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, September 12, 2021

Fall ruminations

Whatcom Falls

 Yesterday morning the three of us ladies walked in Whatcom Falls park and I took this picture, showing how puny the falls can get. We've been in a drought, with little rain (as usual) this summer, and the falls are almost nonexistent. After weeks of rain, the entire area from left to right will be filled with roaring water, making it almost impossible to hear each other talking while standing here. But not today. This is the lowest level of the falls that I've seen since I moved here in 2008.

The trees are beginning to change color, just at the beginning of the season, and the rain is supposed to return this coming week. The change is pretty normal for mid-September and marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year. Cool weather, clear skies, punctuated by the occasional shower, perfect for a nice walk with just a light jacket. 

Yesterday was also the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and it has been impossible to turn on the TV without being reminded again and again of that awful time in our nation's history. It began our longest period of war and it has not ended yet, even if we have left Afghanistan and Iraq. Those countries are in terrible shape, and it does make me wonder what it was all for. So many soldiers and civilians dead. I can barely stand to think of it, so we pretty much kept the TV turned off this past weekend and hope we can move on to more positive memories soon.

Much of my attention these days has been towards taking off a few pounds. I started keeping track of my daily food intake, using an app on my phone, and I see it's now been 30 days since I began. It reminds me of how often I will lose a pound or two at the beginning of a diet and then enter a plateau where the scales stubbornly stay the same for awhile. When the entire amount of weight to lose is a small number, for me under ten pounds, seeing any progress comes and goes, which is normal. I've added more protein into my diet, which helps keep me from being too hungry, and it's been helpful to cut back and make every calorie come from healthy food rather than comfort food.

Even if the scales are not registering the weight loss, I can tell that I'm losing weight by the way my clothes fit. I have a pair of favorite pants that have needed a belt to stay up, and for months I managed to wear them without that belt. And they no longer are comfortable without it, which makes me happy. My belly has begun to shrink a little, so I will continue until I lose another three pounds over the next month or so. I'm moving in the right direction; nothing is more demoralizing than to be gaining pounds on my small frame. 

As I sit here in bed, in the dim light with the laptop sitting open, I can hear the rain starting, and the sound makes a light drumming on the roof, reminding me that we won't be having clear skies today. It is time to pull out my numerous rain jackets for the coming days ahead. It's a nice change and I really don't mind, and if it's not a downpour, it's nice to walk in it now and then. It doesn't take much for all the brown grass to begin to green up once again. 

I'm not feeling very inspired to write anything with much substance this morning, and I wonder why. It's not like I haven't been reading plenty of books and watching the occasional movie. Several friends asked if I had watched CODA, a new film about a young girl who is the only hearing person in her family. CODA is an acronym for "Child of Deaf Adults," and I found it moving and very uplifting. It apparently won all sorts of awards at the Sundance Film Festival. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it.

My sister recommended a book to me that I suggested last week that you might also enjoy, The Midnight Library. I ordered another book by the same author, Matt Haig, How to Stop Time, which I also enjoyed. It's not as wonderful as his previous book, but I will now make an effort to read everything he's written. One reviewer said this book is "a meditation on the tick and tock of time and mortality." From the above link:

Tom Hazard is a high school history teacher who has just moved back to London. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but due to a rare condition, he has been alive for centuries. Tom was born in 1581 in France and has lived history alongside famous historical characters such as Shakespeare, Captain Cook, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

 It is interesting to think about what it would be like to live forever, or at least for longer than our short lifespan. I remember long ago thinking about that, and realizing with a shock that all the people I love would be left behind in such a situation. And now here I am, old enough to have lost many dear friends and family already, and I wouldn't like it at all. Better to be a "mayfly" in the world (one who lives only for a day) than an "albatross" (long lived birds). In any event, the premise of the book was a good one and a good speculation about what it would be like to live for centuries.

Since our society equates happiness with youth, we often assume that sorrow, quiet desperation, and hopelessness go hand in hand with getting older. They don't. Emotional pain or numbness are symptoms of living the wrong life, not a long life. —Martha Beck

I can attest to the fact that getting older has its benefits. I am fortunate to live in a situation where I have access to healthy food (sometimes a bit too much of it), lots of green trails to explore, a comfortable place to live, and a dear sweet partner who helps me navigate the shoals of growing older. I look at him and see how hard he works to make our living situation better, and I am grateful. I pretty much have everything I need to continue comfortably in this life for a bit longer. But I do have to remember that it won't always be like this, and to stop and look around to help myself continue to be grateful, even when things change.  

The rain has stopped for the moment, and I feel the need to wrap up this post and begin the rest of my day. I will have 1,200 calories to spend, including a visit to the coffee shop for my oat latte, and time to spend with my friends there. Then I will come home and consider how I might enjoy the rest of my day. One thing I always do these days is stop to consider my dear virtual friends; I will visit your blogs and see how the world looks from your vantage point. I do hope it's a good day for you, too. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I wish you all good things. Be well.


Linda Reeder said...

I woke up too early with sad thoughts that I could not shake. I stayed in bed anyway, comfortable enough to just lay there and try not to think. Now it's 7:00 and still fairly dark. I think we got a sprinkle of rain but it's hard to see, and not enough to register in the rain gauge.
We're heading up to Whidbey Island this morning to spend a few days. There will be some gardening work to do and a few projects, but I hope to also do some island exploring.
My attempt at weight loss so far has been a bust, but there is always tomorrow. I think I am eating for comfort these days. I need a new spark. Maybe Fall will provide that.
Happy trails to you until we meet again.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am not so sure growing too old is a good thing. I look at my parents, they have outlived their friends and my Dad is the last of his family and my Mom has only two brothers left...so their circle is limited. My Dad is more than ready to be done with this life, he will turn 95 in a month. Dad has "old timers" as he calls it...days he knows me are good days. Both have physical ailments.
It is sad to see them "old" soon they will be housebound by the Minnesota winter. They should move into a beautiful place where they could see others and walk around inside and do activities with others but they want to stay in their home.
I hope you have a good week and enjoy the PNW weather.
We have Doctors appts and a memorial for a dear friend this week, he was 64 years old and died of pancreatic cancer. So sad.
Take care.

Rian said...

I think that growing old in itself is not a problem. It can be very free-ing. Things that once were important aren't any more. Your priorities shift... and it sometimes lightens the load. But if old age is accompanied by diminished abilities (physical or mental), then it could very well be a problem. Quality of life certainly trumps (god, I hate to use that word) quantity any day. But as we age I find that people (family, friends - even our online friends we've never met) become more important - not in a social setting, but in a caring one.
I will look for CODA... think I would like to see it. I loved watching the ATYPICAL series.

John's Island said...

My routine for Sunday mornings has been fairly consistent the last few years. I like to start the day with a good cup of coffee and few moments of quiet to contemplate the day ahead. From 7 to 8:30 I’m usually watching CBS’s Sunday Morning and, after that, it’s breakfast time. Next it’s time to open up the computer and enjoy the latest from Eye on the Edge. I’ve been doing this so long now that I don’t want to miss a single edition to see what’s the latest from my friend in Bellingham. Living not-too-far away, in Seattle, I especially appreciate your commentary on the weather, the seasons, and life in our Pacific Northwest. This morning I’m feeling a definite touch of fall with some light rain, a bit of fog, and really nice cool temperatures. Thanks, DJan, for sharing your blog. I hope you and SG have a fine week ahead.

Galen Pearl said...

Send some of that rain south to Oregon!

I am going to watch CODA -- that reminds me of a wonderful movie from years ago with the same theme, a hearing child of deaf parents. The movie is Love Is Never Silent. I think you would like it.

I missed last week, so I just caught up with your reflections on kindness. So basic. The Dalai Lama once said, "My religion is kindness." Simple.

gigi-hawaii said...

That book reminds me of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. The man remains youthful, but his portrait shows his age. Wow, I can't imagine living for centuries. It is too awful to consider.

Elephant's Child said...

Living for centuries? Shudder. Thank you for this post. As always.
I am completely unsurprised that your efforts and determination mean that you are losing weight.
Have a truly wonderful day and week.

Anvilcloud said...

As you well know from the many losses that you hav suffered, growing old is a gift. I think it is also a gift that we don’t have to live forever or at least for very long times . If we lived to be 150, for example, we’d probably have to work for something like a 100 years, and that is not terribly appealing to me. Having said all that, I am most definitely not anxious to move on. :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Not that I am not curious about what is coming but I really don't want to live for maybe a couple hundred more years much for the reasons mentioned of outliving your family. If youth and good health were guaranteed, maybe. I'll check out the book for I enjoyed his Midnight Library. His take on centuries of life should be interesting. Thanks for the review.

William Kendall said...

We seem to have had a dry summer in these parts too.

Red said...

I like the topics covered in your two books so I will have to see if I can find them . funny how the characteristics of each season become so important. You are ready for fall.

Marie Smith said...

Virtual friends are a consideration for me these days too. I always wonder how people are doing when they share their ups and downs. We recently met a fellow blogger who came to PEI for a visit. It was so nice to meet someone I had only known through his blog. He and his wife are wonderful people and we had several pleasant hours together and shared a picnic with them. I hope to meet others in the future.

Meanwhile I enjoy your Sunday musings and your other blog, dear Jan. Have a wonderful week. Take care.

Betsy said...

My virtual friends have become even more important to me over the last year and a half and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. Although I know I'm not terribly old, 61, somedays I feel that way when I read the news and see the world and it's issues. I'm grateful for each day that I'm given.

Glenda Beall said...

You speak of getting old and I find I think and deal with that every day. Each day I wake up and I'm thankful I am still here, even though I cannot do many of the things I once did. Like you miss jumping out of airplanes, I miss horseback riding, water skiing, hiking in the woods to reach waterfalls that were awesome. I miss having my life partner beside me as we took rides to places with hardly a road for our jeep. I miss going out on the lake in our pontoon boat in the late afternoon to watch the sunset. But, I look for the blessings in my life now as I know some who are not as fortunate as I am. I have a lovely young niece who lost her husband to medical error who lives alone now, her grown son having left the nest. I am grateful I had Barry for 45 years and wonderful memories that will always be with me. Your posts always give me much to think about. Thanks for the book reviews.