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

Inflation

Inflation is with us and shows no signs of abating.  I drive by gas stations, agog at the prices.  When a package of my favorite potato chips went from $2.99 to $3.29 a few months ago, I accepted that.  I get it that interest rates are rising, and mortgages are more expensive.  My grocery bill for one person now looks like my old grocery bills for both of us.

But over these recent months, my one “cannot-live-without” treat had happily stayed the same price.  Until Saturday.

Trader Joe’s coffee ice cream went from $3.99 to $4.50 per quart!

Will I eat less coffee ice cream?  Never!


Fifteen Hundred and Counting

In January 2008, the “70-something blog” published its first post. Last Sunday, the (now) “80-something blog” published its 1500th entry. That’s a big number.

Nobody is more surprised by this than I am. In 2008, I would never have thought “Brush your teeth twice a day; write a blog post twice a week” would still be my modus operandi in 2022.

Many thanks to my loyal readers. 


Turning a Corner

It’s been seven months since Peter died.  I will never stop missing him.

But I’ve stopped feeling sad every day at dinner time.  And some mornings I don’t reach over to the empty side of the bed when I wake up.

In the past week, I’ve had two visitors who hadn’t seen me in six months.  They both said I looked much better than the last time they were here.  (Of course, they hadn’t told me how awful I looked in the first place.)

I will be forever grateful for my years with Peter, but there are still people to see, places to go, and a life to live. 

I’ve turned a corner.


May

I woke up one morning last week and reached for my new remote control to raise the shades in my fourth-floor bedroom.  The window framed a red/orange sunrise, a sky on fire as far as I could see.  William Turner himself could not have painted a more beautiful landscape. It didn’t last long enough for me to get my camera, so you will have to take my word for it. Breath-taking.

Two hours later, I strolled the last couple of blocks home from my power walk.  I stopped at every flowering tree, at every house’s garden. A couple of Canadian geese were also looking.

It was a celebration of May, and I drank in every second of it.


Twenty-Six Months

My Learning-in-Retirement classes went onto Zoom twenty-six months ago when Covid became an unwelcome part of our lives.  It was an adjustment to see only the upper halves of my peers on a computer screen. I also missed the before-and-after class socializing.

On Friday, there was an in-person-end-of-the-year picnic.  I had looked forward to seeing my former “classmates” and meeting the instructors of the classes I attended via Zoom.

It was great to see those I knew, to introduce myself to one of my “teachers” and some classmates from Zoom.  All the people I had known before looked different.  It occurred to me that everyone had aged a bit over the pandemic.

Except me.


Little Things Mean a Lot

A year ago, Peter and I were eyeing a painting in the window of an artist’s studio.  I contacted the artist to ask when we could see it up close, but before that happened, Peter suffered a stroke, and we never followed up. 

A year later, almost to the day, I bought two paintings from that artist.  It was a bittersweet moment, and I said, “I wish Peter were here to see these.”  The artist replied, “He is because you said his name.”

The next day, I walked to Trader Joe’s with a friend.  We each bought a few things, and she engaged the cashier in conversation.  “Did they give you that shirt?” she asked the pleasant young man in a flowery Trader Joe’s shirt. “Yes, he replied as he continued to ring up her order.”  She continued, “You have a great smile.”  Clearly, they were both enjoying a bit of a harmless flirtation. 

The last thing in her cart was a bouquet of flowers.  “I’m not going to charge you for these flowers, he said. You made my day.”

With so much to worry about these days, moments like these are priceless.


Successful Aging

The first female U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, passed away on March 23rd at age eighty-four.  She came to the U.S. as a Czech refugee at age eleven.  An extraordinary woman and an inspiration, she was celebrated by many dignitaries in a memorial service last week.

While I don’t aspire to be Secretary of State, I do have my own role model for successful aging. Until she passed away at age ninety-nine about a year ago, this extraordinary mother of a friend never complained.  She was cheerful and positive despite having lost one son to AIDS and seeing a second son diagnosed with early Parkinson’s Disease.

She had friends of all ages, including me.  For some reason, she would send Peter and me a gift Thanksgiving package every year. One time, she did allow me to take her to lunch.

I miss my role model.   


Aging Well

Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, passed away on March 23rd at age eighty-four.  She came to the U.S. as a Czech refugee at age eleven.  An extraordinary woman and an inspiration, she was celebrated by many dignitaries in a memorial service last week.

While I don’t aspire to be Secretary of State, I do have my own role model for successful aging. Until she passed away at age ninety-nine about a year ago, this extraordinary mother of a friend never complained.  She was cheerful and positive despite having lost one son to AIDS and having a second son diagnosed with early Parkinson’s Disease.

She had friends of all ages, including me.  For some reason, she would send Peter and me a gift Thanksgiving package every year. One time, she did allow me to take her to lunch.

I miss my role model. 


Susan in Berlin

Last fall when I received an email from an 80-something reader signed “Susan in Berlin,” I had just been invited to join my Maryland family’s spring break trip there. I decided it would be great to meet a stranger who reads 80-something, so I responded to her email and invited her to meet for coffee.

I wasn’t convinced the trip would happen until I was strapped into my seat on Lufthansa.  I wasn’t sure I would meet Susan for coffee.  And both things happened except that it was dinner, not coffee, and Susan’s husband John and my pal Louise joined us.

We met at an Indian restaurant between our two neighborhoods.  With a name like Susan, I was sure she was an American living abroad.  Nope, she was born in East Germany.  As an 80-something reader, I was sure she would be near my age.  Nope, she couldn’t be more than mid-fifties.  She and her husband were completely charming.  They ordered for us, showed us how to eat what we ordered, and walked us back to our Airbnb.

Susan told me she had been reading the blog almost since its beginning.  I asked her why she was so loyal (even her husband reads it), and she told me that her mother was not aging gracefully and she was looking for a role model so she could do better.

I want to publicly thank Susan and John for being a highlight of our Berlin visit.


Ampelmännchen

 

 

Ampelmannchen Vector by UltimateHashashin on DeviantArt

Many Germans speak English and happily help tourists in Berlin find their way.  However, on our vacation, I did learn a memorable German word:  Ampelmännchen, the name of the little-green-traffic-light man who invites us to cross a street when it is safe.

Unlike most of the world’s walk signs, the Ampelmännchen’s wide-stride and swinging arms encourage us to walk quickly. It is said that he was invented to make people pay more attention, and as a result, there are fewer pedestrian accidents in the city. 

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the East Berliners insisted on keeping their beloved Ampelmännchen.  And now he often appears in the former West Berlin too.

I usually avoid souvenirs when I travel, but I admit that I now enjoy my morning coffee from a white mug decorated with … the little green traffic man.