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February 2023


People...if you have never owned a pair of Birkenstock’s Arizona sandals, you don’t know how happy feet can be.  My Birkenstocks were always waiting at my front door to replace the high heels I wore at work.  Now, I wear them at least 50% of my waking hours.

I don’t know how many pairs I’ve owned over the years, but I always have a new pair on my closet shelf, just in case.

Birkenstocks have been produced for 248 years.  They must be doing something right.

It is said that Steve Jobs wore Birkenstock’s Arizona sandals while developing the Apple computer in his family’s garage fifty years ago. Those sandals recently sold to an undisclosed buyer for $218,750.00.

Because Peter taught computer science, we owned a very early Apple computer. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the Birkenstocks I wore while using it.

Unaccustomed as I Am...

I made a little thank you speech last Sunday at 1:50 p.m. before I left for Penn Station in New York City to catch a train to Boston.  The speech was spontaneous.  The audience was small—but they were the five most important people in my life, and they had made my 85th birthday celebration perfection.

Last Thanksgiving Sunday, I had noticed a full-page ad of rave reviews for a new Broadway play.  I hadn’t been to New York in several years, but the reviews were extraordinary, and I decided then and there that I wanted my loved ones to join me  in New York for a weekend to celebrate my transition from being old to being old-old.

And to see the play.

A lot of pieces had to fall into place.

  1. Nobody could get Covid.
  2. I had to not have a fall.
  3. My older grandson would have to fly in from Minnesota where winter weather can be a showstopper, so-to-speak.
  4. My younger grandson and his parents had to drive safely from Maryland.
  5. Seth had to not be in Brazil.

And it happened.

Everybody made it. The play (Kimberly Akimbo) was loved by all of us.  We dined in a special restaurant for my birthday.  We walked.  We laughed.  Our last meal together was take-out from a gluten-free bakery/restaurant for Sunday brunch.  We ate outdoors.  I had a gluten-free bagel that was extraordinarily close to the last real bagel I ate twenty-three years ago.

So, before it was time for me to hop in a cab to the train station, the first of our group to leave, I made a speech.  I thanked the five people in the world I love the most for making me so happy.

An Old-Fashioned MD Appointment

Four years ago, I had four weeks of daily radiation following breast cancer surgery. The doctor who oversaw the treatment recommends five years of annual follow-up appointments, and I had my fourth with him last week.

We chatted a bit and then he examined me, looking for any signs of change since last year.  When he was finished, he sat with me for a while.  I told him that he had spent more time with his hands on my body than any other doctor since I saw him a year ago.  I told him that my Medicare “wellness” annual visit was a conversation with a nurse practitioner about my current medications and a blood pressure check.  I reminded him that four years ago, in a thorough exam with my primary care physician, her concern about a change in my breast resulted in an earlier-than-previously scheduled mammogram revealing a very early-stage cancer.

Now, it would be a different outcome.

The Super Bowl En Español

I never was much of a football fan.  Of course, I watched with the family when the boys were young, (notably, I stepped out of the room just as Doug Flutie made his Hail Mary pass for Boston College decades ago), but I was not disappointed that our sons chose to play soccer and lacrosse.

However, now that my grandson Grady is the kicker for his high school varsity team, I have become very interested in the game.  I plan my fall visits to Maryland around his home games. I love his commitment to the sport and the grace of his almost always successful kicks.

Last fall, I began to watch the Boston Patriots games on TV—I thought it was time to try to understand the game a bit.  However, on my ornery smart TV, no matter what I did, I could only get the games in Spanish.  I clicked on “language” and chose “English,” but no success, no matter how often I tried.

I should have called the TV repair folks, but never remembered to do so.  That is why on Sunday, I sat alone on the sofa and watched the entire Super Bowl en Español.  In all honesty, the commercials and the refs’ explanation of flags thrown were in English. So was Rihana.

Those I understood.

80 for Brady

"80 for Brady" is a new movie about four women who belong to a fan club for super-star and just-retired-football-quarterback Tom Brady.  The four stars (combined age of 335 years) are front and center on full-page ads for the movie.  I’ve read two reviews, one very positive, the other very negative. 

The four women, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Lily Tomlin and Sally Field look fabulous.  (By the way, I am especially grateful to Jane Fonda who kept me and two neighbors in shape with her workout decades ago.) The trailer for the movie shows them flitting around like teenagers.

But here’s the thing.  Eighty-plus years old women do not look that way.  The amount of “work” done on these women’s faces (and perhaps more) is obvious.  They are not role models for us eighty-somethings who wear our wrinkles with pride for a life well-lived.

I will skip the movie.

The Grammys and Me

True to my belief that it is never too late to learn, I watched The Grammys for the first time recently.  The Grammys recognize "outstanding" achievements in the music industry and have been around for quite a while, I am told.

Of course, I wasn’t completely in the dark.  I’d heard of Beyoncé and I knew about the Ticketmaster’s meltdown  when Taylor Swift tour tickets went on sale.

I believe my television set sound is not the best.  But I don’t think even the most sophisticated sound system would have made that music suit me.  Also, I found the outfits worn by all the performers distracting, in some cases frightening. 

I stuck it out, and I am proud of myself for opening my mind (for a while).

However, I am going back to Mozart.


Christine Lagarde was in the news last week speaking about interest rates.  Mme. Lagarde is President of the European Central Bank, a position she has held for three years.  Prior to that position, she was Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund for eight years.  Forbes Magazine once named her the ninth most powerful woman in the world and the thirty-ninth most powerful individual.

In 2012, she was the graduation speaker at the Harvard Kennedy School, and I met her at a lunch in her honor the day before.  The next morning, I was stopped by a young man as I was walking into the school.  “Excuse me Madame Lagarde,” he said in his French-accented English.  It is true that Madame Lagarde and I are both tall, slim, and gray-haired, but she is nearly twenty years younger.  None-the-less, I was amused (and he was embarrassed).

So, when her picture appeared in the paper last week, I took a very close look.

That young man would not make the same mistake today.

The Red Lentil Saga

I saw a recipe for red lentil soup that allegedly could be on the table in thirty minutes.  I decided to make it.  There were a couple of crucial ingredients that I was missing (the red lentils and coconut milk) so I picked them up the next time I was in Trader Joe’s. 

When I was about to make the soup, I couldn’t find the red lentils I had purchased.  Further, I couldn’t find the shopping receipt which would tell me if I had paid for them.  Anyway, I couldn’t make the soup.

The next day a neighbor was going to Trader Joe’s, and I asked her to buy red lentils for me again.  Even with the help of an employee, she could only find green lentils, and she called me from the store to tell me so. 

That day I had an Amazon package to return via Whole Foods Market. While there, I found red lentils in their bin department.  I carefully bagged a reasonable amount. At that moment, my phone rang, and it was my friend telling me she had bought me red lentils in a different market.  I was standing in front of the red lentil container, but I had already filled a bag and I wasn’t about to put them back.

Thus, I was well supplied to make the soup.

My neighbor and I use Venmo, a convenient way to pay each other back, even for small amounts, so I asked her how much she paid for the red lentils and she told me $2.29.  I didn’t pay her immediately as I usually do.

The next morning, I got a notice from Venmo saying she had paid me $2.29.

We laughed about it and I sent her $4.58. 

The soup was excellent.

What I Have Missed

As soon as I turned sixteen and got my driver’s license, I regularly tootled around Pittsburgh in my mother’s green Plymouth (stick shift) with the outstanding hits of the day e.g.,“How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” blasting from the radio. 

In college, I started to enjoy classical music as well. (This interest was partially due to my crush on my professor in Twentieth Century Classical Music.)   But I married a man who only listened to classical music, and soon I lost track of popular songs.  In fact, our older son described us as his “classical-music-loving-parents.”

It’s never too late to catch up.

Or is it?