it is one of yesterday's songs)

12. Coming In and Out of Your Life -- Barbra Streisand (the girl can break your heart with lyric)

 

 13.  The Sweetest Thing I've Ever Known -- Juice Newton (Your Honor, I swear I've never heard this before in my life)



Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

 

*According to our friends at Billboard.

Let it go, Gal, let it go

It started back in October. That's when I began investigating Obamacare options for zip code 33041. I sent them to Henry's husband, Reg. Since Henry's TBI, Reg has to be the one to make the decision and sign up.

In November, I took a deeper dive. The hospital in Key West has an advisor on staff who can help locals enroll and fill them in on any discounts they may be eligible for. I sent this to Reg.

In December, I passed all of this information on to Patrick, who began living with Henry and Reg just before the holidays. Patrick offered to sit down with Reg and help him with enrollment. He was rebuffed. Emphatically.

I do not understand this. Why would anyone want to go without insurance coverage during a pandemic? 

Also, whenever Reg isn't working, he's farting around online anyway. He watches YouTube videos and writes long, rambling Facebook posts about how difficult life with Henry has become. He has become so dependent on the "likes" and the supportive, "how do you stand it?" comments from people not as familiar with the situation as they might be. Why doesn't Reg spend an hour of that online time improving that difficult life?

Henry is worse than he was when I last spent in-person time with him in 2019, but not as bad as he was at the height of the pandemic lockdown in 2020. This tells me that his condition is evolving. The medications he's taking may no longer be adequate/appropriate. He needs a full neurological workup -- most likely in a hospital in Miami. He hasn't had one in more than two years.

Reg is tired and angry. He doesn't make shaving or hair cuts a priority anymore. He also no longer maintains boundaries with Henry. Reg indulges and indulges Henry's bad behavior to avoid constant, daily battles but then finally he can't take it anymore and blows up. Henry is confused and hurt by what he perceives as Reg's cruelty. Reg needs counseling -- anger management of some sort -- to help him cope with his unique circumstances.

Neither man can get the help he needs without insurance. They can get insurance for about (using online calculators) $300/month. It would be even less if Henry were declared both disabled and incompetent. 

The Obamacare enrollment ends at 11:59 on Friday. I'm nauseous thinking about how that deadline will pass without them being covered.

I just sent Patrick another link, hoping he can use his proximity to greater advantage and convince Reg to act. I'm not hopeful, but I felt I had to do something.

But now I have to, in Patrick's words, "detach with love." I have to let it go.

I am not good at this.



Sunday, January 09, 2022

Old friend update

She was back to the hospital on Friday, but that was a good thing. They felt they had the capacity to care for her. Remember, Monday the hospital was overrun with covid patients -- unvaccinated covid patients! -- and even though my friend has a fever, is 65 years old, and suffers from both diabetes and heart disease, they couldn't treat her!

After a day of tests, they concluded that 1) she has a tenacious uti that has caused sepsis and 2) she does not have covid. They didn't admit her, but sent her home with antibiotics and prescription-strength ibuprofen. Hopefully next week she will be strong enough to go see a specialist (in his office; not at the hospital). Her medical team wants to control any kidney damage that this prolonged -- nearly 4 solid weeks! -- period of fever and infection may have caused.

She's sleeping comfortably but sleeping a lot. Fortunately she's retired and doesn't have to add worry about missing work to concerns about her health.

I'm so relieved. But I'm still pissed. I love her, and because of irresponsible unvaccinated people, she didn't get the care she needed as soon as she needed it. The stat I heard on the national news this morning was that 65% of hospital beds are filled with unvaccinated covid patients. 

Are people willfully stupid? The vaccine reduces the likelihood of transmission, hospitalization, and death. Just because you know a vaccinated/boosted person who got a breakthrough case doesn't mean the vaccine doesn't work. Did the vaccinated/boosted person you heard about end up in the hospital, or in the cemetery? No, of course, not. If you still don't understand, think of the vaccine and booster like a life jacket.

In the meantime, I'm just going to take comfort in knowing that the infection bedeviling my oldest friend is finally being treated. I love her very much.