A Simple Walk

It’s a walk I do frequently—this time I was out of cash and headed for my bank branch.  I passed an older woman going the other way.  Seconds later, I heard “Judy?”  Turns out this woman remembered me from the learning in retirement organization I belonged to for several years.  In fact, she really knew Peter much better.  She reminded me of what a star teacher he had been and how much she had enjoyed classes with him.  That brief encounter was a happy one, and at the same time, sad.

Minutes later I saw a familiar face—a young man walking in the opposite direction.  He said, “Hi Judy.”  Embarrassed I told him he looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him.  Sure enough, he was a teaching assistant in the undergraduate class that I loved auditing last semester. 

Two random events—they made my day.

Skimming the Paper

As one of a fast-disappearing-read-the-paper-as-a-newspaper holdouts, I can’t help but notice the skinny-ness of my daily paper delivery.  I believe that the decline in size is due primarily to advertisers having moved online, and I see enough ads online to back up that claim. 

However, since my morning coffee ritual requires a newspaper, I carry on.

I know that newspapers thrive on disquieting news.  But right now, there is a bit too much that is worrisome.  So, I find myself reading faster and reading less.  I know there is good news out there.

It just doesn't sell newspapers.

Are Dogs Getting Cuter?

I love dogs.  Especially if they belong to other people.  I think about owning one of my own, but I remind myself of cold winter mornings with slippery sidewalks, and I remain dog-less.

Lately, I have been watching a golden retriever progress from pure puppydom to teen-age puppydom.  His owner knows I’m a fan, and when we meet on the street, we always stop to chat while I get my petting in.

65.1 million U.S. households own a dog. 

I will continue to resist.


Of the many complicated things over which I have no control and not much knowledge, artificial intelligence (AI) may be number one.  From what I read, I am in awe of its power and frightened of its capabilities.

As usual, not knowing much about a subject doesn’t keep me from having opinions.  Therefore, take the following with several grains of salt.

Are jobs at risk?  Yes and no say experts.  Jobs will change for sure.

Can AI do harm?  Yes.  One example, a clothed photo of a teenager was doctored and became a nude photo online.  Misinformation in general can become rampant.

Is the U.S. behind in AI?  If so, what do we do about it?  I will leave that to the experts.

Some subjects are beyond consideration by The 80-something Blog.

This is one of them.

A Happy Anniversary

Five years ago, I learned that I had early-stage breast cancer. After exploring my options, my treatment of choice was radiation therapy.  Since then, the results of my annual mammogram have been reported to me at the end of each procedure, and I have met immediately after with my surgeon who has confirmed that all is well.

Now, at five years, with my mammogram last week clear of concern, I am considered “cured.”  No further post-procedure meetings with the doctor.

It’s a good feeling.

Making My New Home Mine

Upon moving back to Cambridge from Washington, DC in 2018, Peter and I rented a condo while we thought about where we wanted to put down new roots.  As his health deteriorated from Parkinson’s Disease, he became concerned about my future.  We had come to love our rental apartment so when a condo on our floor came on the market, he wanted us to buy it. 

It was a risk.  The owner only used it part of each year, and she hadn’t given it the loving care it deserved.  But we liked it and we decided to take a chance.

That was two and a half years ago.  It served our purpose, the security of a place to live.

But it needed some “work” that, sadly, Peter would never get to see. 

I started to make it mine with a total re-painting.  Then came insulated shades to keep out the cold from the floor-to-ceiling living room windows.  Next came replacing the tired parquet living room floor, followed by new entryway and stair carpeting.

And last month, I had the kitchen cabinet doors, countertop and backsplash updated. 

Peter did not live to see the transformation, but I know he would love it. 

And I have an apartment that now is me.


Banana Shock

I spread my grocery shopping out in the following way:  Produce and meat: mostly Whole Foods.  Canned goods and household staples:  big grocery chain, usually Star Market.   Quirky stuff, and wonderfully affordable cut flowers Trader Joe’s. 

This can vary, depending on where I am when the grocery list demands my attention.

As a confirmed banana-a-day consumer, Trader Joe’s 19-cent-a-piece bananas (no matter what they weigh) have been a staple purchase by this health-conscious eater for as long as I can remember.  As prices of everything rose, I thought this 19-cent “loss-leader” would forever be a lure to TJ’s shoppers.

Alas, the other day the 19-cent banana had disappeared, to be replaced by the  24-cent banana.

I mentioned this change to the check-out cashier.  He was sympathetic.  He said that they had kept the 19-cent price for 20 years or so.

Since the ability to adapt to change is important to me,

I’ll manage.

1700 and Counting

This is my 1700th blog post.  When I embarked on this journey at age 69, it never occurred to me that I would still be publishing my random thoughts on just about anything at 86.  Even more remarkable is that so many loyal readers still are with me, and others still sign on.

Life is so different now.  Back then, I was still deeply into my work.  Peter and I were enjoying an empty nest, grateful that our children were launched.  Now, a widow for more than two years, I’ve had to make the best of a life without the man of my dreams.  I’ve learned that one never gets over a loss, but it is possible to carry on and be grateful.

And carry on is what I do.  Thanks for joining me.

Goodbye to a Tradition

Engraved on the inside of my wedding ring are the notes of the opening theme of Haydn’s 88th symphony.  It’s a long story, but illustrative of what our son Seth called “his classical-music-loving parents”.

So it's no surprise that Peter and I had a decades-long subscription to the concert series of the Handel and Haydn Society. We attended with dear friends, and it was a lovely tradition.

After Peter died, I kept our subscription with our friends, but it wasn’t the same without him.  Then this season I missed two concerts due to travel.  And today I decided not to subscribe to the 2024-2025 season.  I still hope to go to a concert or two, but it’s not going to be the same.

I remind myself to be grateful for a wonderful tradition.

Still, I am sad.

Being the Oldest

I’m accustomed to being the youngest in a group of my peers.  I started kindergarten a year early (at age four).  I was the last of my high school friends to get a driver’s license and the last of my college classmate friends to celebrate turning 21 by chugging a pitcher of beer at The Pretzel Bell in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

But no more.  In my group of 18 traveling in Cambodia and Vietnam just now, I was the oldest by two years and most of my fellow travelers were ten years younger.  They were very complimentary, several remarking that they hope that they will be as vigorous as I am when they reach my advanced age.

There is no denying that there is a difference in me from just a few years ago. For starters, the 95+degree temperature and accompanying high humidity was a problem for me more than the others, and seeing Cambodians and Vietnamese natives sometimes in jackets and sweatshirts didn’t help.  Yes, everyone breathed a little more easily when we were back in our air-conditioned bus, but I was probably the most relieved.

This 80-something blogger will check out the humidity before choosing her next destination.

Lesson learned.