Darling, I am growing old,
Silver threads among the gold,
Shine upon my brow today;
Life is fading fast away.

Eben E. Rexford

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gotta Write!

One person commenting on my blog mentioned addictive behavior with blogging.  As someone who likes to write, I’ve been bitten by the addiction bug before. Years ago, when taking a college creative writing class, I became so obsessed with writing, that I was getting very little sleep. I’d climb into bed, tired to the bone, and my mind would start working on ideas for a poem, mentally editing sentences I’d written hours before, or constructing a plot for a short story.  After an hour of this, I’d slip from bed to start putting my thoughts on paper.

That was long before I owned a computer, so most of my rough drafts were handwritten  as I curled up beside a revived fire. During the wee hours of the morning, ideas flowed quickly from my mind onto the paper. I often would have to force myself crawl back in bed to grab a couple of hours of sleep before I had to rise to get my kids off to school.

One reason I’ve decided to commit to blog writing is to rekindle that desire to create, that urge to express my thoughts on paper, that need to document my existence. The process is so much easier now with a computer at my fingertips, and my time is less encumbered with responsibilities. As long as I get some food on the table (no longer my sole responsibility now that my husband’s retired) and get the bills paid on time, I have the option to choose writing over housework, writing over laundry, or writing over yard work.  If I want to spend hours on the computer letting my thoughts transfer onto the screen, I can ignore the grubby floors, the overflowing hamper, or the persistent weeds that will keep popping up faster than I can pull them.

Another reason I’m entering the already overcrowded blogosphere is that I’m terrified my mind will begin to fail me before all my ideas have been transformed into something concrete.  I have no delusions about writing the Great  American Novel or a compelling memoir. I don’t care to research a topic for a marketable magazine article. I want to exercise my brain for the sake of getting my synapses connecting and expanding.  My body is obviously declining, but I still have a chance to salvage my brain.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Growing (old) Pains

One of the biggest pains of growing old isn't a physical one, but that of realizing I can't keep up with my grandchildren. Fortunately I don't fret about having everything perfect when my kids come; they'd know I was faking anyway! They pitch in and clean house and cook, knowing that I won't be insulted if they scrub the kitchen or put together a meal. My grandkids love playing with their cousins, and I sit back and enjoy watching them together. They live so far apart that they usually only see each other once a year. Their bond is amazing.

I  was born to "older" parents. My cousins were a generation ahead of me, so their kids were my "real" cousins, and there weren't too many of them. I didn't have much chance to see them, although many lived in the same county, so I don't have many memories of cousin bonds. My grandparents had passed away, so there weren't many family gatherings.

There WAS my mom's family picnic on Memorial Day. We always called it May 30th, because it was on the actual day, not the last Monday of the month. We always gathered at my aunt's house in the town where mom grew up. We picked flowers from our yard, which always had lots of spring blooms, grown especially for that occasion. I still remember the fragrance of the sweet williams and roses in the car as we traveled to the picnic. We were in our best clothes, of course, because it was a special, almost sacred day.

After meeting at my aunt's house, we'd ride to the cemetery to lay our flowers on the graves of my mother's family. The most special grave was that of Mom's brother who had died in World War I.  I associate my grandparents with those once-a-year-visited graves. I think that's one reason I especially value my time with my grandchildren; I want them to have memories of me as a living person, not as a name on a tombstone. I don't remember the afternoon picnics with my aunts, uncles, and  older cousins nearly as much as my time at those graves.

I regret that I tire so easily and have to rest often when the kids visit. I have a valid excuse for that -- fibromyalgia and some recent surgeries -- but my naps force me to miss valuable time with my grandchildren.  Will they remember that I slept a lot, rather than played with them?  They play with their cousins so much of our time together; will they know how much pleasure I got from hearing their squeals and laughter?

I want to be able to walk through the woods with the little ones, looking for bugs and slugs, and climbing over fallen logs. I make my way on the uneven ground very slowly, using walking sticks to keep my balance. They tire of waiting for me, I'm sure, so most of their time in the woods is without me. I want to ride on the four-wheeler with them, but my back just won't take it. I'd like to play volleyball with them, but a fall could mean another hospital visit.  As I said, not being able to keep up with my grandchildren is a pain. The hugs are wonderful, though, and they don't hurt at all!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Please, anyone who views this blog, bear with my experimentation. I'm trying to find fonts, sizes, colors, etc. for the various elements of the blog, but when I think I've found what I want, I can't save it. I'll learn; I'm sure I will. Let's just hope my learning curve gets shorter!

More Perks

After 15+ years of being eligible for senior discounts, I still haven't gotten the hang of making the most of them. We recently stayed at a federal campground, and I realized that I still haven't applied for the Golden Pass (or whatever it's called) so we could save a bundle on the fee. For that one night, we would have saved $8. I've got to remember to look that up. One more thing on my to-do list. 

I just got this link from a friend.  108 Stores with Senior Discounts (PDF, 141 KB) I wasn't aware of many of these perks. I only recently learned I could get a free drink with a dinner order at KFC.  It was so funny.  The cute teenager waiting on me was squirming, trying to ask me if I was old enough for the discount. I know darn well she had no doubt that I was, but she made such an effort not to insult me. I love seeing such thoughtfulness in a teen; I'm so often brushed off as too old to be worthy of attention.

I remember the first time I received a senior discount. I bought lunch in restaurant in Lakeport. After I got home, I realized my tab was less than it should have been. I looked at the receipt and saw that I'd been given a discount.  It didn't say senior, but I couldn't deny what it was.  Close to tears, I told Doyle that I thought I'd just been given my first senior discount. How dare that cashier assume I was past the age of 55 (or whatever their senior guideline was).  I knew I didn't look that old. I was still teaching, so I was coloring my hair to keep from being invisible to my students. My face was downright youthful looking.  Humph!

I've gotten over that. My gray hair, baggy eyes, and wrinkles, not to mention the damn old age spots, give me away every time. I've found that most clerks, however, don't offer the discount without being asked, so I've got to make myself ask for it. I need to notice which days stores give a special price to seniors. I've got to get in "old lady" mode when it comes to shopping.  A saving's a saving, no matter how I can get it.

Every time I grumble about my disintegrating body, I need to think: SENIOR DISCOUNTS. "Shop 'til you drop" happens a lot quicker now;  I have to make the best use of my time!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Senior Perks

The other day I wrote an entry about the negative side of growing older. The Cyberspace Monster gobbled it up, probably for good reason. Nobody wants to listen to an old geezer grumble about aches and pains, particularly another old geezer.

Today I'm thinking of the perks of  being older. Number one on my list is grandchildren. I have seven, and they're the best grandchildren in the world. Oh, I know other grandparents would argue with me on that point, but I'm allowed to ignore them.  My kids are great, too. In a couple of weeks my baby will be forty, so with an eight year span between the three, I think I can claim to know a lot about raising kids. The reason you try to do your best to raise good kids, is so that maybe they'll present you with wonderful grandchildren. In our case, it worked. I'm sure being perfect parents had a lot to do with it. LOL  Yeah, I know, you think I'm exaggerating, but who cares what you think?

I'm in a more positive mood today because I have Jessica and Daniel with me.. I get to see them more than the other five, because they live a lot closer. At 9 and 11, they still need babysitters when their parents go out, so we don't have a lot of trouble snagging them for a night now and then. They arrived about noon, bearing Subway sandwiches for their grandparents. Yum. Grandpa was more than glad to eat his for lunch, but since I'd just finished breakfast, I stashed mine away. Predictably, they also brought a package of mac and cheese for dinner. One thing I've learned about grandchildren, is that they're inseparatable from their mac and cheese. Tonight I gave Jessi her first chance to actually make their favorite entree. Grandpa dumped the cooked macaroni in the strainer, then back in the pan. Jessi squeezed the cheese out of the foil package, stirred, and, viola! Mac & cheese!  Happy kids, messy kitchen, oh well!  I feasted on my seafood Subway sandwich, and Jessi didn't notice that I didn't sample her cooking.

Later, the kids and I hot tubbed together. We had a deep, serious conversation - one of those that can only happen between kids & Grandma in the hot tub. The dishes were still in the sink when when we headed for bed, but, who cares? Our time together is a lot more important than dirty dishes.

Next day note: Grandpa did the dishes this morning before the rest of us rolled out of bed. That makes last night even better!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Growing older in Cyberspace

I remember the themes of my second and third posts, but not the exact words. Maybe that's a good thing. I know I blabbered on more than you would have liked. I'll just try to recapture some of the main points, and leave it to you to expand if you want.
I'll only try to tackle one of them now. Growing Old in Cyberspace ~ That was the title of one of my lost posts. It was more prophetic than I would have thought. Because of my foggy brain, many of my (Oh, so Brilliant) thoughts are gone in cyberspace. My premise was that most of my contemporaries and I are much behind the younger crowd in technology. My grandchildren were exposed to computers in the womb, and can suck up the rapid changes in technology like sponges. We seniors had to transition from the marvels of radio, television, hand-crank telephones, dial telephones, electric typewriters, and teletypes before we were exposed to computers.

I was lucky enough to get into the ground floor of computers, at least the third floor. My first computer was a Mac SE, a magical machine that didn't have a hard drive. I bought it with scholarship money my first year at CSU Chico, which was when I was 47 years old. I didn't buy the SE 20, which had 20 mgs of memory, because I didn't know what a hard drive was, and it cost a couple of hundred dollars more. The basic computer was, after all, over two thousand dollars. Add a $500 printer to that, and I shot my wad. The next fall, I used scholarship money to buy a $500 external hard drive which gave me 20 mgs of memory! This set-up got me through the next five years or so, until I'd saved some money from a few years of teaching.

I bought a new computer when the internet, with it's miraculous email, lured me into spending more money. Many of my contemporaries joined in at this point, having to learn computer basics along with the marvels of cyberspace. I was scrambling to keep up with the now-exploding world of the internet, and it's been a scramble ever since. There are some aspects of computer-speak I'll never understand, and many programs I've chosen not to learn. When I was teaching, I made much use of print programs, Microsoft Office and Filemaker. I've found since, however, that as I've upgraded computers, I've had to buy upgraded versions of programs. Filemaker zoomed out of my price range, and my most current version of office is 2003. That works on my new PC laptop with System 7, but on my 2009 Mac, I make do with the basic programs that came with it.
Somehow I got seduced into the world of facebook, along with many of my friends. We're all struggling with the fact that we barely master one part of it, only to have it changed. I feel a little smug when I hear my younger friends complaining about the same thing. Oh well, there are more of us learning together.

Many of my friends have chosen not to delve into computerland, so I find I have more trouble keeping in touch. I lovingly call them dinosaurs, one of whom is my husband who won't come within three feet of my computer. He has at least learned how handy computers are, and often asks me to look up something for him. He also doesn't grumble as much over the money I've spent on technology, which is a plus!

I'm still resisting buying a smartphone, since I rarely even turn my cell phone on. I'm thinking of getting us the simple models where you can buy minutes as you go. I know if I do that, however, I'll soon be lamenting that I can't take pictures or text (still learning how to do that) or play Words with Friends on my phone. I don't have data on my phone now, but I do have an iPod that came with my Mac. I can play games with my kids on that as long as I'm near a Wi-Fi. Oh, I forgot to mention how Wi-Fi has become a necessity in my home.

Will someone please place a moratorium on technology so I can catch my breath?

(Sorry, my recap is longer than my original post!)

This is the real beginning of my blog - reposted

“Darling, I am growing old,
Silver threads among the gold,
Shine upon my brow today;
Life is fading fast away.”

Eben E. Rexford.

I guess this doesn’t totally apply to me, since my hair was never gold, but “brown” just doesn’t cut it. I could change it to “Darling, I am winding down; silver threads among the brown.” That would at least rhyme, but I don’t like it much, either. I’ll just borrow the “silver threads” part, and go from there.
I AM growing old; I’ll be celebrating my seventieth birthday next month. I kind of like that number. It validates my aging body, and it hints of the wisdom I hope I’ve gained over the years.
This blog will be devoted to my threads of thought on aging: pros and cons, acceptance and protest; an inside view of what is often referred to as “the downhill part of life.” It’s something my mind can’t ignore. As the saying goes, “sh . . happens,” but it doesn’t necessarily have to stink! I don’t want the rest of my life to be a process of fading. I want it to be a continuous flow, ebbing, but with periods of regrowth.
I invite comments on these threads. My mind needn’t wander on in isolation. Outside views can be interwoven with mine, whether they come from young or old. Let’s look at the later years of life together. Maybe I’m more focused on aging than I was at twenty-five, but I can’t let that focus dominate my thoughts. I need to be shaken up a bit, and I hope you’ll help me by offering your prospective.

I can't believe what I did!

I had it all perfect, just like I wanted it, except for one thing. My first post had accidently been posted three times. No problem, I thought. I went to the edit page and selected one to delete. Whoops! It didn't work. Tried it again. This time I selected "all", thinking it meant all of that post. I was warned that deletion couldn't be undone. Okay. I wanted the whole post to disappear. Hit the button. GONE. Message: You haven't created a blog. Echo: Are you sure you want to delete? Yes. Gone, gone, gone.

At least my template and format are intact. My followers (all three) remain. I have the first post saved on my computer. I'll try again, but not now. I need another cup of coffee. Maybe coffee on steroids. EEEEEeeeeeeeeeeek. This is not a sign of old age. It's a sign of stupidity. That, I can work on. The journey continues~