Monday, December 30, 2013

Words and pictures fail us

Another year. A new milestone.
We have a new member of the family, exactly eighteen years after Jasmine (above with her dad, my son Scott) was born. I thought I was too young to be a grandmother for Jasmine, too young and too busy to be a proper grandmother.

Now, I feel I am too old to be of much use. I don't have the physical stamina to help with the new baby's needs as my mother helped when she stayed with me when Brian was born.  I get tired easily; feel exhausted quickly.

Fortunately, baby Nico is an easy baby: eats and sleeps and coos when he's awake.

Pictures that try to capture the mood of the moment do just that; only, that mood can truly be a slippery thing. In the photo above, there were five of us walking toward a restaurant to meet the rest of the family for lunch. My daughter in law is a few steps ahead of me on the left, cropped out of this photo, and she and I are talking. In the second row, my grand daughter Jasmine. her father Scott and my husband (cropped) are also talking. Yes, Jasmine is texting, but contributing to the conversation as well. This was the last meal we had together with a dozen other relatives meeting in Gardena, Cal. for dim sum.

I look at irrelevant things when I look at pictures. Such as the outfit I was wearing that day, a comfortable thing to help me stay warm on the  plane ride back to Oregon from California. I remember worrying about that, how cold I'd be on that plane, and the discomfort I'd suffer if I wore tight shoes on long rides.

What this picture does not capture at all was the buoyancy and excitement having the entire extended family together, having a wonderful lunch and promising each other we'd stay in touch no matter what.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's never about you.

The holidays tug at me with two passions. One tug is to do nothing at all except cook one traditional meal hopefully shared by all my family members together. Another tug is to become Santa and indulge everyone with their most secret wish. One side of me dreams of wish fulfilling, and the other, about being one with nature, simplifying life to its most important life source.

A different perspective will win this year.

We are anticipating the arrival of a new grand  baby in a day or two, and our lives have been directed exclusively toward making that arrival the focus of our celebration. Everything we purchase or think about will be for the new baby. I'm dreaming of baby songs, and baby names. I'm looking at my house through different eyes too. What do we need to do to make it baby-safe as well as elder-safe. The baby will become a toddler in no time, and while we won't be able to chase him around the house with ease, we want to elevate and lock all material that might be dangerous, secure doors and slippery surfaces, eliminate as many nuisances as possible. We're back to our own days of child-rearing; we are back to the most exciting times of our own lives.  We know how difficult and exciting those times were, and we want to be of help anyway we can.

This will be our second grand child. Our first one will celebrate her eighteenth birthday this month. She'll be off to college next fall just as the new grand baby begins to toddle. She'll need help with her college tuition; the new one, help with diapers.

When life is all about you, it becomes worrisome.
When life is about others, it becomes opportunities for growth and for hope.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Time to update your eyeglasses?

Nothing says you're old like your glass-wear. Sure, you may not need new glasses, as far as you know; but, do you know how old are your glasses? The old rule of thumb was to go to the eye doctor whenever you changed school, or whenever you had trouble reading or seeing objects at a distance.

I remember, in my twenties, a newbie at my job as a teacher, standing at the end of a row of thirty-five seats and looking up at the blackboard that I had just written on. It all looked fuzzy; so, I asked the young lady sitting in that last seat to read to me the last line on the board. She did. And then she asked why did I want her to read out loud? I told her to see if she could read at that distance.

How could I have missed the signs, I told myself driving home that evening. The next day, I checked with the school office to find out if an eye doctor was covered by our insurance. The secretary laughed. At that school, we had no health insurance at all.  Ladies teaching in private schools did that until they got married. Until then, they were still living at home, and supported by their parents until they married.

The trip to the eye doctor and glasses set me back an entire paycheck.


Most seniors find out the hard way how difficult life can be without good eye glasses.  I got my new set a year ago, and chose these great big ones because I have tri-vision. I need glasses for television and driving, glasses for computer work, and glasses for close reading.  My husband has three different glasses, and is constantly analyzing if he has the right glasses on!

My previous glasses were smaller and I was constantly taking them on and off to adjust to close reading or computer work. These change with light; so, my entire eye is protected when and if the sun hits them. They also feel light on my face since they are no longer made of glass, but with a special plastic. I even have insurance for replacing them should they shutter, break, begin to scratch irreparably.  My glasses sit by my bed side at exactly the same place every night just in case I need to wear them on my night errands.

A set of glasses can set you back financially. Think of them as the first robotics that help you navigate day and night, rain or shine. Is it time to update yours?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stats tell you part of the story

When we first moved to the Pacific Northwest, we did two things. The first was to build a sun-room. The second, to purchase a treadmill. Both are hardly used in winter months. The sun-room needs way too much heating to stay comfortable. And the treadmill, it is barely used ten years after it was purchased.

I could tell you that it rains for nine months here in the Northwest, and it can't be refuted. Yes, it rains most weeks during nine months, and the view during those rainy days is gray and wet as in this photo, but in any winter month, we take our daily walk in dry weather almost every day.

How can that be?

Storms come in from the ocean with hurricane force and by the time they reach land they drop all their energy at our doors. A two to six hours dump. Then, the skies clear, the sun re-appears and the land dries up in no time.

I can take one picture of a stormy day in the morning, and by afternoon, a different picture applies. Sometimes we walk between storms, a natural lull we take advantage of for our mile run around the block or a run to the library.

The statistics for this area will tell you that there are 77 inches of rain, on average, in the winter months. If you look at a weather map for this area at this time it will show you bands of rain and a cold front. As I'm sitting at this computer, looking out the window, the sun is shining and the temperatures are hovering around 40F.

Time for a pleasant morning walk.
Yes, we own waterproofed coats and shoes. Yes, we wear hats or hoods. In just a few weeks, around January, the camellia and the star magnolia will bloom profusely, making this season quite festive.
Happy Holidays, everyone.
I hope your weather doesn't keep you tied down too long.