I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Memories are made of this

Yoga Northwest yoga dancers
Yesterday evening I attended a party to celebrate B.K.S. Iyengar's birthday. Although he died four years ago, he would have been 100 on the 14th, so Yoga Northwest held a 100-day yoga challenge, starting on September 5 and going all the way to December 14. I managed to do all 100 days, even though many times it was tough. You committed to do fifteen minutes or more a day of yoga. I set the timer on my iPhone for fifteen minutes and found a way to fit it in.

There were prizes given out in a raffle for those who completed every day, those who made it for 80 days, and 50 days. I was thrilled when I won an hour of private yoga with my favorite teacher, Denise! (She is the one on her head in front.) Some of the teachers and advanced students performed a yoga dance for us during the festivities, and I captured a few pictures.

Although it was only 6:30 when I left, it was so dark, and there were so many Christmas lights everywhere, that I was very glad it wasn't raining, which would have made the drive home even harder. It was the first time this season that I've been somewhere after dark and needing to navigate the busy streets to get home. I won't do that again, since I realize how much harder it's become for me to process all the hazards around me and stay safe. Before the cataract surgery last year, I could not have driven at night in any circumstance, but I'm realizing that old age is beginning to steal other things I've always taken for granted. Sight is not the only thing you need to drive safely at night.

I find myself getting confused when too many distractions come up at once, and forgetting the names of things and the inability to articulate events is beginning to happen more often. Not all the time, but occasionally, and I notice how much I resist the realization that this is the natural order of things. You have a full life, decades of experiences, and then you begin to see it all begin to fall away, a little at a time. Perhaps that's what is necessary in order to make the transition to real, true infirmity. I wonder if this is what I'll be finding out as the years go by.

I will continue to keep up my exercise routine, my enjoyment of the outdoors, and try to keep myself from feeling distressed about it, since that not only doesn't help things, it also exacerbates the symptoms of old age. Fortunately, almost everyone I know is in the same boat: when you hang out with septuagenarians, you see it happening to those you love, too. Looking in the mirror, I see that I have become someone other than my own image of myself. When did that happen? Incrementally, of course, but happen it did.

This upcoming week is the final one of fall, and the first days of the winter season will occur next week. I'm thinking it might be a good time when I sit here next Sunday to take stock of what has happened in my life this past year. Contemplate the moments that I cherish so that they won't just fade into the distance. One really great thing about keeping a blog is that I can go back and read what I wrote on previous Sundays, and that always jogs my memory and reminds me about all the good stuff I would otherwise have forgotten. The end of a calendar year is always an appropriate time to have a retrospective.

I will start the upcoming year with a visit to Florida to see my sister, to swim alongside her in the mornings and walk with her during the day. We'll have time to visit to our heart's content, and it will also be a time for appreciating our shared history. We are the only ones left who remember the time when we were young, when we grew up in tandem with one another. Our parents and other older relatives are all gone now, and our younger siblings weren't there when the two of us were little. How strange that now it's all just memories, and most of them have been forgotten. When we reminisce and discuss things that happened to us both, it's been long enough now that they have become two different events. Memory is fungible and not to be trusted. Who is to say what really happened when we remember events so differently? And who cares, really? I'm just glad I get to spend time with Norma Jean and make some new memories together.

Mark Twain once said, "When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not." That's similar to some of the conversations my sister and I have about past events. "That's not the way it happened," she might say, and I would have no way of knowing if she is right or not. I think sometimes my inability to remember is just one more sign of growing old. Maybe it's true that once your head gets too full of memories, they begin to spill out your ears because there's no room left inside. It makes me smile to think of it. Whatever the reason, I've forgotten much more about my full life than most people would believe possible. Memories might be in there somewhere (if they haven't already spilled out my ears) and something will bring it all back, in whatever form they might take for today.

Today I'll make some new memories with my friends. First a trip to the coffee shop (of course), and later a movie with my friend Judy. We'll see that new Robert Redford movie, The Old Man and the Gun. Who would have believed that Redford would still be making movies, and his advanced age? It gives me hope for my own future, since he's even older than I am (he's 82). So I've got at least a few more years of creative juice, right?

However, no one can see the future, and we're all different. I heard someone say the other day that seventy is the new sixty, but eighty is still eighty. So true! The decline that begins in our middle years builds up steam as we approach the latter decades of life. I like to think that I've lived a good life all these years, and I look forward to the future with happiness, even knowing that somewhere in my future that will change. Or maybe not. Who knows?

In any event, another post has written itself as I sit here in the dark with my beloved sleeping beside me. Tea is gone, the day beckons, and the change to make some new memories is calling me.  I hope that your day will be a good one, and that you will have lots of happy memories being created, even if, in the words of Twain, they really happen or not. Be well until we meet again next week, dear friends.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Living in interesting times

Frosty decorations
Last Thursday on our usual weekly hike, the weather had turned very cold and clear. Many of the plants on the side of the trail were covered by frost, making for some beautiful designs, as if the Universe is busy decorating the trails for the season. Between the clear skies and the frost, it did make for a very beautiful day, as long as we kept moving. Stopping for very long, even in the direct sun, caused me to begin shivering. The only solution was not to stop.

On the days when I drove rather than take the bus, I went out to my car before the sun came up to scrape ice from the windshield so I could see to drive. Even a small carport would have kept me from having to do this, but of course in my apartment complex, we have no such amenities. And then yesterday, when I went out at the same time, no ice! Although it wasn't all that warm, it was above freezing and felt balmy in comparison. Today is even warmer. In contrast, a huge winter storm is hammering Virginia, Oklahoma, and North Carolina right this minute. That part of the country is not prepared for heavy snow and many people have lost power. I wonder if there is any correlation between our moderate temperatures and their storm.

It is winter in every respect but the calendar. Why does the first day of winter fall in late December? It seems that right now is when the days are the shortest and that winter's grip is the tightest. I say that now, but in February when the cold winds blow and the temperature falls even lower, I'll be looking forward to the first signs of spring. After the new year begins, it will be winter for real. I'm just glad I live in the Pacific Northwest where snow usually behaves itself and stays in the mountains.

For years, I've heard a phrase that many consider to be an ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." After finding that Wikipedia link, I discovered that it's not an actual Chinese phrase at all, but the idea is that the best times to be alive are those that are boring, not filled with conflict and turmoil. Perhaps it's because the world seems to have shrunk so dramatically through our interconnectedness. I'm writing this morning on my laptop, connected to the internet and therefore to my readers, as well as to the news of the day.

Every morning these days it is with some trepidation that I check the headlines to make sure nothing too awful has occurred while I was asleep. And of course something almost always has. Paris is burning, the political situation is the US is going off the rails, people all over the world are being bombed and starved through ongoing wars, and sometimes it just simply gets to be too much and I have to tune it all out, for my own sanity. We are definitely living in "interesting times."

For me, part of the despair is feeling so helpless to change anything. I am just one person watching the events unfold, some of which fill me with horror and others with sadness. Of course, there are some things I can do, but they all deal with my own life. Tolstoy once said, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” That is the only thing I can do, that any of us can do: change ourselves, take care of ourselves. My sister has stopped watching any news channels and even some of the late-night comedians that deal with current events, because she needs to take care of herself. When we talk, we don't discuss the world events, because she won't allow it.

My way is different. I am sitting here with my laptop and my thoughts, and I am trying to find a way towards wholeness. For one thing, I realize that I am incredibly fortunate in my own personal life, with a safe place to live, good food to eat, an adequate amount of income that should (unless things get really bad) continue throughout the rest of my life. Today I will get a massage, my every-third-week treat to myself, and I will spend time both with my coffee-shop friends and my partner. We will discuss politics, the weather, world affairs, and then share some humor and spend time laughing together. That's all I know how to do to take care of myself.
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. ― Lao Tzu
Well, if you say so, I'll give it a try. It's getting to be time to start the rest of my day, with my tea gone and my partner sleeping gently next to me, the day beckons. I won't have to scrape the windshield this morning (yay!), the espresso is always good at the coffee shop, and the massage will feel wonderful. That's enough for me to leave behind my early-morning trepidation and walk out into a wonderful day. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I wish you all good things. Be well.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

December musings

Whatcom Park stairs
Yesterday morning several of us ladies met to go on a rather longish walk. Although it was supposed to be around five miles, it turned out to be closer to seven. As we were walking along, we saw two older women ahead of us, and I pulled out my phone to see if I could get a picture of the incredible head of hair that one of them has. See that white mane? When I passed by, I complimented her on that magnificent hair. She said, "thanks, I grew it myself."

Usually when one ages, your hair gets thinner. If I were to grow my hair out, I don't think it would get much past my shoulders, and it wouldn't be pretty, like hers, but sparse and wispy. No, I'll stick with my short hair and get it cut every six weeks. But I can admire a head of hair like hers and be thankful that I don't have to care for it.

My birthday was yesterday, reminding me that the months and years are flying by quickly. Frankly, it is beginning to feel like I'm on a carousel and as it picks up speed, I'm hanging on for dear life. One day I'll be unable to keep hanging on and will fall, laughing and hoping for a soft landing. One could hardly do better at a soft landing than President H.W. Bush: at 94, he died peacefully in his bed last Friday, a few months after the love of his life, Barbara, passed at 92. His last words were, "I love you, too." True gentleman to the end.

My brother Buz put the lyrics and song to "76 Trombones" on my Facebook page, and that song has been bouncing around in my head ever since. Thanks to the internet, I could find the lyrics easily.
Seventy-six trombones led the big parade
With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand.
They were followed by rows and rows of the finest virtuosos,
The cream of ev'ry famous band.
I'm probably one of the few people who remembers that song when it first came out in "The Music Man," which was on Broadway in 1957. It was revived several more times, and a movie was made about it. From that link:
The show's success led to revivals, including a long-running 2000 Broadway revival, a popular 1962 film adaptation and a 2003 television adaptation. It is frequently produced by both professional and amateur theater companies.
Well, that explains why it is still so well known today. It's still a current phenomenon, so I can feel just fine belting out the lyrics and "oompha up and down the square," while I try out the flavor of 76. Why not? Many people never get the chance to experience old age, and I intend to pick up my knees and march towards 77, with a happy cadence and a smile on my face.

Of course, I'll be a lot happier to smile when I no longer have a fat lip from a fall I took on Thursday. Yes, another one. This time I was on a rather steep uphill and lost my footing on a slippery root that was covered by wet leaves. I fell forward and hit my lip pretty hard, along with scraping my shin and tweaking my wrist. It could have been much worse, but my pride was injured the most. Yesterday as we ladies enjoyed coffee together after the walk, a few noticed the bruise, which is beginning to be quite impressing. We then talked about the falls that several of the others have taken recently, some of which could have ended up with terrible consequences. Fortunately, other than scraped elbows and fat lips, we are quite capable of carrying on. Gravity just keeps us on our toes, trying to stay upright and able to move around without further injury. I smile at a quote I remember from my skydiving days: "Gravity is not just a good idea, it's the LAW!" Some of my friends had t-shirts with that saying.

I'm going to the movies with my friend Judy today, this time to see "The Green Book," a movie starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen. It's gotten good reviews, but there is quite a bit of controversy over the subject of the movie. The title refers to a book that was used when travelling to help African Americans navigate the Jim Crow south, telling them where it was safe to stop and eat and stay for the night. Ali plays a gifted concert pianist, and Mortensen plays his bigoted driver. I really like both of the actors, and a few of my friends have already seen it and enjoyed it.

Last week we went to see the new Melissa McCarthy movie, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" Not being much of a fan of McCarthy, I was not sure I'd like it, but she plays Lee Israel, a real person who became a world-class forger and wrote a book with that title from her prison cell. I enjoyed it thoroughly and expect to see McCarthy nominated for an Oscar, at the very least. She showed she can do more than just slapstick comedy. I recommend it.

Well, I just looked up at the clock and realized that I'm in danger of running behind my schedule this morning, wanting to get to the coffee shop within the next half-hour (which means I will definitely be late). Oh, well. This post takes whatever time it takes to write. I'll hop out of bed, hopefully paying attention to gravity, and head off into the day. My partner is still fast asleep, tea is gone, and winter temperatures mean I'll be scraping frost off the windshield before taking off in my trusty car. I hope that you, my dear friends, will have a wonderful Sunday. Stay safe and remember to give your loved ones a smile and a hug until we meet again next week. I wish you all good things.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

A larger perspective always helps

Jupiter from Juno flyby
Part of my morning routine is to visit the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) to see what wonder is featured for that day. Earlier this month, this image taken from the satellite Juno, which is orbiting the gas giant Jupiter and making a close encounter every 53 days, caught my eye. It looks like a painting, but it's a closeup of an area of Jovian clouds.
Light clouds swirl around reddish regions toward the lower right, while they appear to cover over some darker domains on the upper right. The featured image was taken by the robotic Juno spacecraft during its 14th low pass over Jupiter earlier this year. Juno continues in its looping elliptical orbit, swooping near the huge planet every 53 days and exploring a slightly different sector each time around.
When I think about the fact that our entire planet would be just a tiny speck against the backdrop of Jupiter, it helps to put some of the problems that I obsess over into a much different perspective, making it easier to take a larger view and relax a little. It's an amazing universe, and daydreaming about Jupiter has long been one of my favorite pastimes.

This weekend is the end of a long four-day vacation for many of us in the US; Thanksgiving was Thursday, a day to visit with family and share a turkey with all the trimmings. We didn't participate in that ritual, but instead I used my Crock Pot to make a wonderful vegetable stew, which we enjoyed with a salad and crusty bread. We had individual desserts that I bought at the grocery store, so I wouldn't be tempted to eat all or most of a pumpkin pie that I drooled over. I love good pumpkin pie, but it's hard for me to justify bringing home an entire pie for the two of us. It's hard enough to keep my appetite in check during the holidays, and I go a little bit off the rails around this time of year.

Today my friend Judy and I will go to see Melissa McCarthy's latest movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me? Several of my friends have already seen it and think that it's her best performance ever. I'm not a fan of slapstick comedy, which is what I usually associate her movies with, but this one is based on a true story and shares its title with a memoir written by Lee Israel. Since I haven't seen it yet, I can't say whether it will live up to its hype, but I'm looking forward to it. As usual, during the last two months of the year, many good movies will be shown at the local theaters in hopes of garnering Oscar nominations for 2019. Judy and I will be busy trying to see them all during the holiday season.

I've finished with the seven acupuncture treatments I signed up for, and I have to say I'm already missing the experience of having all those needles placed in my body once a week for an hour. It has made a huge difference in several areas: first, my sore heel (the initial reason for the treatment) is finally back to normal, and several various aches and pains are lessened, and I feel better overall. The part I like the best is when he puts needles in the top of my head, in my scalp. I get goosebumps all the way down to my toes. Although I've had acupuncture in the past, I had never before had needles placed in my head. I made an appointment for another treatment mid-December and am looking forward to it. If I could afford it, I'd see him once a week just for maintenance. Warren gives a free 30-minute assessment to see if someone might be interested. Check out his website at Active Points Wellness if you live in the area and want to find out more.

Oh, yes, one more thing: yesterday I finally broke down and started watching a PBS Masterpiece Theater series: Poldark. It's a British historical drama and is based on several books. With almost 40 episodes over four seasons, I've got quite a task ahead of me. A synopsis:
This all-new version of the vintage Masterpiece series stars Aidan Turner as Capt. Ross Poldark, a redcoat returning to Cornwall after the American Revolutionary War, only to find his father dead and his true love about to marry someone else. A Mammoth Screen production, the series is packed with action, adventure and romance. 
Yesterday I watched two episodes and am totally and completely hooked. Many of my friends have asked me if I watched it and I hadn't, although that has now changed. It reminds me of how I got hooked into watching Downton Abbey, just an episode or two, then being unable to stop as I got invested in the characters. With Poldark, I'm already invested after just two episodes!  Fortunately for me, it's available for free with my Amazon Prime membership.

I am also struck by how different our lives are now, compared to the late eighteenth century in Cornwall, England. It was long before anything that resembles electricity was discovered (1879), and what a difference that one thing has made in our world. It's almost unimaginable, but fortunately we have period historical dramas that remind us. As I sit here communicating with you, my virtual readers, with light from the screen illuminating the room, warmth from the heater, and a functioning toilet, I must say I feel very grateful that I can visit that earlier history without actually having to live it. Yes, life has changed dramatically since then.

And with that, I have just realized I'm going on and on and need to bring this post to a close. My tea is long gone, hubby is quietly sleeping next to me, and I am beginning to think of the morning tasks ahead of me before going off to the coffee shop to join my friend John for a delightful latte. I am sincerely grateful for having made the virtual acquaintance of so many of you, and I am hoping that this weekend will bring you all good things. Until we meet again next week, please don't forget to look around and give thanks for all that makes up your world. Be well.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A little help from my friends

Frozen leaves in early morning light
The capricious fall weather has taken us from mild and rainy to cold and clear, seemingly every other day. We have a cold but sunny weekend to be followed by rainy and cloudy before Thanksgiving Day on Thursday. Our Canadian neighbors already celebrated their own official Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. This year, the holiday in the US will fall on the earliest date possible, the 22nd, the fourth Thursday of the month.

I am not a big fan of holidays that interfere with my daily routine. Every Thanksgiving Day the buses don't run, the Y is closed, and even my favorite coffee shop is closed for the day. And of course we won't go on our usual Thursday hike, either. John and I have made arrangements to meet at the Haggen Grocery in Fairhaven for our usual morning meetup for caffeine. At least the big grocery stores are still open on Thursday, and this one has a coffee shop inside. It gets even harder to find a place on Christmas Day, but fortunately for us we will still have a chance to enjoy some coffee together. This Thursday, I'll go to a benefit yoga class a couple of blocks away, which will be the majority of my exercise for the day, it seems.

The past couple of years I've been having real difficulty keeping up with the regular hikers on our hard uphill hikes, and several of my friends have suggested various remedies. Last week, Tom, one of our regular Trailblazers, brought a box of hydration packets that he swears by. He handed some out to everybody, and he gave me three of them. They are called "Liquid IV" hydration multiplier. They are not cheap, by any means, but if they work, I'll be happy to shell out the money. From reading some of the reviews on Amazon, Tom is not alone in feeling that these electrolyte replacement packets are worth it. Plus, it seems they help with a hangover. Not that I'm likely to drink that much these days, but sometimes it happens at parties that I drink more than usual. I'll keep one with me just in case.

This Thanksgiving, my hubby and I will skip turkey or salmon (our usual fare) entirely, and I'm going to make a big batch of ratatouille, which we can enjoy for days afterwards. I'm thinking of having some side veggies to enjoy, along with some dense bread and cheese spreads. It's just the two of us, but I like to have something special on the day we formally give thanks for all we share. If I were with my family in Texas, I'd be having the usual fare of turkey, dressing, cranberry jelly, and mashed potatoes with gravy. John is going with a friend to a local casino for a huge spread. Gene is in Hawaii, walking along the beach and enjoying the weather and the food.

I will have my final pre-scheduled acupuncture treatment next week, and I'm thinking I might sign up for once a month or so. It seems odd, but I'm really going to miss having needles stuck all over my body. I've learned a great deal about my body's ability to heal itself. The heel problem I originally went for has gotten much better (although it flares up after a long hike, it's way better and returns to normal the next day). I didn't realize that the severe injury I suffered in 2000, when my pelvis was broken in six places and I lost that artery down my right leg, had such long-lasting effects. My right leg is much less strong than the left; Warren (the acupuncturist) has given me daily exercises to strengthen it, and I roll a little ball over my right heel (the one with the problem) and the arch as well. At first it really hurt, but now it's bearable and seems to be helping.

When I got to my yoga class on Friday, a friend who is also a Trailblazer, presented me with a bag of goodies that she thinks will help me. It's another sort of hydration system, developed by Pacific Health Labs, that she thinks really helps her. She gave me a bottle of capsules and hydration drink mixes, and when I compared them with what Tom gave me, there are some differences in ratios, but they are the same basic ingredients. I was really touched that she thought of me, and that she also is hoping to keep me on the trails awhile longer. She made friends with a few of the other hikers and they usually go off on their own (much harder) hikes on Thursdays, but she still occasionally shows up to hike with the larger group.

It seems that most people have less compunction to come every week than I do. That is changing, though, I can feel that I'm coming to another one of those junctures where I need to decide what is more important: staying with a routine or listening to what my body is telling me. With the help of so many friends who are concerned about me, how can I go wrong? It's rather humbling to realize how many people are willing to reach out and offer help.

Yesterday we ladies walked in sunshine and very cold temperatures. Today it's even colder, below freezing, so I'll be scraping the windshield before I take off to the coffee shop to share a bagel with my friend John and drink my favorite latte. And best of all, after yesterday's walk, one of my dear friends who I knew was angry with me, came up to me afterwards and gave me a huge hug. She went off after that, leaving me open-mouthed with tears welling up in my eyes. I have been forgiven and she made sure I knew. A tight feeling I'd been carrying around, without even realizing it, has let go, and I feel so grateful for all my friends who let me know that they care about me.

So now you know why the title of the post is "a little help from my friends." It's because I get by only with the support and love of those around me, from my dear partner right down to the people I chat with in exercise class, whose names often escape me. Right now, this Thanksgiving week, I am incredibly grateful for the many intangible lessons I'm learning about how to be a bonafide good person. The people who surround me are teaching me humility, and that's saying something.

I can only hope that you, my dear readers, will have a week that will give you an opportunity to say thank you to many in your own karass (look it up). It's a week to enjoy the company of our family and friends, whether or not you are in the US. As we move more deeply towards dark days at the end of the year, with long nights and short days, we all have much to be thankful for. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things. Be well, dear friends.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

100 years ago today

Smiling at you
I had a hard time this morning trying to decide on the right picture for this post, and I finally chose this compromise. It makes me smile to look at it, and I hope it does the same for you: I used the app in the Messenger program to give me a chance to put on makeup without actually having to do anything. Those are not my original rosy cheeks or lips, but it has such a cheerful feeling to it that I decided my readers would forgive me this indulgence.

Today is Armistice Day, also referred to as Remembrance Day or Veterans Day. I considered using one of the pictures that are all over the internet today taken 100 years ago to celebrate the end of World War I, which was supposed to be the war to end all wars. For those who know little about that war, the link above from the BBC will tell you everything you might have wondered about. Here is a small snippet from that website:
Armistice Day falls each year on 11 November to mark the day in 1918 when the fighting in World War One was stopped. The Allies and Germany signed an armistice in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne in France at 05:00. Six hours later, at 11:00, the conflict ceased. King George V announced that a two-minute silence would be observed in 1919, four days before the first anniversary of Armistice Day. The silence continues to be observed every year on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Before I began writing this blog and searching the internet for information about events that happened long ago, I knew little about this conflict, and I remember after I moved here from Colorado a decade ago, I noticed many people wearing red poppy pins around this time of year. When I discovered that most of those people were Canadian, I began to ask about their significance. They come from a poem, "In Flanders Fields," written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor who wrote it in 1918. This link, along with the poem, will tell you a bit about the man and how the poem came to be so well known.

This time of year also brings to mind my son Chris, whose birthday was yesterday. He's been gone since 2002, but when certain anniversaries roll around, he is never far from my thoughts. When a person gets old, when there are so many anniversaries of both happy and sad events, one can be forgiven for not carrying around all of them and only bringing them to mind now and then. At least that's what I think. Otherwise, it would be hard to live in the present moment and be grateful for my current life, which is pretty darn good.

For one thing, I am happy to find myself living in Bellingham, where I've formed many friendships during the decade I've lived here. So many things that I thought at one time would never diminish from my daily life have faded away, such as skydiving. Once, every thought and everything I did during the week would be geared toward having a weekend of wonderful skydiving adventures. Now, it's part of the past and although I still belong to the USPA (US Parachute Association) and receive their monthly magazine, I no longer peruse every page and read every article. Instead, I thumb through it and then turn it over to my partner for him to read. It's part of my past now, along with being a mother. I will never stop being either a skydiver or a mother, but I am no longer active in either pursuit. 

I woke last night with a phrase in my head that I couldn't place: "The days dwindle down to a precious few." Of course the internet knew what it was from, once I put just those words into the search engine. It's from a song written by Sarah Vaughan, September Song. It's been around since the 1960s, and I probably have heard it throughout many decades. It's a little poignant, and certainly reflects my mood of the moment. It's lovely, though, and the last part of the song also reflects the importance of my relationship with all those who matter so much to me, with the words, "these few precious days I'll spend with you."

Now you've probably got that song in your head. There are so many different ways for one to listen to the whole thing, and I'll probably go ahead and do that at some point during the day. We have another beautiful day ahead, with lots of sun and cool weather, almost freezing out there right now. I'll do my morning exercises inside before heading off to the coffee shop. I'll probably have to scrape the windshield a little first, and I'll be wearing my warm fluffy down jacket and gloves, but before too long the sun will be shining and chasing away the fog, and whatever the day brings, it will be my task to appreciate it and be grateful for all that comes my way.

And with that, the tea is gone, hubby still sleeping quietly next to me, and the post is as finished as it's going to get. There was so much more I wanted to write about, but it will all keep for another day. My heart goes out to all those in California who are suffering from both another mass shooting and those terrible wildfires. Today, we will remember that exactly one hundred years ago, the first world war came to an end. I pray that all wars will one day be only a memory. Until that happy day, I wish you all good things and hope you will be well until we meet again next week.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Extra hour of sleep

Light pillars from APOD
One of my daily habits is to look at the Astronomy Picture of the Day as a stop during my morning reads. This picture, taken in late October over Whitefish Bay near the Canadian and US borders, shows vertical lines of light over a ground source that reflect from falling ice crystals. "As the ground temperature was above freezing, the flat crystals likely melted as they approached the ground, creating a lower end to the vertical light pillars. The red ground lights originated from wind turbines."

I gazed at the picture for a long time, as it gives me a sense of peace and serenity, which I often get from APOD's pictures. Looking at nature scenes and massive galaxies far from Earth never fails to add perspective to the goings on around me. I do get wound up, as most of us do, who follow the news cycles.

Our clocks in most of the US changed from Daylight Saving Time back to standard, which will last until spring. So I enjoyed an extra hour of sleep before I began my day. Since I usually retire early, I made myself stay up a little later, but when I woke I had only managed to stay asleep an extra half hour. For some reason, I have more difficulty gaining that extra hour than I do losing it in the springtime. From all the complaining I hear over the time change, I'm thinking it might be on its way out. I found an interesting article online about the time change here. It covers 5 myths about daylight saving time. I especially like the closing line:
In fact, some opponents of DST aren’t against daylight saving time per se: They think it should be adopted as the year-round standard time. Because it basically already is.
We spend eight months of the year on what is supposed to be "standard time." In four months we'll go back to DST. Why not stay on it all year round? Because of the time change, tonight the sun will set here at 4:43pm! At least I won't have to use my headlamp to walk to the bus in the mornings for awhile. I started using it last week because there are a few areas on the walk that are not well illuminated by street lights and as I age, I need to be more careful not to trip and fall.

I still have some residual soreness from the fall I took several weeks ago on our regular hiking day in the mountains. I hit the inside of my knee so hard on a rock that it is still sensitive at the spot, and I notice a little weakness if I turn my knee the wrong way. Acupuncture seems to be helping. I look forward to seeing Warren, my acupuncturist, every week. Although I know he's going to be needling me, I sure do like the results. Last week he put several into the top of my head, and I felt goosebumps all the way down to my toes with each one.

My sister Norma Jean learned about my experience with acupuncture, and when she saw her massage therapist asked for a recommendation. She went to one treatment for her feet, which have been bothering her for months now, and he told her that her arches are falling. He put needles in her legs from the knees down (she said she felt nothing) and recommended she purchase certain orthotics. When she left his office, she was in serious pain, but by the time she woke the next day, all the pain is gone, and it has not returned! He told her she didn't need to come back unless she needed to. I on the other hand have already had four treatments, with three more to go.

But I don't mind. I actually enjoy the sense of overall well-being I have when I leave, and the heel pain that was my original reason for going is much diminished. For the first time in years, there are times when I don't have any pain in my heel. It does return after a hard hike or long walk, but it's much, much better. And during the half-hour that I have the needles in, we chat and he massages my shoulders. He used to be a kinestheologist (someone who is a little like a massage therapist and manipulates pressure points). It feels great as I lie there bearing a strong resemblance to a pincushion. Once all the needles are out, I ask if it's safe to move around, and I realize I worry about disturbing the needles when they are in.

Something that has been on my mind for awhile now, ever since learning that my friend Ronni's pancreatic cancer has returned, is whether or not it's a particularly painful cancer in the last stages. Of course I went online to read about it, and I found that it's a relatively rare cancer and that yes, it's not going to be easy to manage the pain and still be conscious and aware as she desires. If it's so rare, how come I know two people right now who have it? It's one of the scariest forms of cancer because it's usually too late to treat once it's discovered. Ronni at least thought she had a chance of it not returning, and she spent months being cancer free after that awful Whipple surgery. It makes me wonder what I would choose to do if diagnosed with such a disease at my age. Would I want to go through all that for a chance of a cancer free life?

I am reaching the age where this sort of conversation goes on in my mind more often. My friend John just spent two days in the hospital with a bowel obstruction, which has been treated and cleared without surgery, but years ago he suffered from the same thing and during surgery a large part of his bowel was removed, which I guess exacerbates the occasional difficulties he has now. When he doesn't show up at the coffee shop, I wonder if he's all right. I realize that, without warning, he wormed his way into my heart and I care very much about his health.

The only remedy to my dilemma is not to care, and I'm not about to go there. So I've added him to my list of people to worry about. I actually feel very fortunate to have so many souls on the planet with me right now who matter to me, because I feel so much less alone as I go through my days. There's the one on top of the heap, my guy, because we share everything without being joined at the hip. He thinks of my needs even when I don't. It's nice, and it also reminds me to be thankful for all the weeks and years we share together, because at some point it will all change. I don't want to have missed the moment because I was too busy thinking about the future.

Yes, I am very fortunate indeed. He's still sleeping, even though it's an hour later than it was yesterday at the same time on the clock. I'm getting restless and ready to start my day. The coffee shop staff will have an extra hour before opening, and I'll bet they will appreciate it. They're young and don't go to bed all that early on a Saturday night, I'm sure. I'm feeling pretty good myself right now, filled with energy and ready for my Sunday activities to continue. Before I get out of bed, I'll take a quick look at the news and read the Sunday comics.

I hope you will have a wonderful week ahead. Don't forget to vote, unless you live in a mail-in ballot state like I do. We are done with our civic duty already. Please remember that whatever happens, we live in a democracy where we get a chance to choose our leaders, and there will be plenty of happy (or sad) people no matter what. Be well until we meet again next week, and I wish you all good things.