Aging: forgetting to remember

December 10, 2019

I’ve noticed the older I get, the more I have forgotten. I also think I misremember a good deal. Merriam Webster defines misremembering as “to remember incorrectly.” I think you’ll agree this seems a ubiquitous trait for any of us who have the opportunity to live into ‘old age.’

Last week, my brother, sister and I went on a road trip to attend the funeral service of our last aunt, our mother’s only sibling. It closed the door on that entire generation of our family from both sides. People we loved and grew up with. None of us cousins from either side are particularly close. And, some of us have already reached, or are nearing, whatever our expiration dates are.

The many conversations we had unearthed precious memories of our childhood into adulthood when our grandparents and parents were still with us. We commiserated the loss of them and held dear the love and the amazing upbringing they gave us. Each of us had different perspectives, but common memory roots.

As I age, I am apprehensive of loosing all the parts of me. It’s important to be able to share with friends and/or families those significant memories which shaped us and now hold us together.

Now, if I can just remember why I came in the kitchen.


Tall girl tells shrinking tale

April 29, 2019

So, I measured my height the other day. I have to say it was a shocking and somewhat depressing revelation to find out I am now just 5’7” tall. Although most of us upon reaching the senior citizen stage of life, understand that we shrink in height as we age and our vertebrae compress, sometimes getting squeezed out altogether. But, in a way it made me feel somewhat diminished.

Why did I take it so hard, you ask? At the age of 14, I was a 5’10” gangly girl. Quite outstanding at that time, I was head and shoulders above, not only the other girls but most of the boys as well. Try finding a dance partner when the dudes would be staring right into your budding bosom. Skinny legs and all, I was mostly in angst over this tall development.

Some of the most frequent questions: “Do you play basketball?”  Well, no. You kind of have to be coordinated to do that. Did I wear high heel shoes ever? Uh, no! Did pantyhose ever fit me?  No again.

At 20years old attending college in San Marcos, TX

I managed to grow into being a tall woman and tallness became less an issue making way for many other issues. In fact, I am sorry to lose that youthful part of me. And, I’m sure those three damn inches went into my hips.


Letter to my blog

November 2, 2017

Dear ‘A Small Blog’,

I’m sorry I have neglected you lately. We’ve been together for so long, and I miss our little conversations. I have been reading, watching Netflix, working, going to the gym, sometimes to a museum. I have a lot of work to do as President of Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors–a job I am so proud of.

I know you think I have abandoned you for Facebook and Twitter. I promise to think some pithy thoughts to share very soon.

Much love and affection,

Laura

 

 

 

 

 


Cataract Surgery for Dummies

September 8, 2017

Disclaimer: Personal experience, certified patient only.

Getting older has its foibles and its perks. Part of the aging process that affects most of us is development of cataracts-a clouding of the eye’s natural lens which becomes progressively opaque. Science and technology have advanced the removal and replacement of the lens to a great degree over the past several decades.

Cataracts typically develop over a couple of years’ time. When mine became thick enough to remove, I was definitely having difficulty seeing. When it got to the point where I couldn’t read road signs, I finally admitted I needed to have surgery. Even then, I obsessed over the “surgery” part and put it off for a few more months.

My eye physician Dr. Pittard and all his staff are excellent, efficient and helpful. By their ages I would guess none of them has undergone the procedure themselves. But they do have feedback of the experience from probably thousands of patients who have gotten their cataracts removed at their facilities.

When you have cataract surgery, they replace the thickened, cloudy lens in your eyes (first one and then the other a few weeks later). It puts your eyes on auto-correct. Near sighted to far sighted. Which means if you have been wearing glasses to see far, but can see up close, the opposite is now the case.  And, you may or not need reading glasses—which can be prescription or over-the-counter. In my case, I also have astigmatism, which is not auto-corrected. I chose to pay the extra money (because most insurances will not cover the expense) for a toric lens which will correct most degrees of–but not all– astigmatism.

Finally, after the lenses on both eyes are done, I tell family and friends I feel like I have bionic vision. Not the real bionic kind of course, but from a person who has been wearing glasses since the age of six and has always had fuzzy vision (even up close) it seemed pretty amazing to me.

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Me and hubby in New Mexico

Couple of things:No one can tell you exactly how you will experience the operation or afterwards. Each eye may react in different ways. i.e. my right eye seemed less scratchy feeling after surgery than the left.

It was relatively painless. I didn’t even have to take off my clothes except for my shirt and shoes. There was a gown, a quick IV, some med history taken and instructions for after surgery. Weird visual effects during the 10-minute procedure reminded me of the old light shows at the Vulcan Gas Company back the sixties.

The time in between surgeries can be a bit weird. Wearing your old glasses with the fixed eye lens popped out is strange. In my case, I was unable to do even that and went for three weeks with great vision in one eye and fuzzy in the other—annoyed, disconcerting, but doable.

I almost forgot to say, be prepared to now see all the dirt, dust and stains you missed when cleaning with cataracts.

Also, people have say I look younger in my new glasses, an unexpected but welcome side-effect. I do wear glasses (much less thick lenses) some of the time, especially if I am driving because the toric lenses didn’t correct all the astigmatism–not uncommon if your astigmatism was severe.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I can only tell you my experience, but if it helps…

 


Senior City Dreaming

November 5, 2016

San Antonio is a great big city. Even though, we hold the dubious distinction of being the least equal city in the nation when it comes to the extreme differences between our more prosperous neighborhoods and our most distressed neighborhoods, I think we have a decent community oriented vision for city governance which includes trying to equalize opportuniies.

Over the past several years there have been district and city-wide calls for San Antonio citizens to come together to share their ideas and visions for the future. As we are imaging of the best way for all of us to enjoy life to the fullest, separate sections of the city, through their district leadership and neighborhood associations have become active in trying to determine their specific needs from budgets to services.

Through a community-wide visioning process in 2010the nonprofit SA2020, created and set goals for eleven different measurable areas from arts to family well-being to economic competitiveness. Now I see that some folks are looking for input for 2040—when I most assuredly will be dead.  But the 2020 goals I believe, God willing, are within my reach. As a senior citizen, I have not been aware that much of this planning or vision making has been aimed at seniors.

However, last Friday there was a good community conversation–Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio aka SALSA, organized by the SA2020, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and the San Antonio Area Foundation. A decently diverse (maybe there could have been more African-Americans) group came together in a guided discussion about our experiences as a senior citizens in San Antonio. The discussion comprised of three parts: The best of what is, the best of what could be and imagining what might be the best world for successfully aging in our city.

Our table of four women and two men talked about access to health programs, continued educational opportunities, transportation and relationships. The following slide is a complication of all tables’ discussions. They are listed not necessarily in order of importance.

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We agreed that while there may be a good deal of senior resources already in place, communication of their availability is lacking. We think good medical services, including the VA, are abundant.

We dreamed of more home-based assistance for those who need help keeping on track with medications or transitioning from hospital or rehab to home. We envisioned a “Silver Service” bus system specifically for transportation to medical facilities. Or, what about a program to address the many issues that would help us stay in our own home as we and the house age.

Laura McKieran, DrPH, Director of Community Information Now (CINOW) said this on her Facebook page. “We just wrapped up a community event where over 100 people talked about their vision for their future in SA – about what’s good and right, about what a life well-lived looks like, about what we together can make true of our community. So much positive energy – hope, excitement, straight-up-legit *joy* – no election pall in the room at all.” That pretty much sums it up for me.

Here are a few resources I thought were good to share.

The City has nine senior centers.

San Antonio Oasis

Alamo Service Connections

Someone asked me about community gardens. Actually, NOWCastSA has a lot of good information geared toward seniors.

In May 2017, TPR is having a Silver Solutions event.

Call a Ride for Seniors

Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio (SALSA) is the Area Foundation’s newest initiative to create a community where seniors thrive and are prized as vital citizens. They will use what they learned from our session, along with other information, to create a strategy for action and grant-making.

Everyone who contributed is an agent of change, which suits me just fine.


Life According to Spock

May 17, 2015

Original post June 2010.

One time, my mother told my teen-aged son, “If you say you are bored one more time, you can leave my house. Only boring people get bored.” A couple of years ago, as I approached 60 years of age, I spent some time contemplating my life.  I was feeling–well–bored!  I felt as if I was hunkering down into a comfortable, yet uneventful, routine existence.  Life should be a luscious feast and I was on a starvation diet. Not wanting to become a boring person, I decided to fix that.

Inspired by my truly adventurous, un-boring mother and the “feed your head” attitude of the sixties, I know you have to exercise the brain, in addition to the body, to stay healthy and active.   I’ve heard we have as many brain cells as the national debt has dollars.  But, if we don’t use them, we will lose them. And, not just our brains, our psyche, our spirit, our creativity and our very love of life need feeding–not the usual fare, but tasty, spicy food.

I put the following words together and adopted them as an action plan: learn, create, try, see, travel, taste, listen, and visit.  Dragging the hubby along, we talked about making an effort to do something we had never done before or go somewhere we had never been, at least once a week.  Now, you won’t see us skydiving or riding a camel across the Sahara, there are plenty of less complicated ways to meet this goal.  Not that you should rule out anything you feel is in your scope of exploration.

We have been working our plan for about two years.  Some things are easy–having a beer while listening to Los #3 Dinners, live.  Some things are a real push for me, especially the going down in the Caverns of Sonora cave thing.  A disastrous exercise was a week long road trip to South Dakota–but that’s another story.  Recently, we visited, for the first time, the San Antonio River Walk extension down to the San Antonio Museum of Art.  Yes, we had to hunt for a parking space and got hot and sweaty.  We also enjoyed the view, the precious time together and the feeling of being a part of the city.  The museum, while not totally new for us, always unveils new treasures and renewed appreciation for art.

I think when Spock says “live long and prosper, he means live long and have a wealth of experiences.
Get out of your mental easy chair this week, do something different and share it.

Me at a "take it apart and make it art workshop" with spare parts and 10bitworks

Me at a “take it apart and make it art workshop” with spare parts and 10bitworks


Waiting to read

March 29, 2015

kindle and booksThis is a little list of some of the books I’ve recently read–mostly while sitting in hospital rooms or doctors’ waiting rooms. My husband had two episodes of seizures, one in November and one in January. He spent a some time in the hospital and subsequently at various doctors’ offices. Many tests were done and no particular medical reason has yet been established. Texas law dictates that after one has a seizure, one may not drive for three months. So, with Kindle in hand, I’ve been the designated driver. Titles comes with links to the books on Amazon, followed by short personal opines.

Sistina by Brian Kenneth Swain  Not just because he is a friend, I say this is an excellent read. The link is to the review I wrote on Amazon. From there I recommend purchasing and enjoying.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel This story interweaves in different and intriguing  ways from other post-apocalyptic books I’ve read. It’s sweet, suspenseful and leaves you with hope for the human race. And, yes, I am drawn to that particular genre.

Marco Polo-The Journey that changed the world by John Man  I bought this nonfiction book after watching the Netflix Marco Polo series–with naked women ninjas and other such highly suspect re-enactments of Marco’s life under the Khan. The author really dug (pun intended) into archaeological evidence, and tracked down a great deal of historical data. If you want the most true story of Marco Polo, read this.

Colorless Tskuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami I love this Japanese author. He writes enigmatic, intense character novels. This is his latest, but not greatest. Read Kafka on the Shore to be blown away.

Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd As a young woman, Pattie was married to Beatle George Harrison until Eric Clapton ‘stole’ her away. Were they matches made in heaven? Not quite. She led a very interesting life and tells it with great insight and candor, revealing the true personalities of two of the greatest music icons of my age.

Gould’s Book of Fish  Magnificently written, fact-based fiction by Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan. Full of graphic imagery often written with wry sense of humor, it’s not for readers with tender constitutions. Still, if you want real literature, it’s a must read.


You can’t take it with you

December 6, 2014

estate saleI stopped in at an estate sale this morning in one of the larger homes in the neighborhood. Even though I had cleaned out my parents’ four bedroom home and been to many an estate sale, I can truly say I’ve never seen so much stuff in my life!

I was fascinated and appalled all at the same time at the many, many things this family had collected over the years–antique furniture, toys, crystal, a dozen sets of dishes, an entire room of Christmas decorations, jewelry, books, clothes… An over abundance of ‘things’ in every sense of the word. Especially, when I try very hard to minimize and repurpose our belongings on a regular basis.

It also reminded of this little story I wrote a few years ago for the Current’s Flash Fiction feature.


 

I always knew my son and his family would have no use for my precious mementos after I am gone.  Bric-a-brac, knick-knacks, stuff!

The furniture I inherited from my grandparents–a phone table with a little seat for comfortable chatting, the antique mantle. The beautiful set of china on which my mother served  holiday dinners that shaped generations of family gatherings.  I cherished these and many other family pieces passed down to me.  But, who wants a framed, handmade baby christening gown?

My books are all going for a dollar.  People are rummaging through my clothes and linens–all which are permeated with the odor of stale perfume. Handbags and jewelry, luggage, kitchen appliances… A bowl full of sea shells or a scorched set of cooking pans–not treasures for sure. The estate sellers are doing their job of clearing the house for sale.  But, there’s no one there to tell the stories.

dresden ladiesMany times I tried to tell the story behind the Dresden figurines. The ones in the glass cabinet that I stared at my whole life.  My parents bought those beautiful little ballerinas, with their tutus of delicate porcelain lace, in 1947 from a German family who had to sell their precious keepsakes to feed themselves. But, how could that matter now? Surely someone will see their value and give them a good home, where they can be admired everyday as a beautiful works of art. The finely etched beaten copper table top my father brought back from Pakistan when he served there in the ’50’s. The painting of the two devilish monks my first true love, George, gave me when I was 18 years old.

After the good things go, it looks like the sad remnants of an inconsequential life. I hover over this scene, on my last pass through this world, the memories fade along with the disbursement of my possessions.  And, now I surely know the truth of ‘you can’t take it with you.’


Retirement–what I’m reading

November 23, 2014
Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

I am a book hoarder. I always like to have many books stashed away–either on my shelves or in my Kindle–to read at some future time. The last few months, I made it a goal to read all the hardback books I’d been saving for retirement, plus a couple of library books.

All of the following books are very good to excellent, except for the last one which was so-so–my opinions only. I’ve linked them to their page in Amazon for your convenience. Also, they are all over the map as far as genre is concerned.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbuagh

Oral History by Lee Smith (highly recommend though you may talk like a hillbilly in your head for a week afterward)

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

The Wayfinders by Wade Davis (I wrote about this one already)

Shoot an Iraqi by Wafaa Bilal and Kim Lydersen (not what you might think and very interesting)

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Bayne (sad indicator at 10)

Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. by Luis Rodriguez (read for banned book week)
 The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (library book, five star rating for post-apocalyptic genre)

Purple Cane Road (Dave Robicheaux Book 11) by James Lee Burke (library book. I’m kinda hooked on James Lee Burke at the moment)

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen

Let me know if you read any, how you like them.