What Keeps You Together?

I will have more to say on the subject of love and loss soon, but in the mean time I wanted to re-share one of my husbands favorite stories on Random and Rhyme.

Random & Rhyme

Carmen-de-Lavallade-and-Geoffrey-Holder Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade (Picture from http://discoverblackheritage.com)

I was filled with both sadness and happiness while listening to the story of Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade with Elizabeth Blair on NPR this week and hearing about their 59 years of love, partnership and marriage. You might remember him from the Roger Moore, James Bond days playing the villain in “Live and Let Die” or 80’s 7UP commercials and she has been a dancer for most of her life, dancing with Alvin Ailey, the Metropolitan Opera and on Broadway.

Mr. Holder passed away earlier this month on October 5th. He was 84 years old. Ms. de Lavallade spoke to Ms. Blair about going on with the show, she has a one-woman event at the Kennedy Center called “As I Remember It” where she is dancing and reminiscing about her life and a little bit about…

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No Breath

He has no breath and he takes it slow,

it frustrates him because he so wants to go.

He’s always played hard and was a ladies man,

his charms are not gone, someday he’ll understand.

 

He packs his air and works to breathe,

So young of heart he still wants to speed.

For one “born ready” this is a bitter pill,

these golden years suck and are going to take some skill.

 

Change has come to the one I love,

he’s out of breath and his lungs are done.

The virile man he fears has gone,

but I assure him he is very, very wrong.

 

Sometimes he fears this breath will be his last,

those player days are catching up from his checkered past.

It worries him that he might hear death,

still he says “fuck you” and catches his breath.

 

He’s watched the others who’ve gone before,

he’s seen the future and the prognosis can be poor.

Enjoy this day, its a gift to you

Waste it away at your own peril,  fool.

The Fear Effect

Fear is a familiar friend,

it sucks my life without end.

Fear of what I don’t always know,

it’s always there, a common foe.

 

As I write these words I have my doubts.

Don’t write, it’s crap. Will fear win out?

Is fear my excuse or why I fail

or why I don’t make the attempt and chase my tail?

 

Everyone gets scared at times, of this I’m fairly certain,

but the ones who win the game are those who show fear a hurtin!

 

Awhile back I wrote a post about my Nagging Omission with my husband. Well recently I pulled off that bandage, faced my fear and went all in with a quick rip. First I showed my blog to my husband, letting him read several of the stories. And then I emailed most of my family about my writing and gave them a link to my site.

The good news is my world did not crash in, my husband didn’t ask for a divorce and now knows I do not have an internet lover. I haven’t had any irate calls from family or friends, yet. My husband has shown a tentative curiosity about what I’ve been writing and said he admired my ability to express myself and tell a story, but at first didn’t realize that my blog was open to anyone to see. That part I don’t think he is completely comfortable with and has some fears of his own that we will have to work through.

The only other person to comment about my blog has been my dad(technically my step-dad to those who read my blog and are confused) and he commented on a few of the posts and recited a couple of the poems he has written that are very good. He has one about fishing that is amazing and he has sold some copies of it, but he recited two others I didn’t remember. Maybe we will write a father-daughter poetry book some day.

But now that my husband and my family are aware of this blog and some of my writing; I find that a different type of fear is at work now; I am self-censoring and self-conscience about what I am writing.  Because if there are any people I “people-please” for its these people.  This is going to be tough!

Do you share your writing with your friends and family? Is there anything you keep just for your self for just this reason?

 

They Snore, They Snore

IMG_0660

They snore, they snore, I want to get up and head for the door.

One is a puff, one is a rumble and the other is a dull roar.

They snore, they snore,  I can’t take it anymore.

I give one a stroke and over they role,

the other a poke and they are quiet awhile.

They snore, they snore, I count sheep and try to ignore.

To sleep with my pups and the love of my life

a symphony of snores is the cacophony I endure.

They snore, they snore, and sleep I’m yet to score.

To hear them rest sweetly is the sound I yearn for,

but for a good nights rest it is not a cure.

They snore, they snore, but I could not love them more.

Will I Be Alone?

IMG_0018  Recently, I sat inside a restaurant by a window looking out on to the patio eating area outside. An old woman with an oxygen tank sat out there alone eating her lunch and reading the “Trader Joe’s” “Fearless Flyer”.  Her grey hair was cut in a stylish short bob, she wore a colorful sweater and cute sneakers. The cord for her oxygen tank was tucked discreetly under her shirt and dangling to the ground with the tank itself in the seat next to her in a black bag.

She made me wonder about my life at that age (I do hope I make it that long in good health). Will I be alone? Chances are, yes I will be alone. I don’t have biological children, my step-daughters are older than I am, the grandkids are in far off places and I haven’t gotten to know the great-grandchildren as well as I would have liked. They grow up and get busy and we get less mobile.

Finding a second love of my life seems doubtful in my 50’s or my 60’s if I’m lucky enough to keep my husband healthy for that long. So a grey haired single life will be in my future. I guess for some the grey haired single life is swinging, a New York Times Op-Ed article I read, Sex and the Single Senior by Ezekiel J. Emanuel talked about the huge uptick in STD’s in those ages 65 and older;

“Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show rapid increases in S.T.D.’s among older people. Between 2007 and 2011, chlamydia infections among Americans 65 and over increased by 31 percent, and syphilis by 52 percent. Those numbers are similar to S.T.D. trends in the 20- to 24-year-old age group, where chlamydia increased by 35 percent and syphilis by 64 percent. Experts suggest there are four main factors contributing to the rise in S.T.D.’s among older Americans.”

The article also pointed out the similarities of retirement living to college campus living with lots of similarly aged people living in close proximity to one and other which was leading to the inevitable interaction of the sexes. This statistic about condom use was also interesting;

“But while they are having a lot of sex, seniors didn’t seem to get the safe sex memo, or when it came through they ignored it because they did not think it applied to them. They obviously don’t have to worry about pregnancy. And they grew up before the safe sex era. So seniors might think they have no reason to use condoms. According to the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, among college-age Americans, condoms are used in about 40 percent of sexual encounters, but only in about 6 percent of sexual encounters among those 61 and older. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that older men who use Viagra and similar drugs are six times less likely to use condoms compared with men in their 20s.”

Apparently they need to begin handing out safe sex pamphlets with those Viagra prescriptions. Mr. Emanuel suggested Social Security begin sending out safe sex messages with the retirement checks.

All of this rings true, I know not long after (I mean in a matter of weeks) my grandmother passed away there were at least three women vying for my grandfathers affections. And it wasn’t long before he had a girlfriend he was traveling with and spending time time together cooking and golfing. He said he wasn’t in love, but he liked the company.

Maybe there won’t be a second love of my life, but chances are I could get laid in my old age, if trends hold true. But, “No Glove, No Love” will be the rule.

Do you worry about any particular part of growing older?

Doggy Style

IMG_0640  Mo chillin in the window sun.

Funny, I posted my story about how our dog Maddie came into our lives “We Don’t Need A Damn Dog” and the next morning I came across this article in the New York Times by Jane E. Brody, “Life With A Dog: You Meet People.”

Mrs. Brody writes that she has been a widow for nearly 4 years and felt acquiring a four legged friend would be a better option that a two legged one. That comment made me chuckle. And this observation about those who encourage and those who discourage your dog ownership.

“While most dog owners I know encouraged my decision, several dogless friends thought I had lost my mind. How, with all my work, travels and cultural events, was I going to manage the care of a dog?

No one asked this when I decided to have children. In fact, few people consider in advance how children will fit into their lives. If you want a child badly enough, you make it work.”

One of my work friends responded to our addition of Maddie to our home with “Why the hell did you get a dog?”  Non-dog people just don’t get it.

Another passage that rang so true was about how much her little furry friend makes her laugh.

“Yes, he’s a lot of work, at least at this age. But like a small child, Max makes me laugh many times a day. That’s not unusual, apparently: In a study of 95 people who kept “laughter logs,” those who owned dogs laughed more often than cat owners and people who owned neither.”

Mo apparently doesn't get "Doggy Style"

Mo apparently doesn’t get “Doggy Style”

Our two crazy dogs crack us up everyday with silly antics. They also seem to instinctively know when we have had a terrible day or need some love and attention. When my husband recently came home after a stint in the hospital those two wouldn’t leave his side for days, just very mellowly hanging out with him until he felt better.

And as the title of the article states: “Life with Dogs: You meet People” she writes of the number of people that she has met because she has her little Max.

“But perhaps the most interesting (and unpremeditated) benefit has been the scores of people I’ve met on the street, both with and without dogs, who stop to admire him and talk to me. Max has definitely increased my interpersonal contacts and enhanced my social life. People often thank me for letting them pet my dog. Max, in turn, showers them with affection.”

Because of Maddie and Mo my husband and I know most of our neighbors; well I should say most of our neighbors children. We can not walk through our little neighborhood without some of the kids shouting “Maddie and Mo”, “Maddie and Mo” and stopping us so they can shower some love on the two of them and get kisses in return. And these two are little social butterflies, they just bask in all the love and attention.

Jane Brody’s article also goes on to share some common sense tips before acquiring a canine companion as well as links to other studies about the benefits of having a pet in your life.

Having Maddie and Mo in our lives has definitely had it’s challenges, from the chewed molding around the house that we are still saving to have repaired, to the middle of the night potty runs and the occasional scuffle over food.  But every challenge has been met by three times the joy from the love they shower on us and the laughter that they bring to our lives everyday. I can’t imagine my life with out them in it!

Do you have a pet in your life?

Life is good Pet Tees

A Nagging Omission

IMG_0163  I have something nagging at me right now.

My husband doesn’t know that I am writing. I haven’t shared any stories with him or even hinted that I’m writing. I write while he is working on his car or, like now, while he is taking his morning shower and shave or when I am on the road for work. Sometimes I will start working on a piece when he has headed upstairs to get ready for bed. When I come up an hour later he asks what I’ve been doing. I say I have been looking at Facebook or on Twitter or something. I think he thinks I really have an internet lover.

I don’t know why I haven’t shared this with him; because I have shared almost everything else with him over the past 30 years. But maybe that is why; it’s just something for me right now. Well me and anyone else I am lucky enough to get to stop by and read a story or two.

I will have to share it with him eventually, I’m not sure why I am waiting.

Still I wait.

Is there anything you don’t share with your spouse or significant other?

“We Don’t Need a Damn Dog!”

IMG_0568   I don’t have children, I have dogs!

It took nearly four years of prompting, prodding, poking, pleading and pushing to get my husband to agree to adding a dog to our life. Finally, around Valentines Day 2011 I was able to get the stars to align.

In 2008, I was working an event and I met a dog breeder. She had a baby English Bulldog in her arms and of course I had to ask to pet her and got to talking to the woman; telling her how much I loved French Bulldogs, where I had first encountered them, etc. She said that she and her husband bred both English and French Bulldogs and she gave me one of her cards. I tucked the card away and only casually mentioned to my husband that I had played with a baby bulldog that day and got the usual response, ” We don’t need a damn dog“.

The business card ended up in the bottom of my work bag for more than a year; until one day I was cleaning out the bag because I was getting a new laptop at work and wanted to carry it in the bag. I came across the card and popped it into my wallet.

Several months went by and I happened to pull out the card when I was getting out my debit card to pay for something online. I decided to pull up their website to see what the cost of a Frenchie would be, I had heard they were expensive. Once on the site I knew I had heard correctly. They didn’t have any puppies available at that time, but I looked at a bunch of pictures of some past puppies and their parents. I showed a couple to my husband, he admitted that they were cute, but again said “We don’t need a damn dog“.

I would pull that card out every few months, look at the puppies, see if they had any available for adoption, show them to my husband and hear the same thing. “We don’t need a damn dog“.

Sometime around the end of 2010, I started looking at their website almost daily because they had posted a note that they had two new litters of Frenchies being born and I wanted to see the new puppies. As I remember the two litters were quite big; 6 in one and 7 in the other. So many cute puppies and they would be available around Christmas time, of course.

I watched as each little cutie was adopted by another family, each time telling my husband; “oh no, another one has been adopted can’t we please get a puppy.” And again he would say “We don’t need a damn dog” and now he added “especially at that price“.

It was the around the end of January and I was just finishing up another event out-of-town. I had some time to kill at the end of the day right before we could start packing things up. I was wasting some time looking at email, Facebook and then I thought to pop over to look at the puppies. I was surprised, they still had two little ones left, both appeared to be very, very small they were around 3 months old and still hadn’t been adopted. So on a whim I sent the breeder a note. I mentioned that I had met her all those years ago and that I had been longingly watching all the puppies get adopted and saw that they had two still left. I asked if they might be willing to work with me on the price, because the regular price was just out of my budget. I sent it off figuring that they would probably say “no negotiations on the price and thanks for looking“. I packed up and headed home.

The next morning I got an email. “Thank you for your interest in our frenchies, I think we can negotiate on the price. I need to share your offer with my husband. I will contact you shortly.” My husband was up watching the news, I was still lying around in bed. But I got up, so excited about the possibility of the new puppy, I kind of forgot that I hadn’t event spoken to him about it.  I kept checking my phone as I got ready. I took my shower, checked the phone, dried my hair, checked my phone, brushed my teeth, checked my phone.  Finally, the reply came. “Yes, my husband agreed to your offer. Which puppy would you like to adopt? Both are female”  She offered to send me a link to some video of the puppies. I replied;  “Great I will show them to my husband and get back in touch.”

So, then I had to think about my approach with my husband. I decided to tell him about the great deal I had the chance to get on a puppy and would he please just look at the pictures and the videos that she was sending me and to just keep an open mind. Please.  His reply was “We don’t need a damn dog” but this time it was accompanied by “But I will take a look at the pictures and videos

IMG_0234

Maddie the day we brought her home.

Then he saw her, tiny, cinnamon brown with a little black mask on her face hopping around her sister. Those cute bat ears and a tiny tail that looked like it belonged to a baby dear.  I couldn’t believe it, he said “OK, that one!

Within minutes of that “ok” I made the deal, paid the adoption fee and made arrangements to pick her up the next morning. I wasn’t going to give him a chance to change his mind.

We picked her up in the Denny’s parking lot just off I-5 halfway between Vancouver, where the breeder lived, and Olympia where we lived. She was so tiny, I could hold her in one hand, she trembled when I took her in my arms, but soon snuggled up next to me under my coat and stayed there for the next two hours. Snoring, sleeping and snuggling with her new human. I don’t think I was ever as happy as I was that day.

And so much for all the rules my husband laid out when he agreed to the dog. Not on the furniture, no sleeping in the bed, no feeding her from the table, you walk her, feed her, etc, etc.  He was puppy whipped in a day. She was sleeping on his lap while he watched T.V., he was singing her to sleep at night in her crate, giving her scraps from the table and within a month she was sleeping in the bed and not the crate. She has helped him lose 20 pounds, cut his blood-pressure medicine in half and I think just in general really cheered him up.

They say people with dogs are happier and live longer and I believe it!

What about you – do you have pets?

 

Life is good Pet Tees

Time Flies

232323232fp-94>nu=3369>734>3;9>245-7344--248ot1lsi       Four Generations. I am the cute chubby one in the middle.

Now that I’m getting so close to the Big 5-0 articles on aging, growing older, retirement and social security are attracting my attention more often.

Yesterday I was caught by surprise by a New York Times article about Gloria Steinem turning 80. Yes, 80, that is not a typo. I always think of her as my mothers contemporary, but she is 15 years older. In the article, NYT Op-Ed Columnist, Gail Collins  wrote “This is What 80 Looks Like” about Ms. Steinem’s decades in the spotlight. Asking Ms. Steinem what she had planned for her 80th birthday.

She’s planning to celebrate in Botswana. “I thought: ‘What do I really want to do on my birthday?’ First, get out of Dodge. Second, ride elephants.””

Getting out-of-town and riding elephants sounds like a perfect birthday celebration, I’m just not sure I want to wait until I’m 80 to do it.

Another comment from Ms. Steinem struck me:

Fifty was a shock, because it was the end of the center period of life. But once I got over that, 60 was great. Seventy was great. And I loved, I seriously loved aging. I found myself thinking things like: ‘I don’t want anything I don’t have.’ How great is that?” But, she added, “80 is about mortality, not aging. Or not just aging.

Fifty does feel like it’s looming to me, like a cliff that I am heading towards and at times I am trying to swim like hell away from and other times I just lazily float down the river enjoying the ride.

A wonderful poem on the blog Ephemeral Memories “The Midlife Moment of Truth“. contained a line;

Each innocuous day adds up to months, years into decades

You know the saying “time flies”? I know my grandparents and my parents have said it over the years and you never quite understand that statement until you get there, but time really does fly. And a lot of that time is innocuous. I want less innocuous time and more memorable time filled with fun, people I care about, things I am passionate about doing and more laughter.

As I wrote earlier this month about my husband getting older and his comments about his “F’ing Golden Years” not being very golden, it’s giving me a preview of the trials of aging, but also some of the triumphs of aging. The no longer wasting time on things that are of little importance, the ease of saying “No”, the wisdom to know that a bad day or unhappy event will pass and pleasure and happiness will return.

Anne Karpf of The Guardian wrote an article earlier this year “Ageing is a mixture of gains and losses”  that had several parts that resonated with me;

“The denigration of age is built upon the idealisation of youth, and both do violence to reality. Being young is rarely as unconflicted, nor old as wretched, as the stereotypes would have us believe.”

The stereotypes of every age do have truth to them, but they are definitely not the whole story.

And a great quote on the passions that can come with age.

“One of the most delicious accounts of how growing older can mean growing more engaged was written by Florida Scott-Maxwell, the American-born playwright, suffragette and analyst. In 1968, when she was 85, she wrote: “Age puzzles me. I thought it was a quiet time. My 70s were interesting and fairly serene, but my 80s are passionate. I grow more intense as I age. To my own surprise, I burst out with hot conviction … I must calm down. I am far too frail to indulge in moral fervor.””

Though only in my late 40’s I do find myself less willing to sit back and take things as they are or as they are presented; if something is not to my liking I find myself more often than not voicing my dissent, walking away from it or just ignoring it.

How are you aging?

Geeking

Geeking out  Car geeks unite!

My husband is a Volkswagen car nut. I think we are on our 9th Volkswagen in nearly 30 years together. He has his favorite car dealer, Pignataro Volkswagen in Everett, Washington. That dealer is nearly a 2 hour drive from our current home, but used to be just a couple miles away from us. And he has remained loyal to them through the years, buying only one car from another dealer and swearing he would never buy from anyone but Pignataro again based on that experience.

This picture above is of my husband and a guy, who lived a few blocks down the street from us, who had just come home with a new VW. My husband had to stop the car, get out and check it out. He stood there talking about that car for 30 minutes with a man he never met before, both of them geeking out about that Volkswagen.  The man moved away a few months later, I wonder if there is a correlation to his moving and my husbands stalking?

His face lights up, at even the thought of a new VW, a bit like mine does when I see a new tech gadget. The gadget story is for another time. He even drives to Everett for service on our Volkswagens. He is driving up there this morning and I haven’t seem him that happy in weeks, thrilled to be heading to his “mecca” and talk horsepower, mpg, navigation systems and sunroofs with his people.

Let the geeking begin!

Do you geek out about anything?