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February 2017

Big Questions

My friend Frank doesn’t email often. But when he does, his message is always thought-provoking. In his latest email, he asked, “What does it mean to be taken seriously at our age?”

My answer?  It depends. It depends on our attitude. Are we open to the changes in our society, or do we insist on living in our pasts? Do we spend time only with people our age, or do we find ways to relate to younger people too?

Frank is taken seriously. In his eighties, still teaching graduate students and executives, he commands the respect of his students. My coaching clients know how old I am, but they seem to respect my experience and objectivity. In public places, however, I often go un-noticed. And I notice that. So, it depends.

Frank’s other email question was “Can we ever live hassle-free?” That’s easy. No, never. But the challenge is in how we respond to hassles. I find that I handle them less well these days. My stress meter ticks in a little earlier than it used to. Something else to work on…

The Joys of Home Ownership

On Sunday our washing machine died. It announced its passing by emptying the water from an extra-large load of laundry onto our carpeted basement floor. In the same week, a pipe froze, an animal died inside a wall, and we had to remove a kitchen cabinet in order to make enough room for the only affordable refrigerator we could find to replace one that was failing.

But it was the flooded basement that had me shouting ENOUGH!

By Tuesday, the rug was dry (thanks to a fan we left running for two days after removing as much water as we could by stamping on towels and newspapers). By next Monday, we’ll have a new washing machine and a new refrigerator. The dying animal in the basement wall will eventually decompose, and we will fix the frozen pipe.

Do I still want to be a homeowner?


How Seventy-Nine Feels

I’ve been seventy-nine for two days. So far, so good. Thanks to everyone who sent birthday wishes. I’m very aware that I’m lucky to be here and even luckier to have my wonderful family and friends on this journey with me.

Lately, however, I have been thinking about how different I am now than I was nine years ago. In the first half of this decade, my job defined who I was as much as my family. That certainly changed. Though I have a busy and fulfilling retirement, I miss my work community. Note: I don’t want to be there, but I still miss it.

Many other things have changed. My cell phone was a clamshell then, and now it is a computer. Our grandchildren were toddlers and now they are so much fun to talk to and hang out with. We’re a little slower at just about everything we do, but we still “do”.

And, as always, I am so grateful that I have Peter. For my birthday, he bought me my favorite flowers and a gadget that I can’t explain, but that should help us produce some interesting (and healthy) deserts. And we had dinner out with friends.

Because I started kindergarten a year younger than my classmates, my high school and college friends are turning 80 this year. I’m keeping an eye on them to see what lies ahead.  

Nine-Hundred-Fifty-eight and Counting

Tomorrow is my birthday. It’s a scary one because I’ll be turning 79, which means that I have only one more year of being 70-something. My first post to appeared on January 10, 2008 in anticipation of my turning seventy. This is my 958th. It’s been a decade of great change, but aren’t they all?

After writing private journals on and off throughout my life, going public with one was a big deal. It has been an honor to make so many new friends and to hear from so many followers. Please stay tuned.


Snow Job

As usual, when we go away in January to avoid it, winter waits until we get home to show its face. So one week after we returned from “balmy” Maryland, we got a doozy of a late-welcome-home in the form of a dozen inches of snow, accompanied by 50 miles-per-hour winds. It’s quite beautiful for a day, but then it becomes a major pain. Parking spaces disappear. Boots track in snow. The beautiful whiteness is blackened by car exhaust.

The Governor urges everyone to stay home and we think that will allow us to get organized. We have bills to pay, reading to catch up with, long to-do lists.

Instead, we linger over our morning coffee and the newspaper (which beat the storm by minutes). We make a steaming pot of soup, the ultimate comfort meal.

And, if you are me, you decide it’s the perfect day to paint blue streaks into your hair. Which I do.

Home Again

In 1964, when I took my first solo trip to Europe, I had no plans. I had broken up with my boyfriend, quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Lisbon to “find” myself. Not sure I “found” myself, but I had a lot of fun.

I missed that easy-going adjustability as we “re-entered” our Massachusetts routine after a month in Maryland. It was harder than I had anticipated. For example, I looked for potholders and just about everything else where they had been in Maryland. We had trouble sleeping for the first few nights at home. We couldn’t remember how our TV remote worked, and it took us a while to figure out where we left off watching “Parenthood” (Season Two, Episode 9). I missed the shiny new refrigerator where the drawers, unlike ours, actually worked.

Now we have re-adjusted. Our learning-in-retirement classes are underway, and they are terrific. We’ve had a bit of snow with more on the way, and we are ready for it. The refrigerator is full, and we’ve made plans to see friends.

It’s good to be home.

"Head West on Maple Avenue..."

So said our Google Maps each time we backed our car out of the driveway during our January stay in Maryland. And west we headed whether we were going to the children’s house, to the Metro to head into DC, or to the nearby Harris Teeter supermarket.

The house we rented sight unseen was small, but comfortable, with a gas-lit fireplace that made even the cooler days feel toasty. We made do with the equipment and utensil-challenged kitchen (so small that my butt turned on the dishwasher when I opened the oven door), and the insufficient-water-pressure showers because we were near our children, grandchildren and the wonders of our nation’s capital.

Our month had many highlights, some of which I’ve written about. But we barely scratched the surface of the area's attractions. We have always believed in leaving a place we visit while there is still more we want to do, and that certainly happened this time.

We balanced seeing the kids (at least every Wednesday for dinner and every Sunday for basketball games) with friends and sightseeing. We had a short visit from Seth who came from New York to get to see both his parents and his brother and family for a few days. We read the Washington Post every morning, almost like natives.

On Thursday, we started out for eight-hour drive home at 7:00 a.m. With the GPS to lead us, we heard “Head West on Maple Avenue…” for the final time.


As I Age...

Thanks to the Sherwood Group (referred by70-something reader Carole Stevens) for an upbeat start to February--from their “As I Age” thoughts.  

“As I age, I realize that…

  • I talk to myself, because sometimes I need expert advice.
  • The biggest lie I tell myself is “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it."
  • At my age “getting lucky” means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.
  • When the kids text me, “PLZ” which is shorter than please, I text back, “NO” which is shorter than “YES”.