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September 2014
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November 2014

October 2014

Caught in the Act!

Peter and I first met at work decades ago.  I think I was more interested in him than he was in me, but I was determined to pursue him.   I discovered that I had a good chance of bumping into him if I wandered by the candy bar machine in the hall near his office. He seemed to have quite a sweet tooth.  

I hadn’t thought about that aspect of my pursuit of Peter in a long time.  Until recently.  A couple of weeks ago I saw a yellow jellybean on the floor of our car.  Odd, I thought, and I forgot about it.

Then last Thursday, Peter and I went our separate ways after our music class because he was going home and I was going to a lunch date. My friend Joanie (also in the class) and I lingered in the auditorium to talk to a couple of the musicians who had just played for us.  Then we headed to a nearby CVS to do an errand.

As we approached the store, I saw Peter walking toward us.  In his hand, he was clutching a bag of candied fruit slices he had just bought at that CVS.  Caught in the act!

When I got home, I confronted him.  “How often to you do buy candy?” I asked.

“Enough,” he replied.  

I smiled about it the rest of the day.


The Apple King

Almost three years ago, when our son Jeremy told us that he was going to eat an apple a day for 1000 days, we weren’t surprised.  He is, after all, our child who ate 40 Chicken McNuggets for his 40th birthday and later completed a “Meatless September” (a huge sacrifice for our meat-loving son) to raise money for charity.

At least apples are healthy.

Tomorrow he will eat his 1000th.  He did not miss a day.  Not even when he was in Guatemala this summer.  Or when he discovered late one night that there was not an apple in the house (except his computer!) and had to run to the store.

When the U.S. Apple Association learned (admittedly from Jeremy’s mother who wanted to have a certificate made to mark his success), they were very excited to hear that this would come to “fruition” during National Apple Month.  And here’s what happened next. 


A Brazil Nut

Seth about to be on TV

When our children were little, I dreaded the first time they would cross the street alone.  Keeping them safe was my highest priority and I thought only I could do that. Other milestones were just as scary:  overnight camp, a driver’s license, legal drinking age, and more.

But I never dreamed that one of our children would fall in love with Brazil, live in São Paulo for two years, go back whenever he could and, of this week, become a media star in that beautiful, yet complicated city 4,810 miles away from home.

So let me blatantly boast about the handsome guy pictured above just as he is about to appear on one of Brazil’s top morning shows, having been written about in two of the country’s leading newspapers and having had 48,577 hits in the first week of his new YouTube series “Amigo Gringo.”  Amigo Gringo videos help Brazilians handle such challenges of New York City as ordering bagels, using the subway, tipping and more.  Trust me, the less than five-minute-long videos are funny.  English subtitles require clicking on a box that says “cc” in the lower right hand corner of the screen. 

Not quite what I expected of that little guy whose letters home during his first summer at overnight camp said they he had a stomach ache every day.

Two Eggs

Peter and I have been married so long that we have our own shortcut statements (much like the prisoners who numbered jokes that they’ve told so often that they can get a laugh just by shouting “twenty-two!”).

“Two eggs” is our shortened version of “We’re so old we should do whatever we want to do without thinking about whether it’s bad for us. (“Two eggs” came from an experience related by my Aunt Ruth many years ago.  Her elderly sister-in-law, also my aunt, was told by her nursing home that she could only have one egg because she should watch her cholesterol.  “For goodness sakes,” shouted Aunt Ruth, “this woman is almost ninety—let her eat two eggs!”)

As for real eggs, we tend to have a soft boiled egg for breakfast on the weekends when we are not so rushed. ONE soft boiled egg.   So imagine my surprise when Peter boiled two for himself on Saturday.  “Wow,” I said.  “Two eggs!” 

We chuckled.




On the Upside

My last two posts have been about the end of life.  I’d rather concentrate on being alive,  and since “Life is like a roll of toilet paper—it goes faster at the end,” I’m scrambling to fit everything in.

Right now, health-related commitments are competing with what I’d prefer to do.  So far in October, I’ve had a flu shot and a bone-density test.  Coming up, the dentist, a hearing checkup (what’d you say?) and a mammogram.  No fun.

But on the upside, the instructor of my Jefferson class is in love with his subject and so knowledgeable about it that he is a great teacher.  My music professor is brilliant and funny and is teaching me to listen to music in a whole new way.  My Rembrandt class is going to the Museum of Fine Arts where we will see prints and drawings that only can be seen by appointment.  My two non-profit consulting projects are teaching me things I didn’t even know I wanted to learn.  And my work with students applying to college is allowing me to stay in touch with young people, one of my favorite demographics.

For the first time since I retired, I am feeling overwhelmed by all that is on my plate.

How great is that!





Should We Hope to Die at Seventy-five?

In the September, 2014 Atlantic, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel explained why he does not want to prolong his life after he is seventy-five years old.    See :  The author who is fifty-seven years old speaks only for himself when he writes:

“…living too long … renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us… We wish our children to remember us in our prime.  Active, vigorous, engaged, animated, astute, enthusiastic, funny, warm, loving.  Not stooped and sluggish, forgetful and repetitive, constantly asking ‘What did she say?’...”

Dr. Emanuel is not planning to commit suicide at seventy-five or suggesting that anyone else should.  What he will do is refuse life-extending tests and treatments once he reaches that age.  No more colonoscopies for him!

It’s easy to say at fifty-seven that you don’t want to live past seventy-five.  I remember thinking how old sixty-five seemed to me when my parents reached that age.  But now at seventy-six, I am still glad to be here.  I am glad that I got a knee replaced so I can continue to work out.  I am thrilled to see colors more intensely now that my cataracts are gone. Yes, I do want my grandchildren to remember me as an active part of their lives. But I’ll take the chance that they might not because right now we are having so much fun together.

I hope to “live” as long as I am alive – which I hope will be for quite a while.

A Good Ending

We’ve been reading a lot about the need for end-of-life conversations with our loved ones and our doctors lately, often in the context of the high cost of healthcare for the dying.  It’s a good idea.

So it was a delight to read Atul Gwande’s uplifting end-of-life opinion piece on this subject in The New York Times  .  Dr. Gwande, a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine and, even more important, my own surgeon, writes about his daughter’s piano teacher, Peg Batchedler, who died about two years ago. 

Terminally ill, and with no further treatment options, she decided to go home with hospice care rather than remain in the hospital waiting to die.  Hospice tries to give people the best possible day they can have under their circumstances, explains Gwande.

He relates what happened on Peg Batchelder’s “best possible day” before she died at home. I was moved when I read the article at breakfast on Sunday and I passed it on to Peter as the tears ran down my face.  



More than thirty years ago, I worked closely with a wonderful colleague at the Harvard Kennedy School. Ours was among the best work relationships I have ever had.  She went on to a successful career elsewhere, and we lost touch.  A couple of weeks ago, I learned something about our former boss that I had to tell her.

I tried to find her on the Internet.  She wasn’t on Facebook. She wasn’t on Linkedin.  This was going to be harder than I expected.  It didn’t help that her last name is Jones.  Finally, through a Google image search for her and her husband, I found a picture of them at a fundraiser and learned where she works.  I sent an email to the firm, explaining that I was a former colleague trying to reach her and asked that they forward my email to her.  Success at last! 

We talked on Thursday.  We chatted and laughed just as if it were thirty years ago.  Forty minutes later, I had to end the conversation to get to my music class. We were definitely not finished. We promised to stay in touch.

After music class, I had lunch with another person from my past, the editor of the many travel articles and personal essays I had written for The Boston Globe in the 90’s. When I saw her mentioned in a newspaper article about adjusting to retirement, I managed to get in touch with her too.  We had a great time chatting about life’s changes.

My music class that day had been a wonderful live performance of part of Handel’s Messiah.

Some days are almost too good to be true.



Wrinkle Control

When my much-loved iron starting throwing sparks, I had to face replacing it.  To me, buying new appliances is right up there with eating lima beans—to be avoided, if possible.  But of course, one can’t live without a working iron.

So I hustled to the nearest box store and chose the same brand (different model because they are always different) and thought I was done.  Unfortunately, the iron was awkward to handle and it steamed erratically.  I took it back to the store and asked several salespeople if they could recommend a replacement, but no one knew anything about irons.

I chose a different brand, took it home, ironed a shirt and realized that iron was worse than the first one.  So I returned it, came home, and ordered a well-reviewed iron online, one of many choices.  I’ll have it in a few days. 

I often made fun of my parents when they said, “They don’t make things like they used to.”  If they were alive, I’d apologize.