January 2023

What Does That Woman Have To Live For?

That woman was my mother: the occasion, her 37th birthday. 

I was 12, and my life stretched before me, just loaded with possibilities. I couldn’t imagine my mom doing anything more exciting or impactful than dishes or another load of laundry.

Cess Guzzetta (middle) with friends.

Decades have passed, as has my mom. My life no longer stretches before me. Indeed, I’ve started counting backward. Let’s see…I’m 76 years old and probably have another 12 “good years” left. By “good,” I’m thinking years where I hope to be free of chronic pain, be mobile, and can still remember a lot of stuff.  

Cess Guzzetta is a retired attorney living in Rochester, New York

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Racing With The Moon

like a leaf
floating downriver.
we follow the trail of time,
through shadows in the night
to the rising island sun,
to the golden meadows:
we laugh with the tides,
we race with the moon,
we sing with the fading light.

The Flow of Time

I was about 11 and on the way home from Hebrew School. I began thinking about being alive and having thoughts and feelings as a human being when it occurred to me that people only lived into their 70s. Back then, it was a problem. I could not reconcile the idea of having a living soul for a limited time. I likened it to going to a movie theater. The movie would end, and people would leave the theater except me. I would no longer exist, but the world outside of the theater would. I was incredulous!

My grandparents were alive in their 70s, but I saw them as separate from my life and very old. My self-centered thinking was becoming aware that others had thoughts in their minds as I did. Thousands, even millions, of people had inner lives as I did. I was bewildered. 

This piece was written by a retired mental health worker in San Diego.

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The World Looks Brighter

Most people cringe when presented with the idea of a laser or scalpel touching their eyes. However, by age 65, 90% of people will have developed cataracts. In other words, cataract surgery for most of us is a given!

The idea is much worse than the process. When I had my first eye done, I wondered when the procedure would begin. At that point, the doctor said we were all done. Yes, it is easy and painless. The whole operation took about ten minutes. The most noteworthy thing I remember was an argument between the surgeon and the anesthesiologist about what kind of medication she would give me.

After the operation, I wore a patch for a day and then used eye drops for a short time. Before the procedure, I thought our car needed new headlights. Guess what that was all about? That winter, I told my wife I had forgotten how beautiful Colorado was in the winter. Yes. The new eyes were working!

Senior Notes

Recently I had coffee with an old friend who will be retiring soon. My friend is resourceful and has a track record of success in his profession and recreational life. I asked him how he felt about retiring, and he said he was scared. He said he was afraid he wouldn’t find meaningful ways to spend his time. I understood his anxiety and felt confident he would find purposeful ways to use his time. At the same time, I think his concerns are shared by many. 

*****

Today my wife and I devoted a morning to sorting old clothing and gear to give a lot of used stuff to Goodwill. The mission was successful, but I must say it was emotionally challenging for me. I saw my hiking, mountain climbing, and bike history go out the door in plastic bags. Of course, I no longer did those activities, but somehow the presence of the gear made me believe I might in the future and symbolically preserved my history.

*****         

Does your surgeon keep your records at home? Many psychologists store their old records in their homes or garages—a bad idea. Think about fire, robberies, and water damage. Keeping your records in a professional storage site like Iron Mountain is best. The facility catalogs your files, making them easy to retrieve if subpoenaed or requested. Don’t be professionally embarrassed.

*****   

Make sure you check your hearing and, if needed, get hearing aids. Poor hearing compromises social life and can encourage isolation. Hearing aids have improved over the years and are cosmetically unobtrusive.

Stuffed Mushrooms – Italian Style


Try this recipe if you are looking for an appetizer to have your guests smile broadly. 

Buy fresh mushrooms, cut off the stems, and scoop out the innards. 

In a large mixing bowl, add Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs. Add an egg, a little tomato juice, some white vinegar, salt, pepper, a little garlic salt, seasoned salt, and basil. Add a little olive oil. The mixture should be moist.

Cut up some pimento olives and add them to the mix. Take some of the stems, cut them into fine pieces, and add them to the bread crumbs.

Stuff the mushrooms with the bread crumb mix and place in the oven on a baking pan for thirty minutes at 300 degrees. Baste the mushrooms first with extra virgin olive oil.

The appetizer is delicious!

Not to Miss Eats!

Mille Fleurs:  This special occasion restaurant has an elegant outdoor patio, formal wait staff, and delicious food. Is it expensive? Yes, but you walk away having had a  memorable dining experience that is hard to duplicate in other restaurants.


Baci:  This restaurant on Morena Boulevard is a family-owned Italian restaurant that serves terrific, authentic Italian food. The Linguine All Vongole is fabulous. The restaurant is reasonably priced, and valet parking is available.

Trattoria Positano:  Four Italian women operate this restaurant in Cardiff by the Sea next to the Patagonia store. The food is excellent, and the outdoor patio is a beautiful place to dine. The seafood pasta is outstanding. Parking is plentiful, and the prices are reasonable.

Milton’s:  Milton’s is a classic Jewish Deli in the Flower Hill Promenade in Del Mar. If you like thick corned beef sandwiches, chicken pot pie, lox, and bagels, or hot pastrami, Milton’s is the place for you.

Falling Father, Falling Daughter


The right disaster comes
at the right moment
to break us open to the helplessness
that an opening of the heart requires.

-Coleman Barks

It has been three months since I have been home to see my father.  I have been busy living my own cluttered life two hours away.  Thursday afternoon, when he wakes from his nap to find me there in his living room, I am familiar; there is recognition in his eyes, but also blurriness.  “Who’s this?” he asks.

 “Honey, it’s Mary Ann, your daughter.”   This is a weird, unwelcome feeling, to be not fully known by him. 

Mary Ann Stratton grew up the youngest of six children on a small farm in southern Colorado where her father was a state veterinarian. She is currently living in Denver, Colorado where she teaches middle school Language Arts. This article was originally published in the San Diego Psychologist.

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