Moving the Earth

People say faith can move mountains, but more often, it’s men (and women, too, I suppose) in heavy machinery who move mountains. I first realized this when I lived on the western slope of Colorado and watched as a new flat road was built on what used to be a small mountain. To be honest, I doubt the protuberance was high enough to be called a mountain, but it was huge for a hill. And over the months, that hill disappeared. Just . . . gone. I doubt anyone who drives that once-new road even knows they are driving over the corpse of a mountain.

The current project here at my house is nowhere near as extensive as that earth-moving project, but still, a lot of dirt is being moved around, more than I could ever do with my 2-gallon pail (which is what I generally use to move dirt from one spot to another). The dirt being moved came from the right-of-way between the sidewalk and the street. That area was filled with tree stumps, dozens and dozens of small trees growing out of the exposed roots leftover from those stumps, and huge, waist-high weeds. What will be going in that area is rock (yay!! No more trying to stay on top of that mess!) and three ornamental trees.

The dirt is being spread over the yard to fill in holes and gouges that were created by the skid steer that was used to move concrete from the mixer to the back yard when the ramp from the house to the garage was built. I suppose, over the years I could have smoothed the ground myself, but with machinery, it won’t take more than a few hours for all that dirt to be smoothed over the rough spots in the yard. This is all part of my taking care of the old lady I will someday become — I certainly don’t want her twisting her ankles on holes or tripping on uneven ground.

Although it’s hard to get anyone to come here to work — the contractor I hired (and the person these folks work for) always seems to have need of his entire crew at various other job sites — the worker who mostly comes is getting excited about the changes we are making and wants to see what it will look like when it’s all done. Which means, I hope, that he will do his best to stick with the job until it’s finished.

It is interesting how we humans can change a landscape. After the hardscape is finished, the yard won’t look at all the way it did when I came here. The old property lines (or what were assumed to be the property lines) have been replaced by the new surveyed lines and a fence placed around the property. The old garage is gone to be replaced by a raised garden. The old carport is gone, replaced by a new garage. The old driveway is gone, replaced by a red gravel walking path through ornamental rock. Diseased trees are gone to be replaced by young trees. Weed patches will be replaced with grassy areas and gardens. And oh, so many things!

Even if the hardscaping is finished this year as I hope, trees and plants take a long time to mature, so it will be many years before I can see the final project. It’s a good thing, then, that I’m enjoying the process of moving the earth around and creating special oases in my yard.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Eventually

I spent most of the morning digging up weeds and grass, mostly prostrate knotweed, which serves for grass in this usually arid part of the state. Knotweed is hard to dig up because not only are the roots deep and extensive, but each grass blade ties itself to the ground with myriad roots. As always, I ended up doing more than I planned, and wore myself out, but that’s a good thing because it shows that I am strong enough to get the job done.

My original plan for today was simply to map out a garden area on the left side of the ramp going up to the house. On the right side of the ramp, there is a half-moon garden area, defined by the reddish path that leads to the back yard. It was so pretty a few weeks ago when the larkspur were in bloom, but I want to plant day lilies there so something will bloom once the larkspur is gone.

I found a place online that sells mystery daylilies ((lilies without a specific name or classification), and I wanted some for the right-side garden area. I figured I’d need more than twenty-five for all the places I want to plant a few, but if I bought two lots of twenty-five, it would cost as much as a lot of hundred. So I ordered a hundred. I’m not sure when they will arrive — it might not be until fall — but I thought I ought to be prepared to plant when they eventually get here. I also figured that the worker who will come eventually to lay the rock wouldn’t want to measure the ramp-side gardens to get them more or less even, so that was my self-appointed task today — to stake out the garden area. Of course, where the stakes needed to go were deep rooted weeds, grass, and knotweed, so I had to dig up the rim of the half-moon in order to pound in the stakes, and that prompted me to dig up the whole garden area.

The plan is to eventually put in a red rock (breeze) path on the left side that sort of matches the one on the right side until it needs to swing wide to go around the house. The left side of the house will have rock around the foundation just as on the right side.

On the right side of the photo, you can see sort of a squared-off mess of rock and gray weed barrier fabric where they’ve been dumping the loads of rock they’ve been bringing in. When that area isn’t needed for a dump site, it will be a gray slag parking spot. Not that I need another place to park since I have the garage and just one car, but there is a double gate in the fence right there, so it makes sense to have a corresponding parking area.

I haven’t done much with the lawn on the left-hand side of the yard. What grass there was in the midst of the weeds died back in the extreme heat we suffered through during most of May and June, but there really is no point in trying to revive it yet. The area needs loads of dirt to level it off before grass and an ornamental tree is planted. And before that, the weeds will need to be dug up. Eek. A lot of work to be done eventually

There still are too many “eventually”s in my landscaping plan, but at least I am doing my part, which, of course, is the only thing I can control — at least to some extent. Most of the time, I’m okay with the “eventually”s because what is going to take the longest is planting bushes and flowers and waiting for them to grow.

Now that the property is starting to take shape, at least in my mind, I’m getting excited. It should be rather awesome when it is finished, and hopefully, not that difficult for me to take care of in my perhaps feeble old age.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

There’s Always Something

We had big winds last night that blew leaves and twigs all over my yard, especially in the gravel areas and pathways. What seems strange to me, is that the winds always blow these things into my yard, but once here, they never get blown back out again. They just stay, which makes the ornamental rock around my garage and house look terribly unkempt.

The people who are laying down the rock told me I will have to get a leaf blower to keep the rocks clean, otherwise, the leaves decay and sink to the bottom of the graveled area, and will eventually destroy the weed-blocking fabric. I figured I’d have to blow the leaves off the rocks once a year or so, but the way things look, I’ll have to do it rather frequently. Also, to my surprise, plants do grow in the rocks, though supposedly, they are easy to pick out because of shallow roots, which is only partly true. Some are easy, but some are as difficult to remove as they would be from soil.

I always thought the purpose of xeriscaping at least part of a yard was to make it maintenance free, but as it turns out, I was wrong about that. Still, my main reason for the rocks around the house and garage was not easy maintenance so much as to protect the foundations, and the reason for the pathways was for my safety as I age. I don’t suppose I’d mind the work as much if it were my leaves and twigs settling in the yard, but they’re not. I don’t have any big trees any more. Mine were diseased, and had to be cut down. I will plant new trees, but it will be years before they would affect the xeriscaping areas of my yard.

Looking on the bright side, I get to buy a new tool! I’ll probably get a leaf blower that plugs in rather than a battery-operated one to make sure it’s not too heavy for me to carry around because there is a lot of area to cover.

Unless there is a way to redirect the wind to send the detritus back where it came from? I’ll work on that.

Meantime, the good news of the day is that the mechanic came to pick up my car so he could fix the brakes. Yay! I also enjoyed showing off my garage to the mechanic and his helper. It really is quite a wonderful building, and well organized, if I do say so myself, with metal shelves along one side, racks to hang long-handled tools on the other, and counters under the window for a work space.

More good news is that a daylily I planted a couple of years ago finally bloomed! I was surprised to see it was orange for some reason, perhaps because the other daylily, which did bloom last year, was yellow.

I’ve been checking out daylilies, and found a company that will sell untagged batches, so I wouldn’t know what I was getting. Sounds like fun! I discovered that it’s possible to plant them in the summer, so it would give me a more interesting project for the next few months than blowing leaves and twigs and such.

Good or not-so-good, there’s always something new, it seems, when it comes to landscaping and gardening.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Fearfulness and Grief

There are many changes that come with the death of a spouse or life mate. The abrupt change in circumstances, of course. The emotional and physical changes that grief and stress bring. A change in identity, both in how we see ourselves and how others see us. And a change in how we interact with the world.

After such a death, many of us left behind find ourselves unable to do the things we did with our mates. One woman I know had to change grocery stores and the brands she used because it was too painful going to “their” store. Some people change their eating habits because they can’t bear to eat the same foods or drink the same beverages. It took me years before I was able to make some of our favorite dishes, and even then, I mostly did it to prove to myself how far I’ve come because none of those foods are currently part of my diet.

Something else I’d forgotten about until an email discussion today with a person who’s dealing with the changes that death and grief bring to us, was how truly hard some things were, such as getting new glasses.

For decades, Jeff had gone to the eye doctor with me and helped me pick out new frames. After he died, even though I could tell my eyesight was changing, I didn’t go until I was forced to get new glasses so I could renew my driver’s license. The mere thought of going through the experience alone was simply too intimidating.

Now that I think about it, it’s such an odd thing — grown-up, independent people being intimidated by such simple chores. Admittedly, Jeff and I had done almost everything together for many years, and it did take a bit of adjustment to do those things on my own, sort of like the first time you step onto an escalator. But to be so intimidated by doing things like getting new glasses? Yes, definitely odd, at least in a non-griever’s world.

But grief changes things around you. And grief changes you. There is so much thrown at you all at once, from the horrendous pain as well as the hormone and brain chemistry changes to the way we do . . . everything. Much of life is habit. When we do the same things with the same person all the time, and suddenly that person is gone, we are suddenly thrust into a world where nothing is solid.

And in the fluid world of grief, we are easily overwhelmed and intimidated and fearful. I remember trying to find “rock bottom,” a place where I could stand to get my bearings, and there never was such a place. Well, not never. As much as anyone can find a footing, I have found mine now, though because of my years of grief, I am aware of how uncertain such a footing actually is. There is no certainty in this world, but there is definitely more certainty now in my life than there was after Jeff died.

All of that contributes to the feelings of being so intimidated by the new world we have to deal with that even something relatively common as a trip to the grocery store or an appointment to get new glasses becomes all but undoable.

The only other time as an adult that I felt so intimidated by life was when I destroyed my arm. My balance was off, my thinking was off, I couldn’t do anything the way I once had, and so I was easily intimidated. And fearful of people who came too close. (And angry at those who didn’t respect my new boundaries even when I asked them to.)

I sense this same feeling of fearfulness and being intimidated in old-elderly people for the same reasons — so much of what they knew — or thought they knew — is gone. Their sense of self and their physical abilities have changed. Their interaction with the world is different from what it once was.

I understand that if I wait long enough the same thing will happen to me when I get older, but it won’t be an unfamiliar sensation. (Unless, of course, I’d forgotten what grief felt like.)

I don’t know if this feeling of being intimidated as part of grief is something I ever wrote about before. Because I don’t like thinking of myself as a fearful person, it’s possible only the distance of all these years enables me to accept how intimidated I felt back then by something as simple as getting new glasses, though I do remember forcing myself to do new things so that I wouldn’t become paralyzed by the fear.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Memory and Habit

It seems as if I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for things, not just photos (as I mentioned yesterday), but physical items. The latest thing I’ve been searching for is a wrought iron hook for hanging plants that had been attached to the ramp when I moved here. I took it off when I painted the ramp and then forgot all about it. I found it again last year when I was putting things away in my new garage, and I placed it . . . somewhere. I remember putting it where I would intuitively look for it, but it has disappeared, so either my intuition isn’t working, I accidentally threw it away, or it’s in hiding. It’s not a major issue except for the time I spent looking for it because I’m probably going to order a new one to match the two I put up last year. And anyway, the time I spent looking wasn’t really wasted because as I looked, I was able to rearrange and clean the part of the garage where my contractor had stored supplies, unused building materials, and some of the tools he’d been using.

But it irritates me all the same. I used to pride myself on my memory, but episodes like this tell me it’s no longer a source of pride. I’m just grateful I can still remember most of what I want to remember!

It’s also frustrating to misplace small things like that hook because in recent years I’ve gotten in the habit of putting things away in the same place I got them from so that they are always where I can find them. Before that, I wasn’t particularly careful — messes didn’t bother me, and if they did, I’d simply immerse myself in reading and voila! No mess. It’s sort of like that old conundrum: “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound?” In my case, though, it was more a matter of “if your house is messy and you don’t see it, is it really messy?”

I shouldn’t feel too badly about the hook; after all, it wasn’t something I used and then didn’t put back in the right place. There was no right place. It was a one-time deal.

It is a reminder, though, that when one’s memory doesn’t work as well as it once did, then habit becomes especially important.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Rebooting Ourselves

I had a bit of a problem yesterday with one of the programs on my computer, so before I got worked up about it, I restarted the computer. And as I hoped, the problem was resolved.

Which got me to thinking — what would it be life if we could reboot ourselves when things go wrong? Not to do a factory reset — I mean, I for one, wouldn’t want to have to start my life over as a baby. It’s taken me decades to get to the point where I am now. A full factory reset would force me to live all those years over again, and the very idea seems unutterably horrific. But to be able to reset what isn’t working right while keeping memories and experience intact? To get back to where we older folk can walk effortlessly without having to place each foot solidly on the ground before moving forward? To get our cells back to replicating exactly without all the little “mistakes” that add up to aging?

And then think about the other “programs” we could use, such as virus protection and virus removal. Add to that any supplemental “hardware” such as more memory.

The idea is staggering.

Alas, although our bodies seem to work like computers at times, we don’t have the capability they have for self-repair. (Though for the most part, our immune systems do a good job, at least until they are overwhelmed by age or other detrimental factors.)

On the other hand, computers don’t have the capacity for enjoyment and beauty and feelings that we have. At least not yet.

I might not be able to reboot myself (except in the winter when I have to reboot myself to go back outside to finish shoveling snow or something like that), but there are offsetting factors like . . . well, like tulips!

Although winter temperatures returned, with lows in the twenties (Fahrenheit), a few tulips managed to bloom anyway, bringing a dollop of color to an otherwise murky morning.

That for sure is worth something.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Fountain of Youth

I’m reading a book about a group of scientists who discovered the so-called fountain of youth. I say “so-called” because it wasn’t a fountain, it was an injection of a substance that prevented telomeres from malfunctioning or wearing out. From what I understand, telomeres are a compound structure at the end of chromosomes that keep the long strands of DNA from getting tangled during cell replication. When they malfunction, you get cancer. When they wear down, you grow old. Apparently, if there is a way to keep telomeres at peak performance, you won’t get cancer, won’t grow older, won’t get any of the diseases of old age. You wouldn’t be immortal, of course, since you could die from any number of other causes, such as car accidents or non-DNA-related diseases. And I suppose you’d have to be especially careful of yourself to keep from being like the women in the movie Death Becomes Her.

Although it was an interesting premise, the story breaks down because the only way this group of exceedingly smart “immortals” thought of to keep their eternal youthfulness from being discovered is to find younger doppelgangers every twenty years or so, kill them off, and take over their identity. Ignoring the immorality and illegality of such a drastic solution, there would be myriad problems, such as fingerprints not matching. (I almost didn’t get my driver’s license renewed because my thumbprints didn’t match. They finally figured out that the previous thumbprint was printed at the tip rather than the meat of the thumb like the current print.)

It reminded me of a novel I once planned to write. I’d have to check my notes to find out why this particular character didn’t age (I think it had to do with a project they were working on that killed everyone else in the lab and left her unable to get older), but I do remember the first scene. She’s in a stall in a restroom while people she knows are primping at the mirror and talking about her, something to the effect of, “Who is she trying to kid? All that makeup she wears doesn’t fool me. She’s nowhere near as young as she pretends to be.” The character in the stall realizes it’s time to move on because the truth is she is trying to hide her age. The heavy make-up is to make her look older rather than younger.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

Mostly I’m wondering if such a serum were available, would you take it? Would you want to be eternally young? To live forever, or as forever as possible?

I wouldn’t, though to be honest, I wouldn’t mind finding a true fountain of youth. I wouldn’t drink the water, though I might bathe my cheeks to plump them up (I don’t mind my wrinkles, but the crepey skin on my cheeks is sort of creeping me out.) And I’d like to bathe my legs in the water to keep them young, but for the rest of it, not so much.

In a way, I’m viewing the experience of aging the same way I now view grief. Although grief was utterly painful and angst-ridden while it had me in its grip, I’m glad I had the experience. It was way beyond anything I could have ever imagined, way beyond anything I’d ever read about. I tend to think aging is the same. As long as a self-aware person retains her ability to think and can process what she is thinking and feeling, it could be (and is) interesting to see some of the changes — not just physically but mentally and emotionally.

Besides, I think eternity could be utterly boring. I mean, what do you do with eternity? It’s the same thing I’ve wondered about when it comes to after-death eternity, though with pre-death eternity, at least you have a body to do things with, emotions to experience, things to see and hear and taste, but after a while, all things pall.

Even more than that, either you stay away from people entirely and miss out on the joy of love and friendships, or you remain alive while everyone you know and will ever know ends up dead. All that grief would be too much to handle, and if it isn’t, if one can lose and keep on losing without ever being affected, would life be worth living?

I guess I’m lucky in that I won’t ever have to make this choice, though in a certain sense, I make it every day because every day I do something to try to improve my life, my body, my mind. As far as I know, that’s all anyone can do without having access to a fountain of youth.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

What It’s All About

Today is the eleventh anniversary of Jeff’s death, and as with everything to do with grief, I am feeling a bit bewildered. None of it makes sense to me. Was I really that woman? That woman who watched a man slowly die, who wanted the suffering to end, yet whose love was so ineffectual she couldn’t make him well or take away a single moment of his pain? That woman so connected to another human being she still felt broken years after his death? That woman who screamed the pain of her loss to the winds?

I’ve always considered myself a passionless woman, so how could that woman be me? I’m mostly living in a state of relative equilibrium at the moment, feeling more like myself than I have at any time since his death, which makes that bone deep grief I lived with for so long seem even more unreal. Sometimes looking back, it almost seems as if all that emotion was an effort to make myself seem important, and yet I know it was real. It came from a part of me I didn’t even know existed. It makes me wonder if maybe that’s what changed over the years — not that I became more used to Jeff being gone, or that time healed my grief, but that the part of me that surfaced after he died has simply sunk back into the muck from which it rose.

Making the situation even more unreal, I can barely remember what he looked like — I do not think in images, so it’s understandable (though distressing) that I have no clear image of him in my mind. Even worse, I don’t have a photo that matches what I remember of him. (The only photo I have was taken about twelve years before he died.) And so the image of him in my mind now is the image in that photo. I remember the first time I looked at the picture after he was gone — I was shocked that it no longer looked like him. I put the photo away, not wanting that false image to be the only picture of him in my head, but when I moved here, I put his photo on the bedside table, finding comfort in that now familiar image. Does it matter if it didn’t look like him at the end? When I was going through his effects and found a picture of him around the time we met, I didn’t recognize that image of him either. And yet, they were both good images of him at those times. So what difference does it make how I picture him? He was all those men, and none of them.

Nor do I have a clear sense of time. Sometimes it feels as if he died just a couple of months ago. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. The demarcation between our shared life and my solitary life was once so stark it was like the edge of a cliff. All I could see was the past and what I had lost. The living I have done in the past eleven years has blurred that edge almost to the point of nonexistence, adding to the sense of unreality.

I didn’t really expect to grieve for him today, and I didn’t, though the day isn’t yet over, so there’s a chance a bout of sadness will visit me tonight as I prepare for sleep. What I did today is what I have done every day since he died — lived the best I know how, finding joy in simple things, finding life in novel experiences. He was so sick at the end, it seemed as by dying he set us both free — he from pain, me from a lifetime of servitude to his illness — and I have been careful not to waste that gift.

Today’s simple joy was the blossoming of the Glory of the Snow bulbs I planted last fall.

And the novel experience was getting to drive a baby John Deere. The worker who is laying rock around my house drove here in the tractor to make it easier to transport the rock from one side of the yard to another, and to my delight, he let me drive the thing up and down the street, and even showed me how scoop up the rocks.

Those two things in particular add to my bewilderment today about life and death and grief. If Jeff were still alive, I wouldn’t have had those treats. In fact, if he were alive, I would be someone else, more like the person I was eleven years ago rather than the person grief shaped me into.

Then I have to add in the aging factor to the bewilderment. He will always be the age he was when he died, and I am getting ever older. Sometimes I feel the injustice of it all — we were supposed to grow old together, and because of our healthful lifestyle, we were supposed to beat the odds and be vital to the end. And yet, he’s gone and I am trying to pick my way through the minefield of growing old by myself. I am glad he won’t have to deal with that. I’m also glad he didn’t have to deal with the angst of surviving the death of a life mate, though what do I know. It’s entirely possible, if the dead have any sort of consciousness, that they grieve for us as much as we grieve for them.

But what all this comes down to is that it’s been eleven years since he died, and I don’t have any clearer idea now of what it’s all about than I did back then.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Letting Life Do What It Wills

Perhaps, as some people have suggested, I think about getting old too much, but when one is alone, there won’t be anyone to help when the time comes, so it’s important that I think about these things and make plans when I can. It’s not that I am specifically preparing for old age, but anything I have to do the house, I make sure it will accommodate me if I develop problems.

I’m not the only one who, when changes have to be made, make those changes with age in mind. That these people are generally widows or widowers might have something to do with it, perhaps because we know how life can change in an instant. I haven’t broached this subject enough to know the truth of it, but those I know who are still mated don’t think about these things as much as we who are alone.

My preparations started back when I was healing from a devastating arm/elbow injury. The surgeon told me there was nothing I could do to hurt the arm but that others could, so he cautioned about letting people get hold of my hand or arm. And he told me, flat out, “Don’t fall.” To that end, I removed any loose throw rugs, which are some of the most common fall hazards, and I made sure that my shower has hand rails since bathing and showering are dangerous not only to older folks, but to anyone.

It’s not that I’m paranoid; I’m simply aware of fall hazards. Besides, it’s so much easier to remain healthy if one remains upright. Too many older people begin a downward spiral after a fall.

The workers who come (occasionally, anyway) to help fix up my house and yard understand my wariness because they have elderly mothers with mobility issues. In fact, the fellow who came today brought his mother’s wheeled walker to make sure the paths we (I say “we” as if I am doing part of the work, though I am merely the check writer) are putting in are wide enough for walker use. To be honest, I don’t intend ever to have to use a walker, but neither did anyone who now needs one. It’s just that if I am going through all the trouble and expense of making my yard not just attractive but safe, I might as well look to the future and do the job once rather than finding out in decrepit old age that the paths are too narrow to do me any good.

The walkers with a seat are really great; I wish my father had consented to use one. He did walk inside the house, but he refused to walk outside. He said he got too tired. But if he had used a walker, he could have gone for a pleasant walk and then rested before he returned home.

Again, it’s not that I am planning on being decrepit; in fact, I am doing whatever I can to ensure that I’m won’t be, but life has a way of turning out vastly different from what we planned. By doing this work now, I can forget about it and let life do what it wills.

Of course, I reserve the right to whine if my life turns out to be something other than what I might wish for.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Preventing Frailty

When a worker was here last week to fix the cracks in my foundation, we talked about some of the improvements I want to do outside the house, such as the pathways I want to put in, so that I can be safer in my old age. He commented that I spend too much time thinking about getting older, which might be true, but on the other hand, if I don’t work now to provide a safer “fourth age,” who will? (Old age has now been divided into two categories — the third age from 65 to 80, which used to be called the golden years, and the fourth age, which is from 80 on.) Admittedly, I am still years away from that fourth age, but what I do now will give me the best chance of a) living to that age, and b) living strongly once I have arrived.

I do worry about frailty — I see so many older people who are too frail to navigate under their own power, and I don’t want that for me. Well, no one does wants that for themselves, but since I have no younger family members to take care of me, I have to be particularly careful. I’m also willing (more or less) to do what it takes to keep frailty at bay for as long as possible. To that end, I’ve been researching how to keep from getting frail as I get older, and most of it I already know. Keep moving, for one, such as taking walks and stretching. Do resistance exercises to help build up muscle mass. Eat more protein. Avoid dieting since weight loss leads to more muscle loss than fat loss. And oh, yes, kick the sedentary habit.

It’s that last part that has me flummoxed. I do understand that we as a society are too sedentary, and to be honest, some of my most prevalent activities are sedentary ones, primarily reading books and playing around on the computer. But the suggestion is to do no more than three hours per day of such activities.

Huh? We’re talking about people in the third and fourth age here. What are we supposed to do for all the rest of the time? Let’s say we get eight hours of sleep a night, perhaps another hour for grooming tasks. Perhaps an hour or two for fixing meals and doing chores. Maybe, if we’re being generous with our estimates (or maybe if we’re outright lying), we exercise for an hour.

That adds up to twelve hours. And only three should be sedentary? Heck, if we in the third age could be up and around, doing all sorts of on-foot activities for nine hours, we’d be — oh, I don’t know — still working perhaps. Where are we supposed to get the strength for all that activity? Following the rest of the suggestions — exercise, more protein, etc — can only give a newly elderly person so much energy. All those years we are carrying around are heavy, which adds to desire for sedentariness.

Come to think of it, maybe that worker is right. Maybe I’m overthinking all this. Maybe I should just do what I feel like, even it turns out to be way too much sitting.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.