Friday, December 21, 2007

I Need A Book!

I'm going in to the library this afternoon to search the shelves for
a guidebook to aging gracefully. The body I inhabit doesn't seem to
have come with an instruction manual for getting old and, in our
world of youth and vigor no matter what the cost, there are few role
models available.

When the extended family, with multiple generations living together
beneath one roof, evolved into the nuclear family, parents and
children only, old age was shunted off into an "over there" existence
of retirement villages and nursing homes. Hot on the heels of that
development came the exaltation of youth. Children became consumers
and as such central to the capitalistic state. With youth being so
important no one wants to get old, or at least to look old. Take a
look at the advertising around and notice how much is aimed at
stopping the advance of time on the human body. From creams that
reduce crows feet to Viagra, from glucosamine to hair restorers, we
are exhorted to fear age as soon as we step into adulthood.

I'm tired of being told that I have to stay young to have value. I'm
willing to get old and I have the irascible part down pretty pat.
Grace is the part eluding me. Images of a stately English dowager or
a gentle Spring Byington (remember her?) bob in my head. How about a
wise Eleanor Roosevelt? A saintly and useful Mother Theresa? Nope, I
seem destined for a cross between Granny Clampett and Maude
Findlay... unless I find that handbook for sanding the cantankerous
edges, scraping off some geezer gruffness, and adjusting the
geriatric attitude. Yep, I'll be surveying the book catalogue for a
how-to volume. And tripping passers-by with my cane!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Don't Malign Fruitcake!

What is it with the yearly revilement of fruitcake? That seasonal
confection seems to have become a source of humor and is generally
slighted everywhere. Stand-up comics make jokes about it. TV
commercials snicker and show it traveling from house to house as re-
gifted. My former employer, John McAfee, insisted there was only one
fruitcake. He said it went from hand to hand, year after year, as an
endless white elephant.

My husband says I'm outing myself, but here goes: I LIKE FRUITCAKE.
Yes, there are some rather unappetizing ones out there. Those little
loaf shaped cakes from the chain supermarket, all dry brown cake with
a few tough wads of candied green stuff are not wonderful. But toss
on some brandy, heck - toss on a lot of brandy! - and they are quite
edible. In years gone by when I would occasionally bake, I made
fruitcakes with a pumpkin flavored base cake and lots of dried fruits
and nuts. Aged for a couple of months and soaked in rum... divine!

Nostalgia may play a part in my fondness for fruitcake. My step-
father loved it and fancied his as an after dinner treat with a cup
of coffee. We'd sit, munch our fruitcake, and talk. Those chats are
some of the happiest memories from my teen years.

So, did someone present you with a fruitcake this year? And are you
one of those who gazes at it in dismay thinking "What am I supposed
to do with this"? Send it to my house. It will have a good home and
engender warm holiday feelings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Let's Talk About The Weather

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is
exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only
different
kinds of good weather."

-John Ruskin, author, art critic, and social reformer (1819-1900)

Mr. Ruskin obviously wasn't in the Pacific NorthWet this last week.
The storm we experienced was neither delicious, refreshing, bracing,
nor exhilarating. It was a Royal Pain in the Behind for most, and a
disaster to some. Thankfully my personal situation was among the
former. We had some property damage and (gasp!) four days without
electricity. Ah, the awareness of how comfortable a life we lead
descends when we find it disrupted. Four days without lights, stove,
refrigerator. And worse, four days without internet - without
computer, television, radio! We know how lucky we were to have
shelter and food. BUT WE WANT OUR TOYS, PLEASE!

Monday, December 10, 2007

We've all been there

My daughter has had a bout of the flu and posted this YouTube video
with the comment "Just change the gender..." C'mon, all of us have
experienced the situation EXACTLY as it is portrayed. Well, okay...
maybe we can agree with my daughter too. Either way, it is familiar,
right?

Check it out:

http://pangoland.blogspot.com/2007/12/influenza-part-2.html

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Impromptu Travel

Oh for the days when I could make a sudden decision to hop in the car
and wander off, destination vague, plans changeable, free and
spontaneous as all get out. Trips have a whole new meaning when one
must make sure the medication is packed, the pets provided for, the
sleeping arrangements carefully thought through, and those behind are
notified of the itinerary: who, what, where, when, and why.

Spontaneity once measured in moments is restructured into hours, or
even days.

Small expeditions to third world countries travel lighter than I do.
No longer are journeys taken for adventure and excitement. Actually
the words seldom and avoided are more often combined with journey. My
choices are more hedonistic than exhilarating. Packing is an attempt
to provide for every contingency. I'll skip the details but mention
that I generally take more clothes than needed (what if I stay and
extra day?) and plenty to occupy me (book, iPod, camera, sewing,
notepaper, etc.) and return with large portions unused. Ah, but I was
prepared!

I never was one to flit off for the weekend with only a toothbrush
and an extra pair of undies in my purse. Having traveled with a
family I've been accustomed to thinking ahead and packing for
everybody. I've always acted as if my destination was the moon and
even the oxygen needed to be crammed into the suitcase.

As I now contemplate a four day junket to another state I'm
determined to pack lightly. Do you think one suitcase a day plus the
briefcase, laptop, and backpack is enough?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More on Technology

When I was younger I felt pretty much on that cutting edge of
technology. I'd been through the move from mono to stereo and from
tubes to transistors. I'd gone from vinyl LP's cassettes to CD's. I
could manage a microwave oven and make popcorn in a bag and had gone
from a Princess phone to a cordless. The 8mm gave way to a video
camera and the 35mm to a digital. And television had progressed
black&white to color, from rabbit ears to cable to satellite and DVR.
Each incremental thrust into the future was met with enthusiasm and
made part of my everyday lifestyle.

Somewhere in the last fifteen years I began to lose ground and
stumble. The move from CD's, to MP3's and downloads, from cordless to
cell phones, came around the time when a retirement income (or lack
thereof) made me eye technology more warily. Moving to a rural
setting where internet remains on dial-up and cell towers are far
between makes embracing the newest electronic whiz-bangs problematic.
I find myself caught between intense yearning and anti-materialistic
disdain - very fox and grapes. I got my iPod, thanks to a dear friend
who was tired of hearing me whimper. And another great
philanthropical pal upgraded me to a much loved iMac, though I gnash
my teeth daily craving high speed internet in the boonies. But I've
only used a cell phone once or twice and I tend to sniff in disgust
at those who require one for life while wishing I could have one...
minus the monthly bill.

Here I am, the world racing ahead as I watch from a spot on the
sidelines - lost somewhere between trying to jog along and wheezing
in total defeat. Every generation must find itself here, tut-tutting
or outright puzzled as they become history. So why did it come as a
surprise when it happened to me?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mood Swings

I'm in a very peculiar mood. Something between, or composed of,
nostalgia and depression, with a soupçon of whimsy and a tidbit of
laughter. Odd melange of flavors, no? A gallimaufry brought on by
rain and gray sky, Mozart soaring in the air (composer hang-
gliding?), odd dreams lingering from the night, all stirred with a
large dose of caffeinated wake-up juice.

This is the sort of feeling that could turn into impetuosity in the
young

Timewarp

This from my Google homepage weather report Sunday Morning:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Holiday Thoughts (part 1)?

The holiday season is approaching and I'm not ready. I used to be one
of those annoying people with their shopping done and packages ready
to mail no later than the end of November. I began sewing and
planning in February, concocting lists and completing projects
through summer and into fall. Quite satisfied with myself, I toddled
to the post office the first week of December then settled back to
observe the rest of the world, rushing and buying as the last few
weeks from Thanksgiving to Yule counted down.

In recent years I've experienced a shift, or is it a slide, toward
that "rest of the world" experience? Projects were conceived and
started a bit later in the year and were finished just in time. Gift
lists were trimmed and fewer items were purchased- though that was as
much a result of retirement income as of the OMIGOD-the-holidays-are-
coming panic.

This year has been the worst to date. I looked up earlier this week
and noticed it was almost Thanksgiving. No plans for that holiday and
nothing at all for the next one beyond a few stray thoughts. As the
commercials for Christmas have begun to flood the TV I find myself
possessed of a stubborn need to rebel against most of the season, at
least as it has come to exist in corporate America. Such money as I
have to spend is going to a gift to Heifer International and cards
will go to my pals with Seasonal Greetings that include them in that
gift giving. Family gifts will take the lead and I hope to make those
as locally made/bought as possible, in keeping with our attempt to
eat locally grown food and restrict our footprint on the planet.

As a sort-of footnote: A wave of depression seems to accompany the
thought of the holiday season. But focussing on those things in life
that make it all worth the living helps. First: grandchildren. I
never realized the same fierce love I had for my daughter could
happen again. Ruthanne and Charlie and Kyle are the best and
brightest spots in my universe. Ditto my NOD and SIL. And there is a
terrific husband. And a boatload of the best friends anyone could
ever have. Pets, home, sunsets. sunrises, birdsong, daffodils,
apples, great books, music, the ocean and rivers and trees and.....
(Bye-bye depression. Hello humble gratitude!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My thought for today

Everything we know is contained in the droplet of a cosmic sneeze.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Things that set me off - Part 2

People who pronounce nuclear as Nuke-You-Lure.
Dubya.
Really loud car stereos - especially the bass.
Trash along the highway.
Plastic grocery bags.
Bottled water.
Ants in the house.
Spam.
Cigarette butts.
Political advertising.
Fake surveys in the mail.
Catalogs I haven't requested.
Dust.
Cold feet.
Reality TV.
Slasher movies.
Spitting.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Reunion

My friend Kathy called last night to catch up on the news, the way
two women who have been friends for almost 45 years will do. We
talked about family and health, and about the high school reunion
she'd just attended. Kat and I met in our high school days when she
dated a friend of mine. I was a senior, she a freshman and while the
guy she dated became lost in history the friendship between Kathy and
me hung on, past the difference in our ages back then, past gaps when
we lost touch, and across sometimes huge distances from each other.
We wrote letters, called, and visited through marriages, through
jobs, as we each raised a daughter and became a grandmother.

Back to that high school reunion: As Kathy related the activities of
her weekend around our old stomping grounds and reminisced about the
school itself, I realized what a different experience we must have
had during that time. Her voice was fond and nostalgic over teachers
and classes, friends and dating; her memory of the time sharp and
focussed. She'd been eager to attend the reunion, had indeed gone to
a previous one despite living thousands of miles distant.

And me? I returned once to wander the campus and found so many
changes it was hard to recognize. My memories of those days, at least
as far as the school itself, are fuzzy at best, painful at worst. I
was a fat, self-conscious girl and suffered painfully from the
teasing of the teenaged boys and the derision of the girls. School
was legally mandated torture both physically and spiritually. It was
only occasionally, by accident, intellectually stimulating. I
learned to cut class and forge notes, nearly flunking my junior year.
Only in my senior year, after learning to laugh first and loudest at
myself, did things brighten up a bit. I made some friends and found
enough emotional armor to cope.

High school class reunion? Not something I've found myself eager to
do. I did go to a smaller meeting of the theatre rats - the group who
saw me through that last year of high school. The years stood like a
wall between us. I do have minor curiosity about a few folks from
those days but nothing beyond Googling their names, and no need to
see or talk to them. And I have no reason to believe there is anyone
from school who is curious about, or even remembers me. There were a
few years when I fancied a Romy & Michelle reunion experience but
those have thankfully gone. Let the bad memories stay faded and the
good shine brighter in comparison. I see no high school reunions in
my future.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Every Generation says:

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is
writing a book. -Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer
(106-43 BCE)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Hell

The flames of a burning hell must have originated as a middle eastern
concept of suffering and torture. Only a people who lived in an
already hot climate would consider more warmth as a terrible fate. My
people, the already semi-frozen denizens of northern Europe must have
imagined damnation as cold-Colder-Ohmigod, there go the toes! I
certainly do - well, at least I do now. Hmmmm, maybe the idea of hell
changes with age and residence?

When I lived further south, where summer temperatures could make the
3 digit mark, heat was not a desirable effect. My espoused belief was
that when the body heated, only so much could be done to remove
clothing and cool off. Eventually there was no more apparel to remove
and nudity became a public nuisance. Theoretically cold allowed for
more mitigation since layer after layer of clothing could be added
until warmth was achieved.

Interesting concept, obviously conceived where heat was common, now
tossed to the ideological scrap heap with "Don't trust anyone over
thirty" and "Money is the root of all evil". Whether it is advancing
age or moving north, cold is now hell. It slinks into my polar fleece
swathed body and settles into the center of the bones, hunkering down
for a prolonged stay. Adding blankets or hot water bottles is no help
when the cold seems to come from inside as well as out. The fiddley
body bits: nose, toes, and fingers, turn cube-like and seem ready to
abandon ship and sail south on their own. Tahiti. Hawaii. Somewhere
tropical.

And if my extremities and I go to a warm climate, will hell resume
its flames and heat? Whaddya wanna bet?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nostalgia

My husband and I were returning from a short trip up the coast to do
a house call on a friend's ailing computer, and we stopped to do a
couple of errands. He'd gone into a store while I snoozed in the car,
warm in the afternoon sun. The window was partly open and the sound
of parking lot traffic drifted in along with a waft of deli-chicken
scented air and suddenly I was filled with a deep sense of nostalgia.
And I found myself wondering about the components of that feeling.

The dictionary defines nostalgia as: a sentimental long or wistful
affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy
personal associations. Okay, we've probably all had those moments
when a color or smell or sound brings up that swell of the heart and
contemplative recall of... something. But what is it exactly that
happens inside us? Some sort of close relative to deja vu, some
connection of the little gray cells that triggers a chemical release
of longing and pleasure? And what primal purpose was it that found it
useful enough to incorporate into our biology? Is it akin to the urge
that drives a goose to begin a seasonal migration or a sparrow to
build a nest? Is it some remnant of survival that now just creates a
pleasant ache of memory for some undefined time in our past?

I sat with closed eyes, enjoying the warmth of the autumn sun, and
tried to remember a specific event tied to the inner glow. There was
none, only the vague missing and longing. Only nostalgia.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Conversation

ME: "I'm cold. Do you think I should get up and go close the front
door?"

Husband leaves his computer and goes to close the door.

ME: "No. That wasn't wifespeak for 'go close the front door for me',
but would you bring my flannel shirt back with you?"

Husband brings shirt and I manage to warm my hands on his arm.

ME: "You're warm. How can you be so warm when I'm so cold? That's the
way the universe works. It mates warm people to cold people, early
risers to late-nighters and spreads marital discord throughout the
world.

HUSBAND: "I thought it was the way it created balance. Like putting
Canada next to the United States"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Technological Advance?

The topic of blogging moved my thoughts into questions about the
overall effect of technological advances. Don't get me wrong. I love
my television, my computer, my microwave oven, and my iPod. Instant
coffee, frozen vegetables, vaccinations, cell phones, the internet,
and flush toilets are all great. Plastics, jet airliners,
antibiotics, gasoline engines, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, the
list goes on and on. All are technological advances I'd be loathe to
give up. But we've all seen how technology can turn around to bite us
in the ass.

It seems like every week there is a story of some new worry over the
results of our scientific leaps. Overuse of antibiotics leading to
stronger, nastier germs. Pesticides leaching into the drinking water.
Plastics gathering in and polluting the oceans. The question becomes
"Just because we can, should we?"

We sequence the genome and think we can now manipulate genetics.
Should we? If we can see the thing does that mean we understand it?
Epigenetics suggests the subject is far more complex than just
knowing which gene sits where on the chromosome. But scientists are
cheerily criss-crossing and juggling with no idea what really causes
what. Worse yet they have the audacity to think they can control the
process. Corporation bound scientists might muse over the potential
of getting a reputation to rival that of lawyers. There are good
folks in both categories but a lot who sell their souls.

We're a schizophrenic world, careening madly into the future while
craving the past. We grab hold of our cell phones to text, play
games, take pictures, keep lists and notes while we pay more in the
store for organic food. We continue to commute 50 miles to work in an
SUV while bitching about the price of oil. And we cheer for renewable
corn based fuels as the grain farmers dump more fertilizer and
pesticide into their fields to get greater corn yields.

I have no convenient answer to the "Should we?" question. I'm
obviously no Luddite. It does seem though that we might begin asking
the question more often and think more about the answer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One reason I love him!

He created this cartoon himself from a photo I took on our last trip
to see the grandkids. I LMAO...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blogging

In an attempt to improve my writing by hanging around local authors I
joined a writer's group last year. We bring in our work to share and
to receive criticism. This week I took in a copy of my previous blog
entry and got some interesting reactions. Among the comments:
"horrifying", and "exaggerated".

Yes and No.

The group discussion focussed a great deal on the subject of blogging
in general. I'm the only member of the group to blog and most of them
have never read a blog. In general we are an older crowd and avid
readers of the word-on-paper sort. Computer users, yes, but more of
the computer as word processor and research tool with a bit of e-mail
tossed into the mix. Blogging is seen, as our most curmudgeonly
writer put it, as "oral diarrhea".

Yes and No.

In the sense that any person has always had the right to scrawl out
his thoughts on paper we have always had authors of oral diarrhea.
Harlequin romances. Fan magazines. Bad novels and worse newsrags. Bad
writing abounds on the printed page. Sifting through the crap to find
a pearl of great price among blogs is much the same as searching the
library for a good book. You read some bad ones. You tell other
people about the good ones. You ask your friends to recommend
something they like. Gradually you build up a sense of what interests
you and is of value. Volume is a problem as it always has been. We
can't read every good, or even great piece of writing in the library.
So is blogging a bad thing? Is it a good thing? Is it both?

Yes and No.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bedtime

Going to bed is no longer a case of putting on pajamas and climbing
under the blanket. And generally it is no longer a time for a slinky
black negligée and perfume. Readying myself for bed is a prolonged
process of preparing, preserving, positioning, and propping a tired
but unwilling body on the altar of sleep. Poor old thing wants to
rest but years of abuse and neglect have made it cranky and
difficult. Apnea, scarring from past abdominal surgeries, and painful
arthritic knees make sleep a condition to pray for rather than to
expect. I approach as a devout acolyte.

Teeth brushed and flossed, bathroom needs attended to, I prepare by
donning a long flannel nightgown. Winter sees the addition of a
flannel shirt to add a layer of warmth, socks if it is really cold.
Next comes preserving. Cream for dry skin here, Vasoline for chapped
lips there. Eyedrops. Nasal spray. Advil for the knee pain and
medication for the irregular heartbeat. Check to make sure there is a
glass of water. And bring the walker close for those night visits to
the bathroom. Then positioning of pillows. There are five: one for
between my knees, one behind my back, two under my head, and the last
clutched close to my chest. Actually there are six. The last one is
the one occupied by the Little Yellow Cat. Sleep requires the
addition of a small, yellow, furry, purring companion! Last comes
propping. This necessitates burrowing, squirming, tucking, pillow
punching and fluffing, and a modicum of grunting and groaning until
all my joints sink into a place where pain is minimal. With luck
sleep arrives.

And sometimes it doesn't. I've gone through all the ritual of sleep
but Morpheus wasn't pleased. As penance I am awake. I listen to
classical music on the radio. My brain gets on its exercise wheel and
runs round and round with pointless worrying. I end up with an ear
worm: some old song that plays over and over inside my head. The
goddess Insomnia is on duty until Morpheus gets around to a house call.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Live and Learn?

Bad Product/Rotten Service

My husband recently bought me a NiMH battery charger so that I could
use rechargeable batteries in my digital camera. He chose a charger
marketed by Duracell thinking that Duracell was a recognized brand
with a good reputation and thus a reliable product. Stands to reason,
right?

The charger included a pair of rechargeable AA cells, one of which,
upon attempting to charge, was found to be defective. My husband
tested it: no residual voltage; less than 1 ohm resistance - which is
electronic geek speak for Kaput! Now, you're going to like this
part... Duracell did not include Duracell batteries with their
Duracell brand charger. The batteries are Lenmar. We contacted
Duracell for a replacement figuring they would stand behind their
blister packed components. Nope. Not our batteries, talk to Lenmar.
And Lenmar? Let me quote from their message:

"Unfortunately we do not do warrantees on AA batteries."

In other words, buy the product which doesn't work and shut up. No
replacement. No money back. We have your cash and tough luck.

The Duracell charger works fine, but frankly, to Duracell and Lenmar
both - a huge wet raspberry for customer service and reliability.
We'll depend upon the pink bunny for any future battery purchases.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

House Cleaning

I've never been Mrs. Clean. If you put housekeeping on a liner scale,
with zero being one of those cat hoarder dumps from Animal Precinct
and ten being a hospital operating room, my house might fall
somewhere around 4 or 5. When company is due it might make 6 and when
I was working and could afford a service it might have occasionally
hit a 7. I have friends whose homes come in both directions from mine
and I'm fine with that. Their house, not mine.

The point is, like most women, I'd prefer my house cleaner.
Especially when company is anticipated. And if I don't have to do it.

Once upon a time I could scrub the kitchen floor on my hands and
knees. Not often, mind you. But it was doable.
I could bend and reach to scour the bathtub. There was energy for
pushing the vacuum. And dusting. Not only around but UNDER things.
Cobwebs did not substitute for curtains. Outside could be viewed
through the clean windows. When I didn't have time for the do-it-
yourself approach there was enough money to hire the magic elves who
did it while I was at work.

My house these days is best seen as archeological preservation.
Without the muscle to scrub or the cash to hire the work out, I
strive for arrested decay and do my best to stave off total ruin. I
could do more but have reached an age when, putting house cleaning
and a good book on opposing sides of the balance and the book wins
every time.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

So Old - So Cold

Oh, the good old days. I remember being a little kid and running
happily into the waters of Lake Michigan to paddle around.
Undoubtedly it was cold but I never paused except perhaps to wonder
why my mother stayed huddled on a blanket on the beach. Push the ice
cubes aside! Splash and dash and giggle madly. Cold? Not me!

When my daughter was growing up I developed a more adult attitude
toward cold. Something to be tolerated. Put on a sweater! Button up!
Where are your shoes? Instead of leaping into the pool I put out a
tentative toe to sample the temperature and eased my way slowly into
the water.

Now. Now cold is the enemy. The warm waters of Hawaii can not tempt
me into anything beyond a slow and cautious approach. Life as a
senior in the Pacific NorthWet requires flannel, wool, and polar
fleece. A limited retirement income requires a careful eye on the
heating bill. Bum knees force only judicious carting of wood to a
heat stove. My winter indoor garb consists of sweat shirts, jeans,
sheepskin slippers and stops just short of parka, down ski pants, and
buffalo robe!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Same Sex Marriage

The whole issue burns my biscuits. It seems to me that someone needs
to define what marriage is. Is it a religious bond or a legal one?
One or the other and make up your D..n mind!

If it is religious churches can allow same sex marriages, or not, as
they choose among followers of THEIR doctrine. Couples outside that
doctrine do not need to follow those rules.

If it is a legal bond, if it has ramifications for property within
the laws of the country, it should be open to any two people as a
legal entity. Religion and government supposedly being separate in
this nation.

And as for what happens in the bedroom... I agree with Miss Manners.
No polite person even imagines what happens in the bedroom of
consenting adults. It is none of their business. That so many
religious people spend time worrying about it is rather shocking. And
sad.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

TO BLOG

Blogging is excellent therapy for my blood pressure.

Instead of swearing, hollering, grumbling, or even quietly seething,
I run to my keyboard and tappity-tap the irritation away. The semi-
private illusion of a blog allows me to air my opinions in public
while being fairly certain they are unread by the world at large. My
ego gets to hope that somebody sees them while the flip side cowers
in happy anonymity.

And there's the rub. I love to write and have always enjoyed sharing
MHO with anyone who would listen. Getting older has made me aware
however that most personal opinions are worth the paper they are
printed on. And blogs... well, you get the idea. Here am I. Stuck
being a grumpy aging curmudgeon and airing my mind in a mindless
medium. Now that I think about it: It is perfect!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Who's playing that song?

Pack up all my cares and woes
Here I Go
Singing low
Bye, Bye Blackbird!

Suddenly this song is in my head. A song I haven't thought about in
years.

Where did it come from? How does this happen?

The 3X5 cards with music on them tend to rise to the surface of my
brain dumpster easier than others. They bubble up and bob around on
the surface as ear worms playing a verse or just an single line of
music. This time the effect was pleasant and resulted in me singing
out loud, amazed that I knew the entire song. But other times a worm
digs in for the long haul and it becomes a tonal version of Chinese
Water Torture. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. The needle keeps
falling back into the same cracked groove (remember phonographs?),
the music goes round and round until I'm ready to confess to anything!

I Am Not The MTV Generation!

What has happened to movie and television since MTV began bombarding
us with images? If the length of -quote action shots unquote- gets
any shorter they will be subliminal. Automobile advertisements and
program promos on evening television seem caught in a horrendous
contest to stream the greatest number of pictures onto the screen in
the fewest number of seconds. I suppose they think it is more eye
catching to mix in odd angles and shaky reality camera effects. Eye
catching? Mind boggling! And not in a pleasant way. My stomach
lurches, an instant headache sets in, and I reach for the remote
control. The sledge hammer approach to selling me a product seldom
results in me remembering to buy it when I go to the store. It does
however create instinctive revulsion and deep gratitude for TIVO.

It was bad enough in music videos and commercials. Now we see the
quick-cut, line-'em-up-and-move-'em-out barrage in every obligatory
car and foot chase. And directors don't seem financially able to
spring for steady-cam technology. Wiggle the picture and make it seem
real! Hey you idiots. In real life we use the miracle of neck
vertebrae to stabilize the image. The only excitement you are adding
to my viewing experience is that of changing the channel.

The shaky cam and quick cut are not, repeat NOT creative. It has been
done and overdone. I don't want to watch only I Love Lucy re-runs and
gardening shows. Neither do I want to toss my cookies and rely on the
forward button to get through my favorite cop shows and movies. My
brain not only can process a clip lasting more than two seconds, it
insists on it.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rememberies

I haven't been writing this blog all that long, and already I'm
forgetting what I've written about. That brings up the subject of
memory.

Past a certain age, somewhere around age fifty or sixty, friends and
I began mentioning our memory lapses. "What was I saying?", "Who was
that?", and "Where did I put my...?" became common phrases, often
accompanied by a momentarily panicked expression and a nervous laugh.

When we are together at one of these times we compare incidents of
blankness, trying to smooth the situation and allow time for frantic
thinking. We talk about how we used to be able to remember long lists
of tasks without a detailed note, license plate numbers for every car
we've ever owned, or schedules for classes and assignments months in
advance. These days we trot along just fine and then suddenly we are
groping for words or a thought, totally without a clue.

For the younger crowd those brain blanks are a source of a giggle and
an apology. But for us older folk forgetting is not a laughing
matter. The spectre of Alzheimer's makes any loss of word, fact, or
date an incident for concern. Nobody says the "A" word out loud, of
course. We refer to a senior moment or Oldtimer's disease. Like the
"C" word we avoid saying it to make it unreal.

I have my own theory for the lapses we have. I think after so many
years our brains are brimming with numbers, quotes, names,
appointments, news items, jokes, trivia and memories, randomly stored
like 3X5 cards, tossed into a dumpster. Some cards float around on
top and are easily retrieved. A few end up unreadable or stuck
randomly to another card and scrambled. Most are buried and hard to
reach. Occasionally the debris is stirred and mixed so an old card
comes to the surface. Dipping in with the intention of finding any
particular one is a crap shoot and thus it is amazing that we
remember anything at all.

In conclusion.... uh, ummmmm, what was I saying?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Friends

It occurred to me last night during one of those "I'm awake in the
middle of the night" moments, that getting older is embellished with
the joy of long relationships.
I did a tally:

Chris and I have been married almost 38 years. And we still speak to
each other. Really! It may be because I'm resistant to change and
he's resistant to moving, but it works.

Kathy. We've been friends since high school so that makes it about 44
years? We haven't lived in the same town since those days but with
letters and occasional phone calls, the love and friendship has
always been there. When we are lucky enough to be together we can
still be giggly teenaged girls.

Charlie. That friendship goes back 41 years to college, and he's
family. A wonderful, curmudgeonly uncle who sends unexpected gifts.

Gail. We raised our children in the same town and spent lots of time
growing up as adults together. She is deep in my heart forever.

Ileah. We e-mail almost every day. The kind of friend who understands
my thoughts so I don't have to grope for words. She and Debrayh are
part of a group I met (was it the late 70's?) during my Sufi-dancing
days.

Sandie. Barbara. Donna. Each one woven into the web of my life with a
special color. There for more than 20 years.

And there is another Barbara. Another Sandie. And another Gail.
Newer, but still over ten years in my life.

My mother once told me to consider myself blessed if I could count my
friendships on the fingers of one hand. Mom, I'm twice blessed... and
better.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Brrrrrrr!

The first real rain has arrived in the Pacific NorthWet and brought
enough damp to mix with the fall chill that my extremities are
turning into frozen expressions of discomfort. I no longer wonder why
the dwellings of older folk are kept at slow bake. If I weren't so
darned stubborn (It is too blamed early to turn on the heat!) I'd
have it barely sub-sauna inside. Hibernation in a cozy burrow is
sounding nice.

Wake me around quarter to Spring, okay?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Some of the things that set me off:

Rap Music.
Boys with their pants belted in the middle of their butts.
Crop tops and lo-rize jeans - together.
The cost of health care.
Violence as entertainment.
Dogs barking at night.
Drivers on cell phones.
Hummers.
Gas prices.
Anybody driving a car that gets less than 30 mpg.
Bottled water.
Cosmetic surgery to "look younger".
New Age music.
People who talk about the Good Old Days (including me!)
Rudeness.
Kids in any group larger than one (exception: my grandchildren)
Spiders on the ceiling.
Spiders anywhere else.
Tailgaters.
Land yachts.
Wrestling.
Living without DSL.

(To be continued...)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

LMAO or GRRRR?

Getting older must be an abderian pursuit* unless one is to sink into
being an absolute curmudgeon. I seem to be undecided which route to
the ancients is best. I leap frantically from one to the other.
Tuesday at ten I'm hysterical with giggling over a recital of the
myriad aches and pains ("Where doesn't it hurt, Indy?") and at ten-oh-
five I'll be growling in my whiskers (damn menopause anyway!) over
the fad of reality TV.

Each extreme suits me, by the way. It's been a lifetime emotional
roller-coaster and probably won't change. Part of me wistfully holds
out the ideal of mellow aging like a fine wine, the rest is aware I'm
more likely to end up a smelly old cheese.


*look it up!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oof!

Sometimes the awareness of getting old comes like a punch in the
stomach. The air goes out of you and there is dizziness as your inner
self struggles to adjust to a new perception of "Oh God! I'm an old,
old fart", an Oof!

Yesterday I was listening to the local oldies radio station. I didn't
recognize a single song they were playing... Oldies from the '90s.

Oof!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How We Communicate

This isn't so much about getting older, though living a distance away
from friends and staying in communication is more an adult than a
child thing. It is about differences in people.

I am gifted with excellent friends. These are people who have been in
my life a long time, the longest, (Ohmigod! ) 45 years. We remain
friends through communication. Early on, as we went our separate
ways, it became obvious that to stay friends in the way we understood
friendship, we had to our share lives. That meant communication. For
me that equaled writing but for them it was the telephone.

Talking is not something I avoid. Anyone who has met me is well aware
that talking is an art I relish. Two pals once visited and we talked
non-stop for over 15 hours. You can be sure I did more than my 5 hour
share! But while talking in person is a delight, talking on the phone
is not. Something is lost over the wire. Is it physical presence? The
little signals on sees in eyes and posture? Probably not since
written messages suit me fine, and I'm happy with email which is
faster than hand-writing a letter (agonizing) and slower than texting
(unintelligible).

The universe gets its jollies from little jokes: like marrying an
early morning person to a late nighter, or partnering a vegetarian
with a junk food nut. Those mysterious gods had a field day showering
me with incredibly wonderful friends who read my email and then call
to chat for an hour or two. I want each of those women to know that
I'm thrilled to hear their voices but after the first half hour my
ears hurt and my bladder gets full. (Hey, maybe it is a senior thing
after all?) After an hour I 'm done. There can be a lot more to talk
about (remember the 15 hours?) but something inside me is ready to
quit. "Done now. Love you, but I gotta go." Often some excuse
arrives: a door being knocked on, or a meeting to attend. Or I break
down and confess the bladder problem. (Telephone chats while on the
toilet? Gimme a break!)

No! I don't want their calls to stop. They aren't going to email and
they know I'm allergic to telephoning out. We have the best
compromise available under the circumstances. The friendships endure
-- no, flourish. And we can sit in our respective homes with them
saying, "She never calls!" and me saying, "She never writes!"

Ooops! There's someone at the door. Gotta run!

Friday, September 7, 2007

"G" as in Gravity

Today's word is Gravity.

Gravity - as in the solemn way time plods along refusing to side step
for me and instead plants a boot over my drooping back and poises to
stomp me firmly into old age.

Gravity - as in seeing the gravity of the situation. Extreme or
alarming importance as in global warming, religious fervor, and
television violence. The gravity of a government lying to its people.
The gravity me of lying to myself.

Gravity - as in the force that attracts a body toward the center of
the earth. It acts upon my body every day as flesh sags, bags and
melts downward. It pulls on bones and tendons making my orbit of life
a bit closer to the ground, until eventually gravity will become
grave, and bury me in the earth.

Monday, September 3, 2007

It Isn't All Bad

Getting older hasn't all been bad. Aging has presented me with some
goodies and time to time they are the ones I notice. Perhaps they
should be mentioned.

Perspective.
Terrific thing. Lack of age = lack of experience = lack of
perspective. When life gets rough and emotions get off kilter age has
promised that "This too shall pass". It has before. It will again.

Wisdom.
Okay, this point is debatable, but even my severest critic (moi!) can
see some improvement from the past. Wisdom being an infinite line,
forward and back, a bit of progress has been made this lifetime.

Patience.
Again there is far more to be achieved, but while I cast one eye on
the lessening days remaining to me I find myself more willing and
able to wait. And far less apt to erupt over the little hassles.

Along with these goes a quality not easily named. It is the
willingness to admit I don't know everything, mixed with being okay
about that. Humility? Not exactly. Maybe more of a widened field of
vision? An awareness that truth isn't an absolute?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Staying Home

Young folks love adventure. They love going somewhere: for a walk,
into town for shopping, to Grandma's, to Boise, to Timbuktu.
Anywhere. They bubble with energy and can't sit still. Teens go to
classes all day and party all night, then get up and join friends for
a movie and a rally the next day. Pack a bedroll and a change of
underwear and they will hike all day, eat a can of beans heated over
a smoldering fire, and sleep on rocks while trying not to slide off a
mountain. Then get up and do it again. I remember being like that.

For a good part of my life as an adult I was willing to spend days
planning excursions and vacations, and hours driving to and from
schools, malls, and theme parks. As a parent it was Pack 'em Up and
move 'em out! Picnic lunches, bathing suits, paraphernalia for two
weeks of road travel for the whole family. Meetings? Classes? Bring
them on! Parties? Sure, love to attend! Art shows? Plays? Gotta see
'em! Recreate! Participate! Go forth and do!

In my fifties a lessening of enthusiasm set in. Parties and public
events always sounded like such a good idea in the beginning. My
enthusiasm was high. But as the time approached enthusiasm retreated
and I found all sorts of reasons not to put forth the effort. Work
all day and party this evening? How about work all day and fall
asleep in front of the television? PTA? City Council? I'll go next
month. Camping in Yellowstone? What if we spent a week at a resort in
Waikiki?

Now that I have passed sixty, my resistance has become
logarithmically enhanced. Going out holds very little interest and
Staying Home has become a religion. Admittedly, meetings and theatre
occasionally catch me for a moment and I agree to attend. But as the
time arrives, I don't. Getting me out of the house is like getting an
overweight scuba diver out of his wet suit. The spirit may be willing
but the flesh is staying put. Even the spirit lacks oomph. Instead of
tacking those meeting notices on the calendar I toss them straight
into the trash. Even the pretense of going out is gone. Hooray for
those tough seniors who retired to their motorhomes to travel. My
house lacks wheels and remains in one place. With me inside.
Adventure comes from the library, and is experienced in a comfortable
chair before 8:00PM. I like it that way.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Youth Culture

Have you seen the television commercial for (unnamed skin product)
where the satin-skinned 33 year old blonde worries about those
horrible signs of aging: crow's feet and wrinkles? If she was in the
room with me I'd bitch-slap the woman! If you are sixty-plus and thus
older than society's youth-at-all-costs mental aberration you might
remember when such epidermal ornamentation indicated laughter and
wisdom. Faces with lines were seen as belonging to people who were
survivors and who were worthy of respect. Those lines showed
individuality and character.

Today character receives little honor. Children still having baby
powder behind their ears can be considered over the hill. The admired
face is akin to a plastic mask devoid of age and signs of life. Along
with the veneration of that bland smooth exterior is a belief that
the wearer has something of interest inside. Sorry to tell you kiddo,
but anybody under the age of forty is hardly hatched, and only a few
have two ideas to rub together. Youth merely indicates a span of
time. The abilities to run, jump... or reproduce, are common to most
of the animal kingdom. Those who can do them are not that special.

The poor women who buy into the fuss over aging will discover soon
enough that age comes no matter how long you fight it. And for those
who fight, and those who do not appreciate the beauty of it, its
arrival will be more painful.

(You, too, can look like Michael Jackson or Joan Rivers!)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Question

"Hello. How are you?"

When I was twenty, or thirty, or even forty, the question was
answered with a quickly rendered "Fine, and you?" with both sides
understanding the social and surface nature of the interchange. At
fifty my response became slower before it was begun and I'd stop to
think "Okay, how the heck AM I?" before the "Fine, thanks."

Being over sixty has created a definite pause before any answer is
formulated. There is a tallying of symptoms, accompanied by a varying
and complex series of calculations. The source of the query is
considered as well as the place and time it is made. Is this a social
nicety or does this person really want to know? If they really want
to know how much detail shall I offer? Is the appropriate response
"Well, the arthritis is kicking up a little." Or "Remember that
nasty episode I had where my knee seemed to lock up at odd moments?
It's back." Or for those very hardy questioners , "My knees hurt so
bad I barely make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and
last night my back wouldn't let me sleep and I had to take Tylenol PM
with the usual Advil and I still couldn't get comfortable so..." If
the discussion is with an over sixty woman friend, that last one
leads to a mutual discussion of the pros and cons of OTC and
prescription pain relievers and segues into a mutual exchange of the
woes of aging, from sagging underarms to creaking joints, and from
carpal tunnel to bifocals.

I'm leading the way for many of my friends. I'm older by a few years
and have been way too cavalier about health in general. Having been
blessed with a robust system and an inability to learn from the
warnings of my elders, I ignored much needed general upkeep along the
way. The body I inhabit has done a marvelous job of coping with
continued abuse and chugged away, but the bad spark plugs and
overused oil have begun to tax the engine, the tires are lacking
tread and the shocks are kaput. I'm past due for a rebuild and
getting close to a tow to the junkyard.

"How are you?" is a question that no longer gets a quick answer. My
mind considers, summarizes, faces regrets, ponders eternity and that
done, tries to return the favor with my own "And you?"

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Benefits

One of the benefits of getting older is the joy of looking at my
friends and seeing what a wonderful and diverse bounty of riches
surround me. They are some of the finest people on the planet:
intelligent, caring and spiritual in the best ways. Funny too. Well,
yeah - odd funny, as well as silly and humorous. I'm sure there was
some sort of celestial paperwork error that gifted me with this
bunch. Or maybe it was a winning heavenly lottery ticket. Either way.
I'm holding on tight and thanking the universe for the luck.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Oh Poop!

Here I am, entering that second phase of life in which POOP becomes
an issue of interest. It hadn't occurred to me that the movement
(heh!) into that age had happened until this past week when on
grandmother duty (heh!) grandson#2 brought a book for me to read to
him: Everybody Poops.

Little kids are fascinated by poop. So are senior citizens. We note
the size, volume, consistency, availability, frequency, and
difficulty. We give scientific study to what produces or inhibits
quality, from intake to factory ambiance. We mentally tally
schedules, and give attention to the details that create optimal
output. Interruptions in production are causes for concern whereupon
we read the manual, consult the technicians, and proceed to
inspection and system maintenance. Check the oil! Adjust the valves!
Give it a tune-up! From totally relying on the basic reliability of
the machine I've begun to notice when it falters, listen for changes
in the engine and take proactive measures. Slow down! Top off the
water! Check the transmission!

At last I understand why my grandmother always had an open package of
Chocolate-flavored Exlax on her dresser. And I've seen my life circle
from Children's Castoria to Metamucil. Oh Pooh. (heh!)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Questions

Is it SIxty-Plus, or is it Me? Or does Sixty-Plus added to Me result in a catalytic, combination of apocalyptic proportion?

Is it residual hormones that make the emotional ride even more wrenching than pre-menopausal trips?

Are the night sweats left over from menopause, or a turn to second childhood? And if I'm sleeping like a toddler why am I awake so frequently at night? Besides the multitude of bathroom visits, that is.

Is my ornery attitude because of maturity refusing to bow to duty any longer, or a revisit to the rebellious teens?

Is that protesting voice I hear in my head as I watch television wisdom speaking to the young, or fussy old age refusing to admit the new?

Choosing between the ripe and the rotten of a Sixty-Plus attitude is a stroll in the proverbial mine field.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Man That I Married


Approaching elderhood it is good to know that I am wedded to a being more than half a bubble off plum!

"OctoChris"

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hot? Cold?

My comfort range has decreased steadily since youth. As a child I happily paddled along the shores of Lake Michigan when the air was chilly and the water just above chunky, wondering why Mom stayed sitting on the sand while there was WATER! in which to play. In the 1980's I recall trotting quite happily along desert trails in Arizona as the mercury edged over the 3 digit mark.

Those days of tolerating extremes of heat and cold are long past. My inner thermometer wiggles madly over and under the "Just Perfect" point, estimated at 70F. and I don flannel shirts and furry slippers as it slips below 68F and begin stripping as soon as it nudges 72F. On again, off again, and repeat both day and night.

I tend to blame the aging process alone, but add menopause and a home in coastal Oregon and there is no coping mechanism complicated or strong enough to compensate for the swings in system status. Coastal Oregon (simplified) is too chilly and windy in winter for anybody over the age of 50. Summer, the time between "rain is almost over" and "rain is on the way back" is notable for high sun-killing fog punctuated by brief sunbreaks of intensity sufficient to evaporate moisture instantly. If I venture forth to sit in the Great Outdoors I end up leaping between shade and sun. Chill and sweat. As for menopause, does it need any explanation?

Hormones and climate are part of the mix but age is the major culprit. Take a look at my kids. They thrive in the humid heat of Eugene where the summer days range upwards from 80F, a point at which I have drooped and begun melt.The daughter, after one year of residency in Oregon called this week to say she misses the rain. Misses the RAIN? Like, misses the coldwetdampsoggy weather we have nine months a year? That coldwetdampsoggy weather wherein the granddaughter chooses to wear shorts and the grandson is gleefully naked except for diapers while Grammy hunts for yet another blanket to wrap in?

Come to think of it I do have a Sixty-Plus friend who lives in Phoenix. She might remove her sweater when the day warms to the mid-90's. And there is the friend in Fairbanks who only puts hers on if the outside temp nudges -20F. I'm doing the same at 72F and 68F. Okay, okay. It's me!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Yup, it's THAT kind of day.

How can they say my life is not a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten?

-Logan Pearsall Smith, essayist (1865-1946)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Crochety!

I'm getting more crochety as I get older, which is funny since in many ways I continue to mellow. Is it possible to have those opposites happening simultaneously? Perhaps the key is that while many things irritate the poop out of me (messy!) I'm more able to grit my teeth and try to manage the instant outrage. Not just repress it, but actually notice that there MIGHT be more to the situation than I see or know.

The thoughtlessness and outright stupidity of many people (yes, this IS the same subject) really makes demands my reserve of self-control. Item in point: my husband and I stopped on our drive to see the grandkids yesterday to take pictures of the dogwood trees blooming near the highway. One of those magical moments when the sky is ultra blue, the spring sun warming and illuminating each new green leaf on the trees, lupine ready to bloom, birds singing. Ah, so beautiful and serene. My husband walked back to try another angle for a photograph and came upon an impromptu dump site in the forest. Hidden off the edge of the slope was a pile of discarded TV sets, old computer printers, and a collection of rusty brake cylinders. The thoughts of anger, contempt, and wishes for retribution that wrestled in my mind were quick and strong.

The mellow is having a hard time competing.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Memory

Let's face it, my memory just isn't as sharp as it once was. The brain works okay overall but where once I was the designated rememberer for the entire family I now seem to lose things willy-nilly.

In reality I probably forget as much, or no more these days as when I was spring poultry. I can still do the daily crossword puzzle, though more often a clue requires a bit more "background processing" while I go on to another clue. I grope for words on occasion, but then I always seemed to conceptualize and run off at the mouth faster than my mind could put those ideas into appropriate words. But after seeing several family members succumb to Alzheimer's or old age dementia, one begins to question any forgetfulness - Is this it? Is this a sign? At twenty you shrug it off. At thirty or forty you are so busy remembering anything is a surprise. Past sixty anything you forget causes a moment of anxiety and a pause to run a quick spot check : Phone number? Check. Social security number? Check. Day of the week? Uh-Oh!

And this morning's spot check is brought to you courtesy of "Didn't I have a bin of fabric scraps? And where the heck did I put it anyway?"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Getting Older 1

Arthritis means waking up in the morning and asking, "Is this a bad day, or a really bad day?" Having a good day, and they are scarce at best, is waking up and saying "Wow, it doesn't hurt. Much."

Saturday, April 7, 2007

My aching head

I've had a headache since 4am Thursday. Just a little one. A little nagging annoying pain across the top of my skull that refuses to budge. All the usual magic tricks have been tried and found wanting. Hot shower. Ibuprophan. Massage. Hot water bottle. Sinus medication and spray. I'm thinking of maybe trying trepanning....

Or just poking out one eye with a pointed stick.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Time Marches

As I approached After Sixty I noticed that night sleeping is becoming of shorter duration. I go to bed later and get up earlier. Throughout most of my life those two events happened at very civilized hours: somewhere between 9 and 10pm and somewhere between 6 and 7am. But bedtime has crept to between 10 and 12pm while morning keeps occurring between 5 and 6, sometimes even between 4 and 5. If this continues I'll be drumming my fingers on the pillow waiting for sleep that never arrives.

I make up for it though. I may not stagger off to bed until midnight but I can often be found resting my eyes, as Gramma used to call it while she snored, in my chair in front of the television. And by mid-afternoon I am nodding off sitting straight up in front of my computer. Something about that flat screen must exert a sleeping spell.

Monday, April 2, 2007

I made it!

Sixty. Years Old. No longer any chance to convince myself I'm still a young thing. And Okay, like many young things I assumed I'd live forever and so taking care of myself was not at the head of my To-Do list. It wasn't even in the first hundred. It probably didn't even appear at all. Time has caught up though, with vengeance. This vehicle never was a Ferrari but the Ford Station Wagon is now a jalopy. The engine coughs and whines, and chokes up. The oil filter gets clogged and the muffler is rusty. And the starter? Needs a new battery. But the radio works sometimes. AM only, no FM, CD's or (heaven forbid) DVD player.

But I can still make it around the block!