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February 2021

January 2021


My father died almost 49 years ago.  He was a very complicated man, an immigrant who never told my brother and me that he was not born here.  He had some ups and downs until my mother came into his life.  But his great sense of humor and his hard work got him where he wanted to be.

The other day I was in a car with a friend who was considering parking in a questionable spot near a “no parking” sign.  I thought of my father who had a good line for such a situation.  His response, delivered with a twinkle in his eye, was “It says “No Parking”, but it doesn’t say Positively” always got a chuckle from us.

Dad, a chain smoker, died of lung cancer in 1972.  I wish we could sit down together for a good catch-up talk.

Coats and Dogs

Now that people are bundled up for winter (at least where I live), I’m having trouble recognizing acquaintances on the street.  Cambridge is a city, but it is like a small town, and I often run into acquaintances when I am out walking.  If they are wearing hats and masks, I usually can’t tell who’s who.  Unless they have a recognizable stride.  Or I recognize their coats. 

There are at least two people in our building whose coats give them away.  One coat is a wonderful burnt orange color.  Another woman had an orange jacket, but she seems to have a new blue one that threw me off one day.  For a while, I knew people by their masks, but as the pandemic has gone on, most people now have a wardrobe of masks.

One helpful clue is their dog. When I can’t recognize the adult holding the leash, I often am saved by the dog.

There is one unmissable woman that I often see.  Her coat is a royal shade of purple.  It is exactly the same color as her walker.  Unfortunately, I have no idea who she is.  But one day I’m going to introduce myself to her. 

By the way, I’m the (relatively) tall woman with an odd gait, and silver hair that badly needs cutting.

Our Country

We have a new president of the United States.  When I turned on the TV to watch the inauguration on Wednesday, I was relieved to see that Washington, DC, prepared for war, was having a peaceful ceremony.

Although it was greatly toned down, enough tradition remained so that my eyes filled with tears when President Biden took the oath of office. His speech called for healing our country.  He seems to have a plan.

I wish him Godspeed.


I have a slice of cantaloupe for breakfast every morning.  Although I regret the hefty carbon footprint it leaves, I am grateful for its year-round availability.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, cantaloupe was a common dessert at dinnertime.  My mother would give us each a full half a melon, usually topped by a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Nowadays, I don’t think of Pittsburgh much when I have my melon.  I think of sitting at breakfast one Thanksgiving morning several years ago when our grandson Leo chided me for eating melon with a knife.  He said, “My mother says I should never put a knife in my mouth.”

I still do.

An Almost Pre-Pandemic Day

Before the pandemic, our calendar was full of concerts, theater or plans to do things with friends.  Not to mention medical appointments.

Now, thanks to COVID-19, our calendar is pretty empty, and most of what is there is virtual.

Friday was different.  It started with an in-person doctor’s appointment for Peter, home just in time to grab a bite of lunch and then a trip to see friends who live about a half-hour away.  Appropriately masked, it was wonderful to walk in the woods, chatting with them.  We barely made it home for a 5:30 Zoom cocktail hour with our niece and her husband who live in Connecticut.

For one day, life was almost the way it used to be.  I miss it.

Another Birthday

This week The 80-Something Blog is thirteen years old.  If the blog were our child, it would be a teenager!  This is its 1356th post since its birth in 2008 as The 70-Something Blog.  My seventieth birthday was a month away then, and I thought that writing about being a septuagenarian would help me process my transition from “almost old” to old.

People often ask me how I decide what to write about.  Do I have a list of topics?  No.  Do I worry that I might run out of ideas? No, at least not yet.  Often, I have something on my mind that I want to share with my readers, but not always.  All I know is that writing helps me process what’s happening in my life. 

To those who have been with me since the beginning, my thanks.  To those who might just be joining us, welcome. Next year at this time I will probably be telling you that I have just written my 1460th post.  I hope you’ll stay with me.

Lost and Found

Peter and I have been living with Parkinson’s Disease for a dozen years.  I say “Peter and I” because although he is the patient, I am the caregiver.  As the disease progresses, it’s harder for both of us.

Because the pandemic has restricted our social life, it’s a challenge to find new things that will get us out of our apartment. On Wednesday, I suggested we drive somewhere and walk in a different location for a change of scenery.  The day before, I had walked to our former neighborhood with a friend, and it was great fun to see what has changed in the three years since we left. I thought he would enjoy it. 

We parked and walked a part of our former regular “after dinner” neighborhood stroll.  I especially wanted to show Peter some changes on a nearby cul-de-sac. 

There was an attractive addition to one house that I wanted him to see, but all the houses are quite unusual including one that looked like it once belonged to Hansel and Gretel.

I didn’t mind going there twice in two days, especially because I caught a glimpse of one of those puffy skiing-type mittens perched on a fence post as we were leaving.  Obviously, some careless person dropped it and some nice person picked it up and put it in a visible place.  I don’t know who the nice person was, but the careless person was me.

Hello 2021

I always greet Peter on the morning of January 1st with this question:  “How’s your year going so far?”   I know, it shows a pretty pathetic sense of humor, but it seems to just come out automatically. 

We were luckier than so many people in 2020.  We lost no one close to us to Covid-19.  Although we missed our family and friends, we at least got to “see” them thanks to Facetime and Zoom.   But we know the worst may lie in front of us as the virus continues to spread. 

First, there will not be enough ICU beds to accommodate the victims of the fast-spreading virus. Once again, hospital tents are being set up for the overflow.  We will have to be even more careful until enough people have been vaccinated.  

Second, our healthcare workers are stressed to the point where hospitals are calling on student nurses, medical school students and retirees to fill in as their staffs continue to fall ill or burn out.

Third, many people continue to ignore social distancing or go mask-less.  I understand “Live Free or Die” but what if your “live free” causes others to die?

I am hoping our country can heal in 2021, that we can regain the respect of the world by respecting each other.

2021’s got to be a better year.

Six Words or Less

Shortly before Thanksgiving, The New York Times asked readers to submit in six words or less what they are grateful for in 2020.  More than ten thousand people responded, and the paper devoted a full page of the Thanksgiving Day paper to printing about a hundred of them.

Some of my favorites: “Saved a lot of lipstick money.” “I am bored, but not dead.” “Healthcare workers, healthcare workers, healthcare workers.” “Out of prison with great job.” “Postponed wedding, having baby instead.” “Zoom Thanksgiving beats ICU Christmas.”

I thought for a long time about the six words that expressed what I was most grateful for in 2020.  I came up with “Peter” “Seth” “Jeremy” “Katrina” “Leo” “Grady”.