Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Musings (On Memorial Day)

So many have perished in war. In my darkest hours, especially in the days of Drumpf, I can't help but think their deaths might have been in vain. It becomes even more clear in light of such tragic losses, to ensure that this con man is ushered out of office. He betrays all that is good and right with our country.

"Nine thousand silhouettes have been stenciled in the sand on a Normandy beach to commemorate the soldiers and civilians who died on June 6, 1944.

This moving tribute, called "The Fallen," was conceived by British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss, who enlisted the help of 500 volunteers to mark the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.

It took two years to prepare for the project, and more than five hours to produce it.  The weather cooperated while the volunteers worked on the beach, but the piece lasted only a few hours before the tide washed away the memorial. The photographs capture the power of Wardley and Moss’ work.

"All around us there are relics of the Second World War, but the one thing that is missing are the people that actually died," Wardley said. "We've very quietly made a big statement." "

From the Gettysburg address:

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Matthew Brady, 1962
Abraham Lincoln Signature.svg

Friday, May 26, 2017


When was your last mammogram?

Mine was today.  It was the fastest, most efficient one I've ever had.  Don't know if it was the equipment or the tech, but it was easy peasy.  Usually it's quite a pain, as I have heterogeneously dense breast tissue.  About 4 in 10 women do.  About half of women undergoing mammogram testing have dense breasts.

So, that's out of the way for another year.

I just had, earlier in the week, my annual eye exam and it revealed that after 25 years of living with diabetes, I have some minor retinopathy in my left eye.  It just means that the very tiniest blood vessels in the retina are damaged and leaking.  I'm going to see a specialist soon who will assess and monitor my eyes from here on out.  The good news is: laser surgery works wonders if the progression causes sight problems.  I have always known it might happen.  You can't have Diabetes with our some secondary damage.  But my annual eye exams were usually a source of celebration since the doc never saw any damage at all.   I was a tad dazed as I walked out of the office, so much so that I left my written eye glass prescription behind.  Air head.

I am a couple weeks away from my 60th birthday, so, hear is what's on my mind:  I'm officially old, whatever that means.  And what does it mean for me anyway?  More wrinkles, a few more gray hairs, and - whoopee - I've noticed some scattered broken blood vessels on my right cheek.  The skin on my legs has entered the sagging phase, and the alligator like texture stage.  Usually, I don't pay these things any mind.  I go by how I'm feeling, and that's enough (most times).  I know that my current preoccupation with the physical effects will pass after my birthday.

In so many ways, I feel better than I ever have.  With 8 months of resistance training and cardio under my belt, I have more strength and stamina than a year ago.  And that's what I really care about.  I want to feel good as long as possible, and exercise is the way to feel good.  It is the closest thing we humans have to a "fountain of youth."

My husband and I have one more week of working with our trainer, and then we're on our own.  He's transitioning us well, working with us on what we need to do from here on out.  We're scheduling regular workouts on our calendar, and we help each other to remember how important (and fun!) these workouts are.  I'm not a complete novice in the gym, but it's been many years since I did this with such regularity.  I am proud of us. 

Go team.

Have yourself a wonderful weekend!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Musings

Time.  Age.  Vigor.  Disease.  I probably ponder these things too much.  I just read an article that posited that depression is actually a function of looking ahead with dread, as opposed to past trauma.  I hadn't considered this before.

My mother celebrated her 82nd birthday yesterday and we took her for brunch.  It is so exhausting for her to out and about, but they are doing it, and enjoying their adventures.  Last week, a trip to our local performing arts center followed by lunch out.  All sponsored by their retirement community.  A chamber music concert and a delightful repast at one of their favorite restaurants in town.  All facilitated by the group with a wheelchair accessible van.  It makes traveling so much easier for her.  Two weeks before that, they all went to the San Francisco MOMA to see the Matisse exhibit and have lunch.

I asked my dad if was enjoying this new freedom, and heartily agreed he was!  Mom is as well, though she is less effusive.   They are more social than they have been for a decade.  They lost so many friends to death and they were lonely.  They are not usually "joiners" so we wondered how this whole group living thing would work out.

Turns out, it is working very well.

I spent some time with one of my very best friends recently.  We've know each other about 26 years.  He's the brother I never had.  By turns adorable and exhausting.  We had lunch with our husbands in Napa City, and later toured the new facility for the Culinary Institute of America.  It was a warm day, and my tight black jeans were annoyingly too hot for such a day.  I was lazy and hadn't done laundry, so my choices were few.  Live and Learn.

Hard to believe I'm going to be 60 in a couple of weeks and I'm still making these rookie mistakes.  Did I say 60?  Oh, yeah.  Echoing everyone I've ever talked to about aging, I don't feel my age.  I feel about 18 most of the time.  Still feeling my way through the dark, wondering what is at the edge and if it's going to be glorious or end up biting me in the ass.

The outward markers of a long life are apparent: grandchildren, retirement, thinning skin, gray hairs beginning to sprout, wrinkle lines that emanate like the rays of the sun from my eyes and eyebrows, alligator skin on my once smooth legs, and finally, those jowls that I noticed first on my grandmother and then my mother.  Now they are mine.  The inward indications of a long life are that I am a tad more savvy and more appreciate of the goods things of life.  I gravitate to the things that soothe me and inspire me, and have given up trying to deeply understand the crazy things people do.  It's too much to fathom, and so I hit the bump and, like the Roomba vacuum,  turn to march in the other direction.

Likewise, it's usually an unproductive exercise to ponder one's chronological age.  Especially since my brain tells me I'm still 18  years old.  My body tells me otherwise, but hell, there's nothing to do but LIVE it.  Keep dreaming, go to the gym, dig in the garden, read a good book, listen to jug bands and make pizza for dinner.   And, most importantly, stay in touch with, and cultivate friendships with those people who sustain me, make me laugh. 

Carpe diem, babies.

Yellow Cottage, Part 2

I have a dear friend who I met in my Creative Writing class my freshman year in college.  I sent the poem to her for her comments and edits ...