Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
December 26th, 2013
September 3rd, 2013

LEONA’S POEM

I don’t know what I’m going to do with Leona Choy.   She seems to be writing more things that are spot-on for my blog than I do!  At 88 Leona is only too familiar with the downside of aging and talks to God about it.  As usual, God is more spot-on than Leona.   Please read and enjoy and then visit her blog for more of her wisdom.

Forever-Child

(Dialogue with God)

 

I hear it said that You

will carry people, Father,

when things get tough.

Well then, I think I’m qualified:

I’ve had about enough!

Please pick me up!

 

I’m weary to the bone

my feet are dragging and hurt

and I need orthodics in my shoes

I am lagging behind

no longer keeping pace

in the fast track of life’s race.

I have a feeling

there’s trouble brewing

on the aging path ahead

that I really dread.”

 

That sounds so dramatic, My child!

 

Well, I’ve been a long time

on Your Way, Father,

so I have an aching spine

and I’m in decline

my prime is past

my years advanced

my body bent

my strength is spent

my spirit wanes

my shoulder complains

I need trifocals to see

and hearing aids

then there’s that bum knee—

I’m in the days of yellow leaf

around me I see only grief!”

 

Any further complaints?

 

I live in earth’s time zone, Father,

and no longer strong and fit

I’m experiencing depreciation

without any tax benefit.”

 

That’s some recital, child!

 

There’s more! I feel distressed

sometimes depressed

’cause life has lost its kick.

My neck has a crick

my body parts are shabby and worn

for they’ve been working full time

since the day I was born.

And have You noticed, Father,

in some places they’re too sparse

in others too well-padded?

 

My, my, how old did you say you are?

 

You know, Lord, You know all things…

I figure I’m somewhere between

seniority, maturity and longevity but

I’m trying to circumvent senility.

I’m no longer of service to You

as in days gone by when in my prime.

Father, indeed, I think

that I am going to seed!”

 

Alright child, I’ve heard enough—

listen now:

You call me “Father” and that is right

for in My eternal sight

you are truly still my child.

But you’ve lost perspective

you are preoccupied

with the turning of a page

and a calendar date

which you call time and age.

 

I AM that great I AM

and there is no time in Me

only endless Eternity

I AM the same forever.

So if you are in Me and I AM in you

you are My “forever-child,

You are timeless and ageless too.

So in childhood’s simplicity

roll your infirmities on Me

lean on My everlasting arms

and walk in full dependency.

 

This is My perfect plan:

though your temporary outer-man

declines and wastes away

your forever inner-man

renews each passing day.

Your spirit does not diminish

or fade away to a withered finish.

You can flourish and grow

like the palm and the cedar

full of sap and very green

not yellow leaf, brittle and dry.

 

I still expect good fruit from you

a riper, sweeter yield

even more than before

as your roots sink deep

and relentlessly pursue

My Rivers of Living Water

and sprout afresh again

young shoots and new.

 

But Father, I’m winding down toward sunset

and darkness is scary to me.”

 

These are not your sunset years

beyond which darkness lies:

you journey now toward sunrise

for I AM eternal Light.

Your spiritual eyes won’t dim

beholding Me with inward sight.

You’ll step without a lapse

into the glory of Eternity

in which you already walk

today, “forever-child,” with Me.

 

Are You saying

that You won’t pick me up, Father?”

 

I don’t need to pick you up, child

because I’ve never put you down!

From womb to Glory’s gate

I, the Lord, will carry you

through youth and prime

to graying years

till the end of time.

In disappointments, trials and fears

through all your joys and tears—

I’ll never put you down!

 

Abba, Father, so let it be—

I’m Your child forever, so carry me

 from here to Eternity!”

 

*****

July 22nd, 2013

NIGHT FALL

Yesterday I went out into the backyard with a bottle of frozen water, sat down in a lawn chair, and watched night fall.  This week in July is historically the worst week of summer, and the week had lived up to its reputation — over 90 degrees every day, oppressive humidity, warnings to the old folks to stay indoors.  Our Hart bus even parked an air-conditioned bus on Main Street, inviting sufferers to come in.  Relief was predicted for last night so I went out to watch the sky and wait for its coming.  Have you ever just watched the sky darken as night falls?  The rain did not come but  Martha and Dan came over and informed me that our Mimosa tree, which is now in bloom, is being frequented by hummingbirds.  I’ve never seen a hummingbird on this property and it was too dark to see properly but I look forward to a daytime sighting.  I expected mosquitos, but saw none.  It was a good musing time.

My birthday festivities are all over now, save for a  raincheck for lunch with Sis Ann.  They seemed to go on and on, such that a church friend deemed it “celebrating the octave of Dottie’s birthday.”  There were several lunches, a big cake, a small cake,  a designer cupcake, and tiramisu, flowers and plants, sundry gifts, numerous cards including four that actually said, “For your 90th birthday” and only two were duplicates!  Plus Facebook, which is a good place to gather wishes from far afield.

It was good to be able to spend a length of time with the grass and the sky, to check out the two new pear trees and the fig tree that looks like it will really produce many figs this year.  I note just on the other side of the fence a tree that has suddenly (where have I been?) grown huge, to shade-tree size, and I don’t even know its name.  It is definitely not a maple, perhaps an elm?  I must check it out.  One should know the name of a sizeable tree so close at hand, even though it’s not mine.

During the night it apparently did rain some but no storm as predicted.  Another hot day coming up,  only in the eighties.  I hope to watch night fall again in the near future–it’s a nice change from watching one TV program after another until I fall asleep.  A good time to commune with nature and count one’s blessings.

sky

Nightfall. Fireflies in abundance as a bonus. Haven’t seen any for years!

photo

 

 

July 16th, 2013

MELT DOWN!

I had a meltdown this morning!  It was brought on by a TV commercial for something called a Perfect Polly Pet.   I was surprised by the energy with which I shouted, “No!  No!  No! No! No!  and shut off the TV.  Perfect Polly is a pretend parakeet that sits on a perch and looks quite real sitting in a cage.  When you enter the room, Perfect Polly chirps and turns its head and waggles its tail feathers.  It requires no care, no food, no clean-up, and stays quiet all night.  It is suggested  as the perfect companion for someone you love, at only $14.99.  My immediate thought was, “Please don’t give me a plastice bird for my birthday!”  Anything that is supposed to keep me company needs at least a spark of life.

O.K., so I over-reacted.  But I would be entranced by a battery-operated bird for about a minute.  I am reminded of the prisoner in solitary confinement talking to the critter crawling on the floor (an ant? a cockroach?  a spider?) saying, “Please don’t go away.”  He was hungry for the presence of another living thing.

Every senior person in every nursing home in this affluent country has his/her own TV to keep him “company.”  And, yes, TV does while away the time.  You get to know the personalities on the programs you watch and it is almost like having friends visit.  In fact, some folks are so dedicated to their favorite programs so that if a friend should actually visit in real life they can’t turn off the TV long enough the pass the time of day with their visitor.  What bothered me about Perfect Polly was the artificiality of it all.  Please, I’d like something REAL in my room–and by real I mean alive.

If you visit or call your  loved one often enough so that you feel no guilt, what might comfort them in their lonely hours?  Many dote on their dog or cat.  If that’s not practical,  how about a gerbil or a goldfish?   Goldfish live a long time.  My idea of a really fun gift would be a guppy — a pregnant guppy!  In a bowl, of course.  With fish food.  And if that went well, next time, after the babies are born, a flashy male guppy to flirt with the female!  And maybe a couple of snails to clean the fishbowl.   It could happen that a whole new enjoyable hobby would develop.  Or it could happen that  after going to all the trouble of buying a guppy and fish stuff for a loved one they would really rather have had a Perfect Polly Pet!

Shut-ins usually enjoy plants.  A plant requires little care, and it might even do something, like grow or bloom.  I still have the begonia that was in my mother’s room when she died ten years ago and I look forward to it blooming every springtime.    My spider plant  makes new spiders regularly.  I also have some air plants that Wendy sent from Florida two years ago.  One was blooming when I received it and made six babies (which I delivered and replanted) before it died.  Living things do have habit of dying now and then but they give you something to watch and care for in in the meantime.

I noted when my daughter, Peggy, died I found plants and flowers strangely comforting.  After a long cold snowy winter there comes an impatience to get outside, dig in the dirt, and put in at least some tomato plants and basil.    There seems to be a healing power  in nature as Bryant notes in Thanatopsis. He was only 17 when he wrote this:

To him who in the love of nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty; and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy that steals away
Their sharpness ere he is aware.

We admire the work of the craftsman in a mosaic, a fine piece of furniture, a quilt or sculpture.  I think perhaps the things of nature are comforting because we know that they did not just happen on their own.  They speak of a designer of infinite creativity, beauty, and power, beyond our understanding but there.

I am reminded of the little girl who did not want to be left alone at bedtime.   Her mother explained that she wouldn’t be alone.  God would be right there with her all the time.   “But I want someone with skin on!” she exclaimed.

It’s all very well to tell the lonely person that God is right there, with them.  Even persons who sometimes feel the presence of God only do so now and then.  In the Old Testament days people might really believe the stories about how God made the world and that he spoke through the prophets, and gave the Ten Commandments, but still God was invisible and for the most part silent.  I think perhaps God recognized our need for a “God with skin on” when he sent Jesus Christ.  He was like us, in all things save sin, walked the walk, suffered and died.  We could relate.

“Into the hand that made the rose, shall I with trembling fall?”

Even the Perfect Polly Pet had a designer.   But it doesn’t even begin to compare with a single rose.

 

 

 

 

July 12th, 2013

NINETY

Face it.  My blog has not gone/will not go viral.   I rather like it that way, low on the radar.  I can write whatever I think and not expect blowback the next day, probably never.  It turns out that the lively dialogues that I really enjoy occur on Facebook, not here.  Facebook is where I (and many others) turn for human contact.  Facebook is where I play Scrabble and argue with grandkids and their ilk about global warming, or evolution, God or no God, Obamanation or Abomination.  Its amazing how much they think they know.   Without Facebook how would I keep up with the greatgrandkids I’ve never seen, like Caleb in New Hampshire and Aiden Lux in Florida?

We’ve seen a sea-change in society, we old ones. We remember a time when we left our keys in the ignition and didn’t lock our house doors. A time when children played outdoors (in the street), walked to school unaccompanied,  and played with each other instead of with little machines. A time when most people lived by the Ten Commandments, whether they knew them or not.   I have read that people today  have some lingering morality that is a hangover from the time when we had a Christian society, but it is gradually wearing off and having a diminishing effect.   When you think there is no God and no after-life, it makes sense to take and enjoy what you want when you want it, because it’s now or never.

It does not seem possible I could not have known what a lesbian was until after I was married!  (Nowadays children read about Heather and her Two Mommies in kindergarten!)  Though I truly loved my best girlfriends, it could never have occurred to me to have sex with them. We all eventually married and have the children to show for it.

More and more often I turn off the TV as a waste of time. Who knows how much time I have left! I find my musing time to be my most valuable time, you know, pondering eternal verities or intimate relationships, looking for insights, I guess you might even call it prayer time.  Believe it or not, life at 90 is still exciting.  Just a few months ago a student from Kenya, studying for his doctorate at Rutgers, asked to “Friend” me on Facebook.    I wrote back one word:  “Why?”   It turned out he had read my article on MercatorNet saying that evolution cannot/does not explain how the differentiation in sexes came about.  As far as I know, this young man in Manhattan and I are the only two people in the universe with the  same ideas on the subject!  A kindred spirit!

Another exciting online discovery this past year was what I consider to be the best-ever proof of God from design in a PowerPoint by an Indian blogger.  Also I was very happy to discover that Nick Vujucic, an Australian who I have written about before, who has no arms and no legs, has  married and is expecting a baby boy!

The first day of my 90th year (7/11/12) latest greatgrandson, Aiden, was born.   Here he is today, almost one year old,  in a Father’s Day photo with his Daddy, Robert Beck.   I have yet to meet this child in person.

beck boys

This year I have broken a toe and have had three facial malignancies removed. I am impressed with how this old body still heals itself. Six months after breaking my toe the toenail was still black. When I mentioned that to Mary she insisted on seeing it immediately. I think she feared her mother might be walking about with a gangrenous toe. Yes, the toenail was black, but the flesh around it was pink and healthy. It was April Fool’s day when the toenail got caught on my bedclothes. Lo and behold, it was loose and I lifted the whole toenail off, entire, painlessly, leaving behind a fresh new pink toenail. My face, too, shows little sign of surgery on the malignancies.   Then, too, I lost a  molar after 80 years of faithful service and am currently coping with a new, updated denture that used to attach to that molar!

Granddaughter Amy had a December wedding that was extraordinarily beautiful and I think I have raved quite enough about it.    My friend from the Rescue days, Anne Fitzpatrick, died this past year.   We became acquainted in 1988 when we slept next to each other on a mat on the gym floor at Niantic prison.  A widow, she remarried and we went to her wedding.  Following an accident we visited her often at a nursing home  in Springfield.  She was a good friend.  Rest in peace, Annie.

I would be seriously amiss if it did not here put in a plug for a book by another aged blogger, Leona Choy, who at 88 is still not only blogging away but writing and publishing actual print-and-paper books. I recently finished her Living It Up which was so chockful of wise advice and pithy comments (which I was tempted to use as my own) I figured I might as well just recommend the whole book. If you have an aging parent, relative, friend in a nursing home, anyone old you’d like to do a nice thing for, get them Leona’s Living It Up.

A recent snapshot of the times we live in  took place in Texas.  A bill was passed by the Texas House yesterday stating that unborn babies could not be aborted after 20 weeks, at which time we know they feel pain.  The bill  also required  abortion clinics to be duly inspected and have access to a hospital in case of emergency.   Pro-choicers attempted to shout down speakers by chanting “Hail, Satan,” and pro-lifers responded by singing “Amazing Grace.”     Every day the lines are being more clearly drawn.

I am sad about what is happening to our beautiful nation, “sweet land of liberty.”     I lament with Hamlet:

O God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

Padre Pio’s advice gives me some peace:  “Pray.  Hope.  Don’t worry.”  We did not make ourselves or put ourselves in this world.  The God who made us  has shown us the way and is worthy of our trust.
And as life slows down and I find myself less able and less in charge  I remember Milton “On his Blindness.”

God does not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts,
Who best bear his mild yoke they serve him best.
His state is kingly.  Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.

After five years my blogging is slowing down but I’m not quite ready to close up shop.   After all, I have new computer and my driver’s license was just renewed last month for another six years!

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

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May 21st, 2013

JOHANNA, 86, GOTTA LOVE HER!

In many cases we who can no longer do a push-up or a squat have to admit that we can no longer do them because it has been a long, long time since we even tried. Johanna has kept her skills because she refused to let them go. Below the video I am posting a 7 minute daily exercise routine which would do much to keep us stronger and more limber.

This 86 Year-Old Gymnast Has AMAZING Skills and Strength! from alegator21 on GodTube.

“86-year-old gymnast Johanna Quaas kicks serious ass on the gymnastics floor. Not only is the German woman in fantastic enough shape to rock a leotard, but her physical moves in a floor routine and parallel bars — parallel bars! — should both inspire us and put us all to shame.”

She also showed some serious, and seriously impressive skills on the parallel bars, and, in a German interview translated into English at Gymnastike.org, Quaas says she has been performing gymnastics since she was a twentysomething, and that she was also a member of the East German handball champion team.

Watch Quaas in action with her floor routine and amazing parallel bars performance below, then, you know, get up, walk away from your computer and do something:

 

7 minute workout

May 1st, 2013

DECEMBER–MAY THOUGHTS

When Joyce posted this little poem below on Facebook, it somehow hit home. I’ve been assured that I do not have Alzheimer’s (yet) but most people who have reached my age have noted decided slipping — decreased strength, agility, memory, hearing,  vision, energy, mental acuity. My new geriatrician inquired especially about my memory and when I said I have lately had more trouble remembering people’s names he said that was not unusual. He asked if I had trouble remembering the names of things and I immediately thought of Peg (now gone to the Lord) asking for “the name of the thing that goes over the water.” My friend and I came up with “bridge” and looked at each other. Peg was indeed slipping.

A few years ago I read the book Elegy for Iris, a famous author who was aware of the first signs of her slipping into what was finally to be  a devastating condition of being “sick, sad, and lost” as in the poem below.  What struck me was that at the beginning, Iris, herself, was aware of the onset.

december

Oh it’s a long, long while
from May ‘till December
And the days grow short
When you reach September.
When the Autumn weather
turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time
For the waiting game.

For the days dwindle down
To a precious few…
September…November…
And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you.
These precious days
I’ll spend with you.

Having weathered yet another winter I find I am enjoying this springtime more than ever. The blue sky, the warm sunshine, discovering the my fig tree has survived the snow and the frost once again.  How many times do we have to see life spring forth from the ashes before we will believe in it?  As I watch myself slip physically almost imperceptibly, how is it that I feel, at the same time, growth  in strange and unexplainable  ways?

When you know it is already December and the slipping becomes obvious, it is time to put it all in the hands of the God who does all things well. I have six children who are both good and kind and doubt that anyone will ever find me sitting alone on the sturbcone, chewing gubber rum. Being sick, sad, and lost does not appeal (not do any of the other terrible things that can happen to people) but even suffering has a reason and there comes a time to “Let go and let God.”

This is an old song, so old that my friends do not recognize the tune.   I understand that Barney Fife sang it in church in an episode of the Waltons.
Welcome sweet springtime,
We greet thee in song,
Murmurs of gladness,
Fall on the ear.
Voices long hushed,
Now their full notes, prolong,
Echoing far and near.
~~~
God’s gifts put Man’s best dreams to shame….
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go. — John 21:18
April 18th, 2013

91-YEAR OLD SINGER COMPETES

91-year-old Olivia Turner of Christchurch NZ surprises judges with her rendition of I Could Have Danced All Night.

 

March 24th, 2013

OF RAGS AND HANKIES

I have noticed among my friends that there are a couple who will not buy Kleenex or similar tissues. I understand where they are coming from because there was a time when I avoided buying such tissues because I did not want to waste good money on something that would be used once and then thrown away. I also seldom used paper towels for the same reason. Why use up a whole roll of towels when there were plenty of rags available for the little cleaning jobs that paper towels are so handy for? As you might guess, I and my frugal friends date way back — to a day when there were no paper towels or Kleenex tissues.

There are always paper towels hanging in my pantry, and you can find Kleenexes (or their equivalent) in several rooms of my house. But – there has always been a little pile of handy rags available near the kitchen stove. They are so handy for the small cleaning job, they never fall apart, are easily rewashed in the washing machine or tossed into the wastebasket if they are too dirty or tattered. Just last month I cut up an old pair of pajama bottoms into a whole new batch of nice flannel rags!

We old ones don’t like waste. Sometimes I wish I lived in the days when folks gathered for a quilting party and exchanged pieces of old clothes destined to be re-fashioned into a new quilt or comforter. Such a communal gathering sounds like fun – with lots of conversation starters when reminiscing about making a dress and how many kids wore it until it reached the discard pile. Only once have I done something similar, when I pieced together the plush linings of a number of old coats into a cuddly blanket for my first son. He loved it until he went to college.

There are good rags and better rags. A piece of an old worn towel is top-notch. I like to have a lot of nice rags on hand for the occasional big mess, or a paint spill, for the things that paper towels were never very good at anyway.

I’ve always been a rag person but now I am, once again, a hanky person. At 89! Not to keep expenses down but because I have a collection of old handkerchiefs that are dainty and adorable and so much better for their purpose than tissues that you use once and toss away. You’ll find me these days with a hanky up my sleeve, just like my old friend Bertha. I especially enjoy the ones with colored edgings tatted by my Mom. I remember (in the old days when we had an ironing basket) how I liked to iron handkerchiefs, fold them in half, in half again, and then into the final triangle that seemed to be the approved shape for a freshly ironed hanky.

Sometimes we old folks muse about the awesomeness of God and the order in the universe.  Sometimes we muse about  keeping order in our own small part of the universe and rags and hankies.

January 23rd, 2013

SIX MONTHS WITH iPAD

I found it somewhat daunting when Katy gave me an iPad for my 89th birthday.  What?  Another technological thing to have to learn to cope with?  I’m not at all sure I can stretch my brain that far.  But today, iPad sleeps next to my bed and is there to befriend me when I wake up.  Just open it up and I have light in the darkness.  A touch and it will tell me how cold it is outside and how much it might warm up to, so I know what to wear today.  Another touch and I can see if anyone has made another Scrabble move and even chat with the Scrabble players about the weather, their wellness, or whatever.

How does it happen?  In the olden days I didn’t understand radio.   Daddy got a galena, showed us how to make a cat’s s whisker and find a sensitive spot so we could hear a radio program.   How did that happen?  I wonder now where he got the earphones that made the sound audible to us.  How did HE know all this stuff so he could teach us?  My Daddy had brains I am only beginning to appreciate!  Wind the fine copper wire into a coil, hitch it up to the cat’s whisker, find the right spot on the crystal, put on the earphones, and, presto, a radio program right out of thin air!  It boggled my mind 80 years ago and it hasn’t gotten any better.  How did those radio waves find my house from miles away, go right through the walls, into every room in my house?    I fancied the air full of invisible sound that my natural ears could not hear.   And it seemed that the invisible sound was EVERYWHERE!

Today there is not only invisible sound EVERYWHERE, but invisible pictures, movies, clouds full of information,that, through the magic of WiFi (whatever that is) my iPad  can reach out and grab.  How does that happen?  Last week we had our sibling gathering down at Ernie’s house in Monroe, CT.   I took my iPad along.  I asked Ernie for his WiFi password.  Clue me in.  Does everyone with a computer have an iPad password?  Well,  Ernie had one and next thing you know my iPad was plugged into the world.  I pushed the FaceTime button and Dolly’s phone number in Florida.  (Dolly is our sister and we thought it would be nice to include her, finally, in one of our sibling gatherings.)  And there’s Dolly’s face!!!  Living, breathing, talking, joining in, live and in real time, with us, all together!  How does that happen?

We passed Dolly and the iPad around so each of us could have a few words with her and even a few words with her hubby, Dwight.  In FLORIDA!  How does that happen?  It seems to me the very air must be a veritable soup of sound and people and it’s EVERYWHERE!   I don’t understand it!  Once my sister called me on her cell phone and I received her call  in the airport in PUERTO RICO!   Once when it seemed that Terry should have been back from Indiana by now I called her on my phone and she answered ON A TRAIN IN VIRGINIA!

I do not understand this modern world.   How is it that EVERYTHING IS EVERYWHERE?  Once, long ago, when my brain was young, I did not understand radio.   Now that my brain is old and tired I guess I should just accept the inexplicability of technology and hope that maybe somewhere there is someone who gets it.   All I know is, it’s not me.