Friday, April 12, 2024

Farewell, John


One of my best friends died today at about 10:00 PM. I take some comfort in knowing he lived his life the way he wanted to, and tremendous comfort in the knowledge that now John is happy and whole in Heaven. 

I am so grateful for these moments

On Wednesday, I went to say goodbye to my friend John.  I knew he had been moved back to the ICU on Tuesday when he vomited blood, but we were all still talking about what it would be like when he was discharged. Could he still live alone? Would the cognitive effects of his stroke be lasting? I had planned to go visit him today (Friday).

Then on Wednesday morning, John suffered another heart attack. John's baby brother flew up from Virginia right away, and his middle brother would come in Wednesday night from Boston.* John's and my friend Gregory, who has been our boots-on-the-ground since Good Friday, when John was admitted, gently advised me I shouldn't wait until today to see him. As bad as the information had been till now, Gregory admitted he had been "sugarcoating it somewhat" for me because he knew I was recovering from oral surgery and the laser treatments for plantar fasciitis. He encouraged me to the hospital right away if I could.

I showered, put on a Cubs shirt and jeans, and did my makeup. John would notice the makeup in good times and it felt fitting to do it for him now. I took an Uber downtown because I didn't feel like dealing with the train schedule just then. 

There's something surreal about riding along the expressway on a bright, sunny day to say goodbye to your friend of more than 40 years. I have said goodbye to both of my dying parents, and while that was painful there was also something very natural about it. We all know, deep inside, that at some point we're going to lose our parents. John is less than two years older than I am. I am not ready for this. Because of the cavalier way he treated his health and body, I expected his world to get smaller as he struggled more and more with mobility. But I truly never thought about him dying. Not anytime soon.

Yet here we are.

He was sitting up, frighteningly thin but conscious. He couldn't hold a cup so he had to ask for Sprite if he was thirsty, or water if he wanted someone to dab his lips with a sponge. His voice was barely a whisper and it was very hard to understand him. Was his trouble communicating the product of brain damage (his stroke) or pain killers? I don't know. His feet were bandaged. They were so damaged by diabetes that doctors had wanted to amputate -- toes? his feet? I didn't ask -- but then decided his heart was too weak to withstand it.

His eyes did lock on mine and he said, "Wow." I said, "Yeah, I know. Can you believe this shit?" I asked if I could touch him and was told yes, so I stroked his arm and told him I loved him. He asked me how the Cubs were doing. I told him they were fine, playing on the West Coast, and that Rizzo is fine, too, in New York.

John's brother and sister-in-law asked me how long I'd known John. I told them about how we met, and then regaled them with tales that made John smile and nod. The night he sang "Be My Baby" onstage with Ronnie Spector. The night he sang "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand") onstage with Miss Diana Ross. All the Cub games we watched together. 

They didn't know about any of this. It made me sad in a way. Decisions about the end of John's life are being made by blood relatives who love him but don't really know him. I spent the last ten Thanskgivings with John. His family never visited Chicago for Christmas, or his birthday, or anything. He never visited them, either, what with his aversion to flying. He went to the middle brother's wedding four years ago ... I think that was the last time he saw them.

At one point the nurses were moving him to another bed so they could manipulate his limbs and let him sit at another angle. At that point I caught sight of the catheter and I got up to leave. "I shouldn't see this, " I said as I made my way to the hall.

His sister-in-law followed me, afraid I was upset. I told her I didn't care what I saw in there, but I was sure he would. I told her the story of when he and I discussed JBKO's death. The paparazzi hounded her to her last and snapped on her last trip to Central Park. She had checked herself out of the hospital and gone home to die. But she just wanted to go outdoors one last time.

The photo that started an argument
"She should not have gone out in public in that cheap-ass Dynel wig," John said. I told him that was bullshit. Her life was ending and she wanted to do what she wanted to do, no matter what the rest of the world thought. I thought it was courageous.

"She was royalty. Royalty should not be seen in a cheap-ass Dynel wig," John said.

I still believe John was full of it. But, knowing how he felt about Jackie being seen in that cheap-ass Dynel wig, I was pretty sure he wouldn't want me to see his urine bag.

His sister-in-law said, "I love that." 

When the nurses left, we returned. I asked John if it was OK if I told his brother and sister-in-law about our first boss. He brightened and said, "yes." She was a character.

I was there about two hours in all. Then I left to catch a train. John drifted off to sleep, and he has not opened his eyes since.

Our friend Mindy went to see him Thursday, and Mark went today (Friday), and they were unable to converse with him.

I made him smile. I told him about the Cubs and Rizzo. We reminisced about Diana Ross and Ronnie Spector. He knew it was me. He heard me say I love him.

While this situation is cruel, I am grateful that God was kind enough to grant me those moments.

*The only bright spot in this sad saga is that it takes place here in Chicago. John has been able to easily access world-class care at Northwestern and his brothers had no trouble getting same-day flights to O'Hare.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #356

13 facts about traveler's checks.
One of the things I always did in the run-up for any vacation was go to the bank and buy traveler's checks. I kinda miss that pre-trip ritual.

I'm also sure most Americans under 35 have no idea what traveler's checks are. How about you? Did you ever use them?

1. Traveler's checks are paper documents. Your funds aren't loaded onto a card or accessed via smart phone. They are in the form of checks that can be used to pay for goods and services.

2. They were introduced in 18th century England for use across the nations of the British Empire. They made it to this side of the pond when American Express got into the act, just before the turn of the 20th century.

3. They were once sold by most banks and credit unions. No more. Major banks like Wells Fargo, Chase and Bank of America quit selling them years ago.

4. Each check had a set denomination. Unlike a personal check, where you fill out how much it's worth, a traveler's check has an amount printed on it. $20 and $50 were most popular. 

5. You signed each check twice. Every check had two signature lines. You signed one in front of the teller when you bought it. When you cashed it, you sign the second line and presented ID. That gave the merchant three signatures to compare before accepting the check.

6. Each check had a unique serial number. The bank kept a copy and you received a separate "register" with the number listed so you could make note of when/where you spent it. If your traveler's checks were lost or stolen while you were on the road, all you had to do was let a local, participating bank know and your funds could be refunded.

7. All this security came at a price. Banks charged a service fee for issuing the checks.

8. Traveler's checks didn't expire. When you get home you could cash your unused checks at the bank, use them at local merchants, or save them for your next trip. Banks loved these last two options. You paid the bank a service fee, but they aren't paying you interest on your money, so the longer they went unused, the better for the financial institution.

9. Traveler's checks declined in popularity in the 1990s. ATM cards that carry the Visa or Mastercard logo are welcome worldwide, give you immediate access to your funds wherever you go, and are more convenient for both you and the merchant.

10. Bad guys got wise. Fraudsters counterfeited traveler's checks, which ended up costing banks, restaurants and stores a ton.

11. For domestic travel, traveler's checks don't make much sense anymore. If you can still find a bank or credit union that issues them, you likely won't find stores or restaurants who will accept them.

12. They remain more popular in Europe. Note that I said "more popular." That doesn't mean they are widely accepted. If you plan to use them to pay for your hotel in Lucerne, call ahead to make sure they will take your traveler's checks.

13. Here's an advantage to using them abroad: There are fees every time you use your card in a foreign ATM machine and with every purchase you make with your credit card. Generally (not always) you can cash traveler's check at the counter in a foreign bank with no fee. Again, before you go overseas with traveler's checks, do your homework.

I, however, am not going abroad any time soon so traveler's checks just seem like a relic of my past.

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

Uncomfortably numb

Scared. Heartbroken. Angry. I have a lot of feelings just waiting to overwhelm me. But right now, I prefer feeling nothing. 

John is back in the ICU. He had been moved to cardiology, where nurses reported that he was improving every day. But suddenly, Monday, he began vomiting blood. They did some kind of endoscopic exam and discovered healed over stomach ulcers. They think it was "old blood" and now that it's expelled, he may start feeling better and eating again. I admit I have no idea what I'm talking about here. I'm getting the information on his condition from Gregory, who is getting it from John's brother, who is getting it from the medical staff. Asking questions doesn't really do me much good, because Gregory can't answer.

His condition is worse than I was originally led to believe. The reason he decided, back in January, to take time to himself and "re-evaluate" is that he fell in his apartment and blacked out. He thought he'd passed out from too much liquor and weed. Turns out it was a stroke (strokes are not uncommon for people like John with congestive heart failure).

This frightened him but, rather than contact a doctor -- like anyone would! -- he chose to withdraw, believing that if he stopped drinking and smoking he would get better. Instead became seriously depressed and his health worsened as he grappled with an undiagnosed/untreated stroke. Now here we are ...

More than 10 days at Northwestern Memorial Hospital with no release date in sight. It's a world-class hospital, where the doctors are trying to prioritize and treat his:

•  Irregular heart rate and congestive heart failure

•  Infection and internal bleeding

•  Depression and brain damage

•  Diabetes and rollercoaster blood sugar level

Most disturbing to Gregory now is the attention paid to ongoing assessment of damage from the stroke. John continues to be "foggy," often struggles to find the right word, and has short-term memory loss. How much of this is a result of all the meds coursing his veins and what's permanent brain damage? We don't know.

"If he comes home, he has a life expectancy of 5 to 7 years."

I simply cannot process this right now. I feel nothing. I woke up this morning to tummy trouble, which makes sense because that is where everything I don't acknowledge goes.

Tuesday, April 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? She's Not Sorry by Mary Kubica. This is an intricately plotted thriller about Meghan, an ICU nurse, who gets too involved with a mysterious patient and finds her, and her daughter's, lives in danger. It's set during wintertime in Chicago, and Ms. Kubica is good at establishing this familiar time and place for me.

I knew nothing about this book or the author before I picked it up. My public library recommended it and I'm in the mood for a mystery so what the hell. The writing is pretty good, though, better than I expected. Two moments early on have won me over: 1) Meghan can't get to her phone in her big bag until the ringing stops (that's me, all the time) and 2) She describes her decision to divorce with: "Alone and lonely is better than neglected and ignored." I get this woman.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Hollywood: The Oral History compiled by Jeanine Bassinger and Sam Wasson. I do not recommend this book. Not because it isn't exhaustively researched and, in its way, well written. It is both of those things. It's just that 700+ pages of reminiscences from actors, directors, screenwriters, producers from silents to present day can get tiresome. This is a reference book you turn to when you want a primer on, say, when movies transitioned from silents to talkies. Or you're curious about Disney's approach to cartoons vs. Warner Bros. It's not a book to curl up with and read, which I had to do since it was the inaugural choice for the Hollywood book club I just joined.

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


Monday, April 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!)

I just picked up She's Not Sorry by Mary Kubica. It's a thriller, and since I don't want to spoil it for myself, I'm going to tease with a passage from the prologue, when a mother sees she missed a call from her daughter:

Sienna texts from school sometimes, sneaking her phone when the teacher isn't paying attention -- Can I hang out with Gianna today? I lost my water bottle. Did U buy tampons? -- but she doesn't call. My mind goes in a million directions, thinking how, if she was sick, the nurse would call and, if she got in trouble, the dean would call. Sienna wouldn't ever be the one to call.

And we're off!

Eclipse 2024

I didn't think I cared. So many people across Chicagoland were planning where to be at 2:07 PM when the eclipse took place, but I wasn't one of them. Until I was. 

I haven't been feeling well and took today off work. Waking up whenever I woke up made a big difference this morning to my mood and my gut. I decided, belatedly, that I wanted to be part of it. Of course, by today there were no glasses to be had.

So if I couldn't watch the eclipse, I decided to watch others watch the eclipse. On my way to the dollar store, I stopped by the middle school. Students were virtually wrapped around the building, waiting for the big event.

Look at all the heads visible over the cars on the right.

Then I parked myself on a bench and waited for it to happen. I hoped to see shadows grow long or the world to go dark but alas, that didn't happen. Chicago was just too far from The Path of Totality.

But something interesting did happen: Jen from the card shop saw me sitting there and lent me her glasses so I could take a peek at the sky. The sun was a black circle.

I felt funny being caught sitting on a bench in the sun after calling in sick to work. But she said she was happy she got to share this "celestial event" with me.

So we're done eclipsing now until 2045. When I'll be (gulp!) 87 years old. So I'm glad I participated today.

I can't save them all

One of my co-workers at the card shop sent a text to the team. She has to find a home for a 2-year-old black girl cat. In the photo she attached, the black cat is curled up with another cat, so it's easy to assume she would eventually slide nicely into this feline household.

She has bright eyes, like the cat in this stock photo. Staring up at me from my phone. Content and unaware that her owner is about to dump her God knows where. This breaks my heart in a dozen places.

But I can't take her just now. Between now and the end of the month, I'm not going to be home very much. Introducing a new cat into Connie's and Roy Hobbs' world has to be done with care, and I just don't have that capacity right now. Also, I will most certainly have a major home repair coming up soon. I can't in good conscience adopt a third cat if it could in any way compromise my ability to give any of the three the food and health care they deserve.

Then there's this: the woman who is offering this cat up is not someone I work with often and I'm not sure how I feel about her. Helping her out this way -- as I understand it, she's doing this on behalf of her elderly father -- would mean intertwining our personal lives in a way that just doesn't feel comfortable.

Oh, but those bright eyes! Shining out of her calm and unsuspecting face. She's about to lose her home and her kitty sister.* I hate it, but I can't take her.

*Being adopted by another worker in the card shop.


Photo by Anton Ponomarenko on Unsplash 

I miss him so

Letters Against Isolation has hit a rough patch. The portal -- where we all sign up to send letters to seniors -- has gone glitchy again. I started a new (and hopefully temporary) account and found that the there was an urgent need for correspondence in Spanish.

I used my remedial knowledge of the language, as well as a couple online translation sites, to create a pair of notes that began, "No hablo espanol a menudo, pero lo estoy practicando en esta nota amistosa para ti." (I don't speak Spanish often, but I'm practicing it on this friendly note to you.) Yeah, I know it's not poetry, but I'm sure my notes will be appreciated when received by lonely seniors in their Meals on Wheels deliveries.

It wasn't hard to do, but these notes did take longer and writing them was tedious. And it made me miss my friend Henry so much. I longed to call him, to blab with him a bit and then tell him to check his email so he could translate my LAI notes from Spanish to English for me.

He easily toggled back and forth between English and Spanish. He wasn't comfortable with his pronunciation in French and Italian but he could read and write in those languages, too. Languages were his natural talent and he enjoyed sharing it. For years he taught novels in their original romance language at the community college and tutored hotel and restaurant managers in Spanish to help them better communicate with their employees. After his accident in 2018, and until he left Key West last summer, he put tremendous care into translating the lesson into Spanish for the weekly church service. 

I am becoming accustomed to the fact that my friend is lost to me. But I will never stop missing him.

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Sunday Stealing

 Stolen from Tuesday 4

1.  Name a TV series show or shows in which you have seen every episode at least twice:

2.  Name a show or shows you can't or would not miss: I really enjoyed the first and third seasons of Only Murders in the Building. (I don't know why, but I wasn't crazy about season 2.)

3.  Name an actor or actors that would make you more inclined to watch a show: Steve Martin as star. Tom Hanks as producer. (I love his CNN documentaries.)

4.  Name an actor or actors who would make you less likely to watch a show:  Roseanne! I cannot stand the sight of that toxic, silly woman.

5. You're having a lovely dinner party for friends and family. What will you serve for appetizers, main course and dessert? I'll have a fruit plate as an appetizer. Then I'll ask everyone what they want on their pizza. For dessert, I'll serve cupcakes. Or macarons. Something pretty.

6. Snow storm! You've got house guests and you're all stuck inside for the night. What do you prepare for dinner.  Will you watch a movie? I wouldn't ask anyone to deliver food in a snowstorm, so we're going to have whatever is in my kitchen. Right now, that would be hot dogs and applesauce. Donuts for dessert. (Hey! You knew it wasn't going to be haute cuisine when you accepted the invite.) For the movie, we're going classic.

7. We are going into New York City for the weekend. Where do you want to go? I'm headed to the Bronx to see Anthony Rizzo, of course.

8. You are going to night school.  They offer courses in writing short stories, painting, piano  or guitar lessons, simple home repairs, baking, and gardening. Which do you pick  (or make up one of your own)  and why? Short story writing. Because I think it would be fun to stretch my skills in that direction.

9. Ever been to a Drive-In Theater? Would you like to see Drive-In Theaters make a come back? I went as a child. I'd like to see them come back because more screens is good for the movie business.

10.  Should towns provide community entertainment like bands in the park, fireworks on the 4th, community picnics or is the cost just too much? Of course!

11.  What would you change about your town if you had the power? I'd like to see beat cops on the street more, interacting with us. When they do, I sense a greater sense of collaboration between the police and the public.

12.   How often do you find yourself shopping for groceries? About 3x/week. I don't drive, so I'm limited to what I can haul home.

13. Do you have a favorite night time snack? It changes. These days it's cinnamon applesauce cups.

14,  Do you buy in bulk and what kinds of tips do you have to save money on grocery shopping? I buy nothing in bulk and have no tips. Except, maybe, don't pay full price for toilet paper when those big rolls of Charmin Essentials are just waiting for you at The Dollar Store. 

15. Let's have a picnic in the park.  What foods are we packing and will we cook anything there or is it all prepared ahead of time? We're having cold fried chicken, chips, fruit and cookies.

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Diamond Girl (1973)

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

1) This week's song is by Seals and Crofts, a pair of Texas boys who met when they both joined a local band called The Crew Cats. Have you ever visited The Lone Star State? If yes, where did you go? I visited Dallas on business. It was the mid-80s, when I was writing for a haircare company. BIG hair was popular in those days, and Dallas was the epicenter of big hair so that's where the beauty show was.

The ladies of Dallas with their high-maintenance hair

2) Lead singer Jim Seals compliments his girl by comparing her to a precious stone. What's the nicest compliment you have ever received? Who was it from? A decade ago I met a young woman who had just immigrated from India. We didn't work together often, but we sat near one another. One day I did a very small thing for her -- she was sad that her little plant had died and while she was lunch, I surprised her by replacing the dead plant with a couple of carnations from the bouquet on my desk. Really, it took a moment and cost me nothing. Anyway, it meant so much to her! She bought me a Christmas gift a few weeks later, even though she doesn't celebrate Christmas, because I "spread holiday cheer all year around." After I was let go in 2022, she sent me another Christmas gift (to my home), an electric blanket so I could have "a warm and cozy Christmas." A few months ago she reached out via Facebook to tell me she's glad I look so happy in retirement, and to share photos of her kids. It means a great deal to me that she thinks I'm nice and kind.

3) Diamonds are birthstone for people born in April. What's your birthstone? Do you wear it often? Topaz and no.

4) In ancient times, Hindus believed diamonds brought good luck. Do you have a good luck charm? I used to but I lost it.

5) On the other hand, some believe that one of the world's most famous gems, The Hope Diamond, is cursed. 14 of its owners have died from unnatural causes. Those who possessed the diamond committed suicide, were murdered, tortured to death in prison, and even torn apart by dogs! If you received a beautiful piece of jewelry that was rumored to be cursed, would you be concerned? Or do you think curses are silly? I think curses are silly.

6) Rare diamonds share an element with the common pencil. Both contain graphite. Sam is crazy about pencils, pens and felt-tip markers. Do you enjoy shopping for office supplies? Yes! I love binder clips and paper clips.

7) In 1973, the year this record was popular, Shelley Hack was a hard-working and well-paid model. She regularly appeared on the pages of catalogs, on magazine covers and then launched Revlon's popular Charlie cologne in print and on TV. What commercial have you seen recently? Did you watch it on TV, online or on your phone? Golden Corral ("You can't handle the shrimp!"). It was on TV when I was watching the news.

8) Also in 1973, Motown great Stevie Wonder was in a car accident that left him with a scar on his nose. Tell us about how you got one of your scars. 10 years ago I had a "beauty mark" removed from my face. My dermatologist wanted the mole biopsied, but because of the prominent location on my face, he sent me to a plastic surgeon. She was a wizard. The scar just looks like a tiny horizontal laugh line.

9) Random question: What's your perfect day -- weatherwise? 75ยบ, clear skies, just a breeze.

Friday, April 05, 2024

When something you love loves you back

I have been watching TCM (Turner Classic Movies) almost since the beginning. Like Jane Fonda, I am mad for Ted Turner and appreciate all he accomplished in news, baseball, and above all, film preservation. TCM is my happy place. It's my go-to channel. The movies have taught me about the great American art form, film, and who we were as a country. The TCM Classic Film Festivals give me a sense of community.

Because it means so much to me, I was thrilled to discover I appear in this 30th anniversary video -- twice! First Will and Karen from my movie group let me know they saw me featured rather prominently, then my former admin (from back in the 90s) reached out to tell me after watching it, she spotted me twice. This was before I saw it at all. I feel like such a celeb!

No, I'm not going to tell you where I am. I'm the menopausal white lady* that appears twice after the 11:00 mark. See if you can spot me.

I can't tell you how happy this makes me.



*That's the joke: TCM's viewership is menopausal ladies and gay gentlemen. There's something to that.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

You know, I don't know

Before yesterday, I had three laser treatments on my left heel. My chiropractors explained that the effects are cumulative, not instant, so each day I expected that twinge to lessen a bit. 

Imagine my thrill when I woke up this morning and my heel felt just fine. No pain at all!

Then I remembered: I'm full of codeine. Yesterday I had a double crown lengthening. I've had this procedure before, but never two teeth at once. I don't want to know how much pain I'd be in without the medication. I'm no hero.

I'm going to try to get in Tuesday afternoon for one last laser zap before my chiropractor goes to Europe (la-de-dah!) and I'm off to the TCM Classic Film Festival. (I'll really need my feet as I race from theater to theater!) Hopefully by then I'll have the opioids out of my system. Gotta remember in the meantime to ice my heel, even though it doesn't hurt just now.

Because the truth is: I have no idea if my heel is improving. None whatsoever.


Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #355

13 facts about checks. Every time I order new checks, I'm sure it's the last time. My check writing has dipped precipitously to about six a month. With that in mind, I took to spinning around the world wide web and found I'm not unusual.

1. While checks aren't the least popular way to pay at the register, they are second to last. Debit cards are first, credit cards are second, cash is third, and checks are a very distant fourth. The only thing less popular are mobile payment apps. (And they are on the rise while checks are on the decline.)

2. According to the Federal Reserve, this is very different from the 1990s. Thirty years ago, cash was the first and checks were a close second. The emergence of debit cards coincides with the drop in cash/check usage.

3. Some smart shoppers still use checks for BIG ticket items, like appliances, electronics or home renovation. This can save the credit card processing fee (anywhere from 1.5% to 3%). 

4. Some dealerships prefer checks to plastic for the down payment on a vehicle.

5. If you're paying at the register with a check, expect to have your government-issued ID (passport, driver's license or state ID) handy. If the address on your ID doesn't match the check, you'll likely be required to also present a utility bill to confirm your residence.

6. How many checks you write may reveal your age. 52% of Americans over 45 write checks monthly, while 9% of those under 24 do.

7. Checkwriting has become so rare that you can find online tutorials on the subject. If you need a refresher, here is Huntington Bank's.

8. For security reasons, checks can be preferable for gift giving over the miles. Unlike cash, they can be replaced if lost or stolen. Unlike gift cards, they are difficult to detect in a sealed envelope.

9. People who use checks prefer designer checks over those issued by their bank. Letting you choose a design that fits your personality is big business for companies like The Bradford Exchange, Checks in the Mail, and Checks Unlimited.

10. The most consistently popular designer patterns are nature scenes, followed by Bible quotes, and then cats and/or dogs. (My checks feature the logo of my beloved Chicago Cubs.)

11. There's a wide variety of checkbook covers available. The bi-fold and wallet style are the most popular.

12. The most expensive checkbook cover on Amazon is genuine alligator and sells for $149.

13. Checks are popular with autograph collectors. Last year, a personal check signed by Abraham Lincoln to his valet sold for $100,000 at auction.

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



Tuesday, April 02, 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? Hollywood: The Oral History compiled by Jeanine Bassinger and Sam Wasson. 700+ pages of reminiscences from actors, directors, screenwriters, producers ... the story of Hollywood told by the people who created it. I just cracked it open and I'm already behind in my reading. I joined an online book club and we're discussing it ... soon. (I noted the date somewhere. If only I could remember where. Maybe I won't be discussing it. I mean, if I can't find the date and the link ...)

2. What did you recently finish reading? Murder in the Ball Park: A Nero Wolfe Mystery by Robert Goldsborough. New York, ca 1950, is in turmoil. A politician is murdered at the Polo Grounds, during the 4th inning of the Dodgers vs. the Giants. It's  shocking event that presents the NYPD with an almost insurmountable problem: a high-profile murder with tens of thousands of eye witnesses and a ton of suspects.

Cases that confound the police are the specialty of Nero Wolfe. I love being in Wolfe's world: his gourmet meals, exotic plants, idiosyncratic schedule, colorful employees. My favorite is Archie Goodwin, his "legman," out there in the city, cracking wise and collecting clues.

This is a fine effort. Not one of the best of the series -- I seemed to figure out the plot twist before Wolfe or even Archie, and that's just wrong -- but still a fine time.


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


Fields of Europe®

That's what 1800Flowers calls this bouquet. Did you know that fiber ribbon is called "raffia?" I didn't, but I do now. Anyway, this glass vase of flowers is on its way to my friend John's hospital room.

He's now "stable and improving." So much so that he's been moved from the ICU and into his own room. He has multiple health issues -- I know about congestive heart failure and diabetes, and I suspect clinical depression -- and they are going to run more tests to prioritize them and develop a treatment plan.

I heard all of these from Gregory ... who heard it from Jerry, John's brother. Jerry lives in Boston, but he's an RN so he understands better than us what he's hearing and what follow up questions to ask. 

We have been asked not to call the hospital ourselves so the nurses can concentrate on patient care. John also requested "no visitors." This amused me. Like I would go downtown to visit your grumpy old ass? (I almost wrote that on the card.)

But clearly he's going to recover from this. That is my takeaway. That is everything.


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!)

I haven't played this in more than a decade and there's no longer anywhere to link it to, but it seems like it would be fun to revisit so here we are.

I am plowing through Hollywood: The Oral History by Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson. I am enjoying it, but it's daunting. 768 pages! 

From Chapter 1, here's Charlton Heston spinning a tale about filmmakers traveling east and ending up in Hollywood:

(Director Cecil B.) DeMille always told the story that he and his group headed west to find yearlong sunshine, heading for Arizona to make a Western. When their train got to Flagstaff, it was pissing down rain ... DeMille got off the train, looked around, and said, "This isn't the weather they promised us. Let's get back on the train and keep going." So, according to DeMille, if it hadn't been raining in Flagstaff, "Hollywood" would now be "Flagstaff."

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Three Nice Things -- Day 31


My blogging buddy, Kwizgiver, wrote a post that really resonated with meShe detailed how self-care helped her helped her prevail during a (ridiculously) tough month. Her tips were very wise and so doable! So she has inspired me to take one and integrate it into my own life.

Since I can be a pretty harsh self-critic, this is the one I chose. I hope I can do this every day during March. By then it should be a habit, right?

Three nice things about myself -- March 31:

1) My faith is natural and strong. God loves me. I know this. I have always known this. Trying to live in a way that pleases Him motivates me. Last night, when I was exhausted but unable to doze off, I felt Him. He was telling me to go to sleep, don't set the alarm, virtual church is OK this Easter. Suddenly I was able to sleep. I like the peace I get from my faith.

2) My sense of humor doesn't fail me. I fed the cats before Zoom church, so I could concentrate on the day and its special significance. I opened a new can of pumpkin puree for Connie (it helps keep her regular) and it had a magic effect on her. She had to have more. Not during the hymns. Not during the sermon. No, she waited until I was supposed to be in prayerful meditation. Every. Time. She would literally put her face in mine. She would knock stuff over. So much for my prayerful meditation. Instead of contemplating the meaning of the day, I was mixing pumpkin with her Gerber baby food. Then, as soon as the service was over, she curled up into a tight little ball and fell sound asleep. Of course she did. I thought it was funny, and I bet God did, too.

3) I love baseball. My Cubs beat the World Champion Rangers, Anthony Rizzo's Yankees swept the Astros. I like that my passions rescue me from darkness. I realize not everyone has that relief.