Thursday, October 23, 2014

Taking a Pulse

I was in the "city" a few days ago.  I was actually in an outside town of the city, but the power and the pressure of the city are so great that it leaks over into the air and smells and sounds and activities.  You have heard about the pulse of a city?  It is exactly that.  Like a heart rhythmically racing in a march to the end of the day.  I had forgotten this undercurrent.  There was a meeting...a series of meetings... and thus the day began early in the first muggy light with the heaviness of gray endless rain, the irregular pumping of brake lights, the tick, tick, tick of a turn signal at the intersection, the spray as cars fled by.  I had forgotten it all, but it was just like riding a bicycle.  It comes back with a somber vengeance.  Mothers rushing children under umbrellas, men avoiding puddles in shiny shoes, well dressed women never looking down, young men with an aimless morning to fill as they hung out at the local coffee shop.

I must admit that it was not all dismay.  There was the excitement of an energy I had forgotten.  The throbbing of a pulse that told you there was life, the stimulus of people with places to be and things to do, things that might even affect your life.

I had returned to an area I lived in about a decade ago and the changes were amazing in places and the lack of change was both dismaying and reassuring in other places.  There is lots of creativity in cities.  Creativity in products and in ideas.  People with hope meet in cities.  People planning big jobs live in cities.  I had been living in the edies of the world and thus had to make sure my paddle was well into the water as the currents shoved me here and there.

But at the end of the day I was glad to return to my woods, to my place of restorative pauses, slow thought and more realistic hope. I guess mankind needs both, and a balance of both places is best.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Challenges



A little perspective.  I do not normally walk 7 or more miles.  Hubby and I do walk about 3 to 4 miles when we take a hike in our local parks and woods during the warmer weather.  I do run between 3 and 4 miles on the elliptical in my basement about 5 or 6 times each month.  So, the 7 miles, while strenuous, was not a super challenge.  We started about 11:30 in the morning and got back to our cars about 4:30 P.M. stopping frequently for photography and once for lunch.  You can do this.  Perhaps not on a tree root covered path, but on a sidewalk around your town.  I think you would be surprised.  Even if you have serious health issues, just walking a little ways is good for you.  Just add a quarter or half mile each time and breathe sweetly the good air.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Those First Steps

The best advice I got from my readers to improve my health was to walk.  It requires no special equipment and can be done almost anytime and anywhere.  I just read a recent study that revealed that the best way to lengthen our telomeres which lie at the ends of our chromosomes and keep us from aging was walking and standing...even better than actual exercise!

So two days ago I took a 7 and a half mile walk in the woods around a nearby artificial lake.  Yesterday I spent several hours wearing a weight vest as I cleaned house, vacuuming and mopping all the floors.

If you want to enjoy with me the beautiful walk I took,  go here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Bite of Reality.

Since the Ebola epidemic is on almost everyone's mind these days, I think it is time for me to do a health post.  I just wanted to update a few of you who know that I have been struggling with some small health concerns prior to my trip to Ireland and after my return.  I will not do this again as I hate writing about my health!  What a bore!

Anyway, there was a time just last year when I could brag/blog that I was under no prescription medications.  I was shooting toward 70 and still in reasonably good health.  Then this year I changed doctors and after a whole battery of new tests and a couple of lingering illnesses and resulting doctor's visits I have been informed that I have osteoporosis and must take a prescription for that along with calcium and vitamin D supplements in goodly number.

Also, since my lungs decided to turn themselves inside out this summer and I had a chronic cough for no discernible reason,  I was given an an x-ray just before my trip.  I was also given heavy duty cough medicine.  The X-ray showed several things: that I "probably have underlying mild COPD," I certainly have a mild scoliosis and definitely have some bone degeneration in the scapula.  This diagnosis and a collection of prescriptions to loosen phlegm in my lungs and reduce coughing at night made me pull up for a time. 

Then 4 days upon my return I got a sore throat which went into an upper respiratory virus and I was back to coughing once again.  Upon my return I was given something even stronger and the result was that I lacked energy for a while and the contrast from my high energy activities while in Ireland gave me pause about all this drugging.  Last week I still was weak from my flu that I probably caught in the Dublin airport or on the plane and added to  all of the above I added a mild depression to my disposition.  The depression seemed to me to be both psychological and chemical!  Researching COPD was not helpful.

As I weaned myself off the medicines for the lung infection I got my energy back and my creative urges have now returned along with a better disposition.  I am almost back to normal.  I am lifting hand weights again trying to strengthen back muscles for my lungs.  I am sleeping much, much better as well. I have far less health issues than many of my loved ones, so no complaining here.

But, reality bites, doesn't it?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Broken

I was thinking about the comments that I got from my last post about the young man in the grocery store.  I guess I did give the impression that I looked down my nose at grocery clerks.  I do not, although it is not a job I would want to have.  I respect anyone who can stand on their feet all day and deliver a presence in their work and still have the energy to be pleasant and make small talk.  I also realize that it was my shortsightedness that indicated he would have no future in this career path.

My own view on savings, though, comes from my history.   I had to save money all of my life, even when I was a kid.  Money was set aside for holiday gifts long before stuff for myself.  As I got older, a certain percentage was set aside for college expenses.  Maybe I felt free of money pressures when I was under ten, but never after that.  I grew up in a family where saving money was as important as praying is in other families.  Save for life improvement, save for a rainy day and if there was some left over save for something fun.

I never went on vacations (except for camping or visiting relatives) until much, much, later in my life.   As a young woman clothes were purchased when necessary and repaired as needed.  Fashion was considered a way to lose money easily.   We grew much of our own food.  I sewed most of my clothes and those of my children...all as a means of saving money.  I am now in a very different economic group ( I think, due in part, to being frugal in my youth), and feeling thankful if sometimes a little embarrassed for that.

I have a republican nephew who feels strongly that poor people are poor because they are lazy and stupid and that liberals are short-sighted in wanting to raise the minimum wage to reward these low-class people who have demonstrated a lack of effort in furthering themselves.  He thinks that hamburger flippers are stupid for taking such a low paying job in the first place.  He feels you make your own breaks.  To a small extent he is right.  But to a large extent chaos reigns in peoples lives and many people get broken through no fault of their own.

But for a liberal such as I, when in front of such a cavalier young earner as my grocery clerk in this day and age, I almost think a little more like a republican.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Priorities

Waiting in line at the grocery store, I am once again at the register of that young man not much older than 20.  He is easygoing and carefree, reflected in his chubby size and casual smile.  I wonder how someone his age can be happy working as a register clerk checking people through with coupons, asking if they want their chicken in plastic, counting the bags they have brought, and then making small talk before reading their gas points to them from the receipt.  Maybe it is because I am not a fan of small talk.  I can play the game with the best of them and I can cheer anyone up at this game or ignore them if I have to.  But he has to do it for a living.

Since he has been working at the store for a couple of years I have been able to draw him out in the small talk game we play as he slides my grapes across the scale.  I have learned that he loves fantasy games, Comic Con, science fiction novels and Halloween.  He is already way too set in his ways for someone so young.  He already knows it all, and is the first to reach any conclusion that satisfies his view of the world.

This week he was talking to a heavy set customer with feathery blonde hair and a smoker's wheeze in her voice as she finished paying for her groceries.  They were discussing how expensive food had become, how the minimum wage was too low and other familiar subjects about making ends meet.   He handed her the receipt and then turned to me as she left and said he really was not too worried about raising the minimum wage because he already made over ten dollars an hour and he was also due for a promotion and even more money.  (Check Out Clerk Level II?)

I felt a small dark cloud move in behind me.

"I hope you are saving something,"  I said trying to catch his eye as his hands moved my yogurt containers across the scanner.

He looked up with his self-same grin and said that he most certainly was saving.  He said that he had $400 already set aside. 

"I have been saving for some time.  I am waiting for a certain flat screen TV to go on sale and then I want to add an X-box to the system."

I kept my smile as tight as a Marilyn Monroe sweater and tried not to sigh too audibly.  That was not the saving I was thinking about.   I was thinking about saving for tomorrow, that tomorrow which for his age never comes.  I thanked him and collected my groceries, knowing his world view right now was very different from mine and that this generation is never going to get old.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Faces of Ireland

It seems that everywhere I travel I find a song of life that grabs me and worms its way deep into my heart.  It adds one more thread to that tapestry that is mankind and is also another puzzle part of me.   I felt that song with the brave energy of warrior songs in Hungary last year and I felt it again in the lyrical beauty of this Ireland where human bravery took on a heartbreaking honesty and gentle love.

Here are a few faces of that magical Ireland.

An artisan cutting crystal at Waterford factory.
Good looking, full of jokes and stories, following a family tradition with his own carts and horses and becoming the perfect romantic horseman for our carriage ride.
A busker outside the National Library who stopped to talk to me and told me he was working on a Masters in Literature and Language.
Originally from Brooklyn and transplanted here with his Irish wife to enjoy a better life.  Full of the gift of gab and flirted with my DIL.  Told us he still dragged his wife out on weekends to look at "stones."
Our teacher and guide in the church bell tower.  Tight as a whip and probably too devout but patient with our messy efforts to attempt to ring those historic bells.
Our very first guide and our first red-head to remind us that Vikings had been here.
A busker on the mall, unique in face.
More evidence that Vikings has been here.
Such abundant red hair!
OMG!!  Hoping these guys are wearing wigs!
My last post on this trip, and I thank you for keeping the tea warm.