Category Archives: Aging

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.. . . (Dylan Thomas)

Time for a Reboot

Zebra pattern rubber bootsLast year started with the best of intentions, but soon, I got distracted. I got a diagnosis in March that led to surgery and 6 weeks of recovery, and while they were confident they “got everything” and even though the lymph nodes were clear, they still recommended just a touch of chemo and radiation—I finished in September. While I was at it I had all the other tests too—mammography, colonoscopy, that weird mole looked at—you know the drill– and all of those tests came back fine. Truth is, I have a lot to be thankful for from 2015.

Once I went back to work after surgery, even though I didn’t miss more work unless I was having a procedure, I didn’t always have the energy to do things I normally would. I didn’t travel for work very much. I didn’t go out as often. I suddenly was watching a lot more tv than I ever had before. I was low energy.

But I’m feeling much better now!

I’m looking forward to 2016. While I have quarterly physical exams for the foreseeable future, the doctors tell me the stats are that I have a 5-10 percent chance of a recurrence, which sounds pretty low to me. I’m getting my energy back, and ready to start 2016, which looks to be a good year for Philip and me. I have a lot of things that I want to get done this year, so I’m brushing off some of my organization skills and planning how to make up for lost time. I’m really excited to be getting stronger, getting my hair back and getting on with things.

I am hoping that I can build up some momentum this year. The business is poised to grow, I’m in the mood to do more “things” and frankly, I’m feeling optimistic and healthier than I have for a long time. So—here I go. Pulling on my boots and getting ready to wade into life again. Should be fun!

Don’t Thread on Me

I had just come off a long 4 days of conference exhibiting, client schmoozing and basically being ON all the time.  By Thursday morning, I had logged 56 work hours for the week.  I needed to get out of my hotel room to let the housekeeper clean my room. I needed a little exercise. I needed lunch.

So, I went to the mall across the street from my hotel.

I have done most of my shopping on the internet for the last several years, so I rarely go to any mall. The number and variety of little kiosk shops has expanded exponentially since I last spent much time  in malls.   Nail creams, purses, phone covers, luggage, jewelry, wrinkle cream, bejeweled flipflops, wiglets, chair massages (both motorized vibrating chairs and human massage options), dental bleaching–you name it, its waiting for you at a mall kiosk.  None of these drew me in.

But—the eyebrow threading place looked interesting.  A woman I “know” online from one of the boards I frequent had talked about having her eyebrows threaded, and I’d been noticing that I needed to get something done, as my on and off plucking was not doing the trick of keeping a nice shape.  On a whim, I stopped at the threading kiosk.

The girl told me the price, I said, ok, and reclined in the chair. She started with the little twirling/thread thing. At first, I thought—wow, that isn’t so bad, it is similar to waxing, but not all at once.  The obvious big eyebrow hairs came out, the smaller eyebrow hairs were flying around me and the fine, tiny hairs that were around my eyebrows were also being yanked out.  And I’ll tell you, they hurt as much or more than the big eyebrow hairs. And suddenly, it was over, she was handing me the mirror and I was pleased. My brows looked much better. Not so much different from eyebrow waxing.

Time for the upsell. “Lip too” she asked.  I asked the price, it wasn’t much, so I said “sure” since I do have about 5 noticeable lip hairs that I am constantly fighting.  So she began again.

Apparently, I should have asked her for a safe word!

I had thought “lip too” would mean just the little area above my mouth where the 5 offending hairs (we won’t call them whiskers) reside.   Oh no.  “Lip too” covered the expanse of skin from nose to chin (but not under the chin, where I might need it for another 6 annoying hairs) and across my cheeks to where my dimples appear when I smile— roughly the area that a clown would paint red before a big show. She kept going and going.

I started patterned breathing to try to distract myself from the pain.  (Breathe in 4 counts.  Hold 4 counts. Breathe out 4 counts. Hold 4 counts.) She found my noticeable hairs and then went after the peach fuzz and then hairs so small that they are invisible to the human eye.  A couple of times, she got skin, I’m sure of it.

My eyes were watering. I was breathing to the count. I was trying to relax my shoulders (maybe if I were less tense, the hair would glide out instead of feeling like each little hair shaft was rooted in like a wisdom tooth).  And she kept swooping in with her string of agony to yank more hair I hadn’t realized I had.

After a few hours (ok, a couple of minutes or so) she finished.  She swabbed me down with something then brushed a little powder on my poor sore face.  I expected it to be bright red, but when I looked in the mirror, it looked pretty much as it had before she started, though it felt completely smooth and hairless—which was the goal.

“You are crying” she said, somewhat accusatory (apparently, crying is not allowed—but I wasn’t really “crying” my eyes were watering—totally different thing) and handed me a tissue. I paid her, including a tip, because despite the fact what I had experienced might be condemned by anti-torture groups in the right setting, she had only done what I asked her to do.

I stumbled off, clutching the Kleenex she gave me.  I deserved a margarita with lunch after that!

Fork This

We’re getting older. Or at least Philip is. He had a birthday. Which means that for the next 6 months, he’s two years older than me. But, to make up for that, there are certain benefits—gifts, cake, food that will shorten your life—you know, the things that make life worth living.  And, lucky me, I’ve been sharing in the benefits.

First off, there are the free meals—as restaurants try to make you feel better about aging by giving you free comfort food. We are signed up for several restaurant email lists, and get a variety of coupons at through the year, but at birthday time—well, we don’t go hungry. Philip scored 3 meals this year. A big national chain, a smaller national chain and a local chain emailed Philip with free meal deals. So raise a fork to honor the birthday boy!

Over the last 10 days we shared a Balsamic Chicken dish, a really great Stuffed Chicken breast and a seriously yummy, mid-afternoon brunch of Eggs Benedict.  We usually supplement our half meal with a house salad each, and we get plenty to eat, and two side salads usually add up to the cost of a second entrée, so we aren’t really hurting anyone economically.  We don’t split to save money, though we have nothing against saving money, we do it to save calories. Per the restaurant web page, a full order of Eggs Benedict has 591 calories—toss in the sides, and the plate has over 800 calories.

Given that we spend our days as desk jockeys as opposed to digging ditches or tossing hay bales off a truck, we never need an 800 calorie meal! However, even half was so satisfying.  It had been a very long since I had Eggs Benedict, and the first bite was yummy.  We enjoyed Philips “free” birthday meals.

I also get to benefit at what Philip picked as he birthday gift. He is our breakfast cook and what we eat for breakfast is Eggbeaters, usually with some chopped veggies tossed in and either a lite marinara sauce or salsa, with a side of fruit or V-8.  Whole breakfast is usually about 100-150 calories, as opposed to 800.  And Philip is the morning chef.

He has been making more omelets, lately, and while we had a pretty good ceramic nonstick surface pan, it had finally worn out, after once or even twice daily use for quite some time.  The handle was loose, the finish was damaged and thus no longer truly nonstick and it just wasn’t working out.  So when I asked him what he wanted as a gift, he chose—new nonstick skillets. We looked at the ceramic, as we had loved it, but he was wanting something a little heavier, so he picked out a set of anodized aluminum that seem to be great—not that I’ve cooked with them yet.  But, Philip has, and has even been practicing air flipping his omelets.  So, he has fun and I get breakfast. So happy birthday to us!

And raise a fork!

Wedding Bells are Breaking up That Old Gang of Mine!

dreamstimefree_247942Which somehow surprises me.

I guess I wasn’t paying attention. I was less surprised when this happened after college, where everyone moved or married or married and moved and all summer there seemed to be wedding after wedding. But I’ve gone to two going away parties in the last 3 weeks for friends of mine who had been single for years and who are now packing all or part of their stuff and heading off into the sunset with a new mate.

One had been living with her fiancé for a while, and they just finally decided to make the move—so they sold their house and moved to Florida. Another had been thinking about retiring for a while, but just in the last month retired from her job, married a man she had become re-acquainted with over the last year and is keeping her place here but living with her new husband part-time in California. They are all happy and excited and looking forward to the future.

To which I say “YAY!”

I guess retirement is sort of like graduation—people are free from a commitment or constraint and they scatter to the wind, ready to try something and someplace new!

In a way, it is fun because when I’m on the road, I’ll have more people to call to meet for dinner. But it is also a bittersweet end of an era when I saw these women frequently. Once again, technology is our friend in this situation, because the friend who is now in Florida happily gave the comparative weather report today between her balmy beach and my city, snowed in today by Winter Storm Q.

Tomorrow I may send a comparison of python sightings–what do you think?

Overheard at the Denver Airport

This snippet of a conversation. . .

Two young men—late teens, early 20s—were discussing books.

Pete:  “Do you read much?”

RePete:  “You mean like, books?  Not really.”

Pete: “I was reading a book last week that is really good.  Amazingly, it was from the 1930s, I think.”

RePete: “Were you reading it like ‘words on a page’ or like an audio?”

Pete:  “An audio—why would I read words on a page?”

My initial thought is “What? You aren’t reading when you listen to an audio book!”

But that may just be my expectation that people use words accurately—reading is a specific action.  My second thought is my belief that people process information we read differently than we process information we hear—I think reading is easier and faster than listening to someone else read, and easier to review if you want to clarify something—you don’t have to play back on an MP3, just reread.  I also know my mind sometimes wanders and plays “let’s free associate” when I am listening to a book while driving. So for me, the two things are not interchangeable.

But I know people differ on how they process information, and some people with certain learning disabilities might find this the best method to get information.  I also know a lot of people listen to books while doing housework or other repetitive tasks, or while driving.  But do they consider it “reading”.  Somehow, I’d be more comfortable if the kid had said “I listened to a book the other night that was written in the 1930s.”

Or, maybe I should get with the program and go read a show on NPR.

Disco Inferno

DiscoBallVectorIllustrationPhilip and I were fortunate enough to be invited to a networking event while we were at a conference that turned out to be one of the more pleasant such events ever and a bit disturbing. First — the fun.
This event was hosted by a LRV(Large, Rich Vendor) and we were guests of one of LRV’s clients, who is also one of ours. We got there, found our client and she helped us network with a few other people. However, this night turned moved immediately from “vendor networking event” to PARTY!
LRV provided a serious buffet with Kobe beef sliders, flat breads, dips and chips and cheeses and crackers and truffle flavored French fries. They also had an open bar, unfettered by the limitations of drink tickets. All of this overlooking a large dance floor and on the stage. . . a disco cover band called Le Freak.
I had Googled the band and was not sure how they’d be, given their satirical bent. I also know how many 70s things are flat out mocked in movies, but, free is good, and we were in town to network, so we would NETWORK!
When we arrived, the band had just started playing, and about 4 women were dancing in a group and one couple had hit the floor. Sounds like a Junior High Dance, doesn’t it?
But soon, all that changed. (I did mention the open bar.) The band was doing a very good job with the music, had a ribald banter that loosened up the crowd, and was playing song after song that scored a direct bull’s eye for the demographic of the room, which was 55 plus or minus a decade, for the most part. Early in the first set, people were hitting the dance floor in larger numbers.
People in their 50s, of various fitness levels and body types, flocked to the dance floor. Plump guys in pleated Dockers were getting down, and doing such a good job with the old Disco steps, you could almost see them at 17. Cowboys in boots and hats were swinging their partner, not quite Do-Si-Do but since it was Texas, there were people doing a country swing dance to a disco beat—and everybody in the place was having fun. In a very short time anyone who wasn’t dancing was singing along to every song.
This led to the disturbing part of the night. The group played KC and the Sunshine Band’s song with the deep and compelling lyrics:

That’s the way, unh-huh, unh-huh
I like it, unh-huh, unh-huh.

Like most people, the woman at the next table was singing along. And she was putting serious moves on her husband–very serious moves—almost embarrassingly serious moves, which he seemed to be brushing off. That was less disturbing to me than noticing that, as she was pawing his arm/back/neck in time to the music, The Dancing Queen is no longer only 17, and she has age spots!  She was tall, slim, dressed in a top with just a touch of disco glitter and, on closer observation, she not only had age spots, she could be described as frail!
ACK!! Old ladies are not supposed to know all the words do disco songs (NOTE: given my age, when I think of someone as an old lady, they are pretty old). While I’ve long recognized that when I hit the nursing home, the music we’ll listen to will include Queen and ABBA. I just wasn’t expecting to see the first wave of the Disco Generation look so ready to check in to Shady Pines quite yet!
Of course, any 30 year old in the place was probably thinking the same thing about ME!

Here’s to the Past, the Future and Today

Hand uncorking a wine bottle

Thanks, Younger Grace and Philip!

Last night, we opened a bottle of wine that our younger selves bought and put away for us.  And it was quite a tasty treat!  It was a bottle of 1997 Stag’s Leap, bought when we were much less knowledgeable about wine, but were eager to learn more. In those days–like a lot of people– we had a decent income and comparatively low outgo, so—yay—we could afford good wine to lay up. And it did a very nice job of laying up and was a treat when we opened the bottle. 

But it reminds me that I am “Younger Grace” compared to someday.  So I need to figure out what kinds of good things I can do today to ensure that Someday Grace is happy and grateful for what I did or didn’t do going forward from today!  And while that likely includes buying a bit more wine for the cellar, it can also be saving a few more bucks to do everything from buy food to updating my house or maybe splurge as a space tourist when I’m retired.  And I think I’d love a driverless car. I probably ought to exercise a bit more, so that Someday Grace can get around well enough to do the things she/I’ll want to do .   Someday Grace, I’ll keep you in mind when I decide how to spend our money and our time…. 


Three Women Walking

The link takes you to one of my favorite sculptures, Three Women Walking (Tres Mujeres Caminando) which represents three stages of femininity: the young, the matronly, and the elderly. It shows a woman walking, as a youthful woman is walking in the opposite direction moving away from her and an older woman is walking behind her, seemingly gaining on her.