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, July 27, 2014

What I learned this week

My new friends
I've started feeding these crows, sort of by accident. I had been leaving cat food out for the cats that come by, especially the sweet tom who lets me pet him now and then. The crows found the food and I get to watch them as they perch on the railing and carry on. I got a larger water bowl, too, so they can drink with those long beaks without any problem. They are smart and clever and they seem to eat just about anything. I read up on them and found that cat food, actually, is one of the better things to feed them! Multiple use food, it seems. Anyway, I enjoy learning about their relationships. Did you know that some crows can live to be forty years old? Some of my long-time neighbors have told me that the big crow has been around here for decades.

Today, finally, I will get to travel down to Snohomish with my friend Terry, who is going to make a skydive to celebrate and mark her 65th birthday. We were scheduled last weekend, but the weather wasn't cooperating, so today it will be. Our fine blue skies have returned, and there seems to be nothing that will keep us out of the sky today. I'll jump out with her, while she goes out with her tandem instructor. I'll land before them and hopefully catch a picture of her on landing. It should be fun.

I just finished reading the book, What Makes Olga Run? by Bruce Grierson. I got it from our local library, and I had to wait awhile for it to become available, since Olga recently died at the age of 95 from a brain hemorrhage. I wrote a post about her here, since I knew nothing about her before learning of her death. She competed right up to the end of her life, turning 95 in March and setting all kinds of records for her new age group just a month before she died. I had to put down the other books I was reading, because I only had it for a short time, as others wanted to read it, too. (There is a video of Olga at 93 on my other post, for your enjoyment. Or just type "Olga Kotelko" into YouTube and dozens of videos will come up.)

It is an interesting book. The subtitle is "The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives." It was written when she was 93, and although she did inherit good genes, it was not the only reason she was so active right up to the end. She began to compete in track and field at 77, after five years of playing slow-pitch baseball. During her fifteen years or so of competition, she set dozens of world records for her age groups. Every time she got into a new age group (every five years), she set new records. How many of us know women in their nineties who can throw a javelin, run the 100-meter dash, or perform the shot put? She simply amazes me.

In the book I learned not only some of her secrets of keeping fit, but also those of her competitors, mostly male, who traveled to Finland to compete in 2012. Bruce Grierson went along with her to write about her adventures. He interviewed all of the masters competitors and writes about their secrets. Some are very picky about what they eat.

Bruce went to dinner with her and wrote that she pretty much ate everything, not a picky eater at all. Plus she always wants to enjoy what the locals eat, and he said she put away prodigious amounts of food, at least for someone her size. She was five feet tall and weighed 130 pounds. Not exactly skinny. But she also slept nine hours every night, as most of the masters competitors do. That was interesting to learn. I also require about that much sleep every night to feel good the next day.

One of the men Bruce interviewed talked about his "fountain of youth" secret, the Five Tibetan Rites. Curious, I looked them up online (the Wikipedia link I've provided gave me my first look into what they are). Basically, they are five exercises that were written about in the 1930s by a guy who had learned about them from a British Army colonel who had traveled to Tibet. They are simple if you know anything about yoga, and not unfamiliar to me at all. I used to do yoga daily, although I haven't for years. I tried them out and have decided to see if I can incorporate the Rites into my morning routine. For one thing, they do help me feel less stiff in the morning when I first get out of bed. Who knows if I'll keep it up, but for now it's easy and only takes a few minutes to do a series of 7. You are supposed to work up to 21 but that's for later. I'm curious if any of you had ever heard of them before. I sure hadn't.

The other thing I learned yesterday is that my downstairs neighbor is being evicted for keeping the cat I have learned to love. So not only will I be losing my kitty, but also my pretty darn perfect downstairs neighbor. These apartments don't allow even outside cats, it turns out, and she is unwilling to lose them, so things will be in flux around here again. I will continue to keep my cat food outside, along with a bowl of peanuts, for the crows. I take the bowls in at night to keep the raccoons from discovering the food. I'm sad about it, but it is in the lease that we will not keep any pets. I'm sad, but I also understand where the owner is coming from. Sort of.

Anyway, I've got to leave in less than an hour for Terry's house, so we can travel in one car down to Snohomish. Her class is scheduled for 10:30, and we have an hour and a half drive. I'll need to get up and get started with my day. I do hope that you will have a wonderful week, and of course I'll let you know how it all went with the skydive. Be well until next Sunday.


Rian said...

As I think you know, DJan, I too am fascinated with crows. Some of my neighbors don't care for them in their yard, but I'm happy to have them. And they are smart. So if you start feeding them, I am sure they will appreciate it. In fact, I saw a program once that said that they actually recognized faces.

The Five Tibetan Rites sound interesting. Will check them out. I too used to do Yoga, but haven't in a while. Need to get back to doing something... besides walking.

Hope you have a great time in Snohomish today with your friend!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I could send you some of our obnoxious crows...have you seen the size of their poops?? They hang around in the trees if they get to the bird feeders Chance chases them off.
Sorry to hear that the cat lady is being evicted...I suppose rules are rules and some "non cat" person complained...perhaps the fleas from a thousand camels will visit the troublemaker:)

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I sure did not know about the Five Tibetan Rites. Thank you for the Wiki link. I think I will give these a try as I am convinced of the importance of some daily exercise. Lately mine has been walking. It is sad to hear about your neighbor being asked to move out due to the pet issue. Interestingly, we share this “no pets” policy. Here in our building (downtown Seattle) we have been noticing a few more dogs in our building … they are supposed to be an official “service” animal to be in the building, but we are pretty sure some of them are only pets. Like you, I can “sort of” understand an owner’s concerns, however, it’s a tough call for me, and many of the buildings down here are considered “pet friendly.” It’s interesting to read about your experiment with the crows. Do you think they will become comfortable enough to keep feeding should you decide to come outside? I am guessing now they might fly away. On a couple of occasions at Green Lake, when walking around the lake, I’ve seen an individual who stands quietly, with bird seed in hand, and birds actually flying down to feed right out of her hand. Again, I’m guessing, but imagine that it does take a while to gain the birds’ confidence and the birds must recognize her. Hope you and the birthday lady have a fun jump today. Take care and have a good week. John

gigihawaii said...

That heroine was so much better than my mother, who is 98 and has dementia. Wow! I am so impressed with Olga.
Too bad about your neighbor. I hope she is able to find another home that is decent.

Elephant's Child said...

I love crows. Super intelligent - and very good family members too. I read somewhere that they not only recognise people who have threatened them in the past - but teach their offspring to recognise (and avoid) them too.
Olga sounds amazing.
And I am sorry you are losing your neighbour - and the furry neighbour too.
Jump well, jump safely, jump happily.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Hi DJan, Thanks for stopping in at www.profilesandpedigrees.blogspot.com
Your crows sound very interesting. I put out food for the birds but squirrels eat it. I watched two of them fighting over it this week. I see so much wildlife here in my neighborhood. Recently three wild turkey and six young ones strode down the middle of the road in front of me. Today the deer were quietly walking the ridge in front of my house, secluded by heavy leaf cover at this time of year. A large owl settled on a limb overlooking my yard recently. It was dusk and I'm sure he was waiting for the field mice or rabbits that come out to feed.
I am blessed to live here with the creatures of the woods around me.

Arkansas Patti said...

I think you are an Olga gonna be. Maybe not with all the medals but by keeping active well into the nineties.
I'll check out those 5 rites.
Will you get in trouble feeding that cat? I have always heard if you feed a cat, it is yours. The building owner may feel that way.
BTW, the crows will eat you out of house and home. They do tend to spread the word.

Red said...

I can tell that you're working up to be another Olga. Watch out. ! here comes DJan!

Linda Myers said...

We have a family of crows who've lived in our trees for years. We call them "The Boys". They eat the stale bread and leftover cat food off our deck railing. I call them in my best crow voice and they're in the branches of the nearest tree within 15 seconds. They are quite large!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Eager to hear about the skydive. Frankly, I don't understand the no cat rule! Very cool about those crows...

amanda | wildly simple said...

I had not heard of the Five Tibetan Rites before - I'm very intrigued to learn more about them and about Olga.
Sorry to hear about your neighbor & neighbor cat moving out. I think that many pets are better residents than some humans are.. but I guess I understand, too. How do you pick & choose & control it if it is allowed for some.. and though it has never affected me in my life, I'm aware that pet allergies are a serious issue for some folks. I hope they are able to move somewhere nearby so you can still visit.
I hope it's been a beautiful Sunday in the sky - can't wait to hear about it!

Linda Reeder said...

My Sunday morning got off schedule so I'm reading this two days late! I hope you had a great day playing in the sky.
Too bad about the lady who loves her cats. They were your cats too.
I followed the link to the five rites. I have never heard of them. I have never done yoga, and I don't know it I can do these or not. I do a series of physical therapy exercises most days. I might see what these feel like and add or subtract from my current routine.

Friko said...

Thanks for the tip about daily exercise, I think I need to get myself moving.
So sad about the good neighbour and her cat. I hope you get another one just as friendly.
I have plenty of jackdaws and rooks around (both crow family) but I hate it when they come and steal the songbirds’ food.

Hope all went well for your dive.

Rita said...

I remember Olga! Amazing woman.
Sorry to hear about the neighbor and her cat leaving. But you have made loyal friends with the crow family. They are very entertaining and intelligent--and they can't call them pets so you can't lose your lease. ;)
I have never heard about the Tibetan exercises, but they sound execllent for anyone who can physically do them. :)