My Birthday Week (I’m Milking It!)

If I must acknowledge getting older, then I prefer to have my birthday celebration spread out over days. This year I’ve got a birthday week – and if I count the concert with a friend in November, I’ve got a birthday season!

Hiking at dawn! It has been too long.

Hiking at dawn. It has been too long.

Highlights this year are two dawn hikes (my first hikes with my new hip), a trip to the beach, and dinner at a favorite restaurant. My kids also gave me a book of dustbowl-era political and social photographs:

My kids got me this book.

Looks like an interesting book and its photos are unforgettable.

It’s an awesome book but what really makes it special is the thoughtfulness with which they chose it. (They figured it fit with my love of Woody Guthrie and my recent interest in traditional bluegrass.)

At last, hiking again!

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The Daily Prompt: Take Care – Caught Me!

This Daily Prompt is disturbingly well timed. It catches me ducking the same questions in real life: Do I allow someone to take care of me?… What does it take for me to ask for help?

Next week I will have surgery to replace a hip. If I listen to the surgeon, within a couple weeks I will be back to activity, cautiously, with a cane. I like that worldview. But the hospital says to expect weeks of incapacity. I like that not at all. It is a big dose of old and helpless.

Either way, I’ll need help. But a couple weeks means I only tap those who have offered. Many weeks means asking those who haven’t offered help.  That would be a first for me. I’m sure it would lead to great personal growth, yada yada. I am spending equal amounts of time not thinking about it, believing it will all work out fine whatever it turns out to be, and opting to try something easier than asking for help, such as training the cats to wait on me.

Reflecting further on this prompt, I discover that the ability to ask for help requires love, trust, and confidence, in myself and the other person.

Retirement Party Postponed…Indefinitely

So. When I was young I kept changing jobs and taking time off to do one thing or the other. I’d work on a novel. I’d do some traveling. I did a lot of worthwhile things and I pretended I agreed with Cary Grant’s character in HOLIDAY, who wants to have experiences while he is young then work later, after he discovers what he is working for.  (Pretended because I knew all along that what I wanted was simpler. I wanted to skip the day job thing entirely.)

I have friends and coworkers who chose less circuitous paths and a number of them have retired, or are considering it. So. I tried one of those on-line retirement calculators, and the results are in.  For the next decade, I only need to save 87% of my pay and then I will have enough saved to live at 22% of my current income level.  Of course if I could save 87% of my pay I probably wouldn’t need a retirement calculator.

Looking for a bright side – after living on 13% of my pay, my retirement income would really feel luxurious.

Overall, just one more indication that the kittens need to get jobs.

My Aging Lavender

As lavender bushes get older, they get leggy, a quality that is desirable in supermodels but not in plants.  The plants get woody, also. Woody and leggy are roughly the same idea: most of each branch or stalk loses its leaves and blooms, and grows naked and gnarled. The branch is not dead – there is still life at the top, as lovely and fragrant as ever. The onset of this condition can be delayed with the right care and grooming but it cannot be prevented.

Many a gardener removes a plant when it gets like this and I considered doing so yesterday. The aged lavender is right at the start of my front walkway – who wants to see a long-in-the-tooth mass of twisted branches? But I couldn’t bring myself to chop. After all, there is all that fresh growth at the end of each branch. And as I pruned away the dead stuff, I grew fond of the intricate twists of naked branches. Finding the right spot to clip, to extricate a dead branch from among the still living ones, was as satisfying as solving a complicated puzzle.

I now see those gnarled and interwoven branches as beautiful, also, in a very different way than the dusky leaves or their enveloping fragrance. The flowers are gorgeous but the twisted bare branches tell so much about how the lavender has grown and changed through its life. I hope I get many more years with this plant!

Also, Rock On!

For my birthday, a friend gave me a book about the Replacements (my all-time favorite band). With the book came a card that read

Happy birthday.  Also, rock on!

Now, this has a certain poignancy, because she and I are both getting pretty frigging old by this point. But I mention it here simply because I so love the way she put it.  Also, rock on!

P.S. The book is The Replacements, All over But the shouting: an oral history by Jim Walsh.