Archive for the ‘feeling older’ category

Playing Favorites (5/20/1944)

May 20, 2022

wpid-happy_birthday_to_you.jpgNo, that’s not a typo in the title.  In spite of my advanced age, I know what year it is (2021, right?).  But I was born on this date in 1944, making this my 78th birthday (2022-1944=78.  See?  I is still good at math).  So the question of the moment is what a music loving septuagenarian music lover will play on his birthday.  The obvious (if not original) choice is the classic Happy Birthday we been forced to sing since we were kids.  My favorite version:

Happy birthday to you,
You belong in a zoo.
You look like a monkey,
And you act like one too.

Cute but hardly appropriate … monkeys rarely life beyond forty.   Or, I could find a page like 33 Best Birthday Songs Of All Time and choose one of the dozens of birthday songs that were recorded by various artists.   I could reach back to my youth and choose The Crests Sixteen Candles, but that would be about 55 candles short (see?  I is still good at math).  Besides, the song is about heartbreak and I am a happy old goat today.   I could choose Happy Birthday songs by The Beatles or Stevie Wonder, but as much as I love both artists, their birthday songs feel like half-hearted efforts.   I could go modern with 2 Chainz – Birthday Song featuring Kanye West and the lovely lyric, All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe.  Not a freaking chance … we’re talking music here.  And it’s crap like that that makes me feel even older.

So, I’ll pick a birthday song with a brain by one of my favorite singers, Carly Simon, who tells a story in every song.   In her Happy Birthday song, Carly talks about all the things growing old has cost her, including caffeine and dessert.  It’s a great birthday song, but it’s also a reminder of all the things you have to do make it to your seventies.  And appropriately enough, she’s also a septuagenarian.  Be sure to listen to the lyrics (or read them here).

Useta

May 19, 2022

happy_birthday_to_youLooking back a bit on the eve of my 78th birthday …

I useta get up the day after a marathon with legs so sore I could hardly walk.  Now I don’t need the marathon.

I useta think my wife was lucky to have me.   Now I know that I’m the lucky one and that spending fifty years with her is the best thing in my life.

I useta solve complex mathematical and statistical problems.   Now I do Wordle and figure out how to fix the shutters in our office.

I useta ride a bike fifty miles a week.  Now I ride a stationary bike that goes nowhere for 30 minutes.

I useta think that people were basically good.   Now I look around at what’s going on in the world and I’m not so sure. That makes me very sad.

I useta be an engineer who thought he was meant to be a writer.   Now I am a writer who useta engineer.

I useta do triathlons … swim, bike and run.   Now do the old guy triathlon … I walk on the track at the gym, ride the stationary bike and shower.

I useta be a liberal.  Then I was a moderate.   Then a conservative.  Now I’m not so sure I want to be associated with any of them.

I useta think that 78 sounded very old.   Now I know I wasn’t wrong.

I useta know the words to virtually every song I loved.   Now I still do but I can’t always remember who sang them.

It useta make me sad that no one seemed to feel music like I do.    Now I know it is a gift that brings me untold joy and connects me to the Infinite.

I useta think I’d never move to Utah.   Now I am happily living there, ten minutes from my grandkids with a view of the mountains.

I useta be a seeker.   I still am and will be to the day I die.   I’m OK with that.

New Tricks

May 18, 2022

old dogWe have all heard the old saying You can’t teach an old dog new tricks and speaking as an old dog, I can testify that it is often true.   We old dogs do like things our way.  Mostly.  But every once in a while, life intervenes in a way that breaks through our old doggedness and makes us change.  As I mention a while back in my post, PT, I have been subjecting myself to Physical Therapy in an attempt to reduce nerve pain radiating from my back into my legs.  In the first three weeks it has been unclear whether the assortment of massages, stretches and exercises prescribed by my physical therapist have helped, made the pain worse, or simply moved it around in this old body.  If it were you going through this course of PT, I’d be telling you it takes time to work, but this is my body … and I want to feel better now.   My therapist is understanding and tries to keep my spirits up with jokes like What is the difference between a physical therapist and a terrorist?   You can’t negotiate with a physical therapist.   Funny and true but not helpful. (more…)

PT

April 28, 2022

PTIf you have lived into your seventies and managed to avoid back issues, you are indeed lucky.  From the number of seniors I know … myself included … who deal with pain from various back ailments, it seems clear that although we may have evolved to live our lives upright our long life expectancy is too much for our backs.  I have been lucky nonetheless because my pains have been manageable, that is, I can navigate my life as it is in my seventies without too much trouble.   Lately, though, the pains in my legs have gotten worse, limiting how far I can walk and making my Thursday morning shift of cat care at Best Friends Animal Society a reach for this old body.   So, I went to see my Doc, Dr. Preston Wilson (or is it Wilson Preston?) and asked what my next step might be.  He said, Well, I could send you for an MRI but no matter what it shows, your insurance will insist that you try PT.  So you might as well try it first.  So, last week I put on my loose fitting clothes suitable for exercise and made my way to the local Physical Therapy Center. (more…)

Cats, People

March 5, 2022

 

catstoo

Every Thursday morning, I get up early (for a man or 77} … 7:00 am to be exact … and drive to the Best Friends Animal Society Lifesaving Center in the Sugarhouse neighborhood of Salt Lake City for my shift doing Morning Cat Care.   Typically, there are between fifteen and thirty cats to take care of, which means clean their kennels, feed them, and spend some time with them, since many of them are traumatized to be in another rescue facility.  After all, there is no way for them to know that they have ended up in the best place they could, a facility that will give them medical care, food and a warm bed, and human attention until they can be adopted or placed in a foster home.   The cats I care for are typically a mix of new arrivals from other shelters with no room for them, cats that are too sick or agitated to be in foster or adopted, or … and these are the cats I want to talk about … cats that have been adopted then returned. Now, I am happy that most shelters will take back cats that, as their temporary owners say, haven’t worked out … after all. it’s better than simply dumping them somewhere or dropping them at the Humane Society.   The favorite excuses for returning adopted cats seem to be:  the cat bit me or scratched me, unprovoked; I discovered I’m allergic to cats; the cat required too much attention; or the cat was too aloof. (more…)

War

March 2, 2022

flagThis week, my daughter texted us to tell us that our oldest grandson had told her that they need to get their passports renewed so they can go to Mexico.  Or Sweden. Or Norway.  Yes, for when the Ukranian situation escalates into a World War.   It reminded me of my Freshman year of college at Stevens Institute of Technology, when the Cuban Missile Crisis happened.  As you may recall, in October 0f 1962, spy plane photos showed that Russian mid-range ballistic missiles were installed in Cuba, a mere 90 miles from the coast of Florida.  President John F. Kennedy ordered a blockade of Cuba to prevent the installation of further missiles and demanded that the missiles there be removed.  The one month, four-day period of tense negotiations and sword rattling is regarded as the closest the world came to nuclear war.  Like my grandson, we nervously joked about a bomb hitting New York City, right across the Hudson River.  BOOM, we’d shout into the hallways, laughing away our nervous energy.  And here we are again, wondering whether the Ukranian invasion could escalate into a World War, especially since Vladimer Putin has ordered Russian nuclear forces to a higher level of alert. (more…)

The Gym

February 26, 2022

My Dad was thin for his entire life even though he ate pretty much whatever he wanted.  My Mom struggled with her weight continually.   Through high school and college, I was trim and muscular, if I do say so myself, even though I ate (as my mom would say) like a horse.  Watching me as I lifeguarded at the local beach, our next-door neighbor once remarked that the more clothes I took off the better I looked (Embarrassing but flattering to a 16-year-old).   I assumed, therefore, I had my Dad’s metabolism.  I was wrong.   Once I was married and working, I began to gain weight.   When we drove to our new home in California, my wife Muri snapped a photo of me sitting on the hood of our car in the middle of the desert.   I was wearing a bright purple shirt and I looked like a giant grape.  Thus began a lifetime of working out to keep my weight down. (more…)

Retired

February 22, 2022

retiredOn the last day of December 2021, I retired.   There was no retirement dinner, no gold watch, just an emailed letter to my business partner stating that I was retiring and the business was now his.  We really hadn’t had any business since early in the year … my only responsibilities had been maintaining contact with certain websites that allowed us to work for the government.   So, there is really no change in my days to mark the occasion.    But even at 77 years old, it feels odd.   For over thirty years, I have written in a journal most morning, a remnant of something Julia Cameron called Morning Pages in her book, The Artist’s Way.  It was part of a plan to bring out my Inner Artist, and indeed it did.   I took classes in creative writing, published a short story and wrote a novel (unpublished).   I began painting and photography.   I started this blog that has over 2000 posts on it and another to display my art.  At the end of my pages each morning, I would write four letters (M for Mystic, A for Artist, S for Scientist and E for entrepreneur).  In a small attempt to keep some balance in my life, I would order the letters to correspond to the extent that my previous day was occupied with each of the four.   For example, S, A, M, E would mean that most of my time was spent on Science and Art, while spirituality and business were less important. (more…)

Tapestry

November 2, 2021

tapestryAs I get older (and older!), I find myself more philosophical, thinking about the nature of things and what, if anything, it all means.  Friends who seem to have found faith, or at least a view of life that works for them, say I am an over-thinker.  I plead guilty.  I am a very lucky man, happily married for over 50 years, living in a beautiful community in Utah, financially secure and ten minutes from my grandkids.  But at seventy-seven, it is impossible to ignore the fact that there are substantially fewer years ahead than behind.  Friends suffer senior maladies and sometimes leave this life.   My maladies are relatively minor but bothersome and its easy to imagine that my latest ache or pain will usher in my turn for something serious.   Friends tell me God’s in Charge.  I believe that … but why does God make life so difficult sometimes and require that we say good bye to those that we love?    Other friends say Nothing is Good or Bad.  It is what we think about it that makes it seem good or bad, a notion borrowed from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Sorry.  I can’t buy that losing a friend … or contracting a nasty illness … is neutral, nor is it Good Appearing Bad. (more…)

The Return of Uncle Will

November 1, 2021

This is another mostly-true Day-After Halloween story.   I thought you might like to know what came of me and Uncle Will.

When I was fourteen … fourteen years three months, to be exact … I took a sudden interest in the contents of my father’s top dresser drawer.   It started simply enough.   Dad caught me smoking.    My Newport cigarettes, cleverly disguised in a Band-Aid box, went in the trash and the Zippo lighter I’d bought with 12 week’s allowance went in his dresser drawer.  I didn’t really like smoking all that much but the lighter was very cool with a dragon emblazoned on the side in red and black.    So, one Saturday night when I was baby-sitting my brother and sister, I decided I’d get it back.   And I discovered a treasure trove of my father’s keepsakes.    There were medals from the war and real bullets.   There was a (more…)