Friday, June 27, 2008

Crochety Old Woman

The local branch post office should be avoided after 3:00 in the afternoon; but I had to go yesteray afternoon. So did many other people. Only three clerks work at any one time, and usually only two. Much experience has convinced me they only hire people who move like somnolent snails. So I take something to read and prepare for a long wait. Behind me some major-corporate-executive-in-the-making child of about 4 or 5 loudly browbeat his nanny into not waiting in the line even though she tried to explain to him that if she didn't mail her item she would have to pay a $35 fine. Horrid kid! Then a women of my generation joined the line a couple people back from me. She soon loudly announced that the people at this P.O. move like zombies, Then the man [who I actively dislike but am always polite to despite his cloyingly insincere "have a good day," announced "Closed." Leaving only one clerk. It was not even 4:00 o'clock but this did not surprise me.

The woman became almost appoplexic. "Did he say closed? Closed? It's 3:54! He can't be leaving at this hour. Is that other person working?" [A pillar blocked her view.] Someone said, 'Yes." "Like molasses on a cold day," the woman announced without seeing the object of her attack -- it was true but unfair. The scene went on in this vein for about half an hour. The vociferous woman raved on and on. I really wanted to tell her to cool it, that it was pointless working herself into such a froth when nothing in the known world can speed up a postal clerk.

Instead I contemplated my resolve many long years ago that when I was much older [like 50 or 60] I would become a crochety woman and say anything I pleased to anyone, anytime, anywhere in any kind of language -- because I chaffed at being told to be ladylike, keep my voice down, don't make a scene, don't upset the boat, don't draw attention to myself, be nice -- be nice -- be nice! In mid-life I became a playwright and had to learn to "make a scene." That was a hard lesson and I never became really good at it, it just didn't come naturally.

And now I've found that a funny thing has happened on the way to chrochety-ness even though my age advanced relentlessly. I've become nice. Not only nice, rather placid and serene, and I find that the sharp words just won't jump out of my mouth [except in serious righteous anger] they come out phrased tactfully. The habit of living up to those proscriptions learned back in my adolescent and teen years have become part of how I live in the world. Habits of all kinds accumulate and it's fortunate that the good ones are as hard to break as the bad ones.

An ad on a subway card that I saw recently shows a little girl [not a little boy, I noted and said, Hmmm?] with the caption, "Every time you yell at another driver, you are teaching her a lesson." And your sons too! You're training a child to vent anger. And I can imagine that imperious little boy's father -- oh, yes! An executive or a lawyer. My parents were quiet and restrained people. I did not hear many angry words, my models were not angry people. So the anger felt by the teenager I was would have to be postponed for independent old age, I thought. Here I am and I am not angry. This warrants more pondering on my part.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Nostalgia has always seemed to me an emotion that has gone bad. It reminds me of biting into a peach that has been bruised and then sat in a bowl until it was overripe -- a mouthful of unpleasant mush. Yet, I notice that it's hard not to find the mind going back to youthful times that were in some ways, better. Nostalgia, says the dictionary is first defined as homesickness. No, that's not what I'm talking about. What I am thinking about as summer has arrived and the always abundant fruit and vegetable stores are bursting with things I want to love, have long loved but which now often disappoint. Right now it's strawberries for this has always been strawberry time. They smell almost -- not almost, truly -- too good to be true. [We'll come back to these tomatoes in a bit]

The strawberries in the market are large and perfectly shaped. And they always disappoint me. I AM nostalgic for those smaller, sometimes oddly shaped strawberries in the small garden patch my mother cultivated or in the big acre or so of pay-adnd-pick strawberries about 10 miles from our home. They were washed under running water and then one-by-one the stems were cut off, and each sliced in half lengthwise and dropped into a big bowl. Then the bowlful was mixed with a generous scoop of sugar, stirred to coat all and put in the refrigerator until dessert time. They were excellent by themselves but even better on top of a split hot baking powder biscuit with or without butter -- without butter if we happened to have whipped cream, which wasn't usual. The cream was separated from the milk morning and night and sold separately to the dairy that picked up the cans - cream, of course, was worth more. The sugar on the strawberries drew out natural juices which was SO good soaked into the biscuits! The ones in the market seem to have no natural juice.

I have not tasted strawberries as good as those for many years so I almost never purchase them although they are always available now. Most have almost no flavor. Other fruit is usually so unripe it has to be left out of the refrigerator for a few days -- and then often spoils for it is not meant to become truly ripe. It saddens me that a generation exists that does not know grapefruit should be naturally sweet, or that pears should be juicy, likewise peaches and plums. I wonder if our natural sensuousness is blunted if we have not learned about the flavor of a naturally ripe piece of fruit. If you don't know the "system" has derived you of something, does it matter? Well, I think it does. These apricots were not nearly as good as "natural" ones I bought by the kilo in Greece. The cherries, fortunately, are fairly dependable.

But TOMATOES! Tomatoes are almost synonymous with red-tasteless-spheroids. The tomatoes at the top of this post are "heirloom exotics", including the yellow and deep plum colored ones. Sometimes, I found last fall when they began appearing in a local market, they actually have a tomato flavor. No, it doesn't come anywhere near the "from the garden" flavor I remember -- truly sweet, truly tomato-y, needing not even salt to be such a treat in the mouth they can transport the way a perfect peach can.

I will keep on purchasing fruit and veggies because, even with their flavor stunted they are usually more satifying to me than most meats. And better for me, although I suspect they've also lost, not only natural sugar but other nutrition. Yes, I'm nostalgic for the produce from my childhood. I am NOT nostalgic about hoeing the garden or snapping half bushels of green beens to can or for peeling potatoes. I have a choice now that didn't exist in my asparagus-less, artichoke-less, avocado-less -- I could go on -- childhood. I don't want to return, I just want sweetness in foods instead of plasticity.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Solstice

This, of course, is Stonehenge at the moment of the summer solstice.

Yes, I know the solstice was Friday at 7:59 p.m. although I don't understand just how they calculate such things and I'm perfectly happy not understanding. Another seasons has rolled in and it's true: when you're older time seems to fly. I think there's some kind of compression phenomenon at work. When you've lived through this many solstices or equinoxes or Christmases or birthdays they seem so much closer to one another. And as I wrote already, I feel compelled by my last name [Calender] to pay attention. These days I seem to be paying attention when a new month comes. Where did May go? And here we are with June 3/4s done!

And then there are the memento mori that we start to notice. I know people who always read the obits -- I haven't got to that yet. But each mention of a passing says, pay attention. Live it all; don't waste the time; it's precious. Right now I'm in count-down phase for the vacation with my daughters -- we all are excited to be going out West, excited to see things we've never seen before, to all be together on a sort of 'girl friends" trip. But there's a week in between and that's a week not to waste by wishing it away. I always anticipate trips. The anticipation is delicious but it is never as delicious as the actual trip. Just as cooking a meal is never as good as eating it.

The best antidote to the time is flying feeling is to spend a little time saying, yes, it flew but I packed a lot into those months, years, this life. I had one of those moments in spades thanks to a stupid mistake and an adrenaline rush that followed. A good many years ago I was in Italy with a friend and had firmly in my mind that the departure date was X. When we got to the airport X day, the clerk said, "Your ticket was for yesterday!" What a nightmare! Would I have to buy a new ticket for full price? I was so shocked I put my hand on my heart as if I were having heart attack. Maybe I looked like I could collapse. I think it helps to have white hair [well, it was gray then]. The clerk took pity on us, gave us 59th minute boarding passes and sent us rushing to the gate. Upon presenting the boarding passes we discovered we were in Business Class and were almost immediately given a glass of champagne.

The adrenaline and champagne and utter astonishment of the moment made such a stew in my gray matter that tears started down my cheeks and didn't stop until we were nearly back in NYC. During those hours of a strange clarity, my brain went over every wonderful thing that had ever happened to me, a compulsive counting my blessings that became so imprinted on my memory I can still recapture the wonder and joy. And it all happened because I thought I knew the date and didn't even check the ticket -- so stupid. But if one is going to have a good high, a fantastic trip that's done without ingesting psychodeic chemicals, this was perfect.

So the seasons and years rush by faster and faster but the accumulation is wonderful and I'm looking forward to a good bit more wonder. However I don't want to rush through this week. I'll enjoy my anticipation the whole time as I make lists and start putting stuff in my bag, straightening the apartment so I can come home to neatness. It's all good, every minute of it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


That very same Vanity Fair issue [July 2008] that had the Clinton article had what they billed as the "first ever oral history" of the Internet. Some 200 people were interviewed although far fewer was quoted in sound bites. One thing that particularly caught my attention is a build-in paradox: the internet was started by the Air Force as a reaction to Sputnik, i.e., because the US did not trust the USSR and was scared s-less. They envisioned a way to keep the honchos in touch with one another. [So if the Soviets decided to bomb us we could bomg them at the same time and thus cooperatively destroy large parts of the world -- my interpretation.]

The soon to be World Wide Web morphed in a number of ways -- this was an easy to read article but apparently far from comprehensive. I found it especially interesting because it emphasized contributions of individuals. I believe, and apparently so does V.F. that individuals make history and push the progress of technology [even of civilization].

The paradox came when I read statements by the man who dreamed up Pay Pal and the one who dreamed up eBay. Both young men said, I believed you could trust people. And they were right, essentially -- right enough to be very succeessful trusting people to pay up and to keep their end of a bargain. So it went from national distrust to individual trust. And then became even more individual with My Space and Face Book where people make themselves open to literally millions of other people. Yes, we've all read about hoaxes and problems but those are so few compared to the many using the Web to buy, sell, talk, become friends. [Picture above is Marc Andreesen, founder of Netscape, and his partner in the new Ning, Gina Bianchini].

I have been active about a year in a social network that swaps small things, often as small as letters and postcards. A paradox is that one purpose for participating is to receive snail mail, small items or just letters. A recent innovation on that site is a "wish list group" where members publish small wishes [craft items, notebooks, interesting teas, etc.] and other members, send items from those lists -- these are people all around the world who have never met, often never exchanged anything. They simply have generous impulses and know that sending a small item will make someone happy when the mail arrives. Are they all lost, lonely, needy people? No. Many may be stay at home moms or retirees who have a little too much time. But I believe the majority enjoy random acts of kindness both giving and getting. Some want to be in touch with another part of the world. Isn't that nice oil for the social machinery?

And this is a new phenomenon, only possible in the last ten years because of the continually changing internet possibilities. I find it amazing and really very nice.
The swap site's name is It's free to join. Go and check it out if you're curious.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Changes and more Changes

I have just read Todd Purdum's harsh, insightful article about Bill Clinton in the current Vanity Fair. Purdum was Washington correspondent for the NY Times during part of Clinton's administration and follows politics with a sharp reporter's eye. Among the many observations in the article was a mention that Clinton now seems to have a smoldering anger that was not part of his personality when he was President. He ties this change in affect to the traumatic heart surgery Clinton had a few years ago. That rang bells for me. It's a conjecture, an astute observation but not a fact in medical terms that major surgery may change personalities to a degree. I don't think it's talked about, at least the ever greedy medical media writers haven't glommed onto it a far as I know.

My mother had major heart surgery in her 70s, it was traumatic and she recovered slowly [but lived several more years]. When I visited I noticed that a woman who I don't believe I ever saw cry, became teary and sniffy when she mentioned a friend's death She said, embarrassed, "I don't know why I'm always crying these days." I came to believe it was an after effect of her surgery, not a change of attitude but a deep change of expressiveness.

I worked for some years for an elderly woman who, when I first met her had just had hip surgery during which a malfunction in the oxygen deprived her of oxygen for a mininute or two. Her long time assistant said more than once, "Since her surgery she's lost her sense of humor." Certainly the woman was highly intelligent and enjoyed other people's wit but showed no humorous wit herself.

Many of us as we grow older will face serious surgery, perhaps we should be aware of the fact that we may be changed in unexpected ways, that the personality we have lived with and worked to refine all our lives, will surprise us in some unexpected way. This adds a deeper note to the poem to the right, where Kunitz says, my changes are not done. This may be a frightening thought to those who have kept tight control on their personas. I think it is evidence that even personalities are not our essence, our humanity lies even deeper inside ourselves. It's a challenge to contemplate. The woman I worked for seemed unaware of change, my mother was embarrassed, and Clinton has simply gone with the flow and burst out angrily several times in the last months in defense of Hilary. Do we have the resources to recognize and handle more changes?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good Morning

Sometimes it happens, usually after a nice series of 6 to 8 hour nights of sleep that the brain has had enough rest. It is up and ready for action in the dark of the night although it blanked out very happily shortly after the head hit the pillow earlier. No amount of squinting at the red LED numbers on the bedside clock-radio will change that 3:42 to 6:42. But a little chat by the master brain may convince the busy brain to cool it for a while yet This is unacceptable! Sometimes that works and the next glance at the red numbers is more reasonable, say 4:29. But the body protests, it's very happy in it's warm little groove in the bed. Brain doesn't care, it's awake and ready for action.

That's the time for a hand to reach out and turn on the radio, always set to the NYTimes classical music station, WQXR. This morning a din clattered at me and I nearly turned it off but then I recognized some strains of Love of Three Oranges and thought, well, maybe we'll have some nice Mozart next. Alas, when the announcer came on he told me it is Igor Stravinsky's birthday. Russians before it's properly daylight! Egad! About to hit the off button, the announcer then said that Igor had written a concerto for Woody Herman and, indeed we would next hear a recording of The Ebony Concerto, conducted by Stravinsky, with the Herman band and Herman himself playing the clarinet solos. I pictured the toucan-nosed Russian in front of a relaxed bunch of hepcats, jiggling a little wooden stick at them. This I had to hear -- and did. And enjoyed. One never knows what fills those airways. It's not as if I am listening to an IPod loaded only with things I know and love -- it's a serendipitious world around me where I can discover something new and delightful before I even get my head of the pillow. This is one of the pleasures of accepting the body's rhythms and going with them.

When the music ended another little body voice squeaked it's demand from the center, "coffee?" And so it was something not long after 5:00 when I got up. A perfectly good time to start a summer day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Talk Your Ear Off

Last week my long time acquaintance, Sandra, was visiting from Australia. One afternoon we went to the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art because there was an afternoon film/discussion about saving art treasures in Lo Monthang, the capital of the Nepalese subkingdom of Mustang where I trekked in 1999. Featured in the film was restorer John Sanday who told our small group about the work he was doing there and who joined us for dinner that evening in the only thing that approximates a restaurant in the distant little city -- we had walked four days to reach it. There were no roads in Mustang although the film showed one now being built. The picture above is of Lo Monthang, a walled city in a valley just 12 miles from the Tibetan border and a place that would be in Tibet except for Nepali politics many years ago.

During the discussion one man dominated the "discussion." He made several generalizations that I had to refute [e.g.,the monsoons do NOT get beyond the Annapurnas to that desert kingdom]. After the group broke up he settled near me and carried on, allowing me to say that I had been there -- whereas he spoke from his experience of hiking the Annapurna circuit which only reaches the border of Mustang. At any rate, he wanted to talk, and talk, and talk. Well, damnit, I like to talk about my travels too, but I could hardly get a word in edgewise. I got so tired of his half-informed genealizations that I finally put on a schoolteacher-ish voice and said, "I know what I'm talking about, I've done a great deal of research." This, of course, did not stop him, it was only a small detour.

I would dearly have loved a real conversation about the differring preservatinon attitudes of Western conservators and the Mustangis -- the clash of our respect for individual aritsts -- the murals being saved were being painted almost concurrent with the Sistine Chapel and are perhaps equally accomplished high art -- and the lack of interest the people of this region have for individualism. But that conversation was out of the question with Mr. Half-Assed-Facts. He was probably five or ten years younger than I and had that sense of entitlement to voice his thoughts that so chafe me in male company.

However, during the period of Sandra's visit, since I have traveled to "exotic" plaes and she was a kind listener, I'm afraid I had my periods of garrulousness too. The truth is, it's great to hear ourselves talk and to expound when we've gathered a certain amount of information. It's one of the pitfall of aging -- and I think one of the values as well. Many of us DO indeed have a lot we can tell others. But, finally, how much more satisfying it is when we can have real CONversations -- real discussions with others who are also informed and who, perhaps, have insights we don't. This availability of true conversationalists is something I have not had enough of in my life. Perhaps I should have been an academic -- but it's far to late for the "what ifs" and from what I read, the academy is not necesarily open minded, quite the opposite, it often seems.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Set in One's Ways

We've all heard the phrase used to describe older person who's a bit cantankerous and stubborn about changing habits, "set in her ways." I'm fighting it but have to admit I begin to understand the impulse. I've always considered myself flexible, open to the new and different. But to be quite honest I felt a bit of chaffing the last week when a house guest was here. For one thing this is not a house, it's apartment, and not a large one. In house there's more wiggle room usually, there's very little here. My guest was entirely considerate and flexible herself which is a great help. My chaffing was only at the back of my mind when I chose not to make coffee immediately upon rising in order not to wake her and other such small mattters.

This was a long time friend from Australia who I haven't seen for a dozen years or more. There was much catching up to do and many places to go -- all enjoyable. The picture above is my friend at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum. Like so many Aussies,she has traveled a great deal to many places in the world but has not been to Egypt so this small temple was a new experience for her. Giving our friends new experiences -- when they are open to them, as she is -- is one of the rewards of living in a complex and culturally rich place like NYC. I also took her to my Quilt Guild which happened to have particularly colorful meeting -- another new experience.

What's not to enjoy? Nothing! Sleeping on the sofa was not a problem, it's a comfortable sofa and I slept well. No the only "set in her ways" problem was a break in a rhythm that has become fairly set. It was good for me to break that rhythm for several days. Perhaps it's just a matter of keeping an eye open for signs of attitudinal rigor mortis setting in prematurely and making sure to allow these interruptions to happen, relaxing into a different daily patterns for a while.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


WHEN: Whenever I feel I have something to say, which is likely to be frequently, but not every day. Life intrudes. A house guest for a few days, as of tomorrow will intrude. People take precedence - always.

WHERE: Here, though I've been told of other blog sites that may offer features I prefer. Blogspot is familiar and easy so far. If I grow technologically bold, I'll brag about it.

WHENCE: Whence comes this impulse? Partly I explored it under "why" but there's a bit more to say. In college a "New Critic" professor, James Cox -- red haired, freckled, young with a theatrical personality was perhaps more memorable than he knew. First of all he made the hair at the back of my neck stand up reading, Emily Dickinson's "I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died." One day he expounded on how our names influence and define us no matter that they are arbitrary. His example was that although Poe was a wonderful story teller, he was not a very good poet -- the problem was a "T" missing from his name. I recognized this as specious then. But an idea had be planted in my youthful mind and it sprouted like a bit of kudzu. Ah, so that's why birthdays are important, why I pay special attention to New Years. ... Well, I know it's not. And I know that now, simply getting older I mark the seasons, even the months and sometimes even the weeks with a feeling like a count down toward an unknown major event. Yes, the kudzu covers more and more of the fields.

Those casual, trying to be clever, those show-off words, little did he know. Little do any of us know which of our words had that little grenade embedded in them and which person -- child, sibling, student, friends, casual acquaintance -- remembers our words and how they have changed someone's life. Johnny Appleseed knew what he was sowing, we don't know. I think of that quite a bit.

For those who don't have a complete Emily Dickenson and aren't likely to Google the poem, here it is in it's wonderful terror-ibleness. It's #465

I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died --
the Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air --
Between the Heaves of Storm --

The Eyes around -- had wrung them dry --
And breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset -- when the King
Be witnessed -- in the Room --

I willed my Keepsakes -- Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable -- and then it was
there inteposed a Fly --

With Blue -- uncertain stumbling Buzz --
Between the light -- and me --
And then the windows failed -- and then
I could not see to see.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Discovery consists of seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. Albert Szent-Gorgyi

WHY? Why a blog about being 70?

An epiphany: Mrs. Horton was reading Tom Sawyer, a bit each morning. Sunlight was bright through the glass bricks that made up part of the eastern wall of the room I wore my new chartreus wool skirt which had a hidden delight, the seam binding on the inside hem was print, I looked at it and was enjoyed what could be sewn at home. Maybe Mrs. H. had told us about Samuel Clemens, who was called Mark Twain and had lived in Hannibal, Missouri on the Mississippi River and had been a boy like Tom Sawyer. In one sun lite moment I realized that stories don't grow on trees. A person writes the words and then everyone can read the story; it could be in a book and the book could be in a school or a library or one could even have her own copy. A real person can be a writer. I am going to be a writer! And so I have been from that moment. I think I wrote a poem that day about a river. The river I knew was the Ohio but I knew it became part of the Mississippi.

Writing has always been easy and a pleasure -- always the pencil or pen and the paper are available. A farm girl, no friends nearby, the diary page always welcomed my words, my secrets and the ordinary things, weather, Sunday dinner. I've never doubted the words would come, never known writer's block. But I've never had the extreme urge to tell my stories for others that propels the successful writers. Writing is part of life like cooking, laundry, baths, sewing, listening to music, reading.

But writing gives back something other activities don't. The words flow and tell me thoughts I didn't have before. Now that I have 70 years of life behind me I find myself writing little bits of memory, like the classroom scene above. I have never needed to expurgate an awful childhood. Tolstoy seemed correct about happy families not being the stuff of great novels. I did not know alcoholism, abandonment, violence, incest. Parts of the intellectual world are beginning turn from the concentration on illness and neurosis and look at what works in human life, what brings happiness, balance, harmony, resilliencee. No, my life hasn't been all roses and not at all the expcted, but I like where I've arrived at this point.

A piecemeal exploration is my aim. It include youth, of course, but also those moments of histoy I share with all my age: Kennedy's assassination, the first steps on the moon, Nixon's resignation, when the Berlin wall fell, 9/11. I remember when our house got electricity and a crank telephone, my first electric typewriter, my first airplane flight, my microwave, my ATM card, my first computer experience...

Writing and remembering and watching how the words tie unexpected elements together -- it produces surprises, discoveries, insights, and smiles, sighs. That's why I've decided to use this new tool for exploring this age I've never been before. I hope there are surprises and some fun.

(Above is the school building in Versailles, Indiana in which I spent 12 years learning everything from "See Spot run" to typing 80 words a minute.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

WHO - Confucius says ...

Confucius' first tenet was "the rectification of names" -- or so I remember from Intro to World Religions in college. He meant don't call a spade a digging instrument and don't call a shovel a spade. This attitude is part of the reason I promised in yesterday's openning post not to use jargon. I have deep respect for names. But I've always had trouble with my own.

So to start with don't call me a Senior Citizen, a Golden Ager, an AARP-er, a Silver Fox, a pre-Boomer, a crone, an elder, a wise old woman, a little old lady and certainly not a bitch or witch. These words I accept because they are biological and ineradicably true: woman, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin. I have a legal name that was given me at birth and I had a name I used for many years when married. I have other designations: I was born in the USA, in Indiana -- so am that weird word, a Hoosier, although no one knows what it stands for though many have guessed. Now I am a New Yorker. I have a batch of descriptives of the things I can do.

These words are all boxes, categories, data. Boxes are often needed. Try to imagine a shoe store without boxes [maybe all you need to do is think of the bottom of your closet]. Useful though it is a box is a container. So, Confucius, who am I? A human like a vast number of other living things on this planet.

Well over half my life ago, I began yoga and reading in Hindu philosophy. I began to think about stripping away those words, those categories -- scary! Strip it away, stop the thought Can't? Yes, I can briefly, a few seconds, or when immersed in something that requires total attention. Everyone can do that and for a bit be "awareneses", possibly, "enjoyment." Sometimes fear, sometimes pain.

When you stop on purpose, a "you" does the stopping, a "you" watches the quiet happen, a"you" is beathing, a you dreams at night, a you is not defined by all those busy thoughts that run all day like static on an imperfectly tuned radio. That you is there without your name, with you any of those categories and labels. It would be there whether you were born a Chinese or an Inuit, a Californian or a Fijian. This is not mysticism, this is a fact of how our minds work. Don't take my word for it, sit still a little while and think about it. Who's thinking about it?

There's a 70-year old me, different than, and containing the baby that was born with a certain set of genes, a certain disposition, certain attributes. As in the Kunitz poem at the start of this blog, a me between the layers, not a part of the litter. Like other humans I am happy when warm, well-fed, free of aches. I like sweet food [too much, really] and sweet smells, harmonic music, flowers, green grass, blue skies, gentle breeze and so, so much more. But these are all extras.

The essential me -- like the essetial you -- is a mystery. The Nepalis and many Indians use a word that recognizes who each person really is, "Namaste," usually said as a greeting or goodbye, with the palms together in what westerners call a prayer position. As I understand it, it means, "the mystery that is my essence greets the mystery that is your essence." Forget names and categories, look for what we all share. Namaste.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Big 7-0 and Going Strong - WHAT?

This is a blog about what it's like from one woman's perspective to hit the big 7-0 -- an age one doesn't imagine becoming but partly expects to merely pass through on the way to 99 or so. However, I find it standing in the doorway like a wooly mammouth resurrected, DNA intact, from the melting tundra of the Siberia of life. It wants to be reckoned with; it's a big bruiser but it looks friendly. We'll learn to live together.

This is a place where I will share information and ideas I gather -- mostly about life, in its seriousness and silliness and overall amazing-ness. In the particular is revealed the universal so my experiences, reading, living will be the acorn from which a little tree of, I hope, wisdom begins to sprout. Like the Kunitz quote, I will share the words of others that especially speak to me at this time in my life. I'll share photos, my own and those in the public domain. The one above is my photo of tulips from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. They are in glorious full bloom -- and that is what I feel like these last few days of my 69th year.


This is not a diary. If something I experienced that day is revelatory of something I need to say about the Big 7-0 and about "Going Strong" I'll use it as best I can. But it will be in service of something beyond eating at a good restaurant, say.

I will not rely on the new age or self-help vocabulary. There are several times as many books on those subjects as seem necessary to me plus there's Oprah and her lesser imitators. I hope this blog will not be boring -- but I may the be last to know. I hope readers will use the comment function to agree and disagree, correct any idiocies I [accidentally, you know?] let slip.

So today it's WHAT, tomorrow it's WHO -- beyond the brief statement above == then a quick look at WHEN and WHERE ... then we'll see Whence and Wither and stop this fun, but nonsensical alliteration.