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March 2011

Guest Appearance

I asked Peter if he wanted to write a few words for 70-something. Here he is, making a guest appearance on the subject of bickering:

Recently, Judy wrote about the silly things she and I argue about, like where we should park at Costco.  I've noticed that we're not the only couple that gets into dumb arguments. 

In a book I was reading (Zeitoun) for our neighborhood book club, the author (David Eggers) writes about how Zeitoun and his wife bicker.  To their children, it sounds like arguing, but to Eggers it seems like a sign of a strong marriage because it shows that their relationship is strong enough to allow disagreement-- like in a democracy.

I bicker with Judy in ways I wouldn't bicker with someone I wasn't close to and, although it sounds like arguing to our children too, I take it as a sign of intimacy.

Intimacy can take strange forms.  When I was in the army, we used to call our good friends insulting names-- names I wouldn't have dared to call someone I wasn't close to.  In our young-man way, we took our ability to insult each other as a sign of intimacy.

I used to think that the only way a couple could express intimacy was sexual.  We still do that. But we also bicker.

When I was young it would never have occurred to me that intimacy could be expressed by bickering.  But life, like Judy, is full of surprises. 

And I love them both.

Bringing Up the Rear


When I launched the blog, I promised to chronicle the good and bad of my seventies, and that includes what I see in the mirror.


Which brings me to the question du jour, "What has happened to my behind?"


Like my mother's, my derrière was generous in size. I have a picture of my parents on their honeymoon in Bermuda. My mother is leaning provocatively against a post. In her fashionable (for the 1930's) bathing suit, she has a very noticeable rear end. Which I inherited.


My dad liked well-rounded back sides. He was known to observe about some females, "I'd like to have that swing on my back porch." My half-sister, also well rear-endowed, once told me that she often feels like someone is following her. And then she realizes it's her.


It took me a long time to realize that my back side was flattening, possibly because I tend to concentrate on my front side which is in a constant state of un-flattening.


I don't like the new look of my behind. One more reason to be glad Peter's eyesight isn't what it used to be. Come to think of it, neither is his behind.

The Way to Go

When we arrived at our friends Tina and Harvey's vacation home for a visit Saturday morning, she was on the phone. She looked concerned, but when I asked if anything was wrong, she shook her head.


We were excited to see the significant renovations to their very old house, and the first thing we did was go look at the results.

When we had finished our tour, Tina told us that her father had passed away, just a few hours before we arrived. Sure, he was 91, but two days earlier, he had driven to the airport to pick up his visiting son, and on the day he died he was scheduled to play his second tennis game in three days. He woke with a stomach ache on Friday, cancelled the tennis game, and died early Saturday morning.


We offered to turn around and go home, but Tina wanted us to stay. We were a good distraction as she made and received all the phone calls that an unexpected death entails.


Her dad's body was flown back to the town in which he grew up and where, yesterday, he was buried. It was cold and dreary at the grave site. There were a lot of mourners.


The ceremony was relatively brief, but I had tears rolling down my cheeks from the first moment. I could feel the family's loss; I knew what a full life her father had lived. Not that many of us get to know our great-grandchildren.


But I think I was crying for more than Tina and her family. I stood there remembering my own parents and how I wish they could have lived as fully and died as easily. And maybe too, I was crying about the quick passage of time, and the realization, once again, of how important it is to make every moment count.


So here's to Tina's dad. Well done!


The Stupidest Argument

Although Peter and I do a bit of bickering, I can count on one hand the serious arguments we’ve had.  I do recall having an argument while running on a wintry day at least a quarter of a century ago.  We disagreed about something the children were or were not doing (a common topic of disagreement between parents), and it got so heated that I stopped running and let him go on without me.

We have, however, had a lot of really stupid arguments, although I don’t recall those either.

But recently we had what had to be the stupidest argument of all.  We went shopping at Costco.  Like all box stores, it has a huge parking lot.  Peter always turns right into the section of the parking lot that is furthest from the store entrance, while I prefer to look first in the nearer section.  Of course the driver, usually Peter, makes the call. 

So after we trudged at least the length of a football field from the space he chose on a recent Saturday, and saw not one, but two spaces fifty feet from the entrance, we argued.  Peter said, “They wouldn’t have been there when we were.”  I said, “But there might have been others.”  I added, “We get plenty of exercise walking around the store. It's a waste of time to park farther away than we have to”. 

Then, I turned to him, and said, “This may be the stupidest argument we have ever had”.

What’s the stupidest argument you have had?

Fourteen Women and Peter

On a cold, snowy January night, someone wrote to our neighborhood listserv to see if anyone was interested in starting a book club.  I think everyone was suffering from an overdose of snowstorms and a bad case of cabin fever because there was a huge response.  The Larches Book Club had its first meeting ten days later. 

People came out of their houses, bundled and booted, to make their way to Lori’s home. Twenty neighbors showed up, seventeen women and three men.  There was a delicious array of desserts and drinks.  We finally settled down to the business of the evening and decided what kind of books we wanted to read, how often we wanted to meet, and who would host the next meeting.  We also chose our first book, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

On Monday night we had our first real meeting.  It was a lively and informative conversation.  It was evident that there are some smart readers in our neighborhood. But the male attendance had dropped to only one—Peter.

I sat next to him, allegedly to protect him from all those women, but more likely so that those women knew that he belonged to me.

On the way home, I asked him how he felt about being the only male present.  He said, “I didn’t notice.” 

Either Peter only has eyes for me, or he needs to see his optometrist.


Type A



It was one of those weeks.


Peter was out of town on Wednesday and Thursday so I worked until way too late, turning off the computer at 11:00 p.m. both evenings. On top of that, it was a work week filled with challenges. (Don't get me wrong—I like challenges, just not all day, every day.)


And then on Friday, Peter was delayed and got back in town late for a dinner and concert date with friends. So when we fell into bed a little after midnight on Friday night, we were both exhausted to the max. We hadn't had a moment to catch up.


My early Saturday morning haircut with Kelly was the first opportunity I had to do a thought dump. She listened, as she always does. She told me the week I described was consistent with my Type A behavior.


Hard to imagine a seventy-three-year-old with Type A behavior. I guess it's time I got used to it.

Eighty-one and Counting

Today is Peter's eighty-first birthday. In addition to making me very happy for forty-six years, he has made me recalibrate what it means to be old. Sure he's wrinkly and a little bit stooped (I do recall his amazing posture when we met—compared to my life-long slump). Sure he has several pretty serious ailments, including Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, and more. But this man is about as upbeat as they come.


The other day I asked him why he seemed so happy. I wanted to know why he can make me laugh every day. And why he works so hard at staying well despite his health challenges. He tells me he has a good life. His mind is working just fine (although he would say not as quickly) and he is engaged in several activities that require him to use it. He works out extensively every day (he is pretty sure that exercise is crucial to his well-being). And I know he gets pleasure from seeing me happy.


Lest you think he is too perfect, he gets irritated with me when I interrupt him, his desk is a mess, and he is never happy when I remind him to get a much-needed haircut.


My father always used to kid my mother—telling her at age fifty that he was going to trade her in for two twenty-five year olds. Fortunately for all of us, (including the twenty-five year olds) that never happened.


Would I trade Peter for two forty and a half year olds?


Not on your life.



On a foodie scale of one to ten, I'd call myself a five. I like to keep up with the latest food fads. I even like to try them.


For example, the carnaroli fish risotto I had at a new "in" restaurant last week (my definition of "in" is that you have to call a month in advance to get a table at a reasonable time) had El Bulli-inspired foam on top of it. (Foam may be so "in" that it's out.)


Foodie restaurants also require a foodie dictionary or a very savvy waitperson to explain ingredients like Mangalitsa Lardo or Vegetable Mignardises. All this is good.


But sometimes you have to have comfort food. And on Thursday night I had a yen for good old-fashioned tuna casserole. When is the last time any foodie, including me, had tuna casserole?


Thanks to the web, we found a recipe that was easily adapted to my gluten-intolerance, e.g., crushed Corn Chex for the topping rather than bread crumbs. We had tuna casserole for dinner Friday night.


It was heaven.

Fat or Non-Fat; That is the Question

My husband Peter reads a lot about the brain. He tells me that, according to a recent article, a fat-free or low-fat diet can be bad for the brain. The article suggests that brains deprived of fat can lose cells.


Once more, we have to pause to process information that contradicts what we have been told. For years we were advised to avoid fat at all costs. Does this latest recommendation mean that our friends who brag about their low-fat diets are shrinking their brains?


Peter and I are the outliers here. We never gave up fat. There is NO substitute for butter as far as we're concerned. But, as I reminded Peter, there is still strong evidence that fat is bad for your heart.


"Yes," he replied. "But I can get a heart transplant. I haven't heard about anyone who transplants brains."


Point taken.