Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Friday, August 9, 2019

Picture a Prairie Dog

I seem to have fallen into another blogging slump.  
I guess my writing mojo just becomes dormant with some regularity.  
I have come to see this behavior as "learning" and "accepting" things about myself
 rather than a fault or lack of consistency!

How's that for talking my way out of something
 I characterized as a failure
in the past!

The slump is not over, but as I trek a round reading and commenting on the blogs I follow, I realize that connecting occasionally with my own blog is probably a good idea.

Like the Praire Dog that pokes his head out of his hole to take a look around ... this post is my head poking out.  Consider it a mini update and an indication that I still live!
  1. I am fine.  Not moody or depressed or over busy.  Just not blog inspired.
  2. I am still knitting like a banshie.  Christmas is coming and my gifts need to be completed.  Next year - if I am crazy enough to insist on knitting for Christmas - I am NOT going to use those fingering weight yarns no matter how alluring or temping the project appears - sport or worsted weight knits up so much faster.  Pictures of finished projects will take their place in their own blog posts at some point in the future.
  3. I made another trip up to Long Island with my sister to visit my mom's friend who is 94 years old.  She is still mentally pretty good and the trip was great fun.  She is plagued with some medical issues, but her brain still seems to be working just fine.  This trip left me pondering if I could choose only one life status in my very senior old age which would be better: mental alertness or physical well being.  A remarkably few people have both in their 90s so it stands to reason I won't be one of the "very few."  In fact, if personal family history is any kind of predictor, I won't have either one.  Could it be a kindness to one's self to not mentally know your are physically failing - rather than witnessing the total disintegration of your physical self - while your alert mental self watches?  Ugh! That is pretty depressing now that I think on it.  Better start pondering something else - like when does "Dancing With The Stars" return to TV.  I feel better all ready!  
  4. My grand daughter continues to grow in leaps and bounds.  A joy to all my senses!  These first two years in a child's life are just miraculous.  Looking back one year ago - the changes are amazing.  It may be time for another grand daughter post.
  5. My exercise mojo has its ups and downs as well.  My left knee (surgery 2017) gets cranky at times.  The heat here is brutal - thank you Climate Change.  And my very expensive (but old) walking shoes don't seem to be giving me the support I need anymore - resulting in sore feet if I am standing too long.  I can fix the shoes and will do so this month.  Just wish they didn't cost $150.   The weather should break positively starting next month - and if I ice my knee before and after walking, it is manageable.  I even re-joined the senior gym so I could use the treadmill (which I hate with a passion.). The facility is air conditioned, new and cheap by gym standards so my excuses are pretty few for not going.  So "struggle" is the right word to describe my efforts to stay reasonably fit.
  6. Eating wise - this is my absolutely favorite time of year.  Produce is flavorful and abundant.  Some meals I just eat vegetables.  So good.  And my very favorite is corn on the cob and tomatoes.  I think I could live on just those two things alone.  Throw in a few garbanzo or kidney beans and it would probably be pretty healthy as well.  And coffee.  Need my coffee.
So ... there you go!  All caught up on my boring life!  And just to clarify ... boring is A-OK for me.  I have lived a long enough to have had my share of "events."  I discovered that is better to figuratively live in the middle path of life rather than to soar high and sink low.

Back again when my mojo returns or a "prairie dog poke out" seems appropriate.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Time to look Up rather than Down

Why is it that looking "Down" is so much easier than looking "Up?" 

Is it a matter of habit or is it just human nature?  I find its too easy to look 'Down' into the daily frustrations of the current political scene, into the daily challenges of caregiving (for the third time in my life), into the realization that the plans I had for my own retirement are far from the life I live now.

It is crazy thinking to look Down when Up is so much better.  I am SO really blessed at this stage of life.  Time to make a list and post it somewhere (oh, yes ...  that's right - I have a blog!!) where I can page back and remind myself of one simple constant truth:

My blessings are someone else's strongest desire!

So here goes my Up - (in no particular order.)

  • I am 72!  Yes, I am grateful for that.  The other option doesn't appeal!
  • I am retired!  That condition is not a given for everyone.  I would enjoy being completely retired (retired from cooking, house cleaning, laundry - opps - look up, up up!  Looking up ... I don't work!)
  • I am comfortable in retirement.  No need to baby sit every penny or eat hotdogs instead of steak.  (Of course I prefer chicken and fish ... but you get the idea.)
  • I have a close immediate family that is a regular part of my life - not geographically or emotionally distant.
  • I wear the title of Grandmother proudly!!  An Alpine-level size Up.  
  • A husband.  A life partner - of 52 years duration.  While he adds to my stress at times (like all spouses can do) he is in relatively good health and still standing by my side.
  • I am healthy.  God knows ... No serious life threatening illnesses.  For my age and my "on-again off-again" focus on health - it is remarkable that the expiration date on something in this body hasn't come due.  (Excuse me while I find some wood to knock on.)
  • I have friends of long and short duration.  I must not be too much a drag on them - as they keep coming back!! 😀
  • Hobbies and interests abound.  I'd be lost without knitting and reading. Thank God for my hands and my eyes. 
  • My blog ... where I can dump thoughts that rattle in my brain and then pop out like a "Jack in the Box" explosion of angst (like my Democratic Debate Post - opps - looking down again - look up, look up!) 
  • Death and loss has been a rare visitor in my life.  
  • My husband's disability has prepared me to stand independently if I should be left widowed.  No excuses like 'my spouse handled that.'  (How's that for making lemonade out of lemons.)
  • Downsizing a life is in my rear view mirror!  My condo doesn't require a large expenditure of cash or life energy to maintain.
  • Finally, I have my brain ... a major plus, having watched my mom's brain slowly and painfully disintegrate into nothingness ... until it finally snuffed out her life.  Dementia runs in my family.  That is a genetic pre-disposition bullet I hope to miss.
Sure, I fret about not being able to travel, or participate as a couple in some activities we used to take joy in, or even go to the movies without feeling guilt about my husband left at home.  But would I change any of the above pluses for yearly vacations, broadway shows,  beach trips or hiking adventures?  No ... I really do have more than my fair way share of good things. 

AND I am ever so grateful that while looking 'Down,' in the past ... nothing on my 'Up' list disappeared yet.  I know that at my age, big changes can naturally be expected on that list ... but for today ... which is all any of us have ... it is all good!

Do you ever do that?  
Look Down too much rather than Up.  
Or am I the only one who has to make a list and post it somewhere
 so that my aging brain doesn't get stuck
 in Down mode rather than Up mode?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019


Hello blog readers.

I think I need to alert some visitors to my blog about my personal practice of handling "Anonymous" comments.

In the near future, I will stop accepting Anonymous comments. I think I have 2 "real flesh and bone" readers who comment that way.  But because of the bad behavior of a "few" - I will be ending that option in the next month or so.  In April, while I was participating in the A-to-Z Blog Challenge, the number of Anonymous comments jumped dramatically.  I guess that level of exposure to the internet opened me up to more JUNK comments.

Since the Challenge - I checked out the Anonymous comments regularly - deleting almost all.
Unfortunately the Anonymous comments have continued to grow in number and as a result, they eat up more time to sift through.  I don't regularly review them now.  I just delete them without opening them.  Sometimes when the onslaught of Anonymous comments are fewer - I will open them - but generally I don't - they go right to Trash.  So if you are an Anonymous commenter and your comments didn't show up - sorry - it is becoming just to hard to find the real visitors from the "fake" ones.

Anonymous commenters - please find a way to set up a google account that will allow you to comment with an identity.

If you do comment and do not use Google as your platform - and your comments typically get through to my blog - because you identify yourself in some manner - please share your method with others in your comments today.  I hate to block regular readers (and sometimes commenters) by taking away the Anonymous option, but it will come to that at some point.


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Democratic Debates

I generally keep to the premise that my blog should be politics free.  Politics like religion has a tendency to polarize people.  When these topics are discussed, it often leads to "I am right and You are wrong" black and white kind of thinking.  So I have opted to keep my personal opinions about religion between me and God - where they should be, and maintain a mostly a-polictical stance by registering as an Independent and stepping out of the loop of political discussions in all settings.

Oh, make no mistake, I have very strong opinions about both - but until recently I felt my own peace-of-mind was more important than trying to sway others to my way of thinking on either of these topics.

Now ...  here I am - talking politics with these questions.

Did you watch the first two Democratic Debates this past week?
What did you think?
Is there a candidate that can challenge our current wreck of a president
 and bring our country back to sanity? 

I watched both nights.  I know these are 'early days' in the election process.  But the issues facing us are gravely important.  An attack on our democracy from the inside out is happening every single day.  We must right our course as soon as possible.  Another four years on this self destructive path may damage us permanently.

My goal in watching the debates was two-fold:  Who the heck are all these people AND, most importantly, is there a candidate among them that can confront and stop the re-election of the worst President in our history?

You will notice that I said nothing about their policies.  Sadly, we have moved away from that kind of intelligent discussion.  It isn't about the issues any more for most of us.  It is about selecting a leader who will not be an embarrassment on the world stage, who will recognize our international friends and enemies without Cliff Notes, who can speak with intelligence and in complete understandable sentences, who gives thought and research to issues before Tweeting his mouth off, who will respect our democracy, our constitution, our laws, our institutions, and ALL human beings.  We have none of that now.

That was what I was looking for.  Was there someone like that on the debate stage?

There were several candidates I thought could do the job, had great ideas and could be groomed to demonstrate the qualities I listed!  But there was only one who I believe would remain cool under the sizzling glare and auditory assault of Trump that would shower down on them in the campaign ... only one who might be able to turn the tables and make Trump look even more foolish than he is now.

My pick is not the front runner - Joe Biden.

Joe Biden - is a likable, well known, knowledgeable and a courteous gentleman.  We hunger for those qualities in our leader - after 3 1/2 years of Trump.  However, Trump will walk all over Biden in the campagin.  Our electorate has become more combative and argumentative under Trump and would probably see Biden's positive qualities as weaknesses!  I guarantee Trump would hammer that assessment over and over again into the electorate's psyche until voting day (and after, remember "Crooked Hillary?"  We will ever get passed that!!)  Don't get me wrong.  I would be thrilled to see Biden win a general election but I don't think he could win against Trump.  I also believe that although Biden looks good for his age, we need the energy and focus of a younger leader.  As one debater repeated several times - It is time to pass the torch!  I agree.

My pick is Kamala Harris.

I think Kamala Harris has the steel spine needed to beat Trump.  She is direct, focused, and intelligent.  I watched her question Justice Brett Kavanaugh during the hearings. She is like a laser beam that cannot be distracted or deflected.  During the debates Harris was more likely to speak calmly and deliberately - something Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren can't seem to do when expressing a point of view.  Both of them seem to slip toward the unfortunate stereo types of 'older man bonbastically talking' and 'excitable female.'  Kamala Harris appears to have no 'skeletons in her closet' to trip her up during the campaign. And she is not an 'old white man!'

Does it seem like I am focusing on cosmetic qualities rather than the real substance of a candidates' message?  Yes ... I am.  After 3 1/2 years of a President who is filled with warts and puss-festering talk and actions - we could do with a little polish in our leader.  The quality of anyone's 'message' won't beat Donald Trump.  What will beat this President is someone who can 'give as well as they get,' who can turn Trump's snappy slogans back on him to demonstrate his empty promises, and someone who can remain steady as a rock (and Presidential) while doing it!  So far ... Kamala Harris seems to be that woman.

While I typically don't care about age, race or gender in picking a leader,
wouldn't it be just the MOST delicious situation EVER
 to see Trump taken down by a strong qualified mature Black Woman!

I think she could do it.
I'd like to see her do it!!

What do you think?

Friday, June 28, 2019

Apparently ...

Self discoveries are always interesting.

I am a person of 'routines' ... apparently.

When one routine 'hits the skids,' it avalanches into other routines and then I am doing pretty much nothing ... apparently.

And then when I notice that nothing is happening, despite a long to-do list, it leads to a lot more nothing getting done since the world didn't fall apart when I did nothing ... apparently.

Oh yes, I am still feeding myself (and my husband) but meals could not be called 'cooking.'  Soup, sandwiches, salads, pan frying, left overs ... easy stuff.  I am still knitting - three projects are in the works.  Since knitting has not dropped off my radar - I know I am healthy and emotionally fine.  The house gets marginally cleaned of dirt and clutter.  I could probably do "clutter," but my husband couldn't because he is legally blind.  He could probably do "dirt" because he is legally blind, but I couldn't because I can see.  Ha!

But things like exercise and blogging and dieting - things that require a routine to build on - those routines seemed linked together some how and when one of them falls - they all fall!  As a result, there are fewer blog posts, Hersey's Chocolate Bars with Almonds are a viable food group and walking to the lounge chair from the bedroom comprises almost all of my exercise ... apparently.


I have been reading my Kindle, listening to my Audible library and binging on Netflix and Amazon Prime TV shows.

My latest binge TV is The Sopranos.  It is pretty good.  Like The Godfather series of movies, I find myself hoping that the Soprano family (at least the wife and kids) does well and that no harm comes to them.

My latest Kindle completions are:

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller
Wolfhunter River (Stillhouse Lake Book #3) by Rachel Caine

Both books are excellent.  Check out the story summary on Amazon if you are interested.

My current Kindle read is:

Cold Waters by Debbie Herbert.  

Too soon to tell if this will be good but I have passed my "80 page" mark which means I care about something in the story enough to finish.

Then my Audible library (which was over 60 titles and now is down to about 7) is currently filling my ears with the following:

Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

This is the second in a 20 book series that can be called archaeology adventure and romantic mystery with Amelia Peabody.  This is an older series of books that were hugely popular maybe 15 years or more ago and continues to have a dedicated fan base even to this day.  The stories are fun and the 'clean' romance story line adds grace and enjoyment to the story.  But the real star of the Audio versions is the narrator, Barbara Rosenblat.  She handles all the accents, genders and ages of the characters with Oscar level performances. Years ago I read or listened to this series - and I have decided to do it again (rare for me to re-read anything.). I highly recommend this series.

But the wagon train of exercise, blogging and healthy eating have been pretty much stalled.

I am here now hoping with baby steps to get back on all those wagons again!!

Friday, June 14, 2019

50 years ago today

Life Partner!

Glad I have one.
Hard to remember life before this day 50 years ago.
So many happy, sad, difficult experiences ahead for the couple in this picture.

How many more joys and sorrows are ahead for them?
How many changes?
How many anniversaries?

A reflective day.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Walking, Watching, Weight Watchers


My walking life took a hit last week.  All the Game of Thrones binge TV watching and all that knitting time resulted in low step counts (about 8,000 on average - so I guess not so low.)  Yes, I could have watched TV and walked in place at the same time.  But what doesn't work is walking in place and watching TV and knitting - all at the same time.  Last week wasn't a total 'slug fest' as I did get out for a few walks, and I did my Leslie Sansone Walking Indoors DVD about 3 times (my grand dogs thought that was pretty funny to watch), but reaching 10,000 steps each day just didn't happen.

However, I am now off the couch!

Time to get back on that walking wagon - hmm - wagons are for sitting ... time to strap on those walking shoes and get stepping again.

And I am doing that - but carefully!  My left knee (2017 surgery knee) has been complaining a bit.  The answer to that problem is simple - continued walking and the return of the PT strengthening exercises  Thankfully my knee seems to warm up to the exercise if I slowly push through and step carefully.  It almost feels normal after 15 minutes so I know nothing serious is going on.  For now ice packs after walking, Advil and a knee brace are 'my friends.'  (And, let's not forget the PT leg exercises to strengthen.)

On the plus side - (a very BIG PLUS),  I have discovered the many of my 'age related' complaints are minimized with all the extra movement.  I can get up in the morning with little stiffness in my legs. Even my knee feels normal again.  I don't seem to need that early morning 'adjustment' period of letting all my body parts 'wake up.'  My leg cramping problems are much reduced.  My energy levels are so much better.  And when I feel down - going out and taking a walk fixes that problem.


I don't think I ever sat and watched so much back-to-back TV as I did this past week.  Game of Thrones episodes is like eating potato chips - you can't watch just one!  Although I did read the books years ago and saw most of the seasons when they first aired - that was a long ago - 8 years to be exact.  I forgot a lot of the details.  It is fun to catch up and watch them again.  But all that sitting is just too much after a bit.

But I am not done with Game of Thrones.  I am still watching the back seasons of Game of Thrones through the library loan system.  Once that is finished I will be done.  I will really really miss this series.  Amazing production values, great story, total escapist type experience!  It will be hard to replace that series with something else.  After 8 years it is like saying goodbye to old friends (good guys and bad guys).

Weight Watchers

I started Weight Watchers in July 2018 and I went on a Weight Watcher break in December!  I was within 3 pounds of my goal weight.  That break was supposed to be a few weeks - ended up being a few months.   I guess you don't really call it a 'break.'  It is more of a stop!  Thankfully I haven't regained more than 3 pounds.  Guess my eating habits have changed for the better.  Thank you Weight Watchers.

I have tried to get back on the Weight Watcher Wagon twice since December - getting on that wagon involves actually tracking what I eat and sticking to the program limitations.  The limitations aren't the problem.  I can't seem to consistently track any more - I never really enjoyed that part of it.  But I know it is an important part of the plan for success.

Since I am paying a monthly fee - and not really using the program, I am sorting out if I want to just stop paying for now.  To stop paying means that I will lose access to the online features that make tracking easy.  But if I am not tracking ... *sigh* ... I guess those online features aren't as important right now.

Struggling with this idea.

In truth, I don't see myself tracking what I eat forever regardless of my decisions right now!  But the diet is a healthy one and very user friendly - so it is hard to just let go.  Except - I think I have already let go ... by default!  *sigh*.

My enthusiasm now is walking.  The positive feedback I get from that activity is massive.  I think walking (and keeping generally to the Weight Watcher program without tracking) - if kept up will be the answer to holding my weight stable for now.

So ... I have talked myself out of this monthly charge and moving away from formal adherence to the program.  We will see how it goes.

I can return at any time - the time is just not right now!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

My Last Week

I have to say - the last week was pretty darn wonderful.  I know I set the bar pretty darn low on the "wonderful" scale, but it was.

My son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter were on a trip to Disney World in Florida.  As the official dog grandma, I get to spend quality dog sitting time with their funny and crazy dogs when they travel.  The white English Bull Dog is Ragnar - Rags for short.  The mixed Hound and Mountain dog mix is Olivia, Livvy for short.  They live about 20 minutes from me.

Rags - a photogenic little guy!

And a busy guy - always on the run.

They are good friends generally.

Olivia is the smart one - like really smart!
Scary smart!  

Since these wonderful creatures are yard trained dogs vs leash trained dogs, I find it easier to pack my bags and move in with them for dog sitting.  I travel back home every afternoon to spend time with my husband and make him dinner - then I travel back to my exuberant charges who are always over joyed to see me.

What makes this time so special - beyond getting quality time with these mutts?  The answer is easy.  I do NOTHING.  Beyond making sure they are fed, medicated, and loved - and yard time of course, the time is my own.

And yard time does not involve just opening the door and letting them run!  Oh no.  If I do that, they pee and then return to the door looking in with sorrow in their eyes.  Yard time must include Grand ma standing in the yard and watching them.  The 'watching them' is critical to them having fun.  It is like they are performing for my enjoyment!  And, in truth, I do get enjoyment watching them run and play.

Beyond that - I do nothing.  Absolutely NOTHING.  It is grand beyond measure.

This visit, however, I had two very selfish goals!

Goal #1: Watch as much as I could of Game of Thrones on their cable connection (I did see the final episode in really time with the rest of the world.  Thrilling!)  And I was re-watching the previous episodes.  I made it through Season 5!  I will check out season 6 and 7 from  the Library.

Goal #2: Finish knitting Esk's dress while I watch Game of Thrones. I am at the hem.  Almost!

I didn't complete either goal - and you know ... that was ok!

I don't answer the phone, I don't talk to anyone, or do any household chores.  I eat and snack when I want to and what I want (sharing, of course, with my mutts), but except for my time at home in the afternoons with my husband, my time is my own.  It is freedom.

There is only one little downside - they wake and greet the morning at 5:30 am.  I do not!  BUT those early mornings did extend my day about 2 hours so that I had more Game of Thrones time and more knitting time.  Ha!  Who says there isn't a silver lining to every cloud!

Now back to the real world!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

She Was Right!

I prefer to minimize my political opinions on this blog - not eliminate them, not ignore them, not to pretend they don't exist - but limit them ... to when I just can't stand the current terrible state of our democracy and I have to explode somewhere.  So today is that day.  While others are espousing the wonders of Mothers on their blogs and in social media, I prefer to spot light one woman, both mother and statesmen, who should have been our President if we followed the popular vote.  She is not a perfect woman (no one is perfect) and she is not without her own 'baggage,' but she was prepared to represent us on the world stage with honor and strength - and that was unfairly denied her.  

My space, my blog, my opinion!

Time for John Pavlovitz.

Hillary Was Right Calling Them “Deplorables.”

Hillary Clinton was right about everything.
She was right when she warned us that Donald Trump was in bed with Russia.
She was right when she said our election process was being irreparably compromised. She was right when she noted his cruelty, his impulsiveness, and his recklessness.
She was right when she suggested he was beholden to a murderous foreign dictator.
She was right when she told us that he was dangerously incapable of self-control on social media.
She was right when she pointed out the toxic hatred he was cultivating and releasing in people.
She was right when she noticed the way he was dragging national discourse into the toilet. And she was right was when she called his supporters “deplorables.”

At the time of the statement in 2016, she was unfairly excoriated in the media and by Republicans—but looking back she was using sober judgement, measured speech, and incredible restraint:
“To just be grossly generalistic,
 you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
 They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic – Islamophobic – you name it.”

They are.

In the wake of the police shootings of black men, the street corner assaults on gay couples, the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, the defacing of synagogues, the burning of black churches, the mistreatment of migrant families—Trump’s supporters daily reveal their phobic hearts and their willingness to ignore vulnerable people’s suffering.
“And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people – now have 11 million.”

He has.

He continually cries “fake news” about the legitimate Press, while disseminating the wildest of conspiracy theories from extremists media outlets, previously and rightly marginalized because they appealed to only the tiniest lunatic fringe.  “He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.” 

He does.

Just look at his Twitter feed at any moment during the past three years, and you’ll find the unhinged, incendiary ramblings of a supremacist, terrorist sympathizer—whose account under any other circumstance—would be deactivated for its hate speech, its purposeful targeting of individuals, and its steady invocation to violence.

In 2016, Hillary was being prophetic.  She used the word “deplorable,” to describe people who would soon: 

applaud Muslim travel bans,
celebrate families separated at the border,
abide children being placed in cages,
demonize teenage shooting victims,
defiantly deny the value of black lives,
vilify sexual assault survivors,
bless a predator to the Supreme Court,
cheer Presidential rally cries of shooting immigrants,
approve of the suppressing of Special Counsel reports,
sanction the complete perversion of our Rule of Law.

Deplorable, was being kind. I have many other words for such people, and they’re much stronger and far less diplomatic than that.

Hillary closed her now infamous comments by saying,
“Now, some of those folks
—they are irredeemable, but thankfully, 
they are not America.”

Well, she was about half right.  These people may not be America, but they represent a good 38 percent of it. That’s far too much of any nation aspiring to greatness. As long as more than a third of our country blesses such malfeasance and tolerates this kind of toxicity in the name of holding power, we’re going to continue to regress into chaos and implosion.

When Hillary Clinton said that half of Trump’s supporters were deplorables, she was in essence claiming them to be filled with contempt for others, motivated by fear, and driven to exclusion. She may have been right in that moment—but the percentage today is actually much higher.

Anyone still supporting him has deluded themselves into an alternate reality that makes them incapable of compassion or reasonable dialogue. All that they have seen from this President and his cadre of grifters and criminals, hasn’t proven alarming enough to wake them into decency or rouse their humanity alive.

Hillary wasn’t name-calling, she was accurately describing the kind of inhumanity we are now seeing as people’s default setting. Given their support of a man who regularly uses phrases like “Crazy Maxine,” “Pocahontas,” “Pencil Neck”— or “Crooked Hillary,” their feigned offense at her supposedly offensive language was and is laughably hypocritical anyway.

No, Hillary was telling the truth, as difficult as it is to admit. She was diagnosing a collective sickness that afflicts a terrifying number of Americans. The woman who should currently be helming this nation was right about far too many things, and not enough of us listened.

Hatred, bigotry, supremacy, misogyny, and violent phobia are indeed
 sickening and repugnant and reprehensible 
and yes, deplorable
—or at least they should be.

John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. In the past four years his blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said has reached a diverse worldwide audience. A 20-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. In 2017 he released his first book, A Bigger Table. His new book, Hope and Other Superpowers, come out on November 6, 2018.

Monday, May 6, 2019


Everyone together!

"Elaine is beginning her walking routine - AGAIN!"

The story of my life.

Pedometer Story

While I was sick I wasn't wearing my pedometer!  The battery was dead and I couldn't find the charger and I wasn't walking much - just from my lounge chair to the bedroom and back!  Looking for the charger was a low priority.

Now that I am feeling good, I decided that I didn't like the pedometer I had.  I got it at Christmas.  It wasn't that old and it worked just fine, but I really prefer a larger face with colorful icons and this was a slim line style - not as easily read as other styles.

Feeling healthy and eager to get my walking shoes back on I purchased a Fitbit Versa Lite - on sale for Mother's Day.  I am very very happy with it.  The time display is large, it includes the day of the week and the date (silly, but I like confirming what I 'think' I know, 😀) and it shows 3 basic tracking items: pulse rate, steps and calories burned.  Other screens track other things, but everything I usually want is right on the first screen.

So - the problem of the Fitbit was solved.

Tracking Story

Back in April I mentioned a website (Walk4Fun) that I began using to track my steps on.  What a fun site to visit.  I strongly encourage you to visit the link, Walk4Fun, and check it out.

Photo credit: Walk4Fun
This is a full size map of the trail, but additional maps of smaller
sections are available on the site showing the exact locations.

Briefly, it is a free website where you can log your steps - and apply them against one of many famous walking trails around the world - and see pictures of the chosen trail from your 'virtual' hike all along the way.  I chose the Appalachian Trail (AT) and I am thoroughly enjoying the 'trip.'  And to top it all off, if you have a Fitbit, you can link your Fitbit to your Walk4Fun account and your steps are automatically logged without any further effort on your part.  But if your pedometer is another brand, you can key in your step counts manually.  And then just periodically visit the site to see where you are on the map and visit some of the pictures of your travels.  Wonderful wonderful idea!

72.9 miles
Photo credit: Walk4Fun
My position at approximately 76 miles on the AT.

Earlier this month, my Pennsylvania cousins were visiting me and I mentioned this website. They became interested.   We formed a team on the site, and we are all walking the AT together (well, we are at different points because our individual step counts are different), but we can keep track of individual our progress.  Then we broadened the team to other family members and friends.  Now we are 9 on a team called Cousins.

So now I not only enjoy seeing the pictures and my position on the maps, but I can see where I fall within the team!  My one niece is a runner and lives in Chicago.  She walks everywhere.  Her numbers are very high - very high without even trying.  Then there are team members who are inspired to get active again and fall somewhere below the leader.  But the leader inspires us to keep walking ...

Great fun.

Steps Story

I am one of those who is inspired to get active again and in trying to get my step numbers up - I discovered that it isn't as easy at 72 as it was at 52.  But not discouraging to me at all.  I have had to become creative in how I get those steps.  I park further away from my destination, I take walks outside, and there are inside opportunities to get steps in as part of my routine.  This morning I decided to walk around the condo while my coffee perked.  By the time it was ready, I had walked 1035 steps!  Wow.

Some days don't seem to allow time for walking during the day - so I have fallen back on my tried and true Leslie Sansone - indoor walking DVDS.

Leslie Sansone: Miracle Miles 5 DVD Set featuring Free Super-Sculpting Chain Link Band

I have a few of her DVDS and they are really very good.  Steps movements are simple, repeated, and gradually increased in intensity as needed based on the DVD you choose.  It is a work out for sure - and it adds steps.  I even have one aimed at "older adults." The DVDs are ideal for when I can't get out for that walk, or I find myself at the end of the day and short of my goal number of 10,000 steps.

That's my walking update for today.

It is wonderful to feel energized and well again.  As hard as that flu virus was to get passed, it increased my appreciate of how important good health is.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The only thing that could entertain, distract and help me pass the idle time when sick last month was the audio version of Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Gone with the Wind

My memories of reading this book and watching the movie are pretty unremarkable.  Long film, beautiful costumes, strikingly handsome actors, memorable moments - like "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn."  Escapist kind of story.  My kind of book.

Funny how are memories of a story
 can be so different from our impressions
 when coming across the same story around 40 years later.

It is probably next to impossible to find anyone who does not know this basic story ... but just to be safe, here is what Wikipedia provides in summary:

Gone With the Wind was first published in 1936. The story is set in Georgia during the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era.  It depicts the struggles of a young Scarlett O'Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner,  who must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of poverty following Sherman's destructive "March to the Sea."  As of 2014, a Harris poll found it to be the second favorite book of American readers, just behind the Bible.  It was adopted into a film in 1939.

I purchased the audio version of Gone With The Wind mostly because recently I purchased the Kindle sequel  Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind by Alexandra Ripley.  I thought it would be good to reacquaint myself with the original story of Gone With The Wind before jumping into the sequel.  From what I read about the sequel - it was better than a TV movie they made.  I never saw the TV movie.

As a product of the later 20th and early 21st century thinking on race and equality - I had a slightly different response to this story than when I read it 40+ years ago.

  • Written from the South's perspective, the story provided a fairly detailed account of how the South lived and thought at the time of our Civil War.
  • While history books usually give a commanding detailed account of the battles and causes for this conflict, this story filled in the gaps in what it was like to live as a civilian during this war on our home soil.
  • I have read and watched the movie of this story more than once.  This book is an example of a rare book that I will re-read.  I seldom re-read books.  
  • It was a long, long, long story.  I love a long story and this one is herculean in its length.  The book did provide a deep understanding of character motivation - filling in the gaps that would be missed in the movie (movie running time: 3 hours, 45 minutes.)

  • The story is marketed as a Coming of Age story set in the Civil War and Reconstruction period.  I would argue that a 'Coming of Age' label should be based on character evolution - growth and maturity gained through life experience.  I don't think that happened.
  • Scarlett O'Hara got on my nerves so badly that by the end of the story I was ready to kill that woman myself. (I know, I know, she's make believe, but you know what I mean.) Because this was the book and not the movie, I was witness to all her thought processes and priorities.  ALL of them!  She was so self centered, willful, and shallow.  For a woman with the intense drive and intelligence to survive and succeed in post war conditions, she was just plain stupid about everything else.  She never learned ANYTHING about life or how her actions were impacting others.  She never understood what was important in life until the very end of the story when she had lost everything that mattered.  Seriously, by the end I was happy to see her finally get what was coming to her.  I felt no sympathy or pity for this woman.  Maybe a small argument could be made that she was a product of a dying way of life and was hard wired to respond as she did - but there were other female characters who were the total opposite of her ...  who also were products of the same way of living.  I think Scarlett's lack of complexity as a flawed character is probably indicative of writing in the 1930s - when good guys all wore white hats and the bad guys were just as easily identified.  
  • Details about slavery and the "darkies" was hard to swallow.  During the reconstruction - when slaves were 'set free' with no life experiences, training, or history of humane treatment ... beyond slavery, there were long passages about how bad the "darkies" were behaving now they were free.  My 21st century self couldn't help yelling (silently) that if the Black population had not been forcibly yanked from their native land and forced -  against their will under horrible inhuman conditions - to the American colonies as slaves - those 'bad behaviors' of the "blackies" wouldn't exist!  No where in the telling of the story did it mention that the white men created this terrible situation they were struggling with and paying the price for that decision through generations.  Our founding fathers foresaw this problem when creating this nation, but they could not get the slave states to support Independence from England without including slavery!  But to be fair,  the book was written in the early 1930s and a more evolved recognition of the seeds of race relations was not yet recognized. Even if it was recognized - it probably had no place in a story that was designed to share the culture of the time.
  • So now I have the sequel to this book ahead of me - called Scarlett.  Guess who it is mostly about?  I am hoping that Scarlett's behavior reflects some sort of growth after 44+ hours of listening to Gone With the Wind.  The book will get my normal 80 pages or so to grab my attention and if not, it gets deleted off my Kindle.
I doubt I will read or listen to Gone With The Wind again.  I am pretty much done being aware of all Scarlett's thoughts.  I will borrow the movie from the library and watch it again.  The costumes, the beautiful people, the story ... they are still there, so it is worth another look.

Friday, May 3, 2019

BIG Deep Breath

Ahh, done!  
A-2-Z Challenge 2019 is finished.

Post Challenge Update

Big Deep Breath. I must admit, I am kind of glad to be finished - and free once again to blog in "any direction" that I want.

Blogging in this challenge is only limited by the letter of the alphabet - and that you post on the assigned days.  But I limited my posts by picking a theme. If I was tempted to do this challenge again I would omit the theme.  Beyond that, this challenge was very well organized and managed by the lead team and I applaud their efforts.  Thank you!!

One unexpected discovery I found on the last day:  I had noticed that responses to my posts during this Challenge were few.  Not really typical but understandable if Aging is not an interesting topic for some.  On the last day of the challenge I noticed over 160 messages in my Gmail Spam Folder.  Yikes!  I opened some of the messages and noticed that many them were not one message, but a collection of 10 or 12 messages grouped together within the message.  Then I discovered that there were post responses in Spam from new and established readers.  A ton of them!!!   Gosh.  I have corrected this situation by sorting out that mess and getting visitors comments posted appropriately to each April post.  It took hours to fix.  Thank you to all that commented.  Not sure how this happened, and sorry your comments didn't make it to my blog in a timely manner.   All that has been fixed.

(This is my scheduled post-Challenge update.)

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

Next up is Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival scheduled for this coming weekend (bigger deep breath.)

Already I have sanitized - cleaned everything in the guest bedroom (aka - yarn room, craft room, mental health space) - and it is flu free.  The windows in the condo have been open and fresh air has filled our space.  The attached bathroom is also 'company ready.'  Now onto the rest of the condo. The big event is Saturday!


BIGGEST DEEP BREATH OF ALL.  I am back to knitting.

Pictured above is a knitted dress I am working on for my grand daughter.  Right now it looks like cat vomit!  I am hoping that when I cast off in another few inches - and block this sucker - a beautiful swan will emerge from this ugly duckling.  Blocking always improves the look of knitted items - and it better not fail me now!!

I am also hoping I don't regret using this speckled yarn in a dress that has a knitted pattern.  I hate when the knitted pattern competes with the yarn and they both lose.  I know better than that, but sometimes get blinded by the razzle-dazzle that caused me to purchase the yarn originally.

The yarn is fingering - so it is slow going to knit, but it is super wash so easy care.  The body is A-line with the pattern repeated on the back as well.  It is hard to get a sense of the line of the body because my needles (still attached) are holding it in.  The buttons shown are there to give a sense of where buttons will go - maybe I will find the perfect buttons at the fair!  This project should have been finished by now - but I was too sick to work on it.  Trying to catch up now.  When done completely ... it better look like this. 😂

That's all for now folks.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

My Self-Destructive Path to Wellness

Yes, I am well 
despite my best efforts to undermine that effort! 

But I am not entirely a 'good do-bee' when left unattended!

Yesterday I made a trip to the library - an innocent trip.
After all, who gets into trouble going to the library.

On the way I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things.  
It can't get any more innocuous than a grocery store.  

While pulling into the parking lot I got very hungry - VERY hungry.  I had left the house around lunchtime without eating (something I wouldn't ever do in my 'pre-flu, dieting days.' )

Upon entering the store I decided to pick up a sandwich.  I also determined that I deserved salty fatty potato chips.  A big bag so I could have some for later as well.  After all, I had suffered! I had earned chips.

I walked to the prepared food section and found 3 small ham and cheese sliders (without mayo - being virtuous because of the potato chips), walked passed the bakery and a slice of cheese cake with strawberry topping landed in my basket (fruit, you know), then I headed to the chip isle.  Being a sanely reasonable person, I decided against the big bag of chips - and decided to get the medium size bag (2-3 servings per bag size).  Ok, I got 2 of those bags.  I couldn't make up my mind between cheddar flavored chips and regular chips.

As I reached the check out I noticed that the candy was on sale - buy one and get one free.  Decisions, decisions.  I settled on my all time favorite Hersey's Chocolate bars with Almonds (2 of them) and my second favorite, Baby Ruths (2 of them as well.). I just couldn't decide - and they were on sale after all, AND, just in case anyone is wondering, they both had protein: nuts!!

Before my hand even hit the exit door, the Chedder flavored chips were open and I was eating them.  Hungry - remember?  When got in the car - instead of driving and eating at the same time (safety, ok) I decided to eat in the parking lot.  As I opened the ham and cheese sliders a thought cross my mind, "You should really throw away half of this junk food."  Before I could let my better self take action on that thought (I had just purchased these things.  Crazy thoughts to throw them away within 10 minutes of purchase!  Who does that ??????), so before I did anything regrettable - I stuffed those sliders into my mouth, finished the potato chips, and started in on the cheese cake.

Somewhere between the start of the cheese cake and the end of it, my stomach started sending messages to my brain - urgent messages - "What the heck is going on?  For weeks you feed me nothing but soup, yogurt, scrambled eggs, lemon/honey tea, soft toast ... and now I am getting an avalanche of ... whatever this crap is!!  Have you lost your mind?"

I eyed the chocolate bar.  
Seriously, I did.   
I couldn't help wondering just how serious my stomach was.

Ok, I won't eat the chocolate now, but I won't be throwing it away either.  (Compromise - I am nothing if not a compromise.)

On the ride home I began to calculate the diet damage I had done to my months of Weight Watcher weight loss.  It wasn't pretty.  Just before I came down with the flu I returned to Weight Watchers - and the damage I did over 3 1/2 months absent from the program was only 3 1/2 lbs.  I had been good even when I wasn't being weighed weekly.  In fact, when I was seen by the doctor during the flu I had lost weight from my last Weight Watcher weigh in.  I was golden!!

Except ... how would this feast - eaten in about 7.5 minutes - play out on the scale?

Those 4 candy bars had to go.  I got home and unpacked my purchases.  I realized immediately that I couldn't just throw them away.  If I really wanted to throw them away, I should have thrown them out the car window driving home.  That would be littering and I couldn't do that!!

I put them in the freezer.

That was yesterday.
Today they are gone.
And they were good!
  Four candy bars - spread out over time,  (a short time)
because I didn't want to wake up the sleeping giant in my stomach.

Now what to do about Weight Watchers!  It will be 3 weeks from my last weigh in.  How will I explain all of this?

I am nothing if I am not inventive (and compromising.)

Here is the tale.  I had the flu (true ... going for the sympathy vote here), and I had to take steroids for a swollen throat (also true ... more sympathy) and everyone knows that steroids adds weight to your frame no matter how little eat (absolutely true - it is the doctor's fault!)  I am off the steroids now.  Things will improve - if I just avoid libraries and grocery stores.

That's my story.
What do ya' think?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Z - Zombie

Z is for Zombie

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

How did I settle on Zombie - as part of my Retirement and Aging theme?

Well, to begin with I love zombie stories.  I read and watch a lot of that theme.  For Z the word Zombie immediately came to mind.  But then the real challenge - tie in Zombie with my theme.

In Aging Backwards by Miranda Esmonde-White, she dedicates a significant portion of the book to exercises specifically selected for older adults.  One section - Straighten Your Posture - uses a movement she calls Zombie.

Instructions: "Completely relax the upper body, bending forward with knees bent and arms relaxed. Sway slowly side to side - then slowly straighten your back to stand straight, rolling up one vertebra at a time."

Zombie is now my final word in this challenge.
  Thank you Ms. Esmonde-White.

Zombie is literally my final bow as I exit this challenge.

Thank you all who followed me to the very end.  
I sincerely hope some of my observations have been interesting,
or put a smile on your face,
or gave you something to think about,
or, at least, gave you a peak at one person's journey through this last stage of life!

And just incase you are wondering!
I probably can get my body into this Zombie position.
The getting out ... that's the tricky part!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Y - Young

Y is for Young

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

I love discussing the idea of 'Young' in a blog series
focused on Retirement and Aging!

Is age really just a number like they say?

If you are 50 talking with a friend who is 70,
 you might feel young.  
But if your 70 year old friend is talking to a friend who is 90, might your 
70 year old friend feel young?
might you just feel you are talking with a friend who has something
to offer, and 'young' or 'old' doesn't enter into the equation?

What age is 'young?'  
Is there an official number?
If you are young at 29 years old on Tuesday, but Wednesday is your 30th birthday,
are you suddenly old at 30, 
or were you just old at 29 and you didn't know it? :-)
might you feel the whole discussion of 'young' and 'old' is
a waste of time and focus on what you contribute to your society at whatever your age?

If you are comfortable in your own skin, 
your natural color hair, your well-earned facial wrinkles, 
 the clothes on your body,
 regardless of colors, or patterns, or style,
regardless of what anyone else thinks of you
 ... is that young?
is judging a 'book by its cover' when talking about humans
an expression of your own ignorance and insensitivity?    

So what do you think?

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday Update: Flu, A-2-Z, and Maryland Sheep and Wool

The Flu

Today marks exactly 2 weeks since my first flu symptom and I am extremely glad to have it in my rear view mirror.  Of course, colds and the like never depart from me without leaving a few non-contagious foot prints behind.  Like drunk and disorderly party guests who refuse to go home, my nose will run for another week until my sinuses sadly realize - the party is over.

I would love to report that I am totally recovered  - but unless I stay on the steroids my doctor prescribed, the sore throat returns - the sore throat that landed me in the ER a week ago because I simply couldn't swallow - the sore throat that could have resulted in an airway obstruction if I hadn't visited the ER to get help.  Although this flu is in my past, looking back at it I am more frightened by the event than I was at the time.  I slept with cold packs on my throat for two nights before seeking help.  One of those nights I could not close my eyes because of major nose bleeds - both symptoms were on top of others I was dealing with at the time.  I now have serious respect for the flu.

My husband is a few days behind me on this flu journey, but he started Tamaflu earlier in the illness so he beginning to turn the corner and climb back slowly and painfully to health once again.

A-2-Z Challenge

I am within days of completing the A-2-Z Challenge.  Thank God for preplanning, writing, and scheduling of posts before the first day of the event.  I would have 'crashed and burned' because of this illness if that work was not done in advance.  My hats off to those who created and posted in real time.

I had to abandon the visits to other blogs, however.  No energy and no way to catch up when new posts are added all the time.  The part I participated in was fun.

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

I am going to get cracking on sanitizing our condo - we are expecting company next weekend for Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Weekend (MDSW) held the first weekend of May every year.  We are expecting out of town guests for this event.  It is the 'Mother of all Sheep and Wool Festivals' in the country. I believe it is the oldest and the biggest fiber fair - with close to 300 vendors.  Events, demonstrations, classes and everything fiber related fill 2 full glorious days.  This year, however, I am starting from a major energy deficit due to illness so I won't be getting around to visit every single vender.  That is fine.  I really don't need anything with regards to yarn.  I have no intention of spending a lot of money. I just need time to soak up the feel-good vibes of this event and take in all the visual splendor that is always Maryland Sheep and Wool.

This is a yearly event for me!  I always say, "I would need to be dead to miss this fair."  I have amended that statement - "I would need to be dead or down with the flu to miss MDSW."  When you are 'too sick to knit' (a statement I never imagined EVER saying)  - attending MDSW is not even on the radar.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

X - Xi

X is for Xi

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

You know what Xi is, right? 
I use that word at least once a day - sometimes twice!!!

Now, to provide full disclosure ... I don't actually say that word in conversation, or write that word (except for just now) in my correspondence, or even stretch the truth by saying I could use that word in a sentence.  I couldn't even give you a definition until I looked it up ... just NOW.

But use it, I have.

I DO use the word - Xi - because ... wait for it ... I play 'Words With Friends!'  And thank God for the word Xi - because there aren't a bunch of words that begin with X - I know - because I looked them up for this challenge!

Anyway - Xi - is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet.  
Thank you Greek people!

What does that have to do with Retirement and Aging?

I play a lot of word games now.  Keeping my brain engaged and flexible is one of the necessary "to-dos" of retirement - 'cause if you lose that organ's function - you can just pack it up and go home.

So - 
Yea - for Words With Friends
 and Yea for the Greeks. 
You two gems are contributing to my mental well being as I age.

PS - and Yea for A-to-Z,
because without the challenge, 
I wouldn't have bothered to look up the definition of Xi either!!!

Friday, April 26, 2019

W - Wedded

W is for Wedded

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Several years ago my daughter gave me a small book called Wait For Me: The Irritations and Consolations of a Long Marriage, by Judith Viorst.  She received it as a gift from Ms. Viorst who she knows.  My daughter gifted the book to me.  In this post - as I discuss nearly 50 years of marriage - this June - to my husband, I will feature small quotes pulled from the book.

It destroys one's nerves to be amiable
every day to the same human being.
Benjamin Disraeli 

I remember a time when my husband and I traveled to an anniversary party thrown by my family for my grand parents on their 50th wedding anniversary.  We were either engaged or newly married.  I could not imagine 50 years ... so far off - almost an impossible period of time.

The Irritations
I am only trying to help
When I observe that every tie that you wear has been stained
By food you have failed to transport to your mouth from your plate,
And you're only trying to help when you tell me I've gained, 
Along with a lifetime of wisdom, a bit too much weight.
Judith Viorst

When facing our own 50th anniversary in June, I marvel at how different we both are today from who we were in 1969.  Would we have been drawn to each other in 1969 if we were as we are today?  Probably not.  My husband and I are now as different as a circle is from a square.  But we established a home and a family ...  as well dealt with the joys, sorrows and struggles of life.  Most importantly we learned to also make room for each other to grow into the people we are today.  We made so much room for change that the people we are today are not natural pairing of like minds as you would expect in a long marriage.  But that may be the key to our success.  We allowed that difference to develop and we didn't use it as a reason to divorce - as many may have.

In every marriage more than a week old, there
are grounds for divorce.  The trick is to find,
and continue to find, grounds for marriage.
Robert Anderson

The number of couples making it into retirement together (regardless of the years married) is probably pretty good based an informal sampling of my peer group (not scientific I know.)  But couples married in their 20s that are still married to the same person at the time of retirement - well, that number is smaller, I would guess. Finding a reason to divorce seems much more common than finding a reason to stay married for 50 years.

The Consolations
In a world here everyone's powering on and off,
In a world where hacking doesn't refer to a cough,
In a world where nothing on earth is too arcane
For Google to instantaneously explain,
And tattoos aren't only for thugs but for the elite,
It's nice you're as twentieth-century,
As stubbornly twentieth-century,
As hopelessly twentieth-century as I am.
Judith Viorst

So although I didn't see this anniversary when I was younger (and I can recall a few other times when I wasn't sure we would make it), we did make it to that 50 year mark!  How did we do it?

  • First - We didn't try to change each other. Although we get in each other's way at times, our paths in life are not "our path" - it is more like "my path" and "his path" but parallel.  
  • Second - We believe in the traditional vow we took.  Nothing fancy or made up.   To love, honor and obey until death do us part (although the 'obey' part I have kind of fudged a bit.)  I believe the wording of this traditional vow is the hardest of all vows to keep - short and to the point - no gray areas or wiggle room.  
  • Finally, I guess we were just a bit lucky.

Wait For Me
So just in case there's a place where we go when we die,
And just in case you should get there before I do,
I don't, when it's my turn, want to spend eternity
looking for you.
So let's decide where we'll meet.  Let's decide
Where you'll wait for me.
Judith Viorst

Will we make "until death do us part?"  Yes.  But the thought of being the one left behind knocks me  off center a bit.  You see, I married my husband right after my college graduation ... moved from my parents home into our new life - not one day spent as an independent adult.  All those years we shared the responsibilities of living.   But since his disability I have taken over all the responsibilities - from  bills to trash - and everything in between.  I can take care of myself if he dies first ... so that is not the problem.  But who is the person I will be if that happens?   Not someone's child and not someone's wife.   I will need to sort all that out if given the chance - independently, without anyone's help.   It may takes some time, but I'll land on my feet I am quite sure.

I always have.

We've been through "I told you it wasn't worth all that money."
We've been through "For once in your life admit that you're wrong!"
Most of the time, what's good overrides aggravation,
And so far we've somehow escaped some really close calls,
Suggesting we're in this together for a duration
That could continue long after the curtain falls.
Judith Viorst

Where is love in this discussion?   Despite all the songs, love stories, poetry and movies ... love is not an easy emotion to define.  It's not uncommon to hear a divorcee admit to still have love for the former spouse.  They just couldn't live together.  As a younger person I would not understand that kind of relationship.  Now after 50 years and lots of growth - I do understand it.  In my heart I believe that there must be more than love for a successful marriage that has staying power well into retirement.  That is true for us - and I believe it is true for a lot of people.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

V - Vigilance

V is for Vigilance!

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

My mom was in my home for 5 years - and in Assisted Living and Nursing for 3 years.  But for two years prior to moving in with me - I could see changes happening.  This elder person who happened to be my mom was showing signs of ... well ... at first I wasn't sure what the signs represented.  She still lived independently, she still drove, she still paid her bills, she still went to church and the senior center, she still did everything she did before.  But something was changing and I couldn't put my finger on it.

Decline can happen slowly.  It can easily be overlooked.  Seniors are great at hiding short falls in behaviors.  Early in their decline they are probably aware of some limitations - aware that they can't do things they used to do, aware that some tasks become just too much, or too confusing.  And they are also aware that they are probably beginning to fail in some indefinable way.  They compensate by hiding that fact from others - because independence is the last jewel of a persons life - something to be locked away where no one can take it.

Family doesn't see a lot in the beginning.  I know.  I didn't.  I saw a tiny red flag in a sea of normalcy.  A tiny red flag that probably is just an imaginary spec of dust.  And subterfuge is not difficult for an elder to perform in a sea of normalcy if family isn't paying close attention. So initial years of decline can artfully be hidden from the casual eye.

This inability to see is so common in families.  I know that some members of my family were unable to see what I saw.  Does that make them bad people?  Absolutely not.  But just like any other familiar thing in your life - you can overlook, fail to see what is in front of you. Or sometimes you see the problem but really don't want to see it, admit it is happening - and minimize it in your mind.  It is normal.  But so is being aware normal.  Hopefully someone in a family is aware - it is elder family member's safety net.

When does that safety net needs to be activated? That is were Vigilance needs to step in!

 is no more than the action or state of keeping careful
 watch for possible problems or difficulties.

It doesn't mean stepping in at the very first sign of a memory lost, a forgotten name or an item misplaced in plain view.  We all do that.  No, vigilance means being aware of behavior patterns or problems that are new or maybe developing.

My vigilance began 2 years before mom moved in with me.  When I started paying attention, I tried to make excuses for what I was seeing.  I wanted my mom to live the rest of her days independent, happy and loved.  But at some point my excuses were piling up.  I became vigilant without even knowing I was doing it.  I started my slow campaign for a move into a more secure and safe development - maybe one for seniors - with some oversight.  I really didn't think she need more than that.  At least at that point - it was what I thought.

After 2 years of discussions (and 2 years of her further decline), I realized she needed more than a little oversight!  I finally convinced her to move in with me.  Within one week of that move, I discovered just how far she had declined and how exceeding good she was at hiding that fact.

My gut, my vigilance for those 2 years was telling me a 'truth.'  She needed help!  I didn't realize how much help until she moved under my roof.

Over her last years my vigilance slowly expanded to all parts of her life:  medical appointments, medication administration, driving, illnesses, hospitalization, rehab stays, assisted living, and nursing care.  I literally became her voice, her eyes, her decision maker, and even her 'mother' when she got confused.  In her last days when she was unconscious waiting for death, the nursing home administered a drug to reduce her anxiety through the dying process.  I approved of that.  But they wanted to give her an oral drug - and she could not swallow!  It was to be administered under the tongue.  But it made her cough every time.  She was in a coma-like state - not aware of her surroundings, but she still required someone to be vigilant on her behalf.

If you have an elder person in your life - don't forget to really see them.  Don't see just what you want to see - really look, be aware, be vigilant.  Don't let that person slip through the safety net of their own world because you haven't been vigilant.