Wednesday, March 9, 2022

ON THE BEACH - AGAIN

I recently re-read Nevil Shute's 1957 novel "On The Beach". I believe there was a movie made around the turn of the century. Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" is another profound trteatment of the aftermath of a nuclear storm. There is a movie of this book as well. Please read these books before our next meeting and bring a one page summation of each. Be prepared to discus your summaries. It probably would be a good thing to read the daily news from Ukraine as well, just to better connect the dots. Thank you.

It doesn't even help that you know that only two atomic bombs have been deployed and that was seventy seven years ago in those unsuspecting Japanese cities, Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Almost evey one agrees that those horrific moments saved American lives, but Jesus, at what cost? Nobody wins a war. Furthermore, those bombs would be mere firecrackers in today's nuclear arsenal.

Here's a reality check: Nine countries have nuclear weapons. the United States, Russia,
France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea. It is estimated that there is a stockpile of 13,000 nuclear weapons.

Today, ignorance, arrogance and the unfathomable thirst for power own the means of planetary distruction. I am afraid. Even if I had in my hand the BUTTON, the push of which would plant an atomic missile in the rose garden of every enemy of democratic freedoms - I am afraid. Whoever uses that third device signs his or her own death warrant. Do I need to remind you that even though you are nowhere near the blast sooner or later that radiation laced atmosphere will seep beneath your door.

I know - I know. The rich, the powerful, the connected: they will have their hid-ey-holes. But there are not enough Cheyanne Mountains for even a fraction of us worthy citizens of a doomed Planet Earth. Imagine, if you will, that morning in the distant future when it was deemed safe to venture out - to create from scratch a new world order consisting of the descendants of that bunch who had keys to Cheyenne Mountain. If you're waiting for the punch line - well, that was it. Albert Einstein said "I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones".

Doom's Day. Armageddon. This is the stuff movies are made of. It can't be real. World leaders, sometimes called politicians, surely won't let such a thing happen. . . . . .

To be continued (I hope)

Friday, February 25, 2022

GRIEVING - ONGOING

Recently I was driving down Route 1 in Yarmouth and passed one of our favorite coffee shops - windows covered and dark. Not one car in the parking lot. A wave of sadness at our loss washed over me. It was such a delightful hide-a-way filled with a collection of funky furnishings and good strong dark coffee accompanied by a peaceful quietness - along with the occasional sweet, of course.

It was a favorite - easy to find by simple directions for friends passing through so we could meet and share a cup or two. We can not afford to loose these wonderful institutions - victims of COVID 19, beyond the magic of vaccines.

Too many papered over windows and empty parking lots. It's fair to wonder if we are approaching a tipping point for or against recovery of culture and ordinary human activities - at least those we are used to.

So much has been lost, perhaps never to be the same. In the midst of the pandemic, we sold our home that we hardly ever planned to leave until we grew too old to handle the work. Now it's gone and I wonder if the sadness over that loss will ever go away. I never wanted to have to deal with these emotions so far down the line. Grief is common to us all but it can erode sanity and balance if not acknowledged and processed.

Can you keep a secret? I'm already eroded. The flakes of rust have eaten to my core and it's using up more than its fair share of my emotional resources and I'm fucking tired of it. Perhaps that's a good thing. Maybe something good can come out of this wave of twisted energy after all. Maybe it's never too late for another damned growth experience. You know about growth, don't you? Letting go of the old and reaching for the new. My mistake was in thinking that I had already been there - done that . . . enough already!

What I have learned, and I'm sure you have as well, is that it's never too late for learning a little bit about life and loss. Several years ago we had Carol Ann's mother with us. She suffered from a type of blood cancer and needed regular transfusions which at the beginning was once, then a couple of times a month, then weekly then twice a week. The transfusion itself virtually wiped her out for the entire day. Then there was increased energy for a few days then the need for a fresh transfusion arose. Until one day she announced her intention to stop the transfusions, knowing full well it meant she would soon die. She said goodby to the nurses and staff at the infusion center. There were long hugs and tears. I had to remember to breathe.

I was privileged to hold her hand when she let go and took her last breath. I miss her. We watched a lot of baseball together. My Red Sox - her Yankees. Every moment in her presence was a growth experience.

Never fear grief. Use it. Let it deepen your appreciation for everything. For the record, I'm not there yet. I'm not all that sure there is a "there". I'm still working on it. I think it's the effort that counts.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

THE TOUCH OF YOUR THOUGHTS

Who among us does not know the joy -
that spark of surprise when someone
says, "I was thinking of you"
I think of you all the time
how bereft I would be without you.
Anticipating the sound of your voice,
the warmth of your embrace
who knows but that thoughts have substance
and wishes can come true
and we are rich beyond our fondest dreams.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

TECHNOLOGICAL WONDERS

 I ordered two sets of snow-ice cleats from Amazon for safety's sake.  CA has already fallen twice on the ice this season, and the season is young!

When they came I realized they were sort of overkill.  Just right for scaling the Matterhorn but a tad much for these gentle trails around our cottage.  

So I went to Amazon's web site and clicked on "Returns" and immediately got this email that said, "Hey Jerry - no problemo!  Take the stuff you want to return to any Whole Foods (and I am less than ten minutes from one) and show this "QR code" to any associate and they will bag it and send it for free.  I mean, you gotta love that - right?  

So I take my return to our local Whole Foods and belly up to the Customer Service desk and tell this young guy that I have a return.  He scans the QR code on my phone - his machine spits out a label - he puts my stuff and the label in a plastic bag and tosses it in a bin.  I say, "That's it?"  He says, "That's it."  He couldn't care less what the item is or why I am returning it.  I mean come on - you really gotta love that.

But wait!  I'm not done yet.  Before I get out of the store I get this email telling me that my return has been processed and my account has been credited!  I want to run back and give that kid a big hug.  God I love technology!  Suddenly I am aware that I need to pee.

_____________________

Earlier this past year we had a freak one car accident and totaled our car - an eight year old Ford CMax.  Sad, sad, sad.  Now we needed a car but didn't want to spend new car dollars.  Our dealer came up with a very nice 2020 model for a price we could deal with and before the dust settled we were driving what seemed to us a new (used) Ford Escape.  For several reasons we never got the full orientation to the car and what we did get was brief like: push this button and turn this knob and that was about it.

You've heard of OJT - On The Job Training?  That's us.  I'm driving down I-95 and drifted over to the right side margin and, "Woah there Cowboy!  Some unseen hand shoved me back into the driving lane.  Further on this guy passes me and pulls in a little too soon and my car - without any effort from me - slows down and beeps at me before resuming my preset speed.  It's called Adaptive Speed Control.  Now, that's as close to self driving I ever want to get, Elon Musk notwithstanding.  But - and here's the thing - I love it.

I have said many times how I love being an old guy.  But the other side of that nickel is that actuarially speaking I'm not going to get a chance to experience technological wonders that are coming by the droves.  That's life, of course.  Just imagine.  

I was a child without a telephone or television.  I have lived to see wonderful things and promises of things unimaginable.  I would love to have been able "to go where no man has gone before".  But for the time being, I'll keep Adaptive Speed Control up and running.

Friday, November 19, 2021

SOME THOUGHTS ON TURNING 90

First - for all you wise crackers out there - it's not just a number.  All the sugar coating you can apply can't hide the raw facts of all that's left behind - the family that is long gone - the friends - the activities: the sweat, the muscle soreness after a day climbing or skiing or cutting grass - yes I even miss that.  I miss the gathering of friends who are all moved away, doing their own end of life thing or simply moving on following their own life map.

Everything I say reeks of grief.  There are ninety years behind me and, well, my future is right in my face.  I just hope my collision avoidance program is working.  I don't want to go slamming into my headstone in the dark. Then, truthfully, we don't have much control over that - do we?

Here at The Woods at Canco, the facility where we now live, we are issued a little button on a lanyard that goes around your neck.  You get in any kind of trouble, fall or get lost of whatever, all you need to do is to press the button and you are in voice contact with someone who can find you and summon help.  Pretty slick.  Many residents don't wear them but many do.  If either I or Carol Ann go walking alone we take one,  The best advise is to wear one all the time.  When we were issued the little buttons I just looked at it and thought, "OK Buster - you are now a certified member ot the 'I've fallen and can't get up' generation".  

I miss my life.  Three great children.  All of them in their sixties and all in Texas.  I was married to two great women and am into my 24th year partnership with a simply amazing woman and together we try to make sense of the issues, pressures and realities of aging.  Some days are better than others.

The missing confidant.  Over the years I have been blessed with priceless best friends.  I have now outlived some or time has separated us.  Longevity is a bitter sweet pill.  You wash it down with a draught of gratitude for long life and then you spend a little time grieving over the loss that comes naturally to those who live long.  

Communicating with best friends is essential and becomes more important with age.  I have found that writing letters in longhand is an effective way to have an intimate relationship with a best friend.  Electronic communication has been a gift to those of us who have taken to the medium.  Then there is the telephone.  Long conversations with best friends who can manage an extended conversation, and that is becoming a rarity, can be a true balm - a real gift to those who are managing a long distance relationship.  I have several friends from one end of the country to the other with whom I enjoy long phone chats.  It's incredible how these conversations lift my spirit.  Yes, I know about Zoom.  

I don'r intend to say everything there is to say about being 90.   I will say this: it's not easy.







Friday, June 18, 2021

WHAT DAY IS IT AND DOES IT MATTER?


Yesterday I was sitting in my favorite chair contemplating my next move when, for some unknown reason, I looked at my watch which said it was Wednesday. I looked over at CA and said, is it really Wednesday? She said, I’m reading, I don’t know what day it is, but I think it’s Wednesday. I said, I though it was Tuesday. I’ve been working on the plan for the rest of my life which begins on Tuesday. Now I’ve got to recalculate the whole damned thing.
This is so frustrating. At my age, there are not that many Tuesdays left to loose. Try as hard as I can, I can’t remember a thing about Tuesday. CA looks up and says, well all I know is that we went to see the doctor yesterday and that was supposed to be on the 15th and the 15th was Tuesday and today is the 16th, which would be Wednesday. So there you go.
I was so sure.
So maybe it was Monday that I misplaced. I can recall few Mondays that I really could have done without. There was nothing on our calendar for Monday, It was probably Monday. Tuesday - Monday: it doesn't matter. I still have to recalculate my life plan. Should take about 20 minutes.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

PANDEMIC POTPOURRI

During these days of social isolation I find that I think of friends more often.  I'm also thinking more  of friends with whom I have not communicated in nearly a lifetime.  That part, however, may be a function of my age more than this present pandemic - as in the older one gets the older the memories get that bounce around in the mid-night mind.

It occurs to me that as I age I begin to live more and more in the mind and less and less in the physical activities that have been a huge part of my life in the past.  So it comes up for  me to realize that if I find that I am bored (and I am finding this more and more these days) the antidote just might be activity.  Any activity.  Don't think too long about what to do, just do something.  It's the motion that counts.

One of my favorite activities is cooking, which leads, of course to eating.  But it's the cooking that excites me most - the actual pots and pans projects around the stove.  If you're reading between the lines, you are realizing that though cooking is such fun and at some level necessary, it can be devastating to one's waistline.  I'm not a great cook but a willing one.  I've learned that there is a kind of poetry to cooking - a little of this and a little of that, and don't fret the rhyming.

We're trying to downsize and prepare this house for the market.  It has yet to be discovered just  how big an impact this pandemic will have on the real estate business.  A large part of downsizing and decluttering is getting rid of stuff.  Did you know that there are, I think, four or five Goodwill stores open in the state and one of them is about 20 minutes north of our house.  Taking things there is more like re-purposing rather just throwing things away as in taking them to the dump, so to speak.

We drove into the parking lot and there was a long line of people waiting, at six foot intervals, to be let inside the building and a line of cars waiting their turn beneath the donation porte cochère.  It seemed that the whole town was there.  Watching the cars in front of us unload was fun.  One woman seemed to be getting rid of a lifetime's worth of Christmas decorations.

Everyone wore masks and many wore gloves.  Quite a few employees also had face shields.  The whole experience was imbued with calm and orderliness.  It was encouraging.  It's highly likely that we'll take anther load there today.  It's like going shopping in reverse.  These days you take entertainment where you find it.