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February 2016
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April 2016

March 2016


Kathy, our wonderful trainer, came to our house last Saturday for the first time in almost four months. She is so good at what she does and she has an amazingly positive attitude toward life. She loves us and we love her.

She worked with Peter on his balance for quite a while.

When it was my turn, Kathy asked to see my push-ups. I did fifteen in what she said was perfect form. She told me that plenty of people her age (forty) can’t do that. She insisted that I brag about it on the 70-something blog. She said that it might inspire others to work on staying in good shape.

I do whatever Kathy tells me to do.

It's Getting Harder

I start every weekday with my self-improvement hour or maybe I should call it my “fighting-off-the-inevitable” hour. (Others might call it “exercise”.) I have been doing this ever since I stopped running twenty years ago.

But I’m finding it harder to resist the smell of coffee and the awaiting newspaper in the morning just so I can live longer.

Forcing myself to exercise is not the only thing that’s getting harder. Although I can still get up from the sofa easily, it takes me a few steps to get my body lined up correctly. And in museums I find myself looking for a place to sit down sooner than I used to.

I wouldn’t even try my once-easy fifty-mile bike ride, and I regret that and lots of other things I can no longer do.

On the other hand, there are so many things I can do. And that’s what matters.

Metro Musings

When we visit our kids and grandkids in Maryland, we take the Metro to and from Reagan National Airport to Silver Spring. It’s a bit of a hassle, but we like to support public transportation.

My favorite part of the trip is watching other people, some of whom are watching us, imagining our story as we imagine theirs.

Like the family of four, girl about seven, boy about nine, clearly tourists, probably the kids’ first visit to DC. Their garishly-colored knit caps with “Washington DC” written in huge letters gave them away. They had come to what they thought would be a warm place that was freezing. What better souvenir, probably never to be worn again.

Many of the others on the train had their noses in their Kindles or i-Phones, too familiar with the scenery to notice it and instinctively knowing when the train came to their stop. Not a newspaper in sight.

We had a new Metro car on the first leg of our trip back to the airport. A shiny silver car with an unscuffed polka-dotted floor, a crystal-clear PA system, and a helpful electronic display showing all the stops.

At the airport, my joy that Boston’s spring snowstorm hadn’t cancelled our flight was only exceeded by Sadie, the Havanese bundle of canine cuddliness that climbed on to my lap while waiting for our plane to be ready.

Travel these days isn’t fun. But if you look at the glass as half-full, it’s not so bad. Probably a good lesson for life.

My Old New Knee

My replaced right knee is having its ninth birthday next week. I barely remember the painful and seemingly slow recovery from that surgery. I do recall that my surgeon was not happy about how quickly I got back on my bicycle. I had to promise that I wouldn’t go up any steep hills for a while.

Now, I only think of that surgery on its birthday or on the rare occasions when I notice the six-inch scar on my knee.

But I do remember enough not to want to go through it again. So when I feel a twinge in my other knee, I tell Kathy, our trainer and she adds exercises to strengthen it.

Like me, knee replacements don’t last forever. Like me, so far so good.

Frugal Panama

(In December, we spent five days in Panama with our son Seth, then wrapping up nearly six years as The New York Times Frugal Traveler. He asked me to delay writing about our trip until Parents in Tow, Finding a Charming and Cheap Corner of Panama was published.)

It isn’t every morning that you get up at 5:15 a.m. to milk cows on a farm that’s a four-hour drive from Panama City, Panama. But nothing was off the table during our three days with the Frugal Traveler in the tiny town of Santo Domingo, where, unlike most visitors to Panama, we never saw another American.

On a 100-degree day we visited the Belisario Porras Museum in Los Todas (50 cents entrance fee). In that oven-hot museum, Seth managed (as always) to make the guide love us, her first American visitors in a month. We visited Isla Iguana and other attractions on the Azuero Peninsula before heading to Panama City where we did normal stuff like visiting the Panama Canal and the new Frank Gehry Museum of Biodiversity.

This was the fifth time we joined Seth on his frugal travels. It was especially poignant because he was turning in his Frugal Traveler badge and someone else would begin telling readers how to travel less expensively and more authentically.  In his article about our trip, Seth wrote “My parents essentially taught me to travel, and we believe that being handed a baby (in Panama), getting a rental car stuck in the mud (Nicaragua), swimming with a local family (Croatia), happening upon a midsummer feast (Norway) or dining out in the immigrant-filled suburbs (Vancouver) are the kind of experiences that matter more than museums and sightseeing cruises.”

Our adventures with him will live on in the digital archives of The New York Times. And, more important, in our hearts.

Birthday "Boy"

Thursday was Peter’s birthday. He’s well into being old-old. Even without his various conditions, reaching 86 would be something to celebrate. I think his positive and upbeat attitude enables his well-being. It doesn’t hurt that, as I reported to him, just this week, two women told me how handsome he is—still!

I was very excited about my present to him. We had admired a small sculpture in a gallery in Florida. When we got home, I called and ordered it. The gallery agreed to ship it without the gallery name on the package, and although he saw it on the front stoop before I did, he never asked what it was.

When I gave it to him at breakfast Thursday, he didn’t quite have the reaction I expected (namely, jumping up, throwing his arms around me, telling me how clever I was, etc).

So he’s not perfect. But, he’s still a keeper.

Where's the Garlic?

After eight weeks away, Peter couldn’t find the garlic. Why? He looked for it where we kept it in our kitchen in Longboat Key. On our second day back, I forgot to put out the bag of trash we had left in the garage so it didn’t get picked up with the garbage.

At the grocery store, I forgot to buy things that I can’t live without like the mini-peppers for my salad and my gluten-free bagels. Even worse, I couldn’t remember where I had “hidden” my car keys to keep them out of the hands of any burglars who got into the house while we were away.

I had forgotten how bumpy the roads are here in Massachusetts (no frost heaves in Florida) and how treacherous the sidewalks can be. At least one neighbor slipped on the ice and broke her hip while we were away.

Bottom line—I’m glad to be back. Or at least I will be once I remember our wifi password.

24/7 with Peter

We’re back home after our two-month escape from winter. We were ready to come back. We had great fun and it was wonderful to be away from the cold. But it was time to resume our normal life.

What I can’t get over is how good every minute with Peter was. We’ve never been away for eight weeks before. With the exception of some long walks with female friends and the time Peter went to see The Revenant with another male (I refused to see such a violent movie.), we were together 24/7. I have thought hard, but I can’t come up with an angry word that we exchanged.

We have a comfortableness together that allows us to be in the same room, writing or reading, and sense when it is time to have a conversation or to go for a walk. I know not to interrupt him when he is writing, and he knows it’s OK to interrupt me.

We are in tune, in sync, in love.

Leaving the 70's

Friends who met as undergraduates and have been married forever gave a party for their joint 80th birthdays last Saturday. We’ve known them for some time, but have become closer in recent years and we were delighted to be invited to celebrate with them.

There were a lot of things that made this event special. For one, the hotel got the date wrong. It had the party on its schedule for one week later. Imagine arriving at 5:30 p.m. to host a 6:00 p.m. event you have planned for months, friends and family having flown in from near and far, to find … nothing. (Actually, the photographer who wasn’t provided by the hotel got the date right and was there.)

But the hotel pulled it off. People came back from their nights off and by 6:30, it looked like a party. And it was perfect—cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres, dinner, flowers, and even a gorgeous cake, prepared from scratch, and ready in time for dessert.

We loved meeting our hosts’ charming children and grandchildren whom we had heard so much about. We discovered that their daughter-in-law had worked with our son Jeremy at a consulting firm twenty years ago and that her kids are now at the same summer camp that our kids attended as children.

Perhaps best of all, in this time when we tend to hear more bad news than good, it was an evening filled with love and joy.