Old Diary

I wasn’t always old

Peg & I were have been binge watching the British detective series A Touch of Frost with David Jason recently;  it’s part of the BritBox package for those who might be interested, and you can find some episodes on YouTube as well.

In a recently viewed episode I chuckled at a scene in which an old woman is showing photographs which her TV husband had taken of her when she was a lithe and winsome lass — sans clothing — and she says to the detective, “I wasn’t always old.”  There’s something so utterly human about that interchange.

We don’t talk much about the process of aging in this country.  In fact over the last 50 or 70 years we have been doing a lot (as a society) to remove old age, death, and dying from sight.  It began as cities got bigger and bigger and we no longer saw the process of killing animals for food — through the introduction of that great invention the grocery store.  But hospitals hide disease from our prying eyes, old age homes hide the elderly from our eyes. Because so many of our population move about the country for jobs we no longer have nuclear family units so the family is less and less likely to care for their own old — and besides, most of the modern family members work so even if the old did live with us we wouldn’t be there to care for them ourselves.

When my grandparents were getting on in years my parents took the bold step of buying a building — first an 8 family apartment, which they later traded for a 12 family apartment — so that there would be a place close by for the senior members of our clan.  For the most part my grand parents lived their final years there and died there.  As did my parents.  Only then did we sell the building and get away from the ghosts that remained.  But not all are in a position to do that sort of thing.  And not all families get along well enough to tolerate that sort of arrangement.

Still, there is this thing about aging…

You can’t explain to someone younger than yourself what it’s like to be your age.  The changes that take place as a result of aging are only really understood by going through the process yourself.  Unfortunately, with the decline of the nuclear family a lot of youngsters are denied the privilege and the experience of growing up with older adults nearby.  They are denied the chance to learn from oldsters about life, about family, about caring, about responsibility, about nurture.  They grow up, for the most part, with people their own age — who as has been the case for millennia — know just about as much as their fellows.  There’s not accumulated wisdom to be handed down from contemporaries.  You’re all learning pretty much the same things at the same time and having equal opportunities to make the same mistakes.

The thing about getting older is that our brain is on a time delay — lagging behind the body in acknowledging the advance of age.  I still feel like a 30 year old in many ways even though my body refuses to do the things I could do at age 30.  I’m fortunate in not having many aches and pains — Peg’s not so lucky as she has more problems with arthritis than I.  But even on those days when my body is feeling it’s age my brain isn’t so willing to behave accordingly.

As we age our physical image changes.  Wrinkles replace smooth, unblemished skin.  Muscles atrophy.  Fewer and fewer heads turn as once physically beautiful women enter the room.  We find it impossible to rid ourselves of that little (or not so little) paunch above our belt.  There’s less and less to attract the eye, and more and more to astonish the heart.  Aging changes us. Most of us learn from our mistakes, and perhaps make fewer of them.  Many of us learn to appreciate other humans more, and more, and more as we go through those periods in life when we cannot do certain things and are forced to rely on someone else to do them for us.  Even when we are unlucky enough to run into not-particularly-skilled helpers they are still people who can do something that we are, in our current circumstance, unable to do for ourselves.

In my life, I’m supposed to be abiding by weight lifting restrictions.  I cannot begin to convey how often I run smack dab into that limit. It infuriates me.  But I’m also learning to appreciate little things that my parents and their friends went through.  I’m thankful for my part that I grew up around older people, I learned some of the things to look for in their lives to help them out and sometimes I see younger folks around me that learned to pay attention to the needs of others — that’s a real joy — because too often you see people who are only interested in themselves and aren’t aware of what someone else might need. Not what they want, but what they need.

For the most part I find getting older to be a hoot.  The world makes more sense to me now.  I can see things in perspective and most of them don’t bother me as much as once they did.  I’m glad for the craziness in my youth.  I wasn’t much of a cut-up; I was way too serious in my youth.  But still, I did, and we did together, the things we wanted when we were young enough to be able.  Now I can look back with lots of memories on times had with wonderful friends.  The early part of our lives together we spent with lots of people around us all the time, and while I enjoyed all those people I’m also glad that our life is quieter now.  All of that busy-ness was “fun” but I don’t know that being busy made me any better of a person.

I’m sure that like that old lady in the Frost series I have my own secret delights.  I don’t think of them that way because unlike that character on TV who had been inhibited from sharing things with others I’ve tried to live my life as openly as I could — I’m not a big secret person.  I’m not into keeping secrets.  For the most part I think secrets are divisive and harmful.  I’m all in favor of government accountability, and corporate accountability, and personal… you got it… accountability.

There’s a lot of paranoia about what will happen to people if the government cripples Social Security.  I think there’s a far more important subject to be concerned with — not that Social Security isn’t important (for too many of our citizens it’s a matter of life and death).  We don’t deal with aging honestly in this country.  In the same way that the current fever about sexual harassment is a short term hot-spot, the question of what to do about our aging population is a topic we haven’t even really begun to talk about.

Automation is making workers increasingly dispensable.  In many areas of life machines can do what humans do far better, for less cost, without tiring.  So what do we do with all the humans on this planet.  We cannot continue using earth’s resources at the rate we are without compromising our ability to feed and house the earth’s population; and the concept of a global war that would leave societies in tatters is a terrible thought.  Scientists have broached the topic in the popular news about the 6th Great Decimation of Population — whether from an asteroid hitting earth or a worldwide epidemic — but such sober thoughts are not the seeds of public discourse.  No one wants to think about them, no one wants to talk about them, everyone hopes that those nightmares will simply fade away from memory and life will go on as it “always has.”

Healthcare means that more people are living longer. Whether they are living better is probably not for us to decide.  We are far from subjective about the topic.  History books — written 200 years from now will better be able to say whether we were a society that cared for one another, or not.   Only then, when those then alive have seen what has come of our our children’s children will anyone be in a position to say they were wise, or foolish, or neglectful or conservationists.

We have our share of ethnic cleansing going on right now around the world.  But it’s been since WWII that we have seen real mass deaths.  The total death toll from WWI has been estimated to be some 15-20 million.  The total death toll from WWII zoomed past that to somewhere between 50 and 80 million.  We haven’t seen plague-like epidemics as were common in the Dark Ages and Medieval times, but the potential does exist.  It’s possible that dealing with “old people” might not be such a big problem should something like those events occur.

But for now, we have a burgeoning world population and a declining utilization of the population. Just what all these people will do in old age is going to be interesting.  Surely, they aren’t all going to go RV’ing as we did. One of the reasons we chose to quit the RV lifestyle is that even in the 6 years we were active we saw a huge difference in how easy it was to live the life.  Little changes here and there caused by the retiring of more and more Baby Boomers served as the writing-on-the-wall for us.  We looked down the tunnel of time and said, “maybe it’s a good time to get out.”  And we are happy we did.

The thing about government that troubles me is that there’s no party, no congress, no leadership looking into the future saying, “this is where we are going, and these are the problems we will face as we get there.”  It doesn’t help that scientists are being stripped from government in favor of ideology and party positions. With a growing population and increasing pressure on global natural resources the opportunity for conflict grows by the day.  Conflict in an era of atomic power is far more frightening in terms of human suffering; but it’s also far more frightening in terms of the post conflict impact on the earth’s ability to support those who remain.  And a world in which no men or women of vision are even considering how best to navigate the troubled waters ahead is even moreso.

The one good thing about getting to a point where one might say, “I haven’t always been old” is that it also means you aren’t going to be around all that much longer (on a macro scale — even if “longer” is 20 or 30 years).  One could say, leave it to others.  But that’s the one thing about aging — it teaches you that no matter your age you never dare say, “leave it to others”  because you are still one of the others.

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Old Diary

I know what day it is!

There is one particular redeeming factor associated with volunteering.  You get to know what day of the week it is!  I’ve managed three weeks in a row of pretty much knowing exactly what day it is — after months of having nothing upon which to hang dates.  I’m not in a hurry to work harder than we are, but even this guy — who has always had a very loose relationship with time — kind of likes knowing what day it might be!  (Though I’ve never seen all that much reason to live my life by a calendar).

Its’ another Friday and the campers will be streaming in the door in another couple hours.  I’m looking forward to this week’s new variety of visitors.  From a sociological point of view every weekend is completely different.  You get the families in multiple sites (parents, grandparent, uncle & aunties),  families with large broods of kids, families with no kids, long stays, short stays, talkative/friendly campers and loners — It’s always interesting (to me) to see this wonderful assortment of folks who mostly get along with each other without interference from outside.

This should be a warm and dry weekend — but we have rain in the forecast for next weekend’s holiday and we’ve seen a couple cancellations already in the tent sites.  Who wants to go camping and stay wet all weekend long.  Next weekend is also when Katy is supposed to arrive for a short visit — but she found that a good friend is moving from Milwaukee to N.O. LA that weekend so seeing as she can see us a lot more often than she can see her friend who’s moving out of the area we may only have an abbreviated visit.  Which is fine.  She has friends her own age and that’s a good thing.

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Last evening whilst taking our evening walk I noticed a wobbly sign.  I’m sure it’s a change — the sign wasn’t tipping over and wasn’t loose in it’s hole before — someone backed into it.  The only reason I comment is that it’s amazing to me that even when there aren’t all that many people in the campground it’s still possible for things to happen — for damage to be done — and not have us be aware of it at the time.  Sure — we notice it after the fact and we can insure that the sign gets re-seated and fixed, but how/why would something like that happen — and we are only 100’ from the sign (although not in a sight-line).  And the park hasn’t been all that busy either.  It’s not something that would cause much noise; a good whack with a bumper is all it would take,  But why someone would be back up there is beyond me.  It’s a large Y turn.  OH well, not my circus and not my monkeys.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll be here tomorrow to chat.

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Old Diary

Reconceptualizing my Stomach

I’ve never been a breakfast guy. Meals have always been important— in that I love to eat; timing has never mattered, I’ve always been willing to skip an average non-exciting meal in favor of the idea of a more interesting one later in the day. Into the life of such a one as myself, my specialist tells me I should eat clean, and that I would be better off eating 6 smaller meals rather than 2 or 3 larger ones. stomach-hi

In the first place I’d never heard the concept of clean eating, although I find out I’ve been doing it in most ways for most of my life.

“Clean eating is a deceptively simple concept. Rather than revolving around the idea of ingesting more or less of specific things (for instance, fewer calories or more protein), the idea is more about being mindful of the food’s pathway between its origin and your plate. At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible. However, modern food production has become so sophisticated that simply eating whole foods can be a challenging proposition these days.”
Fitness Magazine

We’re already partly to our goal.  We avoid processed foods. I’m not great about the amount of fresh veg we eat.  I try to keep a lot of veg in our diet but I also have had better luck controlling my weight by staying on the hi-protein/lo-carb diet — so veg sometimes get lost in the mix.  We used many of the right oils — but I do love my butter and cook with it shamelessly. I could reduce our alcohol intake but right now I only average 1 drink per day so that would pretty much turn me into an abstainer, as compared with a more-controlled user. Sugar might be my big sin — I like desserts, we don’t eat a lot of processed foods with sugar already in them, but I’m not bashful about adding sugar when I bake — at all,  ever. Salt?  Yeah — there is that… Whole grains we are already including in our diet. I try to keep fruit IN my diet and that protein thing — the cutting down on meat — well, not so much.  The whole control over refined grains depends on whether or not I want great that moment! Others would add to the list limiting the number of ingredients in a dish/meal to 7 or fewer.  Not hard for us to do.

But there’s this big thing hanging out there.  More Smaller Meals!

How am I ever going to do that?

They keep changing what Clean Eating is supposed to be, but here’s one version of the Mantra
1. Choose whole, natural foods and seek to eliminate or minimize processed foods.
Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can, or package, and although there are always a few exceptions to the rule (like a bag of fresh green beans), the majority of your foods should be fresh.
2. Choose unrefined over refined foods.
While it may not be possible all the times, you can up your intake of whole grains like brown rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa. Beans and legumes are also important. Clean sugars include honey, maple syrup, and dehydrated sugar cane juice.
3. Include some protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal.
Most of us typically do well with carbohydrates and fat, but we often lack protein, especially in the early part of the day, like at breakfast and lunch. Protein is an important muscle-builder, and it can also help curb your appetite. When eaten throughout the day, it keeps us feeling full longer. Be aware of the kinds of meals you put together and space out your protein.
4. Watch out for fat, salt, and sugar.
This is easier than you think, particularly if you’ve cut out processed foods, which are responsible for most of our excess calories and high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. Clean foods are usually naturally low in all of these ingredients.
5. Eat five to six small meals throughout the day.
This usually pans out into three main meals and two or three hefty snacks. Eating this way prevents you from skipping meals and overeating. It also keeps your blood sugar levels steady so energy doesn’t lag.
6. Don’t drink your calories.
High calorie drinks like specialty coffees and soft drinks, on average, tack on an extra 400 to 500 calories a day. Choose water first, or my personal favorite, unsweetened tea (any flavor). Other clean drinks: low-fat or skim milk and 100 percent fruit juice diluted with sparkling water.
7. Get moving.
Regular physical activity is a must for many reasons. Not only does it decrease fat, strengthen and build muscle, and help you burn more energy at rest, it keeps your heart, lungs, and bones healthy and strong.
cookinglight  dot com

I hate when someone keeps moving the targets without telling you!

And if you read that carefully, you’ll notice that nowhere in that Clean Eating check list did it say anything about eating more small meals.  No where.  That’s something Doc just threw in to challenge me.  How do you do that?

To me, meals need to be interesting.  There has to be a reason to stick calories in my mouth.  I have struggled with my weight enough years that if I’m going to have to watch how much I weigh I’m going to want the calories I consume to bring some enjoyment to life.  And frankly, 6 snacks a day just doesn’t cut it.

Or at least not the way I think of ‘snacks’, or ‘meals.’  Over the last few weeks I’ve been spending time trying to figure out how to do that.

RV Living Helps

golabkiThe idea that I have a small kitchen in Serendipity does make some things a little easier.  Small kitchen, limited work space — it’s not so easy to make a large batch of pierogi or Golabki.  That’s a fact of life.  bigos polskiAnd downsizing recipes to accommodate a smaller RV kitchen is OK but it challenges the serious foodie.  After all, how can you have a good Polish “meal” when all the calories you are meant to eat at a sitting are contained in ONE menu item.  One Golabki, or three Pierogi, or 1 chunk of Polish Sausage…. Makes for a less than satisfying meal, doesn’t it?

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The culinary landscape

I’m working my way through this landscape filled with culinary landmines!  It’s not like I can get an explosive sniffing dog to sniff out the dangers along my life-changing route.  A container of yogurt just isn’t the same — and I’ve got to find some viable alternatives that work for me.

Ok — we both know that I’m mostly playing around about this.  I’ll figure it out.  I’m serious about learning to be healthier.  But I did want to illustrate one very simple reality about changing your life;  it doesn’t happen by mistake, by accident, or without thinking about it.  You have to make up your mind to change, and you have to do whatever it takes to effect change. And that’s where I am right now.  You can picture me with culinary roadmaps spread out across the lounge and me trying to make heads or tails out of them.  No quick solution GPS gadget here.  The only way to figure out this route is to trudge on through, come up against a few low overpasses,  get stopped by a few highway low weight limit signs, and have a few roadside breakdowns along the way.  I’ll figure it out.  Just like everyone else who faces a mandated major change in life.  It’s just life.  We can whine about it.  We can joke about it.  But what matter is that we find a way from point a to point b.

I hope you were able to laugh along with me a little here.  We have another couple weeks here — I keep saying that as if it’s a known thing but we won’t actually be sure about that until after the next doctor early in December.  So, in the meantime we’re working on following directions.  I haven’t been this careful about trying to follow someone else’s directions in maybe a quarter century when I was still working for someone else.

I should comment, perhaps, on my concept of publication days…

calendar pagesI’m sure most of you have realized that I do not write in real time; there is almost always a time lag involved. Posts are typically written 5 or 6 days before they publish.  I attempt to compensate for the delay by giving you a clue within the text of the blog as to what day it might be when I’m writing that post.

There are a few reasons for this — and I’m not trying to evade other RV’ers who might want to meet up with us.

  • For one thing there are days when I don’t write at all — travel days are the most common example.  I don’t want the pressure of no-post-for-today to color my writing.
  • Then there are days when I might write two posts or even three — depending on my inspiration that day.  If there are things on my mind I write them when I’m thinking about them.
  • But most importantly, I rarely want my exact presence on any given day to become an accepted public fact.  In terms of personal security, telling everyone that you aren’t in your RV is a good way of inviting theft.  There are times when we are camping in remote locations and it’s just not a smart idea to assume that the whole rest of the world are honest and wish one well.  I don’t try to tick people off but sometimes I just do. 🙂

On the day I’m writing this post I happen to be 6 days ahead.  Occasionally I’ll fall down on the writing job and the calendar will catch up with me.  But usually I keep myself a personal privacy cushion.  I’m sure you all understand.  When we were working for the Forest Service our campsite was behind a locked gate — we didnt’ have  problems with people wandering into the yard where we were living.  But in a public campground one doesn’t have that luxury and a little privacy is a good thing.

If you are interested in meeting up with us, just drop me a note, or comment to any post and I’ll make arrangements with you personally.  Peg & I are always glad to meet new friends-we’ve-never-met-before!  So, don’t hesitate. And just understand that we just take our privacy and security seriously.  Thanks for understanding.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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