Sunday, August 17, 2014

I’m trying …

…or as a friend of mine at work used to say when I told him I was trying … “yes, you are very trying !”

But, all jokes aside, I am trying hard to accept these senior years gracefully but, at the age of 81, I’m finding this is not an easy task. Luckily I do not suffer from depression but I do get discouraged. I also get mad at myself for being caught in that trap so today I decided to do something about it.

I went back and reread what I had written in 2009 about a study on aging. It was conducted by two doctors who had made a five year study of 40 seniors who had arrived at the age of 100. These people were active, mentally alert, living on their own and able to care for themselves. They all came from the United States but were from widely varied economic backgrounds.

The doctors made an extensive documentation of : daily habits, lifestyles, ethnicity, weight, eating preferences, race and genetic backgrounds, as well as spiritual and religious leanings and, at the end of the five years, these two doctors did a comparative study of their findings and came up with some fascinating conclusions. They found that it mattered little what the people ate or if they were prone to exercise…although they did point out that all their participants were moderate in these areas.


The exciting thing about their study is that ALL of the 40 people had four things in common …

1. A sense of humor.
2. A positive outlook on life.
3. The ability to bear loss.
4. A total dedication to something outside of their daily life.

Isn’t that amazing? I can honestly say that I have all of those four attributes…but they do me no good if I don’t use them. This was a good reminder and I vow to get back to practicing them …starting today !



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A lesson learned … about BOREDOM !

When I was a youngster I complained to my mother that I was totally, totally bored. I will never forget her answer and how it has affected me for the rest of my life. She said, “did you ever stop to think that bored people are very boring?” I didn’t like that answer. Not only did it make a lot of sense … it made ME the boring one !

Then my mother suggested that I take a plate of homemade cookies to our elderly neighbor Mrs. Whitely and, reluctantly, I did so, wondering how this had anything to do with my boredom problem.

Mrs. Whitely was surprised and pleased to see me and she insisted that we have a “tea party” to go along with the cookies. She told me to make myself at home while she steeped the tea so I spent the time wandering around the room. I felt like I was in a museum and, in actuality, I was.

To make a long story short that was the beginning of an amazing friendship. Mrs. Whitely was in her 80’s and, although she had been widowed for many years she recalled how she and her husband had traveled the world for his business. Everything in that room was in remembrance of those years and she was thrilled to share it all with me.

When I told her how “totally bored” I had been before coming to see her she (gently) scolded me, saying: “Boredom is a luxury that millions of people in the world do not have. They spend every hour just trying to survive. You must never squander that luxury.”

Now I am the one in my 80’s and I reminisce about those magical days spent with Mrs. Whitely. She was a very wise woman, as was my Mother. They taught me that boredom is a trap and the best way to avoid it is to get out of ones self … like visiting a neighbor perhaps ?

 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A new look to an old standby …

 

A friend and I spent a lovely few hours this week at the Pik ‘n Pig, a restaurant in a nearby town that specializes in homemade barbecue. It’s not my favorite food but it’s fun to sit outside and watch the small planes land.

I hadn’t been there for a few years and was very surprised to see all the changes that have been made. As you can see in the pictures two memorials and a replica War plane are now on display. One plaque is in memory of a Moore County native son, James McConnell who fought in WWI and the other honors  Lt. Robert Hoyle Upchurch, a WWII airman who was a member of Chennaults “Flying Tigers” prior to the United States entry into the war.

Here we are…Olive and me, after a very hearty lunch complete with fried pickles !





 
 
 


 

A new look to an old standby …

 

A friend and I spent a lovely few hours this week at the Pik ‘n Pig, a restaurant in a nearby town that specializes in homemade barbecue. It’s not my favorite food but it’s fun to sit outside and watch the small planes land.
I hadn’t been there for a few years and was very surprised to see all the changes that have been made. As you can see in the pictures two memorials and a replica War plane are now on display. One plaque is in memory of a Moore County native son, James McConnell who fought in WWI and the other honors  Lt. Robert Hoyle Upchurch, a WWII airman who was a member of Chennaults “Flying Tigers” prior to the United States entry into the war.

Here we are…Olive and me, after a very hearty lunch complete with fried pickles !



 
 
 


 

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Pursuing her passion … despite all odds.


Back in February of this year my blogger friend Syd posted an entry about a young lady who had a passion to become a registered nurse. She is 21 and you would think this a normal and reasonable dream. However, in her case it was anything but normal.

She was born into a poor family in a small town in Mexico where an ambition such as this is seldom fulfilled. When she was 9 she came to the United States and joined her family working in the fields of South Carolina picking tomatoes.

With sheer will and determination she changed from a young girl who spoke no English to a High School student graduating at the top of her class. This was in 2011 but she was unable to pursue a higher education because her citizenship status was still being processed. She didn’t sit still waiting for this to happen however. She worked in various jobs ( child care, housekeeping, elderly care) and her passion in nursing just got stronger until finally in October of 2013 she was granted citizenship.

She had saved what money she could but it still wasn’t enough for college so, not wanting to lose her dream, she posted a fund raiser on the internet. Because Syd knew her and her family I didn’t hesitate to send her a contribution and I am happy to say that Syd told me this week that she has started her clinical work and is doing great.

She could be an artist too judging by the lovely charcoal sketch that she sent to me as a “Thank You”. I am thrilled for her and if you want to know her whole story just click on here: http://www.gofundme.com/63l40s

 

 



 

 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Chinese signature stamp …

I’m sure you remember my good friend Lisa who taught school in China this past year. Actually she and her husband Glen are going back again in the Fall but right now she is in the States and we had a wonderful reunion visit this week.

I was surprised and delighted when she presented me with the gift that you see pictured here. (It’s much smaller than it appears in the picture. The whole box is just 3 ½ x 1 ½ inches.) It is a signature stamp and the little square piece of paper shows what prints … which, in this case is actually my name written in Chinese !

In China artists stamp their paintings (and a lot of their correspondence, and even legal documents) with their own individual signature stone, using the traditional red ink. It made me wonder if this is in lieu of their handwritten signature or if they do both. Perhaps someone reading this can enlighten me on that.

The stamp is quite heavy and actually looks like polished marble but Lisa and I knew that couldn’t be possible because of the carving. I did a bit of research after she left and found that it is soapstone.

As I was writing this I realized that the seal would make a wonderful paper-weight and I decided to display it on my writing desk. I paired it with a tiny box that Douglas gave me years ago after his last trip to Japan. It contains a very small calligraphy brush and ink stone. Don’t they look like a perfect match? I will treasure them both.

 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ad infinitum …

These words “…this was not an honest war. This was a war dreamed up by politicians” (from “The Map of Love” by Ahdaf Soueif) were written in reference to the battle of Tel el-Kebir in 1882 but it could so easily apply to what happened here in the U.S. in 2001.

When the Twin Towers were attacked on 9/11 there was an outpouring of dedicated young men and women who willingly joined forces to protect our country. They were under the impression that we were going to Afghanistan where the terrorist camps were based to rout out Al Qaeda and the Taliban warriors who had attacked us … i.e., an “honest war”.

This did not happen. Instead President Bush, Vice President Chaney and their cronies grabbed the opportunity and used it to their advantage… a political decision that has caused immeasurable grief to both Iraq and the United States and now, 13 years later, there seems to be no end in sight … especially for the people of Iraq.

This is nothing new. Since day one our world has been dominated by devious politicians and now we have another incredible example: the tragic gunning down of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. I often wonder if it will ever end, but, call me naïve, I do see a slight glimmer of hope when I look at the young people of today.

They are growing up in the age of wireless communications and it is second nature to them. Unlike many of us they are comfortable with this electronic eye on the world and I believe they will demand transparency. Perhaps then the shady politicians will find it more difficult to hide the truth or to pull the wool over their eyes. I wish I could live long enough to see it happen but I pray that it does. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if acceptance could replace fear of the unknown?

Oh, well … I told you I was naïve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Maffy …

Here you are at age one … July 18, 1960

I will never forget the day that you were born. Dad and I were living in New York City and it was a terribly hot month. We, and your brother Mark (born July 3, 1959), were spending as much time as we could at the movies. We were trying to stay cool and it was about the only place in Manhattan that had air conditioning … or at least in a place that we could afford !

I knew that the OB doc was on vacation but I wasn’t worried because you weren’t due to be born until August. However, I was awakened with a bad tummy ache and when I described it to his nurse she gave me the phone number where I could reach him. He asked me a few pertinent questions and then advised us to get to the hospital ASAP.

I was totally unprepared but we grabbed Mark and headed to the streets to hail a cab. The taxi driver was not happy to be driving a lady who was gasping for breath and yelling “you’d better hurry if you don’t want to deliver a baby in your cab”, because by this time I was really in labor. We were headed to Lennox Hill Hospital and it was across town from where we lived but we did make it in time …BARELY !

The cabdriver honked his horn and jumped out of the cab at the Emergency entrance looking for a nurse. One came running out with a wheelchair but after a very quick assessment she yelled “forget the chair. We need a stretcher stat…this babe is about to be born!” …and she was right. No time to get prepped at all. They rolled me direct to the OB birthing room and out you came. I was still on the stretcher and everyone was laughing and you were screaming your little head off.

It was an auspicious start and you haven’t slowed down since then. Even the smile is the same …HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATT