Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MEDITATION UPON A BLIZZARD

When one considers it, there isn't much to do in a genuine blizzard. Except, of course, if one is caught out in the middle of one. Even then, the choices are few and they are dominated by the overreaching need to survive.

Other than that, feed the fires, keep the coffee hot, the soup on the back burner and hope the electric stays on. Have I ever mentioned how I love electricity?

This is a light and fluffy snow that will be easier than most to move but with the ferocious wind blowing it will just move around and return. Yet at some point it must be moved. But not just yet. I'll also prime the generator - just in case. I made a pan of cheese biscuits earlier. Handy little things to have laying around on a blizzard day. They will go with just about anything and they'll stand alone as well.

We talk of mostly two things to do outside. Shovel snow and snowshoe. The latter later in the day after another foot has fallen, when the trees are decorated profusely and that deep winter magic hangs in the air like a cloud that separates you from the real world. Child talk: but that's what it is.

Friends write or call to sat they are sunbathing, washing the car, firing up the grill or having a nice lunch with a friend. Such an easy life. One must wonder how any character can develop in such mild and unchallenging latitudes.

We must hold those poor deprived souls near to our hearts and hope they can find direction for their lives before it's too late. Meanwhile, as my son says, who lives within minutes of the tepid Gulf of Mexico, sharpen those snow shovels and bend to the task of adding notches to your soul, strength to your character and profundity to your vocabulary.

Be well out there. Stay warm and stay tuned.

Jerry Henderson

Mail to: treetopviews@mac.com
Blog: http://www.growingoldwithoutgrace.com
Podcast: http://treetopviews.com

Sunday, January 18, 2015

WHAT'S WRONG WITH ..... OLD?

I AM READING THIS ARTICLE IN THE MAINE SUNDAY TELEGRAM ABOUT BOOMERS GETTING OLD. Why is it so important to give this particular group such a large hearing? It's a large group, is what. Size matters. They can truly say "ours" is bigger than yours.

The author, Jackie Crosby, writing for the Star Tribune goes to great length to describe the difficulty people are having trying to figure out the best term to use in referring to - well, can I say it? Old people.

What caught my attention in the article was the people she talked to. They were not old people but the people who ran agencies, businesses and various purveyors of services for old people. Of course if you were running an activity center for old people it probably would matter what you called it. I can see it now. The Sunshine Center. Seniors Galore. Old Fart's Coffee Club. Q Tips Forever. Whatever. But you can see that it would matter what you called a service or institution that catered to old people.

The article wasn't about old people at all but it was aimed at the people who stood to make billions off of old people - and the Boomers were the largest segment of the population to become old people - ever! It was all about the problems of marketing to old people. I really can't blame them for that effort, but I do blame them for the subterfuge. Of course, that's what advertising and marketing is all about, isn't it?

So, why not OLD PEOPLE? Has OLD become the "F" word for Boomers?

Here's what I think: Most of us are so damned afraid of old age that we cover it, deny it, color it, disguise it with every fiber of our beings. Oh, I'll push it away as long as I can, and I'lll do it by exercising, eating little meat, avoiding burdensome people, staying away from TV, drinking lots of water (and good gin) and minimizing stress. But at the bottom of it all I know I am an old man. The numbers do not lie. My body tells the truth.

I have memories out the wazoo. I have X-wives, X-bank accounts, X-friends and more X-addresses than I care to remember. You can't have all that and be young. Well, I guess if you are in the entertainment business it's possible. Maybe even required. But you get my point.

So, my Boomer friends - do not delude yourself. Be happily old. I wish you most of all health. Maybe a little prosperity. Lots of love and good will. Go easy. Do not fear the afternoon nap. You deserve it. Life owes it to you.

Be old and act your age. Maybe that's the same thing as - be old and be happy.


GB Henderson
Mail to: treetopviews@mac.com
Blog: http://www.growingoldwithoutgrace.com
Blog: http://treetopviews.com

Saturday, January 10, 2015

GATEWAY TO THE WORLD

About a week ago, I left to run some errands in the next town, and I thought it would be fun to listen to a book while I drove along. I have several on my iPhone and all I have to do is dial up the Blue Tooth feature on the car and play it right from where I left off. I don't even have to touch the phone.

That was when I remembered the phone was on the charger at home. AT HOME! If I was thinking I could have charged the thing in the car. I was out and about without my phone! I was not in touch with the world and what's worse, the world seemed not to care. I laughed out loud.

It hasn't been that long ago that I didn't have a mobil phone at all. I had worked until midnight one peak season at LL Bean and since it was peak, employees had to park in a remote lot and ride a shuttle to and from the store. On this particular night there were about six of us on the shuttle and as it pulled away we all went to our respective cars. I found mine, a loaner, since my truck was in the shop. I got in and turned the key and there was that sickening clicking sound, known to everyone who drives a car that signifies a dead battery. Did I mention it was very cold? It seems that there was an extra switch to turn off the parking lights that was not a feature on my old truck.

So there I am at a past midnight hour stranded in a remote parking lot at twenty something degrees. I sat there and began thinking of what to do when a young woman pulled up beside me and asked if there was a problem. I recognized her and I said that I could use a ride to some place to call AAA for a boost. She said she had a phone and we could call from right there in the warmth of her car.

Well, that did it. That very week I went to one of the local mobil companies and signed up for a cell phone contract and drove away with my gateway to the world in my pocket. It was a phone. Just a phone. Nothing but a phone. No GPS, no text messaging, no Google Maps, no location services, no internet. Like I said, it was a phone. But it was cheap. I paid for the minutes I used. Odd concept, that.

I remember taking it everywhere I went. It was like having a pistol in my pocket - I was so conscious of it. It's all I thought about. I tried to think of someone I could call. There weren't that many people who I ever called anyway, and nobody ever called me. Why would I call now just because I have a cell phone?. I thought - well, should I break down, I can call someone. I smiled as I contemplated my security.

I remember once, not long after getting this phone, stopping on the side of the road to call a bookstore to see if a book I had ordered had come in. I really didn't need to do that. They said they would call me. While there I called CA to see if there was something I could pick up while I was out. She said, you're playing with your phone, right? - - - Well, yeah.

These days I really don't expect a call from anyone. But, just in case, if I am in the car, the phone is "recognized" by the car and is "live" and hands free. Anyway I am usually listening to a book and don't want to be interrupted! If not that, I am listening to turn by turn instructions to get to some remote address I happen to be looking for. The phone GPS is better than the one in the car. In the event that I actually want to call someone while driving I push a button on the steering wheel and this nice, if somewhat petulant, woman says, what do you want? I'm doing my nails here. I say, please, if you don't mind call Carol Ann. She takes a deep breath and says, well - alright. "Calling Carol Ann". And CA's phone rings. . . . . .You just have to love that.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER . . .

I would have to say that 90% of all communications coming to me for the past few days have been peppered with, if not altogether concerning the weather. The very cold weather. My son who lives on what he likes to refer to as the third coast, even chimed in with a 25˚ reading within minutes of the Gulf of Mexico, in reply to my reporting a minus 11 for our local Maine reading.

OK, so I live in Maine - what did i expect? As I recall, it was cold and snow. I couldn't wait for it. Only, one never hopes for a two week ice storm outrage, or a month long sub zero imprisonment. This brief but brutal period of zero neighborhood cold is a not so friendly reminder that, though the earth is indeed warming, for whatever reason, the thermometer presently says 7 above at 2:30 PM. That makes a case for long underwear and a pot of afternoon tea with a dollop of honey in it for the flagging spirit.

I keep thinking about those four or five days in July when, arguably, we in Maine have the finest weather on the planet. And as an afterthought, are those few days of heavenly weather enough to make a case for year long residence in Vacation Land? OK, I know that's an oversimplification. I actually like September more anyway. And there is a special joy on that day - perhaps a few days too soon - when we reinstall the deck furniture, umbrella and all, and sit in the sun for the few minutes we can before it cools off, and dream of those days ahead when we can practically live out here with the birds and bees and butterflies.

Keep in mind also that those of us who do live here year round are demonstratively better people for doing so. So hold your head high and rejoice as you collect splinters from the wood pile, carry out the ashes, stir that pot of cabbage soup and feel deep pity for those who suffer flies, bugs and alligators in their semi tropical hell.

Oh, one more thing: have you noticed how easy it is for Happy Hour to come a little earlier during these shortened winter days?

Be well, stay warm and stay tuned.

Jerry Henderson

Sunday, January 4, 2015

THE TIME FACTOR

There are so many jokes in the standard repertoire about aging that it would be impossible to gather them all.  I'm so old I have stopped buying green bananas.  Anon.  I'm so old my insurance company sends me half a calendar. R Dangerfield.   I'm so old that the sight of flowers frighten me. G Burns.  I'm so old that when I order a 3 minute egg they want the money up front.  G Burns.  I'm so old the candles cost more than the cake.  B Hope.  This one by Steven Wright stops me cold: How young can you die of old age?

Of course, none of the above is original with me.  Not even growing old.  It just feels unique.  It's one of those things, that if you do it (grow old, I'm talking) you feel alone.  I don't care if the room is full of cheering friends, which, of course, is nice, but even such an outpouring cannot remove the footprint of time.  

These things don't occupy your mind  too much until you pass 50, or for sure  60.  That's when it gets serious.  Friends and family begin dying off much too quickly for comfort.  Children you once knew or haven't seen in a while are now voting adults if not parents as well.  Then one day you realize you are *thinking* about it all the time - well, a lot of the time.

Just a while ago I was commiserating with CA about the recent demise of my lovely main computing machine: my MacBook Air.  It was only 4 years old.  I won't bore you with the details, but it's history.  Beyond reasonable repair. Water, corrosion.  I don't have a clue as to how that happened.  It's a total mystery.  The bottom line is it is headed for the recycle bin.  

For the past fifteen years I have used a laptop as my primary writing instrument.  Every day I journal, do emails and compose two blogs on a laptop.  I am using an eight year old iMac now that is on borrowed time sort of like I am.  And it ties me to the desk.  I like to move around.  Yada yada yada.  There's no end to all this.

Now, here is how an Octogenarian processes such a situation.  OK.  Should I go ahead and replace the laptop with the present version or wait for the inevitable upgrade at some unknown time in the future?  I'd like the new model, but will it arrive in time?  That wasn't a joke.  I'm dead serious.  Whoops!

There comes a time in life when the idea of delayed gratification is  a kind of dark joke.  I mean, really!

But you see my point.  Here is how my one-liner goes: "I'm so old I can't wait for the next computer upgrade".  (Drum Roll)  Oh well. . .  I never could tell a joke.

How about this from the Song of Solomon:  "Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither".  I kind of like that.  The Rosebud Theory of big ticket purchases in old age.  It has a certain charm, don't you think?