Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Difficulties in Aging---Not What You are Thinking

Ronnie at Time Goes By and Rain at Rainy Day Thoughts both wrote about aging and all its discomforts and our honesty with that.  So I had to add my two cents.

Remember when people carried you everywhere and wouldn't put you down so that you could explore freedom on your  Well at my age I can explore all I want and society provides artificial joints, walkers, mobile wheel chairs, pain killers and nice level boardwalks so that I can continue to do this exploration and I can do it on my own.

Difficulties in aging as a toddler:  I remember when I was a toddler the first time I hit my head on the doorknob, and I realized that getting taller had its disadvantages. The next time I had to wear pants that were too tight and a dress that cut me under the armpits because I had outgrown them overnight.  Now I am only slightly smaller than I was a few years ago and I have stopped growing and I like my height just fine, thank you. I no longer have to worry about doorknobs or clothes.  If I outgrow my clothes, it is my own damn fault.

I remember when getting dressed was something that required intense study.  The right length skirt, the perfect blouse, those awful bad hair days.  Those were my teen years.  Today getting dressed is primarily getting clean and finding something clean and comfortable to wear.  I sometimes care that I don't look like a bag lady, but I don't dwell on it, because I do not care all that much what others think about how I look.

I remember the strain of new job interviews, the pain of writing proposals, the agony of public speaking, the careful dance of arguments with colleagues and the constipation of biting my tongue during my adult years when dealing with a crazy person in the office.  I no longer worry about any of that stuff.  I will not argue with you if I think I cannot win you over to my way of thinking, but I also do not hide my beliefs nor fear them.  I will also listen to your side because I also do not think my beliefs are carved in stone.

I remember the agony of watching my children grow and leave me to pursue adventures of their own.  The sad dullness of an empty house and my being fired as a parent.  That was a real difficult age.  I have out grown that agony and in these elder years I find I can accept the fact that I must allow my children to make their own mistakes and live their own lives, because that is what I wished from my parents.  I also welcome all the free time I now have.

I remember during my 50's the concern and a little dread about aging and the difficulty of looking into those elder years ahead and becoming an old person who would have little to do with their time.  Now that I have arrived here, I find it is just like being a younger person.  It has its challenges and rewards and it is what you make of it.  Some of the challenges can be overcome and others must be accepted with grace and compromise, like that teenage figure you were given.  And the rewards at this time in my life are are a morning sunrise and and an evening sunset and all the time in the world to enjoy them.

So difficulties in aging are just a part of life at any age and if we did not have them, I am thinking we would not enjoy life nearly as much.

I saw an interview with the poet, Christian Wiman, who was diagnosed with a serious cancer in his 30's and I was amazed and pleased by the grace that he shows day to day.  So difficulties must be handled at every age.  Quit your whining.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Mystery of Mist

Once we have checked out how the garden is doing and put to permanent sleep the weeds that have been awakened by spring we sometimes get the urge to take a drive and see how the rest of the land is doing.

We went for just such a drive the other day (the day I took those peach blossom photos in the orchard that I posted on my other blog) and as we headed across this large peninsula to the side that greets the large bay we noticed the fog had banked inland and was holding its own even though the morning was waning.  Since it was just before lunch we headed to a little town down the road.

A heavy fog rolls in off the bay on many of these spring days as the night air is just cold enough to capture the water and hold it, and if there is no wind, the mist just floats around hiding the corners of life.  This white cloud gets a short way inland and then the heat of the land and/or the heat of the sun seems to make it melt before our eyes.

This little town we reached was once an escape for city folk who were tired of summer heat and wanted a respite by the shore.  There is a small beach here and several nearby marshes that are just perfect for a change from city life.  It is still a tourist town, but the ability to travel greater distances to much larger beaches has pulled most of the tourists further away from this area, and I think that has helped this little community retain its charm.

The horizon line of the bay was hidden by deep fog and yet the warmth and quiet of the morning brought people out.  Various water birds were enjoying new algal growth or building nests. There were two naked toddlers playing at the edge of the water under the peaceful eyes of parents.  Three ladies sat in beach chairs and chatted quietly while one knitted.   And, of course, there were lots of dog walkers.

We took a walk along the newly constructed boardwalk beneath the spring blossoms of various trees and enjoyed the magical mist along with several others who had taken the morning off.  As with most small towns that have not yet been drowned in tourism people were ever so friendly and smiling.  We greeted them and patted their dogs on the head, commented on the strange weather, and talked about the good old days, even though we had shared different good old days.  It was lovely with temperatures in the 70s.  We had lunch at a small table just outside one of the local restaurants that was close to the local Post Office, which of course, provided us the perfect "Andy from Mayberry" experience...just thought I would share.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

War is Addictive

My heart goes out to the family of the Army Staff Sgt. that I wrote about in the poem in the earlier post.  They suffer so much when he is stationed in danger and they worry about him every day when he is overseas.  They worry about his emotional happiness when he returns to a regular life style at home.  But they never expected this new hell that has entered their life.

When the expert talking heads were reviewing the situation, which was a violent and horrible killing of 16 Afghan civilians including children one evening outside a U.S. military base in that country, on television and discussing the diagnosis of PTSD they also talked about how many of those who are wounded in battle work very hard to return to the front as they feel they are needed to make sure that those they have left behind are covered.  The territory they must defend is not their homeland or their backyard but the area where those soldiers are stationed. The call of the brotherhood is stronger than anything else.  This is what war does to these brave young men.

Years ago I saw the movie The Hurt Locker which is a war movie created and directed by a woman.  It was a compelling movie to watch because it has a very different and more nuanced approach to the characters in the movie and the reality of war.  I remember a scene without dialogue where the protagonist who is on leave stands in a well-stocked store aisle looking for something on his wife's grocery list.  He just stands there as if looking at thousands of brands of the same product and as if he cannot possibly make such a complicated decision.  His brain just shuts down.  He finds himself in a surreal position.  He is OK with diffusing bombs but deciding on laundry soap is too crazy and too frivolous a waste of his time. He loves his family but grows more attached to a young Iraqi boy in the village where he is stationed.

Clearly this Roger Bale's brain just shut down over something else on his 4th tour to this area after being wounded twice.  War is hell and I continue to wonder about all those young men that will return in the coming year who have had their senses honed for battle and we ask them to return to a 'normal' life.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dying Tulips

Red tulip petals fall to the ground
Not as precious as the splash of blood on desert sand,
But lovely in their death no less.
This early spring day is so quiet it makes you panic.
The bird chatter so squeaky I see you wince.
I saw you study the warm wind out of the East
And I felt the anxiousness growing in your soul.
The time of year for contact was upon them once again.
And you wanted to go and shout once more
I got your back,
You wanted to return
And finish
And be a part of the final push.
The winter was almost behind them now.
They no longer hunkered.
They no longer bunkered.
They were no longer cold statues in camouflage
Watching sand rifts come and go
Against the walls of empty houses.
The spring was upon them as well
Calling for
A patrol to revolutionize the villages
To win the trust of the poor
And to kill all the others.
My tulips will stop blooming soon
And I will stare into space
Remembering when you helped me plant them.

(First Draft)(For Sgt. Robert Bales)(Just one more comment and I will move on, I promise.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Down Music Lane

As a young girl coming of age I never had money for records and popular music was not on TV quite yet. I did have a little transistor radio (the size of a deck of cards) that I got from somewhere and I would listen to it at night when I did my homework. The very first performers that caught my imagination were the Everly Brothers. They would become a little too country for me as I changed toward more "sophisticated" tastes.  But at the age of 12 and 13 I could listen to them forever and just fly on that harmony...and I think it was years before I even knew what they looked like.  Their harmony was stupendous to someone who was from a non-musical family.  I listened to the Beach Boys and while I liked Elvis, I was not crazy about him.  When the teenage generation got to have their own TV shows such as American Band Stand and Ed Sullivan, I was introduced to Paul Anka, and those great musical icons, The Beatles.  Holding the core of the pure liberal that I was destined to become I eventually moved on to loving folk singers and those with a message like Simon and Garfunkel,  Joan Baez and the Mamas and Poppas.  

If you stroll down your musical memory lane, who was the first group or singer that captured you as a teenager or pre-teen?

Boy does THIS ONE bring back memories. Yes, it is a little hokey and unsophisticated by today's tastes. But that harmony is an endless reward.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


The boot is off and I have been instructed to keep exercise and hiking at bay for another 3 weeks. But I feel free at last. So, to celebrate, I am gifting to my readers my corner in spring glory.  Have a nice week!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Little Corner

When I built this expensive house (while I am not part of the 1% I did save substantial money by living overseas for several years) I knew that I would probably want space for a few indoor plants.  I included a corner at the end of my kitchen that had a strip of tile next to the wooden floor for protection.  The windows in that corner do not have the glaze on them that filters full sunlight and protects objects from fading.  These windows while double glazed are just plain windows.  They face the Southwest side so that my plants get plenty of winter sun.  In a few weeks when the dangers of very cold nights are gone most of these plants will head outside.  The amaryllis will be done blooming and will be tucked away in a place below the deck but near my patio where they will remain unnoticed until I bring them in for a dormant period in mid-October.  They are removed from their pots, the soil shaken away and the bulbs put in black garbage bags and kept in the coldest part of my basement until January where I start the process all over again.  This year because of my ankle injury I was going to abandon them totally, but hubby generously planted them out and while I would have selected other pots, he did a good job as I have beauteous blooms this time of year.  (I still have the other tropical bulbs in the basement waiting for freedom!)

The tiny tree in the middle on the top shelf is my calamondin lime tree.  I replaced it last year as the one I had purchased a few years ago was stressed in some way and the roots never grew.  The other large tree on the right is my kaffir lime tree.  One of the most interesting plants.  I use both the limes and the leaves in Asian cooking.  It does need full sun through the winter and is somewhat temperamental, but you can see it is going to overtake the space.  In the late spring it goes out on the deck.  I protect it with cloth for a few days so it can adjust to the more intense light, but it eventually adapts and enjoys the summer months.

The jasmine in the white pot was a sale purchase for about $4.00 and looked really sad until I revived it.  I don't think the little white blooms are fragrant enough unless you really get close, so it may be a sale item for the Master Gardeners plants sale this spring.

The ugly grasses are lemon grass which my husband insisted on wintering over.  I find that cooking with lemon grass is a real challenge as ones that grow in this climate are tough and not as flavorful as they are in the tropics.  These two will go outside into the garden next month and they will take off like gang busters, but I am still lobbying for their demise in the fall.

The lime green pot contains a geranium.  They are easy to purchase new in the spring, but I always save at least one for the winter months and pinch it heavily to keep it from being too spindly.

Hidden in the back on the bottom shelf are my succulents.  They survive very well if ignored.  They will go outside soon.  Then this corner might return to an area for a summer buffet table.  (You know, like on Downton Abbey...a side board where hot breakfast waits for guests...yes, I am joking here.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Time is Ripe

I have developed a schizophrenic personality.

I have hated this boot and all the compromises that it has made me make.  Spring is teasing outside and I have so much gardening that has fallen behind schedule.  I have turned the corner of my living room into a cluttered office so that I can have everything within reach reducing my need to get up, but it looks so much like an old person's corner.  I can no longer just run upstairs to work on photos, but have to schedule it as part of my day so that my stair climbing is done only once.

Still and yet, I have passively enjoyed being a slug.  It is nice to make meal suggestions and get hubby to do most of the cooking (thank goodness he is a reasonably good cook) and to outline the household chores that need to be done for the week and assign myself all those chores that can be done while sitting...such a folding clothes.  It is great to give him a list of things to bring up from the basement to replenish the larder or the bathroom cleaning supplies.  It is nice to be able to say no to volunteer requests without guilt.

On this Tuesday I get another x-ray, and if the orthopedist confirms, I can take this monster off and return to a "normal" life.

One of the first priorities will be re-entering the world of exercise...I do hate that, but it is a must do or die earlier from immobility.  Dynamic change does not fit easily on one's shoulders as one ages.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

It is Now Everywhere

I read the book that the scientific writer in this video wrote and it is very compelling but not as much as this video.  Since I had Lymes over a decade ago and caught it early, I am one of the lucky ones.  This video makes a very strong case for getting Federal oversight on health care.  If not the profit makers will walk you to your grave.

Post Script.  I was surprised at how the disease has spread throughout the world and also how varied all the side infections and parasites can be.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Moment of Zen

Since I have been doing nothing and thinking too much (RL, marine lawsuits, etc.) I will provide (as Jon Stewart says) a moment of Zen.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

Filling Time

As I am on my own for two more days (hubby has met up with the kids and their kids at Disney World and they are sooo happy to meet him and take advantage of the ratio of three adults and three children that he has agreed to stay for another day) I am settling in further to this extended being-on-my-own mode, hoping I do not get to like it too much.  I am now eating my dinner on the couch in front of the television.  I have become a slug, a slob, a sliver of my former self, except I have probably gained pounds so sliver is not the most accurate image here. 

I am like my son...or my son is like me...ask his girlfriend.  She said many of his friends have told her that they see him so much more now that he is dating her.  They say he used to hold up in his apartment in the evenings and on weekends working on his music, but they are glad she now gets him out and about.  This sounds like the roles my husband and I play in life.  He is the gregarious get-me-out-of-the-house one.

I have tucked away in this house for days, except for one day when I went shopping and ran a few errands taking my boot off to drive and then putting it on to walk through the supermarket. I did get out one warm afternoon to prune my roses which were beginning to leaf out.  Of course, my foot has made me be cautious and as immobile as possible in the house and I have been amenable to that excuse.  I have heard too many stories of people falling and breaking something else when wearing the boot!  AND I really want it to heal, but there is nothing on TV (rarely is there ever) and I have almost finished reading "A Thousand Acres" and my own novel is stuck on Chapter 6 already.

The person that I am trying to interview for the Master Gardener program has not returned my 4 phone calls...guess that is a wash and I will not try to take it personally.  One of my neighbors called to see how I was and my hubby's hostess in Florida and I had a nice chat, but my voice has not been used for much else these last 10 days.

The days are so gray that photography is only an ambition.  Even the sunsets are silver at night. 

I have had so much time to bird watch that I can tell the difference between the various tufted titmice that visit the deck feeders and almost have reached the stage of giving them names.  One has lost his tuft.  He looks so effete and lonely and I wonder where he misplaced it.

I bought the movie "The Way" on cable and it is a nice ride (walk) through Spain/France with Martin Sheen.  His sons are very talented...even the one with issues.  I have watched two different versions of  "The Phantom of the Opera" on TV and listened to every Keb Mo album that I own all this afternoon.

But too much of a good thing is really too much of a good thing.  (Why do I think I have written that before?) 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

All Alone

I have been alone since February 24 and will be alone until late on March 3 or mid-day on March 4th.  For those of you who live alone regularly, this is like writing that you have eaten a breakfast in the morning.  For those of you newly alone on a permanent basis it is, perhaps, like a reminder of a bad dream that you thought you had woken from.  For everyone else it is just reading someone's blog.

My husband, whom I love more than I show him and not as much as he deserves, has taken off on a wilderness voyage with two men older than he into the depths of the Everglades for several days by canoe.  This is in reality a dangerous trip, but I have heard today that he is safe, and since he is the best canoe guide I ever knew, I am relieved.  They are all seniors...he is mid-60's and one is mid-70's and the last has just turned 80.  What possesses men to insist they can recreate their youth is something we all understand.  But those of us married to them feel more like parents rather than spouses.

I have enjoyed the quiet mornings when I can lay in bed and read with the second and third cup of coffee.  I have enjoyed the quiet of my house with only my sighs to mingle with the wind and unscheduled grazing and meals that seem to fall together rather easily.  But I am ready for his energy and crazy ideas and desire to make the day last long after sunset.  I am ready for him to return.