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 30, 2023

Pondering the moment

View of Mt. Shuksan

I took this beautiful picture while on a hike in the High Country more than a decade ago. Still today I can visit these places, but it's a lot more effort for my aging body to get there. But it's still there, even if I'm only able to reminisce about those days. I didn't go on last Thursday's hike to Yellow Aster Butte, not because I couldn't have done it, but because I was afraid I would need days or weeks to recover afterwards. As time is passing, so many things I have long taken for granted are changing, some rapidly, and others more slowly. That mountain and the meadow in the foreground are much the same today, I suspect.

We here in the Pacific Northwest have been spared the intense heat that much of the country is experiencing, spreading throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere and  adding to our summer of discontent. I recently read an article that  unequivocally stated that the climate we grew up with is gone. When we moved away from Colorado fifteen years ago, it was partly because, even then, the summers were getting hotter. It's nothing compared to today's incredibly changing climate. And the ocean waters are heating up way past anybody's nightmare scenarios. Take a look at this chart from the Washington Post:

Source: NOAA and Washington Post

My mind at first simply struggled to take in the import of this map, and then after I read the article, I couldn't help it; I burst into tears and took in the fact that it's true: the worst is yet to come, and there's very little that I can do to change it. All those years I sat in meetings at work and listened to the stuffy scientific conversations about mitigation and adaptation to climate change now have so much more imminence.
The more we reduce emissions right now, the easier it will be to adapt to the changes we can no longer avoid. Mitigation actions will take decades to affect rising temperatures, so we must adapt now to the change that is already upon us—and will continue to affect us in the foreseeable future.

That quote is from an article by the World Wildlife Fund. It's all about the difference between climate change mitigation and adaptation. We all need to adapt, those of us who can, that is. The coral around the southern coast of Florida has all died in the last few weeks, as the water temperatures rose to hot-tub level: 101.1°F. That is astounding to me, and more than a little frightening for what it portends. It's only late July and we have all of the summer to get through before things might begin to cool down a little. 

Yesterday I walked with my new hiking companion, Steve, down to the waterfront and all around, making it about five miles; the area has been on my radar since I first started walking there with the Saturday ladies many years ago. Steve is a Bellingham native and pointed out what has changed in recent years, and how he used to listen to concerts in the park where people now sit in lawn chairs or play frisbee with their dogs. It's a very pretty place to hang out when the weather is nice, like it is right now. Again, I am feeling very lucky to be able to live in a place where you might need a light jacket to be comfortable in midsummer, rather than the searing heat that many of the population is currently experiencing. We need to find a way to live with our situations the way they actually are, and not pretend that the change is not happening.

There are many things to be grateful for, even if the  world around us has evolved to become something different than what we might prefer. Life is change, and I must find a way to enjoy it for what it is, since it doesn't do any good to lament my current life and wish it to be like it once was. This is an old person thinking, and I've got decades of experience to look back on, to look to find ways to spread joy and love into the world, rather than to concentrate on all that's wrong around me. Even if climate change brings us pain, we can look beyond the pain to what is good around us. I think I need an attitude adjustment.

Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained. —Lao Tzu

 After perusing the website brainyquote.com, I found this quote from an ancient sage to help me find a better way to deal with my anxiety. Do you know who Lao Tsu was? He lived in China thousands of years ago, yet here I find many quotes from him are still very relevant today. Lao Tzu's Taoist ethics of “letting things take their own course, yet everything is accomplished” points us toward learning how to correct our subjective state of mind. He wrote the Tao Te Ching and that's when I also learned about the I Ching, which I used as a guide for years, by using stones to cast my fortune and then read what it described as the correct way to approach the current moment. It's been many years since then, and I guess I outgrew it, but it helped me find my way through life when I was a young woman without any strong philosophy of my own. 

And now here I am, living each day as it comes, looking for peace and serenity much as I did when I was young. Reading the news of the day, and looking for a spot here and there of happiness among the moments of existential dread that permeates most of it, I realize, thanks to Lao Tsu, and all I really need to be happy is to change my focus towards goodness and honesty. No matter what else is happening in the world, those two aspects are everywhere, if I look beyond my fear toward the light. 

And with that, dear friends, I realize that it's getting late, and that it's time for me to change my focus from writing this post to the day ahead. My dear partner still sleeps quietly next to me, and my tea is long gone, and John will be here to transport me to our Sunday breakfast spot before I know it. So here goes, I'm gathering my energy to find a way to finish this and get going. I've got my exercises and vitamins waiting for me. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things. Be well.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Living each day as it comes

Me and new friend Steve at Farmers' Market

We are enjoying what for me is a new treat: I have now been introduced to Shave Ice by Steve, when we went to the Farmers' Market yesterday after our second walk together. This time we went a little farther, down to the Ferry Terminal, giving us about a six-mile walk. Here I thought it was me taking him for walks, but it turns out he walks several miles every day, and I am the fortunate one who gets to join him on his Saturday outings. More about Steve later.

If you read my other blog, you know that last Wednesday, my friend John felt a little woozy and out of sorts, so he took himself off to the doctor's office to get his vitals checked out. He ended up being admitted to the hospital, where he stayed for two days and came home in the afternoon on Friday. So he was back at the coffee shop yesterday morning, Saturday, but things will be different from here on out: he has been told to stay away from caffeine and to follow a low-fat diet. I guess they would like to see him lose a few pounds but to do it without any medications. He opted for a large cup of chai, which has a small amount of caffeine, but hopefully not enough to get his heart rate up. He'll be trying different drinks to replace his daily dose of coffee.

Getting those extra pounds off will be more of a struggle, I suspect. In all the years I've known John, he has tried many different ways and methods to lose weight, all of which work in the short run but just don't last. This is not any different from the myriad sufferers who carry extra weight and try everything they can to lose it. But John has a strong motivator: his COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) and asthma will be much improved by even a modest weight loss. I'm hoping that he will be successful with his current efforts. The doctors and nurses weren't able to do much to help him breathe better right now: a new inhaler and an admonition to stay away from caffeine and lose some weight. He's a little discouraged at the moment, I can tell.

It would also help if he could get more exercise, but he isn't even able to go dancing any more, because of his breathing difficulties. That's one of those unfortunate consequences of aging: we lose our ability to do what we enjoy, a little at a time, until all the fun stuff is past tense and it's just a struggle to continue to maintain a positive attitude and keep on truckin'.

About my own exercise: I chose not to go out on that hike last Thursday, leery of the heat and fearful that I might not be able to manage. It turned out that only four Trailblazers attempted the hike, and although they were all strong and capable, they had to deal with bugs and the heat. I'll hear how it all went when I join the Happy Wanderers next Tuesday. Although it's a different hiking group, there is a lot of overlap between them, not to mention hearing tales of derring-do! Now that's an interesting phrase, isn't it? I looked it up and learned this:
In Middle English, dorring don meant simply "daring to do." The phrase was misprinted as derrynge do in a 15th-century work by poet John Lydgate, and Edmund Spenser took it up from there.

 I love having the entire universe of fun facts at my fingertips. And I do take advantage of that ability almost daily. Sorry to have taken us off on a tangent like that, but I couldn't help myself. Now back to my coffee shop adventure and the rest of the walk with Steve.

As we walked, Steve did his thing of petting every dog that came his way after asking for permission. Since I mentioned he seemed partial to larger dogs, he took pains to pet even the little "ankle biters," as I think of them. I was surprised to see he didn't even see to mind when a dog would jump up in his face and lick him. (I personally hate that.)

On his last legs

This sweet dog stopped to allow Steve to pet him for awhile, and the owner said he is a rescue that he's had since he got him as a puppy sixteen years ago. He said a few days ago they thought it was over for him, and the entire family cried about the need to euthanize their dear friend. Then incredibly, the dog (whose name I never learned) rallied and was out for a walk on the boulevard on a sunny day. I am always amazed that even as they lose their hearing and eyesight, and even their ability to walk, dogs seem to be able keep their noses working right up to the end. I feel fortunate to have met this canine soul and to have been part of his final life experience. The worst thing about our pets is that they don't live long enough, but they have taught me that life's best times are those little instants that become cherished memories, not the years that pass by unremarkably.

I have decided that Steve has a heart of gold, and now that I've become one of his admirers, he's tucked me into a corner of that soft heart of his. One of the fun things about walking with a friend is learning more about each other, and although I no longer have my friend Melanie's company, another person has emerged to fill the void. On the boulevard walk, we ran into the Saturday walking group of ladies I joined for years before the pandemic, and they encouraged me to come back again. Since their leader, Cindy, is a retired race walker, they keep up a pace I find hard to match, but they told me that they too have slowed down, and that I should give them a try once again. I might do that, who knows? It's nice to have so many options.

I didn't get much sleep last night, not because of the heat this time, but because one of our neighbors decided to mow his lawn at sunset, and the chaff came into our open window and caused me to start sneezing. After a quick squirt of my allergy medicine, I tried to get to sleep, but then a barking dog interrupted my efforts. It's going to be one of those days, I guess, but I do know that tonight I won't have a problem falling asleep. Our weather the past few days has been idyllic: mid-seventies (F) with a light breeze, while the rest of the country swelters. Actually, the entire Northern Hemisphere seems to be suffering from excess heat, except for a tiny little northwest corner of the US. I won't rub it in, instead I'll enjoy every little bit of it and hope for a break in the heat for you.

As I said in my title, I will continue to enjoy each and every day as it comes, and never take for granted these moments of reflection and contentment. I hope that you will find some joy and beauty in your days ahead, and that when you join me once again, you'll have some sweet moments of serenity to look back on. My dear partner sleeps quietly next to me, and John will be coming by soon to take me out to our Sunday morning breakfast in our new caffeine-less world (for him, that is). 

Until we meet again next week, dear virtual family, I wish you all good things. Be well and don't forget to count your blessings, of which there are many if you look for them. 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

A new era begins

Trailblazers in Church Mountain Meadows

Last Thursday, I was actually thrilled to have made it all the way up to the Church Mountain Meadows with my new hiking companions. There are nine hikers in this selfie, with Karen's head barely peeking out from behind Barb (in the front) and Gertie, the gnome, in Barb's pocket making us nine in total.

I didn't know, really I didn't, if I would be able to make it all the way up the steep trail to our lunch spot, but I did it without any complaint and truly enjoyed myself the entire time. The only problem was when my back began to hurt on the long downhill, but it was easily dealt with. It makes me feel more confident about joining other long hikes in the wilderness with this group. I might be investing in a new backpack that allows me to have a good waist belt. I removed it from my current one, since it didn't help and seemed to make it harder to carry more weight.

Yesterday was my first Saturday walk without Melanie. I was grousing about having to hike alone, when my new friend from the coffee shop, Steve, asked if he could join me. I readily agreed, and we walked five-plus miles from the coffee shop to Fairhaven and back. He's an interesting guy: a real dog lover, who asked everyone we passed with a medium- to large-sized dog if he could pet the dog. Of course everyone said yes, and so he got his dog fix, while we together chatted about our lives. He's a chemistry teacher at the local technical college, and we met by me noticing his constant stream of test papers to grade. He has three classes a week for eight weeks. Sounds horribly intense to me, but he is enjoying it. I am feeling so lucky to have found another kindred spirit to walk with. Hope it continues, but I'm not counting on it. His elderly dog passed a few years back, but now that he's divorced, he thinks it would be hard for a dog to be alone for so long, so he gets his dog fix from other dog owners. If this continues, rest assured, you will get a photo.

Today, three days after our hike, I am still feeling some discomfort in my hip joints, but less than I expected. I'm hoping to find out more about next week's trip before deciding whether I can do it or not. I have some unpleasant memories of going up the first part of the Chain Lakes hike in full sun and melting down. But hopefully I'll learn more before making that decision. I am confident that one way or another, I'll have more good hikes with my new friends. Even if I might have to skip a few here and there during the hot summer months.

I had forgotten how absolutely gorgeous it is in the High Country, and thinking that those days were behind me, I had not allowed myself to really miss the activity. Now my desire to go there has been reawakened, and I'll do whatever I can to keep myself in good hiking shape. Here's another picture of that meadow.

Bear country, but we didn't see any last week

As an old person, I know that every single moment I can spend in the wilderness is worth the struggle to get there. We only travel one direction in life, and that's towards infirmity, but these old knees and joints seem to have some life in them still today. I was the only octogenarian on the hike, and I didn't want to make a fuss, so I kept my discomfort mostly to myself. Now I can tell you about it, and I know you won't judge me too harshly. I guess my daily walks are making a difference in my fitness level; I've got Melanie's influence to thank for that. I am going to miss her presence in my daily life. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, she won't be totally out of reach, at least.
So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good. —Helen Keller
Although the temperature here in Bellingham reached 80°F yesterday, it was nothing compared to what many others around the world are experiencing. My family in Texas and Florida are stuck in triple-digit heat, which would mean, if I were there, that I wouldn't feel safe outdoors; even their overnight temperatures are too hot for me. Hoping that this awful heat will break soon and we can enjoy a more normal summer. The sad thing is that our climate is definitely changing, and not for the better. More weather extremes of every sort will become more constant as time goes by. We will need to adapt, but as I've said before, there are some upsides to being old: I won't be around to experience the worst of it. I'm hoping for at least another decade of  active life, but nothing is guaranteed to any of us, ever, so taking stock every Sunday of my many advantages makes sense to me.

As I sit here writing on my fancy new laptop, I can first thank the universe for having allowed me to have enough monthly income to buy such trinkets. I really didn't know what a difference I'd experience with a new laptop, and now I cannot imagine going back to my old one. I've got lots of electronic toys, such as my iWatch, my iPad, this MacBook Air, and of course my iPhone. I guess I've become one of those Apple aficionados, since all of my gadgets are thanks to Steve Jobs. How did I ever function without them? There was a time when I couldn't even imagine the level of connectivity we enjoy today. It causes the world to shrink until I can find out what is happening in every corner of every continent, with just a bit of time browsing the internet. 

Yesterday I ventured out in the heat of the day to buy some more flowers for my front porch garden. It was beginning to look a little sad, with several of my flowers either done blooming, or not being happy with their soil and water, so I spruced them up a bit. Then when I came back inside after being out in the heat, it was so lovely to feel the coolness of our living quarters. We don't have a/c, but most of the time we don't need it; a few well-placed fans and a clever husband who knows how to maximize the airflow helps a lot. We do have all of August to get through, and we will probably have a few days of uncomfortable indoor heat, but drinking lots of liquids and wearing light summer clothes will help a great deal. 

My friend John will pick me up for our usual Sunday morning breakfast, and we'll spend some time together enjoying each other's company. I'll share with him what I learned about Steve, our new coffee shop buddy, as well as find out how he's faring in the summer heat. He's recently installed a/c in his home, so he can be more comfortable. John's health isn't the best, but then again, he's 83, going on 84, and he takes all sorts of medications for his breathing difficulties. But he's doing okay, and I give thanks every day for his presence in my life. Between him and my own dear life partner, I've got a fair amount of masculine energy to deal with and enjoy in my daily life. Friendship and family are both incredibly important for my mental health.

Oh, and I cannot forget the wonderful virtual family that I've garnered over the years, and I do spend a fair amount of time every day reading the blogs of my friends and finding out how you are all doing. The world is much smaller when I can simply click on a link and find out what's happening with my friend in Canberra, or the one in Fresno, or Seattle, or my many Canadian friends. Yes, life is good, and I am feeling very happy to be spending another Sunday morning counting my blessings, and gazing over at my sweet partner sleeping quietly. My tea is gone, it's getting close to time to change venues and starting the rest of my morning routine. 

I sincerely hope that you will enjoy a wonderful week ahead, and that by the time we meet again, you will have had many wonderful experiences and are finding ways to enjoy life in all its richness. Until then, dear friends, I wish you all good things. Be well.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Feeling grateful for my life

Mel on our Whatcom Falls walk

It's the end of an era. My friend Melanie and I went on our final Saturday walk together yesterday. She will be moving away, in just over a week, to a new home in Oregon, five (or more) hours away from here. Every Saturday for the past several years, we've gone out together, sometimes with a few others, but always the two of us. We hiked every Thursday and walked every Saturday through the pandemic, and now I'll be needing to find another companion, or maybe spend more of these days walking by myself. I've certainly gotten into the habit and don't want it to end.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. —C. S. Lewis

Although she won't be in my usual weekly activities, she will always be here in my heart. I don't know what exactly brought us together when she joined us and started hiking with the Senior Trailblazers, but I know when the pandemic hit, she and I would continue to go out on walks together when everybody else either stayed home, or they went out on small group walks, like we did with each other. Mel is a retired law enforcement officer, and I've learned a great deal about how her experiences have caused her to see the world with different eyes than my own. She would tell me about situations she's encountered over the years, and now I see the world differently, too. Perhaps the two of us have blended our memories and both of us have changed a little in response. I know I will miss her presence in my life.

I know that I owe a great deal to her in terms of my current activity level. She always would push me to do a little more on our hikes, go a little bit farther, and consequently I think I am stronger and more likely to continue to improve as I age, instead of slowing down and stopping. It's always easier when you have a friend who is younger and more fit who is willing to accommodate you and encourage you to keep going. That's what Melanie has done for me, and I will continue to keep hiking and walking, even without her around.

Last week I purchased a new pair of hiking boots, since the Hoka version of a shoe I had been using for awhile, although very comfortable, wasn't adequate for a long mountain hike. I tried on several pairs before deciding to buy a brand that is new to me, Obōz. I tried on several different ones, and finally settled on the Sawtooth Low version. There is a waterproof version, but I wanted one that felt good on my feet from the first moment I put it on, and this one fit the bill quite nicely. And I bought the pair from REI, which gives me the option to return them if for any reason if I'm not satisfied with them. Yesterday I gave them their first test, when Melanie and I went on our 6.5-mile walk over varied terrain. So far, so good: no sore spots, no blisters, and my feet don't feel the worse for wear. I've had many pairs of boots that need to be "broken in," but I'm past those days and now only want good support and less pain. I'll let you know how they are faring in a couple more weeks. For now, I'm happy.

And I am seriously considering doing a hard hike this coming week in the mountains with Group 2: Church Mountain. I am only contemplating going to the meadows, a shorter hike, around three-plus miles, but those three miles also have an almost three-thousand-foot elevation gain. Although I have done this hike many times in the past, it's been since before the pandemic hit that I have been there. I enjoyed it many times and never had much of a problem getting to the meadows, but that was then, and I am older now and not sure of being able to accomplish it without embarrassing myself. But I think I have to try. You will know more next week whether I went and how the adventure played itself out.

I hate to gloat, but I am thrilled that we are experiencing just about perfect weather, while most of the rest of the country is sweltering. Yesterday we got to a sunny 69°F (20°C) and today it will be a few degrees warmer, but I am not seeing 80°F in the forecast for the rest of the month. July in the Pacific Northwest has never been better. Maybe it's a gift from the weather gods, or maybe we will pay the price in August, which is traditionally the hottest month around here. I don't do well in full sun and hot temperatures. My favorite hikes are cloudy and cool, especially when we need to gain a good bit of altitude. Thursday will be sunny and in the mid-seventies here in Bellingham and should be a little cooler in the mountains. Church Mountain is in shade until you get to the Meadows.

For someone who has always been a bit of a risk taker, with more than four thousand skydives under my belt, I'm realizing as I am aging that I am trying to maintain some semblance of that adventurous spirit. But it's different now, my body tells me to take care of myself and not try anything too foolish. It's been almost a decade since I've had my "knees in the breeze" on a skydive, and even contemplating one today makes me queasy. I could probably do it, but as I've said to others, "been there done that." One day I will feel that way about hiking in the mountains, but not yet, not quite yet. I may be losing one hiking companion, but I am gaining quite a few more in Group 2. 

What else is on my mind? I am still enjoying my latest new toy, my new MacBook Air, which has a quiet and responsive keyboard, plenty of speed, and a wonderful screen on which to enjoy some streaming series and movies. My hearing aids have made a huge difference in my life, too, and I put them on every morning before the teapot whistles. Recently I realized that one side was no longer working as well as it did before, so I went off to the audiologist's office to have them examined. They needed a good cleaning, and just like that, they are as good as new. They have a three-year warranty, and I figure after that time I will be wanting some new ones with the latest bells and whistles anyway. Right now I am happy with what I have, and I know they will continue to enrich my life. Anyone contemplating getting hearing aids, I highly recommend the bluetooth-enabled versions. It took some getting used to when the phone rings and I hear it inside my head, but now it feels just right. Oh, and I also love that they can be charged at night at my bedside rather than having to worry about batteries.

Well, that about wraps up my current world, other than my dear sweet partner who still sleeps next to me and keeps me entertained during the day, with an endless supply of puns. He laughs as hard at his jokes as I do, and sometimes harder. It sure makes me happy to watch him slapping his knees and guffawing when he tells a good one. He is a joy in so many ways. We do have our moments of annoyance with the other's foibles, but what the heck, they pass and then we are both laughing together again. I cherish every moment we have together.

And I cannot forget to give thanks for my vast virtual family, of which you are part. It enriches my life so much to know you are there, and to have your blogs to learn what is going on in your lives right now. As is true of all of us, there are good and not-so-good moments, but we share them and that makes them even easier to get through. Or enjoy together. Living through this moment in time, I could not feel any luckier or more grateful for it all. And I wish you, dear friend, all good things to come to you in the coming week. Until we meet again, be well.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

The more things change...

Summertime waterfront view

Last week, Melanie and I walked to the harbor on the waterfront, one of our favorite Saturday walks. This week, we walked to Fairhaven and the ferry terminal. Next week will be my last Saturday walk with her, before she moves to Oregon, making the commute a bit longer: like impossible. It will be our last walk together, and she agreed to let me take her out for lunch afterwards. She is almost all packed up and has just returned from a visit to her new apartment in the little town of Canby, Oregon, and has signed all the paperwork. I am reconciled to what will become my new normal. Nothing stays the same, and I will certainly miss my hiking and walking companion during the past few years. We started during the pandemic and never stopped after everything opened back up.

This is my first Sunday meditation post on my new laptop. Meet "Mavis," my new faster and better designed MacBook Air. I decided to go with the M2 chip, although it's a bit more expensive, because it's faster, and with a high-resolution screen where the colors pop right out! It's not going to seem any different to you as you look at my pictures, because I import them to the desktop in a lower resolution. It's all a bit more complicated than I understand, but I know that in just a few days I've already grown used to the speed and the much different keyboard. In fact, when I pull out my iPad at the coffee shop, I'm reminded once again what it's like to have to wait for things to appear, instead of seeing them instantaneously, as happens on Mavis.

I have also modified the pointer to a larger size, and I've learned how to make the outside of the pointer a different color, and now I don't have to keep searching for that pesky little cursor any longer. Unfortunately, though, the laptop has not learned how to create the post for me, so I'll have to continue to write it myself. Maybe I should learn about AI to do that part for me, too. But frankly, it scares me a little bit. Will we become slaves to the new AI mental ability? I'm reminded of SkyNet from the Terminator movies, which became self-aware and then decided humans were to be eliminated. But that couldn't really happen, could it? (shudder)

We have been enjoying the most perfect weather imaginable, while most of the rest of the country swelters. We'll most likely get our chance later in the year, but for now the temperature and cool breezes are delightful here in the Pacific Northwest upper corner of the country. I will be happy when I learn that Texas, where many in my family live, has returned to normal hot temperatures and not the extreme heat of recent days. I read that more than a dozen people have died because of it.

On my other blog, I lamented that now all of my four siblings have become grandparents, with me the only outlier. But my brother reminded me that his daughter has not had any children, so I was wrong about that. It did make me feel glad to know I am not the only one and have company in the grandparent-less family universe. I am an aunt and great-aunt many times over, and that makes me very happy indeed. I love the fact that there is no shortage of little ones in my immediate family. Mama would be proud, if she were still around. Maybe she does know anyway. I was reminded that by the end of this month, she would have turned 100. Instead, she didn't even make it to 70, while I, her eldest child, has managed to turn 80. Yeah, I know I bring it up all the time, but it's a huge milestone and weighs on me.
The most important thing I can tell you about aging is this: If you really feel that you want to have an off-the-shoulder blouse and some big beads and thong sandals and a dirndl skirt and a magnolia in your hair, do it. Even if you're wrinkled. —Maya Angelou

Well, it will be a long time from now before I decide to dress that way, but I'm glad to know that I can if I want to, right? Maya Angelou certainly did. She died at 86 and accomplished great things during her lifetime. She is still relevant and will remain so for a long, long time. When I die, nobody but my immediate family and friends will remember me, but it really doesn't matter in the long run. Sometimes I think I should write a book, or publish my posts in some fashion, just so that I won't fade into history without any trace. But I fail to see what difference it would make in the world; I'll never be a Maya or an Eleanor Roosevelt or even a published author. I will make my own history as I live and love each day of my life and let it go. My need for creativity and writing is pretty much satisfied by blogging, and making new friends through the magic of the internet. It's enough for me, and my happiness at the way my life has turned out is boundless. 

I am also filled with gratitude for so many wonderful ways I get to enjoy my days. To continue to be able to hike and walk, albeit more slowly than I once did, to have enough to eat and a place to live that suits me well, and to have my partner to share our days together, well, it's enough. 

Mama and me in 1943

When she was a young woman, Mama had no idea how she would live her life, how many children she would have, or how it would all turn out. I think if she were to look back from the vantage point of a century later, she would be pleased and grateful, too, for having had her moment on the stage, with a magnolia in her hair and an off-the-shoulder blouse, because she was like that. She imparted her infant with oodles of love and safety, and I feel it still today. As long as I live, my mother will continue to visit me in my dreams. Who could ask for more?

And with that, I will wrap up this post and look forward to the rest of my day. It's getting warmer, so I'll take a walk earlier in the day, after having had breakfast with my friend John, and spending some time with SG. And giving thanks for everything the universe has blessed me with. That includes you, my dear virtual friends. I wish you nothing but the best week ahead and surround you with love and gratitude. Be well.