Will you still need me when I’m 64?

Photo by Edu Carvalho on Pexels.com

Singing this song as a young person always brought a heartwarming scene of happy elders, together after all these years. With no clue about what was to come! I couldn’t have anticipated the bumps along the road from 24 to 64. But here I am, well into “the new 40” recently thrust into early retirement. Well, there’s another concept I can’t quite identify with! I’m still voraciously curious, wanting to eat up the beauty of the world.

2008_02_26_Evans_CatholicDiocese_ph_ChurchOn the Move

In October I moved from Maryland to central Pennsylvania. Now I live with my longtime friend Mark, who returned to his hometown a few years ago. He welcomed me with 3 cats, an awesome generosity! My new tiny town has no traffic, dozens of mom & pop diners, old wooden houses marching up and down ancient hills. Alas, there is no Trader Joe’s, no Vietnamese restaurant, and not enough Uber business. But it has trains rumbling through the night, and church bells that ring! I am surrounded by forested hills with rocky-toothed crowns, filled with deer and bear and bobcat. And it SNOWS!!!! I can tell this is my new happy place.

Sad Farewell

lilyheadIn the throes of relocation I had to say goodbye to my beloved companion, Lily, the most loving (and the most difficult) dog I’ll ever know. I carry a dog-shaped hole in my heart, and being back in Maryland for a bit, she is everywhere. I love you Lily, and I always will.

So happy birthday to me, who once sang (with gusto) “Hope I die before I get old!” I changed my mind. I’m curious to see what time will bring at 64 and beyond.

A poem for today:

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you waiting at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

“Up-Hill” by Christina Rossetti.

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Constant Craving?

A female hummer just came by, hungry. She looked carefully at the flowers on my skirt, then examined my pink flamingo, then the fading red sign on the door. Disappointed off she buzzed.

I’m thinking about how I crave foods- not for migration power, but for so many other needs. Case in point the morning, where I forgot to get coffee, and bumbled around a scatter brain trying to get out the door, to McD’s for coffee.

  • True confession: when I started Uber I began a serious McDonalds habit. Why?
    1. Bathrooms
    2. Coffee
    3. Cheap soda

    But then the allure of fried snacks & sandwiches pulled me in. Then sweetened frozen coffee treats, then free fries every time the Nats won, then “the dog loves McNuggets”, then creamy milkshakes on a sweltering day-these all tempted me.

    This morning I’m thinking about my go-to breakfast: sausage egg McMuffin. Only $2 bucks, pillowy, cheesy bread & fat, yum.

    But I’m moving steadily into a plant based lifestyle. So much so that the idea feels shocking, wrong. But what else can I do? I need breakfast.

    A little angel, who sounds like Jessica of Krocks in the Kitchen, whispers in my ear: “don’t they have oatmeal?”

    Indeed they do. A brief war ensues as familiar craving fights new standards. I say NO to the McMuffin and order the oatmeal. Today’s victory!!

    This is how it goes. For years the cravings have won. I’ve been able to somehow believe that ‘just this 1 time’ it isn’t going to matter.

    Guess what? It DOES matter. If I matter, then every bite I take matters. No do-overs, no free ride on the comfort food express.

    I’m ‘woke’ now. May I never go back to sleep.

    SeriousHealth Business

    I’m morbidly obese. I’ve tried every diet and food plan known. Sometimes I’m successful, for a while.

    I’m unable to walk now, due to degenerating bones in my right knee, and at 63 I’m getting worried about an early departure.

    So starting today, this blog will chronicle my journey forward into diet, fitness, health, aging, and of course, food & eating.

    the Coldest Morn

    One of my writers group sent out a prompt this morning: “Winter’s coldest day…”

    My bay is frozen flat, and white with snow. In my youth I would have strapped on my skates…

    The scrape of metal on ice changes as I move. there’s the soft shish of gliding on perfect smoothness, and the scrape sound when I slow or curve, shaving ice to slow down. There’s the vibration of milky ice that welled up then froze again, and the gritty sound of snow-crusted ice.

    This watery world is off limits to me most of the year. It’s too swampy for swimming, too shallow for boating,  but now it’s mine for the gliding.

    I skate onto a space swept clear by wind, a curving plain with ice is so clear that the underwater world is revealed as if through a window. Only the cracks break the illusion: pale ribbons cross the ‘window,’ revealing foot-thick ice.

    It’s alluring. I speed up, soar across this glassy plain, and feel like I am flying over still water. A sudden move below, and I realize the fish are moving in the  underneath. Curling to a halt, I kneel and bow to gaze between my mittened paws, peering into a world below the ice. A finny tail flicks out of sight.

    The sun glows, dully shining through a high thin sky, and I take to my blades again. My mirror is edged with tall marsh grasses, faded to gold against the grey. Beneath me, flashing white, dark deep and sky blues. My face is pinked with cold air and my heart happily pushes the air into my pumping limbs.

    I outrace the cold. 

    >note: I searched but could not find the name of the painter of today’s image. If you recognize this painting or could shed any light on the artist, I’d appreciate it.

    The Magnificence Right Under Your Nose

    A friend called to day, sharing coffee and gratitude though many states apart. She shared a thought experiment: what if everything, what if I were completely perfect right now, in this moment? What if the fear, disappointment, worry, grief were all lifted from our shoulders, without effort, right now.

    If it crosses our mind, it is possible. By imagining this state, we can achieve it. As I believe, so I become. At the speed of thought.  (Remember Jonathan Livingston Seagull? “Perfect speed is… being there.”)

    What if peace what right under our nose? What if beauty was blazing away, and our eyes were too busy to see?

    Rarely do I hear them: the wild turkeys. But when I do, these huge birds make an alarming racket! The tom may flare his feathers to look even bigger, while his  flock melts silently into the woods.

    Did I really see them? Look, there’s a feather, on the path in the morning frost.

     

    I give thanks for all blessings.

    Snow Day

    Blurred by ice-then-snow-now, grass and tree and house and bay are rendered in the softest greys. Meteoric, a crow as black as space lands on a tailwind. Then another; black feathers plump and shudder off the snow. They strut like they own the place. Which today, they do.

    Neighbors’ grand homestead, built out over decades of prosperity, has been surrendered to bankers, unmanageable. Dad became grandpa, then lost his memory one football story at a time.

    So now, a ghostly hulk, their happy place is falling to ruin.

    We had the world by the tail. We were invincible. We believed the tv gurus: you can have everything you want, if you focus clearly enough.

    They didn’t tell us how inevitable the wind worries away the rock, and how an arc must eventually return to earth.

    Let it snow, this cool balm, on the first days of spring. Breathe in the hush, let the softness dust your hair. It all happens right now. The house will disappear, and This will still be true.

    ###

    Those year end reflections…

    I’ve been slurping up the “best trash cans of 2017” stories that most media organs pump out this time of year.

    Why? So I can muse about 2017 without thinking too much about reality in America. You haven’t seen “Greatest Hits of the 115th Congress,” have you?

    As indulgent as they may seem, this NYT story got to me:

    Inside of a Dog, by JENNIFER FINNEY BOYLAN

    When you lose a dog, you not only lose the animal that has been your friend, you also lose a connection to the person you have been.

    I hit 62 this year- old enough to qualify for senior housing. I walk with a cane, slowly. I’m grateful when I can remember your name. And at each wave of aging, there’s a wash of nostalgia/regret for what used to be.

    It’s hard on me, losing a pet. This year my bright spirit Charlee (above right) was suddenly killed by a passing car. Four years ago I lost my old black dog- she presided over an important and eventful 15 year slice of my life. At 44 I had so many options to work with. Now I feel doors closing, firmly closed, on chapters in my life. It’s sobering.

    I still have my Young Dog, Lily (above left) At 11, she’s considered old now, her vision dimming. Can’t see the squirrels to chase anymore.

    I’ll never be the globe-trotting artist I was when Seneca was young- not again. I’ll not careen around the city on my bike. I’m most likely past my last great romance, and glad for the lack of emo drama.

    My Wiccan priestess would challenge me: “look for your unfolding challenges! The crone has plenty of important things to learn.”

    Okay. Perhaps it’s just year-end blues, all this looking back with poignant feeling. And the cold and darkness that Winter brings. Let’s light a lantern and look ahead.

    Do you Fear? or Understand?

    Our species has travelled a long and twisty road to get to where we are today. From hunter-gatherers to farmers and fishers, to city-builders, machine-makers, and space travelers, we’ve survived by adapting to our changing world.

    Not too long ago, fearing the Dark Forest and the Big Bad Shark was necessary for our survival. But when we learned more, we came to a new viewpoint: The lion, the wolf, the shark aren’t evil. They are just predators, as God made them. They are predators, like we are.

    “The basis of our fear is our lack of understanding.” Lisa Mondy, Shark bite survivor

    It’s an evolutionary step  – from fear to understanding. If we really are the smartest animal on the planet, then we can see the whole context. The wolf hunts to eat, and keeps the tundra rodents from over-populating. Considering the predator for their role in the ecosystem doesn’t mean there’s no danger. It means we have a fuller understanding.

    In the video, the surfers and divers are all survivors of shark attacks. Yet they have come together to advocate for these predators, who are disappearing at an alarming rate. Because of myth and misunderstanding.

     

    Don’t Fear the Fin. Support your world’s oceans, as if your life depended on it. It does.

    A Glorious March

    My friend Josephine cam all the way from California with her contingent from Elders Climate Action, for two days of lobbying on the Hill, and the People’s Climate March. They marched the halls of Congress for 2 days before the big march!

    The Real Deal

    In the early 1960s I was in grade school, and my mother let me stay home to watch NASA’s Mercury and Gemini spacecraft launches on TV. We’d follow the whole exciting run-up and count-down, and cheer for blast-off, willing the fiery ship up, up and away into space.

    This gave me my life-long love of space travel stories. Every moment of Star Trek the original series, the next generation, the movies. Star Wars amazed me with its realistic hardware, like Luke’s rusty little flying car – it felt so real!  I never miss a space flick on the big screen if I can help it.

    I carried my space fandom into adulthood, thrilled when the Shuttle began to fly, and devastated when the Challenger burst apart before my eyes in the Florida sky. Then we lost Columbia, and the shuttle missions withered to an end.

    While we may not be launching as many humans into orbit, NASA has stayed busy with amazing planetary missions and probes bringing us closer to the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets.

    Today, the incredible Cassini mission to Saturn and its moons begins its final mission, 20 years after it lifted off from earth. For nearly 13 years Cassini has amazed with the data and imagery from the moons, rings and storms of Saturn.

    Watch this. This is epic space opera, folks. And this one is REAL.