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Archive for March, 2012

Some Thoughts on Aging

I was listening to a gerontologist being interviewed on the Internet tonight and had to think…………….I can’t be old because I am not at all like the descriptions the doctor (whom I am only assuming is a PHD) was presenting or that perhaps I am somewhat anomalous. Actually, I think that’s a good thing, who wants to be categorized, pigeonholed or stuck into a classification or type?  It surely isn’t odd to think of oneself as unique, different from others and neither is it arrogant. Human beings are unique even though they sometimes have some habits and characteristics in common. Isn’t that how we form friendships? We are attracted to people with whom we share beliefs and attitudes.

I’ve come to accept that, like all people, I am aging. Fortunately, I am among the lucky humans who seems to be (at 75) enjoying better than usual good heath for that age in that I take no prescription medications and except for a stubborn rash on one hand and a case of tendinitis in my right shoulder, I seldom have occasion to consult a doctor, twice in eighteen years is a pretty good record.  Sure, I have some aches and pains as I seem to have about the same level of osteoarthritis as my mother who is 93, in reasonably good health and who still lives in her own condo in a senior residence in a suburb of Atlanta. We both manage that with over the counter medications like Aleve,  That pretty much covers the physical part, mentally I feel I am still pretty much as sharp as ever which I attribute to having to learn how to use a computer seventeen years ago when I was still a real estate agent.

For some reason that self education was easy for me, it was as though my brain is wired like the machines I have worked with, both then and now. I have found it frustrating however, that my husband seems not to want to learn how to do anything new on the computer. I can understand his mindset as he is also self-taught but in an era before windows when all commands were by keyboard (no such thing as a mouse) and most of his work was simply writing reports or professional papers in front of a blue screen with orange letters. I understand his feelings but things are so much easier now and there are some great programs out there in cyberspace………….like this one! I will, however, be happy to update the programs that he does use and correct things when he becomes frustrated. He is correct in that people who write computer programs are a jealous bunch who have no interest in writing programs which are compatible with other people’s previously successful programs…..I call it guarding one’s bones and well adjusted people have no need to behave like that. It is interesting to note that with the exception of one of my children, the others come to me to ask “how to” questions about computers and their operation. It really is a good feeling to be helpful to one’s grown children and even, occasionally, to my grandchildren………..perhaps I even feel a bit smug about it though I hope that emotion does not show, it’s not an attractive characteristic.

I can only hope to retain my current good health as long as possible, life is an adventure that I am not finished enjoying!

Since I wrote this slightly over 2 years ago, my outlook on aging has changed somewhat. Though I still enjoy general good health, I have, in the past 7 months had two orthopedic surgeries to correct a severely osteo-arthritic hip and a knee which had also become problematic fifty five years after I injured it water skiing. I am fortunate to live in a community where the medical facilities are excellent and the physicians are top notch. My surgeon performed both of my joint replacements, the right hip in September of 2013 and the knee on January 7th of 2014. I am told that I no longer have any arthritic joints which was pleasant to hear. I am finding that I belong to a large group of people I know personally but until now did not know had joint replacements as well. We call ourselves the bionic people. I am interested in seeing how I will be handled at the airport next Tuesday when my husband and I will be flying to Atlanta to visit my mother and a brother who lives there as well. It will be wonderful to see them after two years and we will not allow that much time to elapse before the next visit which we are planning for the fall of this year.

Some Personal Observations on “Climate Change”

It almost choked me to write the title to this post, not because it isn’t accurate but because of what climate change has become in the vernacular and in the news. This is of course, no startling phenomena, the climate is constantly changing. It always has and always will but that two word phrase has been adopted by the global warming nuts as a replacement for their failed “Global Warming” theory. There are those who would credit Al Gore with the Global Warming “movement” but that really isn’t entirely accurate……it was originally started by some nameless faceless people within the UN as a way of raising some serious cash via a global “carbon tax”. Gore simply jumped on board with his (incredible) Inconvenient Truth, a silly screed full of nonsense, twisted truth and totally made up statistics, the now discredited “hockey stick” graph, later to be proved totally false, and based on inaccurate input and out and out lies. By the way, how is that global warming working for you all?  Probably just about as well as the “Hope and Change” promised by the Democrat standard bearer in 2008. Shame on you who fell for that simply because you were hoping for some change even if you hadn’t been told what sort of change could be expected.

I’ve digressed but not needlessly as this post is all about falsehoods, spin and failed theories. The climate has changed but not in a good way. When my family arrived in Oregon almost 43 years ago it was by way of a transfer for my husband’s work. We were not averse to leaving our previous home in Michigan where we had just 2 years before (in 1967) been assaulted by a snowstorm, dare I say it, of biblical proportions? A snowstorm that stranded people on freeways and even on the surface streets to their homes. While I can not tell you how much snow actually fell, it was blown in gigantic drifts by a fierce wind which also packed that snow into matter so dense that had to be chopped into blocks with the side of a snow scoop before it could even be shoveled up. It was eerily quiet when the storm was over……….no traffic sounds, nothing! It would be three days before our roads would be anywhere near “cleared” and 150 miles away to the west, Chicago was also paralyzed with O’Hare airport shut down totally for a bit over 3 days.

Coming to Oregon completed a family journey all the way across the country from my husband and my childhood homes in Maine where we grew up and where the first 2 of our four children, a daughter Andrea, and a son, Marc, were born. Albany, New York, was the next stop…..I was halfway through my third pregnancy at the time and our son Mike arrived the following year in April. We were not to be there long as my husband who was effective in his job with the New York State Department of Health, became very disenchanted with working for the largest bureaucracy in the country (at least at the time) outside of the Federal government and when a job offer almost too good to be true came from a contact he had made with a group which services the pulp and paper industry, we gladly left for Kalamazoo Michigan where the company had an office on the campus of Western Michigan University. Our last child, another boy, Stephen was born there, a short time later. We enjoyed our time in Michigan, the people were wonderful, warm, friendly, fun loving and with strong feelings for home and family. We were glad to be away from the hard winters of Maine and the frequent Ice storms of New York but were unprepared for a new sort of climate! Spring and Fall in Michigan, at least the southern part where we settled were beautiful seasons, but the first shock was what being surrounded by the Great Lakes could do to summer and Winter in that part of the country! Summers were brutally hot but temperatures in the 90s alone would have been tolerable had it not been for the humidity which often hovered at or near 90% for days at a time. I will not describe the winter climate as I have already told you about just one of those winters, which was of course, the worst of the seven winters we spent there. Adding to the problems we had while in Michigan was a one to which we had never been exposed previously, racial tensions in the school where my children were educated………….an elementary school where such a problem should have been nipped in the bud but was not, due to almost entirely white staff not wanting to look biased in the treatment of black students who were usually but not always the cause of the problem…………..need I mention that this was the 60s? Before we were finally transferred to Oregon, there were police, in uniform patrolling the halls of a local high school and some disenchanted students “of color” had even thrown desks out through the upper story windows. I might add that they did not bother to open the windows!

Our “Michigan problems” were soon solved by my husband being offered a transfer to Oregon where he would be replacing the Regional Manager of the office there who would be moving up to a position in the main office in Manhattan. It was certainly not our business to tell my husband’s predecessor that he had no idea what he was getting into by agreeing to move to New York (they eventually settled in Connecticut). He would soon find out by himself about the commuting, the congestion, the crowded schools and having little time to spend with his wife and 5 children. Since he seemed not to know any better, we felt it prudent to remain quiet as he was to be one of three people in the Manhattan office who would be my husband’s superiors.

We adored our new home, once again friendly helpful people who were only as involved in one’s life as one would permit, a climate which was everything anyone could want, warm in summer but not often too hot and never humid. Even when it was, on rare occasions, too hot, it cooled nicely by late afternoon when the Pacific breezes came in from the coast about 45 miles away by that “crow flies” measurement. Winters, while rainy and wet were most tolerable as the rain was rarely much more than drizzle or often just a heavy mist. Best of all, it almost never fell below freezing, and while it was wet, the lawns and abundant conifers were green and beautiful all winter. Living in a fertile valley between the Coast Range Mountains and the Cascades provided ample opportunity to visit snow if we wanted to do so……..I did not, my husband however was and is a skier and had other ideas.  He occasionally went on day trips to one of the many available areas which provided that opportunity.

I’m not quite sure when things began to change but I am positive that it was at least 25 years before we noticed any significant change, but when it did start to happen we hoped it was an aberration…………..it wasn’t. It did seem to get warmer and we found that we actually felt the need for central air conditioning. The heat of the day was no longer dissipating as it had always done and the ceiling fans weren’t providing enough relief. Since our home had the original furnace we replaced it an added air conditioning. What a welcome relief it was and we were to depend on it more and more over the next three or four years. As rapidly as the heat had come, it was gone, buds were no longer on the trees and shrubs and my camellia bushes were no longer in bloom around the first of April as they had always been. Other flowers were later and the drifts of pink and white blossoms on the streets from the ornamental trees around town were later as well. People had finally waked to the fact that we’d been sold quite a hoax with “Global Warming”. It surely wasn’t global and it wasn’t even very warm anymore. Winters were  becoming colder and the nighttime temperatures began to fall below 32 degrees on a rather regular basis. We were often treated to a cover of snow in the mornings…………..not a welcome sight and what was something very new to all of us. We didn’t like it much but there was nothing to be done about it.  We tried to plant our tomatoes at the usual time but found we had to shelter them with paper cones or bags at night , more than once we lost plants to the cold and even when we did not, the fruit was smaller and often did not ripen until much later than what we had come to think of as normal.

We all adapt, what else is there to do? There is, after all, no way to fight this alteration to our seasons and our thermometers.  There are hints of something more disturbing from some of the climatologists…………a mini-ice age?  It wouldn’t be what people often associate with the term “ice age” but would mean more harsh weather than is comfortable and the loss of ability to grown some crops that have always flourished at our latitude. We have accepted what is and now wonder what is to come.  We wait………….apprehensively.

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