When I Was 69

When I Was 69
Click pic to go to "When I Was 69"

Friday, August 24, 2018

Birthday thoughts (before)

July 30, 2018

Flat Creek when it's behaving itself.  There is nothing flat about it, full of rocks, tumbling from the heights down to join the various forks of the Swannanoa River in Black Mountain NC.

It's rainy today, with spats of heavy showers, and much grey sky.  It's also not only terrifically humid (like 100%) but hot (at least upper 70s) though not as bad as some thermometers in the world these days.

I enjoyed a Spanish conversation class at the Lakeview Center today...some folks (not all seniors) drop by to share sentences they've formed with key words that they drew from a box of vocabulary words.  Then everyone else tries to guess what the sentences mean.  Some of us are a bit more advanced than others, and thankfully they correct the rest of us.

I had the stunning experience of my brain just plain freezing up.

I couldn't say anything except, "my brain has stopped working".  I'm grateful that I could still say that...as the gestures of holding my head might have been misinterpreted...in either language.  So that's what I get for trying to form conversation in Spanish.  I hope I can entice my brain to work a bit better.  That's the point, after all.  I'm not planning to use Spanish in traveling, or even with some of the Hispanic people in Black Mountain.

 I just want my brain to keep working. And learning new things is supposed to be better than doing things we already know how to do, over and over again.  Now I know that I got to a point today in forming new neural pathways, where there was either a road block, or my ability to follow any pathway in my brain took a break.

Not too far down the road from Black Mountain, is Chimney Rock, a great cliff on each side of another river valley (gorge perhaps) which leads to Lake Lure.  You can't tell that the chimney is over on the right, separate from the cliff face.  No wonder some of this was the setting for "Last of the Mohicans" movie.

Incidentally, I was given a heads up that the elevator has been repaired at the park so that you don't have to climb the stairs up to the look-out area.  (But for those of us with claustrophobia, be warned!)
Chimney Rock looking towards Lake Lure

 The repairs from the landslide on NC 9 are coming along, and it has one lane open, maybe not on weekends, but at least some of the time.

This is a pretty recent shot of the landslide...imagine that it had been totally covered by the trees which fell, and the road repair crew had to build a road of some kind to get to the top to removed trees and grade it.  No wonder it's taken 2 months.

August 3, 2018
I'm trying to do nebulizer while typing on laptop.  It's a bit of a circus trick.  But since I must sit here by machine, why not do a bit of chatting after reading my emails, Facebook friend's posts, and blog friends?

I've been slammed, so didn't have time to write or even compose anything yesterday.  I did a bit of research on ancestors in between people coming into the Swannanoa Valley History Museum, where I've begun work as a docent.  It was supposed to be a pretty dull job with few visitors (ha ha.)  But it's been raining solidly for 3 days now, and that means tourists have to find things to do indoors.  So where last week only 2 or 3 people would visit during a shift (before I started) this week there were 15 people in the 3-1/2 hours I was there Wed. afternoon and again 16 on Thurs. morning.

I'm still (for now) a volunteerat the Clay Studio at Black Mountain Center for the Arts.  It's right next door to the History Museum.  So when I was at the Clay Studio I didn't really do much but work glazing my own pieces.

And when I came home and had put my feet up while watching the news, I decided to take that chicken carcass out of the fridge and make some soup stock.  Then I noticed of course the last of the veggies which needed to be used to make soup.

That meant an hour of chopping and sauteing, and picking the meat off the bones, then putting it all together.  It was delicious.  Did I mention washing the pans and dishes? That's 'cause I haven't done them yet.  They are piled in the sink and on the counter still. This afternoon I'll have time and energy for that job.

And now I'm getting ready to go to Yoga which I'm going to try to do again.  I have just been lying on top of my bed stretching a few different ways, so this will mean getting down (and up again) on the floor.  That will be the biggest challenge for me.  But I really don't want to do chair yoga.

After that class it will be about time for lunch at the Lakeview Center for Active Seniors.  We have recently lost our recreation director and assistant director, so the activities are suffering a bit.  But the Council on Aging provides these low cost nutritious meals.  They tend to be high carbs, so I have to skip some of them...have to work on what my stomach can handle.  That's the joy of aging again.

The weather has been a thing to deal with in a different way than most of us anticipated the first week of Aug. Last week we dealt with 90 degree afternoons, which usually cooled off into the 70s at night. Many people wanted to be out in the woods, and only the most hardy are geared up for constant rain and wet leaves and mud and puddles and streams.  The nights are in the 60s now, and my air conditioner doesn't kick in at all.  The choice is to either open windows and get humidity and some fresh air, or run the fans on the units so there isn't any mold thinking of growing.  With my allergies I do the latter.  I turn them off at night and run them all day, just moving air around.  I kick the a.c. on when it feels too hot inside...and that is hard when it's so cool with the rain.  Decisions, decisions.

August 5, 2018
..Aug 23.  That's my date or anniversary of my birth in 1942.  Doesn't that sound like a long time ago?  Well, to me it does!

And here I've changed the name of this blog to reflect my 75th year, as it ebbs away.  I used to call this "When I was 69" but realized it was a bit out of date.  Just like me...ha ha ha.

Whenever I have an afternoon like yesterday, I just go take a nap.  It was a nice enough day, but I finished my book, and didn't feel inclined to start another one, though I did open it on my mini iPad.  Actually I listened to one for about 2 minutes and decided against it.  Then the free library books got a freeze situation on the iPad, so I put it away and put on the C-PAP to sleep in comfort. I have become pretty particular in what I do with my remaining days.

That isn't meant to sound morbid, but once we pass a certain age, maybe once we become the last of our nuclear family, there's the reality that hits - we only have a limited amount of time left.  Of course that's an unknown quantity, and I'm always waking up each morning with gratitude to have another day to live.

And today I really missed my conversations with my best friend that I've shared daily for the last 18 years... Rosie.  I choked up as I walked in the kitchen.  Just reminded of something or another that she loved and I wanted to share with her.  But she's been gone now 4 months.  It was how she liked lumps in her mashed potatoes, and mine had some that night.

My evenings are usually at the computer, and with the TV going in the background, until I settle into bed, and read until I'm sleepy.  It doesn't usually take long.  Sometimes I watch a movie.

The weather hasn't been that great for walking out in the woods, but I am feeling drawn to do that again soon.  I reminded a new friend that that's how I get my batteries charged.  She agreed that it helps when she's feeling pulled in too many directions.

How would you write about your one precious life if it was to end in 18 days? Would you do anything different? (Of course that's just that my 75th year will be ending, and I'll be starting year 76.)

I think before I give a quote from a famous person or another, I'll give some of my gratitudes.

People...where to start? The family, wonderful three sons, so different in personalities...and then grandchildren...and in-laws...the choices that people make for spouses.  Friends, a subset that became my family in this environment.  Ancestors...the interesting things I learn about the people whose love resulted in me eventually.

Environment...beauty, peace, clean air, sounds of nature, mountains, water, plants and trees...temperature, humidity (Ha!) rain, snow, wind, sun.  Ah sun.

Music.  I came late to appreciation of it.  

Art.  I came early to it's beauty.

Creativity...ongoing urge to make beauty.

Sustenance...food, shelter, transportation, minimal attire (I really need to buy some new shoes)

Health.  As I age, more of my time and resources are spent on this.

Today's quote:
1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.
John Perry Barlow

August 6, 2018

This old-style clock was installed just a few years ago, when this corner became a park of interest to tourists.  The Chamber of commerce, and Town of Black Mountain, the Beautification Committee volunteers, and many personal donations of time and energy helped make this happen. 

I'm reminded of another favorite clock, which I've never seen in person.

The Prague astronomical clock, or Prague orloj (CzechPražský orloj [praʃskiː orloj]), is a medieval astronomical clock located in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. It is currently undergoing a reconstruction and should be back in place by the end of October 2018.

The Orloj is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism itself has three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock; "The Walk of the Apostles", a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months

 The oldest part of the Orloj, the mechanical clock and astronomical dial, dates back to 1410 when it was made by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel, then later a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University. The first recorded mention of the clock was on 9 October 1410.[2] Later, presumably around 1490, the calendar dial was added and the clock facade was decorated with gothic sculptures.

In 1629 or 1659 wooden statues were added, and figures of the Apostles were added after a major repair in 1787–1791. During the next major repair in the years 1865–1866 the golden figure of a crowing rooster was added.

The astronomical dial is a form of mechanical astrolabe, a device used in medieval astronomy. Alternatively, one may consider the Orloj to be a primitive planetarium, displaying the current state of the universe.
The astronomical dial has a background that represents the standing Earth and sky, and surrounding it operate four main moving components: the zodiacal ring, an outer rotating ring, an icon representing the Sun, and an icon representing the Moon.

Stationary background

The background represents the Earth and the local view of the sky. The blue circle directly in the centre represents the Earth, and the upper blue is the portion of the sky which is above the horizon. The red and black areas indicate portions of the sky below the horizon. During the daytime, the Sun sits over the blue part of the background and at night it sits over the black. During dawn or dusk, the mechanical sun is positioned over the red part of the background.
Written on the eastern (left) part of the horizon is aurora (dawn in Latin) and ortus (rising). On the western (right) part is occasus (sunset), and crepusculum (twilight).
Golden Roman numerals at the outer edge of blue circle are the timescale of a normal 24-hour day and indicate time in local Prague time, or Central European Time. Curved golden lines dividing the blue part of dial into 12 parts are marks for unequal "hours". These hours are defined as 1/12 of the time between sunrise and sunset, and vary as the days grow longer or shorter during the year.

The four figures flanking the clock are set in motion on the hour, and represent four things that were despised at the time of the clock's making. From left to right in the photographs, the first is Vanity, represented by a figure admiring himself in a mirror. Next, the miser holding a bag of gold represents greed or usury. Across the clock stands Death, a skeleton that strikes the time upon the hour. Finally there is a figure representing lust and earthly pleasures. On the hour, the skeleton rings the bell and immediately all other figures shake their heads, side to side, signifying their unreadiness "to go."

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_astronomical_clock

August 7, 2018
Some dreary wet days are not inspiring at all.

So we follow the paces we've trod before, just going through what has to be done each day.  No inspiration.  But the life continues, for which we're (royal plurality of we) grateful.  OK, I'm glad to be alive. And it's cool when it's wet and cloudy.

The leaves of trees hang silently outside my living room window, here where I sit at the table.  I've opened the door to see the hummingbird feeder, and one lovely little lady looked in my eyes and decided to flit away for now.  She'll be back when I'm not looking.

Some new sounds, new male voices talking.  There's a repair crew about to fix the water leak in the parking lot.  I see one of my elder neighbors standing right in the middle of it, as if a woman belongs there in her shorts.  She'll probably tell them how to back-hoe.  She's probably done this herself.  Some of my neighbors are a hoot.

I've already made a few decisions since the first one of getting out of bed.  I read a poem by Rumi.  That was nice.  I touched the pages and used the feather bookmark of a long-gone friend, thus she is with me today again.

I then decided not to rush to post office to mail a card for a birthday next week...I'll mail it later in the day, and it will bring a smile to my dear friend, my daughter-in-law who's not married to my son.

Then I thought of what to take for lunch for Spanish class...and now that menu is set in my memory, waiting till it's time to pull it out.

I made coffee, opened the laptop, and looked to see if comments on blogs had come in while I had it closed.  Yes, a couple.  The blogger used to notify me of comments with emails.  Those days are sadly gone now.  Maybe I should try to get that to work again.

And that's how a new thought appears, and a new plan of action.

I've said all I wish to share here for now.  It's one of those days.  When something momentous happens, I might put it in my journal.  What, you think, this isn't like a journal?  No, this is to give some stories to you, little glimpses into a 75 years and 11-3/4 months old woman's life.  The fact that nobody reads this is beyond my caring at this point.  I've written.  Thus I'm an author.  I can read this again, or nobody can ever read it.  Ha.  Some days I care about that.  Not today.

August 9, 2018
I'm going to volunteer at the history museum again today.  Last time (my first 2 shifts there) it was rainy so lots of tourists came in to do something dry while visiting.  New Zealand, India, Colorado, St. Thomas, New York, Florida, just a few of the places that they mentioned.

Breakfast before nebulizer treatment, both of which have waited while I drank my first coffee, read emails, Facebook, and blogs.

I've been surprisingly busy as docent at the museum.  I'll show some pics of it, over at blog Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain...

It was just families of 3 for a while, which felt like a lot of people.  But then several came together as a group of 12!! And before they left there was a thunderstorm.  That meant they were huddled around the front door waiting for the husbands who had gone to get vans in the rain to come pick up the rest of the group.

So today I've had 31 people come in, though nobody is here right now.  There were some people who just are asking directions for Herb Way's photo show at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts next door.

So tired I put my head on pillow and curled up on the love seat after turning on TV and eating some crackers to soothe my stomach.  Slept for a few minutes, which is unusual for me.  Then watched a bit of TV.

That's how I end the day.  Read my book a bit before turning out the light.  See if this was a real journal I'd mention only eating some veggie soup and crackers for dinner.  I did work a bit on my ancestry blog too.  But I know that's boring.  Maybe all of this is, so I think I'll just pull most of it off the blog and stick it into my journal.  Ha.  Love the portability of computers!

August 10, 2018
read that somewhere...how there is only growth if I move to the edge of where I'm already comfortable, then stretch just a toe over it, maybe even take a little step.

So today, rather than doing just one thing out there...or even maybe two...I plan to do at least 4, maybe 5 activities.  Yes one is easy, then come home and relax and review the conversations, the things that were difficult, the ease with which I accomplished it.

Today after all my morning preps, I'm going to yoga at the Lakeview Center.  Getting down on the floor and moving those old bones in different postures ever so easily (groans not allowed, well that's my own rule)...where the teacher lets me do just as much as I feel able.  Then go upstairs for the Council on Aging supported lunch, which is one of my favorites, roast beef etc. That's 2.

3. Then I plan to drive to the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles) in a nearby city (we don't have one in my small town) and get my drivers license renewed for another 5 years.  That is the biggest thing to do, of course.  Why?  Well this may sound petty, but I have to have my picture taken.  And that's the picture I'll have to flash any time someone wants a photo I.D.  So it's a big thing.  How shall I arrange my thinning hair?  The last time I had it done my hair was down and somewhat curly, though at least the natural shade of white.  Maybe I'll leave it down again, thus hiding my ears...which aren't all that bad.

See, my vanity is raising it's ugly head (which of course it would rather keep buried in the sand, thinking it is terribly ugly and all.)

4.  And then, after either passing the test or not, I'm coming home and will fix something for a pot luck dinner at church.  There's also a movie, but I never stay for it, because looking up at the big screen hurts my neck.  And mainly because it's the last night of the Tournament of Champions for Jeopardy. OK, I know it's a rerun from last year...but I don't remember things too well, and really don't know who won.  So that's the last activity on my list, and TV shows don't count, because I don't "go out" to do them.

So wish me luck on my 4 biggies.  So far I don't think I have a thing to take to the pot luck...so that's on my mind as I go do shower, dress, breakfast and nebulizer treatment in less than an hour.  Whizz.

August 11, 2018
Well, that's what this blog seems to be. But I have a sense that just about anybody could be lurking and reading about my life...though why is a big question.  So I talk sometimes to myself.  Usually when I do something stupid, and admonish myself.

Today was the day to mail a birthday gift to one of my sons.  It's something that I think he'll laugh about, though it isn't anything new, but something I had tucked away.  He will be 51 next week.

But there was a big festival downtown, and I realized parking at the post office might be next to impossible.  So after doing the impossible, I did the improbable, and toured around some of the festival booths (and posted about it on my blog "Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain")

It was very hot by the time I left...so I came home and kind of collapsed for a while, and kept drinking as much water as I could.  The rest of the day I looked into my ancestry records.  I had found a great times six uncle James Clack, and all the records so far on Ancestry didn't have him having any children.  Then I found that he did, and then fostered his daughter with a nearby family.  There had been an article written about them in 1827 in Tennessee.

So I enjoyed playing detective.  That's what this ancestry stuff is all about.  Discovering, piecing together information, and sometimes tearing down what has been put together wrongly.

August 14, 2018
For me a big event means doing something that's rare, that other people take part in (usually) so we can share it, that maybe is one of those life changing events.  In the meantime, I take a million little steps.

Yesterday was one of my day trips with my friend, Helen.  We decided to go to Boone, NC.  Neither of us had ever been there.  When I checked on line, there wasn't much besides a university and lots of chain stores that can be found in any community.  Would it have a personality of its own, or just be another rubber-stamped college town?

I decided it did have some personality, but it seemed to not have many really old buildings well preserved, like we have here in Black Mountain.  That's ok.  The university has lots of new looking buildings, much bigger than I'd originally thought.

And there's a smallish downtown area with some vintage type stores locally owned.  I'll be posting on my other blog about them.

Today's big event might be considered small steps for many of my friends.  I've dragged out the vacuum, and the mop.  So far, the kitchen floor is drying, while I give my back a break and write this.  Next will be this office area/the living/dining area, then another rest...then bedroom and bathroom.  That will be my final cleanse for here at home, then I'll lug the laundry to a local laundromat, wait for it to run and then celebrate my cleanliness with a friend and pizza.

I had thought I'd renew my driver's license today, but didn't get up early to go get in the line.  When I called DMV, the woman said every day there are waiting lines for 2-4 hours.  I thanked her, since last Fri. I decided not to stand in line (it must have been a 4 hour day).  I have to drive 20 or so miles to Marion NC where the DMV used to be able to process people faster than Asheville.  I wonder now.

I hope this is just another little step.

Aug. 15, 2018
Drove zooming along the interstate, easterly.  Signed in and was grateful there was an empty seat in the waiting room, because 3 people were outside smoking. If one of them left that seat, it was empty when I got there, so I had a fair claim.  The first sheet of signed in names was full, so I started at the top of the second sheet.

And waited.  And waited.

There is such a waste of manpower (woman power too) in that waiting room at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, to obtain a license to drive in our United States, specifically in North Carolina.

3-1/2 hours later they had crossed off about 7 people who left.  And fortunately those who had a road test had to have someone with them, so that meant 2 people would be crossed off the list at the same time...or at least left seats empty for the next people.

At 1:30 I was finally called.  There were 2 officers doing the tests, one of whom would go out and do the driving portion every once in a while.

Their computer was slow...on a new thing they do about getting people registered to vote.  I'm glad they're doing it.  I had already checked to make sure I was registered, and I am.  So this was really just duplication.  But they are systems people, and must follow all the details given to them.  No wonder it takes so long.  My eyes (with glasses) were good to drive.  I didn't have to do any written test this time.  Nor a road test. And considering I'm almost 76, that was kind of surprising.  I hope the next test in 5 more years will include more information checking to make sure I'm a safe driver still.

But I also will need to get the Real ID by 2020, which is so I'll be able to enter federal buildings or go on flights in the US.  I couldn't find my birth certificate (and don't have a passport) in order to get it today...plus I think you needed an appointment.  So I'll do it sometime in the next 2 years and get a better pic taken of me!

The cost? One day of my life, driving 24 miles each way, $25 cash, being part of a strange mix of our citizens in that waiting room.  I just wish I could figure out what they could be doing while waiting.  The Highway Patrol officer said they needed someone to answer the phones.  Ha ha.

And I ate my chicken sandwich driving 75 miles an hour coming home (the way all citizens drive, 5 mph over the posted speed limit.)  Ahh.  A late lunch on the run!

Aug. 16, 2017

I celebrate the life of Russ Heym. He is my middle son, and today is his birthday.
I hoped I could talk with him, but he was busy.
Between his job and his family, he's always busy.

I'll talk with him tomorrow, or sometime.  I love him so much!

Aug 19, 2018
Packing the clothes was simple.  Just a few shorts, tops, underthings.  But the equipment needs to be packed in order to spend a few days at a friend's house.

Dry out the little water container for the C-PAP, then pack it into it's carrier.  I think I figured out a way to get the nebulizer in it too.  But first I must do my last breathing treatment (while I'm typing actually.)  I will also let it run for a few minutes to make sure any condensation has dried out in its hose.  And I'll try to bring along a dry set of the 5-piece breathing apparatus.  I wash it out after each treatment, and it's usually dry for the next one.  I have about 3 that I alternate at home, but will only take one with me.

The laptop is squared away. Shall I bring the mini-iPad? I think so, because it gives me links to my library books which I read as I go to bed each night.  I'm now onto Maisy Dobbs, thanks to another blog friend.

Then there are the pharmaceuticals...I've decided not to put them into one of those dividers, because I get confused with the morning and evening doses.  So the whole bottles of pills are going in a bag...as soon as I do my morning doses in a minute.  There's a inhaler or 2 to take as well.

I made some coffee and had some yogurt for breakfast.  Need to clean up and not leave the grounds in the pot...so that means it will be last thing before taking out the trash.

Food to take for sharing with my friend...take the ice and shrimp, put them in the cooler...but wait.  I'll come home and do that before I get on the road after church.  Why leave it in the car during church?  I also have food for driving...granola bars, peanuts, chocolate.  What? not nutritious? Yes there are also nectarines and bananas.

Wish me safe travels.  I'll be saying a little blessing/prayer for the same.
Hope your day is also full of love and light. 

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