Monday, July 22, 2024

$30 seems like a good amount

I had lunch with my friend Joanna last Friday. We dined under an umbrella along the water at Chicago's River Walk. It was a beautiful day and we had a lovely time. Except ...

Joanna is broke. Really busted. For the last decade she has been investing all her money in her own business, and it's simply not working. She's good at what she does, but she's not good at marketing herself, getting the word out, attracting new clients. New business acquisition is an area of expertise in and of itself, and no one is good at everything. 

But now here Joanna is, nearly 70 with no retirement savings and little money coming in. She often depends on her credit cards to make ends meet. She's not angry. She doesn't sound scared. She just seems ... resigned. I think she's been living with this reality so long that it's no longer fused with emotion.

As we wandered The River Walk, I kept steering her to the small booths, heavy on desserts. I figured that would be easier on her wallet than a meal. But no, she wanted lunch. She had a pair of sliders, I had a (really delicious) turkey sandwich. The bill, with tip, was $47. She had a "what the hell" attitude, but I thought we could have made a wiser choice. She put everything on her credit card because she didn't have any cash. For my portion, I gave her four $10 bills, folded. We were so engaged in conversation that she didn't count it, just slipped it into her wallet. I felt good about that. I wanted to help her, not embarrass her.

Something she said stayed with me: she uses whatever cash she has for groceries. She said when she's out of money, she stops putting food in her cart. She made grocery shopping sound like something of an adventure or a game, but I didn't like the sound of that.

Now I'm in better financial shape than she is, but I'm not a wealthy woman. The problem with retirement is that you don't know how long it will last, so I must be careful with my money.

I simply can't afford to give Joanna the funds it will take to give her security. 

I also want to preserve her dignity. She hasn't asked me for help. 

So I checked out her neighborhood online and found that the retailer nearest her apartment is Walgreen's. I went to the location in my neighborhood and bought a $30 gift card. That seemed like a good amount. Big enough to help, at least in the moment, but not big enough to be embarrassing. I put it in a classic movie notecard (An American in Paris; we both love old movies and Joanna is a Francophile).

I wrote: "I firmly believe that when you discover you need something in a hurry, you can always find it at Walgreen's. It makes me happy to think that next time you suddenly need 60W bulbs, or sunscreen, or a can of Campbell's Chicken Soup, you can pick it up on me."

Yes, I know she is likely to use it all at once on essentials, but I like my narrative better.

The $30 giftcard is just a finger in the dike. It'll help her with the week, but it won't stave off financial disaster. Still, she knows I care about her. She knows I'm in her corner. Support is all I can give her and I hope she feels my good intentions.

Teaser Tuesday

Here's how to play.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott. We meet our narrator in New York City, 1959. The daughter of a Hollywood publicist, she went away to college in Vermont now works for Newsweek. She is about to get a mysterious opportunity to go home again.

In a leisurely fashion, I opened the fancy envelope. It was an invitation, yes. Engraved. But no, not to a wedding.

Jessica Malloy (indeed, me) was cordially invited to attend the 1959 Academy Awards at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles as a guest. Nowhere on the invitation did it say who was doing the inviting – just a cool request for an RSVP because attendance is limited.

I smoothed the polished surface of the invitation with my hand, letting it be, for a moment. Aladdin's lamp. The broken gutters and moldy carpet of my shabby apartment building disappeared.

Roy Hobbs is a mean drunk

Last week, my cat had two teeth pulled. This required him to be put under anesthesia. I was more worried about the anesthetic than I was the surgical procedure. Anesthesia can be tricky for felines.

So I was very excited when I got the call at 3:00 in the afternoon, telling me he was healthy and strong and ready to come home. The vet's staff warned me, though. My very big boy was hissing, biting and scratching.

"Oh, he won't be that way with me!" After all, I've had cats my entire life and they've all had medical procedures. Reynaldo came out of anesthesia ready to rock. I'd have to keep an eye on him to keep him from jumping because his depth perception was impaired and he could hurt himself. Both my Connie Cat and Joey came home confused and disoriented. Connie wanted to be left alone, hiding under the bed. Joey wanted to snuggle and curled up next to me for comfort.

Roy Hobbs was different. Boy, was he different!

He literally spent three hours hissing at me. He hissed at me so vehemently and so continually that he was out of breath and panting. Yet he wouldn't leave the room. He wouldn't go to sleep. He just sat at my feet, stared at me, and hissed.

"Leave me alone, you possessed Stephen King Cujo Cat!" 

Now let me be clear: he never bit or scratched me (as he had the vet staff). He just stared and hissed. And stared and hissed. He also seemed happy to see Connie Cat, who groomed him a little. But he obviously blamed furless bi-peds, like me and the vet staff, for his discomfort and he was not forgiving or forgetting.

Finally, at about 6:30, he dozed off. Thank God!

Imagine my surprise when I was awakened before dawn by Roy Hobbs on the pillow next me, purring. The anesthesia had worn off and he was his sweet old self again.  

I'm so glad my boy is back. And next time he has anesthesia, I'll know what to expect.

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Isn't it rich?

MAGA hypocrisy is not new, but it is getting intolerably thick. This meme is floating around social media and the people who are sanctimoniously sharing it are the same ones who supported Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. when they made fun of Paul Pelosi being assaulted in a home invasion.

If you ascribe to a man of 80+ having his skull cracked with a hammer being funny but you believe the above, then you better check your own heart. Your belief in the Golden Rule may not be as strong as you think.

BTW, I'm a passionate Kennedy Girl and an outspoken gun control advocate. A joke about a shooting would never pass my lips, and no one would fucking dare make an assassination joke in my presence. I've cried too many tears over the years for that. But that's hardly the point. The deplorables showed how deplorable they were after the Pelosi attack, and I'm not buying their brand of piety now.

Shame on them.

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Disco Duck (1976)

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

1) In this song, Rick Dees begins by describing a party where he can't resist that disco beat. What's the last party you attended? Was there dancing? There was dancing for the last hour of my friend John's celebration of life. He would have loved that!

2) While this record was a massive international hit in 1976, it got off to an inauspicious start. Rick Dees said it took him less than a day to write the song, and more than three months to convince anyone to let him record it. Tell us about a time you were tempted to give up, but were glad you didn't. I was reviewed by my boss CeeCee at the card shop. At the conclusion she said, "I'm so glad you insisted I hire you." She was referring to how, after I submitted an online application for the job and didn't hear back, I followed up with a personal letter. It made me stand out. Of more than 65 applicants who applied online, I'm the only one who was interviewed. So I'm glad I didn't just accept being lost in the queue.

3) In the hit movie Saturday Night Fever, students are briefly seen learning to dance to "Disco Duck." Can you name another song from Saturday Night Fever

4) Dees was already a top disc jockey in Memphis when "Disco Duck" was released. With the record's success, his radio career soared and he got a better job reaching a greater audience at a radio station in Los Angeles. Are there any disc jockeys you loyally listened to every day? Steve and Garry. Steve Dahl and Garry Meier. I followed them from The Loop to WLS back to The Loop. They were so creative and funny! Unfortunately, they broke up and I discovered they were better together than they are separately. (Steve is a podcaster now.)

5) After more than 20 years, Rick lost his regular radio slot to Ryan Seacrest. But he still shares "the hottest music on the planet" through the Rick Dees Hit Music app (available at the Apple App Store or Google Play). What app have you recently downloaded to your phone? Too Good to Go. It lets me know when my local grocery has surplus food available at a discounted price. I get a bargain, and there's less food gone to waste.

6) He used his favorite radio format to create a cookbook called Rick Dees All-Time Top 40 Greatest Desserts. If you could finish a delicious meal with the dessert of your choice, anything at all, what would you order?

Photo by Serghei Savchiuc on Unsplash

7) In 1976, when "Disco Duck" was a hit, The Bionic Woman premiered on ABC. Because of her "bionic parts," Jamie Summers could run super fast, had super-sensitive hearing, and super-human strength. If you could have one of those qualities enhanced -- speed, hearing or strength -- which would you choose? Speed. I could just race up to the platform and I'd never miss another train again.

8) Also in 1976, like this year, the world got together for The Summer Olympics. Will you be following the international competition? Nope.

9) Random question: You're bone tired, exhausted, and you have an early day tomorrow. As you wash your face and brush your teeth before bed, one of the two bulbs in the bathroom fixture goes out. Do you 1) change the bulb before bed or 2) promise yourself to do it in a hurry tomorrow as you're rushing around in the morning or 3) decide you can live with one bulb for a while, go to bed, and replace the burned-out bulb when you get around it? Either 1 or 3. I know me well enough that 2 is just not gonna happen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #368

13 Brat Packers. I recently watched the Hulu documentary BRATS, Andrew McCarthy's reflection on what it was like to be considered a member of that 1980s phenomenon, The Brat Pack. My favorite part of the movie was when it was established that no one really has a definitive answer to who was in The Brat Pack.

The term was coined by David Blum in a 1985 article about Emilio Estevez and how Estevez and his twenty-something friends/co-stars enjoyed their fame and popularity. Then it expanded to include the cast members of the hit ensemble youth movies St. Elmo's Fire and The Breakfast Club. Sometimes actors who appeared in the movies Pretty in Pink and Taps are included.

Here's the thing: The Brat Pack never actually existed, so there's no real right/wrong answer to who was in it. The following 13 just seems to be -- to borrow from another movie -- the usual suspects.

1. Emilio Estevez (generally acknowledged to be the Head Brat)

2. Judd Nelson

3. Rob Lowe

4. Andrew McCarthy

5. Demi Moore

6. Ally Sheedy

7. Anthony Michael Hall

8. Jon Cryer (who denies being a member)

9. James Spader

10. Mare Winningham

11. Sean Penn

and his fellow Oscar winners

12. Tim Hutton


13. Robert Downey Jr.

Tom Cruise is undeniably the most commercially successful actor of that generation yet he's seldom mentioned as a Brat Packer. I don't know why, since he was in Taps. I guess it's because most of his movies were starring vehicles and not ensemble pieces.

Oh well, BRATS is a fun watch if you were a movie goer in the 1980s.

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

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Volunteer Day

I clocked nearly 7 volunteer hours at the annual library book sale. First I built boxes for the book sorters to sort into, then weeks later I was reunited with my boxes, now full of fiction, mysteries, sci-fi/fantasy, classics and young adult. I took them out of the boxes and placed them onto the designated sale tables.

These labors earned me the right to peruse the books that were left after the sale and just take whatever I want. Free. In years gone by, this made me practically drool with delight. But, since losing Henry and John and seeing how hard it was to dispose of their stuff, I've been rethinking this. This year I took just two freebies:
•  Jack Kennedy: The Illustrated Life of a President (a coffee table book for me)
•  Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies and Jays (for my bird-loving friend, Joanna, who has been going through a rough patch) 

And now for my annual observation.  Every year there's a book donated in bigger numbers than any other; a book many of my neighbors bought and then decided not to keep. I suspect it's a tome chosen by local book clubs. Without further ado, here's the dubious honor roll:

2024: Water for Elephants

2023: My Life by Bill Clinton

2022, 2019, 2018 and 2017: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

2016: The Help

2015: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

2014: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

2013: The DaVinci Code

2012: Sixkill (a Spenser Mystery)

2011: The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

2010: Scarlett, the Sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind*

2009: My Life by Bill Clinton

2008: The DaVinci Code

2007: The Nanny Diaries

2006: The Corrections

*For a time I thought Miss Scarlett was going to retake the #1 spot, but Water for Elephants ultimately overtook her.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Sunday Stealing


1. What is the hottest temperature you've seen this summer so far? One day in June it hit 98ยบ. This scares me because our hottest month is usually August. If it's 98ยบ this early in the season, the prospect of August is sticky and icky.

2. What is your favorite summer beverage? Coke. Though the urologist would prefer I say, "Ice water with a splash of lemon." Much better for my kidneys.

3. Have you seen any fireflies/lightning bugs yet? Cicadas? I finally saw some cicadas in late May. I was disappointed that, in this neighborhood, "the invasion" was something of a bust. We've had a lot of new construction here in the last decade, and that uprooted lots of trees. Hence, fewer cicadas. ๐Ÿ˜ž

4. What are the last 3 things you bought online? 1) I sent a package of rulers via Amazon to a local back-to-school supplies drive and 2) Neutrogena wrinkle cream from and 3) Florastor probiotics from Scintillating, isn't it?

5. Where do locals go to cool off? We stay indoors in the a/c. There's a shallow fountain between the movie theater and the ice cream parlor and kids find splashing in it irresistible.

6. Where did you buy your last postcard and what was on the pc? I bought this postcard at the shop where I work part-time. I sent it to our friend Gregory to thank him for the wonderful job he did planning our friend John's celebration of life.

7. What's your favorite summertime scent? I'll go with lemon, since I'm supposed to be adding it to my ice water. (See #2.)

8. What kind of a/c do you have - central, room, fans only, chillers, none and what temperature do you set it to? I have two air conditioners, one through-the-wall for the living room/dining room and a small window unit for my bedroom. There's no a/c for the smaller bedroom ... which gives me yet another reason not to have anyone visit overnight. (I hate having company.) 

Here's a photo of a through-the-wall unit. I include it because I once loved a guy who grew up in Denver and lived for a time in Austin and he thought they were the damndest thing he'd ever seen. They are very popular in multi-unit buildings here in Chicagoland. Especially in older buildings that went up before central air was commonplace. Through-the-wall units enable each tenant/unit owner to cool their own unit exclusively and pay their own energy costs.

9. Do you have a summer vacation planned and if so, where are you really going?? No summer plans. I went to Los Angeles in April for the TCM Classic Film Festival and will be traveling to Michigan for Christmas with my niece. (Why ask where I'm "really" going? Why would I lie?)

10. What are your favorite summer activities? I like to cheer, and boo, and raise a hullabaloo.

11. What's your favorite summertime food? I like chicken salad, or sometimes tuna salad, when it's too hot to eat warm food.

12. Did you ever go to summer school? Nope.

13. What's your favorite summertime memory? I have many. One is from the summer between second and third grade. I took lessons at the high school and was so proud when I could swim the length of the pool. I had no speed whatsoever, but I did it! (Backstroke, too.)

14. Do you like fireworks? Only on the 4th of July. Around here, the sound of fireworks can be confused with gunfire and it's scary.

15. How do you feel about the longer days of summer? ๐Ÿ‘

Today is a nightmare come true

After Bobby Kennedy was shot at the conclusion of a political rally, before he lapsed out of consciousness forever with Rosary beads in his hand, he asked, "Is everybody OK?" Today, after being shot during a political rally, Donald Trump asked for his shoes, pumped his fist, and said, "Fight! Fight! Fight!"

Now I'm not going to make fun of Donald Trump, the way he and Don Jr. both made fun of Paul Pelosi after being attacked in the Pelosi home. I'm not going to imply that Trump was shot by enraged and spurned gay lover, though I have just as much evidence of that as the Trumps have about Mr. Pelosi and his assailant.  

I'm not going to call it a false flag or a set up. I'm not going to question how an assailant could get to a former POTUS and candidate who has Secret Service protection, the way the MAGA World questioned how the man with the hammer got past security measures to enter the Pelosi home. 

I'm not going to mock the pink bald spot that was evident as the Secret Service pushed Donald Trump into the van and into safety. Though I am sure if it was reversed, Trump and his supporters would be mocking Joe Biden's vulnerability. 

I'm not going to dismiss today's events with a facile response about "sending thoughts and prayers," while blaming mental health issues and not guns for what happened.

I'm an American. I remember the President's and Bobby's assassinations. I remember Dr. King and George Wallace. I remember two attempts on Gerald Ford and one on Ronald Reagan. Those memories are as much a part of me as the vaccination scar on my left arm. They haunt me. Today is a nightmare come true.

I'm a Chicagoan. I live in a city awash in guns, despite strict laws, because they come floating through our porous borders from Indiana and Kentucky. Sorry, Mr. Trump, but if I'm going to "Fight! Fight! Fight!" it's to keep you out of office and get real Federal laws passed that successfully restrict handguns and automatic weapons.

I'm a Christian. Though I won't be a hypocrite and deny that I despise Donald Trump, I will say that my first thought when I heard the news was, "Please love him, God." No one wins when a gun goes off. Deplorable MAGA cruelty coarsens and diminishes us all.

I pray for soul of the MAGA supporter who died today.

I pray for the full recovery of both Donald Trump and the as-yet unnamed supporters who were also injured.

I also pray for, and will work for, his defeat in November.

Guns are never the answer. Violent rhetoric is never the answer. How I wish Trump's words had been "Is everybody OK?" instead of "Fight! Fight! Fight!"

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer (1963)

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

1) In this song, Nat King Cole sings about enjoying "soda and pretzels and beer." Which of those three would we find in your kitchen right now? Soda (Coca Cola).

2) The lyrics mention a romantic movie. Which movie couple do you believe had onscreen chemistry? I hope Harry and Sally lived happily ever after.

3) He wishes "summer could always be here." How has your summer been so far? Too hot! My favorite-most ballplayer, Anthony Rizzo, is on the injured list. I miss my friend, John. Sometimes I wish we could just fast forward to pumpkin spice. But then I remember I like the little things about summer, like not having to wear socks and that the sun is still out at 8:00 PM, and I'm happy again.

4) According to the song, a great warm weather meal includes sandwiches and weinies. Tell us about your perfect sandwich or, if you prefer, what you believe is the ideal way to dress a hot dog. First I spread mayo along the inside bottom of the bun. This is key. Then I add relish or pickle. (Depending on what's available.) Then the hot dog. Finally ketchup. Only slather one condiment on top of your dog. Trust me: If you put too much on top of the dog, it will just dribble all over your shirt.

5) Nat was a big baseball fan. Growing up in Chicago he played sandlot games and listened to Cubs games on the radio. As an adult he was a season ticket holder at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Do you enjoy playing/watching baseball or softball? Only as much as I enjoy breathing. Unfortunately, just because I love Major League Baseball doesn't mean it loves me back. This season has been hard, especially with Rizzo struggling so. At least there's this guy. Shota Imanaga is a joy! Our only All Star. So deserving!

He just shut out the Orioles!

6) The lyrics of this week's song were written by Charlie Tobias, who wanted to create a sense of nostalgia for summers gone by. Share one of your special summer memories. I remember riding around in the backseat, listening to my dad sing along with this song on the radio. He was not a happy man, and little moments where I sensed he was truly enjoying himself stayed with me.

7) In 1963, one of the best-selling books was Happiness Is a Warm Puppy by Charles Schultz. The cover showed Lucy giving Snoopy a big hug. Name another character from the Peanuts comic strip. Charlie Brown.

8) Also in 1963, men were wearing thin, solid-color ties. Later in the decade, ties would become wider, patterned and more colorful. Where do you turn to keep up with fashion trends? I don't really bother anymore. When I want to add to my wardrobe, I check out Thredup for ideas.

9) Random question: Would you rather be a cowboy or a pirate? Cowboy! I'd much rather ride a horse than sail on a ship.


Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #367

Thirteen iconic hairstyles and the women who wore them. Through time, the way we wear our hair has been a way we express ourselves. Women have been known to change the cut, color and style to reinvent ourselves after a big birthday, new job or a breakup. Here are 13 of the celebrities who have influenced hair fashion.

1. Louise Brooks. This silent film actress helped define The Roaring 20's with her short, shiny bob.

2. Veronica Lake. In the 1940s, her peek-a-boo style was so pervasive that she was asked to do this public service announcement, encouraging women working in war production plants to follow her lead and change their hair.

3. Marilyn Monroe. Dyed blonde curls that looked soft and moved gracefully helped define the 1950s.

4. Brigitte Bardot. Her undone beehive represented sexy European chic in the 1950s.

5. Jacqueline Kennedy. "Helmet hair." Full, backcombed hair that did not move. She didn't mean to start a trend. In the late 1950s she wore her hair much shorter, but felt it made her face appear too big in photographs. With her husband about to embark on a presidential campaign, she adopted big hair that framed her face and made her head look better proportioned. It amused her that women all over the world emulated her and adopted a high-maintenance style she only wore to correct what she felt was a personal defect.

6. Mia Farrow (before). When Peyton Place premiered in 1964, Mia Farrow as Allison MacKenzie defined adolescent innocence with her long, straight white blonde hair and bangs, reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.

7. Mia Farrow (after). Two years into the series, Mia shocked viewers and launched another fashion trend with her extremely short pixie cut.

8. "Mama" Michelle Phillips. When the lead singer of the Mamas and the Papas made the center part California cool, bangs became passe. 

9. Angela Davis. Activist Angela Davis embraced her natural, God-given hair and popularized The Afro.

10. Farrah Fawcett. A feathered cut with lots of volume, created with the help of hot rollers.

11. Princess Diana. Her face-framing shag was flattering even to non-royals.

12. Jennifer Aniston. The look that launched a 90s trend. Friends was on for a decade, and Jennifer Aniston only wore "the Rachel" for Seasons 1 and 2, but the public embraced it for much longer.

13. Billie Eilish. The singer popularized hair colors not found in nature, always with black roots. 

How many of these styles have you worn? How many have you seen on the street?

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

All those photos!

Tuesday night was John's celebration of life, held at his favorite bar. I was not very involved with the planning. It was Gregory's show. I helped him with his eulogy and the text invite, but beyond that, he handled it -- and did a lovely job.

When I was in the rideshare headed over, I realized I didn't really want to go. A party didn't feel appropriate ... for me, that is. I knew it would be exactly what John would have wanted. I wasn't sure how many people I'd know. John spent so much time at that bar and I hadn't been there in a year, when we celebrated his birthday. Would it be filled with his bar buddies? What would we talk about?

As soon as I entered the bar, I was overwhelmed. There I was, over and over and over again. Big video screens throughout the bar showed me and John exchanging gifts in front of the tree, John and me triumphantly raising our fists after riding The Hay Baler at Great America, me and John performing a duet of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" at his 40th birthday party (29 years ago), John and me in that very bar a year ago as we celebrated his birthday and watched the Cubs-Yankees ...

Unbeknownst to me, Gregory and John's Cousin Lori had discovered a trove of photo albums that John's brothers had missed when they went through his personal belongings. While I wasn't in all the photos, I was honestly shocked that I was in at least 40%. Because of the way the video screens rotated their content, I was always looking at my own face, right there with John's, beginning in 1981 and up until 2023. 

"Of course," Gregory said when I commented on how prominent I was. "You were one of his favorite people." I was moved.

Then a middle-aged man in a cap (probably to cover his bald head) came up and said, "Gal! What are you drinking?" I told him I'd like a cranberry juice and vodka and when he ran off to get it, I told Gregory I didn't remember him. 

"That's Sebastian," Gregory said, reminding me that we saw Diana Ross together at The Chicago Theater together, back in 2014. I couldn't believe he remembered me! When he returned with my drink, we reminisced about that night and the Thanksgiving we all spent together. About how John was so good at bringing like-minded people together. Throughout the evening, Sebastian and I kept drifting back to one another. I was touched he remembered me so fondly and vividly, and it made me happy that John shared his life and his friends with me.

Then there was Steve. Looking older and more frail than I recalled him, he said, "Gal! There's someone I want you to meet!" He introduced me to Monica, the "original mother" of the skinny cat who brought us together. Back in the 80s, Monica was worried about Steve who had just broken up with his lover. They went to the Anti-Cruelty Society together and she convinced Steve to adopt the cat for company, to cheer him up. He'd never had a cat before and didn't know what to expect, but he certainly didn't expect this one. She was positively kinetic and he couldn't handle her. John to the rescue! He told Steve that I was a Crazy Cat Lady, that I had a way, that I could make it work and give that cat a good home. I renamed her Wilma and we were together more than a dozen years. Again, because of John.

I went to the bar and ordered a second drink. The bartender, a girl of about 25, told me it was on the house. I went around to John's regular stool and left $25 on the bar as a tip in his honor/memory. We were told it was a cash bar, and if she was giving us drinks for free it was costing her money. She saw what I did, came around the bar and gave me a hug. "I remember you from last summer! John was so happy you enjoyed the game here on his birthday!" 

Then the manager came over, extending his hand. "Where's your Anthony Rizzo jersey?" he asked. He said he was happy he was the one who took the picture of my and John together here at the bar last summer, one that kept popping up on the video screen. I thanked him for that last photo of us together.

Toward the end of his life, John could be so annoyed with me. It hurt and confused me. Intellectually I figured his irascibility was age, illness and discomfort, but emotionally it hurt.

Tuesday night I learned what I guess I knew all along: John loved me. I was as big a part of his life as he was mine. Gregory was right, I was one of his favorite people.

I'm so glad I went to the celebration of John's life, after all. I've been so angry at him for not taking care of himself, so angry at him for dying, so bereft with missing him that I missed something very important.

He loved me. As much as I loved him.

Gregory said he was looking into having all those photos burned into a CD for me. I hope he does. That would mean a great deal to me.


Photo by Harper Sunday on Unsplash 



Tuesday, July 09, 2024



WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott. In 1950, young Jessica Malloy idolizes Ingrid Bergman. She has a closer connection to her favorite movie star than other fans, since her dad is Ingrid's publicist. And dad has a supremely tough job in 1950 because Ingrid is pregnant, out of wedlock and by a man not her husband. America in the days of Joe McCarthy goes apeshit, and Jessica tries to make sense of the controversy, the impact has it on her family, and what it means about life and love.


The Washington Post said of this novel: "(it) comes at a perfect time to remind us what happens when conspiracy theorists and authoritarians are loosed on the land." I just saw Dr. Fauci interviewed. Conspiracy theorists -- the ones who embraced Hydroxychloroquine, who insisted he had a financial stake in Remdesivir, who still eschew the vaccine -- are still threatening him and muddying the good doctor's career and legacy. Well, fuck them. Are they evil? Are they morons? Are they the puppets of authoritarians? Maybe this Hollywood fiction will help me work that through.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall.  This novel takes us back to those tragic days before abortion was safe and legal, and though it's sent in Toronto, it's a harrowing harbinger of what the Republicans and Project 2025 want to return us to.*


It centers on three women living in three different time decades: in the 1970s, a girl is sent to a home for wayward women where she awaits the birth of her baby; in the 1980s, a young woman finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn; in 2017, a woman accidentally comes into possession of a letter with explosive information about a long-ago family scandal, and wrestles with what to do with it.


While the women are three-dimensional and are treated with the compassion they deserve, the plot and the writing isn't as solid. I was so fond of these women, I wish they'd gotten a better book, one that didn't depend so much on melodrama and circumstance. So while I'm glad I'm read it and would recommend it, I didn't love it.

I found the afterward, where the author explains that she is in her first trimester as the book is being edited, more moving than much of the fiction she wrote. Maybe just the stories of the women involved, without trying to force a plot that has them interacting, would have been more effective.

3. What will you read next? Don't know.


*I am personally opposed to abortion. My faith should not be the law of the land, because legislating one religion over another is unpatriotic. I've spoken to friends who are Jewish and agnostic and 100% respect their points of view, and whoever you are reading this, I respect yours, too. Just as I'd never force a woman to have an abortion, I wouldn't presume to forbid her, either. Because as a proud American looking forward to July 4, I respect the separation between church and state.




Monday, July 08, 2024

Teaser Tuesday

Here's how to play.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall is historic fiction, set in Toronto in the recent past, before abortion became legal in Canada.

It's 1980. Nancy, a sheltered girl just out of her teens, accompanies a cousin "in trouble" to get an illegal abortion. It's a harrowing experience with pain and blood and the girls end up taking a cab to the nearest ER. Nancy is left alone in the waiting room while doctors scramble to save her cousin.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Nancy says. She doesn't plan on answering any of this doctor's questions, either.

"Your friend is lucky to be alive." Dr. Gladstone pauses, lowers her voice. "Listen to me carefully, Nancy. I don't actually want you to say anything specific. But if I'm on the right track, I need you to give me some indication that that's the case so I can provide the right treatment for your friend ..."