Dear John ,
You are ‘privy’ to wearing one of my favorite doors. I don’t give you nearly enough accolades for the times I’ve been delighted to see your door.
If we were meeting for coffee, I’d tell you how
tangled tickled I’ve been to read the daily posts from each of you A to Z Challenge participants. From veterans to newbies, you all have such humorous, thoughtful, educational – and varied – topics, and you write with such exuberance and confidence.
A tip of my mug, and Hearty Congratulations to all of you!
Hang in there; you’re nearly at the finish line.
I’m looking forward to your Reflections post at the end of the Challenge because that’s when I find out what this year’s Challenge meant to you. You all seem to be sailing through with nary an unsettling wave, but sometimes it’s totally chaotic behind your sails and we don’t find out until you ‘Reflect.’
Has this happened to you? You’re reading a news event about an ‘elderly’ person and, when the age is mentioned you think, “WTF?!? Elderly?? That’s MY age!”
I’ve been trying for ten years to decide what to call myself. I’m not middle-aged (not planning to live to130), yet I’m certainly NOT elderly. Dad and Mom are just shy of 90 and still relatively healthy and active. They might be elderly.
I am not.
So how do we label those of us past our mid’s but not yet arrived at our eld’s?
Researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria have decided old age “should be measured not by age, but by how long people have left to live.”
And we are living a lot longer.
Statisticians say today’s average 65-year-old should live another 24 years. That’s 50% longer than the average for our parents’ generation. (I must congratulate my parents for being WAY above average!)
Those Viennese researchers suggest that Old Age should be defined as having less than 15 years to live.
Good news, indeed. I have a decade until I reach statistical Old Age. In the meantime, what do I call myself since I’m way past middle age?
Since Living Longer is the variable that turned researchers from ‘age-focused’ to ‘years-to-live’ focused, I think that’s what we should call ourselves … The Living Longers.
And I’ve heard that a second cup of coffee goes a long way to ensuring that outcome.
I’m woefully behind in acknowledging a few awards I’ve received. I truly appreciate the purpose of these awards and the generous support from my fellow bloggers.
As I’ve written, I have mixed emotions about accepting awards because the work can be quite time-consuming, and sometimes the thought of answering certain questions causes me discomfort. I’m responding to a fun one today while not officially following its rules.
Joey at Joeyfullystated nominated me for the Creative Blogger Award. Thank you, Joey!
This was certainly an apt award for Joey to receive herself. I think of Joey as my RR&R blogging buddy (surprise, Joey). She Rants, Raves and Reveals – I never know what I’ll be reading when Joey scrolls into view, but I’m always entertained, educated and excited by her writing.
According to the rules, I’m supposed to tell you five things about myself. I decided to focus on five creative things …
Hear the sound of that screeching halt?
I rarely think of myself as creative. Capricorns plod; we don’t create.
But here goes:
I was a child prodigy as a contemporary artist. Remember those springtime wriggly worms that so fascinated me? Mom tells me when I was about three and she’d send me out to play, she’d look up and find me breaking off pieces of fresh earthworm and ‘painting’ on our front window. When a piece would dry, I’d just break off another and continue my masterpiece.
When I was a kid, Dad taught me to ‘laugh’ like a loon. I was good at it. Every time we passed a lake or a pond, my siblings would turn to me in the car and say, “C’mon Sammy. Laugh like a loon.”
When I was in the fourth grade, I won the $10 first prize at the American Legion Halloween costume contest dressed as a little old lady. Now I am a little old lady.
I owned and operated an Irish Pub with my first husband. Our pub offered Guinness Stout on tap and a menu of authentic Irish fare. Saint Patty’s Day – as you can imagine – was wild! As is so often the case, our restaurant venture was more successful than our marriage. I wonder how the Irish say “C’est la vie.”
I took my first dance class (jazz) at age 31 and performed onstage.
To a recording of Elvis singing Jailhouse Rock.
Hub proposed to me anyway.
In subsequent years, I took classes in ballet, African, modern and – most recently at age 62 – tap. I like jazz best and in my next life I will be performing in Cats during its Broadway run. When that happens, you’ll see a photo.
I’m pleased to pass this award to four bloggers whose creations I look forward to every week – rich offerings that enhance my life.
I do hope you’ll take a peek at their Creativity.
Katie is in the midst of art journaling for International Fake Journal Month, and she has chosen to travel to Italy. Her daily posts are so whimsical and delicious, I’m tempted to try this challenge next year.
Raye’s paintings make me green with envy (even when I mistake her figs for eggplant). As if that skill wasn’t enough, her writing stops me in my tracks.
I discovered Sand, Salt, Moon a few weeks ago. She’s picked up a long-lost watercolor practice … paint me green with envy. Again.
Remember, there’s NO pressure with these awards. In case you like rules, here they are:
This was our conversation last weekend on Hub’s birthday:
Me: “Honey, We are so fortunate we’ve been able to share so many birthdays together.”
Hub: “We are.”
Me: “I hope we both stay healthy enough that we can enjoy many more together.”
Hub: “Me, too.”
Me: “But I know how lonely you would be if anything happened to me. If I die first, I want you to find a companion who can share golf with you because we have such fun when we play.”
Me: “In fact, you should let her use my clubs.”
Hub: “No, I would never do that.”
Me: “Why not? They are really good clubs, and I don’t mind.”
Hub: “No, I can’t.”
Me: “Why not?”
Hub: “Because she’s left-handed.”
Ha ha ha – April Fool’s Joke!
THAT conversation never happened.
But the following conversation actually occurred a few years ago …
If we don’t spend Thanksgiving Day with friends or family, we like to go for a long walk after dinner. One of our traditional walks meanders through a local cemetery where our talk often turns to our own lives, our remaining years, and whether we want to be buried, cremated, have a tombstone – more in a reflective than maudlin way.
That particular year, I was feeling thankful for all the spectacular vacations we’d taken, especially to some quaint locales before development changed their character and made them over-populated tourist meccas.
“Honey,” I said, “when I die, I want you to cremate me and take my ashes back to all the places we’ve traveled together and have such fond memories. Sprinkle a little of me each place you go, and enjoy being there again yourself.”
“Like where?” he asked.
“Oh, you know, like Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands, Young Island, Maui, Mackinac Island, the Lake Superior shore, San Francisco, Paris, Carmel, Telluride, Santorini the Maine coast. What do you think? Would you like to do that?
Hub … thinking … pausing … grinning … “Would I have to go alone?”
If we were having coffee, I am and half of you aren’t!
I’d tell all of you that it feels like I’ve been waiting a month while you’re standing in line for your special tea or coffee-with-this-much-cream, or chai orders and I’m nestled here in our cozy corner booth sipping low-maintenance hot, black coffee.
But I know you’d laughingly scoff me out the door.
Instead I’ll tell you the truth. I’ve missed all of you, and I’m sorry I’ve been absent from blogging and somewhat absent from commenting on your blogs. P-A-I-N has been a lifelong, albeit unwelcome, companion. It comes; it goes; it has never achieved diagnosis (other than occasional hypochondria) and no remedy seems to be the magic bullet. After 12-14 months of triage treatment for injuries from my bike accident, I thought I was on the mend. But over the last three months, what was my typical before-accident daily pain progressed to full-bore, everywhere-in-my-body-but-especially-in-my-upper-spine P-A-I-N.
The kind of pain that:
After years of the mysterious Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and undiagnosed pain, it becomes harder and harder to advocate for myself, especially when symptoms hurt the worst. Fortunately I had my annual physical in mid-March where I promptly broke down in tears and said simply, “I hurt everywhere, all the time.”
My new-ish doctor is the first practitioner to utter the “F” word.
The IBS-digestive equivalent for inexplicable neurological pain.
Along with a referral to a spine specialist, she suggested I switch anti-depressants to Cymbalta because it contains an ingredient that blocks nerve pain. After seven days of Cymbalta, I hesitate to say this (because I’m so afraid it’s the placebo effect), but I feel So Much Better. The past two days I spent the entire time in activities, including sitting at a table in a restaurant, which I haven’t been able to do in months.
My visit to my spine specialist was nothing but positive and hopeful news. My spinal fracture healed properly; I have no disc damage; but I have soft tissue injuries that were never addressed after my accident. He said it’s not too late to address those problems with treatments like ultrasound and dry needling, as well as working on exercises that will strengthen and realign my spine in order to support the weight of my head (no doubt all that brain power is a heavy load).
My fingers will be crossed as I go through the next six weeks of twice-weekly therapy sessions and pray the Cymbalta (or possibly another fibromyalgia medication) gets me back to significantly more ‘good’ days than ‘bad’. I know many of you suffer from a variety of life-altering chronic ailments, too. We’ve all lived with them long enough to know that’s the cycle – good to bad and back to good. But it’s best – even if it takes desperate tears – to ask/beg for help when the bad days outweigh the good for a measurable period of time.
Spring, oh spring, oh spring. Our most capricious season here in Colorado. I love that word ‘capricious”. I first read that word in an essay about springtime when I moved to Colorado and experienced a mid-May snowstorm. Yesterday and today we enjoyed spring – 70 degree weather with a light breeze; full sun in a blue sky as far as you could see; and bright green popping out in such rapid succession, you could almost hear those buds bursting.
That might be all the spring we get. Sometimes we get snow or rain right up until June. Other years April and May are so hot and dry we search the skyline daily for the dreaded wildfires, or the wind blows so fiercely our bikes and golf clubs gather dust in the garage..
But in the years when we have a true spring – when the redbud and magnolia blooms make me think I’m still in Michigan; when the lilac scent lasts for three blissful weeks – those are the years worth waiting for.
And Bling-o was his name-oh.
Oh, sorry … wrong song.
Yesterday was Hub’s birthday and we celebrated with the kiddos at Patsy’s, a local Italian restaurant where the garlic bread melts in your mouth without a chew. Raqi – bless her heart – always dresses up for our birthdays. Like so many who haven’t (yet, but someday I hope) learned the difference between comfort and bling, her closet floor is strewn with sparkly sandals and fashion-forward boots. How she walks in them, I don’t know. But that’s not my battle to fight.
About halfway down the block from our parked car to the restaurant door, she bent down to adjust her sandal, saying “this is rubbing me“. By the time we got to the door, she’d done it two more times.
On the way back to the car, she stopped suddenly saying, ‘Ouch!” and showing me the red spot on her foot.
When she commented on it again in the car, rubbing her sore spot, I suggested that it’s a fashion choice she’s going to be making the rest of her life. Comfortable walking shoes and bling-y high fashion shoes aren’t a matched pair I’ve found in my 64 years.
I clued her in that the runway models and singers and dancers – all those women that she so desperately wants to be RIGHT NOW – ditch their sparkly shoes the minute they are off camera. I insist that she wear safe, closed-toe shoes for biking and climbing on apparatus at the park.
But she’ll learn her own lessons and make her own decisions about B-L-I-N-G-O.
At least she listened with interest to what I had to say.
“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget the perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything;
That’s how the light gets in.”
Thanks to Susan at Garden of Eden for this quote which is part of Anthem by Leonard Cohen.
Ever since Saturday morning when I read Kelli’s moving post and haiku about her family ties and her own adoption, I’ve been haunted by unsettling emotions.
Kelli wrote about her adoptive family in such loving terms; so full of confidence in belonging; pragmatic in her decision not to seek out her birth mother, yet clearly forgiving and appreciative of her birth mother’s decision.
I think it is Kelli’s statement that her adoption occurred in the 1970’s, and her haiku thanking her birth mother for carrying Kelli for nine months, that struck a chord with me. In our youth we gloss over, and bounce back from, events that only through the lens of life’s experiences do we realize have left lasting impacts, scars or emotional cracks.
I hesitated to refer to Kelli’s post, and asked her permission before doing so, because I don’t presume to comment on her birth mother or the circumstances surrounding Kelli’s birth.
But reading that 1970’s date was a jolt to my heart. Putting me smack dab in my college dorm in 1969-1972, a time when a perfect storm of mixed social messages, blossoming sexual appetites and unappealing consequences made me and many others behave and make decisions in ways we were too immature to handle.
Despite the burgeoning sexual revolution, ‘good girls’ – at least at my Midwestern university – were not supposed to want or engage in sexual activity. Because it was frowned upon, we could hardly make our first-ever visit to a male gynecologist; admit we were having sex; and ask him for birth control. Neither did we insist on condoms since diseases weren’t yet a significant issue, and carrying a condom implied an intention we weren’t willing to admit.
So we had sex; crossed our fingers; and waited with bated breath for our periods to appear. If they didn’t, we marched down the dorm hall to our Resident Assistant’s room and tearfully confessed. Fortunately for 95% of us, our teary confession was enough to get the blood flowing within a couple days.
While I made that dreaded march to my RA’s room a couple of times, I was very lucky to be in the 95% who never faced the choices of a young, terrified, unwed, pregnant college student. None of those choices would have been easy at the time. In retrospect, I find them even more untenable.
Abortion wasn’t yet legal, and carrying a baby to term as an unwed mother was not socially acceptable. Neither was raising a child as a single parent. Marrying for the wrong reasons was no more palatable.
If I had gotten pregnant in those years, I would have begged my RA to help me arrange an abortion – partly to spare the shame of telling my parents and partly because I would have mistakenly thought it a quick, inconsequential fix. Even though abortion was illegal, the channels were established and many girls used them.
Today, all these years later, I tearfully acknowledge how much I would have regretted choosing an abortion. Yet carrying a child to term then giving my baby away would have been unbearable. Either decision would have weighed forever heavy on my heart; I’m not sure I would be able to forgive my younger self.
Where am I going with this? I don’t know, except to acknowledge the bravery of women like Kelli’s birth mother and gratitude for adoptees like Kelli who forgive.
I was a lost child without guidance in those years, and I feel for every female – and male – past and present who finds her/himself in difficult sexual circumstances.
Today’s sexual mores and pitfalls for young adults are no less confusing and risky than they were in the late 60’s. If anything, they might be more convoluted. Without debating specific issues like abortion or sexual assault on campus, I believe that young adults of all genders are as much at risk as I was of being thrust into situations in which they are ill-prepared to make decisions carrying lifelong consequences.
Research is providing more insights into how and when our brains develop, and why our teens and twenties can be fraught with impulsive behavior that, especially when hormonally driven, can be destructive physically and emotionally. I used to think young adults have become far too pampered (and I still do), but I also have come to realize how utterly vulnerable we all were/are at that age.
How many of you have taken piano lessons?
Do you remember Song of the Volga Boatmen – the plodding tune by Russian burlaks (barge haulers) who hand-pulled barges full of merchandise up river, against the current, from one village to the next?
“Yo, yo heave ho!
Oh, yo, yo heave ho!
So pull together;
Forward still we go.”
Published in book of Russian folk songs in 1866
Little did I know, when I picked ‘Cadence’ as my 2015 inspirational word, how that folk song – full of cadence – would emerge from my fingers once again.
You see, for Christmas I asked for – and Hub gave me – a keyboard.
Fifty-six years after I last touched a piano – or any other musical instrument – I got a hankering to make music. And fifty-six years after my last piano lesson, Song of the Volga Boatmen is STILL in the beginner books as the first lesson for learning minor key.
Taking piano lessons in third grade was not my idea of after-school fun. One year – at Mom’s insistence – of bi-weekly treks to Mrs. Hall’s for an hour of finger drills, when I yearned to be one house over, staring at identical twins Paula and Patty Bunning.
Being half of an identical duo held far more allure than striking half notes on the upright.
Why now – after all these years – did I decide to re-visit piano?
Blogging is the key.
Writing – for me – has been about finding rhythm in my words.
When my writing flows, I can tap a tale; jazz up an anecdote; pirouette my way through a puzzling muse. There’s cadence in my dance.
If I could still attend dance classes, I would. My joints have said “enough”’.
If I could begin singing lessons, I would. My jaw says “not a chance”.
But I hear beats and music all around me. Outside me, it’s choirs singing through your words and artistry. Inside me, it’s piano tunes whenever I tap out another blog post on the computer keys.
The final nudge was hearing that Raqi had to learn notes on a keyboard for her singing lessons.
Is it possible I can play simple duets with my beloved granddaughter?
To Mrs. Hall’s credit, I retained far more of her teaching than I expected, and I’ve already made decent progress with beginner tunes.
As for the keyboard itself, there are so many buttons to press and dials to twist, I don’t have enough years left to learn how to use them all effectively. Keep in mind, I was born before the ‘what’s–this-button-let’s-press-it-and-see-what-happens’ generation.
No sweat – either Raqi will press them or I’ll hire a keyboard mentor.
Right now, I’m filled to the brim with righteous cadence whenever I read the notes correctly, co-ordinate my fingers, press the ivories and Music Happens!
Yo, yo heave ho!
Finding peace in life's garden
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