The 70-Something Blog is now The 80-Something Blog. Stay tuned in ten years for The 90-Something Blog!

1.3 Thousand Comments

George Will, well-known Washington Post conservative columnist, turned eighty on May 4th, and wrote a column called “What My Eighty Years Have Taught Me”.  An “Eighty-Something” reader sent me a link.  Then a cousin sent me a link. So I read it.

The column got 1.3 thousand comments. See https://wapo.st/2SJ4CQf

Everyone processes a change in decades in his/her own way.  I left town with our family to celebrate my 50th at a Club Med.  I can’t remember 60, but we gave a party for my 70th.  We celebrated my 80th in a hospital room because of Peter's  broken femur.

Peter sometimes talks about his impending “Use By” date, and at 91 that’s OK.  George Will tells us that one of the pluses of turning 80 is that one is well beyond the danger of dying young.  Good point.

Some final advice:

“Exercise regularly.  Eat sensibly.  Die anyway.

--anonymous


Birthday Party

Peter and I went to a birthday party.  (Remember them?)  Ten vaccinated residents of our condo gathered in one of its largest units to celebrate the seventy-fifth birthday of a neighbor. I co-chaired the two-person-food shopping committee. Others took care of the cake, flowers, decorations, and entertainment.

I wore a special sweater that I hadn’t taken out of its drawer since the start of the pandemic.  I put on lipstick.  Unmasked, we could see each other’s smiles.  We sang silly songs and found good words starting with every letter of the alphabet to describe the birthday “girl”.

No brass bands. No heavy drinking. Just a reminder that good times lie ahead.  


The Maestro's Garden

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                                                                                                    (Photos by Seth Kugel)

Last Sunday under a cloudless sky, we wandered over to nearby Brattle Street to show Seth some of its stately homes, most hidden behind tall fences or fence-like bushes. The modest home of Benjamin Zander, conductor of The Boston Philharmonic has a 2-ft high brick wall in front that frames a garden of hundreds of flowers.  A small sign invites people to go to his back yard “for more beauty”.  And if you are lucky and he sees you from the double doors to his music room, he might come out and greet you there.

We sat on the front wall and watched the flowers and the people watching the flowers.  A couple of the watchers, assuming we were in front of our own house complimented us on our garden.  One woman spent a lot of time taking close-up pictures.  It turns out it was the gardener herself coming to see the garden in just the right light to take pictures.

A picture is worth 1,000 words.  (For 2,000 words see above.)


Thirty Per Cent

There is no upside to a broken hip.  Especially if you are 91 years old and have Parkinson’s Disease.  The one plus is that it brings your sons home for a visit.  And that means a lot of laughter because our kids are funny even at middle-age.

As I write this, Seth is here for the second time since February and Jeremy visited a few weeks ago.  They think they are here to help, but they are really here to entertain their parents.

At breakfast, I asked Seth if he agreed that his father was about 30% more himself  than when he last visited,  Peter answered before Seth.  “Yeah,” he said, “the bad 30%”.

Seth’s “good one Dad!” made my morning.


Of Course(s)

When I feel sad about all the things I can no longer do—take a bicycling vacation or stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve come to mind—I try to focus on all the good things that I can do.

The courses that I take are at the top of the list.  In my Great Decisions class, I have learned about China’s relations with Africa, what’s going on in the Koreas, how global supply chains work (especially relevant when the Suez Canal was blocked) and more.  I am learning all about firearms in my “America’s Love Affair with Guns” class.   On Thursday, I spent most of the day watching an excellent (and free) MIT conference on social media—the issues are mind-boggling. 

At the end of the day, one of the most pleasurable things I encounter is the smile on Peter’s face as I present a pretty darn attractive main course at dinner.

I am trying to keep my glass half full.


Crush

I have had a fair number of crushes in my life.   Crushes are pretty harmless at my age, but they do add a little spice to my life.

My latest crush is a fifty-four-year-old named Sam Sifton. I have never seen him.  He writes a column called “What to Cook” in The New York Times a couple of times a week.  Although I often try his recipes, what I really like is his style.  It feels like we are having a conversation.  He shares bits about his life like how hard it has been being home full-time during the pandemic, how not being able to go out to dinner or cook for lots of friends is a bummer.  He’ll comment on what’s going on in the world.

Every Wednesday, he urges his readers to cook without a real recipe, although he will suggest the basic ingredients.

Of course, I bought his new cookbook, The New York Times No-Recipe Recipes Cookbook.   What I like about it is there are no teaspoons or cups to measure.  Ingredients are only suggestions.  It has helped me to be more creative in the kitchen.

My new crush has spiced up my life.


Guns

Horseback riding and riflery were my favorite activities at Camp Wingfoot in the late 1940’s.  I have a couple of blue ribbons from riding and a bunch of awards in riflery, including Pro-Marksman, Marksman, Marksman 1st class, Sharpshooter, Bar I and Bar II.  So, my first experience with guns was positive.

Back then, the National Rifle Association was all about guns for sport. Today, the shooting of people seems to be what guns are about.  Last year, 19,380 American were killed by others using firearms and an estimated 20,000 used them to kill themselves.   In Britain, fewer than four people out of a hundred own a gun. In the U.S. there is more than one gun for every person.

It’s sad.


Here a Kathy, There a Cathy

Women named Kathy or Cathy have played important roles in my life.  My staff assistant in 1981 was Kathy. So was a graduate student I counseled thirty years ago who is still a friend.  A Kathy whom we met over fifty years ago in our ski club is now a neighbor on the floor of our condo building.  My sometimes trainer, who has become a friend, is another Kathy.

Peter’s physical therapist and his nurse from the Visiting Nurses Association, have been coming to our home regularly for three weeks. They are both named Kathy.  We just hired a lovely Ugandan woman to help out with Peter a couple of times a week. Her name is Kathy.

Peter’s occupational therapist is not named Cathy.  His name is Matt.


A Hallmark Moment

I am very fussy about greeting cards and often spend too much time looking for the “right” card for the intended recipient.  For Peter’s 91st birthday last month, I got it just right.  The sentiment perfectly captured my feelings. 

“To my Husband, My Love, My Life Partner--

Looking back on this incredible journey we’ve shared, I think about the way our lives were then, the way they are now and all that’s happened since we started out.

I think of our laughter and conversations.

I think of family stuff—all the big and little things we’ve somehow gotten through, and of the good news, happy moments, and milestones we’ve celebrated along the way.

And even though it’s hard for me to believe how far we’ve come, it’s even harder for me to put into words just how much it’s meant to have you by my side through it all.

Happy Birthday.”

I couldn’t have said it better.