Showing posts with label Aging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aging. Show all posts

Monday, February 16, 2015

It All Stops

That one time of the day when the voices stop their annoying whispering in my ear.  The shaking of the fingers scolding me for my wasted moments, the sad shaking of the head for my neglect of friends and family, the negative thoughts of what a waster of time I have become all stop while I say goodby to another precious and beautiful day.  Tomorrow I get a fresh start to be a better and more productive person.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I used to feel I wanted to be touched.
I waited for not only the physical whispering touch
on the palm of my hand,
but the sweeping touch on my heart,
and the powerful touch on my mind.

The touch that would make me swallow my breath,
give me flight
to soar over the universe
and see all and conquer all
and understand all.

The touch that made me into


The touch 
Kindling a fire that never failed to
burn bright and white hot
for its brief time.

The touch that reduced the impossible
to possible.

The years now trail politely behind me
offering only faint memories of smoke and ash
and little warmth, with a few glowing coals
as I walk away
to meet the not so distant future.

This is the time in my exploration
of the universe
I realize that
I want to be that touch.

I want to electrify,
to be the contingency in others before I die.

I want to punch potency
into others hearts and minds.
I want to send them up on a
spiraling cloud of heat rising
to see the universe with new eyes
and new possibilities.

My ego
Wants them to remember my touch
when they face their not so distant future.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cherry-Picken' Pain!

My mother, when she was a few years younger than I am now, was home alone most of the time since my father continued to work waiting for full social security.  He usually worked about 60 miles away from the farm.  One autumn my mother was in the process of picking cherries from our three cherry trees out back by the chicken shed.  She got a bee in her bonnet that using the ladder was not getting her high enough.  (What she was doing on a ladder on uneven ground all by herself at her age makes me shake my head?!)  Anyway her attempt to climb higher in the tree to reach the last of that red ripe fruit resulted in her taking a nasty fall.  She broke the heel of her foot upon landing, and nothing else thank goodness, and had to drag herself about 80 feet across the mowed field, over a dry irrigation ditch and over the gravel driveway into the house and eventually to the phone!  I remember her telling me this story, but I was not as impressed as I should have been at the time.  (What a little twit I was.)  I also remember her complaining at how her other remaining children, all living close but elsewhere with full-time jobs, didn't help her much.  I am sure they did as much as they could with their busy lives.  My mother also loved playing the martyr.

This incident came back to me while I was lying in bed this morning greeting a new day.

Yesterday, my husband and I using a much too small dolly were attempting to move one of those huge old fashioned television sets from the garage to the attic storage in the closet of the guest bedroom.  This old TV belongs to my son who had left it at our house along with a small collection of other furniture since he was moving into his girlfriend's tiny house a few weeks ago. Husband was above pulling the dolly and I was below holding the TV against it.  We had just reached the top step of the stairs which has a larger lip when the television flipped off the dolly platform knocking me down a few steps and then landing on my foot and lower leg mashing them against the steps as I fell back.  I held my ground fearing I might fall all the way down the stairs as this appliance rolled over me.  I managed, although in the early waves of pain. to drag my foot out from under the TV and to put the back of my shoulder against the set and scoot slowly down the stairs allowing the TV to follow against my shoulder.

Hubby could not help because he was at the top behind the dolly and it happened too fast for him to attempt anything.  I reached the bottom step and move away while the television slid to the floor taking a piece of the skin off my forearm as it did so.

I managed to limp to the nearby couch before the shock set in.  Eventually I felt waves of nausea and waves of pain and found myself involuntarily hyperventilating, until my body finally adjusted to what had happened.  After several hours of ice-on and ice-off and two Aleve, I had decided that I had not broken anything because the pain was bearable.  I was also very lucky in that I spend time, after lifting leg weights two or three times a week, stretching all of my joints including my ankles to keep me as flexible as possible.  That has given me some good resilience and bone mass.  We have talked to our doctor friend and all agree an x-ray is not necessary as my pain is easing and I can put some light weight on the foot.

Yes, we were idiots trying to get that 80 pound monstrosity up the stairs. I had told my son to just leave it in the garage since I hadn't decided where to store it, another mistake!   My husband had his adrenaline kick in and actually lifted the set and carried it upstairs by himself shortly after!  Probably another mistake but I was too busy trying to bear waves of pain to protest.

Since it was going to continue to be my lucky day, within 30 minutes the TV news stations were warning of tornadoes and major storms moving into our area and showing a lovely home missing its roof just about 200 miles to the south of us.  No way I was moving to the basement!  Luckily the storm missed us.

This morning my left ankle is now twice the size of my right ankle, but the religious application of ice every 20 minutes today, should continue to help keep the swelling at bay.  I am told that the swelling caused by fluids causes the majority of the pain.  The ankle does not appear black and blue which means little blood loss inside, another plus.

Lots of time to write a long post on this laptop but no way to search for an appropriate accompanying photo as they are on the other PC.  Of course, today the sun is brilliant and the angles are perfect for some photography.  Wouldn't you know it?  Then again, I could take a photo of my ankle....Nah!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Essential Things You May Have Missed Out On

It amuses and amazes me everyday how I have become that old person who looks back on life and wondered how I ever got through it without all the aids, gadgets, networks that are available today.

I raised two delightful and complicated children back then.  We did not have seat belts in cars and my friends who smoked were allowed to smoke while we went somewhere.  Miraculously my children survived both these dangers.  I unknowingly fed them foods in containers lined with carcinogenic plastics or probably sprayed with dangerous pesticides.  School lunches included the vegetable ketchup to balance the repast.  Abandoned refrigerators and mean dogs were the greatest fear in neighborhoods.

Because I am a technologically savvy grandma, I purchase gifts from my grandchildren via that new magical mall, the Internet.  These companies then automatically assume I need paper versions of their inventory as well and my mail box begins to regurgitate colored catalogs of items beyond my wildest dreams.

There are gates and locks and containers that even an enterprising raccoon would have difficulty surmounting.  Children now have their own luggage when they travel, and sunglasses and helmets when they are out riding in that dangerous but very comfortable stroller.  With the added cup-holder and side music speakers, as Fran Lebowitz says, they are never leaving that stroller.

In the latest version of one of these missives offering "thoughtfully selected products," I have the opportunity to purchase a Potty Watch that alerts small children with lights and music to remind them to go to the bathroom at preset intervals...I cannot help but think of a child who would become dependent on this and could not go to the bathroom without the know, that idiot CEO at the board meeting!  I could buy a pillow that supports good posture in small children when they sleep...unless they sleep sideways across the bed as does my grandson #1 or with the pillow over their head as does my granddaughter.

There is even a strange device that one uses to remove mucus from the noses of little ones who have not mastered the art of blowing.  The mother puts it against the child's nostrils and then puts a little plastic tube in her mouth and proceeds to suck on the tube.  The text assures us that the mucus goes into a tissue and not the mother's mouth.  It still looks very unsettling in the photo (above) of mother and child using it.  The real clincher is that the publisher claims it has been used by European parents for years.  (They probably write in the European version that it has been used by North American parents for years.)

How did our baby "animals" survive without this stuff?  What new wonders will be available to my grandchildren when they begin to raise their little ones?  All of these do not belay the real dangers of global climate change, air pollution, water pollution, crime, drugs and daily stress that our little ones have to battle.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stretching Into Retirement

I have previously written about the unrewarding volunteer work I had been doing at the Public Library.  I started about 6 months ago and based on that recent volunteer luncheon (which I also wrote about), the scattered approach to their needs for me, and my sporadic personal schedule in the coming months, I called and told them I was going to put volunteering on hold for a while.  I may go back, but right now I am looking for something that "gives as much as it gets."  This may be unrealistic and selfish, but I am at the time in my life when I really need something more fulfilling and something where it is clear they need me and with at least a little social element.

So in the process of looking for a challenge, I recently signed up for the Master Gardener classes.  (In the U.S. this is a University based extension program involving an environmentally sustainable approach to working with commercial or hobby planting and landscaping.) 

What was I thinking?  Have you seen their class textbook (in the photo above)?  It was written by committee (mostly PhD professors) over several years of learning from prior classes, I am guessing.  The class meets two evenings a week for two months, has a quiz at the beginning of each class on the instruction from the prior class and covers an encyclopedia of stuff including history, policy, botany, pathology, geology, chemisty.  This will surely stretch my aging retired brain.  In the end it requires at least 40 hours of leadership-type of volunteering before certification.  Since I am new to this community, I am already intimidated by that requirement.  I also have to come up with two references...I guess that means my neighbors, because I do not know anyone else here.  

Oh well, I hope to get to know more people, have something to point to as an accomplishment, share what I learn with the next generation (esp. grandchildren) and certainly will learn more about gardening and landscaping.  Right now my brain is spinning with trying to understand the vocabulary:  positively charged ions, adsorption, desorption, lithosphere, anion, phloem, meristems, etc.  ( I am not showing off...just glad the final test is open book!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Lost It Somewhere Along the Way

While I like to think I am an upbeat and optimistic person, most people would probably describe me as a little too straight-forward, sometimes condescending and often too honest with everyone including myself.  But honesty is the best policy if you want to know where you are standing in the chaos.  Thus, I have to be open about something I lost...and may never find again.

I do not think we are dishonest with ourselves purposely.  I think it is rarely a bad habit.  I think we are dishonest with ourselves because we see ourselves through the huge thick fog of the life we have lived.  The cacophony of memories distracts and clouds any sharp view we could hope to have of who we really are at any one time.  We end up swatting at flies and eventually just shrug off any hope for the clarity we were looking for.

In our early thirties we catch a refection of ourselves and for a second think we see an aunt or uncle or parent.  Gosh do we really look that old and that adult?  When did that happen?  Well, of course, now we are adults.  That had to be.

Then in our 40's we are no longer the center of attention in the room.  Our jokes are old school or our attention span is too short because of our heavy schedule.  It seems all the fun action is happening elsewhere at the other table.

By my 50's I didn't really care so much about myself because I was focused on kids that were moving out into the world.  I was focused on saving money for the long years ahead.  I was focused on ailing parents and my responsibilities to them.  I was focused on expensive changes in lifestyles due to loved ones' college or health issues.  I was focused on trying to get a promotion to cover those expenses.

Then as I entered the 60's came the big change.   I was retired, had lots of free time, was financially secure.  I could once again focus on myself.  But I looked through my transparent self to see a nagging smoke cloud hanging just off my shoulder that I had been ignoring for quite some time.  When I admitted it was there I also had to admit that it was some depression, some sadness.  But I could not identify why?  My life now was pretty much OK.  Sure I missed loved ones that had passed on, I missed the closeness of various family members...but...what was this?

Some would tell me it is impending death.  It is the fear of the end of life.  No.  That is not it.  I realized the other day that it was a death.  The death of that vital and energetic woman who was an active mother, wife, career person.  That women who was responsible for changes being made.  That women that spoke out with solutions at meetings.  That women who remembered everything and forgot nothing.  

I guess I am sad because she is gone.  She has left behind a faded replicate.  I am still here but with nothing truly important to do anymore.  Introspection is a lovely walk, ...but when you get back home it is also nice to have something important to take care of.  Art and hobbies are gentle distractions, but it would be nice to once again accomplish something that helps others change their lives.  I miss that.  I mourn for that.

Monday, August 02, 2010


When you are old and Wisdom is the only best friend whom you can trot out eagerly to show others the closeness of your friendship, he usually brings Adaptation along for the ride.  Life will be hell if Adaptation does not hang close.  Adaptation insures that you will not be crabby, tired, or out of touch on the rest of the long journey ahead.  It is the best second friend you will ever have.

I once attended a conference on algology.  (Look that up in your Funk and Wagnells or if you bring along Adaptation you can Google it.  And yes, I saw that yawn.)  Anyway, I am not an expert in this area, but found one of the lectures most fascinating.  It was a discussion how oceanic cellular algae adapts to predators and diseases.  When something starts munching or invading, the algal plant later adds toxins or bitterness to the new growth to discourage more grazing.  Trees and other plants also use this adapting technique.  Howler monkeys in Belize can graze the new leaves in the tree tops in the spring for food, but later in the season the leaves are toxic and will make them ill.  

I have been thinking of this in my flower gardening.  If a plant is being eaten I remove the pest, but if I cannot find the pest I wait and see if it is going to continue to graze.  Many times I notice it usually only hits the tender new growth for a short time, and I am guessing that is because the plant becomes bitter or hard to eat.  This doesn't work for Japanese beetles or other non-indigenous bugs, and I have made the decision that it is because it takes some lengthy evolutionary time for the plant to adapt to the new threat and produce something the bug doesn't like.   So my great grandchild may find the Japanese beetle not as irritating as I do.

You can be a stubborn warrior as you get attacked with age and all of its physical and mental difficulties and changes.  But, if you want to enjoy the rest of the ride, you must compromise and find new ways to adapt to the handicaps.  I like being around people who accept what cannot be changed, keep a sense of humor about it all, but also find some new way (or several adaptations) around the problem and then go forward and get on with the rest of their life. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mind Games

Over the recent 4th of July Holiday weekend both my husband and I were sick.  It was strange because my illness was a raspy sore throat and then a chest cough that only occurred at night.  His illness was a sore throat but also several raging fevers, aches and pains, tender skin, scratchy eyes and general weakness and malaise.  Between playing with our grandchildren the week before and hitting a late night bar crowd for our son's band that same weekend we could have caught this bug anywhere, if we indeed shared the same bug.

What was so unusual was that he was really sick and I was just annoyingly so until days after he got well and then my cough got worse.  Ninety-nine percent of the time he is the one mildly ill and I drag myself from bed to couch for several days complaining and putting life on hold.  

I realized about a decade ago how I draw on his leadership and strength.  Being the mother and Chief cook and bottle washer (bill payer, house cleaner, appointment clerk, etc.) for years, I always thought I was the headstrong and stalwart person while herding our goslings, as perhaps I was.  But our years together and aging senses have caused us to lean more equally on each other through all of life's later challenges.

His appetite was good so I was not too worried.  But at our ages I could not help but think about what it would be like if this illness was serious.  If we were entering the time in our lives when I would be caring for him day in and out as he started on that journey where his body needed more and more rest until he left me, left all of us.  I could not help thinking of that day when I might be left to walk this trail alone.   It was a black and scary thought, but it did not freeze me in my tracks, because I knew it was possible and I knew others shared this journey.

I am luckier than many people because I think I can get my mind around this darkness, even though it is painful.  I have lost both my parents and a younger sister and  I am practical in knowing we all go this way at some time in our lives and I do resign myself to the inevitability of those things we cannot change with the force of our emotions or the demands of our 'needs.'  We face one day at a time and enjoy its jewel like quality for the brief glow it provides.  Life is such a temporary gift that breaks so easily.  While we may wish to curl up in a fetal ball, the sun will continue to rise, flowers will bloom, songs will be written and sung, couples will make love, and children will laugh and play without us.  This is a good thing.  But I do admit, that at my age, death becomes much more than a theoretical mind game or philosophical thought.  Being stoic is not always enough to ease the anxiousness that only visits in the middle of the night.

(I should probably clarify that I wrote this a while back...)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to Run a Volunteer Program

Volunteers are like full blown roses.  They arrive with energy and expectations (perhaps inaccurate), but expectations none the less, that their time donated to you is valuable.  They are somewhat overwhelming in their eagerness to help.  They may only last a short time in this full bloom of volunteering if they get bored or realize they are only doing something tedious.  Here are just a few basic rules that will keep your relationship with your volunteers running smoothly.

1) Have a consistent and clear schedule but be flexible because you are getting free help.  Pretend that you think their time is valuable even if they are old retired farts.

2) Provide a tour of the facility and make sure you introduce and re-introduce staff over time.  Us older folks cannot remember a name to save our life.

3) It might be a good idea to assign the volunteer to a specific staff person (and a back-up) so that they know who to go to when they get there each time.  It is not courteous to have them stand around grinning at people until they catch someone's eye.

4) Be cheerful and start a small conversation each time they arrive so that they feel welcome.  Don't act distracted even though you are busy, just two to three minutes of cheerful exchange should suffice.  Whatever you do, do not give them the deer in the headlights look when they show up and then look around for someone else to help.

5) Always have something for them to work on.  Try to fit the activity to their expertise and interests if at all possible.  Do not waste their time by going around to other staff asking if they have anything to give the volunteer to do.

6)  And the absolutely most important tip is if you do not need volunteers be honest about that.  Take their name and phone number and tell them you may call them in the future.  Do not feel guilty in turning them away.  Women are particularly bad about this!

The advantages of volunteering in a library is you get to see all the new stuff first, you get to peruse the collection when you read shelves and it is amazing what libraries have today.  You had forgotten, perhaps, that videos, CDs, DVDs, books, magazines, etc. are all for the checking and free!  You have access to dozens of libraries via the interlibrary loan system, so chances are you will be able to get anything you want if you are patient.

Needless to say, my decision to help out at the local library which I began to do this winter is not working out as well as I had hoped.  I encountered some of the issues I mentioned above.  I also overlooked the fact that most of my work would involve moving books and re-shelving books and reading shelves for misplaced or lost books and other media.  I told myself that this re-enforced my Dewey and alphabetical skills and strengthened my biceps and laterals.  I tried to remember some yoga stretches and moves when I got up off the floor after reading the lowest shelves with my trifocals tilted for an extended time .  I was somewhat limited in this yoga moves partnering as I did not want to scare the customers.  I also found it necessary to stifle my groans as I tried to get up with books in hand.  Most days I pretend that they really are happy to see me and a few of them are.  But I if I do not like this as much as I hoped I guess I will be looking for a new volunteer activity in the future.
As a post script when a volunteer leaves you might want to ask them a few questions such as: 1) Will they be volunteering elsewhere? 2) What did they like about this volunteer experience?  3)What didn't they like?  

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Are You Bored Yet or Just at Peace?

It is happening.
Slowly the simpleness levels you.

Smooths out all the interesting edges,
Grays down the highlights,

Fades the lowlights.
No quick intakes of breath.
No sharp laugh to stifle.

No surprise in plan.
Just smiles now.
Just yoga breathing.
And that all important focus
on what we shall cook
for dinner.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lifting Fog

The best time of the day for me is when I get up around 6:00 AM. The house is very quiet since hubby sleeps in until 7:30 or 8:00.  The house is also still dark because it is winter.  I make my coffee and open blogs as the sun slowly climbs up into the cold sky. In winter I hear the geese flapping and honking their way out of my side of the river into their bigger world of abandoned corn fields or sometimes escaping the hunters when I hear the pop of guns on the other side of the field. Today, I saw them high above the fog over my house looking as if they were ghosts of geese heading out to some mystical retreat.  I hear the crows distant cawing ordering the rest of the birds around.

Yet, it is still relatively quiet here in my little corner of the world. I am surprised that I still need a little corner of time in retirement that I treasure. Time to be alone with my waking thoughts and time to write and create with my photography. Time to think about what lies ahead in my non-activity filled day.  Time to hear my breath.  Time to wait for the fog to lift.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dancing with Moonbeams

Most houses have ghosts. I am sure that one has heard those whispered conversations heard in the late evening when you are sitting by the fire or curled up in your favorite chair with a good book and sitting all alone. You look up and wonder if that was a laugh you just heard or was it just the blinds moving in the breeze. You hear a footfall in the empty hallway and you freeze with the bookmark in hand and turn your head ever so slightly to the left. It is just the bones of this old house creaking, you tell yourself and return to the poem. Someones' laughter and someones' tears are hidden deep within the shadows of the corners of those rooms. Important lives passed this way. Sometimes they feel safe and come forward, but you don't know this, or you deny it. On a lazy sunny afternoon as your eyes close and you begin to drift off to sleep, they gather together and dance around the floor with the moving sunbeams that drift across your favorite carpet.

My house is new. No ghosts have set up residence just yet. Thus when I hear creaking and groaning, I know that it is the spirit of the house settling into these woods planning for the many years to come and making room for the ghosts. My hubby and I will be the first spirits to linger in the shadows some winter evening. Will we be too shy to laugh and will we still have the same arguments? Will the click of my camera shutter startle some late night reader? Will we be willing to make room for other spirits? Will the sound of my grandchildren's footfalls skip down the hallway and interrupted by the sound of their giggle before they hide? Will we dance with the moonbeams in the late evening as the new owner falls asleep before the fireplace? I hope so.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

My Husband's Non-Wicked Step Sisters

I reunited with them both again a few months ago when we attended my husband's S.I.L.'s funeral. They had aged...probably they seemed much older to me because they were a decade and some years older than I already.

They are like opposite sides of the same coin of womanhood. I have met them on and off in years past but was so wrapped up in my own family and my travels that I did not really see them. One of the wonders of aging is you get clarity of mind vision. Actual vision becomes blurry, but that is to ones' advantage because then you can see the reality of life much better.

They were daughters from my husband's father's first marriage. It was a marriage of wealth and unfaithfulness and ended badly. So badly that no one mentioned the name of the first wife in my F.I.L's presence. Mary was the youngest daughter from this union and the dark haired one with the hour glass figure. When she reached her teenage years she was compared to Elizabeth Taylor and from photos I have seen she did resemble her. Sally, her older sister, was the thin and blonder version. She had freckles and looked like the farm girl next door. She was also the thinner thinker. Sally loved to laugh and her laughter was contagious.

Mary went on to marry a man of the 1950's era. Who knows what drove him and also what devils haunted him. This was an era of cocktails and arguments. Devout Catholics they had five children between them. Four girls and a boy. Mary's husband left her in the lurch with all five shortly after that and actually settled on an island in the Caribbean where his drinking was the norm rather than something which caused heated arguments. Mary's children never saw him except for the son who became an adult and sought him out as male children need to do when fathers are an enigma. Mary was blessed with a good brain and devotion to her children. She worked very ,very hard making all those standard sacrifices, and in time, worked her way up to managing an important office in the State government. Her children each became successful in their own way and were loyal to her. When I saw her at the funeral she was overweight and arthritis was compromising her ability to stand for any length of time. But I saw that spark of intelligence in her eyes that had helped her survive the burden life had given her. I saw that energy in her dark eyes that had been the heat that burned her whole life like an excellent warm brandy. For some reason she made a connection with me.

I had seen Sally more often in my trips to my husband's side of the family. She had married, divorced, re-married the same man and then buried him when he died of throat cancer. He had been a heavy smoker, as many were during that era. Their marriage was more like the Taylor-Burton love. It was loyal but painful. She was like bubbles in champagne and actually became lovelier as she aged. She wasn't smart and sometimes couldn't follow an intense conversation. She dated often in her elder years and I think it was because she was such a fragile butterfly that elder men could not resist her. She married a third time to a shyster who gave the impression he was an architect. I had met him and he was quite smart and handsome. She figured out her mistake within the year and this was followed by an expensive divorce.

As she reached her early 80's she met a retired airline pilot. They fell in love and she married once again. I met him and both my husband and I liked him but noticed his aging memory lapses. He seemed to be in his late 80's. Both he and Sally continue to travel all over the world including a honeymoon in China where they sent photographs of themselves in elaborate Chinese costume. They recently flew to England to participate in the dedication of an airline museum. Sally is just as ditsy as ever, but now people think it is due to old age.

Both stories are the kind that could make a movie. Their lives are like yours and mine in some ways, but to me so much more interesting than mine.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Hotness Factor

Still tripping over my feet on that Memory Lane which has become somewhat overgrown with a large tangle of aging vines. When you are hot, you are hot. When you're not, you're clearly not. What more can I say? I rarely would consider turning back the clock on my life, but if I could have this day over again I think I would. I really look so 'full of it' in this photo. It was a perfect fall day, I had a brand new car (yes, that is an actual car and not a toy) and freedom. I am sure that I felt I had the world by a string and could wrap it around my finger. Innocence is sometimes too underrated.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It's All About the Hair

The first is a photo of my hair color about 5 years ago.
The second is the color I took with me on the cruise,
but I could not seem to get
the color true in this photo.

Several years ago when my husband was traveling in Korea with a business friend he noticed a number of young Korean women and commented on how lovely their hair was swinging in the sun. (He has always been a bit of a hair man and almost divorced me when I cut my long swinging hair in my 30's.) The Korean friend added that, since these ladies were at their sexual peak, their shiny hair was what caught a young man's eye.

We talk about breasts and hips and luscious lips, but hair is a big deal. They even made a a song about it.

"Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen"

The health and shine of hair is noticeable in all animals. The shiny coat of hair means more than beauty, it means the ability to reproduce. (And for those of you who read my other blog this truth also translates to the brilliant new spring feathers...which are the avian version of hair.)

Age is cruel to mankind and womankind. It causes us to lose our hair so that it no longer swings in beauty but sits lightly on top like errant peach fuzz. Aging takes away the color and peroxides our follicles until they are sooty gray. Some elders are rewarded with a mane of striking silver white...but most of us settle for something far less. Our hair becomes dry and brittle and thin. Only the last word - thin - is used when talking about how sexy and attractive someone is.

The familiar term 'crowning glory' intimates the power that great hair can have. Female news correspondents and female politicians spend at least part of their career defending their hair style choices or trying to ignore the hair comments of critics and stay on subject. (Jane Pauley and Katie Couric are just two that come to mind.) It is hard to let go of this power that hair has over a woman (or a man).

I started to gray in my 40's and began with a semi-permanent coloring and like most addicts switched to the hard stuff as the years went by. When keeping the silver roots at bay became a major effort, I started the familiar, time consuming, expensive, and hard on the hair follicle process of 'highlighting.' Upon my retirement I admitted to myself that I was not a high maintenance woman in most areas of my life, and therefore, I no longer needed to pretend that I looked better than I did. I stopped dying my hair.

This was painful. I mean really painful. I aged instantly and instantly lost the drama that is much of my persona. After four months of this I asked my hair dresser to try a glaze to see if I could at least have a shine. That worked...sort of. But it was still too blah in color. A week before the cruise she suggested a temporary charcoal rinse that would blend everything and covered the highlighted ends. This worked, because I was gently gray and had drama once again. But the rinse slowly washed out and my true gray returned, and as a last resort, I went in and asked for a pixie haircut. Something perky, spiky, flirty and young. That helped. It was much easier to care for and it did make me look less dumpy. (Right, I know most women do not want to settle for 'less dumpy'.)

It has been about 6 months since I started this whole madness and I now have bright silver peaking through at my temples. I am going to see if I can live with this a little longer if I have silver hair! I will wait through until fall leaving my hair just as it is. Then if I can't stand it, I will go back to dying it. I hate so much being a shallow gal, but in some ways I guess I just might be. (On a positive note, several people loved the pixie haircut and said it made me look much younger and didn't seem dismayed by my grayness.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Distinguished Looking---NOT!

I stopped dying my hair in December of this year. I saw no point in trying to look younger than I am since I no longer worked in an office. My real hair color is a very dark brown but in anticipation of the grow-out I began highlighting it last fall. The dark brown and gray can be seen in the top and back but the sides and front still have the blond highlight thing going on.

My hair grows fast, but this seems to be taking forever! I was hoping I wouldn't look this way on the April cruise but my hair stylist doesn't think the brown will be gone by then unless I cut my hair very short.

The good thing is that I will no longer be paying to have my hair dyed or dying it myself in between times in the future...what a pain!

Why in this Western culture are men considered distinguished with gray hair and women are thought of as cronish or witchy?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Every Day IS Saturday

One of the jokes and truths about retirement is that you lose track of the days of the week and the months of the year. If one does not have a mandated schedule, everyday becomes a Saturday with chores and errands, but nothing really essential to complete. Since my retirement I have started another list. It is a learning list --- things I have learned from recent observations since my retirement.

1. Every day IS Saturday. There is just no pressure to get everything done before dinner, because tomorrow is, after all, Saturday!

2. Some of the working friends and family are jealous, so you have to be very low key about your new life. The more mature former working mates are more than happy to smile at your pleasure. And, of course, the really young are so happy that they are not old like you even though you do not have to work
and they do. They would not trade places with you for a second.

3. Some days it does feel like you are free-falling. Free-falling is both exciting and you don't think to much about the end of the fall.

4. Yes, you do realize that the ultimate change ahead is death. And yes, you do think about it. But not often or with too much trepidation.
After all, today is just Saturday.

5. On day 5 of my retirement I actually felt a teeny, tiny bit of trepidation about not having anything important to do...while gazing at the creeping phlox beneath my oak tree that feeling soon passed.

6. I spend more time observing since I don't have to be thinking about managing my time. Remember all those old people you see sitting at the mall or park who steadily watch the busy people hurrying by? I am now one of those old people.

7. Sitting at an Austin Grill eating a pre-midnight dessert on Friday evening I was watching dozen of couples of all ages 'dating.' Lots of eye contact and lots of joking and some flirting even among the 50-somethings. The place was full and busy and I found it hard to realize we are in a recession.
Clearly this recession has not hit the restaurant trade in this area. I have several months yet to see how my retirement budget is going to work.

8. Sitting in the Pannera on Saturday morning savoring my coffee latte I watched a group of attractive women in their late twenties gathering at a table for some meeting. Some knew each other and some didn't, and watching the body language and the banter was interesting and reminiscent of another time in my life. Most of my observations now bring back such memor

9. My daughter's retirement gift to me is several hours with a fashion consultant. Close your mouth and stiffle that laugh. Yes, I love her to death and I have learned in my many years of gift recieving, that gifts you get from others that seem odd are actually gifts the giver would like for themselves. This woman will visit my closet and tell me what works (perhaps that black tank dress) and what doesn't (certainly that navy blue flower bordered mini I bought in Hawaii ten years ago) and then we will go shopping together so that I can buy pajamas, perhaps, bec
ause I think she will frown on those elastic band sweat pants I have had my eye on.

10. I have finished two books already. House Lust, which is certainly a thoughtful look at our real estate addiction in light of this mortgage crisis and Eat, Pray, Love which is was a quick and fun read about a tremendously insecure woman who seems to find her place in this world. I am now reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and Into a Desert Place by Graham Machintosh. With my eclectic tastes in reading material, I will have thousands of books to read in my retirement.
11. Industrious things besides reading include washing the four rattan chairs and table that were stored in the garage, laundering their cushions, mopping the tile floor of the newly finished basement, and dusting everything in the basement including the elliptical glider which I have not returned to using as I promised...using energy to clean the damn thing, but not exercising on it, that says a lot about me doesn't it?

12. I have always loved the end of the day after work, anticipating the slow exhale as the sun heads toward the horizon. Now the late afternoon arrives with so much more peaceful acceptance on my part. Yes, the melancholy of goodbye to another day is still there, but the anxiousness about stuff undone for tomorrow is no longer eating at the edges of my mind.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Being Dishonest with Yourself

Onward and Upward

For a number of months, if not a number of years, I have imagined my first day of retirement. I kept thinking that the very first thing I would do would be pretty much nothing for a long time. Remember the movie (and book) The Da Vinci Code? The first victim uses the symbol of Vitruvian Man as his clue upon his death. I have always been intrigued by that image created by "
the Roman architect Vitruvius. Vitruvius, a proponent of the Sacred Geometry of Pythagoras, designed temples based on the proportions of the human body, believing them to be perfect." It seems to represent Mankind's way of trying to merge with the 'imperfect' biology of the planet. In some way, that has been my nemesis...always trying to get to that level of perfection that brings peace. This is why I need to work on meditation, exercise, that I find the inner perfection that is the only real perfection.

For some reason that symbol has floated in my mind for years --- this was one of the images NASA sent into outer space to identify mankind to the aliens. It is a mathematical representation of mankind, but to me it represents the essence of the human being with that full frontal, open armed 'take me as I am' stance.

I kept thinking I would like to take a bare space on the floor of my house the very first morning and actually lay down stark naked in exactly that position with a sort of yoga attitude and "reach" for my potential once I had acquired my 'retirement freedom.' I imagined this numerous times...but, I didn't do it. Maybe because I had done it in my mind so many times. I don't know.

I do know, that once you have free direction and lots of free time, you are who you are and will end up doing what your true self tells you to do. I am a busy bee. I can only be happy when surrounded by organization. The first day I was on my feet all day getting my closet in order. I had brought down the winter clothes last month and they remained hung or piled in arbitrary fashion. I separated clothes to be pressed from those to be mended. I found that shoes were everywhere and I threw many out. My plastic bags of shampoos, creams, etc. that I had stored at my daughters house added to the large collection of stuff I had already put in various containers here at the house. Living in two places means you forget what you have and end up with too much stuff everywhere. I cleaned out the medicine drawers and threw away hundreds of dollars of expired concoctions and remedies.

At the end of this long day of lifting and sorting, I 'rewarded' myself by cleaning all of my jewelry. I have a small collection of silver necklaces and earrings that have not been polished in ages. I washed the pearls and other natural stones. I sorted out the amber. I do not own any valuable jewelry---diamonds, rubies, gold, etc...but have a number of pieces acquired over the years of natural stones as reminders of trips, etc. I took a trip down memory lane with each of the pieces.

Then I started the first of the laundry loads. As the end of a beautiful spring day eased in, I poured a glass of wine and headed out to my lovely deck to look at the water through the 'green mansions.' Hubby and I were amazed at how lucky we are at this time in our life and pray that this luck holds.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Little Bag of Tricks

Anna at Self-Winding found this link which is such a good fit following my earlier post.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Sweet Sadness

I am sitting alone in my room watching the first feathery light flakes of a new snow drift onto the gray shingles of the roof outside my window. In the background I can hear the sweet sad horn of Chris Botti playing on the stereo. I had been to a concert of his recently and remembered that I had not listened to his wonderful music in a long while and pulled out the three CDs I own.

Today is one of those days of strange dichotomies. I am lonely and yet savoring it. I am sad for no reason but know that this sadness can only be appreciated because my cup overflows with happiness. I feel the pace of my breath and heart slowing to a rhythmic peace in sync with this silver gray day. This sadness is bittersweet. This melancholy is the one side of the whole that keeps me from flying off into space.

I am savoring 'Empress of China" tea in a cup I had made with my daughter at a pottery place a number of years ago. It is an ugly green and purple and thus fits completely with the strange day.

I know that part of this strange feeling is the nearness of my retirement. I have told the important people at work and therefore solidified this leap. In the spring, I will be retired. No matter what angle I look at this, it is another milestone in my life. It is another major corner turned. It is like a gift that I have been given, but it is like a large beautiful bowl in which I must find beautiful things to place. There is a real danger of filling the bowl with bits of flotsam and jetsam.

This milestone also means that I have definitely moved away from those parts of living that meant so much. There is no innocence, there is no pureness, life is what it is. When the bowl is full there is no more pleasure in finding new things to place there. At the very end, there are only old memories after all. All the fresh new memories will be made by those that follow us.

It is sad, but it is also wonderfully sweet this little bit of life we have been given.