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

Spring Cleaning

Although I am not and will never be a Marie Kondo, I do like organization and cleanliness.  Whether we are living in a too-big house (as we were when our kids were growing up) or in a small apartment (as we are now, with just the two of us), spring cleaning time arrives every spring.  I hear my mother’s voice saying, “Time to start washing all your wool sweaters and don’t forget to carefully ‘block’ them while they dry on a towel.”  When you live in New England, that’s a lot of sweaters.  I’m still working on that project.

But I’ve put away my leather winter Merrills and unearthed my summer mesh ones. I’ve filled two grocery bags with clothes that I am sure I’ll miss once I get rid of them. And Peter has agreed to re-cycle lots of drafts of papers.

Fortunately, there’s a month to go ’til summer.

 


Mother's Day

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I can think of many ways to spend the $25 billion that retailers take in from Mother’s Day presents that might make the world better.  But I don’t feel that way about Mother’s Day cards.  I love them.  Our children are well into their forties and I think I have every card they ever sent–the first came from our elder son in utero.  They are often funny, but more often, I am moved to tears by their words.

We celebrated Mother’s Day with Jeremy and his family in Maryland over the weekend. On Monday morning, as always, I was feeling sad to leave.  But as our older grandson Leo (age fifteen) rushed out the door to go to school, he gave me the card you see above. 

It’s a keeper.    


Arts First

On the first weekend in May, Harvard has an arts festival that is free and open to the public.  There are student performances to appeal to all tastes, including concerts of popular music, classical music and jazz, theatrical performances, and art exhibitions   At one concert we attended in a small chapel on campus,  students of a class on the music of Schubert performed his songs and chamber music, their professor providing historical comments.  Much to our astonishment, many of the same students who played instruments, also sang Schubert's songs. The talent and poise of these students were remarkable.

Other plans prevented us from going to more than three of the more than eighty Arts First events on Saturday.

We’ve already blocked out the first weekend in May on our 2020 calendar.

 


Vision and Justice

I hadn’t heard of Sarah Lewis until I saw an announcement of Vision and Art. a “convening” on art, race, and justice that she conceived and organized.  Sponsored by the Radcliffe Institute, the Ford Foundation and others, it was open to the public. Peter and I went to three sessions.  The convening’s purpose was “to consider the role of art and culture in citizenship, race and justice” and to explore the ability of culture to change perceptions.

Sarah Lewis is an Assistant Professor in Harvard’s departments of History, Art and Architecture and of African American Studies.  You can see what she has achieved at the age of thirty-nine here.  In addition to being smart and accomplished, she is beautiful, charming, and unassuming. 

The program included Wynton Marsalis, playing his trumpet with three other jazz musicians and participating in a discussion with former Harvard President, Drew Faust and, Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater, Diane Paulus,  Chelsea Clinton interviewing the pediatrician who brought problem of lead in  Flint, Michigan’s water supply to the public’s attention, Brian Stevenson founder of the Equal Justice Institute, a young member of the cast of the TV show “Blackish” and an even younger (age twelve) activist for girls of color.

You can watch Marsalis’ opening performance here.

And the rest of the convening will be on YouTube shortly.


Spring in the Cemetery

When an eighty-one-year-old goes to a cemetery on her own two feet, that’s good.   When the cemetery is the nation’s first garden cemetery (Mt. Auburn, founded in 1831), it’s even better.  And when the trees and flowers are just blooming, it’s spectacular.

On a sunny end-of-April Sunday, Peter and I visited Mt. Auburn for the first time since our return to Cambridge last August.  Peter’s bright red walker made it possible for us to stroll leisurely up and down the winding roads, stopping to read the labels when we weren’t sure which kind of tree we were passing, or to get a close look at the lacy red leaves of the Japanese maples, or to gaze in awe at a distant hillside covered with trees blooming in shades of pink to purple, one of which looked like a huge serving of cotton candy.

We said “hello” to everyone we passed—kids in strollers, seniors like us, young lovers--and a lot of dead folks.

 


Walkin' in the Rain

Although the sky was threatening, I was determined to keep my date with a favorite walking pal.  Just as we met for our two-mile jaunt along the Charles River, the heavens opened.

We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said in unison, “Why not?”  Neither of us had an umbrella, but our coats were “waterproof,” so off we went. 

Although we had to strain our ears to hear each other for the first half of our walk because the rain, our hoods and the traffic noise made it hard to hear what our walking partner was saying, we managed to keep up our constant chatter, solving our own and the world’s problems.  It got worse after we crossed the River.  More traffic, speeding through huge puddles got us thoroughly wet.  We had to repeat ourselves or shout to be heard, but we were unstoppable.

Forty-five minutes later, shoes squishing, sweat pants soaked, (my top kept dry thanks to LLBean’s waterproof rain jacket), like a drowned rat I appeared in our apartment.

I felt great.


Letting Go

In this age of multi-tasking, our children never just “call”.  They may be doing the dishes (I hear  water running) or driving somewhere (I hear an occasional curse when a turn is missed).  At least they call.

One morning last week, Jeremy called on his way to work.  He reminded us that our fifteen-year-old grandchild was leaving on his first by-himself airplane flight that morning to visit a neighbor who is a freshman at the University of Texas.  Jeremy sounded a bit uneasy about Leo taking off on his own.

Immediately my head filled with memories of “first times”.  When our older son Seth went off to Kenya at age fifteen with a group of kids from his camp to do “a summer of service”, he wasn’t flying alone, but he was going someplace far away and there weren’t cell phones back then.  And Jeremy at that same age two years later was off to Sweden and Russia.  Worst of all were those first times they were behind the wheel of a car with a new driver’s license. 

I reminded Jeremy that even now that he is 47, I tend to check “Find Friends” an app. on my phone that tells me where he is.

Once a parent…


Ice Age

Before retiring, I rode my bicycle to work every day except when the temperature fell below 26 degrees Fahrenheit.  (I did switch from gloves to mittens when the temperature was under 30.) I was pleased not to be polluting the air, and the ride was invigorating.

That was then.

Now, on a remarkably-warm-for-April day, I switched from my warmest jacket to my 40-degrees-or-over jacket for a walk to the library.  It seemed like all of Cambridge was out walking to celebrate spring, but I was the only one wearing a jacket.

 

 


Ridges

When this was the 70-something blog, I regularly updated readers on the status of my body.   It’s not my favorite subject now, but today I do want to talk about my fingernails.

While our children were still at home, I polished my nails bright red (The Thrill of Brazil) on Sunday evenings sitting in my favorite chair in front of whatever was on Masterpiece Theater.  You would think I’d been to the beauty salon.

No more.  My nails break easily and, more troubling, they are full of ridges.  A Google search tells me that ageing can cause nail ridges.  And they usually do no harm (except to one’s ego).

However, something reassuring happened.  You may have seen the reviews of 82-year-old Glenda Jackson’s fabulous performance as King Lear that is currently wowing Broadway audiences.  A large photo of her in this role appeared in the newspaper recently.  Her hands were thrust in the air, their fingernails streaked with ridges. 


Spring

Our apartment’s floor to ceiling windows overlook the Charles River and provide us with a bird’s-eye view of the changing seasons.  A friend said it was like a screensaver. It is—but even better.

Last week a sea of yellow daffodils blossomed overnight on the banks of the river.  The rowers in their colorful racing shells are back from their winter break, slipping through the water, their oars in perfect cadence.  The cars winding along the road on the other side of the river will soon become invisible as the buds on the trees between them and us burst into leaves.  Runners, bikers and walkers have shed their winter jackets.

Yes, a chill wind still blows, but spring is here.