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May 2012

April 2012

On the Cusp of Arthritis

I see the future, if I am lucky enough to be here.  And the future is—arthritis.

Until recently, “arthritis” was a word I heard on annoying TV drug commercials.  I do have a big toe that is rather stiff, but it’s not serious.  And four years ago, the orthopedist told me to expect arthritis to strike early because of my broken hip.  But so far, knock on wood, it hasn’t happened.

What I didn’t expect was that arthritis would result from my bicycle’s encounter with a car in December.  The middle finger of my right hand was jammed when I fell.  It became quite swollen and stiff, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I expected it to get better just as my black and blue body had.

But my finger remains swollen and stiff, although it’s not as bad as it was.  The other day, I mentioned it to Kathy, our trainer, who is also a physical therapist.  I was surprised to learn from her that arthritis can result from a trauma. 

So my early onset arthritis is nothing but the legacy of a careless driver on a sunny December morning.

What Is It About Coffee Ice Cream?

I have been an ice cream fanatic for as long as I can remember.  Just ask anyone who ever lived with me—my parents, college friends, roommates, and Peter, of course.  And we’re talking pure ice cream here. I am not a big fan of hot fudge sauce or whipped cream, although the dulce de leche topping we had in Argentina was something to write home about.

On my first trip to Europe in 1958 (back when we actually took pictures on film), my favorite photo was of a sign that said “ice cream” in five languages.

I’ve now survived more than a dozen years without gluten, but I’m not sure I would survive a week without ice cream.

Although I love all flavors of ice cream, I am partial to coffee. In fact, I order it 99% of the time.  But of late, it has had a particular effect on me.  It seems that when I finish my coffee ice cream, I cannot resist accosting Peter with my (clothed) form of lap dance.  He doesn’t seem to mind.

What is it about coffee ice cream?

A Snapshot in Time

Today is April 22, 2012.  It is 8:20 a.m.

The vinca in our front yard is a riot of  purple.  The daffodils are past, but the azaleas are hitting their peak, and I see the first buds on our dogwoods.  The cardinal family has returned to our back yard, and I’ve heard that bunnies have been spotted in the neighborhood. 

At this moment, those dearest to us are fine.  Peter had a great week being the center of attention for a video to be aired in the not-too-distant future.  Seth was great as he parachuted in for a short visit between his travels.  Jeremy’s new job is challenging and wonderful, and we’re planning a week with his family sometime this summer. 

My job had some challenges this week, but that’s why I love it.  In addition, the possibility of my being part of a TV docu-series on family secrets seems to be turning into a reality.  And any week without a night of insomnia is worth celebrating. The world could be better, but it also could be worse.

 If life were a DVD player, I’d hit “pause.”

Breaking News

Our life is good, but fairly routine.  The weeks whiz by. A lot of work, some social life, a phone call or two from a child.  Nothing to write home about.

And then there are weeks like this one.

Friday, I received an email from a TV casting director who read about how I found my half-sister in an entry on The 70-Something Blog, and wanted to talk to me about telling my story for a documentary.  Once I realized she was legitimate (thanks to Linked In), we talked.  We’ve talked a lot since then, and it looks like this 70-something is going to have her fifteen minutes of fame, together with her 94-year old half-sister. 

On Saturday, our journalist son arrived for a 64-hour visit (but who’s counting?).  Anyone with a child who’s not around much understands how exciting that is. 

Then yesterday I came home from work to find a New York Times videographer in my living room.  He had just taped Peter for a video about the early days of computing, featuring folks (like Peter) who failed to see the future potential of the Internet.

Just when you think life is boring…

Who Wears the Pants?

Yesterday, as I held my breath and squeezed myself into my Brazilian jeans, I wondered what my mother would have said.

Here I am, 70-something and wearing skin-tight jeans.  Did my mother even own a pair of jeans?  Did I ever see her in public in anything that didn’t have a skirt?  Was there such a thing as a trouser sock in her day?

I remember when women first could wear pantsuits to the office.  I had just returned to work after two years as a stay-at-home Mom in the early 1970’s.  The rule was that the jacket of your pantsuit had to cover your butt.  And a blouse with a big bow at your neck was part of the deal.

Forty years later, my work wardrobe is about 50-50 pantsuits and skirts.  But none of my pantsuit jackets cover my butt and there are no bows on my blouses.

We’ve come a long way baby.  These days, it’s no longer clear who wears the pants in the house.

Your Parents and Sex

My hairdresser and I can talk about almost anything, even though, as she reminded me on Saturday, she is my age backwards (forty-seven). She has been cutting my hair for more than twenty-five years, so no subject is off limits.

Kelly’s dad is 82.  His wife (Kelly’s mother) died years ago, and he had been married to his second wife for some time when she died of cancer recently.  Very soon thereafter, he started talking about a widow with whom both he and his second wife had been friendly.  And this winter, when he went to Florida for a couple of months, he spent a lot of time with this new woman.  Kelly and her sister were surprised by how quickly he had a new amour, but happy for him.

When Kelly was cutting my hair on Saturday, I asked her about her dad.  She mentioned that before she had even welcomed him home, he was off to his friend’s house, as she too had returned from Florida. Then, she told me that her father started to describe their sex life.  “No Dad”, she protested.  “That’s Too Much Information.  You have brothers—talk to them about it.”

Can you imagine your parents having sex? 

Too much information.


Body Check (Con't)

My 5x magnifying mirror reflected some bad news one morning last week.  Overnight, a single silver hair had sprouted in each of my very black eyebrows.  Compared to the other body changes I’ve faced of late, not so bad.  Still, it is another indicator that I am not getting younger.

Two days later, I was standing in line to board a flight home from Washington, DC. A blond woman whom I would describe as on the wrong side of fifty-five was standing near the gate, hoping to get a seat on the plane.  “Judy Kugel!” she shouted.  She saw my look expressing “Who the heck is that?” and said her name.  I hadn’t seen her for twenty-five years, and never would have recognized her.

So maybe two gray hairs in my eyebrows isn’t so tragic.

Ads Drive Me Crazy

We all have our pet peeves.  Irritating advertising is one of mine.  I love to gripe about the following:

1.  Car ads that include the term “pre-owned.”  What ever happened to used cars? Can you imagine “never trust a pre-owned car salesman”?  Seriously, why can’t we call a not-new car what it is—used?

2.  Prescription drug advertisements.  If big pharma didn’t advertise, consumers might not ask for the big purple pill when a generic would do.  So our healthcare tab goes up, not just by the cost of advertising, but also by the added cost of the more expensive drug.

Then there are the lists of possible side-effects. Some annoying examples:

  • “Seek immediate medical attention for erections lasting more than four hours.”
  • “Dizziness or fainting may occur upon standing.”
  • “Get medical help right away if you have symptoms of a heart attack.”
  • “Fatal events have been known to occur.”

3. Big retailers (I mean you Macy’s) claiming “Biggest One-Day Sale of the Season!”   “Preview Day Today.”  That’s one day? 

I guess I could turn off the TV and avoid reading the newspaper.  But then, I’d have less to complain about.



I forgot my book when I went to get a manicure yesterday.  As luck would have it, I had to wait thirty minutes.  So I joined the 3,003,032 readers of Cosmopolitan magazine to see what girls are up to.

I learned:

1.  My five inch-high-heeled sandals should have multi-colored straps this spring.

2.  Peter will not be able to resist me if I surprise him with a big kiss just as he steps out of the shower.

3.  To avoid “hat hair,” I should part my hair on the wrong side when I put on a hat and part it back on the correct side when I take it off.  (I’ll try that with my bike helmet.)

4.  Men find blue finger nail polish alluring.  Aqua, especially.

5.  According to underwear manufacturers, men are going for skimpier briefs in order to better show off their stuff.

What else I learned: 

Not to forget my book next time.