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January 2009
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March 2009

February 2009


Next month my employer will offer me and 1,599 others a buyout. Not surprising in these days of declining budgets. I haven't heard the details, but it will be generous. Although leaving would not be easy for me after 28 years in an organization I love, I have to at least think about it.


At 71, how much longer am I going to want to work? Probably forever. How much longer am I going to be effective? And how much of my identity is based my work? How else can I contribute?


I know the golf course is not going to do it for me. Retirement takes planning—at least that's what I tell everyone else thinking about it. But I have not taken my own advice. I haven't planned because I don't think I am ready.


There has been some talk about who will be offered a buyout and who will and won't accept the offer. I don't participate in the talk because this is a very private decision.


A colleague I don't know all that well approached me in Whole Foods last Saturday. She reported that someone had been talking about me at work. She couldn't remember who it was, but she remembered that the conversation was on the topic of buyouts, and the person had said, "I sure hope Judy doesn't take it." Then she remembered who said it. It was someone I don't interact with all that much. But just hearing that she thinks I make a difference was very meaningful to me.


I think I'll stay.

It’s the small things…

1. On Wednesday, the cap came off a bottle of salad dressing I had in my satchel to take to work. It left about a cup of liquid there. When I took it out of the bag, it dripped all over my desk and the papers on it. It dripped on the office rug as I put it in the trash. My office smelled like vinaigrette all day.


Wrong way to start the day.


2. That evening while Peter was hammering a nail into one side of a kitchen column to hang a small work of art (a birthday gift from a friend), a ceramic clock I treasure flew off the other side of the column and shattered on our granite counter.


Wrong way to end the day.


3. The next morning Peter and I had bickered over the following by 8:30 a.m.:

a. How much the bulletin board that had been below the shattered clock should be raised.

b. Why I dimmed the light in the kitchen

    c. What strategy we should use to park the car


Another bad start.


Then I got the following email from my daughter-in-law:


Grady (our two-year old grandson) is reading a cookbook—as you know, anything will do. He came across a picture of a roast chicken (which looks like a turkey) and said "Grammy makes that! Grammy makes that!"

Just to let you know that memories of Thanksgiving still linger with him.

Have a great day."


And thanks to that email, I did.


Birthdays seem to come more often lately. This week I celebrated my 71st, without a lot of fanfare. One year of my 70's is over. I am one year closer to being "elderly," defined as 80 or over, as opposed to just plain "old." I, of course, do not think I am old. Yet.


This is my first birthday since I joined Facebook. I didn't realize that all 62 of my Facebook "friends" got an alert that it was my birthday. So, in addition to the dozen or so friends/family that always send great cards, I got a bunch of birthday emails (and a very nice lunch invitation), from my Facebook friends. That's an unexpected membership bonus.


A birthday card that I received years ago remains on the bulletin board over my desk. It has the following quote from Adlai Stevenson, "It's not the years in your life; it's the life in your years."


Worth remembering.



You may have noticed that I don't do a lot of making myself look bad in this blog. But I am far from perfect, and I exhibited my worst self in a conversation with Peter the other morning.


Not to justify my behavior, but at 78, Peter does a lot of "That's what happens when you get older," or "You have less energy as you age," or "Everything takes longer."


Most of the time, I let it go.


But I had had a couple of stressful weeks, and that particular morning I didn't let it pass. Instead, I responded this way. "Please don't make me be as old as you are. When you were 70 like I am, there was no 78-year-old reminding you daily of how much worse it's going to get."


As soon as I said those words, I wanted to take them back. But I didn't.


I am only human.

Warning: This is about grandchildren

Our grandchildren live an hour-and-a-half plane ride away which is better than when they lived a three-and-a half-hour plane ride away. We never see enough of them so we miss many of their developmental breakthroughs.


This past weekend was one of our "never let three months pass" visits. Here are five reasons why we had a great time.


1. When we left home for the airport it was 16-degrees, and snow banks made it nearly impossible to get our car out of our driveway. We arrived at the kids' house and the children were playing outside in short-sleeved shirts.


2. Grady, the two-year old had gone from three word phrases in November to elegant full sentences in February. He "reads" books and magazines all the time, including The Economist. Anything with words will do. As he "reads", his mouth silently forms words, whatever they may be.


3. We were there for his brother Leo's 5th birthday party. Leo is now doing a bit of math, and can make up wonderfully imaginative rules for checkers that ensure his victory. When we said good-bye, he whispered "I love you a lot." in my ear.


4. Our grandkids have amazing parents. I don't think we ever had their patience.


5. We had 48 hours of problems left behind, 48 hours of just plain loving children.


It was delicious.


Flowers, Mostly Green and White

I write this with my favorite vase (white) sitting in front of me.  It contains white mums (on green stems).  Often it contains daisies or white tulips or alstroemeria.

Even the impatiens in the planters outside my front door in summer are white.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate other flowers (or vases).  I just have this preference.  Maybe I like green and white because they were the colors of both my high school and my summer camp? 


Anyhow, flowers, in general, just make me smile.  Do I associate them with good events in my life like birthdays or Mother’s Day or dinner parties?  It doesn’t matter what the occasion is; often I buy them myself.  And I love to buy flowers for others.  So what’s this all about?


Turns out that this is a topic that has been considered by academics at Rutgers University.  According to a bunch of co-authors of a paper called “An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers” which was published in Evolutionary Psychology in 2005, the authors did three different studies that indicated that flowers are a powerful positive emotion ‘inducer’. ” The study I liked the best showed that flowers presented to elderly participants (55+ age) elicited positive mood reports and improved episodic memory.”



Great news for florists everywhere.


The Eyes Have It

Whenever I see someone with impaired vision, I feel grateful that I can see. My eyes used to be so good that I was by far the last person in my peer group who needed glasses to read the telephone book. But they're not so good any more. Particularly at night.

In my house, I am the night driver and the night bicyclist because Peter has suffered from glaucoma for quite some time. This winter the dark seemed to bother me more, when I drove and when I tried to avoid potholes riding my bike home from work. So in my annual eye checkup last month, I discussed having my not-so-bad, but pretty-bad cataracts removed. The doctor referred me to an eye surgeon who asked me one question. How have your cataracts affected your quality of life?

When I told her that I am the night driver, that I still work and that we have an active social life, she did not hesitate before agreeing that we should remove them surgically. She told me that times have changed since "Granny just sat around the fireplace telling stories when her eyes went." These days, people are active later, and they should have the opportunity to enjoy greater freedom, including better vision. It sounded right to me, and we scheduled the surgery for next month. The surgery is a piece of cake—it's what you have to do after that isn't so easy. Me not read or watch TV or be on my computer for three days? Me not lift weights for three weeks or fly for a month after each eye is done?

We do what we have to do. And I for one am happy to do this.


Ring Story

I took my wedding and engagement rings to the jeweler the other day because I was destroying the knuckle of my ring finger getting them on and off, and I needed to have them resized. That would leave my ring finger bare, the jeweler told me, for about ten days. After more than 40 years of marriage, I didn't like the idea of a bare ring finger.

So I dug out a small box containing rings that had belonged to my mother, and found a gold wedding band that fit. However, wearing only one ring didn't feel right. I added a thin gold band of my own, and that did the trick.

An observant young colleague asked about my "new" rings. I told her that one was my mom's. The other, I explained, was a ring I purchased at Woolworth's for less than a dollar 45 years ago. My boyfriend Mark and I were going away for a weekend, and back then unmarried couples just didn't share a room.

My colleague Laura burst out laughing. She couldn't believe it.

Times change.