The 70-Something Blog is now The 80-Something Blog. Stay tuned in ten years for The 90-Something Blog!

The Matriarch

I just watched a YouTube video of an interview with my Aunt Ruth when she was 101.  (She lived to 104.)  She was the widow of my mother’s brother, and the matriarch of a large family.  (My mother was one of six children.)

Mother and I spent several summers in her home in Buffalo, New York while my father was on the road for work and my brother was away at camp, so I knew her family quite well. I loved spending time with my three male cousins, two, four, and six years younger than me.

In the interview, Aunt Ruth tells us that in 1935 she was a buyer in the coat department of The May Company in Denver where she grew up.  When her employer asked for volunteers to look into whether the company’s buyers should fly to New York or continue taking the train, she volunteered.

She described the plane with its bench-like seats arranged along its sides.  When they were about to take off, her colleague worried about how close they were to another plane on the runway. Aunt Ruth had to explain that that was the light at the end of their own plane’s wing.

She was beloved by so many and I still miss her.


My Gait

When I started running at age forty, Peter had been running with his buddies at Boston College for quite some time.  I can’t remember why I started to run, but I do remember my regular outfit--a yellow DisneyWorld T-shirt and a pair of blue Bill Rogers running shorts.  My green shoes were from the men’s shoe department because they weren’t making women’s running shoes yet.

I wasn’t a very good runner, but Peter would go with me for a couple of miles around our neighborhood.  A neighbor once told us that he could always  tell that it was me running because I had an odd gait. He declined my invitation to demonstrate what he meant.

This week, more than forty years later, a friend told me she had seen me walking the previous day.  Although she was some distance away, she knew it was me because she recognized my “walk”.  “I would know it anywhere,” she said.

Yesterday I watched my reflection as I walked by a store window, but it wasn’t enlightening.  Anyhow, it’s too late to change.


The Handywoman

Until recently, when something broke at home, Peter was on it.  My role was to hand him whatever tool he needed, so I did learn how to tell a Phillips head screwdriver from a regular one.

But Parkinson’s has diminished Peter’s finger dexterity, so I have ­­-pretty much taken over the role of fixer, although Peter does stand by to advise.

When our living room’s almost-new-floor-to-ceiling-vertical blinds refused to close last week, I climbed up on a chair to take a look, Peter stood by to catch me, if needed.  When I couldn’t see what was causing the problem, I went to another room that had similar shades to see how they worked.  It looked like a little plastic piece might need re-adjusting.  So I climbed back up on the chair and held my breath while I gently pushed this tiny plastic piece back into its place. Success!

Little victories mean a lot when you are quarantined.


The Doctor Will See You Now

Last week, I “saw” my primary care physician and my oncologist via Facetime. Both appointments were safe and convenient and I felt well-cared-for. 

The oncologist sees me twice a year to follow up on my 2018 breast cancer diagnosis.  But my PCP asked for this appointment just a week ago.  The Covid-19 pandemic is taking lives so quickly that patients often die before having told their family their end-of-life-wishes.  She wanted to be sure she knew mine, just in case. 

We had a good conversation. She was very helpful.  I had a good conversation with my oncologist too until she asked me if she could exam me.  “Now?” I asked. “Yes” she said.  For the first time ever, I bared my upper body on Facetime. It was strange, but we got the job done.


It's a Wrap

There wasn't enough left on my giant roll of Kirkland Plastic Wrap to cover the remains of a started cantaloupe on Monday. I knew the roll would be used up someday, but I hadn't been sure that I would outlive it.  You see, I had had to buy two boxes at Costco containing a total of 750 square feet of wrap.  One was long gone.  The one I finished on Monday had moved to Washington, DC with us in 2017 and back to Cambridge in 2018.

Rather than chance going plastic-wrap-less, and feeling too old to outlive another 1500 square feet, I bought a box of name-brand wrap containing only 400 square feet at my local supermarket.  The new roll and I got off to a bad start. When I tried to tear off a piece, it stuck to itself so well that I had to pick at it for a long time.  Then, when I put it on the melon, it didn’t stick at all.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in this story.  Not sure that I learned it.


My Three Walks

There are three walks that I regularly take.  The longest is always the shortest because I am with a friend and we talk non-stop until suddenly we are back home.

The second longest is my walk-alone-walk that I take when I’m happy to be out.  My third kind of walk is my mini-walk which I take when I should get out, but I’m not in the mood.

On my most recent mini-walk, some of the magnolias had fewer blossoms.  But some were still in their prime.  The tulips that had looked so beautiful a few days earlier were still abundant, but slightly less beautiful.

I take a busier street on the way home.  I noticed a bus with flashing lights and opened doors parked at a corner.  As I got closer, I saw a woman taking a book out of the Free Mini-Library box on that corner.  She was wearing a uniform. 

She got on the bus, turned off the flashing lights and drove her empty bus away--a scene that wouldn’t happen without a pandemic.


Status Report

I could devote this blog post to telling you about the six frustrating days I spent trying to get Instacart, to do some grocery shopping for me, only to cancel the order.  But you too probably have your own food-getting challenges.  So let me focus on the good news. 

Although its hours are limited, our favorite ice cream parlor is open for take- out.  And Felix, the shoemaker, will re-open on May 18th (says the sign).

Peter bought me a pair of earphones for Mother’s Day, after having watched me untangle my pitiful white plastic earphones whenever I wanted to listen to something on my laptop.

I ventured into the hardware store and got the last bottle of Sudsy Bubbles bathroom cleaner.

And best of all, there are four quarts of Trader Joe’s coffee bean ice cream in my freezer.


Who Was That Masked Man?

Before television, there was radio.  When I was a kid, one of my family’s favorite radio programs ended with a voice asking the question today’s post title asks and a second voice replying, “That was no masked man—that was The Lone Ranger.”

The program first aired in 1933 and ended in 1954.

In 2020, we are all masked men.  In Massachusetts, the law requires us to wear masks when we are outside our homes.  We have no idea how long that will last, but there is no end to the variety of available masks, and some people are using them as fashion statements.

Here’s what I find interesting.  I used to see people as faces.  Now I see them as eyes.  I am finding that my friends when I see them masked outside have beautiful eyes that I never noticed before. 

Behind my mask I usually am make-up free, but now I am thinking…maybe a little mascara…


What? Me Compulsive?

When I was growing up in Pittsburgh, I was often the first to go home while all the other kids continued to play outside after dinner.  It seems that I always had things that I had to do.

In college, I never stayed up all night to finish a paper or study for an exam.  I’m pretty sure that I've never made a late bill payment.  And in the more than twelve years that I have been writing this blog, I have written twice every week, no matter what else was going on in my life.

It’s pretty pathetic. 

Last weekend, I was having an appropriately-distanced catch up with a friend I’ve known since my freshman year in college.  Suddenly, I remembered all the things needing to be done at home. As I got up to go, I apologized for my perhaps-earlier-than-necessary departure.

She reminded me that in college, I always refused to go with my friends to the cheap Wednesday matinee movie because that was the time I set aside to write my weekly letter to my mother.

We are who we are.


What Day Is It?

I am having trouble remembering what day of the week it is.  I know when it’s Sunday because on Sunday we get two newspapers.  I know when it’s Tuesday because I organize Peter’s medications for the week on Tuesday mornings.  I’m pretty good about Mondays because that’s when my Zoom class, The Future of Higher Education, meets (until mid-May).

I’ve pretty much stopped looking at my calendar because everything has been cancelled.  And with the library closed, I don’t have to check to see if we have any books due.

I was a bit confused about what day of the week it was in my early retirement.  But nothing like this.

I yearn for the return of normality.