Category Archives: aging

Throwback thanksgiving

Pies from Debbie’s Kitchen, Albany NY

When I was a kid I had faux aunts and uncles. There were no true relatives (that I knew about) in the States, so my mother provided close friends who functioned on some level as family. It was a laudable attempt and there were some good people in our lives during those years, some of whom remain to this day.

One of these families, the Ls, had the most multi limbed family tree in the my world and I loved the holidays we shared with them over the years. Dinner usually included all of the following: the married couple, (about the same age as my mom), and their daughter, who was a toddler when we met, his son from his first marriage, joined by her two children from her first marriage. Also present, her first husband with his son from his second marriage. And the three of us.

It seemed like the most exciting, bizarre and totally normal holiday gathering ever. The traditions all blurred together, Jewish, Italian American, German, and the food was crazy – lasagna, bagels with lox, ham and fruit cake. Thinking about those days always makes me smile big.

Yesterday, for the first time in a few years, I had Thanksgiving dinner with friends. It was very low key and comfortable. We brought desserts and a savory vegetable casserole to join the bounty that was already present. While we didn’t play backgammon for boxes of Marlboro Reds, (as I might have decades ago with “my” extended family), we sipped far better wine than in those long ago days, with a mood which was comparably mellow.

My first attempt at curd – Cranberry Curd Tart from the NYT.

At the table was my UG* and his children. And his children’s mom and her partner, along with her partner’s parents and her brother and sister in law. Looking around the table and seeing the threads that tied us all together, I couldn’t help but smile at the familiarity of the situation.

We recreate the chaos with which we are most comfortable. (I use “chaos” here to suggest a familiar dynamic with lots of activity, not as an indication of lack of control.) There’s a vibe or pace that we try to replicate, whether it’s conscious or not, because that’s what we grew up knowing.

Sitting at the dining table with a bunch of people who, through the years, have chosen to share their lives with one another, defines the holidays for me, even more than turkey and cranberry sauce. The combination of common histories and yet-to-be-explored future activities is what I was raised on and yesterday was the first time I felt that familiar energy in a long time.

It was a good holiday.

How was yours?

*don’t ask me what it means, it’s a private joke term of endearment

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, Christmas, Dinner, drinking, Eating, family, Food, friends, girlhood, holidays, Local, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships, upstate New York, Wine

Last ride

Thursday afternoon Jeter and I took our last trip to Albany Muni in my Volvo. When we got there the odometer read 149,999 and it just seemed perfect. Truth be told, I was tempted to drive around the lot until the numbers rolled (figuratively) to 150,000 but it seemed too forced, and Jeter wouldn’t have tolerated it anyway with his need to be outdoors. Immediately.

Letting this car go has been unexpectedly difficult. I initially attempted to rid myself of it more than 18 months ago when I bought another car, but failed to finalize the trade-in deal. I wasn’t ready.

The car that I purchased at that time had everything I said I wanted in a car – Bluetooth, a huge glass roof, four-forms and a six speed manual transmission. The color was fine and the price was right and I bought it. I was ready, I thought, for something different, something new.

Since March of 2018 I’ve shuffled two cars, each with its own purpose. The Volvo became the dog car and was my go-to vehicle for Cape Cod. The Mini was my road-trip-south and general about town vehicle.

Maintaining, insuring and juggling two vehicles has begun to feel hyper indulgent. I needed to simplify my life and give someone else the chance to appreciate the car that I had always considered to be my princess vehicle.

The Volvo had come my way after I was rear ended in my previous Volvo wagon. There had been no injuries when the man totaled my car as I sat at a red light, fortunately for both of us. My incredible luck continued after the accident when, after complaining about my distaste for car shopping on Facebook, I was offered the chance to buy the wagon that I’ve owned ever since.

A 100,000+ miles later, I’m in a position to pass this great car on to someone new, coincidentally, a woman who responded to my post on Facebook. I think the car is as perfect for her as she is for the car.

Being emotional about a car is a new, and weird, thing for me. I think it may have something to do with my general unfamiliarity with possessing something for as many years as I’ve owned this car. I’m unaccustomed to it.

It’s easy to love something when there’s no expectation for it to love you back. It’s a car and, obviously, it can’t feel or express emotions, but this vehicle has responded to my affection and care with a steadiness and reliability that I can’t help but to romantically interpret as fondness.

I know I’ll miss this car, but I’ve come to accept that it’s time to pass it on to another family who needs it more than I do. I wish them many happy years together.

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Filed under aging, favorites, love, musings, road trips

Not maintaining the standard of conduct

PHOTO BY JIM LO SCALZO-POOL/GETTY

Go read that title again. One more time. Do you get it? This is where we are as a country. We are “not maintaining the standard of conduct,” as I heard a decorated military man so eloquently say on the radio today. He was referencing the Eddie Gallagher situation and other recent high profile pardons courtesy of Donald Trump.

The enlisted personnel who had in cases been convicted and serving prison sentences, had been granted clemency and had their previous ranks returned to them. They had committed heinous atrocities. They were “not maintaining the standard of conduct.”

I listened to a lot of the hearings today and it looks more likely than ever, to me, that Donald Trump just might get himself impeached.

The hostility present in our country, the home grown, domestic, “native” type, is horrendous. I’ve never known America to be so in disagreement about priorities. The divide between the haves and the have-nots is as gaping as  the Grand Canyon. A general lack of connection is evident.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona (Photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images)

Watching, and listening, to today’s hearings has been depressing. It’s difficult to believe anything being said. The hyperbole is epic.

I decided to vacuum because I needed to quiet the voices in my head. It’s hard not to think that far too many of our representatives are “not maintaining the standard of conduct.” Their motivations, bilaterally, are suspect. Who are they serving?

The government we currently have is what you get when citizens don’t become involved or pay attention. When qualified people don’t vote, it seems that unqualified people get elected. See: Donald Trump

To those of you with the stamina to watch tonight’s debates – bravo! That’s wildly impressive. As for me, I am burnt out on politics and need a walk, a shower and bed.

We have got to do better than this. It’s time to relearn how to maintain the standard of conduct.

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Filed under aging, musings, News, Observations, politics, stress

Scenes – NYC, 11/10 & 11/11

No matter how many cities I visit, I will always love NYC the most. I can’t imagine ever feeling the same combined sense of awe and comfort any other place in the world.

From my earliest days exploring the city independently as a teenager, to last weekend, no other location inspires, contents and entertains me the way New York City does.

A few sights that caught my eye recently are below. Hope you like them.

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Filed under aging, beauty, favorites, NYC, Observations, Random

The Deep State, Habitualization and the Trump supporter

Every once in a while I hear something, generally on the radio, and it is so damn timely that I’m stopped dead. It can happen in two ways – I hear a phrase or word and suddenly I seem to encounter it everywhere. The most recent example of this is the word “deep state” used when referring to long term, career public employees.

The right has begun wielding this phrase in a negative fashion, despite the popularizer of the term Mike Lofgrennever having presented it in that type of context. His book, titled The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of the Shadow Government, used the phrase to describe the entanglement of large institutions and government and the subsequent lack of ability for politicians to affect meaningful change. “Deep State” was a bipartisan condition, observed Lofgren, a long term Republican who has vowed to not vote republican again until “they demonstrate to me that they’ve purged Trumpism.

Trump and his supporters have elected to use the phrase deep state as “shorthand for Democratic-leaning bureaucrats who want to undermine Trump.” This “out to get us” stance is consistent with other methods of dividing our population which are you used with great success by our present federal administration, as well as those from fascist groups throughout history. When experienced people, be they bureaucrats, journalists or educators, are perceived as the enemy, we’ve got problems, people.

The instance of a term overheard can also serve to succinctly define a phenomena or situation which had been puzzling me, as in what occurred today. Listening to WAMC, I caught a Ted Talk, featuring Khasfia Rahman. The theme of the broadcast was Risk and Rahman described research she had initially begun as a high school student. Fascinated by the tendency of young people, particularly those between the ages of 13-18, to exercise poor judgment when making decisions, Rahman devised a study to explore the phenomena after observing her peers binge drinking, experimenting with drugs and generally proceeding through life in a reckless fashion.

Her question grew into one about brain development. If the brains of teens between the ages of 13-18 were immature and the cause of their risky behaviors, she posited, why weren’t the choices made by even younger people even more potentially hazardous?

Rahman determined that habitualization was the most likely cause of this phenomena. As she explained, young people who are repeatedly exposed to an unsafe or unappealing situation can frequently be observed moving from initial feelings of disinterest and rejection to an openness to explore, and eventually embrace, dangerous and risky activities. 

She provided an example of this behavior relating to tequila shots. As Rahman witnessed, young people with repeated exposure and access to shots of tequila become less fearful of the negative consequences of indulging in illicit drinking and grow increasingly accepting of the experience. The brains of these young actually people change.

I see a similar thing occurring to the brains of people who support the current president. As we are assaulted, seemingly from every angle, by information which clearly demonstrates the complete lack of integrity or qualification of Donald Trump, his followers continue to adapt their beliefs to allow for his outrageous and irrational behavior.

It begins as a denial and then evolves into an acceptance. Faced with evidence of Trump’s corruption, his believers deny the truth with which they have been presented.  After an onslaught of continued evidence, they transition from rejecting the facts, to minimizing the risks involved with ingesting them.

They swallow.

Anyone else need a shot of tequila?

 

 

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Filed under aging, Boys, musings, News, Observations, politics

Past peak

Jeter and I went for a little run the other afternoon. It was little because my body is currently in protest mode, refusing to run more than 3 or 4 miles without demanding a stretch or moment’s walk. The discomfort has shifted from being exclusively felt by my feet and hips to a more general sensation radiating from my rear pelvic region, hips and glutes. A joy it is not.

We ran one of my favorite routes – down the yellow brick road and around the perimeter of the big field down by the Normanskill Farm. Jeter swam for the last time of the year (again) and I chugged along the path, consoling myself with the view as I tried to focus on the positive. Like the view.

The trees remained beautiful, despite the scarcity of the leaves clinging to their branches in their shades of orange, yellow and red. I thought about a recent meme I had seen.


I considered the irony of reaching peak beauty only to release your stunningness and watch it fall to the ground.  I chided myself for not having the same grace, for not being as capable when it came to letting go.  Why was I occupying my mind with thoughts of how much easier this run once had been instead of celebrating the fact that I was simply out there doing it?

Wasn’t it unreasonable of me to expect to remain the same physically despite the passing of time?

Maybe I was past peak.

But, if I am, so what?

It’s not like a tree losing its leaves dies. No, it just shifts into a different season, one in which it strips itself bare and hunkers down until the eventual snows melt. In spring it returns to life with the coaxing of the sun. It’s probably not exactly the same in its new year as it had been in its past, but it really doesn’t matter to a tree, does it?

It shouldn’t matter to me either.

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Gardens, Local, musings, Normanskill, Observations, running, upstate New York

Columbus Weekend Discoveries

What a weekend, friends! I went into it with very little planned and I couldn’t feel more satisfied by what had to have been one of fall’s finest weekends. It was truly spectacular, far too nice to stay inside the house dealing with anything beyond the most essential of chores.

Except for a yoga class or two, that is. I popped into one on Saturday morning  that was a lovely slow paced practice and stretched my muscles after Friday’s late night run with Jeter. It’s been a long time since I ran with my boy because our paces don’t necessarily align and I get impatient with his need to sniff everything, as well as his remarkable ability to take frequent dumps.

I’ve been forced to back off running due to discomfort, and it felt really great to get out under the moon with my favorite four legged fellow. My feet, particularly my left one, have been giving me problems and I’m currently in a place I consider to be somewhere between my first and eventual second cortisone shot in my foot. Plantar fibromas suck.

The yoga class I took on Monday, an intermediate level practice called Hot Core Flow, was 75 minutes of focused challenge. Sally is a beast and the class absolutely kicks my ass. It’s tons of core work, something I’m consciously working on after being diagnosed with a tiny hernia in my abdomen, and the planks just kept coming. We moved through a couple of series of plank to forearm plank to plank to forearm plank repeat and the sweat was just dripping off me.  It felt amazing.

As things became difficult, I reminded myself to return to the breathing with which we had started the class. Deep inhale, deep exhale. Again. Repeat. Controlling my breath helped me feel strong in way that was similar to when I run. As I consider what my body and brain are both comfortable with, in terms of aerobic exercise, I appreciated this familiar sensation.

Running isn’t about legs nearly as much as it is about breathing and heart.

You know it’s a hard class when half pigeon, despite my hips were screaming for the duration, felt like a resting pose. It was totally intense, but somehow exactly what I needed – to be pushed first, then encouraged to relax and soften.

As we settled into shavasana, Sally offered a reading, excerpted from here,
that was as perfect as her playlist had been all class long.

Your journey
Your path
Your purpose

Crossing an ocean in a boat isn’t the only way to explore new things. Even if I can’t run exactly the way I’d like to, maybe I’ve discovered some else.

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, friends, Local, musings, Observations, running, travel, upstate New York