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, October 28, 2018

Getting long in the tooth

My front porch in the fall
The beautiful flowers I've had on my front porch all summer long are beginning to get, as they say, "long in the tooth." (I just looked up where the phrase originated: it comes from judging a horse's age by looking at its teeth, which continue to grow as they age.) Other than the pretty chrysanthemums, which bloom gloriously in the fall, all my other flowers are beginning to fade. Soon it will be time to put them all to bed.

The leaves from the trees are also beginning to fall, but there are plenty more just beginning to turn and drift to the ground. To me, it's a delightful time of the year. And it always amazes me that while we in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying fall, those in the Southern Hemisphere are moving from spring into summer. The Aussies are getting ready for the heat, while we are bundling up for the winter to come. It's all because of the tilt of the planet that gives us our seasons. You can read about it here, at one of my favorite websites timeanddate.com.

For some reason, I'm having a hard time focusing on the task at hand this morning. I've already spent some time looking up the origin of that phrase, then quotes about it, and each one of those events have caused me to go off on yet another tangent. I did find a quote from Angela Lansbury that I like:
I have never directed. But I think I could. I have thought about it. I'm a bit long in the tooth to start.
She's 93, so yeah, I guess she might be right about that. She has been around for a long time. Now I wonder how she's doing. That took me on yet another tangent, and I found this article that has seven surprising facts about her. I didn't know she has three citizenships: England (her place of birth), Ireland (her mother's homeland), and the United States (her adopted country). You can read the article yourself and enjoy learning more about this long-in-the-tooth celebrity. I have loved her since the days she was on "Murder, She Wrote." She also holds the record for the most Emmy nominations (18) without a win. And she's still working, an inspiration for those of us who are much younger than she is and feeling long in the tooth ourselves.

I wonder why it is that some people manage to stay active and involved in life for so long, and others don't. I'm sure part of it is genetics, and working to stay fit and active, but there must be other reasons, too. I'm resisting going on yet another internet search to find out! I'll never finish this post unless I find some focus. Falling into google searches is a habit I hope I never get over, though. I've learned some amazing facts and really enjoy the challenge of it all. Deciding what phrase to use is key, and that means starting and stopping and going down rabbit holes at times, but it's still a lot of fun.

It also makes me reminisce about what I did before we had all these research possibilities. When I was a girl, my sister Norma Jean and I would spend hours reading new (to us) words in the large dictionary we had at home. We also had a huge set of Encyclopedia Britannica volumes that I would spend time reading at random. Because of changing times, those books would now be useless except as collectors' items. (I am resisting another urge to go find out.)

Last week my friend Judy and I went to see A Star Is Born, a new movie with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. I loved it, although I would have been in bad shape if I had left my ear plugs at home. The music was way too loud, but I guess that's normal for movies these days. The main theater in Bellingham, owned by Regal, is notorious for blasting your eardrums. Some people love it, I guess, either that or they are already deaf. But once I plugged my ears, I was able to get lost in the movie and really enjoyed it. It is the fourth iteration of the same story. Maybe I'll try to see them all (made in 1937, 1954, and 1976) and see which one I like the best. This latest one, however, is getting rave reviews. Here's one:
While praising the direction, acting, and writing, Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune argues that a A Star is Born's formula has always been very seductive to audiences, even when it has been written poorly, and Cooper's few missteps include being a bit of a scene hog.
Bradley Cooper is a good actor, and I have to agree that he might have spent too much screen time on himself, but Lady Gaga again wowed me with her talent. This person can not only sing, but she can act as well. She deserves all the accolades she gets from her performance in this movie. And when I think that this is the same person who at first only seemed out to shock people (think about the meat dress, for instance), I have been continually amazed at how incredibly talented she is. By the way, in case you were wondering, her real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. The movie is well worth your time, in my opinion.

 Well, I think I did it. I managed to stay focused enough to get this post written before it became too long in the tooth. I'm feeling a little anxious to get going this morning and get off to the coffee shop. I could spend many more hours sitting here following lead after lead, but I'm going to stop right here and change my focus to the task of getting out of bed and finding my way into the new day. I do hope that whatever you decide to do with your day, it will be rewarding and enjoyable. And don't forget to hug someone today. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things. Be well.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Treasures of the moment

Walking with the ladies
You can see from this picture that we are fast losing all the leaves from deciduous trees in town, and while on our usual Saturday walk, it was fun to walk through them and listen to them swish, swish underfoot. We have been enjoying a period of dry, sunny days for weeks now, but it all comes to an end next week. Our rain and dark days will be with us most of the period ahead as we move into the winter months. On November 4, two weeks from today, we'll turn our clocks back an hour, and the sun will set before 5:00pm!

In past years, I thought it would only be fair for me to get back that extra hour of sleep that I lost in the springtime, but these days I get plenty of sleep, between eight and nine hours almost every night, and I won't enjoy trying to stay awake long enough in the evenings to keep from waking up too early. It takes me a few days to get used to that extra hour, strange as that may seem.

I am not one of those retired people who goes through my days wondering what to do with my time; the days just fly by, the weeks and months accumulate and before long, I'll be "celebrating" another birthday, marking another year older and continuing my second decade in retirement. When I signed up for a new Medicare Advantage plan, I had to remind myself when I started Medicare: it was November 2007. That now seems so long ago. We moved here from Colorado in April 2008, now more than a decade in the past.

But I am more than blessed with a wonderful environment here in Washington state. On top of the wonderful weather we have been enjoying lately, I've also got lots of good friends and places to exercise, both outdoors and indoors. And just this past week I started getting acupuncture treatments, which is turning out to be a rather large commitment, one I didn't expect. Not only will I visit Warren (my guy at Prime Sports Institute) once a week for the next six weeks, but he has also given me exercises to do at home to strengthen my right leg.

Of course I should have realized that the damage done to my leg back in 2000 would make a difference. I not only fractured my pelvis in six places, shattered the sacrum and now have two permanent pins in there, I also lost an artery (the internal iliac) and sustained some nerve damage. Now that I think about it, I'm really lucky to be able to do what I can. But this sort of thing catches up to us in the long run, and I've been having knee and heel problems that Warren is now treating. The exercises are mostly easy, but it surprised me to find how much I need to work on that leg.

Of course, yoga is helping with everything, and I am currently taking two classes a week and doing the fifteen-minutes-a-day challenge for 100 days at Yoga Northwest. So far, I haven't missed a day, and I've been able to enjoy the front porch in mild weather for most of those days, which will soon come to an end. I'll probably have to move inside, but for as long as I can, I'll be outdoors. It surprises me how much more I enjoy yoga outside in the fresh air.

Recently I realized how fortunate I am in my life, and I figure it's important to think about it now, in the present, and not bemoan the fact I didn't appreciate it when I had it, once it changes. And change it will. Our bodies are not made to last, and as much as I attempt to keep age at bay, it keeps intruding in my daily life. But I must say I am encouraged by how much better I feel after only two treatments with those needles. This is not the first time I used acupuncture; in Boulder I saw a Chinese doctor for several months to help me through menopause, and it was a very successful treatment. Warren is the complete opposite of him: he's Canadian, not Chinese, and I can talk to him in English instead of needing an interpreter. Both of them are really good at what they do, however.

I'm not one of those people who is great at making up lists, but right now I'm going to try to list all the things I am grateful for:

  • Bellingham and its myriad choices for exercise
  • My wonderful partner who is much appreciated
  • Relative health and ability to see a doctor I like
  • Access to healthy food
  • My friends and family
  • A mind that allows me to think and write
  • The public library and online access
  • Good bus service
  • Computers, cell phones and other technology
  • My blogging family
  • Coffee!
There is probably much more that I am forgetting at the moment, but it does help me to stop for a moment and think about all the reasons I should be deliriously happy. If it weren't for the state of the world and my inability to turn away from it all, I think I would be much more relaxed and content. But then again, I figure that as my world shrinks in size and just getting out of bed and making my way to the bus stop will be an accomplishment, I can work on contentment then. Until then, I'll stay as active as I can manage.

I have just started reading Julia Cameron's book, It's Never Too Late to Begin Again, and she's got a twelve-week program that I'm thinking of starting. It helps unleash one's creative juices. I only have the book for three weeks from the library, so I might be forced to buy an actual copy of it. It's very comprehensive, and I wonder how I might squeeze it into my very full days. It's tempting, though. Check out the link to Amazon, which gives you a preview of what's inside.

Anyway, there it is, my Sunday morning post, my musings about my life and wondering what's going on in your life at the moment. Maybe it would help you to make a list of all that you are grateful for at the moment. (It was Julia's book that suggested it to me.) My tea is gone, sweet partner sleeping, and the day is beckoning to me. Another foggy one to begin, changing to full sun by midday. Thank you for being my friend and have a wonderful week until we meet again.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Another week slipped by

Mt. Shuksan amongst the fall colors
I took this picture last Thursday. I'm getting into the habit of bringing pictures from my last hike into my Sunday musings. It was such a beautiful day, and I was able to capture so many lovely scenes to tide me over until next year. Soon the snows will arrive to cover this entire landscape and make it available to me only if I pull out my snowshoes.

Right now I couldn't go back up there anyway, since I fell on the trail last week and injured my knee. It's still a struggle just to walk around the house and I must hang onto the railing when navigating stairs. It's now been three days, and although it's better, I don't think I'll be indulging in much strenuous activity for awhile. Yesterday I had to skip the walk with the ladies, and I really missed it. It was one of my favorite walks with perfect weather. And I spent it doing laundry.

It's been another rough week in many aspects. Although I am blessed in many ways, for some reason lately I've been struggling with sadness. I just learned this week that one of my favorite bloggers, Ronni at Time Goes By, has found that the pancreatic cancer she thought she had survived through that awful Whipple surgery has returned. Although she feels fine, she knows that within a short time she will begin to have symptoms and will then die. She might make it to 78 (she's 77 right now) but that will be it. As she entitled her post, she'll be going Into the Great Unknown. It's worth a read, since it's the same journey we will all make one day.

Another dear friend lost her husband to Alzheimer's last week, and although he left her in little increments over the years, she was relieved that he didn't live long enough to forget how to feed himself or swallow. He was 80 and started having symptoms of the disease when he was around my age, 75. This is when it all begins to change, during our eighth decade of life. Even if you've been healthy and careful, our bodies begin to wear out right about now. And I'm busy nursing a sore knee, which I know will get better, but still feeling sorry for myself. It takes a lot longer to recover from anything at my age.

But on the other hand, I can look back at a life well lived, a long one even if I'm not terribly ancient. Nobody would exclaim about my having been snuffed out too soon if I died today. Nobody ever thinks I'm younger than I am, I remind myself, with my white hair and wrinkles. I look at my friends, and they are all getting older, too. My dear partner, the same age as me, looks every bit the old man he's become. We met when we both had just turned fifty, and although to some people that might seem old, we were both skydivers with plenty of life yet to live. Now, 25 years later, we are retired from both work and from jumping out of airplanes, but somehow the days continue to be filled with lots of activity and joy, mostly. I appreciate him so much (as he snores gently next to me right now) and he takes great care of me. What would I do without him? I shudder to think about it.

My friend Peggy's husband is now at a local rehab facility after a month in the trauma center in Seattle. She doesn't want to say where, exactly, because they are not in any way ready for visitors. Just family for now. I wonder how it will be for him, since he had so many surgeries and lost a leg in the accident. Just to remind you, he was going out to the end of his driveway to collect the garbage bins once the truck had gone by, and apparently the driver had forgotten one, backed up quickly, and somehow ran over him. Although the backup beeper was working, I suspect Lyle didn't hear it because of hearing loss. Anyway, he's out of the woods for now, but he's got a long road ahead of him. He's 70 and was never as active as Peggy. I know him slightly from socializing over the years, but Peggy has been a dear friend for more than a decade.

I woke this morning from a dream about another friend I haven't seen since I moved away from Colorado. She and I hugged and cried together in my dream, and it was as real as if she stood in front of me now. I woke from the dream feeling the loss, and realized I had been crying in my sleep as my cheeks were wet. Dreams are such strange ventures into another world; I wonder if I'll ever understand them. I'm grateful for them, however, for being able to visit loved ones long gone.

Bringing myself back to the present, I look around me and think about the day ahead. I just received an email from my friend Judy who decided to skip going to the movies today so she can work outside in her garden. I should think about my own garden and get it ready for the long winter's sleep. Not sure whether the knee will be happy if I try to work out there today, but it might be a good way to spend some time in the sunshine without going on a brisk walk (which is beyond my capability right now). I went to the pot shop yesterday to get some CBD cream for it, and I have to say it's amazing stuff. The one I got is called "Skin Care: High CBD," and my knee stops hurting a few minutes after I rub it in. The one I had before, which I gave away, was the consistency of honey, and I didn't like it as much. This one is solid and much more pleasant to apply. I wish everybody could buy this stuff, but it's only available in states that have approved the use of cannabis products.

I don't smoke pot any more, although I did for so many years in my younger days. I look at the varieties available on the shelves, and I've tried some edibles but just don't like the fact that they last for such long periods of time, and I don't have enough time to just sit around and contemplate my navel. I wouldn't want to drive under the influence, so I will just stick to topicals and, of course, my beauty sleep at night. I take a dropperful of cannabis that helps me sleep but doesn't make me "high." I suppose if I took enough of it I could feel it, but that's not why I use it. It isn't enough to keep me asleep for the entire night, but I usually fall back to sleep easily if I wake to use the bathroom. I bought one once called "Deep Sleep" that is supposed to keep you asleep all night, but it was too strong and I woke the next morning feeling a bit of a hangover from it. I'll stick with Beauty Sleep even if it doesn't make me beautiful. (grin)

Well, writing the post has worked its magic on me. When I started I was feeling a little out of sorts and a bit sad, but now I'm thinking of all the good stuff in my life and feeling lots of gratitude. I look forward to my trip to the coffee shop this morning to visit my friends there, and now that Judy has decided to skip the movie, I've got the whole rest of the day ahead to enjoy whatever comes my way. Tea is gone, partner is still asleep next to me, and the day beckons. I hope however you decide to spend your day, that you will also spend a moment at least to give thanks. You are precious not only to me, but to those around you who love you. Be well until we meet again next week, dear friends.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Preventive medicine

Last Thursday's beautiful hike
Most of my readers know that I am an exercise buff. I really enjoy going out to places like Church Mountain (pictured above) and spending the entire day in wilderness, while challenging myself to go somewhat long distances (this hike was nine miles, which I did most of) and climbing up in elevation. I won't get to visit this glorious place again this year, since within a few weeks it will begin to snow and cover the trails.

Hiking and walking help to keep me fit, along with the classes I take at the Y every week. It's been ten years since I joined the Senior Trailblazers, and I miss as few hikes as possible, rain or shine. You might say I'm addicted. I am also slower than I was, and there are times when I think I might have to start going with the other group, which doesn't go as fast or as far as ours does. But I will miss these dear friends if I'm not with them, so I push myself. Maybe that's not such a good idea, but I know without a doubt that there will come a day, sooner rather than later, that it will happen. It's nice to know I will still be able to get out in the wilderness, even when I can no longer be with the faster hikers.

I got my flu shot yesterday. It was hard to find just the right time to get it, because in the past I've had a day or two of not feeling quite right afterwards, but it's been so many years since I've gotten the flu, I sure don't want it. I remember the last time, maybe twenty years ago now, and I was so sick I wished I could just die and put myself out my misery. I can see why it kills old people and those with compromised immune systems. So I get my shot every year and hope for the best.

The way that vaccines work is interesting. If you aren't aware of how they work, here's a short little reminder (from Vaccine Information website):
Vaccines are made from the same germs (or parts of them) that cause disease. But the germs in vaccines are either killed or weakened so they won’t make you sick. Vaccines containing these weakened or killed germs are introduced into your body, usually by injection. Your immune system reacts to the vaccine in a similar way that it would if it were being invaded by the disease — by making antibodies. The antibodies destroy the vaccine germs just as they would the disease germs — like a training exercise. Then they stay in your body, giving you immunity. If you are ever exposed to the real disease, the antibodies are there to protect you.
There are plenty of controversies surrounding vaccines, which I won't get into here, but some people believe they make you sick. In a way, they do, as is said above, antibodies are created by introducing a weakened strain of the virus into your body. And that's why I usually wait until the weekend to get my shot, since I don't want to miss any of my outdoor activities. I waited until after my Saturday walk, and now it's Sunday, with no real exercise scheduled.

My arm is a little sore, but I don't feel bad, like I have in the past. Every year the experience is different, but I believe in preventive medicine and therefore steel myself for a little discomfort to help keep me well. I am also wanting to get the newest shingles vaccine, which is given in two shots a few months apart, but there is a waiting list of almost a hundred people right now. Maybe when I go in for my wellness visit in January I'll ask my doctor about it. 

I know one person who has had both shots, and she said she didn't feel well for about three days after the first shot and just took it easy. I've read online that the effects can be intense, but I sure don't want to get shingles and am willing to suffer a little now to keep from suffering a lot later on. Today I have signed up to attend a mini-workshop at my yoga studio. It's called "Cultivating Bliss" and will introduce me to Ayurvedic medicine as well as give me some yoga asanas (postures) that will help to keep me well. What is Ayurvedic medicine? I wondered, too, and I found this information from Dr. Weil:
Because Ayurveda emphasizes prevention of disease, individualization of treatment, and the maintaining of balance between body, mind and spirit, the approach can be considered appropriate in most any clinical circumstance and is considered as such in India. In the West, it is seldom used as a primary therapy for critical medical conditions, but rather as a complement to other healing systems. 
Before I signed up, I did ask how much yoga would be included, wondering if I should bring a notebook and that it would be more informational than experiential, but I was assured that we will be doing at least an hour of yoga during the two-and-a-half hours. I was pleased to learn that, although I will definitely take notes.

This past week I was having some difficulty separating myself from the news of the day, and I found myself getting irritable and weepy, unable to keep myself from getting wrapped up in something I have no control over. It doesn't do anybody any good for that to happen, so I picked up a book to take me away from it all. I have found that Liane Moriarty is just the right kind of author for that. This book was one I hadn't heard of before: The Hypnotist's Love Story. What I like about this book is that it took me away and allowed me to get involved in one of those stories where you aren't at all sure how it will turn out, but it ends up with a (sort of) happy ending. I think now I've read every one of her books and enjoyed them all.

I just checked the weather and found that our beautiful sunshine of the past week or so has come to and end. Today will be cloudy and showery, but I'll be inside for the most part, so it won't bother me at all. I rather like this kind of weather, unless it happens on Thursdays. Walking around in the rain for the entire day is not as wonderful, but I do it anyway.

Today, sitting here in my cozy bed with my MacBook Air on my lap, keys clicking away as I write, I am feeling pretty good with only a slightly sore arm where I got the shot yesterday, and hubby happily ensconced next to me (he just woke for a quick trip to the bathroom and we talked for a bit). He'll go back to sleep soon, and before too long I'll be getting up to start my day. I look forward to the coffee shop and hanging out with my friend John. Then I'll come home and do some chores around the house before heading off to the yoga studio for my workshop.

I am hoping that you will find some techniques that will keep you safe and healthy during the coming week. That's what I will be doing, and if there are any super wonderful ideas that I learn today, I'll share them with you next week. Until then, I truly hope that you will be surrounded with love and light, as I hope for myself as well. I wish you all good things until we meet again.