Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: A Rome Walk

or "Are you sure we turn here?"

There's something exciting about not quite knowing where you're going. For the sake of this prompt, I'm talking about walks, but it could apply to life in general. This prompt has also given me the opportunity to revisit my trip to Rome taken almost exactly one year ago.


It's not that I don't know where I'm going, it's just that I'm not quite sure how to get there.

I'd spent months prior to our trip armed with a multitude of maps and guides and had a pretty good mental map of central Rome. Or so I thought. Funny how places aren't quite the same when you actually get there.

We were leaving Castel Sant'Angelo where we'd spent the last two hours combing the dark and slightly creepy stone corridors and surveying the expanse of Rome from the parapets.



It was nearing twilight and we wanted to see the Trevi Fountain before searching out a place for dinner. So, out we head into darkening Rome.



I'm positive we need to go over the bridge and head left and forward (I'm not good about the North-South thing, so my directions are relative to the last place I happen to be). It's a pedestrian bridge and is lined on either side by statues of angels.



At the other end, we turn left and start walking. But it gets more deserted and darker. We decide to head down a busier looking side street, still going in the same general direction.

Now, the thing about Rome – and most old world – streets is that they don't run in straight lines or even in a logical grid as we're accustomed to in North America. Streets in Rome are what we might consider alleyways or back lanes. We take a couple more streets in the same direction. That's when, A says, "Are you sure we turn here?" You see, he never looks at a map and assumes I know where I'm going. I experience a momentary jolt of panic before I think, how bad could it be? We're wandering the streets of Rome with thousands of other people doing exactly the same thing. It seems everyone walks in Rome – locals and tourists alike. I decide to relax, smile and keep walking.



We weave our way in and out of piazzas, past shops, and restaurants opening for the dinner crowd. Eventually, we hear the sound of voices, rushing water and a glow of lights around a nearby corner.

We turn and there it is – the Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain

See? I knew where I was going all the time.


More Sunday Scribblings : Walk

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another blogthing


Whenever I want to pass some time in idle silliness, I can always count on Blogthings.

Still, it's reassuring to know my Bachelor of Science in Nursing hasn't been wasted!


You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 8/8 correct!

Tuesday is Book Meme Day


I've seen this book meme (with slight variations) floating around for quite some time and always wanted to try it. Since it seems it's a "no blog idea" day, today is as good a time as any to give it a go. Please feel free to join in.

I'm always curious to find out what others are reading, so if you want to add a few words (as I am) about the book, please do.

And also because I'm nosy, I'd like to tag:

Wenda at Daring to Write
Joy at Joys News
Donny at Rambleville
Junebugg at Wasted Days Wasted Nights

Instructions:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fourth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.
  6. State the book title and author.

So, here's mine:
Support for such a "minimal state" came from a variety of viewpoints that otherwise made strange bedfellows: anarchists, libertarians, neotraditional capitalists, certain greens, and so on. To the most extreme of these antistatists, writing up any government at all was a kind of defeat, and they conceived of their role in the congress as making the new government as small as possible.

Sax heard about this argument in one of the nightly calls from Nadia and Art, and he was as willing to think about it seriously as he was anything else.

- from Blue Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson

This is a book I finished reading a few weeks ago. It was still lying on my desk unshelved (have I mentioned I'm a terrible housekeeper?). It's the third book of Robinson's "Mars Trilogy".

The Mars Trilogy is a science fiction epic that I began reading several years ago. I liked the first two books, Red Mars and Green Mars, but for some reason didn't get around to the final one until now.

Robinson writes what is classified as "hard" science fiction. Not hard meaning difficult - though some might think so – but meaning book details are based on facts and real science as much as possible; as opposed to soft science fiction where almost anything goes, the only limit being the author's imagination.

As you can tell from the sentences I quoted, it's not all about science. Because it deals with terraforming and the settlement of colonies on Mars, there is a good deal of sociological discussion. I found this as intriguing as the science aspects of the book. Also because it covers quite a long time period, the characters are quite well-fleshed and I found myself increasingly invested in some of them. It's not for everyone, but nerdy-gal that I am, I found it both fascinating and fun.

For anyone interested, I found this link to a review on War of the Worlds: Mars Trilogy Review


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Keeping In Touch With Old Friends


I just remembered I'm supposed to send in the update for my annual nursing class newsletter by this Saturday. We cleverly (or not so) named it the NUSletter (for Nursing Undergrad Society).

If I remember correctly – and I may be completely wrong -- the idea was borne out of one of our last class get-togethers when we were waxing nostalgic and wondering if we'd ever see each other again. We decided a yearly newsletter would be a terrific idea -- we could all send brief letters telling our classmates what we'd been up to for the year. We chose October 31 (Halloween) as the yearly submission date, figuring it was an easy date to remember. One of our most dedicated and organized classmates (Sue) volunteered to be the recipient and compiler. We got her address, dutifully gave her our addresses and promised to update her with address changes. So it began.

Back in the early seventies, we sent typewritten (preferably) letters to Sue. She then took all the letters and re-typed them into one document, made copies and mailed them out to everyone. The logisitics were worked out as we went along - self-addressed envelopes, donations for postage and stationery. Thinking back on it, it was an enormous amount of work and I think Sue was the only one who could have pulled it off.

It wasn't until years later, when most people had computers and email accounts, that the procedure was streamlined (a bit). With the advent of email, those of us with computers sent Sue our yearly news in text or Word documents. She then cut and pasted most of the newsletter from whatever people sent her. It made for interesting reading because almost everyone used different fonts, type-sizes and formatting.

Over the years, people moved, had children, changed jobs, moved again. We lost track of a few from the group – some quite early on. Some members drifted in and out, submitting something one year, then not the next. I'm guilty of the latter. Some years, I'd send a letter, others I didn't. There didn't seem enough of interest to write about. At least nothing I thought to be read-worthy. How many times can you say, D is in grade 4 now (grade 5, grade 6, grade 7, etc.) and listing activities and job changes without it sounding like some of those dreaded Christmas form letters? But maybe it didn't really matter because I enjoyed reading news from others, no matter how much the same from year to year.

The date for submissions gradually drifted later into the year. It's no longer Halloween and I'm not sure why. Yet, through it all, there has been a core group that always submits something and it's been wonderful following the progression of their lives. Some are retired, others contemplating retirement. In the early years, the news was about young children and parenthood, now it's more about new grandchildren.

But back to this year's newsletter. One of our classmates (Bev) thought it might be easier and more efficient to keep in touch via a private FaceBook group. I think it's a great idea. Bev set up a group, sent out emails to everyone on our mailing list and invited everyone to join. Alas, only a handful have joined. Apparently, many aren't familiar with FaceBook and/or have trouble with the interface. There wasn't enough time to get everyone comfortably onto the site before this year's deadline.

So for this year, at least, we're doing it the old way: attach Word documents to emails for Sue to compile and for her to send back as an attachment. And yes, Sue is still doing the same job. It's hard to believe it's been going on for thirty-odd years.

Well, it's time for me to get busy and write my letter. I look forward to receiving everyone else's news.


The real me


Today, I've done something I've been reluctant (scared) to do since I started blogging. It may not seem like much to most of you, but for me, it's a biggie. I've posted a photo of myself in my Blogger profile.

I've always had a certain paranoia and self-consciousness about revealing too much about myself online. Slowly, but surely, I've been getting over it by writing on this blog.

As I surfed around the blogosphere and got to read and know other bloggers through their writing - some of which was highly personal and intimate - I felt better about revealing more about my real life. I'll never be a tell-all type of blogger, but I'm not quite so paranoid anymore.

Another fear I've had is one of showing pictures of myself to others. As a child I always thought I was ugly and hated to see photos of myself. My cousins were always prettier and cuter. I was the ugly duckling. I've been stuck in that mindset ever since. I've decided it's time to get over it.

So, inspired by numerous bloggers who have their pictures front and centre on their blogs, I've taken the leap to put up my photo. And since November 19th was my two year anniversary on the Pomegranate Tiger - which I completely forgot - what better way to celebrate than to finally post a picture.

Now, just in case I later chicken out and remove the pic from my profile, I'll imbed it in this post so it won't just disappear. It's cropped from a group photo taken very recently in October 2007.


Photobucket



Monday, November 19, 2007

Websurfing finds


On my Sunday hopscotch through the blogosphere, I stumbled upon some new gems and rediscovered a couple that had been languishing unread amongst my soon-to-be-pruned bookmarks. I thought I'd share them with you.

Older, but no wiser
I haven't visited this blog for ages, but now remember why I bookmarked it. I'm accustomed to reading personal and introspective blogs from women, but Andy's was the first I found from a middle-aged man. He has been blogging since 2003.

Serendipity Luminescent
Interesting photos from an old acquaintance I met on a forum years ago. It's so long since I checked his blog that this one (Serendipity) is a re-direct from the original which he stopped in June 2006.

Woolgathering
Elizabeth Perry is an artist and author living in Pittsburgh, PA. and Woolgathering is where she posts her daily sketchbook and notes. It's a glimpse into daily life through the eyes of an artist. She also does a fair number of watercolours –one of my favourite mediums. This one is going onto my bloglist.

She also links to some of her other projects, the most interesting being:

Museum Drawing Project of which she explains:
From October 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007, my plan was to visit the public spaces of the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, every day the museums were open. I drew something in a small sketchbook in response to each day's experience, and posted that drawing here, with short written reflection or response. Anyone was welcome to visit and comment. I was particularly interested in exploring what happens when my work moves from private (small sketchbook) to public (website) as it is experienced by an audience both in public (museum spaces) and in private (computer screen).

A Walk In My Shoes
Darlene posts beautiful, sometimes whimsical photos accompanied by poems, observations and commentary about life.

National Blog Posting Month (or NaBloPoMo)
Taken from the idea behind NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the goal of NaBloPoMo is to post daily on your blog through the month of November. Yep, all thirty days. I'm too late for this year, but if I can remember, I may try this in 2008.

Gipsy Life
I found Gipsy Life from a link on Out of the Cube
and what caught my eye on first scanning was a mention of Vancouver. On further exploration, I found out she has applied for immigration to Canada to fulfill her long time dream of living in Vancouver. Beyond that, she is a wonderful writer. Her honesty, clarity and ability to share her hopes, dreams and fears is rather breathtaking.

And lastly,

Out of the Cube
I can't remember how I stumbled onto this site by Verna Wilder. All I recall is that I read her post, It's A Choice and felt it embodied so much of my own life philosophy that I bookmarked her site. (BTW, I found both Gipsy Life and Woolgathering through links on Out of the Cube.)


Hope you enjoy these as much as I have.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Paradigm Shift of Aging


When and how so swift?
Once revered, loved and respected
Valued and embraced for their wisdom
An integral part of life.

Now denied, ignored, and ridiculed
Pushed away, out of sight, out of mind
To segregated communities
Or warehouses for the unabled.

Stories once told and passed among family
Now only heard by segregated others
Or strangers in white.

The elders are the same
It's we who've changed.



Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why This Youth Obsession?


Crabby Old lady (aka Ronni Bennett) recently posted an article on TGB where she takes Oprah Winfrey to task for the implicit promotion of youth-obsession and age-denial on her eponymous show.

Crabby says,

“That Oprah incessantly harps on youth and beauty is even more unforgivable in light of her enormous cultural clout. Imagine how elders’ lives could be changed, how age discrimination could be reduced or even eliminated, how elders would gain in respect of society if Oprah would get over her obsession with youth and accept aging as the normal and remarkable stage of life it is.”

I’m so glad Crabby wrote this because it’s bothered me for years that Oprah’s vision of women has so much to do with their outward appearance. It’s been niggling away at my brain ever since I saw one of Oprah’s "makeover" shows.

She arranged makeovers of a number of women, including older women (older meaning fifty-ish, so not very old) by colouring their hair (gotta get rid of those pesky grey strands) and dressing them “younger” and “thinner”. There was also some feel-good talk about wanting the women's inner beauty reflected in their outward appearance and that they deserved and owed it to themselves to look better.

Yeah, yeah, I get the whole thing about self-esteem. If you don't feel good about yourself, then you won't have confidence, and if you don't have confidence, then you can't fulfill your potential of all that you can be, . . . . yada, yada, yada. That's not the part I disliked.

It was the insidious and unrelenting message that looking younger equals looking better that really bugged me. The oohs and aahs after the makeovers were invariably about how much younger and/or thinner the women looked. Rather superficial of Oprah for someone who allegedly has loftier ideals.

I have no problem with helping people update wardrobes, improving makeup application and looking their best. Everyone wants to feel attractive. But does looking attractive always mean looking younger? Give me a break! What about a white-haired octogenarian with deep wrinkles and weathered skin? It shows a life fully lived and far more attractive – to me – than a fifty year old with paralyzed face muscles and skin so tight that it looks like a mask. Our definition of beauty has become so skewed and narrow that it would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic.

We are the age we are. To borrow from the military, just be the best you can be whatever your age. My grandmother died at ninety-seven and I thought she looked fabulous – just not young.

People need to get over their continuous obsessing about looking and being younger. It drives perfectly sane women into doing insane things to their bodies. Women are injecting, scraping, peeling, lifting, sucking and enhancing at a younger and younger age. It’s not unusual for women in their twenties to start botox injections. If it continues at this rate, women will spend the last fifty years of their lives trying futilely to run backwards on the treadmill that is time.

I’m curious to see what the current crop of botoxing, nip-tuckers will look like in twenty years. If Joan Rivers is any indication, they’ll be caricatures of their twenty to thirty-something selves – but with oh, so smooth, skin. Is this to be the norm?

It’s like the scenario of a science-fiction movie. There is no such thing as growing old: You’re born. You start preservation and rejuvenation treatments. You die when the silicone and plastic won’t hold together anymore.

I’m an aging boomer who has no illusions about lasting forever or looking twenty or thirty again. Nor, for that matter, do I want to. I like the spirit behind the Diane Keaton ad where she says she wants to age “authentically”. Me too. No nip-tucks or botox for this gal.

As for Oprah’s part in all this youth-obsession, I tend to agree with one of the comments on Ronni’s blog. Oprah is as much a victim of our youth and beauty-obsessed culture as anyone else. No more, no less. But I echo Cranky Old Lady’s sentiment, it would be nice if she grew up and got over it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Power Outage


EDIT: Last night, in my haste to post this, I omitted a part of the cut and paste. Here is the newly edited version with the missing part in Italics.

This morning around 9:15, I was happily making my way through some favourite blogs and checking out some new ones. I had just gotten a great idea and about to start a new blog, when – poof! The power went out.

I wasn't too surprised because we'd been having a windstorm overnight and it was still pretty gusty this morning. Our neighbourhood always seems to get hit with outages – something to do with where we are in the electrical grid – but it's usually restored pretty quickly. If not within minutes, then within a few hours at most.

I wasn't concerned so much as a little miffed that I had put off making myself a cup of coffee in favour of logging onto the computer first.

After about an hour still with no power, DH and I decided that we might as well go out for breakfast. We arrived at our usual breakfast place (from past experience, we knew they had their own backup generator). There was a long line. We, obviously, weren't the only ones without power. Impatient guy that he is, DH didn't want to wait. We walked across the parking lot to another little place that serves great breakfasts. They were closed. So . . ., we decided to go a little further afield to yet another place – and another line-up.

This time we waited and were seated in about fifteen minutes. Well, this wasn't so bad, we thought. Within minutes, the hostess came by and served us coffee. Then we waited; and waited; and waited some more. We noticed that of ten tables around us, only two had food on their table. Apparently, a lot of people were without power, needing food, and the restaurant kitchen was sorely understaffed. I guess it didn't help that it was a holiday and most people were at home.

Anyways, it took 90 minutes for us to get our breakfast. By the time we left the restaurant it was after noon and there was still a long line up waiting to be seated.

When we got home, the power was still out. But, ever the optimist, I was sure we'd have power well before dinner time. Meanwhile, DH decided to go into town and do some work at the office. I stayed home. No computer, no TV – no problem. I took the opportunity to do some reading.

I'm in the habit of reading several books at a time and the ones I currently had on the go were in that "almost finished" last third to last quarter stage. What better time to try and finish?

I finished one. What a feeling of accomplishment! The light was getting a bit dim, so I pulled the drapes wide open. I went onto the second book which I didn't expect to finish because there were over two hundred pages left.

. . .

As I turned the last page, I was squinting and tilting the book to catch the last bit of light from the window. Still no power.

By then, I'd resigned myself to not having electricity to make dinner. I called DH at the office and he agreed to pick up some take-out on his way home.

We ate our Chinese take-out by candlelight, bundled in extra sweaters. The radio update said that power was out to over 100,000 homes and that it might take another two days to restore power to everyone. Oh well.

It was only 6:30 pm.

I lit the fireplace and pulled out the rest of the candles, spare flashlights and our crank-up emergency radio. We hunkered down for a long cold night.

DH sat by the fireplace to listen to his IPOD and after a few minutes of trying to read with him singing along to heaven knows what (you know how eerie it is when people sing along to music you can't hear?), I decided to move upstairs. I set up a couple of candles, only to quit after a few pages. I have no idea how Laura Ingalls (Little House On The Prairie) managed to read AND write by candlelight.

I finally ended up listening to my old walkman with headphones, dozing on and off, and hearing the same new report about the power outage. Around nine, I decided, to heck with this, I might as well get ready for bed.



Just as I was settling into bed, flashlight on shoulder to do a crossword puzzle, the power came back on. It was just after 9:30 pm. The power had been out for twelve hours. It had seemed like days. I now realize how electricity dependent I am.

At any rate, I've immediately turned on the computer and started blogging about it (besides which, I can't remember my great blog idea from this morning).

I'm either just very keen to vent and share my experiences or really need to get a life.

Goodnight, all.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Left / Right


Left Brain
According to his list, Lou had precisely four chores to accomplish before noon:

  1. Go to the bank, deposit a refund cheque and take out exactly $155.

  2. Drop off his grey suit at the drycleaners and make sure it would be ready for pick up by Tuesday, 5 pm;

  3. Go to the liquor store and purchase an Australian shiraz he'd read about in Gismondi's column last week.

  4. Go to Granville Island Public Market and pick up fixings for dinner:
    - French baguette at his favourite bakery
    - Fresh salad greens and cherry tomatoes (at one of two possible grocers, depending on how fresh things looked)
    - Balsamic vinegar
    - (2) ¾ inch thick New York strip loins from his favourite butcher
    - (6) Chocolate truffles


He systematically ticked off each item as he accomplished them, carefully following the order on the list so he wouldn't have to back-track. This was very important to Lou. He hated back-tracking and always planned his car routes ahead of time to save both time and gas.

He even planned the order of shopping at the public market so that he would only have to make one looping jaunt through the colourful stalls, ending with the Chocolatier for the truffles. This served two purposes: one, they wouldn't get crushed and melted; two, the chocolate shop was near the exit door closest to the parking lot. He couldn't see the point of spending hours aimlessly browsing. In and out. That was his motto.

As planned, he was home by 11:55 a.m.

He had a lovely evening planned with Regina. He'd told her to come at 7:30. They'd relax, have a glass of wine and appetizers while he was grilling the steaks and be sitting down for dinner by 8. That would leave plenty of time to finish and still get to the late movie.

Everything would go like clockwork. A perfect evening.
........................

Right Brain
Saturdays. Regina loved Saturdays -- no alarm clocks; sleeping in, padding around barefoot and in pjs 'til noon. If only everyday were a Saturday.

Except today, she had a few things to do before going to Lou's for dinner. What were they again?

She let a kaleidoscope of images flash through her brain.

Oh, right! She had it now: Pick up the poster she'd had framed (the store had called her three times already saying it was ready – the last time asking if she'd rather have it delivered); return the three overdue library books (she'd gotten several email reminders and the fine was now up to around twenty bucks, but she could only find two books); and call Lydia to wish her a belated happy birthday.

No problem. She didn't have to be at Lou's until 7:30. Or was it 8? Never mind. It was supposed to be a casual dinner, then out for a movie. A few minutes either way wouldn't matter.

. . .

She got to the framing store around one-ish. The clerk was busy, so she did a bit of browsing while she waited for him. She ended up buying another poster and a couple of antique-looking frames that were on sale. She could use them as gifts or keep them for herself. She'd decide later.

Around the corner, she stopped at her favourite coffee shop. It was a small independent. Not too many of them around these days -- she liked the idea of supporting the little guy. Besides, it was homey and warm, full of friendly faces and people who took the time to say hello and ask about her day – so unlike the brand name store across the street full of upwardly mobile and trendy hipsters.

Next stop, the library. Rats! She'd forgotten the books. She really did need to return them today, so she made a u-turn mid-block and headed home.

She entered her apartment just as the answering machine was kicking in. It was Lydia. She picked up just in the nick of time as Lydia was saying, "So, give me a call when you have . . ."

What good luck. They had a nice, gossipy, catch-up-on-everything kind of talk before Regina said, "Well, I really have to go or I'll be late for dinner with Lou" which started another long explanation and discussion about Lou, whom she'd never mentioned to Lydia before. (How had she forgotten?)

At 5:30, she was racing up the stairs of the library. They closed at six. The clerk at the return counter gave her a hard time about the missing third book. He insisted that she'd "lost" it, so would have to pay the full cost of replacement – sixty-five dollars. After much pleading and speaking to his supervisor, they finally relented and gave her until Monday closing to find the missing book.

By the time she got home, it was almost 6:45. She'd never be able to shower, blow dry her long hair, do her nails, dress and be cross-town at Lou's by 8.

She'd better call and let him know she'd be a little late.

More Sunday Scribblings

Friday, November 09, 2007

Musical Theatre (or for the Americans out there, "theater")


I was reading Here In The Hills' blog celebrating her 400th post and listening to the embedded YouTube clips of Audra McDonald.

(For those of you who don't know, Audra McDonald is a wonderful actress/singer and multiple Tony Award winner. If I had to name anyone that I felt was born for Broadway musical theatre, she'd be near - if not at - the top of the list.)

Anyways, watching Ms McDonald and listening to the Gershwin and Stephen Sondheim songs reminded me how much I love musical theatre. It combines all things theatrical that I love -- dancing, singing, and acting – and when done right, wraps them into a larger than life spectacle that lingers long after the final curtain.

My love of musicals started way back in childhood when, as an unsupervised eight year old, I'd watch late-night Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. I dreamed of being a dancer.

Later, in high school, I lived with relatives who bought cast albums of all the Broadway hit musicals of the time. I knew the lyrics to Annie Get Your Gun and Carousel and West Side Story and My Fair Lady and Sound of Music. I joined the school choir from elementary school through to high school graduation. I sang in my head, I sang in the bathroom, I sang under the covers in my bed (I was a strange and nerdy kid). I was in the chorus of our high school musicals. I dreamed of being a Broadway actress.

Alas, I had a fair to middling voice at best; suitable for large choirs or school choruses, but not Broadway. I went on to other dreams and life has unfolded as it was meant (i.e. no one has to hear me sing in public).

But through the years, I've remained a fan of musical theatre and so I thank Naomi at Here In The Hills for the reminder and for the Audra McDonald clips.

Now, it's time to go dust off some scratchy old LPs and listen to Camelot and Fiddler On The Roof.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thoughts on Aging


I've been catching up on various blogs and, as usual, left Ronni Bennett's to the end because I know she'll have lots for me to think about. She didn't disappoint.

Her recent blogs titled When the Future is Shorter Than the Past and On Fear of Aging and Death made me stop and question my own feelings about aging. Please bear with me as I let these thoughts rumble around.

Ronni talks about observing a certain "disengagement" in older people as they approach death; and about her coming to terms with not being able to do everything she had thought was important in her younger years.

She says,


"But halfway through my seventh decade, I can already detect a less urgent desire to know these things. Not much yet, but noticeable particularly as that impossible to-do list for my elder years recedes in importance."

Hmmm. Disengagement. Ronni is one of the last people in the world that I'd consider disengaged. Yet if she notices it within herself, then it must be so. Perhaps it's a matter of degree and perspective. For who can really know what we feel except ourselves.

I've never been particularly afraid of aging or death. Or so I thought. The fact that my grandparents, aunts and uncles lived into their late eighties and nineties was always comforting. However, I've recently come to realize that this has been selective remembrance on my part.

In fact, only the paternal side of my family has been blessed with longevity. My mother's family has a history of all kinds of chronic ailments and early death (including my own mother at thirty-something, and my maternal grandmother at sixty-something). In a few years, I will have outlived them both. I suppose I can be forgiven this lapse of memory given that I've had little contact with my mother's family and don't think about them very often.

Nonetheless, there is no denying that I pushed this little tidbit of my family history from consciousness. Maybe I'm not as accepting of death and aging as I thought.

The title "When the Future is Shorter Than the Past" gave me a bit of a jolt. It occurred to me that perhaps I take after the maternal side of my family and not my father's side at all. Maybe the end – barring accidents and catastrophic world events -- is not in another twenty or thirty years, but only ten or fifteen?

Am I okay with that? Not really. I still have too many things I'd like to see and do; too many things to learn. That's why I'm trying to stay as fit and healthy as I can for as long as I can. I'm not ready for disengagement.

Maybe disengagement is a gradual process. I know I don't get bothered by the same things as in my youth. But I've always thought of it as re-prioritizing. Then again, maybe I'll feel differently in my seventies and eighties.

This all needs further cogitation.

. . .

(This has been quite a ramble.)

Friday, November 02, 2007


I've been away again.

Not long ago, I had a conversation with an acquaintance about vacations and travel. She's about my age and was a prominent neonatologist until she had to retire because of health and mobility problems. Over the years, she made a good income and some very good investments. She's trying to do some traveling now, but it's not easy. To quote her, "When I was younger, I was healthy and able to travel, but too busy working and making money. Now, I have the time and the money, but don't have the health." This is a recurring theme that I hear from others. It's motivation to keep active and going as long as I can. I'm determined to travel as often and as to as many places as this ole body and my bank account can take. You just never know what's around the corner.

As usual I spent a lot of time observing the passing parade and striking up conversations with almost anyone and everyone with the time and inclination.

From my notes of Odds 'n Ends:

· I hate hearing the term "cranky old people" used -- not as a description of certain people who happen to be old (which is such a relative term anyway) and cranky, but as an all-one-word, "crankyoldpeople" –- as if all old people are cranky. It's just another stereotype of elders; along with senile, slow, and useless.

Not all old people are cranky, nor are all cranky people old. The elders who are truly cranky were more than likely also cranky young adults, cranky teens and cranky children. It's not as if they woke up one day at the age of fifty and decided to be a crankyoldperson.

· Some people like to complain. Not only do they like to complain, they relish in it. Their mission in life is to find every negative thing in life and share it with everyone and anyone within earshot. They complain about the weather (okay, everyone complains about the weather), then they move onto the neighbours, their kids, their parents, the restaurant, the d├ęcor, the food, the service, taxes, Hilary Clinton, . . . ad nauseam.

Whenever I hear such overall negativity, my eyes glaze over and the credibility of their complaints drops to nil.

· Parents of well-behaved children are not given enough credit for doing a good job because they're overshadowed by those with out of control brats.

Brats may be an exaggeration, but you know the ones: They run roughshod over public and private property, spill, drop and leave food bits and garbage in their wake; scream and yell as if no one else is around; take things without permission; run into people without apology; and treat others and the environment around them with total disrespect. All the while, their parents are sipping a latte and reading a magazine, totally oblivious (or ignoring) the mayhem. It's the lack of parenting that's the problem more than the kids themselves.

So, kudos to the good parents out there who've done the hard and loving job of active parenting and whose children are a pleasure to be around.

· Pet peeve: People who use their cell phones in the middle of busy public places and carry on LOUD conversations so that everyone knows they are Very Important People. VIPs are so important that they can't walk ten feet to find a quiet corner or phone kiosk with sound baffling.

· Why - are the number of pieces of luggage people insist on traveling with inversely proportionate to their ability to carry it.

A couple traveling with two toddlers by the hand will have a stroller, diaper bag, backpack, shoulder tote, purse, and four full-sized suitcases; whereas an able-bodied twenty year old will have one over-the-shoulder duffle.