Sunday, October 25, 2020

Not so good

This picture is part of a New York Times article on current struggles with work, money, worry and getting along in various parts of the US.  I am confident that we could find the same thing in some part of just about any country.  But, I find this picture especially expressive and poignant.  

Saturday, October 24, 2020


Gladiolus bulbs came out of the ground and daffodil bulbs went in.  The ground is not frozen so it wasn't hard.  For the health of some other plants, we cut off the leaves and supporting stems.  

Here is a link to some of my blog posts about our lawn and grounds.

I want simplicity and Lynn wants acceptable appearance.  So far, we seem to be fairly able to achieve both without too much worry, energy or expense.  At our age, it doesn't take much for the job to be somewhat hard work.  One of the advantages of living in the north is that it gets cold, which is a good excuse to stay in and a strong obstacle to working on grounds and plants.

Our trees are getting close to letting go of all their leaves.  We have a little disagreement over procedure.  She has read that letting the leaves stay is a good idea but I have already told our grounds people to give us both a fall clean-up and a spring clean-up.  

I often hear that some cataclysmic event changed everything.  Not only that, but it was "changed forever".  Now that we have dug up bulbs and planted others, our lives are changed forever.  Ok, not in a very big way.  Not in a way that I will remember but our lives are changed.  Yesterday at this time, we had not dug up bulbs nor planted them but now we have.  Our fortunes, our pasts (especially the last few hours), our present and all future (minute) histories could include the change that happened before lunch today.

Last night, I participated in an online session run by the director of the local Center for Critical Thinking, Prof. Warren.  She directed our attention to careful awareness of words used to express ideas.  Her teaching and my awareness of my fading memory and ability to omit events from what I recall does raise the question with me about how I would know if the grounds work changed my life or didn't.  I can carry the idea, more or less memorized, that my life has changed minutely, but if it has not changed, would I know?  Let me get back to you on that.

Friday, October 23, 2020


Quite a few friends and relatives have expressed some exasperation with avoiding crowds and not eating in restaurants.  It is a bit surprising that so much emotion can slowly emerge from the Covid situation.  We have not been very ardent about eating out but as people list things they are not doing, like attending church, having lunch with friends or getting together for a book discussion or a knitting group, it seems clear that momentum can build up to simply do what one wants to do, where one wants to do it and with others, regardless of increasing or decreasing indicators of the likelihood of catching a bug.  

An elderly person may have a little less trouble going through a daily routine that involves face masks and mostly being home.  I admit I am grateful for ebooks that are delivered through the air, quickly and cheaply.  We tend to be awake and out of bed for 16 hours a day and two of those hours we watch tv nearly every day.  Some days, something different comes along but our internet wi-fi and Roku streamer are a pleasure.  The same old gruesome murders and the same old characters in "NCIS" start most of our evenings and we have a feeling of familiarity comfort with the repetitious characters and our crime-solving duties.  It has gotten to the point that we can tell the crew would not be able to function without our attention.

Most of our mornings involve coffee and breakfast and then a 1 or 2 mile walk.  As winter gets closer, indoor use of an stationary bike and a yoga mat get to be more important.  We are past trying for great shapes or bulging muscles but we have found that body and spirit, flexibility and strength are better with exercise.  We realize that at some point, we will have more difficulty standing up and balancing but for now, we are grateful for what we can do.

It can be helpful to ask questions and they are more valuable if they are written out.  What about this Covid quarantine is most annoying?  What can I do about chafing to burst out?  Does my Texas sister and her family feel the same way?  How about Sally out there in Oregon or Catherine in Connecticut - how are they doing?  Which of my books have I still not ever opened?  Do my plants need watering?  Have I ever faced a problem that felt like this before?  What did I do that time?

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The problem of dated silverware

If I don't stay alert, fashions could change and leave me behind. My wife is more sensitive to the acceptability of my haircut, the width of my tie and the color of my shoe laces than I am.  Every now and then, she announces that something is out of date, passé, approaching pathetic and hilarious.  Except for my height, people at one time kept thinking I was Abe Lincoln.  Then, with proper coaching, I gave up the beard, the stove pipe had and wore more colors and less black.  That problem seems to have gone away.  

Yesterday, our fashion officer announced that we have in this house DATED SILVERWARE!

The announcement sounded serious and in little time, I had refreshed my knowledge about just what silverware is.  The announcer explained that current soup spoons are much larger than our old-fashioned spoons.  We have recently taken action to update our living room sofa and our refrigerator so I am aware of the importance of being in step and trying to stay with the modern world instead of the Babylonian one.   

You may be aware that we are already living a lie.  Our silverware is not silver!!!!!  It's some other kind of metal but that doesn't mean that we aren't wary of the social fall we are in danger of suffering if we serve soup to our fashionable friends.  I just read this blog post to our fashionista and she laughed and said that, in truth, our forks are unfashionably small, too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Teaching leads to thinking!

From today's Writer's Almanac:

On this date in 1512, Martin Luther joined the faculty of the University of Wittenberg. As a young man, Luther planned to study the law, but when he was caught in a powerful storm in 1505, he vowed to St. Anne that he would become a monk if he lived through the storm. He didn't feel fulfilled by his experience in the monastery, and his disillusionment only grew after he was made a delegate to a church conference in Rome. When he got back to Germany, he decided to pursue his doctorate at the University of Wittenberg. He did so well that he was asked to teach there as a professor of theology. The act of preparing lessons for his students led him to think more deeply about his own faith, and what it was that bothered him about the Roman Catholic Church. In 1517, Pope Leo X announced the sale of indulgences to help finance the construction of St. Peter's Basilica. People could give money to the church to lessen their punishment for their sins. Luther was enraged and wrote a document called "Disputation on the Power of Indulgences" — commonly known as "the Ninety-five Theses" — explaining why the sale of indulgences corrupted people's faith. He nailed his theses to the door of the university chapel, and kicked off the Protestant Reformation.

Not long ago, we read the excellent "Leaving the Witness", in which author Amber Scorah recites her story of deep feeling for her religion, her facility in learning languages, being sent to China as a more or less secret missionary and what happened.  She reports that translating her religious message into another language repeatedly caused her to think and re-think the ideas and led to deep doubts and new convictions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

We see faces everywhere

I have read that no other species gets so much information about another member of the species as we get from a face. Facial layout, with two eyes, a nose and a mouth, are the subject that even gets a newborn's attention.  

This picture came up on the Windows lockscreen this morning.  You can see the hair and the face looking to the left, with ears, eyes, eyebrows, a forehead and more.  The scene may be from the coast of Portugal.  

We are all automatically conscious of a human face wherever it appears and we automatically evaluate the personality of the "person" with that face, whether or not we can do so accurately or with any true insight.

During this time of coronavirus Covid-19, it is no wonder that we are sensitive about covering part of our face and wearing facial masks, not to mention any effect doing so has on breathing.  Along with heartbeat, breathing is our most obvious sign of being alive.

Monday, October 19, 2020

A little pain

Nearly thirty years ago, I had a bit of trouble with the skin on the sides of my nose, where my glasses rest.  I can't remember what got that episode started.  Often, when my glasses are painful, it is because I struck the edge of my glasses against a cabinet door or something.  That can jam the nose piece on the side of my glasses into the skin and bone.  It hurts and the area can be red and sensitive.  

Yesterday, I began to have pain from my glasses resting on my face but I don't remember striking or jamming my glasses into myself.  When I put on my glasses at the end of the day, I was surprised at how red and damaged the area on the right side of my nose looked.  I knew I needed to go to the doctor today and I did.  I figured I had some sort of skin irritation or infection.  I think that as I age, my skin is a little less able to defend itself.

The hospital optical department has been fitting and adjusting my glasses for more than 50 years.  I went there first after checking that they were open and had somebody who could see me.  The woman technician put new nose pads on the glasses and advised me to see my ophthalmologist.  I was able to get an appointment right away and he saw me.  He prescribed over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream twice a day on the area.  He said to use it only for five days since that cream can make the skin thinner.  A dermatologist ran his hand along the top of my forearm years ago and said, "Your skin is so thin."  I have been trying to urge my skin to thicken ever since and I don't need it to be thinning.

If I try and don't get discouraged and immediately dismiss the possibility, I can see pretty well without glasses.  The skin problem is such that it helps to wear my glasses a little farther down the nose than usual.  That way they sit in a new place on my face.  I guess I have yet another situation where I have to be patient and wait, not my best strength.

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby