I have nothing to say about Lollipop except to present The Lollipop Song ever sung. It was a hot ticket when I was 10.

But first, let me say a couple of things. We’re up and away to see Tom and Ellin for a few days. Not only does this mean I won’t be on the computer nearly as much, but neither will Ellin, Tom, or Garry.

Garry and I haven’t had anything like so much as a mini-vacation since January 2016, so we are a year and a half past vacation time. This month has been a bit stressful. The Armstrongs haven’t seen the Curleys in months, either, so we have a lot to say.

Meanwhile …

The guy is outside at this very moment cleaning the gutters! He is removing the trees and mud and gunk and horrible things from the gutters this very morning. I can hear his footsteps on the roof and see gunk flying past my windows. Thank you, darling granddaughter, for finding me this gem of a man who has a phone number and returns calls and shows up on time with tools and everything! Hallelujah!

The new hot water tank arrived and the plumber is paid. He will return shortly with tools (no room in the truck with the tank it it) and a lot of zucchini. Apparently his zucchini plants went wild this year. We may be gone by then. He has the entry pass and Owen is on alert to come over as needed. Good we all live near each other. This fellow is also Owen and Dave’s plumber, so we are using someone who has a good reputation. It’s probably the only thing that has prevented me from falling into a swoon.

Please forgive me if I don’t spend our three-day vacation online. I’ve been so hooked into the computer, I’ve barely had time to do anything else. We need a break. Thanks for understanding.

Now … The Lollipop Song.


Definitely a conspiracy. Although I’m usually a conspiracy rejectionist, this time? No question. Conspiracy.

The existing (dead) heater had a six-year warranty. Today is exactly six years plus six weeks after we installed it. In other words, exactly six weeks past the warranty — and without any kind of warning, it’s gone.

Coincidence? I think not.

Today, I was hit with The Bill to replace the now-extinct indirect hot water heater. I am in recovery, hoping the next cup of coffee will bring me back to life. That plus two Excedrin.

With a lifetime warranty, the installed indirect electric tank will cost $2400 but a mere $2000 with just an 8-year warranty. The more expensive tank is repairable while the less expensive one is a throwaway. So, in addition to the money — which I am going to spend whether I like it or not —  I’m trying to figure out if we will be alive in eight years. If we’re both dead, we won’t care about hot water, right?

Good bye old water heater!

My son whacked me when I explained I was trying to calculate the odds of living long enough to need an extended warranty, so I shut up about it. But the idea is stuck in my brain. I’m sure buying the shorter warranty would guarantee our longevity and I’m worried that the extended warranty will finish us off prematurely. I’m not superstitious, not me. After I gave up trying to determine our odds of long-term survival, I dove into the bills to see if I could lower payments for the rest of the month. If I trimmed everything all the way down, as far as I can, I will save FIFTY dollars. I can skip next month’s oil bill, but that’s next month.

I looked at the numbers and knew I can run, but can’t hide. I took a deep breath, took half of the money we have remaining in the world and put it into checking. It was there for an emergency. This is an emergency. I sincerely hope we are out of emergencies. I can’t afford another.

We are too old to live without hot water, so no matter how I feel about it, we need the tank. Whether we’re going to live long enough to need the warranty remains to be seen. Calculating survival odds turned out to be above my pay grade.

But the thing is, the existing heater had a six-year warranty. Today is exactly six weeks after the warranty expired and bang, it is dead. Gone. Finished. End of the game.

That’s got to be a conspiracy. This cannot be an accident.


We are all shaped by events from our early childhoods. Childhood traumas can have permanent effects. Their scars can affect the development of self-image and self-esteem in our early years. They can determine how we see ourselves and how we perceive the world around us. They can affect how we relate to others.

I started life with a handicap. I was born with what today would be considered a milk allergy. In 1949, when I was born, it was called Celiac. I couldn’t digest even the lightest baby formula. It gave me severe colic and projectile vomiting. For years, children had died from this condition.

Me as an infant

Fortunately for me, someone had discovered the banana diet for Celiac babies. It turned out that infants with Celiac could digest bananas and goat’s milk. So I was put on this severely limited diet. The doctor told my parents to bring me back when I was four years old. By then I would probably have outgrown the disease. At age four my parents started feeding me regular food and I can and do eat everything now.

Me at age two

But for my first four years of life, I couldn’t eat ANYTHING that everyone else could eat. My parents decided that to ‘protect’ me, I should eat alone for those four years. They never allowed me to watch them eat, or anyone else during that time. I didn’t go to people’s homes or to other children’s birthday parties. My parents hoped that that would minimize my feelings of being different from everyone else. It didn’t.

I vividly remember standing in the playground, watching other kids line up for ice cream at the Good Humor truck. Of course I couldn’t eat ice cream. It hit me that I wasn’t like the other kids. There was something wrong with me. I was defective. That became the core of my self-image, and still is to this day. On a subconscious level, I always felt inferior to other people. Lacking in some way.

Me at around four with my grandmother (top) and a cousin

Unfortunately I also suffered from undiagnosed childhood anxiety and depression. I didn’t sleep through the night and wet the bed until a was around six or seven. I had severe school anxieties and learning problems. I developed ‘stomach problems’ of unknown origin, like cramps and constipation. I was in therapy by the age of six.

Ironically, my father was a well-known psychoanalyst who wrote about the lasting importance of the first three years of a child’s life. Sadly, he understood the damage that my early illness would cause. He and my mother, also a psychologist, tried to bolster my ego as much as they could. I’m grateful to them for trying to mitigate the damage.

Me with my parents at around age seven

I had years of therapy as an adult, including a technique used for PTSD sufferers called EMDR. Eventually I was able to loosen the grip of these early negative self perceptions. They weren’t all due to the Celiac diet. But my early illness exacerbated my anxiety and depression disorders. It also made it harder for me to fight my demons, since they had been reinforced every day till I was four years old.

I have reached a point where I can feel good about myself, most of the time. After an abusive first marriage that lasted 25 years, I now have a wonderful husband and wonderful, healthy relationships with friends and family.

I can finally say the scars have faded. With a little luck, they will eventually disappear.


Share Your World – July 17, 2017

What is your favorite cheese?

Still-life with cheese

Bleu cheese is my favorite, with Jarlsberg right behind it. Any good Swiss cheese will improve my sandwich. Third place? Very sharp cheddar. But to be fair, I like almost all cheese.

Are you left or right-handed?

Absolutely right-handed. My mother could do most things with either hand, including writing. I did not inherit that. I wish I had.

Do you prefer exercising your mind or your body? How frequently do you do either?

I used to love both. Then I got sick. Now I am gradually getting better, but at this age, it’s a lot slower than it was when I was younger. “Bouncing back” from illness is a rougher road in your seventies.

Meanwhile, my brain gets a lot of exercise. I often wish I could simply turn it off, especially at night.

Sleep tight

Have you ever noticed that cats and dogs do not get insomnia? Just saying.

Complete this sentence: Hot days are …

I’m okay in relatively dry, hot weather, but we get hot and humid and I hate it. Even if it isn’t very hot, it’s super sweaty weather. Sometimes, the air doesn’t feel like air. It feels like hot soup and I can’t breathe. I’m a big fan of air conditioning!


Marilyn recently wrote a piece using the word chutzpah which I’ve always badly mangled in pronunciation. It’s a word, what the heck? That was my take for many years until Robin Williams and Billy Crystal gave me a proper public whupping for butchering the pronunciation of chutzpah.  I don’t try to say Chutzpah in public anymore. It’s a word. I respect it because it carries different meanings and images.

These days, people often use words or phrases without understanding their origin or meaning. I hear political aspirants, celebrities, athletes and civic leaders say things that make me scratch my head and run back to my dictionary.  Words!  They can be powerful tools if used correctly. They can be dangerous if used in ignorance.

I grew up in a home full of books, including dictionaries. Big ones and pocket dictionaries. My parents insisted on using proper language and crisp diction.  Street slang guaranteed a head slap or a smack that stung. My two brothers and I were warned about using prejudicial clichés. Since my head has never been properly wrapped, I’ve been guilty of violating those warnings because of my warped sense of humor. Marilyn warns people that I have toys in the attic.  True.  Some of the toys are very old.

A friend and I were trading insults the other day. I snapped at him with, “That’s white of you”.  His smile said everything. Words!  You gotta know who, when, and where to use them.

Way back in olden times, I was 19 years old and worked in a department Store in Hempstead, New York. I was the only goy working in the children’s shoe department. I was waiting on a customer who drove me bonkers. I couldn’t take it anymore and told the parent he was a schmuck.

The manager quietly called me into the stockroom, explained what schmuck meant and asked me never to use it again — even if the customers were jerks. I think he was smiling although reprimanding me.  It was a word I’d often heard used in friendly banter, but I didn’t know its origin or real meaning. It was just a word. What was the big deal?  I was 19 and knew everything!  I used big words, “10 dollar” words to impress people. People often complimented me, saying I spoke very well.  I didn’t understand the veiled insult behind many of those compliments.

After all, they were just words.

John Wayne, of all people, once commented on words and ethics.  It was movie dialogue but still resonates more than half a century later.

In the 1961 film, “The Comancheros,”  Texas Ranger “Big Jake” Cutter (John Wayne) is lecturing his younger sidekick, Monsieur Paul Regret (Stuart Whitman). Regret asks Big Jake to spin a lie to his superiors to alleviate a problem. Big Jake refuses. Regret doesn’t understand, saying they are just “words.”

Big Jake, with that iconic Wayne frown, says softly, “Just words??  Words, MON-soor, are what men live by. You musta had a poor upbringing.”  Regret looks puzzled, not fully grasping the ethical code of this rough and ready Texas Ranger.  It’s a sublime moment and perfect for the young 1960’s when youth was defying the older generation’s moral code.

I recalled the scene years later in an interview with John Wayne. He smiled, shaking his head because he was in the middle of on-going national dissent against the Vietnam War.  Wayne was one of the most visible and vocal “hawks” in the Vietnam controversy. He had been ridiculed by strident protesters at a Harvard University gathering earlier that day.

“Words, dammit,”  Wayne looked at me, angry and sad. “My words! No damn Hollywood script. I have as much right as those damn college kids.”  Wayne was fuming. The Hollywood legend collected himself as I redirected the conversation to my time as a Marine. I had enlisted in 1959, fired up by the “Sands of Iwo Jima” script.

“Words. Good words,” I said to Wayne who smiled broadly.

Today, words are often tossed around loosely on social media, sometimes with little regard to truth or the repercussions of ill-advised words. We have a President who uses words without thought in a daily barrage of tweets.  Our media is engaged in a daily war of words, often ignoring crucial issues facing our nation and world.

Those of us of a certain age shake our heads as we watch young people immersed in tweets rather than direct conversation with friends in the same room. Words have become an endangered species.

I remember the good old days when me and friends went face to face with verbal jousts like “Your Mother wears combat boots!”

Words!  I love them.