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February 2019

January 2019

Brief Encounters

Sometimes it's the little things that make your day.  Like the time last week when I was rushing up to our apartment from the  laundry room a floor below because I was eager to get to the gym.  I was feeling particularly virtuous because I had done an all-white load of laundry, something I always mean to do, but rarely get around to.  A white-bearded man, walking with a cane, came out of an apartment and headed to the elevator in front of me. 

He turned to me and said,     "I am the the luckiest man because I have the best wife in the world."  Since he was alone, I assumed he was talking to me, and I replied, "How nice".  He then asked if my laundry basket was heavy, and although I didn't know how he would carry it with his cane, I assured him that it was not. He was going down.  I was going up.  We parted.  Alone in the up elevator, I smiled because it has been such a nice moment.

An hour or so later, I was leaving the gym.  I was lost in my thoughts and didn't realize that someone was coming out of the door after me and I let it close on a handsome young man.  I apologized.  "No worries," he said.  I explained further that I had been lost in my thoughts.  "No worries," he repeated and gave me a big smile.

Another lovely moment.

My Worry Gene

Thirty-four years ago, we sent our so Seth, then fifteen years old, to Kenya. Well, we didn’t exactly send him. He went on a service trip, sponsored by his YMCA summer camp to help build a community building in Busia, Kenya. It was a life-changing experience. Two years later, his brother Jeremy did a similar trip to Sweden and Russia.

Back then there was no Internet. The only form of communication was those flimsy blue air-letters that took forever and told you that your child was OK two weeks ago.

Now, our fifteen-year old grandson Leo who attends the same YMCA summer camp will be off to Vietnam on a service trip in July. Everyone is thrilled that he was accepted.

His father, sounding worried, called the other day to ask how we were able to stand not knowing that our child was OK when communication was so slow. Memories of checking the mail every day and usually being disappointed, came flooding back. When a letter arrived, I was relieved to know he was OK when he wrote, but still worried about how he was that day.

Both children survived (although Seth came back with hepatitis). Our sons are now well into middle-age. Email and texting keep us in close touch.

But I still worry.

Ups and Downs

The other day I wondered how much of my life is devoted to waiting for one of the two elevators in our building. As in most apartment buildings, there is a mirrored wall across the hall from where I wait, so I can occupy myself by gazing at my not-very-interesting-in-the-mirror self. I’ve been known to apply lipstick or wonder where my once-generous behind has gone while waiting.

The odd thing about our elevators is that although they are verrrrry slow between floors so that a trip to the lobby (two stops) seems endless, they have no patience when you are rushing to get on. The door will not hesitate to shut on you as you enter.

I’m thinking of measuring the time it takes to answer my call each time to see if there is a pattern. Or to tally my correct guesses about which elevator will come first.

It’s something to do.


Body Work

I started running forty years ago.  I stopped running when my knees refused to cooperate, twenty years later.  Now, I lift weights, bike and walk. My goal: to stick around as long as possible.

So I was an easy mark when Tara Parker-Pope who writes the “Well” column for The New York Times offered “The 30-Day Well Challenge”.  Its goal is “to help you build healthy habits for your body, mind and spirit--one daily challenge at a time.”

Here’s how it goes:  Every morning you get a video email with your daily six-minute workout.  Usually it’s a series of four exercises, each lasting thirty seconds with fifteen-second breaks in between—and the whole series repeated twice.

The soothing voice accompanying the video makes it OK that you don’t have the perfectly-toned bodies of Malia or Gillian or whoever is leading that day.

One challenge emphasized breathing.  Another, a “refresh” day, required turning your phone off at lunch.  It’s “OK to reward yourself with a smoothie or a little piece of chocolate with your coffee,” you are told.   Each session ends with “Good job!”

Fifteen days along, I’m wondering what I’ll do with that six minutes when it’s over

Start again?

(You can start your own challenge. Sign up at


Older Women Rock

I’m OK with being eighty.  But I wouldn’t have minded if I had been born five years later. Then I might have been a bra-burning-1960’s-feminist. I might not have been expected to be a teacher because I failed to get a husband in college.

So imagine how pleased I was to see “Older and in Power, Unwilling to Remain Unseen” on the front page of The New York Times a week ago. 

Whatever you think of Nancy Pelosi, she is Speaker of the House at age seventy-eight. And Glen Close just beat out four younger nominees to win the Golden Globe for best actress at age seventy-one.  There are 127 freshmen women in the new Congress and the oldest of them, Donna Shalala, is turning seventy-eight. Susan Zirinsky, at sixty-six, will take over CBS news in March.

Of course, we still have a long way to go. Movies have few roles for women over sixty.  Corporate boards were only 17.3% female last year.  But California has just passed a law that mandates at least one woman on every board.

Much to celebrate. Much to be done. 


Eighty is Different

What is it about being eighty?  Now that I have been eighty for almost a year, I feel qualified to comment on a few of the changes this decade brings.

1. Like every previous decade, I’ll be ten years older when it’s over.  But when this one ends, I will be “old-old”.  That’s a bit daunting.

2.  Among our married friends, one of almost every couple has a serious health problem.  Life seems more fragile these days.

3.  My body suddenly bruises at the slightest bump.  I’m discovering new black and blue marks almost every day.  And I never seem to know what caused them

Peter reminds me that our bodies come with a life-time guarantee. 

Unfortunately, the parts don’t.


What People Don't Want

In Cambridge, Massachusetts where we live, people put things on the curb that they don’t want, but think others might. Outgrown toys or bicycles. A not-needed chair or a bookshelf.

The other day I walked past a stroller and thought to myself, “Boy, I wouldn’t leave a stroller like that out—someone will take it.” But the next morning when it was still there, I thought it was probably meant to be taken. On my way home, it was gone…either the owner realized their mistake or someone had acquired a  like-new stroller.

Which leads me to the trash room on our floor of our apartment building. It’s about the size of a closet with the expected chute for garbage, two recycling bins and lots of signs about what one can or cannot throw where. It also has a shelf with containers to recycle batteries and light bulbs.

But there are some things left that people think others might want. Like the time there was a very old aqua night table. And I have to admit that I took a badly off-kilter straw basket to “temporarily” hold a begonia that someone gave us that didn’t look great in its plastic pot. Of course I intended to buy a nice container for it, but so far I haven’t.

The other night when I went to throw away the trash the “give-away” shelf was fascinating. It contained five Christmas ornaments, an unopened package of three aluminum foil loaf-sized baking pans, and four cans of coconut milk.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

P.S.  Today is the 11th anniversary of the first blog post on!


Peter wears Brooks Brothers shirts, but we only buy them when they are on sale. So we jumped on the computer the day after Christmas to place a 40%-off order. We ordered four with the understanding that Peter had to give away four very tired shirts wallowing in his closet.

The new shirts arrived the next day.

That got me thinking about all our Amazon purchases delivered in two days and about other ways we contribute to polluting the atmosphere.

And that got me to thinking about shopping with my mother when I was growing up in Pittsburgh. We’d dress up, complete with white gloves and take the bus downtown. We would have lunch in the tearoom at Kauffman’s Department store, probably creamed tuna on toast or some such delicacy.

Back then all the department stores had delivery trucks of their own that delivered purchases to your door within a day or two.

Was that really so different?


Happy New Year

(Today’s entry is Peter’s annual contribution. )

When Judy invited me to write an entry for her blog, I wondered what I would write about. Then, on the first of January, I got an idea.   I would try to explain why I thought 2019 would be a happy new year for me, even though I had a liar for President and Parkinson’s for a disease.

Two reasons. The first is that it could have been worse.

Lying Presidents are nothing new. Although I never saw him on television, I’ve read about Jefferson, who expected us to believe him when he wrote that he found it self-evident that all men were created equal, just because he only had a handful of them as his slaves.

And I don’t know exactly how old my grandparents were when they died, but I know they didn’t live long enough to get Parkinson’s. Like me, they couldn’t drive. But I can’t drive because my doctors think it would be a bad idea and they couldn’t drive because they didn’t know how.

If you know the regular author of this blog, you know the second reason why I think I’ll be happy in 2019.