Perennial

Perennials-that-love-shadeElder, senior, aging, older, old. I want to be honest about where I am in life. I am, unapologetically, 73 years old. But I don’t really identify with any of these words.

“Elder” implies entitlement to authority and status that I may or may not have. “Senior” is a euphemism for “old” and I don’t go for euphemisms. I’m certainly “aging”–but isn’t everybody? And “old” is how I feel sometimes but I’ve tried calling myself old and it makes me–and others–uncomfortable.

Language matters, as Laura Carstensen writes in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, “In Search of a Word that Won’t Offend ‘Old’ People.” Continue reading

Our latest Best Flix List

We watch lots of movies at home and every year we rate them and send our list of favorites in a year-end letter to friends. Last year I didn’t write a year-end letter and this year we didn’t watch as many movies. So I decided to combine our list for the two years. Oh, and because I write this blog I’m thinking of giving up the Christmas letter altogether. So, friends near and far, this is for you.

The Best Movies Vic and Nancy Watched at Home in 2016–17
Continue reading

#HimToo?

Today one of my favorite senators resigned in the face of charges of sexual harassment. Pinching, butt- and breast-squeezing, forced smooching–moves familiar to most women. Not rape, for sure. Not seduction of teenagers. Just opportunistic grabbing. “He was quick,” said one recipient of Al Franken’s unwanted attentions. “He knew what he was doing.”

Did he know what he was doing? Continue reading

Favorite reads, 2017

I just finished reading The Weight of Ink, by Rachel Kadish. It’s one of my favorite novels of the year: history, culture, great characters, interesting ideas, good writing–a page-turner set in the 17th century London Portuguese Jewish community and current cutthroat academia. I like books that take me places.

It didn’t make it to the NY Times 100 Notable Books for 2017. The Times reviewers seem to prefer edgier fiction and memoirs. “Disturbing” is their favorite descriptor. Continue reading

Nevertheless, joy persisted

Pictures pop up from a year ago. People are sitting around a table at an open-air restaurant on a busy street in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. They are waiting for pizza. It is my birthday, but no one knows that until I tell them. The picture is taken before I tell them, and they are looking subdued. As I recall, telling them about my birthday, reluctant as I had been to do so, livened things up and it became a party. Continue reading

Calling Grandmothers

One of the first things I decided to do after the 2016 election was to stop coloring my hair. In the months that followed, the light brown I’d adopted for the past 20 years, something close to the color I was born with, gave way to snowy white. I am delighted with my new look, the result of genes inherited from my white-haired father and grandparents.

I told friends that I’d been waiting to stop coloring my hair till I was pretty sure it was growing out all white rather than gray. But there were deeper reasons for choosing to go white at that particular time, even though I couldn’t articulate them at first. Continue reading

Extravagant beauty

With full awareness of all that is ugly in the world, I am obsessing about beauty. I don’t believe these thoughts represent escapism so much as astonishment. A lesson that has unfolded for me over the past year is that nothing in this world is to be taken for granted. And so I’m trying to keep my eyes and my heart open and when I do this the beauty of life nearly overwhelms me, as does the impulse to experience, create, and extend this beauty, which represents Love. Continue reading

Mobility

IMG_0521 (1)After my post about knee pain I got lots of sympathy and encouragement about eventually replacing these achy knees. Everybody knows somebody who has been through the serious surgical ordeal and most have come through it well. But I got a somewhat different story from an orthopedist. Continue reading

Look down! An eclipse!

This eclipse caught me unprepared.

I do not have eclipse glasses and didn’t think about buying them until it was probably too late.

I made no effort to get in the path of the total eclipse and didn’t think about doing that until I read (reread, it’s old) Annie Dillard’s marvelous essay on a total eclipse (different from a partial like the difference between kissing a man and marrying him, hmmm.)

And then I really wanted to experience a total. But that was about last Thursday. Continue reading

Knee pain

Two things have disappointed me greatly since our move into the Pink Lady: my left knee and my right knee.

With the move, I looked forward to walking everywhere. So much is within walking distance. Walking distance used to be easily three miles for me, each way. Three miles from the Pink Lady would take me to the Notre Dame campus and nearby shops and restaurants, a long trail along the St. Joe River, homes of all of my friends who live on the north side, and a number of parks, to say nothing of all the downtown shops and restaurants. Continue reading