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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

Today I drove home from my son’s house where we had gone for Thanksgiving.  It should only take about 3 1/4 hours but it took over 4 1/2 hours this morning.  Rain. Rain. Rain.  Oh, and then the wind.  The rain was coming down not in sheets but in blankets!  Although the speed limit was 70, no one, not even the proverbial hot rodders that think they are Mario Andretti, was driving above 45.  Luckily, everyone was leaving a lot of room between their car and the others.  That part was good.

I’m getting too old to make this drive without a lot of rest between the drive up and back home.  I think I need a few days to recuperate between the drives.  I’m not only tired when I begin the trip home, I’m exhausted when I arrive.  And then there is the stress.  The stress of the drive knocks me out.  Today, I got home, sat on the couch and the next thing I knew, it was three hours later.  I had fallen asleep.  Then I had to go out to unload the car but it was raining so hard that I had to come back in and wait til it let up a bit.

I know I’m complainig. I shouldn’t.  It was wonderful to be included in my son and daughter-in-law’s Thanksgiving celebration and also that my daughter and grandsons were also included.  That was a bonus.  I’m also glad we took two cars. They still aren’t back yet as they stopped to see her in-laws along the route back.

Now I wait for Christmas when I’ll do it all over again.  For Christmas, the bonus will be that my youngest daughter will also be coming so we will all be together.  That makes the drive worthwhile.  And I’m not doing it one day up and the next day back down.  I’ll have three days between the up and down!  Of course it will also mean that I will be a year older as I will have a birthday on Christmas so yes, I’ll probably feel a lot older!

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“Since his stroke he’s been living in the present.  He has no past and no future.  He lives in a present that lasts six minutes, and every six minutes the meter of his memory resets itself to zero.  Every six minutes he asks me my name.  Every six minutes he asks what day it is.  Every six minutes he asks if Maman is coming to see him.” –from The List Of My Desires by Grégoire Delacourt

I often think about getting so old that I have no memory.  If I have no memory, I will cease to exist because we are our memories.  And honestly speaking, who would want to go on living past the point where their memory was gone?

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First, I was all set for a cup of hot coffee to enjoy before my grandson got up. (He spent the night because he got in trouble at home and wanted to go to Nana’s house so his mom called and asked if he could come.)  I make a single cup of coffee at a time using a Melitta type drip coffee cone.  I do this because for years I would make a 12 cup pot and end up drinking all 12 cups myself which is not good so I ended up in the habit of just fixing one cup at a time.  I heat the water in the microwave because I don’t use the stove anymore.  I don’t use the stove anymore because the last time that I did, on Easter Sunday of 2012, I forgot that I had a tea kettle full of water on the stove and I left the house for Easter dinner and didn’t return for three hours.  I could have burned the house down but I guess the Powers That Be were watching over me so instead I came home to a house full of smoke and the horrid smell of the burning metal but thankfully, no flame.  I have no other explanation.  That wasn’t the first time but that was the worst.  On previous occasions I had left soup or a pot of beans on the stove while I ran out to get my daughter from school.  No, not intentionally.  I just forget things. Other times I had left the house with the oven or stove on and remembered when I got out on the highway (about five minutes aftere leaving home) and I would rush back.  This last time, that Easter, I just gave up.  Since then I have not used the stove.  I do everything in the microwave.  So back to this morning…

I put in the tumbler full of water and put the timer on the microwave.  Power went on.  The timer went on.  The light went on.  But it didn’t do anything.  No noise.  No turning turntable.  No heat.  Nothing.  I turned it off and cleared the timer and tried again.  Nothing.  I unplugged it, waited a few minutes, then plugged it back in and tried again.  Nope.  Nothing.  No microwave.  No hot water.  No coffee.  No relaxing time before my grandson got up.  So I cleared off and cleaned off the stovetop.  I dug out my Revere Ware tea kettle, filled it with water and turned it on.  Yay.  Now I could heat the water.  I went to read for a bit while the water boiled.  Ten minutes later I came to see why the tea kettle was not whistling.  Did my stove break down too?  I doubted that because it’s new.  I only had it for about a month when I stopped using it.  Nope.  The stove was on.  The water was boiling but the tea kettle was not whistling.  The whistle dohickie broke.  While this was fine for this one cup of coffee, it’s not fine in the long run because with a forgetful person like me, I have to have the whistler.  Anyway, I fixed my coffee and enjoyed it even though my grandson was up by then.

As I drank my coffee, I thought about going out to replace the microwave and the tea kettle.  It was very cold, though.  Inside and outside.  I figured I would wait a day or at least until the mid afternoon when our temps reach their highest.  Sitting there drinking my coffee I was quite aware of how cold it was inside my house.  I tend to not turn on the heater until November, unless there’s company.  But it was quite cold and Anderson was here playing with no shirt or pants on.  He’s four and doesn’t like to have clothes on so as long as he is home or here, he runs around in just underwear most of the time, unless there is company.  So I decided to turn on the heater for both of us.  I turned it on and turned up the thermostat (I keep it at about 68 for myself) so it would warm up quickly.  And, of course, not five minutes later the sun came out and it got hot in here.  Hot.  I shut off the heater but my house stays hot for a long time.

So now I am sitting here trying to cool off while I think of when and where I will go look for a replacement microwave and a whistling tea kettle.  And while I’m at it, I guess I need to replace my electric teapot again.  I used to use that for boiling water but when my mom came over she liked it and I gave it to her.  I replaced it and then my son came over and liked it so I gave it to him.  I replaced that one but never opened the box (because it wasn’t really the one I wanted) and ended up giving that one away.  So now I have none.  I like them because they shut off automatically when the water boils.  I think that’s just what I need.

I guess I should try to find a new “Rememberer” for myself, too.  That would make life so much easier!

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The other night, I streamed a couple of movies. It had been one of those days when I had needed a nap in the afternoon and had ended up sleeping more than I wanted to so then I couldn’t sleep that night. So I went to my watch list and picked one. Redwood Highway while being a 2013 movie is also the name of one of my favorite highways in California. In that stretch of Redwood Highway that goes from the Golden Gate Bridge to the northern coastal tip of the state (this stretch is not only U.S. Route 199 but also U.S. Route 199), one can get a condensed view of what California has to offer…the big city, wide open fields, vineyards, the rocky yet serene shores of the Pacific Ocean, and the California redwoods, to name just a few of the gems found along this stretch of the Redwood Highway in California.

So when I picked this movie to add to my watch list, I picked it expecting to see some of the familiar sights along the Redwood Highway, as well as because of the synopsis which tells us that Marie, a resident of a retirement home, feeling neglected by her family, decides to embark on an 80 mile journey to her granddaughter’s wedding, on foot. Doesn’t that sound interesting? That’s all I read of the synopsis. That was enough.

I was not disappointed. Shirley Knight plays Marie who is in her 70’s and lives in a retirement home (we’re not told where but from photos, it appears to be somewhere in the area of Rogue River, Oregon) where her son placed and sort of forgot about her. She doesn’t have much family, only her son and a granddaughter who doesn’t visit her. Marie feels that she has been forced to live in the retirement home where she has been abandoned. She had lived in her own home until her son sold it and moved her out. She feels like she has lost control of her life and others are making the decisions for her. Her journey is inspiring and surprising. What struck me was that over and over Marie had been made to feel like she had no control over her life. Because she had reached an elderly age, those around her made all of her decisions, not always based on what was best for her but what was easiest for them. Marie’s life had been hijacked; stolen without her permission. This solo 80 mile trip, by herself, on foot, was the only way she could take back control of her life. And so she did it.

It’s an enjoyable movie. It also features Tom Skerritt (one of my favorite actors) as one of the many people she meets on her journey and one of the only ones that truly understands her.

After that movie, I streamed Renoir, a movie about the last few years of artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s life (French language with English subtitles). At least that’s the setting. The story is more about the relationship between Jean Renoir, the artist’s son and Andree, one of the artist’s models. But what struck me about this movie was the way that Pierre-Auguste Renoir maintained control of his of life, even in his last years. He didn’t slow down. He didn’t stop painting, even though his health was quite poor. He suffered from, among other things, arthritis which left his hands painfully deformed. He had to have an assistant strap and position his hands, placing the brush in his fingers before he could paint. This assistant also had to mix his fill his palette with the colors he chose. He could no longer position his models or dress them with any props. He had to have others do that for him. Yet he continued because to him, to stop painting, which had been his life’s work, would be to stop living and to give in to death.
Both of these films had aging as a topic. Aging and its consequences and how those around us treat us when we age. They both dealt with the loss of, not only our youth, but also of control over our lives. They gave me a lot to think about as I age. I think we would all benefit from thinking about these issues. Do we let go of control and allow others to take that control from us? Do we allow ourselves to lose our independence and our dreams because someone thinks we are too old? Lots to think about in these movies. In fact, I’ll probably watch again.
Note: Both of these titles are available on Netflix as well as on Amazon Instant View.

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Twenty minutes is such a short time, yet it can be a long time or “just enough” time, depending on what, and why and where, and all that stuff.

How about when it comes to sleeping?  It doesn’t seem like twenty minutes can be enough, however, I find that a twenty minute nap is what gets me through the day.  I somehow am not able to sleep for more than three hours at a time.  At least that’s what has been happening the past three or four years.  Even when I am dead tired, I can’t sleep any more than that.  Therefore, to make it through the day, I end up needing to nap, at least once, during the day.  That nap seems to be precisely twenty minutes.  Even if I set my clock for a forty-five minute nap, after twenty minutes of sleeping, I’m wide awake.

I guess it’s a sign of my age?  Is that what happens when we get older?  I remember years ago, when I was first married.  My ex had a good friend that was about ten years older than he was so I guess he was in his late thirties.  A few times, we had him and his wife and their little boy over for dinner.  We were used to eating later than earlier but when Conrad and family came over to eat, it had to be earlier because he went to bed early.  He would tell us about how he had to be in bed by about 9:30 or he would just drop and then, in the morning, he was up way before dawn because he couldn’t sleep more than a few hours.  He used to spend time reading a lot while the rest of his family was sleeping.  He read the classics and also contemporary bestsellers.  My ex used to make fun of him and say that it was because he was so old that he needed so little sleep.  I guess my ex will think the same of me now.  I’ve gotten old and so I can’t sleep. Ah…..but I would have to remind him that he’s five years older than I am so ha ha!

Oh well, I guess I should run off and get my twenty minutes!

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A Really Great Blog Post

I had an idea for a really great blog post today.  Actually, I had three ideas.  I was going to write them down this afternoon but I didn’t.  I forgot.  And now that it’s time to actually write the post, I’ve forgotten all three of my ideas.  I know.  I should have written them down when I thought of them.  I used to do that.  I used to carry a small notebook with me so that I could jot ideas or sometimes just words that I liked and wanted to include in a piece of writing.  I don’t do that anymore because when I do it, I forget where I put my notebook!

I know.  It’s a sign of age and a distracted mind and age.  I know.

Let’s see, I think one of the ideas had to do with how things have changed in the past thirty years, even less than that.  And there was an idea about Neil Armstrong’s small-giant steps.  The third idea I have no recollection of.

I guess I should go find a little notebook and jot this down before I forget.

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Hair

When I turned 40 in December of 1995, my oldest daughter started telling me that I should cut my hair because I was too old for long hair.  I didn’t like the idea of short hair.  I’ve always had long hair.  Almost always, that is.   For a short while, during my second year in college, I cut my hair short and had it in an Afro.  That was about as daring as I got.  I let it grow out for a long time then cut it short again, although not as short, when I was a very young mother of two.  Short hair was so much easier and quicker to handle so I did it for convenience, but I haven’t ever liked short hair (except the Afro was kinda cool and it was the 70’s).

Now, all these years later, my hair has been on my mind.  I feel it’s time for a change but what change should that be?  I’ve thought of letting it go gray.  I have to dye it about every four to five weeks or it’s way, way, gray.  However, because my hair is naturally so dark (just this side of black) that letting it go gray will put it in a very awkward condition until it goes completely gray…I’m guessing months and months to let it go sufficiently gray.  That’s too long to have it in limbo.

Recently, I wondered if maybe cutting it short and letting it go gray would be easier because the short hair will turn gray much quicker than the long hair.  Or at least that’s what I was thinking.  I decided to go down to the salon where I have gone for hair cuts (really just a trim) since I moved here four years ago.  They have a senior discount day on Tuesdays so it’s much cheaper.  I’ve had my hair colored there before, too.   This time, the girl that has done it previously was not in but the manager was there and I showed her the picture I had found with short but not too short hair and told her the color I wanted.  She seemed to understand and I knew she was the person that everyone there called with questions about hair color when they couldn’t figure it out so I figured it would be okay.

Then she started cutting my hair.  She was fast.  Very fast.  Before I knew it (like in less than a minute) my hair was about three inches shorter than I had asked her to leave it and it was wet which meant that when it dried, it would be shorter.  Ouch.  I told her it was short enough.  Don’t take any more off.  Then came the coloring.  She turned my chair away from the mirror so I never saw what she was doing.  When she had finished and combed it out and dried it and styled it, the color was not right.  The lighting was bad in there too so it was hard to tell.  She told me she would re-do it for me at no charge if I didn’t like it after a few days.  I walked out of there and to my car and on the way home, the sun came out and I could tell in the rear view mirror that the color was awful.  Awful.  A.W.F.U.L.  It was a very light brown with a kind of pink tint to it.  Horrible.  Hideous.  Barf-inspiring.

Not only did my daughter look at me funny but my grandson wouldn’t go anywhere near me that afternoon.  Even when I talked to him it didn’t seem to register that it was me.  He stayed away from me that day.  I was so upset I didn’t want to be seen in public with my hair that color.

I was the first one at the salon when they opened the next day and within minutes she was working on my hair again.  She dyed it again and got it the right color and she fixed the hairdo so that it wasn’t all one short length.  I had her layer it so it had some kind of shape and style to it.  I left there much happier. 

I know it will grow out; maybe not as soon as I would like but it will grow out.  As far as the color, I think I’ll keep dying it.  I’m not ready to go through the drama and stress of all this hair business yet.  Not yet.  Not quite yet.

So much for listening to my daughter, who by the way, now says I should keep my hair long even if I’m too old for long hair.

 

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First I woke up in a lot of pain this morning.  When I looked at the clock across the room, it was 3:45.  I managed to make it as far as the kitchen to get some medicine and back to bed.  But I couldn’t sleep.  I tossed and turned until about 7.  Then I finally slept…until the alarm went off at 7:45.  I had to get up.  We had an appointment to visit a pre-school with my grandson so I had to get up.

When that was all over, I made it back home and tried to sleep.  It was about 11:30 (am) but as soon as my feet were up on the mattress, I got those horrible cramps in my feet and toes.  Yuck.  I really hate those charley horse kind of cramps.  So I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t even get comfortable.  I finally fell asleep sometime after 2 and by 3 I was wide awake again.

I’m exhausted.  Time to try to sleep but now I’m wondering what will keep me from finding that sleep tonight.  It’s always something.

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Setbacks

I’ve had a number of setbacks this calendar year which have kept me from posting or even from wanting to post.

I tend to have seasonal depression.  This year, we have had so much non stop rain and frigid weather where I live that I haven’t been able to fight off the depression as I usually can.  So I’ve basically stayed indoors, sometimes not leaving the house for a couple of weeks at a time.  To this, add a couple of falls I took, one in my kitchen and one in the bathroom, which put me in a bad place physically and mentally.  None of us likes to be reminded that we are getting older so when we take a fall in the kitchen (stepping off the step ladder) and end up bruised and achy then take another fall in the bathroom four days later, it reminds us of our vulnerability.  And it also added to my depression.

Then I got sick.  A couple of weeks ago, as I was preparing to go help a niece whose newborn infant died, I developed chest pain so bad that I couldn’t stand up straight.  I had to call my daughter to come get me and take me to the ER.  Twelve hours later, I was sent home with a “maybe diagnosis” of pleurisy and that was only after they did expensive test after expensive test after expensive test.  And the kicker is that I have no medical insurance.

So now I wait, with great fear, the arrival of the hospital bill which I am thinking will be close to $10,000.  When I list the tests I had done, a lot of people say it will be more.  Not exactly the basis for feeling better and getting rid of the depression.  Now if the weather would get better…if it would stop raining…if the pain in my chest would go away and stay away instead of coming back every three or four days…

One of these days it will all be better.

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Memorex

I used to have a really good memory. My ex-husband used to call me Memorex (for those of you too young to know, this was a reference to a Memorex audio cassette tape commercial). I used to have almost total recall.

Then I had kids. And my memory went downhill from there. The only thing I can attribute it to is that once I had kids, there were more important things to occupy my mind.

I still remember really trivial things that I knew before kids (bk) but things I should remember never stuck in my mind after kids (ak).

For example, today is January 16 and it is the birthday of my sixth grade teacher, Rick Cassinelli. Now I was in sixth grade in 1968 so I really have no reason to remember Mr. Cassinelli’s birthday but I do. The phone number when I was a child was 292-9061. That hasn’t been the home number since 1966 but I still remember it. However, I don’t remember the number I had for four years in the early part of this decade. My best friend from 2nd to 4th grade was Lydia and her address was 1244 N. 14th Street. I have no idea what my friend Paula’s address is in Canyon Country and I’ve been there quite a few times in the past five years. There are countless other things that I remember when I should not and many more that I don’t remember when I should.

Of course part of this is aging but part of it is not. I was only 26 when my son was born and my memory started to go downhill so I know that aging was not responsible for it.

I don’t know if this is a valid theory or not but I’m sticking to it.

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