Category Archives: Babybooming

life as a babyboomer

There’s No Flu Like An Old Flu

 

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I’m not done moaning about my virus. I still don’t feel good enough to do anything constructive so I’m filling in my time… I found that watching the news was too heartbreaking. I love the London Bridge. I love London. I love Nice, actually. But we’ll never feel safe there again. Now I know why they have those cement blocks in front of airports and on certain streets.
I turned off the television and went to sleep for awhile. My dreams were crazy but then I woke up to the reality of a world gone crazy. In so many ways. I fear the Salem Witch Trials can’t be far from restarting. One little word, and they cut off your head. (THAT’S A JOKE!! A QUASI PUN. Actually, most of this post should strike you as humorous. I feel I need to point that out in today’s world were context isn’t given any value. )
My head started spinning as I tried to keep track of everything. I just couldn’t so I went to sit outside. My dog sat next to me and I began wondering if he was seeing what I was seeing. I mean, do dogs do that? Is their eyesight the same as ours’? Then I began to wonder if I couldn’t get well because I’m in my seventies. Maybe I had something worse going on in my lungs??????? I told myself “to calm down”, “be happy,” “don’t worry”. I sat back and tried to take deep breaths. The smell of the jasmine was so sweet…that it started a coughing spell so I had to go inside.
Then our grandson stopped by to show us how handsome he was in his tux for prom. We even took a picture, which you’ll never see. Take my word for it, he is gorgeous and I look like death on a low burner.

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Just before I started writing this, I realized I had been on Facebook for at least a half hour. (Hour?)I was reading every post carefully and playing every video presented.

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Trevor Noah, the puppeteer on America Has Talent, the Canada Salute, the giraffes on the high dive, Animals on Twitter. You name it, I watched it today.

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I even started reading some tweets. I didn’t post anything but I did reply to a Joe Scarborough post.
OK. So you get the picture and it ain’t pretty. The Tylenol, antibiotics and Codeine Covfefe medicine better start working better or I’m toast. And Facebook will own my soul.

Too Cool For School? Not Me

I don’t know about you, but I have an affliction: when I try to be cool, I end up looking like a fool.

I think this all started at the end of junior high. Until that time I was a confirmed bookworm who never had time to think of things like being cool—my nose was always in a novel so I rarely registered where I really was in time or place. Nor did I care about how I looked or what I wore. Not until the day I saw Gloria wearing a cool sweater with a dickie collar. Wow, I really wanted one!

The poodle skirt phase was before my time, but I craved having a dickie collar.

I think I probably also wanted to look like the girl in the picture below. She was so white–so American. From her loafers to her plaid skirt to the shutters on her house, she personified the kind of girl who scared me to death. But I wanted to imitate.

Next thing I knew, I really wanted to shop at the Bon.

None of this was happening for me as my mother was against all of it. She thought shopping at Lerner’s was just fine for me. Somehow I wangled white bucks out of my dad.

The coolest was the white buck bag that accompanied them—it came out in almost every class so I could apply a little of whatever that powder was to my shoes, whether they needed it or not.

My mother did loosen up enough to buy me pedal pushers and saddle shoes, which was a great victory.

I was 14 when I started high school—being young was a disadvantage to coolness. I joined this high school sorority to be cooler and started smoking to be cooler still. But it really didn’t work.

I still wasn’t cool. Which was fine at Garfield High School. Just getting to go to school there was cool enough.

In my heart of hearts, I was still a nerd who loved being in the library more than anything.

This continued on into college. I loved to study. Well, maybe not loved—but I admit to liking it a lot. At the University of Washington, I used to study at Balmer Hall—it had big tables where I could spread out my books, notebooks, three pens with different colored inks, index cards and ruler. I remember one day acting very cool as I walked by a group of guys, pretending not to see them. I walked straight into a huge ash can that tipped over, spreading sand and cigarette butts across the floor. I can still hear the clang of the metal as it bumped over the floor. Not so cool, after all.

As I get older, a lot of my “too cool for school” episodes involve falls and/or being a know-it-all. My mother always said, “Pride goes before a fall,”—it seems my karma is to act that out again and again. It’s not that I’m unsteady on my feet…yet. I go to yoga to practice my balance and work out to keep my strength up. No, it’s more that I don’t pay attention to my surroundings.

Usually, before it happens, I’ve just congratulated myself on my fitness, and that my skinned knees and elbows have finally healed. (It takes so much longer now.) I’m thinking things like, I’m doing pretty darn well for a 70-year-old!

Like on our 50th anniversary. I wore a flowing dress and my new diamond ring—I felt youthful and beautiful.

As we walked up a few stairs into the oceanside restaurant, I was handed a glass of champagne. How sophisticated and cool is this, I thought.

I stepped forward to take the champagne, not realizing I was on the edge of the lanai. Yes, I stepped into empty space. I tried to get back onto the stair and keep my balance, but couldn’t quite do it. I started falling backwards and decided the wisest course was to just go with it. Fortunately it was only a short distance into the flowerbed. The horrified onlookers did give me points for the gracefulness of my descent. Except for a few scratches and a rip in my dress, I was just shaken, but unhurt.

My final point about being cool or being a fool concerns my fondness for getting things right. It’s not that I say, “I told you so,” (although I do roll my eyes quite a bit). Like when we were traveling in the Galapagos and Peru with friends. I was wise and ate according to the rules we’d be given. The rest of them ate off the street and tried the national dish, guinea pig. What fools, I thought, as they all succumbed to Inca Revenge, and asked to borrow Imodium.

I, on the other hand, was so cool that I had nary a stomach cramp. Until we got home. Then the 105 degree fever that goes with malaria hit me. Not so cool after that.

Another problem is that I try to stay current technologically: I’m so cool that I use the Internet all the time. This leads me to buy gadgets, which I can’t figure out how to use. Like this electric wine opener. You have to admit it looks cool and very high tech, but I can’t even figure out how to put it in the charger unit. Now, I don’t know what to do with it.

I hate to say it, but being cool is just not my thing. At this point, it’s a battle to keep from making that old saying true: There’s no fool like an old fool! 🙂

 

 

 

Need to Know Basis

I want to start worrying about getting old again. I want to worry about my crow’s feet turning into pigeon’s feet. I want to feel bad that when I wave my arm, my sagging skin keeps flapping like a loose sail. I want to worry about whether I should be buying a cemetery plot rather than worrying if there’s a plot to bring down America as I’ve known it.

I want to worry about not being able to remember anyone’s name. Is it dementia creeping up on me or overload? Because all of a sudden I need to know a lot of names that I just took for granted before.

I can be naïve—I used to think banks existed for me to deposit my money in. Bankers were there to help and protect me. That’s what I thought about our government too. I thought the elected officials would act in the best interest of the country as a whole. So complacent was I that I didn’t worry about officials’ actions or know their names. I admit I still don’t want to know the name of the Speaker of the House is Paul Ryan or the senator from New York is Amy Schumer’s cousin. I don’t want to know that Mitch McConnell is from Kentucky. I’d like to feel everything was going to be all right and I could obsess over my bunions.

I want to worry about my weight. That would be so refreshing instead of worrying about my granddaughter taking ballet at our local JCC. And I’d like to fret about whether I should join the American Hair Loss Association or just quit coloring my hair.

I’d like to have trouble falling asleep at night thinking about how time is flying rather than thinking about neighbors who could be deported in an instant. I’d like to have time to think about whether Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty screwed up because they are old farts instead of needing to think nonstop about the deep divisions in our country.

I’d like to worry again about how short a skirt a woman my age can wear. And whether I can read a Jodi Picoult book without getting my heart broken. I’d even like to worry about how I can get my husband to drink enough water. That I know is a lost cause. I just hope our country isn’t.

New Year, Not so New Resolutions

This is my new year’s resolution blog. You might think it’s too late for it but it’s only January 15. 2017 is just two weeks old. Still a baby!

Anyway, one of my resolutions is to stop rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off. (You might think this is a cliché but my husband actually got to see the phenomenon. In the old days of his Ancestors.com, a newly built home was blessed by cutting the head off a chicken. The vision of the chicken running around their yard featured in my husband’s nightmares for years.)

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As for my resolutions:

I have resolved to stop multi-tasking and to slow down. We had dinner with friends last night and she asked me what I’ve doing. “Since we’re in Hawaii, are you sitting around and relaxing?” she added.

I shook my head. “You know me. That just doesn’t happen. But, I’m trying. As soon as I get caught up with everything, I’m going to put relaxing into my day. It’s one of my new year’s resolutions.” It’s that I so rarely get caught up. Then something happens, either good or bad, and I’m behind again. I didn’t think I’d have this problem in my 70’s. Still.

I find that every year I resolve pretty much the same thing. Writing that, it reminded me that two years ago I printed out my 2015 resolutions and taped them to my computer. I was supposed to look at them every day but then I forgot they were there until just now. Oh well, one of my resolutions this year is to give up trying to do everything right. That leads to perfectionism, which means you’re polishing things at midnight, be it silver or words. It also means there’s constant judgment being aimed at my endeavors. Mother has been dead twenty years but she still is holding up the signs and there’s never been a 10. So time to get over it!

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Now, I’m looking at my list on the computer, and I like it. I haven’t accomplished any of the items, but they still seem like worthy goals. They aren’t global but more about me taking care of me. As a Grandiose Co-Dependent, I’m good at taking care of others, especially in the way I see fit. Taking care of me can go sideways.

No more procrastinating: here goes:

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  1. Be happy with myself at my age.
  2. Stretch after my walk.
  3. Eat Healthy.
  4. Do one thing at a time. Finish it.
  5. Think the thought that makes me feel good. Work on reducing anxiety.
  1. Write a blog every two weeks. Write every day.

 

All of this should keep me busy. I told myself just the other day, “You better learn to be happy with your age, or you’re going to be constantly depressed. Stop looking at your arm and wanting it to be firmly muscled. Ain’t happening. Be happy if it is has a muscle at all.”

Which reminds me—this getting older is not so much fun sometimes. Keeping healthy is more than a full time job. Cancer knocks on your door and comes in uninvited. Strokes and heart attacks and dementia are only a Plavix away. Friends and relatives are getting really sick or dying. I finally get it when people say, “This is not a dress rehearsal.”

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So, I guess my main resolution is that I’m going to do less and enjoy it more. (Okay, friends and relatives, stop snorting.)

 

 

 

 

Turning Seventy is Sublime

 

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I am in the middle of writing an essay about how wonderful it is to be 70. I started it in January, but got caught up in other things and in writing a memoir piece. So now I’m almost half way to being 71. With luck and time, I will finish the essay before that birthday.

Meanwhile, I’m going to share some thoughts. On my 70th, I was determined to not look or feel my age. It was a lot of work! Now I’m purposefully slowing down—as a matter of fact, I took myself out of the race. I’m not so touchy about people holding a door open for me or asking to help me with my grocery bags. I don’t have to be in charge. I don’t have to be the responsible one. I don’t have to try proving that I’m as strong and capable as I once was. I can surrender to the aging. I can admit that I get tired. I can admit that I can’t lift my suitcase. I can admit that a swimsuit is not my best look, but I’ll wear one anyway.

One of the great benefits of aging is that I like being who I am. I say to myself when I’m doing something, “You know, that’s who you are. You’ve always been that way.” And I feel good rather than thinking I should change to conform to somebody else’s ideas. It’s true, for instance, that I rather write than play golf.

 

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I still think of myself as young. For instance, if I’m on a bus or train, I’ll stand up to give my seat to an older person. Only… what’s happening is that sometimes there is no older person. The first time this occurred was last summer when I went to DC to look after my grandson who was interning there. To begin with, that was a joke. Garrett, in reality, looked after me. He set me up with a Metro pass and with Uber. He made sure I was fine when he went to work. He’d call to check on me. He made the dinner reservations and showed me where the washer/dryer was in the building. The day we took the Metro to Capitol Hill, he made sure I got on the train without any trouble. I was standing next to him when a man asked me if I’d like his seat. I smiled and looked around for an older person to take advantage of his offer. Then I realized I was the oldest by at least twenty years. That was a “Yikes” moment!

I’m not denying that aging comes with a lot of loss. We have lost so many dear friends and family to cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Or they are suffering with the effects of their disease. There is a sadness now that really has no time to go away. Then there is the loss of taut skin, height and strong muscles, eyesight and hearing—but let’s not go there right now.

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I want to age gracefully, but I want to have fun too. Cindy Joseph’s make up tips for older woman have been widely distributed on Facebook. Here’s some of her advice around the eyes: “Women older than 50 tend to lose definition in their eyebrows. Just go with that. Don’t recreate the brows you had in your 20s.”

Really? I liked my eyebrows in my twenties, and if I don’t use eyebrow pencil now, I have no definition at all. I also tint whatever eyebrow hairs I have left. True, I don’t want to get to the stage where I’m drawing them on and entirely missing the eyebrow line. That is not attractive. But I figured out the solution to that: getting a stronger magnifying mirror for now and a trusted helper in my nineties.

Joseph also says: “Do not wear any eye shadow at all. …A little bit of mascara is OK.” Sorry, Cindy, but I plan to be wearing eye shadow in my coffin when I’m a 110. I love eye shadow. I’ve loved it since I was 13 and my mother wouldn’t let me wear it. So I’m not giving it up now or ever. I had a friend who got false eyelashes when she was 84. She loved them and they were cute on her! So there!

 

 

 

 

 

Older, But Wiser?

Lately I’ve been meeting people who have a preconceived notion of me. They’ve buttonholed me into several categories: old, entitled white person, golfer, living a life of leisure, problemless, one foot in the grave… Maybe the last is unfair, but sometimes I see the look in the eye.

We stayed in Hawaii this winter for four months. We always said that when we got older, we’d live in Hawaii because we love it so much. One day, we looked in the mirror and said in unison, “That time has come. It’s now or never.”

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Our condo is by a hotel on a golf course so my gregarious husband meets a lot of people at the driving range.

“You’re playing golf with us Monday morning,” a new acquaintance of his says one evening as we sit watching the sun set.

I shake my head. “I don’t really play golf.”

He looks amazed. “You don’t? What else do people do here? Well, come with us anyway. My back is bad so I’m only chipping and putting.”

“Sorry, but I’m busy Monday morning. I teach a class.”

He looks at me, trying to assess what I could teach at my advanced age.

I don’t offer any more information. I’m sitting at the beach trying to absorb the fact that someone I’d been talking to yesterday had died five hours later in a car crash. A guy who was only two years older than my son. A guy who was a sweetheart.“What kind of class?” the man asks.

“A writing class. A memoir writing class,” I say.

“Really. I should talk to you. I’ve written a book,” he says.

Oh here we go, I think. Another stranger who wants free help.

“That’s great,” I say with no enthusiasm.

“Yeah, it’s sold over a million copies. It was at the top of the bestseller list.”

Now I’m confused. He obviously needs no guidance from me.

He begins to tell me about his phenomenal success with his self help book.

“Very nice,” I say, wishing I had the guts to tell him he was blocking my view of the sun setting behind him.

“That’s nice you have something to do to occupy your time,” his young wife, a fantastic golfer, says.

“Really?” I want to say. “Occupy my time, as in giving me something to do while I’m in God’s waiting room? No, I’m very much alive and busy living each day.”

But then I think I may be a little defensive, and I stay quiet.

Two days later, I’m in a store and the saleswoman ringing me up says, “So you live in California part of the year and Hawaii part of the year? I’d sure like your life style.”

I look at her and try to imagine what she sees when she looks at me. I settle on: privileged white person living a life of leisure with not a problem in the world. (Again I was probably being defensive and over sensitive, which I need to get over…some day. )

She’s not the first thirty-something-year-old to say this to me so I have a ready response: “You live another forty years, work hard every day and save your money. Then you, too, can have this life style.

I say it kindly and with a little laugh, but it’s the truth for me.

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Making A Difference

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Catching up is hard to do or maybe I’m just not good at it. I always seem to add more to my plate each day. I was just thinking that I could be satisfied with what I’ve already accomplished today, but then I was compelled by some unknown force to come to my blog page and write. That could be a good thing or just that I’m in a manic phase! (that’s a joke).

This morning I met with a young woman who is going to the Community College here in Kona. I’m going to tutor her in English composition. It was fascinating to see the work she has already done–to see what the professors are teaching and asking their students to accomplish. Very impressive. (We talked about fragments and how I use them for emphasis and how she could never use one in her essays!) I already learned a lot from her.

One of the best things about teaching is how much you, as teacher, learn. My horizons are always expanding. Another best thing, especially at my age, is the sense that I’m doing something worthwhile and that has meaning to the larger community. I mean, I’m quite good at organizing my closet, but there’s more to life than straight rows of underwear. Or even fresh flowers in the living room.

So it makes me happy to know that the skills I’ve honed through the years are not going to be put on a shelf to fall rusty in disuse. I have found a niche that I fit into perfectly.

 

High Anxiety!

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT TAKE THE FOLLOWING SERIOUSLY. IT’S MEANT TO BE HUMOROUS EVEN WHILE POINTING OUT MY MENTAL DEFECIENCIES.

Just when you think it’s safe to go in the water, life throws you a curveball. (I love mixing my metaphors, BTW.) At the beginning of November, I was congratulating myself on a year of accomplishment (my entire check list was clear—I’d finally gone to the Getty, even gotten the colonoscopy and the closets cleaned out) when the mail came.

I wasn’t alarmed when I saw the DMV letter. I knew my license was expiring and since I’d moved, I figured this was a form explaining how to change the address. WRONG! The letter stated I had to appear at the DMV to have my picture taken, update my information, give a thumb print, pass the eye test and. …TAKE THE WRITTEN EXAM.

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I swear to you that in the silence of my house, I cried out in anguish, “Why me?” Looking back, I realize I was quite tired and in overwhelm before I opened the letter, which could excuse my pitiful over-reaction. At least, I’d like to think that.

“I have to take the DMV WRITTEN EXAM,” I told my husband.

“Somebody’s got to do it,” he said, barely looking up from his book.

“I have to take the DMV WRITTEN EXAM,” I told my daughter.

“Oh no,” she said. “You have the same tone of voice you had when you were prepping for your colonoscopy. I don’t know if I have the energy to keep you propped up again.”

“I have to take the DMV WRITTEN EXAM,” I told my daughter-in-law.

“Don’t worry about it. You’ve been driving for years—you know everything. Besides, you can miss six questions,” she said.

Yeah. It’s easy and you can go online to take sample tests,” my sixteen-year-old grandson added.

“But I never know which way my wheels should turn if I’m parking uphill,” I wailed.

“Up, up and away,” my eighteen-year-old grandson put in.

With all this encouragement, I felt calmer and made an appointment to take the test. But when I went on-line to take a sample test, things went south. I took the first test and missed four out of the eighteen questions. How should I know that you must park seven and a half feet from a railroad crossing? Or that the lines on a one-way street are solid white? Or that BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration and it’s not safe to drive with even a 0.01 level? Who cares if a sign is regulatory or warning?

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“YOU FAILED!!!!!” flashed on the screen in gigantic neon letters (or so it seemed). It turns out if you are taking a renewal test you can only miss three questions. When you think about it, most people taking a renewal are probably inching towards the 70-year-old mark. Is there ageism being subtly practiced here?

I immediately went into Catastrophe Mode. I drove to the DMV to pick up a booklet (and also to find out where it was) and began to study like I did when I was in college. I got out a yellow marker and underlined the whole book. I wrote out flash cards. I became addicted to the online tests, unable to stop myself taking them from early morning to late at night. (None of this part is an exaggeration, BTW.) I studied even at a doctor’s appointment.

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Some time during this siege, I decided I wanted my hair to look really good for the photo so I began experimenting with different styles. I also went to the eye doctor who said I needed glasses, which got me worrying if I’d pass the eye test. Because I was studying so much, I didn’t have time for much of anything else. I didn’t realize that my whole family was avoiding me—none of them could handle my angst they told me later.

One day, my husband and I drove to Santa Barbara to visit friends. Actually my husband drove, which gave me the opportunity to study “driving rules” in real time. Not only did I get to see the road signs and solid white lines on the road, but every time my husband did something wrong, it cemented what you’re supposed to do more firmly in my mind.

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“What’s your biggest fear?” my neighbor asked me the day before the test.

“That I’ll fail,” I replied with no hesitation.

“But why would you fail? You’ve studied so much.”
“But, sometimes they phrase the questions in a tricky way,” I said. “Or they ask the question in a way that you don’t understand. Or they ask you how many yards you can drive in a left turn lane.”

“That’s true,” she said, which didn’t alleviate any of my anxiety.

Speaking of anxiety, the only good thing about being so anxious about the test was that I forgot all my other worries for awhile. Even my back straightened out!

The day of the test finally arrived. I washed my hair early and chose my outfit carefully. I played an anxiety reduction audio, which helped me to relax. I got dressed and put on jewelry. I decided to go early—I could be nervous there instead of nervous at home.

When I arrived and took my seat, I looked around. Seventy-five per cent of the people there looked to be 16. The rest of us looked to be 65ish or older. Definitely, ageism, I thought.

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Within fifteen minutes, my number was called. The man behind the desk seemed kindly enough. “Let’s start with the eye test,” he said. He gestured to the tiny chart in the low light behind him.

Somehow I read enough F’s and P’s to pass, and I moved across the room to the guy who takes the pictures. He was sweet, offering me a chance to see if I liked the shot or not. He then directed me to a group of booths behind us. “Use your bar code to sign in,” he directed.

“Okay,” I said like I knew what he was talking about.

I went to a booth and found a large monitor with a prompt “start here” on the touch screen.

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“First, scan your code,” flashed on the screen. That took a couple of minutes to figure out but I was finally in. By the time the actual question hit the screen, I was exhausted. But I persevered, reading each question carefully to make sure I understood it. Even then, I did miss one. But long story short: I passed!!!

When I was finished, I had one more line to stand in. The two women in front of me were my age—one passed and one didn’t. We started chatting until the woman behind the desk called out, “NO TALKING IN LINE!”

When it was my turn, I handed her my information.

“You passed,” she said, seeming disappointed.

I smiled at her, a wide and happy smile. “Yes I did!”

In the parking lot, I did a little victory dance by my car. On the way home, I looked out at the iridescent autumn leaves instead of the lines in the road. I was free at last!

It’s been ten days and I just received my new license in the mail. I think my hair looks pretty good.

 

The Quest

When does an obsession start? Who really knows, but you may wake up one day and find yourself in the middle of one. It starts slowly, maybe even with a reasonable idea, but then it overtakes you. It happened to me this autumn—I became obsessed with seeing the glory of leaves changing color. This is a story that is enhanced by pictures, some of those enhanced as well, as you will see.

It started in mid-September when we were in Seattle visiting our daughter and grandkids. I took the three-year-old for a walk and we collected leaves that had already fallen.

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Later, when our grandson was playing in the band during their high school football game, I scouted for changing leaves.

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But it was too early for Seattle, which would be glorious by October.

I told myself that it was fine—I was just warming up my skills because we were to leave ten days later for a trip that would begin in Quebec. We’d board a cruise ship in Montreal, traveling on the “Fall Medley Cruise” up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Seaboard. “Mother Nature’s Paintbrush,” the cruise line’s brochure said. “Imagine a land so transformed by color that even the commonplace becomes extraordinary. A walk through the woods is like stepping into an autumnal kaleidoscope.”

Maybe it was this description, which started me on being a crazy person. I fell for the hype, hook, line and sinker. I expected to draw my curtains in the morning and be presented with the kaleidoscope described. Not to be. Quebec was a jewel: charming and unique. But the trees were green.

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On the train to Montreal, I was encouraged when I saw patches of changing leaves along the tracks. But it turned out that was an anomaly.

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It was chilly and crisp, but the leaves were proudly green.

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I was still hopeful. With the cold temperatures, the leaves had to turn soon, I thought. And we were going way north to Nova Scotia, so that would certainly do the trick, right? Wrong.

IMG_6653Above is what we saw. Below is what we could have seen.

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It was when we were in Maine that I became aware I was obsessed. We’d had a tour guide take us to Kennebunkport from Portland, Maine so we could visit friends and eat at the Clam Shack, which has the best fried clams anywhere in the world. On the way back, I saw some trees along the highway that were crimson. “Stop the car,” I yelled. As I stood on the side of the highway, I saw my traveling companions shooting me questioning looks. The question: Has she gone nuts?

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It wasn’t as if I hadn’t had this happen to me before. I remember being in Boston one year at Halloween. “All a yuz shouda been herah last week,” I was told.

On our return to the West Coast, we stayed a couple days in Seattle. “Finally, “I said to my husband, “we’ll see some autumn color.”A day earlier, maybe. But a storm had blown in and blew the leaves off most of the trees. I know because I took a walk with my camera to find them. An hour later, I returned, with little to show for my effort.

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Finally home, my neighbor made me feel a lot better about all the greenery we’d seen. “One year when we were back there, the leaves were so technicolor, you needed sunglasses,” he said. I’m sure he’s still wondering why I doubled over in laughter.

I did a little research on Fall Foliage, which, BTW, has become big business for the Northeast. Cruise ships disgorge hundreds of Medicare Tourists daily during this period—we were as numerous and pesky as fleas on a barn dog. I had evidence that I wasn’t alone in my quest for florescent foliage. You can even download an APP that will keep you updated as to when the leaves are reaching their peak.

But why is this so unpredictable? New England Fall Foilage Central says “the unpredictable factors that influence the rate at which leaves change colors are rain, the amount of sugar in the leaves, the number of daylight hours and temperatures….The three-day weekend around the Columbus Day holiday is often associated with peak foliage in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, but there are no guarantees.”

Really? Thanks for the heads up!

And by the way, the photo below was taken on October 15!Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 1.30.49 PM

Once Upon A Time: Linking Generations

Three of our grandchildren have had Heritage projects this year. It was great for us to talk with them about our parents and grandparents and our growing up years. I appreciate the schools for creating assignments like this that open lines of communication that might not have been there otherwise.

Quinn’s project was quite extensive necessitating emails with cousins and friends who are into genealogy. I even tapped into Ancestry.com. Quinn and I had gone through old pictures last summer and she’d scanned two hundred of them into the computer. (I paid her $11 an hour—minimum wage, right?) Ten of the photos were from a Family Tree project that Jennifer, our daughter, had done in high school way back when. I’d dismantled the Family Tree poster but kept the photos and information about each person.

from the 1980's Family Tree project

from the 1980’s Family Tree project

Quinn’s project was centered around where her ancestors had immigrated from to America. Most of my grandparents came from Russia so that was the country she focused on.

Shtetl

Shtetl

I had to explain that because they were Jewish, some were forced to live in shtetls, Jewish towns away from cities. All my grandparents fled from religious persecution and made their ways to America.

 

Quinn's great-great grandparents

Quinn’s great-great grandparents

The culmination of Quinn’s project was a Heritage Fair in March. The students put on an hour presentation about their different countries of origin. I was fer klempt, of course, through the whole thing. It was very touching.

Eli’s project involved interviewing me on Skype. He asked me ten or twelve questions about my parents, who are both deceased. One of the questions was: Describe your mother and then your father in three sentences. That was interesting and not easy.

My parents are on the left. My grandparents are in the middle. My uncle and aunt are on the right. This is in the Fifties.

My parents are on the left. My grandparents are in the middle. My uncle and aunt are on the right. This is in the Fifties.

Another question was: If you could tell your parents three things about now, what would you say. I said, “I’d tell them that they have fabulous great-grandchildren who they’d have loved to know, and that they’d be so proud of them. I’d tell them about some of the new inventions—that I’d just texted from an airplane over the Pacific Ocean. I’d tell them about us Skyping! I’d tell them there were problems in the world that they could never have imagined.” After I’d answer his question, Eli would comment and then we’d talk a bit. I doubt I’d ever have told him these things if he hadn’t had the assignment.

Last week our oldest grandson interviewed my husband. Garrett is taking US History and they’ve actually made it through the Fifties and into the Sixties. (My US History classes barely made it past the Industrial Revolution.) Garrett wanted to know what it was really like to grow up in the Fifties.

Cool fraternity guys in the early 60's.

Cool guys in the Fifties.

Garrett also wanted to know if Daddo had served during the Vietnam War so Moe got to tell his Air Force Reserve stories—the ones that are funny and cool.

Moe in the Air Force National Guard.

Moe in the Air Force National Guard.

As I said, it’s been wonderful sharing our experiences with the grandchildren. They seem to like hearing about them, too. Yesterday I took Quinn to lunch and during the conversation I ended up telling her about the time the Black Panthers set Meany on fire when I was teaching there. Her eyes got round with astonishment. I felt a little like Sally Field: Quinn liked my story—she really liked my story!!!

Classic Fifties pose.

Classic Fifties pose.

I remember hearing that old people liked to reminisce. It’s true—I’m loving it. And loving the grandchildren for caring to listen!