This is not about Andy Rooney

but his death has raised a lot of questions for me. The obituaries say simply "serious complications after minor surgery." One story said his family requested privacy. I can understand, but this is something we should all be concerned with.

How many of us private citizens suffer from or die from serious complications after minor surgery? Hospitals don't want us to think about it.

Why is a man of 92 having minor surgery? Did he really need it if it was really minor? Did anyone stop to think about how much of his life he would lose to recovery?

This certainly touches on our healthcare systems and our attitudes toward life and death. Too bad he's not around to tell us what he thinks about it.


I'm not usually a fearful person. It only occurs to me after I've gone somewhere or been involved in something I shouldn't that I ought to be afraid. So it took me a long time, ten days to be exact, to realize I was afraid of going out for a walk again. The first week after I fell the weather was so unpleasant I never gave it a thought. This week has been much better and yesterday was a beautiful day. I finally took out my walking stick, swallowed my fear and went out; I am happy to report, without incident. My face looks much better. The remaining discoloration is under the frame of my glasses and hardly noticeable.

I'm not sure about the walking stick. I have no trouble walking and I'm having trouble envisioning how it might help me if I tripped again. In fact, I can only think it might create more damage. Steve wants me to use two of them. I suppose that might be better, but I don't like the idea. It seems cumbersome.

Another week, another activity postponed

Next year better come, even though my poster says it won't. I'm beginning to think that poster was a curse. I was supposed to go to Chicago last Monday, October 24. Our trek up to Door County was postponed this year because of the illness of our host, so several of us were going to get together in Chicago. It's a place I always like to return to; I guess it will always be home. I was having second thoughts because of the driving, which had been very difficult last spring. So when my friend, in whose apartment I planned to stay, called and said there was a problem, I decided not to go. I regarded it as an omen. I should have just found another place to stay.

Then last Sunday, which was a beautiful day, unlike yesterday, I went out for a walk and I fell. This time I only banged up one side of my face, so only the right side looked like a raccoon, but the swelling was fierce all week. Fortunately only my glasses broke, no bones. MyPicture-2I feel like I've been vegetating all week. Each morning when I woke up the eye seemed sealed shut and took about an hour before it would stay open. I stayed in most of the week, nasty weather anyhow, and Friday night was my first public appearance. I used lots of makeup and kept my glasses on (older ones) and mostly no one seemed to notice–or they didn't want to ask me about it. Today I went to my Osher class and everyone asked. We're not shy about these things.

I'm planning to observe nojomo and write a new post every day in November. I'm not sure I have that much to say, but there's always pictures.

More snow

I can't say I'm sorry about the snow this morning. My morning lecture was cancelled giving me the opportunity to stay in bed for another hour. I love eight hours of sleep, but somehow can't get in bed early enough to get it most mornings. I suppose the little nap at 8:30, sitting up, had something to do with it.

The mailman left a package for me this morning. When I stepped out to get it, sans coat, it didn't feel nearly as bad as they make you think. Scare tactics are the way to go, no matter the subject. I want to go out to Club One to exercise. Hope I can get out of the driveway. The snow shoveler hasn't arrived yet.

I got the paper back from my professor with lots of suggestions for improvements. I asked and was very pleased to get them. So, I guess I'll spend another large block of time rewriting the paper. I've also been spending time planning my trip. I think I will go directly down to Kagoshima, in Kyushu, where it is supposed to be warm, then work my way back north and east. Or, perhaps, I will go to Mito first, to see the plum blossoms in the number three famous garden. Right now, I'm going to work out.

Never complain about boredom

Last night, after writing about having nothing on the calendar, and after doing more work on the paper, I stood up from my chair and one of the muscles behind my left knee spasmed; I could barely walk. I'm still in pain and barely walking today. It's given me a lot to think about–mostly about how fast you can go from great to terrible.

I was feeling wonderful yesterday. I walked down to Squirrel Hill (about 2 miles) and still felt wonderful. Of course that my have been the cause; it was a cold walk. So, today will be the first time in months I break my exercise routine. If I can get there tomorrow, it won't be too bad.

I'm writing this in bed with my feet up, hoping some of the swelling will go down. This has never been a comfortable position for me so I'll see how long it lasts. Years ago I read a story about someone  staying in bed and working; telephone and coffeepot on a table next to the bed; small refrigerator nearby; you get the picture. Actually, this was before computers, so I guess it was just pencil and paper. It sounded good to me, but I never got there. Bed was always for sleeping or sex, nothing more.

Missed deadline

I'm still writing the paper; this will probably go on until Christmas, or maybe New Years. The due date, last Thursday, was for the students getting a grade. Since I will get no grade it doesn't really matter. I spoke to my professor and she will read the paper whenever. She's very good to me.

The tooth extraction was relatively trivial. I'm healing well. But it had all kinds of other implications. I've been on an antibiotic for four weeks. That's a killer all by itself. The antibiotic affects the blood thinner I take. I don't remember how many blood tests I've had to endure, or how many more until it all gets straightened out. Nothing is ever simple these days.

I've been wanting to tell about Eli. He and Charna and his gf drove in from Chicago for Thanksgiving. We had a lovely dinner, then, Friday morning, Eli and gf, Adele, drove to her home where her sister would be coming out at a cotillion on Friday night. Eli and Adele had to dress for the party; they looked beautiful. Adele could wear rags and look beautiful. My grandson, of the torn jeans (rags) wore white tie and tails. Amazing how well he cleans up.

This kind of society stuff is way beyond anything I was ever exposed to. My most interesting foray into high society came when we went to a wedding (or party, I don't remember) at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. We had Aunt Ev (one of my ex's wealthier relatives) with us in our somewhat beat up VW beetle. The doorman wanted to ignore us, but she got out of the car in her sable (really) jacket and told him to take the car from us. He did. It was probably forty years ago, but I still remember it vividly and with pleasure.

Back to the paper. I'm about half finished. It's hard for me to know when to stop doing research. Makes the whole thing longer.


Some days are good

Some are not. That seems to happen more and more as I get older. I heard Yo Yo Ma on Studio 360 this morning talking about his cello. He said humidity is different every day; cellos and human bodies are different every day. I really understand that.

Today is supposed to be the last great day we will have for awhile. It's truly beautiful out: sunshine, blue skies, not too warm. I've been walking for three and a half hours. First stop–health club. Since I faded out Wednesday, I've been more careful. Went again on Saturday but stopped after treadmill and rowing. I was feeling OK; just didn't feel like pushing it. Finished the workout this morning then kept walking. Took a book back to the library, went to Whole Foods for lunch, browsed in Borders, stopped for chocolate ice cream on Highland Avenue, then went to the Orchid Show in Mellon Park, finally back home. Altogether, I walked about four miles. I'm tired, my feet hurt but otherwise I'm fine. It's a great day.

Alice and Mage: I have discussed with the doctor the problem of determining how sick I am. Unfortunately, outside of collapsing or passing out, there are no black and white symptoms. So, it remains a matter of my judgment.

Labor day labors

It's been a beautiful weekend, the best one all summer–sunshine, cool breezes. I walked about a mile on Saturday, then two and a half on Sunday. This morning I went back to my health club to work out. Rehab was closed, so you can tell how dedicated I am. Unfortunately, my afib kicked in; I was wiped out all afternoon, never got out to another beautiful day. I feel better this evening after taking a long nap. 

I'm so inspired by the Japanese art class I printed out all the readings and I'm slogging my way through them. Most of it is way over my head. I vaguely remember something about Hegel from college, but never read any Foucault or the other two guys. The class is about space in Asian art. I understand a lot about space in art, but I"m not at all sure about the readings. I'm anxious to get to the class tomorrow, find out if anyone else understands this stuff.

After making several flag books and a few single page books I'm back to work on my garden book. I think I've got about 250 pages already, mostly photos. I'm thinking about another trip to Japan, probably April or May. I don't know how this will work with my afib or all the blood tests, but I've got a little time to work on it.

This week is Rosh Hashanah. I wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful new year.

The Wedding

I had a terrible foreboding of us three elders ancients, Richard, Robert and I, bringing our 58 years of memories together and being overwhelmed. I haven't seen Robert for 21 years and that was OK. But it didn't work that way. He didn't recognize me, or Robin. He was unusually quiet; his normal demeanor being loud voice and bad jokes. I only saw him smile once at this very joyous occasion of his son's marriage. I don't know what was wrong. 

Then I got very lucky, again. When we first sat down Robert and his other  sons weren't there; the empty chairs were next to me. I got up and went to the ladies room. When I returned I found the people who originally sat next to Richard had moved next to me. Robert sat next to Richard and across the table from me. My seat partner was the groom's stepfather, a lovely man I had met several times before. Memories abounded, but they were not unpleasant. Of course, none of us recognized each other. Time had clearly done its terrible work.

I had a chance to talk to Robert's other two sons, whom I hadn't seen since they were toddlers. One was particularly charming; I was pleased.

As for the wedding: the bride was beautiful (I think she is probably always beautiful); the ambiance was lovely; food was good; drinks abundant; music too loud; everyone had a good time. 

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

I’m sitting in a lovely hotel room just outside of Chicago–a rare experience for me–and enjoying doing nothing. Robin and Steve arrived earlier. I gave them the car and they went shopping. Tonight is Jerry’s wedding; I’m resting, regrouping and enjoying the free wi-fi with two days to tell about.  

I got a parking space at 9:30 Wednesday evening; undoubtedly the luckiest day of all. First a long lunch with my cousin Phyllis, shopping with no purchases to show for it, dinner with Karen and Kathryn. All told a satisfying day.  Found out the North Shore Hotel in Evanston is still a retirement facility. If I ever decide to come back here, that’s the place. Everything in downtown Evanston and much of Northwestern is accessible on foot and there is train service to downtown Chicago.

Thursday, Betty and I went to Skokie to the Illinois Holocaust Museum. They told us it would take one or two hours to go through; we were there four or five hours. It’s a heart wrenching experience.  Original films and oral histories are used to tell the stories of the people whose lives were so drastically affected by Hitler and his war against the Jews. 

I am always amazed at how pervasive anti-semitism is, and how easily it is blamed for anything someone doesn't like.  Louis Sullivan, not a Jew but with a Jewish partner, whose work was too "different" for the establishment and establishment architects, was accused of creating Jewishness (whatever that means), according to this statement in the exhibit I saw on Tuesday. (Chicago's first architect) John van Osdel says "it's architecture run crazy. It's an experiment in Jewishness like we have never seen before."