Previous month:
November 2022
Next month:
January 2023

December 2022

People's Best of 2022

When asked what was special about their 2022, New York Times readers talked about everything from positive changes to their routines to their choice of tooth paste.  My favorite idea was the “Good Stuff Jar.”    

When 2022 got off to a bad start for one reader, she set aside a jar to hold notes about good things as they happened.  Anything from a particularly good day to a good joke could be noted and tucked into the jar.  On New Year’s Eve, she and her husband will read all her notes to celebrate the positive things about their year.

Our family makes a Thankful Jar for Thanksgiving.  Everyone anonymously jots down several things they are grateful for—people, the world, anything, and we read them before dessert .   

It would probably be difficult to get my far-flung family to agree to note good things daily, but that won’t stop me.

I’m in.

The Man in the Blue Parka

Tuesday was the second shortest day of the year. But the sun was shining brightly as I opened the shades to look out at the Charles River.  I never tire of that view.

My eye caught the bright blue parka of a man on the sidewalk.  He had a grocery store cart with huge garbage bags attached to the sides.  He was digging into the next door apartment building’s recycle bins out for garbage collection. He was looking for empty soda or beer cans tossed by people who don’t bother with the recycling rebate. 

My first impulse was to open the door to my balcony, shout to him and throw him some dollar bills for Christmas.  Instead, I turned away.  He was doing the best he could, and he did not need me to remind him of his challenges. 

I thought about him all day.

(P.S. Best wishes for the Holidays.  Thank you so much for reading 80-something.)


Why would anyone in her right mind go to Costco seven days before Christmas? Well, I had an impulse purchase from a few weeks ago that I wanted to return before the post-Christmas return frenzy.

If this was a pre-Christmas return line, I can’t imagine a post-Christmas one. Since Costco is a trip for me, I decided to wait it out.  And then I decided to enjoy it. People-watching can be great fun.

Every age, every ethnicity, every kind of a return, including a huge sofa.  And then there was the line at the checkout cashiers, the line at the Pepsi machine, and the line where your sales receipt is checked against your cart as you leave.

When I complimented the return guy on his unflappability, he said it was a requirement for the job, and told me that I should have seen the day before.  I suspect he enjoys it.

I almost bought a pair of those spike-y things you put on the soles of your shoes to avoid slipping on the ice.  But when I thought about a potential return line,

I put them back.

Sweet Tooth


I love candy.  I don’t buy it because I can’t stop at one or two pieces. 

I relapsed last year when Seth visited and bought home a box of “Hot Tamales”.  I bought my own box after he left. It lasted 24 hours.   I renewed my vow to stop.

Then during my October trip to Brazil, I relapsed again, thanks to pacoquitas, jars of which appeared at the end of the lunch and dinner buffet lines  in the Pantanal. (see photo)

I bought a big container back from Sāo Paulo,  and gave a half dozen pieces to several friends, primarily so that I wouldn’t eat them all.  Alas, at Thanksgiving, Seth brought another supply from Brazil.

End of story? Nope!

On Wednesday my Brazilian house cleaners left me a Christmas gift. 

Guess what it was.

The Handywoman

I remember how proud I was when I installed some drapes in my first apartment a million years ago. After I met Peter, he became my in-house-handyman, and I barely lifted a hammer for our fifty-six years together.

Now, I try to do everything that doesn’t require a professional.  Imagine my pride the other evening when my Internet disappeared.  I turned off the computer and turned it back on.  That didn’t work.  Then I asked Google.  First suggestion: Reboot the modem.  End of problem.

The next morning, I attacked my not-printing-printer.  I fiddled around with it, figured out the paper tray was jammed, unjammed it and lo and behold, the printer printed.  On a roll, I decided to try to re-attach a bit of veneer that had come off the front of a beautiful chest that was my mother’s.  The jury is still out on whether that was a success.

There is more on my to-do list, but…

I decided to quit while I was ahead.

Body Update

Show me an 80-something whose body is as intact as it was even a decade ago, and I’ll be shocked (and jealous).  I, myself, am missing an appendix, two original knees, and both corneas. I’ve had shingles and breast cancer.  Yet I consider myself in good healt­­­­h.

Last March, however, walking any distance caused me to limp.  I was planning a trip overseas, so I asked for and got a cortisone shot for what the doctor told me was bursitis, a swelling of a bursar that would require physical therapy and could take a year to get better.

Six months later, things finally started improving.  Then, two weeks ago, the original discomfort returned. I couldn’t put any weight on that leg.  This time I saw an orthopedic surgeon who after twisting my leg into all kinds of contortions, told me that it was not a bursar problem.  Rather it is gluteal tendonitis, for which cortisone is unlikely to help. So back to physical therapy I go for a different set of exercises.

If asked, I will still say that I am in good health.  Everything is relative.

Walking Alone

Walking is good for us, really good. Plus, I like it.

I have one friend who goes on a long walk with me weekly, and a bunch of friends I walk with irregularly.  But last week, my long-walk-friend was sick.  I did have one good walk to a lunch date. But that was not enough.  So, on Friday I walked alone.

I decided to walk to the supermarket, one mile away.  I only had two things on my list, neither urgent.  (That was good because the store didn’t have either one.)

My backpack was light, i.e., empty; it was a nice late afternoon; the sun was winding up its day and the sky was turning pink.  A lovely time for a walk.  However, not for me. My feet dragged, my shoulder hurt, and I was disappointed that the market was out of Mrs. Richardson’s Hot Fudge Sauce.

Most of all, it’s not much fun for me to talk to me.

P.S. For Amigo  Gringo's video about our Pantanal trip that's been viewed 61,000 times  in four days, see

Acts of Kindness

On Tuesday evening, I headed to Harvard’s Kennedy School (my employer for 33 years) to hear an impressive panel talk about leadership moving to a new generation.  About halfway through my ten-minute walk, I realized I didn’t have a face mask.  Too late to go back and not wanting to press my Covid-free luck, I walked into the lobby of the on-my-way Charles Hotel and asked the people at the reception desk if they had a spare mask.  In the blink of an eye, I had a mask (and a wrapped piece of hard candy).  Problem solved.

On Wednesday, I decided that I could no longer ignore the yellow-flashing light on my car’s dashboard indicating that my tires need air.  This is a task that either Peter or a service visit took care of in the past.  I stopped at the nearest gas station and asked if they had an air machine.  The guy said “no”.  He promptly went into the garage and got the mechanic on duty to use the air in the repair shop to fill my tires.  He wouldn’t take any money. 

Was it because I am 80-something?

Another Thanksgiving

For the second year in a row, our family has gathered in the mountains of Western Maryland to celebrate my favorite holiday.  We came from near and far.  In addition to Seth’s coming from Brazil, we had his adorable Brazilian godson and family who now live in California.  My college freshman grandson joined us from Minnesota.

The non-food-focused rest of the weekend is a blur of the World Cup, a bunch of lakeside walks, a surprise visit by RV from the kids’ former neighbors from South Carolina and their two little boys plus dog. 

For four days, we left the challenges of the world behind us and just enjoyed each other.

(A special shout-out to my daughter-in-law Katrina who coordinated everything.)