Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Age is just a number; we deserve better

Old doesn't mean no longer useful
There are so many troubling things happening these days, not the least of which is my own advancing age.

Gone are the days when the wisdom of age meant something. 

There will be another presidential election next year. President Joe Biden has decided to run again. I am saddened that despite his successful tenure so far with a long list of accomplishments, there is little enthusiasm for his candidacy. I have great respect for the office of the presidency. I would expect the leader of our country--the same country that is supposed to honor freedom and democracy--to be supported on principal. President Biden is working to make life better for all Americans. His accomplishments are many, unlike the train-wreck that is the disgraced, twice-impeached, indicted, and allegedly criminal 45th President who claims to want to run again. He used the highest office in the land to enrich himself and his family, to make deals that would line his pockets. He worked only for himself and didn't care who he hurt along the way. 

It seems more often than not, that seniors are treated as inferior by the younger generations. American culture doesn't seem to revere its elderly as in other countries.

Maybe part of it is because the days of spinning tales around a fire to impress and entertain the kiddos with stories of long ago no longer happen much in today's families, my own included. It is rare to break bread during leisurely Sunday suppers or even holidays with the extended family gathered around a big table. So few of us live like the close-knit Reagan clan in the long-running TV drama, "Blue Bloods." Perhaps technology is to blame, as it has supplanted the ability to simply talk to one another and to air our differences. 

Since I have reached Medicare recipient status, I've noticed a kind of stigma surrounding my generation. I don't understand why the younger generation disrespects us "boomers," but I'm terrified that our entire country could hang in the balance over the issue of age.

I get why younger voters may prefer one of their own to occupy the White House, but that appears not to be an option, at least not this time. I assure you, your time is coming. Changes happen slowly however, over time. And timing is everything. The election for the next President will be crucial, and in fact dire. It would behoove everyone to realize how high the stakes are. A repeat of 2016-2020 would be a disaster of which we may not be able to drag ourselves out. We do not need a replay of some of the worst years this country has ever known.

I'm tired of hearing that Joe Biden is too old to seek the office he now holds. Don't we abhor discrimination? Isn't age a discrimination just like that of race, religion, gender, and sexual preference?

This election will be so very important, especially given Biden's apparent opponent. 

Biden has proven to be far superior to that lout who thinks cognitive ability is based on remembering five simple words an hour after he first recited and memorized them. Biden is a proven leader who has the ability to remember far more than five words. In fact, he remembers his days in the Senate, can recall his work as Vice President, remembers his visits with countless world leaders for whom he shares a mutual respect. He juggles the problems of our country and our world with relative ease because he is experienced at doing so. He has worked with the best our country has to offer. He has dealt with the world's worst. And he has done it all with grace, dignity, and good humor. He has the ability to continue on the path to which he began. No, he isn't perfect. I don't agree with everything he has done. No one could fit that bill. But, I am politically aware enough to know that Joe Biden is far superior to the former guy, who has no grace, no dignity, and no good humor. Biden is not afraid to change his mind. Nor is he afraid to fight for what he believes in.

Character, wisdom, and experience have to count for something. Age has nothing to do with it.

For whatever reason, Generations X, Y, and Z seem to have it in for us "boomers." They make jokes at our expense. They blame us for the shape of the world, the planet, and the country. Many have no respect at all for the life we've lived, the battles we've waged and won. You must remember that we were once your age. 

I can attest that during the early years of my own life, I was among many who tried to make the world a better place for the next generation. But that battle continues. There is always more work to be done.

Personally, I'm at a place in my life where I could care less if someone likes me or not. Of course, I prefer the former, but I can accept the latter. But to this end, as we head toward another election cycle, can't we get just a little bit excited? Can't we be a little more supportive? Joe Biden snatched this country out of the hands of a mad man who caused so much damage and would do it again.

I wish the news media, of which I generally hold in high regard, would put a stop to reporting Biden's age every time they mention his name. There are far more things to report about Biden than how old he is.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Nothing better than spring in the Ozarks

While running some errands yesterday I couldn't help but notice the hills and hollows in the distance. There is no question that emerging leaves on the trees have colored the landscape a special shade of green reminiscent of the "spring green crayon" I remember from my earliest days a long time ago. Gosh, when was the last time I saw one of those? 

The redbuds are in their final phase of blooming; flowering dogwoods are abundant. Lilacs and other spring plants and bushes add to the beauty of the close and distant views. And then there is the scent. A sweet smell rides the gentle breezes that bear witness to perfect temperatures in a perfect time of year. 

And, the hummingbirds have returned.

Who doesn’t love a spring day? I wonder if I can stand another winter.

While we had a fairly mild one, there was a day that stretched my tolerance. It was a crazy snow storm, one that brought eight or so inches of the wettest snow I have ever seen. The power went out because of the weight of the heavy snow on branches unable to bear the weight. I couldn't start the wood stove in our all-electric house, because the fire wood was so wet, not to mention old, so it started getting pretty chilly inside. Every time I tried to start a fire, it just kept going out. Our dear friends brought some dry firewood to help us out. I finally got a really nice fire going. The temperature started to improve, but a short time later, smoke started billowing out of the stove pipe and the back of the stove. The house started filling with smoke. I didn’t know what to do, so I closed the flu and rearranged the logs inside so the fire would go out. Our eyes burned and throat hurt. Just then, thankfully, the power came back on. I turned on the whole house fan, opened some windows, retrieved a fan from the sun porch, and turned on the ceiling fan as fast as it would go. Finally, the smoke cleared. We called the chimney guys who said it wasn’t a chimney fire, the chimney was fully open, and so it must have been the heavy snow on the roof that blocked the smoke’s escape.

That was at the end of January and I am just getting over the cough.

Last fall was beautiful; it was colorful despite the record hot temperatures last summer. The fall was heavenly. In fact, I almost thought fall could take over springtime as my favorite season. This has never happened to me before. I always considered fall as just a prelude to winter, of which I am not fond. 

But now that spring is here, there is no contest. I remember all the things I love about this season of new life. The activities of spring are exhausting and exhilarating. The promise of gardening and tidying up property, deep cleaning inside and out; it is lots of work. But it is good work--the kind of work that makes you feel really good about yourself. Even taking a shower takes on a new dimension. Showers are just more enjoyable as hot water soothes aching muscles. Soap mingles with dirt encrusted arms and legs and then swirls down the drain. When done, you feel like a new person.

A walk in the yard always reveals surprises, like the first daffodil, tulip, hyacinth, and crocus. Shoots from last year's flowers emerge, anxious to begin their new life cycles, frogs and birds sing their springtime songs. I just inventoried a bluebird nest and discovered five tiny blue eggs. I can't wait to see them grow. Until we moved to Arkansas, I hadn't seen a bluebird at my house since I was a little girl playing in empty lots in the city. There were plenty of them back then, even in an urban setting. Hummingbird sightings were very rare as well. That is not so in the Natural State. Making hummingbird food is a weekly chore added to an every-growing list. But, it is one I relish.

I haven't begun the vegetable garden yet, but that is on my list of things to do very soon. I planted a couple of tuberous begonias I ordered in the dead of winter. I can't wait to see them. I now have a begonia garden in front of the porch, enhanced with a few annual begonias I picked up at the grocery store. Planting, plants, and flowers just makes me happy.

There is nothing like spring in the Ozarks. This is the season for life anew, not to mention joy and pleasure. And, there is no place like my own backyard.


Thursday, March 30, 2023

Happy Spring

Happy Spring!

I need to figure out how I barely noticed my favorite season sneak into my calendar.

Normally, I start counting down the days to spring in early winter. In fact, that may be one of my only Christmas traditions. But this year, I feel as though I didn't even see it coming.

Where does the time go? When anyone says the older you get the faster time seems to fly by, believe it!

It seems that in my youth, time seemingly stood still. As a little girl I recall how it was often difficult to find ways to fill all those daylight hours. That is certainly not the case these days. Are days still only 24 hours long? It certainly doesn't seem like it.

As a child, it wasn't uncommon to sleep a full eight hours every night. That rarely happens these days; I'm lucky to sleep six, and then it is usually not without a break or two. So the days should feel longer to me, right? They do not! 

When I was little, I remember having so much time on my hands that I often complained of being bored, having nothing to do. Perhaps it just takes longer to do things now because I can honestly say I haven't been bored in 60 years at least. My days are full with a variety of activities and projects--many of which never seem to get done though it isn't for a lack of trying.

Now that spring is here, there are so many things to do outside. The weather hasn't been very cooperative, with cold temperatures and lots of rain and storms. But, even from inside the house it is nice to contemplate working in the yard, starting with tidying up the winter landscape. We have had a few open-window days yet we still need the furnace for evenings. Heck there was just a freeze warning this week. I love open windows when we can let the outside in. The house seemed to relish the new sounds and smells wafting through the rooms. A gentle breeze seemingly blows the winter doldrums away. At least that is how I see it.

I am especially anxious for the trees to get their leaves again. This is always my favorite thing; you can almost watch tiny green buds grow into leaves that turn the landscape a beautiful shade of yellow-green. It is almost iridescent. Almost like magic, the yard surrounding the house will be hugged by the growing branches, laden with new leaves. When the tree skeletons fill in the entire yard appears smaller, compacted, and more intimate.

There are already flowering trees and some early spring flowers. But I want more. 

I've put out hummingbird feeders in anticipation of our annual visitors, due anytime now.

I'm pleased to see Bluebirds nesting in boxes in the front yard. 

Spring is truly a wondrous time. I'm glad I finally noticed it.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

I will always remember Bill Hood


Sadly, I just learned that a man, with whom I have held much regard, has died. 

I crossed paths with Bill Hood, sometime in the late 1980's and early 1990's. He was formerly the Director of American Airlines. As such, we were on the same side of the debate on whether or not to build a third airport, some 40 miles south of Chicago. We certainly came from different places, but our goals were the same--halting the construction of a major international airport at Peotone. Some of our reasons were very different, but some were also the same.

I didn't know him very well--hardly at all--really, but I knew he was someone I'd never forget. I admired his dedication to the cause for which I was so passionate. I recognized that he was a good and principled man who believed in doing the right thing and fighting for what he believed in.

I will never forget when he called one day to ask if I would give him a tour of the airport site. I was very excited at the chance to plead my case to someone who might actually have some say in the project. Up until that point, everyone who was anyone supported the project.

In truth I suppose I never really got over the fact that a representative of a world-renown airline could have anything in common with a housewife and young mother from the small town of Beecher, Illinois. Our initial meeting was prior to my writing for a local newspaper. Our paths crossed often at the countless meetings we attended, as I continued to write about the proposed airport until I retired and moved out of state in 2005. 

On the day we met, he picked me up at a local restaurant and we drove around the nearly 7 square miles of rich farmland nestled among the farm towns of Beecher, Peotone, Monee, and Crete. I didn't hold anything back as I told him everything I knew about the area where I lived for many years. I believed with all my heart that the airport was a foolish idea. I showed Bill an airport just didn't fit in the fertile farmland of Will County. I showed him the topography,  as we talked about the many creeks and streams. told him about where the land flooded when it rained and how quickly the water soaked into the ground afterward, something that doesn't happen with tons of concrete and asphalt. I talked about wetlands, recharging the aquifers that supplied well water to the rural areas, potential pollution, urban sprawl, as well as the working farm economy that would be completely displaced. I introduced him to the farmers I knew and other advocates of retaining some of the best agricultural land left in the Chicago area.

He didn't interrupt and I knew he completely understood.

Back in those early days, I was always impressed with some of the good people I met, especially those that understood what a folly the airport would be. 

Bill and I have remained Facebook friends through the years. We didn't interact often, but each time he commented on a post or wished me a Happy Birthday, I was reminded of how much he impressed me way back in those early days. 

I will never forget all he did to aid our cause. I wish I had known him better. I will always think fondly of him. 

I offer my deepest sympathy to his family and friends.  

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Sunday, December 4, 2022

CHQuilts: A new quilt top to close out the year

CHQuilts: A new quilt top to close out the year: I can't believe I finally finished this. While it is only a quilt top and remains a long way from becoming a completed quilt, I am to...

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

COVID-nobody is safe

"How the hell did you get COVID, you haven't been out of the house in 40 years?" was my son's reaction to my latest health news. I got a similar response from my daughter. These two know me too well.

While it is true, I seem to have a reputation as a home body, I'm not squirreled away in isolation, afraid to be with other people. I just happen to enjoy my solitude. Living in Arkansas among the trees and wildlife really suits me. It is a chosen lifestyle. I love it here. I always have. Going on 18 years in the Natural State, I am always thrilled to glance into the backyard to see the deer foraging on a honeysuckle bush, watch a frog dance in and out of our tiny pond next to the front porch, or check out one of the local stray cats I feed, scamper up a tree. 

It is easy to take these pleasures for granted. They really do define me. Home is where my heart is. And, I am happy here.

I admit that I haven't had much of a life outside of the home but that was also a choice based on a once-busy lifestyle. When I worked for a newspaper, I was rarely home. There were lots of people to interact with and I found myself going to many places I never would have gone to otherwise. I was always busy because I loved my job and was always ready to run out to cover a story at a moment's notice. I did that for 20 years. When we came here, I wanted a change. Yes, it was a financial struggle, but the peace of mind was so worth it. I came to love my own company, became a crazy cat woman, and relished my life in the woods.

My reclusive lifestyle, however, has run its course. I've recently made the decision to get out more. I felt it was time to open up my life again to new people, make new friends, and explore new possibilities. 

Maybe my timing is off, because three days after a weekend get together with friends, I started getting sick. Oh, the irony. I had been so diligent about protecting myself from COVID. I admit that I wasn't unhappy with the suggestion to stay at home. I did it anyway. But things have changed; the country is now open and seemingly doesn't take COVID very seriously anymore. I am still not around hoards of people and have gotten all my vaccines and boosters. Rarely is anyone seen with a mask these days. And I never even considered wearing a mask to a party with friends.

And then last Tuesday, I thought I had a cold or allergies. Those are big around here and the older I get the more susceptible I am to blooming of things. 

But the following day I realized this was not just a cold. More indescribable (because they are just gross) symptoms appeared. I took a test, and voila, it was positive. Frankly, I was not surprised. I knew this was not just a cold. That was a week ago and I am seeing improvement; there are moments when I feel great followed by explosive sneezing, non-productive coughing, and what I like to fondly call, liquid face where every orifice in my face leaks. (How gross is that?)

Because I am vaccinated, I suppose this could have been worse. I know it could because so many thousands of people have died from this virus. So many people still die from it. I'm grateful to not be one of them.

I'm not angry that I contracted this virus. What I am angry about is that it should not have gotten this bad. Had the inept, disgraced, twice impeached ex-president done his job, COVID would not have taken so much from so many. The virus replicated into so many different variants because we didn't stop it when we had the chance. I should not be sick right now because COVID should have been a thing of the past. But, with all the lies, innuendoes, and complete irresponsibility that has fueled this disease, if there is any blame to be assigned, Donald J. Trump is the man we must look to. 

Little is said these days about Trump's inept response to the initial COVID outbreak or the more than a million dead that has resulted. His lies about COVID have been diluted by so many more lies, cheats, and dastardly deeds.

With cold weather coming and predictions of more illness on the horizon, I guess I'll go back to my hibernation strategy. That's OK.