WHAT NEXT?

Standard

[Written yesterday. Equally applicable today.]

More godawful weather. Can’t go out. Can’t concentrate. Can’t keep pacing.  All that so-called wisdom and calm that’s supposed to come with age just wasn’t able to make it to our house today.  [Got snowed in somewhere else, I guess.]

So here I sit.

Home of The Getting Old Blog

Home of The Getting Old Blog

Would I be better off in the tropics?  Which tropics?  I don’t like hot and sweaty either.  And they do say nothing of scientific, intellectual or creative value comes from steamy equatorial countries.  [Note: There will be no defense of that statement if anyone comes forth to challenge it. I’m just putting it out there as part of the cranky internal dialogue going on in my office on this fourteenth or fifteenth or sixteenth really and truly crappy day in a row.]

Pilates was cancelled.  The last Princeton concert of the Brentano String Quartet before they decamp for Yale, and for which we had free tickets, was cancelled.  Getting up bright and early in the morning was cancelled.  [After looking out the window and pulling down the shade again, we both went back to bed with the cats. ]

Now it’s afternoon and I’m wearing two sweaters and my new knee-high UGGS, but no makeup because if I’m not going out and no one is able to come here to see me, I can just put on a lot of moisturizer to protect my elderly skin from the drying effects of the indoor heat and leave it at that. Of course Bill can see, since he’s already inside, but he knows very well what my face looks like naked and seems not to mind, or not to mind once in a while.  Like now. And the cats certainly don’t care.  They don’t make the same value judgments we do. As a matter of fact, after chasing each other up and down the stairs four or five times, they’re not making any judgments at all. They’ve just collapsed in the bedroom on top of our duvet and are now asleep again. Smart cats.

So what am I going to write about for the blog on this truly yucky afternoon?  If I don’t do a piece every morning — in special circumstances like today, every afternoon — I will use up my small backlog of pre-prepared posts and freak out.  Why that should happen when there’s no backlog I can’t explain, as there is nobody at all except me, myself and I who is holding me to this rigorous daily schedule.  But I do. And it does.  [At least until such time as I decide to make a public announcement that I’m cutting back to two pieces a week, or one a week, or something like that.]  Perhaps it’s because I’ve had too much legal education late in life, which gave me notions about implied contractual obligations, such as satisfying the “entitlements” of one’s followers established by one’s “course of dealing” with them.

If I swivel my desk chair and look the other way, maybe I’ll get some ideas.

Other side of "Getting Old" home base

Other Side of “Getting Old” Home Base

Well yes, that was helpful.  I could write about:

1.  The old photograph on top of the vertical bookstand at the right near the window.  It was taken in Russia, probably just before the outbreak of World War I, and shows my paternal grandfather, my father, and an uncle I never knew existed until I was middle-aged, so there’s sort of a story about the uncle;

2.  The period of my life when I was fat:  the why, the how, the when, and other aspects of this topic — about which there are several manuscripts on the bottom shelves of the bookcases, and also several books about being fat by other people on the shelf just above the bottom one on the right;

3.  The Guatemala chicken at the very top of the bookcase and what in the world were we thinking of when we bought it for I don’t remember how many quetzals;

4.  The ten-session group therapy program for overweight women I tried to launch last fall before beginning this blog — that cost me close to $500 for five consecutive ad insertions in the local newspaper (tear sheets  of which are in a folder also on the bottom right shelf), but produced not a single telephone call;

5.  Smoking: Where and how I learned to do it (in college, with difficulty), how much I smoked (up to two packs a day), how long I smoked (twenty years), why I stopped (to live to see my babies grow up) and when (on June 6, 1969), what it was like to stop (extraordinarily difficult), and why stopping remains, after so many years, what I still consider one of the hardest things I ever did;

6.  Our last three trips abroad — to France, Greece and Portugal, the third of which was nearly five years ago, and the only three for which I have photographs on the computer, because the hard drive of my old computer died while Apple was transferring its data to my new one, so that the pictures of earlier trips Bill and I made together exist only in prints mounted in albums, which I would have to re-photograph in order to upload them here — and yes, I might do that when I get really desperate for material, but not yet;

7. Where we might travel next (before it’s too late), a thing we discuss almost daily when we’re cooped up together like this because of snow and ice:  France again, where we still have two friends?  Japan, where we know a former neighbor and a new “virtual” friend from this blog? England, home of both actual old friends and new “virtual” ones? Israel, where Bill has a niece and I know a woman who was in college with me sixty-four years ago? Of course, all of that is merely speculative daydreaming, unless Bill can get himself out of his favorite chair and start going to the gym fairly regularly so that travel abroad won’t just be taking taxis to restaurants and expensive shops to buy things.  [Hear that, Bill?];

8.  Exercise — haha! what’s that? — for those who are, ah,  “old.”  Patti, my Pilates instructor, is especially gung-ho on this one; she even gave me some written material about the benefits of Pilates she prepared for some other presentation but assured me I could feel free to use for the blog. She hasn’t actually ever read the blog, so her material may not be funny enough, but I suppose I could tinker with it, based on recent experience with what Pilates people call “The Reformer” and I call “The Torquemada”;

9. Personal maintenance, an endlessly fruitful subject for ladies who are getting old.  [Probably not so interesting, though, to any men who might stumble upon this blog.]  Could be broken down into separate posts:

  •  hair, hairdressers and fooling the public;
  •  eyes, God willing;
  • skin and your options, none of them good;
  • makeup, otherwise known as “putting on your face”;
  • feet, footwear and pain;
  • undergarments (Spanx or not?);
  • toenails (yellowing) and pedicures (what color polish?);
  • what to wear at the beach if you must go (a burqua?) — and must you go at all.

Oh, I’ve written 1045 words already, and haven’t even begun!  I guess that’s it for today.  Please do cast votes (in the form of a “Comment” below) for any subject identified above that especially strikes your fancy.  Or even ones I haven’t thought of yet.

Now I’m going downstairs to sit by the fire.  It’s a gas fire, but it’s powered by electricity.  So I’d better take advantage of it while the power lasts.  Who knows when a tree may topple a wire and leave us in the cold and dark?

IMG_0296

See you tomorrow.

I hope.

LOOKING AT THE WORLD FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Standard

[No more re-blogging.  This one’s new!]

IMG_0335

What’s been clamoring for attention these last two weeks is that usually very boring topic you bring up with people you don’t know well but have to converse with while waiting for something else to happen.  (Nurse in doctor’s office comes to mind.)  It’s the weather!

Right now, for those of us on the northeastern seaboard of North America, the weather’s not so boring.  We may be used to bad winters, but this one is turning out to be a doozy.  No sooner had we survived record downfalls of snow last week (10″ in one night), than it became unseasonably warm for a couple of days. Unwind-your-scarves-and fling-open-your-coat warm. The crazy sun melted the snow on rooftops and the mountains of snow banked against the sides of the roads so that water ran down onto front walkways from the roofs, and flooded driveways and streets and parking lots from the melting snow piles left after snow-plowing. Suddenly everything everywhere outside was grey slushy water or grey watery slush, so that it became an ordeal to slosh from your car in the parking lot to the supermarket door, or even to clomp down the street about 300 feet from your own front door to your mailbox.

And then, just as everyone was telling everyone else that it couldn’t last, it didn’t!  The return of bitter cold temperatures froze the water in the driveways and on the streets and parking lots into uneven patches of slippery ice and, more dangerous yet, unseen patches of black ice.  After which it snowed again (only 5″ to 8″ inches this time). Fine powdery white snow that covered all the ice, black or not, from view. It was very pretty, until you tried to hobble out for any reason at all, such as digging out your car to go to work after the “snow emergency” was over.

Which is where the advantages of getting old kick in.  [If you thought there weren’t any, I’ve been failing miserably with this blog.]  No more going to work!  No more taking the kids to school! No more need to go anywhere at all, as long as the kitchen is stocked and the freezer is full!  Just be sure you have enough candles and batteries of all sizes to keep you going when the next high wind or heavy accumulation of snow on branches knocks a tree down across a power line, plunging you into the dark until the utility company can get their men and high ladders out to those felled trees and fallen wires to electrify your life again. Which might take a couple of days.

[No, Florida is NOT an option.  They’ve got hurricanes, and tornados, and boarding up windows to contend with. Don’t get me started, or we’ll be in an entirely different post.]

In short, when you’re getting old, you can put on a pair of yoga pants and warm socks, turn up the thermostat, make yourself a cup of hot tea or cocoa, look out your windows at your neighbors trying to get their cars started, and just admire views about which the word “magical” might appropriately be invoked. [Bill did indeed invoke that very word yesterday.  I myself thought it a bit cliche, but better than “winter wonderland.”]

For instance, this is what I saw last week when I looked out my office window on the second floor of our condo unit.  It faces an acre of dedicated land on which nothing will be built.

IMG_0338

Going downstairs to the kitchen, where sliding glass doors look out onto a deck, the cats and I got to admire the same dedicated land from a slightly different perspective:

IMG_0335

IMG_0337

What did we see from the downstairs front windows?

IMG_0350

And:

IMG_0344

And then, venturing timidly into the driveway for purposes of thorough photographic reportage:

IMG_0353

And:

IMG_0354

But it was much too cold and slippery to stay out long.  So we hurried back inside for some last looks at the outside front walkway:

IMG_0346

IMG_0347

Today it’s not so bad.  But I hear there’s more coming. Winter wonderland or no, I think we’ve all had enough of that, don’t you?  I can hardly wait till Spring.