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March 2019

April 2019

Ice Age

Before retiring, I rode my bicycle to work every day except when the temperature fell below 26 degrees Fahrenheit.  (I did switch from gloves to mittens when the temperature was under 30.) I was pleased not to be polluting the air, and the ride was invigorating.

That was then.

Now, on a remarkably-warm-for-April day, I switched from my warmest jacket to my 40-degrees-or-over jacket for a walk to the library.  It seemed like all of Cambridge was out walking to celebrate spring, but I was the only one wearing a jacket.

 

 


Ridges

When this was the 70-something blog, I regularly updated readers on the status of my body.   It’s not my favorite subject now, but today I do want to talk about my fingernails.

While our children were still at home, I polished my nails bright red (The Thrill of Brazil) on Sunday evenings sitting in my favorite chair in front of whatever was on Masterpiece Theater.  You would think I’d been to the beauty salon.

No more.  My nails break easily and, more troubling, they are full of ridges.  A Google search tells me that ageing can cause nail ridges.  And they usually do no harm (except to one’s ego).

However, something reassuring happened.  You may have seen the reviews of 82-year-old Glenda Jackson’s fabulous performance as King Lear that is currently wowing Broadway audiences.  A large photo of her in this role appeared in the newspaper recently.  Her hands were thrust in the air, their fingernails streaked with ridges. 


Spring

Our apartment’s floor to ceiling windows overlook the Charles River and provide us with a bird’s-eye view of the changing seasons.  A friend said it was like a screensaver. It is—but even better.

Last week a sea of yellow daffodils blossomed overnight on the banks of the river.  The rowers in their colorful racing shells are back from their winter break, slipping through the water, their oars in perfect cadence.  The cars winding along the road on the other side of the river will soon become invisible as the buds on the trees between them and us burst into leaves.  Runners, bikers and walkers have shed their winter jackets.

Yes, a chill wind still blows, but spring is here.

 


Coming of Age

For me, reading about aging never seems to grow old.  (And I can’t seem to resist writing about it!) In my last post, I reviewed a “how-to” book about aging (Women Rowing North). 

Coming of Age:  My Journey to the Eighties by Madeleine Kunin, is not a how-to-age book.  Nor is it about politics.  It is a former three-term governor of Vermont sharing her experience of growing old.

Now 85, Kunin is a woman who read the same feminist books I did in the sixties.  Unlike me, she acted on what she read.  She is still a role model for women seeking leadership roles and must be delighted to see so many new women leaders in our state and federal governments.

I read this book in an afternoon.  It is completely charming.  A newcomer to writing poetry, Kunin leads off each chapter with a relevant poem.  The first, “No Longer” starts like with:

No longer will we make love

                                                                       before breakfast...

The book jacket is a recent photo-portrait of Kunin. There is a wise grin on her wrinkled face.


Women Rowing North

I just finished reading Mary Pipher’s book Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age.”  Pipher is a clinical psychologist and author of Reviving Ophelia, a 1994 best seller about the challenges of raising today’s teenage girls. 

Pipher illustrates her observations about aging with stories about her own experience and that of a diverse group of women, mostly from around Lincoln, Nebraska where she lives.  She acknowledges the mistakes that led to her insights, and we benefit from her experience.  She urges us to seek new sources of joy as we age and shows us where we might find them.

According to Pipher, recent census data from the United Kingdom tells us that women between the ages of 65 and 79 are the happiest people of all.  Not sure what that means for us 80-somethings. 

 

 


A Friend Turns Eighty

 “Today is my last day as a 70-something,” a friend emailed. “I thought you might have some words of wisdom to share with me.”

“Don’t do it,” I wanted to reply.

Having now been an octogenarian for a year, however, I do have a few thoughts.

*Be grateful that you are still around. Remember that many others haven’t shared your  luck.

*Accept that eighty is different. No matter how good things have been so far, they'll be less good in the coming decade.

*Accept that (1) It takes longer to do things (2) your opinion may be sought less often and (3) the person you see in the mirror is really you.

*Seek joy in new places.

*Remember that it’s all about managing expectations. To quote Aunt Grace in Mary Pipher’s book, Women Rowing North, “I get what I want… but I know what to want.”

*Finally, don’t try to recreate your old life.  That was then and this is now.

 


Ifs, Ands and Butts

One of the lasting gifts of the women’s movement is our freedom from, shall we say, “restrictive” undergarments.  I am old enough to remember the great relief we felt on shedding such undergarments after a day at work. 

The following scene brought it all back to me.  As we were driving on a bridge over the Charles River near Boston University (BU) on a mild spring day, I saw a group of young women running, most wearing red BU T-shirts and short-shorts appropriate for the occasion.  They caught up with us at a red light and ran in place.

I couldn’t help but notice their cute butts in their tight-fitting shorts.  I remembered my former butt and missed it.