Monthly Archives: August 2022

What’s New…When I’m Old


Turning seventy did not make me “old.” Important as that number sounds, and as momentous it seems the occasion should be, it is actually just one more day gone by. As they have always done, and as they will continue to do. When I was much younger, though, this age seemed like a far-distant, undesired and likely unreachable milestone. Yet here I am! And, in fact, no matter what the numbers say, most of the time I don’t feel old.

I have a quote written down, that I’ve saved for years. Attributed to Gertrude Stein, it states, “We are always the same age inside.” Inside, I feel about thirty-five years old. The mirror, of course, tells a different story. Sometimes aching joints and failing eyesight offer another opinion, too. Still.

Most of the time, aging is just a process, slow enough to not even notice the changes. Usually there is plenty of time to get used to it. In other ways, it takes me by surprise. Professional people seem, lately, to be barely out of puberty, yet here they are working as doctors and dentists and airplane pilots. And, with age, I have often been treated with a level of condescension I’ve rarely experienced since I was a child!

Now, when I see obituaries, I automatically categorize the deceased as “younger than me,” “my age,” or “old.” The ones classified as “old” give rise to exercises in simple arithmetic, and thought patterns like, “if I live that long, I have this many years left.” Some things simply become more obvious, or more offensive, now that I’m older. Watching old episodes of ER, I want to yell at the television when I hear the doctors debating about the viability of saving “an unhealthy sixty-two-year-old!” Only sixty-two!

Dealing with my own health, I find – or I assume that I find – a similar attitude. A couple winters ago, I took a bad fall on the ice, landing heavily on one side. A month later, I stepped off a ladder, thinking I was on the bottom step when I wasn’t, and landed hard on the other side. Luckily, neither fall was terribly serious; no bones were broken.

The only long-term side-effect is that both of my elbows appear swollen (still! two years later!), and are very tender. Lifting even light weights causes pain in my elbows. I notice it during my exercise sessions, but also when getting groceries, closing doors, and carrying packages. Supporting myself on an elbow in order to read in bed is very uncomfortable.

I know it’s not life-threatening; clearly, nothing is broken. Still, my life would be much better without this discomfort. So, when I have found myself in the Medical Center, I have brought the subject up. At least three times now, to as many different professionals. The best advice? Aspercreme. Which sounds to me like they’re telling me to live with it. And, yes, the topical pain reliever offers some relief. I can’t help thinking, though, that if I were twenty-something instead of sixty-something, they might do better than simply telling me to hide the symptoms!

But, that might just be me, being cantankerous. I’m the age for it, after all!



I had a birthday recently. It was one of those multiple-of-five birthdays that seem, for no particular reason, to hold extra significance. This year, I turned seventy, and it does feel pretty momentous…at least worthy of a few sentences.

I’m not bringing it up to invite well-wishes; I’m almost embarrassed at the amount of good attention I’ve received, in cards and greetings, phone calls and gifts.

Social media spreads the word far and wide. My computer was pinging so steadily with incoming messages on the morning of my birthday, I grabbed up my journal, sketchbook and study materials, and went outside to the picnic table. Finding it pleasant in the sunshine, I carried my little trampoline outside, and did my rebounder workout in the side yard, too.

The telephone also kept me busy. I heard from both of my daughters, and several friends. I had to cut one call short, in order to give myself time to get showered and changed for a scheduled lunch in town. That was an indulgent affair, too, filled with gifts and wine and laughter. All in all, it was a joyful and busy birthday, not lacking in any way.

I bring it up today only because it feels deserving of some acknowledgement and thoughtful consideration on my part. I have been on this earth now for seventy years. Life has been good, so far, though I’ve often stumbled along with little planning or forethought. Now, on the threshold of my eighth decade, it seems important to put a little more intention and planning into the years ahead. I have no answers yet, no specific direction, but I’m putting some thought into it.

It started to rain on my birthday, drenching the towels and other things that I’d put on the clothesline that morning. It continued to rain off and on through the night, and into the next day, very heavily at times. Sometime during the night, my clothesline collapsed. The rain has now stopped, the sun is out, and things are beginning to dry out. So, on this day off, I have my work cut out for me.

First, I have to remove all the clothes from the clothesline. Some may still be clean, but most will have to be re-washed. Then, with the post-hole digger, I’ll have to dig a new hole for the post. Just like the one at the other end did last winter, the post broke off at ground level. When I get it planted in its new hole, the clothesline will be shorter, but should still be manageable. Then, after it is secured in place, I’ll be able to get back to washing clothes and putting them on the line.

The clothes have to be hung on the clothesline, because my dryer is making a clattering noise again. Eventually, I need to pull it out, crawl behind it, take the back off of it, and try to figure out the problem. Until then, I’m depending on the clothesline. Which is giving me problems, too.

This is a wonderful example of how life often goes…which is why there is seldom actual opportunity for thoughtful reflection!

One Author


As a person who loves to read, I go through a lot of books. Though I have a list of authors that I know I can depend on, I’m always on the lookout for others. When I come across a book that intrigues me, I’ll look for others by the same writer. That’s an over-simplified explanation of how I came to read Kate Atkinson’s books.

First, I read Life After Life. I saw it in a bookstore. The image – a rose – on the front cover caught my eye; the description on the back cover drew me in. It was an easy choice for my “next read,” and it did not disappoint. I’d never read a book quite like it before and, though the story line intentionally jittered around, it held my rapt attention all the way through. I hated for it to end!

Next, I read A God in Ruins which, though not exactly a sequel to Life After Life, had many of the same characters. As the style of the two books was so decidedly different, it gave me an idea of both the scope and the talent of the author. That put me on a quest to find more of Kate Atkinson’s work. I read Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Transcription, and When Will There Be Good News?

Then, after a pause where I was catching up on new books by other authors I follow, I kind of got confused, forgot Atkinson’s name, and started reading books by Kate Quinn, instead. Quinn’s books are well-researched, and often set in World War II. Like Life After Life and A God in Ruins. I’d read a couple of them before I realized that the authors, both named Kate, were two different people. Kate Quinn is also a very good writer, and I’ve now read many of her books as well.

Then, I came upon Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson. It is the first of her Jackson Brodie mysteries (there are five), and I loved it! I followed with the second in that series, One Good Turn, which was also wonderful. The third is When Will There Be Good News? I was going to skip it and jump to the fourth in the series, but a few years had passed since I’d read it, and I’d learned more about the Brodie character from the first two books, so I re-read it.

I’m so glad I did! For whatever reason, on the first reading, I’d missed a lot of the nuance and subtle humor injected into every page. I had also forgotten quite a bit of the story, so was held in suspense just as much as when I’d first read it. With the history of many of the characters gained from the first two books, I understood them better, and loved them more.

Next, I read the fourth Jackson Brodie book, Started Early, Took My Dog, and the the fifth and final one, Big Sky. And, though it didn’t detract a bit from my enjoyment of both of them, I was more than a little surprised to realize that I’d read them both before. When?! I have no record of them in any of my lists of “Books Read,” so that tells me it has to have been at least five or six years ago, before I started keeping book lists. I can only guess that I read them before I knew the author from Life After Life, so I was not appreciating them as much as I would when I knew her capabilities.

Anyway, Kate Atkinson has provided me with a good summer’s-worth of reading material. I’m now listening to Behind the Scenes at the Museum, to see what I missed in that treasure the first time around, and looking forward to her next book, Shrines of Gaiety, that will be delivered to my electronic reader in September.



Today is my day off. I had a few things planned, but on top of my list was getting the lawn mowed. I call it lawn, but it’s actually just a mown field. If left to its own devices, it goes back to its true nature: a collection of various grasses, wildflowers, juniper, and blackberry brambles. That is what surrounds the area I’ve dedicated to lawn, and I’d be happy to let it all go, if circumstances were different.

As it is, I need to maintain a yard. The little dog becomes hesitant to go outside even when the grass is only a bit overgrown; from her vantage point, it must seem daunting, with grasses waving over her head. I walk the field, and I know how difficult it can be to navigate, in areas where the long thorny blackberry branches reach out to snag clothing and any exposed skin. I wouldn’t want to maneuver through it on my way to the garden, clothesline, or car. Also, there are all the critters – snakes and mice and mosquitos – that harbor in the long grass. I’d rather have some discouragement between them and my back door! So, I mow the lawn.

After a few days of rain in the last two weeks, it is ready. In August, the grass is slow growing, but the weeds thrive in summer’s heat. My yard is polka-dotted with long, tough stems rising up out of the grass. The blossoms of Queen Anne’s Lace are opening up randomly around the yard. Long grasses are crowding the rocks that border walkways and flower beds. It is definitely time to get the mower going.

So, that was my plan. I had already sabotaged it a little, by forgetting to put a gas can in the car yesterday, so I could stop at the station after work and fill it. So, that would mean a trip to town today, to get gas. To make the trip “worth it,” I would plan a trip to the bank and the post office as well. The bank had been unexpectedly closed the last time I stopped; I’ve been carrying around two small checks to deposit since last Thursday. I’d write a check for the phone bill that’s sitting on the dining room table, and drop that in the mail. Maybe, since I’d already be in town, I’d take myself out to lunch…or stop in at one or two of the little shops…or pop in for a visit with a friend. Because that’s just how my mind works.

By the time I got home, I’d think, “No sense is starting a big project now; this day has been wasted.” So, I’d take the dogs for a walk, or maybe for a drive down to the lake, and everything I had planned to get done today would be put off until tomorrow. Except, I woke up today to pouring rain. There will be no lawn-mowing on a day like this! All of my good intentions…that I would have probably frittered away on my own…have been set aside by circumstances beyond my control. Hurray! This is my day off!