Another Damned Growth Opportunity?

Time casts a long shadow. I’m feeling that now. Four years of anger and frustration and bewilderment and “POOF!” I know the changes that need to be made won’t be “POOF!” but I’m wondering how much of that anger, frustration and bewilderment BECAME me?

Yesterday after Biden had been sworn in, I took off on my skis. The nordic club had laid track basically for ME. I wanted to be out in the snow while it was still cold and not sticky. I struggled to get one of my bindings to close, but I succeeded and took off. It was beautiful. Then, at the halfway point I decided to turn around because my bio mechanics is funky and one of my legs is 1/2 inch longer than the other and I’d been skiing with that leg on the inside of the curve when it should be on the OUTSIDE (think of a drawing a circle with a compass). Not long after I turned, I lost my balance (the snow depth is very uneven out there) and fell. I got up and more or less into my skis, well into one ski, but I wasn’t able to close my ski binding again no matter what I did. I ended up lugging my skis a quarter mile out of there. Not fun.

My balance until this year has always been pretty good out there. This year? No. Yeah, a packed trail is easier to ski on and it wasn’t packed, just nicely broken. And there’s the leg length problem. And there’s the fact that my glasses are whack. While I was skiing, I struggled the whole time to keep my feet in line and to remain upright.

Once I got to Bella (who loves deep snow, bless her little Jeep heart) and turned on my car, Mohammed’s Radio was playing the Byrd’s, “Turn Turn Turn.” “Fuck that,” was my first thought.

I was hurt, but not injured, if that makes any sense. I’m still not walking great and so on and so forth. There are bruises around my ankle where my legs threw themselves against my boots in the second fall day before yesterday.

The thing is, I want to go back out today, but can’t because of my ski binding and my body. The store says I should bring them in and that’s right, but today’s not the day. I want to change them out for automatic bindings that I don’t have to bend over to close or open. That’s what I always had (once I’d given up 3 pin bindings which are OK with me, too). When a person has balance problems, bending down to close something on the ground isn’t always a great idea.

On the other hand, I have begun to wonder if it’s just time to give up. As things are right now, I’m barely walking, but I know it will be better tomorrow and the next day. The thing is, if you can’t endure falls, don’t ski. 3 falls in two days.

I am still superstitiously haunted by Bella’s spooky radio and The Byrd’s singing, “Turn, Turn, Turn” is a semi-quote of Ecclesiastes 3. No one knows who wrote Ecclesiastes, but there is a case made for it having been written by King Solomon. In any case, these are wise words, and a part of Ecclesiastes 3 that isn’t often shared. I don’t know any rock songs about this:

“…10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”

The part we all know is a lesson in acceptance: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”

It’s strange we don’t go around saying, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good while they live.” Personally, I think it would be cool if we did.

I expect that I will take the skis to the shop next Monday and see if I can switch the bindings. I don’t think I’m psychically ready to give up, but the problem is, it might be physical wisdom to hang up my skis. Life seems to be a process of becoming someone else all the damned time. I remember being young and wanting to “find myself.” The thing is whoever that “self” is, it’s like the horizon.

Like this little poem by Stephen Crane. I used to read it one way; that we have the right to pursue our dreams and no one has the right to stop us (Take that mom). Now I just think it’s a smart, experienced person talking to a child.

“I saw a man pursuing the horizon”
BY STEPHEN CRANE

I saw a man pursuing the horizon; 
Round and round they sped. 
I was disturbed at this;   
I accosted the man. 
“It is futile,” I said, 
“You can never —” 

“You lie,” he cried,   
And ran on.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/the-ragtag-daily-prompt-thursday-long-shadows/

Consistency

For Christmas in 1962 I got an oil painting set that contained narrow tubes of Grumbacher oil paint, brushes, turpentine and linseed oil, a canvas, an easel and a pallette that had disposable papers. I wanted to start right away, and did, but my mom didn’t really like me setting up a “studio” on the dining room table, so at some point I had to pack it all up and take it to the basement. Based on this photo, sometime in the summer I got back on it.

I remember really liking oil paints. Acrylics had been invented but weren’t available easily. My dad had painted in oils at some point in his life and he gave me some instruction. He explained that I cleaned my brushes with turpentine and thinned my paint with linseed oil. I didn’t enjoy watercolor back then because no one in my house had been initiated to the wonders of watercolor paper on which watercolors DON’T pool up and bleed into each other (unless you want them to).

There was a big tree in the middle of the big meadow at The Mission — a mission of Columbian Fathers that was essentially across the street from our house. Their land was mostly untouched deciduous forest, the kind you find along the Missouri River in Nebraska. I decided to paint that. The tree in the painting doesn’t look anything like that ancient oak tree, but a 10 year old painting half-way from her imagination using a new medium is probably not going to be the soul of accuracy. Besides, even though they appear static, trees AREN’T static and I never found them particularly easy to paint.

Finding this painting yesterday, my heart went out to this little girl, painting in her basement, at night, so earnestly, while her dad pointed his 35mm Kodak camera at her. I don’t even know if she’s really painting or if her dad posed her because, in all the pictures of her and her brother in the basement, she’s wearing the same shirt.

When I scanned ALL the slides that were in my house last year, I found the “cycle” of striped t-shirt photos. Thinking about the little collection of photos, I wonder if my dad hadn’t been inspired to take pictures of his kids and their ordinary life. He knew he wouldn’t be around for us later on and maybe he wanted to show us something later, when he was gone and we were grown up.

Photos were a lot more complicated in 1962 than they are now. They involved film — which no one ever remembered to buy — and then the whole thing of developing the film which, at that time, where I lived, meant taking the film to the drugstore and handing it to the person working the “film” counter. Since that was also the cashier, it could involve a long wait. Then, it took forever for the film to come back. Polaroid cameras eliminated some of this, but the photos just weren’t that great, the film was expensive and you still had to remember to buy it.

What struck me about the painting I’m doing in this photo is that I finally succeeded at it this year.

The tree is in the same spot. There is a road (path) not that visible in the 1962 painting, and this year’s painting, too, depicts sunset, though more in the metaphorical than pink-cloud sense.

The coolest thing about this, though, to me, is how well my dad knew what I would like to see in a photo some 60 years later. I love the little girl in this photo and I’m grateful to my dad. It’s not all glittery, but neither am I.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/12/23/rdp-wednesday-glitter/

Cranes and Time

It’s not easy to record the flight of cranes in the sky with a phone. Until today, I haven’t had a lot of success, but….

Ta-TAAAAAA

There were thousands of cranes. Cranes on the ground eating and dancing, cranes in the air, doing what you see above. As Teddy and I were walking out, toward Bella, shadows of cranes passed over me and I thought, “Shadows of these birds have been passing over the earth for 350 million years.” I thought of my little life. Of the little lives of my cows that I’d just seen and talked to (I hold Teddy in my arms when we see the cows; he’s WAY too curious). The cranes had passed over the Clovis point people who once lived here. The cranes had passed over Lake Alamosa when it was above ground. The cranes had passed over the mammoths and the dinosaurs.

Wow.

Then, as we had to drive the loop today, I saw an osprey on the highest point of a small cottonwood tree, the lone tree for miles. I stopped to watch him thinking about how lucky I am to walk in the shadows of Sandhill cranes with a sweet dog on a beautiful Indian summer day and spy an osprey. I thought about how I am really a single-issue voter and it’s never been abortion or racial problems or the economy or anything like that. I have always voted for this beautiful planet. As far as I can tell, nothing is more wonderful, more beautiful, or more important. Nothing and no one has ever loved me more. This is my home and home is where the heart is.

When I couldn’t imagine this afternoon could get more amazing, it did. Suddenly THOUSANDS of cranes who had been grazing on a pasture some distance away took flight and filled the sky with their darker forms.

Wow again. Our time on this planet is so brief, but afternoons like this? A little taste of the best of eternity.

Cold and Dry

I’m not much for dry media. Even my colored pencils are watercolor pencils. I have a beautiful set — untouched for 25 years — of Swiss made Conté Crayons in all colors, but chances are I’ll never use them. But when we were kids, and my brother and I got Jon Gnagy Learn To Draw kits for Christmas, the charcoal was the coolest part of them for me. At that point in my artist “career” I didn’t know how to manage watercolors. Part of that, I now understand, was not having had real watercolor paper. That stuff is a big help. All I had was so called “good paper” (it was all white and had never been used before) and ordinary paper (we got to draw on the backs). Once in a while we’d get an entire drawing pad.

Charcoal was especially good for the exercises in Jon Gnagy’s book that pertained to “values.” My brother was perfectly happy to turn 2 dimensional circles into spheres through shading over and over. I wasn’t. I did it once and that was enough for me. “OK, I get it, NEXT!!!” When I got oil paints, my world changed.

For those who don’t know Jon Gnagy, here’s a video.

The Weather Forecast

This is the forecast for Monte Vista, Colorado. It’s going to be a wild and freezing shit-show with big losses for agriculture, and not just my beans. The total forecast indicates that Monte Vista could get as much as a foot of snow in the three or four day period of this storm. It’s still officially summer here in the US (even though I know those Aussies declare fall on September 1 or Spring, if they happen to be in Australia). It’s snowed in September before in my memory, the fall of 1983, but not this early.

And then it’s supposed to turn back to summer/fall and go on like nothing happened. I’m on the fence about how much I want to fight this on behalf of my beans and tomatoes. I’m going to pick the largest bean pods and bring them in. I’m going to try to cover everything, but four nights of below freezing might turn out to be too much for all of us. Too bad I don’t have one of those charcoal smudge pots they use in the orange orchards.

But I know deep in my soul that nature will as nature will and in the end I have no choice but to resign myself to her/it.

But, I woke up with this poem in my mind. I don’t even like the poem, but considering that last night I trimmed back iris under a fire-sky, red from smoke, and I’m now considering how to cover my plants from frost and wondering where my snow shovel is, it seemed right.

Fire and Ice 

BY ROBERT FROST

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

On that profound note, I leave you. I have to clean up the deck for a Covid-19 tea party, or wake for summer, not sure yet.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/09/07/rdp-monday-charcoal/

Nature Has the Last Word and It’s Not Always Nice

Flowers don’t cry. One of the true and unromantic wonders of nature is that plants aren’t going around wearing emotions all over the place. When Faith, the Aussie pumpkin, was compelled to surrender to a killing frost, she did it with no fanfare. This is not to say the resultant limp leaves and black, lifeless stems weren’t sad to me. They were. I’d hoped for a late fall and the chance for at least one of Faith’s fruits to mature, but what Faith did accomplish I have here on my table.

Faith, the Aussie Pumpkin

Many people find nature “relaxing.” I think (for me anyway) it’s movement in nature that’s relaxing. I don’t think nature is doing its thing thinking, “I’m so beautiful! I will inspire everyone!” It’s just part of human nature to seek respite from the human grind, human nature to experience inspiration. Nature itself is constant struggle. There is a LOT of drama out there.

This time last year I was crossing the golf course and happened on the remains of a red tail hawk. I could read the story just from the strewn feathers. Fox. The moment of their intersection would have been pretty dramatic, and maybe the hawk had screeched. At that moment, he was after food, maybe digging worms out of the ground, maybe a mouse or bunny was scurrying along the grass, and the hawk dived just as the fox was preparing to spring.

As it happens, I later met a guy who was there to see it. I’d read the story right.

One of the great things of hiking in the morning on dusty trails or on snowy days is the stories written on the ground. It’s a constant reminder that things out there are not all sweetness and light. It’s truly kill or be killed, and yet, for us humans — and maybe other creatures — there is the quality of wonderment, like last December when I realized my walks were shadowed by a small herd of mule deer. Over the next few days, I saw that they were curious about me. The watcher was being watched. I wondered what questions were going through their minds.

“My” deer the day they decided to come out and look at me. The does were openly curious; the buck was ready to protect them.

I thought they were thinking, “Friend or foe?” There came a day when one of the does came within 20 yards of me and continued approaching. I held Bear and said to the doe, “I’m not your friend. I’m really not your friend. Go back.” As if she understood me (though I think it was just my voice that did it), she turned and went back to the herd. The truth is I WAS her friend. I loved this little herd of deer very much (I confess I told them, too, both with my voice and in sign) and went out to see them every day. Even Bear had learned to sit quietly when the deer were in sight.

Similar moments have happened between me and other wild animals. Curiosity seems to be a trait of sentient beings everywhere. Foxes, coyotes, hawks, and certainly ravens have all wanted to know what was going on with me and my dogs.

I haven’t been out there in nearly a month since I sprained my foot — a mid-foot sprain, nasty. Things were moving in the right direction until I reinjured my foot somehow in the night, so I’m in pain again. Sprains take a long time to heal and they are easily re-injured. I know that. A mid foot sprain is very vulnerable and maybe I was stupid not to get the big boot and all that. I don’t know. But it’s my right foot, and I need to be able to drive. Maybe my values are backward. Maybe I should have cancelled my life and done that. It’s nature, after all, my body is nature as much as is a tree or an Aussie pumpkin, a vulnerable red tail, or a curious doe. I don’t know about the existence of “will” in non-human beings, but I know mine is formidable and not always my best friend. It’s been three weeks since I last re-injured it. I suppose I have now to start all over again with the recovery and rehab. Well, with no events planned after this weekend, maybe it won’t be so difficult.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/10/24/ragtag-daily-prompt-thursday-a-flower-cried/

Lamont and Dude, “Nobody Walks in LA, or How I Killed My Friend, Again) 3rd Episode in the great saga

________________________

— Your stragedy worked?

Yes, by the grace of, grace of, I don’t know what. I veered quickly right. I felt a splash of water and tar on my rear left leg. I turned and saw Dude lunge into the pool. He fought, of course, and the more he fought the more firmly stuck he became. He called out, in tiger, of course. I trumpeted my apologies and said I hoped I’d see him later when we weren’t in this miserable predator-prey connection. Soon bubbles rose to the surface.

— Wow.

Next time I saw Dude, we were both trees. But that’s LA for you. If it’s not traffic it’s tar pits.

Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with in 2014. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them an unusual perspective on life, the universe and everything.

The Road Ahead

Because I’m in earshot of 70 years old (3 years away), and I just got Nordic Skis and have been out on them ten times in the six weeks I’ve had them, I’m concerned about the future. Nordic skiing makes me happy. It always has, but I have not always lived where I could easily find snow and I have — for the biggest part of a decade — been dealing with debilitating arthritis in my hips.

There’s nothing else I really want to do, honestly. As time has peeled away aspirations and goals, I stand here with only a couple of things that matter to me. I want to be able to *langlauf. I want to be able to hike in the mountains (because there is not always snow). I want to be able to do these things for a long time.

I already know what bad stuff can happen. I had my first hip surgery when I was 54. My second in 2018, at 66.

How does this happen? I always loved those things. Why did so much get in the way? Why didn’t I see as clearly long ago? No idea. But what matters is doing whatever I can to be able to keep going.

I did some research — tried to do some research — on how best to keep going as long as possible. The short answer is weight training. The long answer? Well, it’s long, OK?

I found a lot of articles written by young people about old athletes. There was no escaping that the whole idea of a geriatric runner or something else is kind of a freak show. This is strange, because I know people who are still running, hiking, and skiing well into their 70s. They don’t see themselves as a freak show and neither do I. It seems that some of the younger people looking at us have forgotten (or don’t know?) that it’s FUN to ski, it’s fun to race, it’s fun to hike. Sure, maybe not for everyone, but who would expect it to be? In all my years hiking, I was most often completely alone (in an urban wilderness park).

One article I read was a review of a photo book with an interview — Racing Age by Angela Jimenez. In this book, a former college decathlete documents several elderly track and field competitors. Jimenez goal is to blast the stereotypes of old folks, stereotypes that old folks — that is to say we are,

“…sick or vulnerable or kind of cute—I had seen those jokey greeting cards of a grandmother lifting a barbell or something—and I felt, as someone who was just starting to think about age myself, a sense of rebellion against that,” says Jimenez. “That’s something I’m always interested in doing with photography—countering visual stereotypes and thinking about how is a group of people being depicted in a simplistic way and what could I do to explore that.”

https://www.outsideonline.com/2153626/these-80-year-old-athletes-will-blow-your-mind


The photos included in the article are great. The photographer seems like an intriguing person. These athletes are completely engaged in their sports as any real athlete would be.

The sub-heading of the article says,

“The new photography book ‘Racing Age reminds us that it’s a whole lot of fun to be a competitive athlete for life.”

For me, that’s the whole thing. I don’t want to compete, I just want to play.

*Langlauf — German for Nordic skiing


“Let Us Cultivate Our Garden”

Most people out here in the real west are jonesing to get into their gardens. Cold weather porn has been arriving (see featured photo) in our mailboxes since Christmas. My email is attacked daily with solicitations about growing deer resistant, bee attracting, mosquito repelling gardens this summer.

Meanwhile in Bearadise, the garden is…

For the moment I’m growing cardboard boxes. They’re doing well. One of their main virtues as a winter crop is keeping Bear out of the flower and vegetable beds, especially as they’re frozen to the ground. They are also mulching their little hearts out, attracting and providing a haven for earthworms. We’ve had enough of a melt that the top layer of soil thawed so Bear could to attempt to dig.

My entire yard is a disaster and there’s not much I can do about it considering the proclivities of the giant white creature with whom I live. One of my goals this summer is to put down a small patio and a walkway between the gardens, leaving Bear the back part where her favorite digging spots are. There’s also the chance that if she keeps at it, she’ll extricate two annoying, giant, weedy lilacs.

I garden but I’m not an enthusiast. I can’t help it. I think it’s in my blood. My lack of enthusiasm but commitment to growing things works well for the plants. In the course of my life I’ve had some huge gardens, sometimes very fancy. But at this point I’m most interested in what the plants do. Two years ago I had freakishly huge zucchini plants — and discovered that I don’t like zucchini all that much. Last year at this time I was putting tiny tomato seeds in Jiffy Pots and moving them around to sunny windows. The best thing in my garden last year was my Scarlet Emperor Bean of Song and Story. That bean was a magic ray of hope and a friend during the weeks leading to my hip surgery when I was scared and in a lot of pain. I gave them each a Chinese name — emperor or author. They were amazing to watch grow, and those that went into my garden grew to be 12 feet tall. I didn’t eat them. I wanted their seeds to plant this coming summer.

Hong Li, my first Scarlet Emperor Bean

These regal beans gave me a lot of seeds and I have shared them with friends. This year my garden will have them but also Australian pumpkins. 🙂

Australian pumpkin seeds and Scarlet Emperor Beans

There is something else to my garden that’s very special. When I moved here, there were no gardens. Just a beautiful lawn (that ship has sailed, thanks Bear). Then…

Quotation from Candide outside my garden fence.

My friends, K, who lives next door and E, who lives across the street both garden passionately. As we got to know each other, and they saw that I also have to dig up perfectly nice grass to plant flowers, they shared their “extras.” We now have many of the same flowers in our gardens, lots of iris which grow well here and multiply like crazy.

I thought about that last year when the iris began to bloom in our yards. Sometime in the future when there’s no K, E or M, those flowers will be growing in our yards. Someone could say, “Wow, these gardens all have the same flowers.” And the flowers will whisper a reply, “Yes. The people who lived here were friends.”

Training for the Birkebeiner??

Yesterday I was so inspired by the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski race that I was ready to sign up, but a little research showed me three things that dampened my enthusiasm. In order, first, it’s a crowd of people trying to ski. I’d hate that. Second, sleeping accommodations are renting a mattress and showing up at a dorm with your sleeping bag. I’d hate that. When I say I sleep alone, it includes a room. Third, it would be expensive BUT all other things being cool, I’d willingly go into debt (further).

“But,” I thought, “I can still train for it.” Strangely, that sounds fun, so I looked into it. There’s a whole schedule for preparing for the Birkebeiner. It’s nothing I’m not already doing, only more of it and pushing harder. So, nothing I can’t do.

Do you really want to READ this???

So, today (in my personal adaptation of this plan, since I cannot jog) was a hike day. I grabbed Bear (not really) and we headed out to the golf course. It was cold and sunny with BIG snow storms in the offing. There was an old guy making his way slowly around the 1 mile ski loop.

“How is it?” I asked him
“Not great. I’d like to go up to Rock Creek, but I’d be all alone if I broke my leg or something. Cell service isn’t great. Not fair to my wife.” (It’s amazing how EVERY man I meet lets me know, ASAP, that he’s married. I kind of hate that because I don’t WANT one of my own, but whatever…)
“Yeah, me too. I don’t want to go up there by myself, either. Have fun!”

He shuffled off. Bear and I walked a mile and a half before returning back to the golf course. An elderly couple was shuffling along the tracks. The woman stopped to visit (this is a small town and that custom is charming) and we exchanged stories of our joint replacements and she said they’d gone up to South Fork but it was so crowded it was no fun. I thought of my short-lived Birkebeiner dreams and nodded. We exchanged names and personal history. Most people ask my name thinking they should know me. When they don’t, it’s a little bewildering for them. I now have nicely memorized litany to legitimize my living in this insular town that I love so much.

Bear and I headed toward home. Bear only dragged me into a snow drift once. I’m SO good at getting up now it’s impressive.

We were half a block up a muddy alley from home, and the two little kids who’ve moved into the neighborhood came running to their fence to see Bear but mostly to visit.

“What are you doing today?” asked the little boy. (He’s 5. Visiting skills develop early here.)
“I just took Bear for a long walk on the golf course so she could play in the snow.”
“THAT golf course?” he pointed across the street.
“Yep.”
I got another exhibition of his precocity in the art of visiting. “We might try that sometime.”
“Have you been to the park? It’s more fun.”
“We’ve been there,” said his sister.
“Did you have fun?” I asked.
“Yes!” they both said. Then their dad came out to give them a chore and Bear and I came home.

Once home, I rode the bike to nowhere four miles in 15 minutes. It was part of my training for the Birkebeiner to go fast and then faster for a period of time. As close to running as I can get.

I track everything on Mapmywalk.com. I started doing that just to know the distances I covered when I couldn’t walk well, but now I’m mildly into it. I even signed up for the annual challenge and I’ve achieved a pretty high ranking in relation to other women who signed up which just shows that it’s true that 99% of success is just showing up. I’m the little white figure on the graph of runners. The challenge doesn’t include the Bike to Nowhere. It’s no big deal, but I’m kind of proud, even though it just means a lot of other peoples’ New Years Resolutions bit the dust.

Thank you…

I really appreciate all the care and support while I’ve been having my existential melt down. It helped a lot to write it down, it helped a lot to “hear” what you all had to say, your experiences, your take on it.

It actually helped me figure it out.

Five years ago I saw the handwriting on the wall. My job was being “outsourced” to another department at the university and no one was going to tell us. There were five of us who had 3 year contracts to teach Business Communication. I had a year left. I had every intention of finishing my contact before retiring, but I ended up without the choice. An “under-the-table” deal was made and, since no one went to the union to complain until I did at the last minute, it was, essentially, a fait accompli. But in English. Looking at most of my income gone, I had to retire and leave. OK. Psychologically I was ready. Physically? I was already showing signs of the hip arthritis I had remedied in 2018.

My move to Colorado was great. I’m happy to be back, but it was a little freaky that — though a native — I didn’t know how to live here any more. It all came back, but there was a long period of adjusting both to retirement and life in a very small town I’d only visited once.

This blog helped me a lot as did the one I wrote specially about my move. That blog is gone, but it was good for me to write.

The first thing I did when I moved here was get an Airdyne. I knew I was overweight and in terrible physical condition. I wanted to be able to hike in the mountains and do things I wasn’t able to do. I wasn’t me, but I’d had to work so much the last few years I lived in California that there was nothing in my life but driving, teaching and all the things connected with teaching — grading, prepping, meetings, etc. When I finally moved into my house, the dogs and I began walking on the golf course and going 1/2 mile was difficult for me (and for Mindy T. Dog ❤ ) but we got better. The Airdyne was good, I did get in better shape, I was able to do yoga again (meaning getting down onto and up from the floor) and I did lose a little weight.

Still, the struggle to regain my body took so much longer than I imagined it could. I didn’t even realize until the end of 2017 WHAT my mobility problem was. Then came the search for a surgeon.

Meanwhile, I wrote. I arrived in Colorado with a work in progress, The Brothers Path. In 2017 I finished an important book — My Everest which is about my time in California hiking with my dogs. It was a total labor of love to put that book together. Then I sucked it up and finished The Price which was very difficult to write for numerous reasons I’ve already written about. The surgery worked and my pre-op training and post-op training have returned to me a body with abilities I haven’t had in a decade. I still can’t run. Maybe I won’t ever run — I do try, though.

I’m grateful and lucky. But at this point in time there is also the feeling that another shoe WILL fall. I will be 67 this coming Monday.

We always say we want to have no regrets, but I don’t think anyone can reach this point in life without regrets. I’m surprised at what mine are. I wrote about that, and last night a friend said, “Lots of people say they want to write books but they never do. You’ve written 3 (actually 6 1/2 but who’s counting?)…can’t you look at writing them the way you look at all your hikes? You never thought about point B; you just went.” He is absolutely right. That’s exactly how I can look at my books and writing itself. Everything, maybe.

This morning I read Cara Sue Achterberg’s blog post, on “My Life in Paragraphs.” She writes about how she and her husband are figuring out together what they want the next step in their lives to be. They’re about to be “empty-nesters” and they’re addressing this question with colored Post-It Notes on which they each write something they want in their future or want their future to be. Cara ultimately asks, “What do you want?” and my first thought was, “A marriage like yours, but that ship has sailed.” ❤

As I read, I thought about the different transitions — the late-40’s transition and the late-60’s transition. I didn’t notice the late 40’s one because the usual late 40’s physical stuff happened to me a lot earlier. Looking back, the time between 47 and 54 were really great years for me and, thankfully, most of the time I knew it. Physical debility and a bad love relationship set the “tone” for the next decade, neither of which I could possibly have seen coming. I thought, “I had the house I wanted. I lived in the mountains. I had great dogs. I hiked with awesome human companions, too. I had the job I wanted. I had all I wanted and then…”

It’s always a balancing act between what we want and what we get, I guess.

Yesterday I wanted Cross Country Skis. I texted the local outdoor store — Kristi Mountain Sports — and asked the appropriate questions. Today I got an answer. As it happens, I had written things down on a Post-It note.


Basically, what Kristi Mountain Sports has for sale is exactly what I want.

Today I want $550. It’s right there! It’s even on a Post-It Note! 😀 But I also want to know that if I buy the skis (which means more debt until the tax refund) I’ll actually use them. I have this big white dog and she doesn’t ski.

Anyway, I realized that I if I were to continue with the Post-It Notes, that what I want is a new adventure. I feel a little nervous even saying that — let alone committing it to an actual Post-It Note — because the universe might go, “You want adventure? Ha! I’ll give you adventure.” No, universe, this time let me find my own. ❤