Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bon Voyage

Well, I just realized I forgot to blog about something significant!  I finally feel a real part of the senior set having gone on a Caribbean cruise for the first (and likely the last) time earlier this year.  Overall it was an experience that I'm glad to cross off my bucket list.  I loved getting away from home and all the usual daily routines.  The scenery was beautiful.  The company of family was also great.  Possibly the most impressive part was the food!  The quality, quantity, variety and easy access were amazing.  I was told that most cruisers gain an average of 7 pounds in a week.  So that brings me to the tough part which was the walking!  I actually lost 5 pounds.  I also was reminded that I am no longer the party animal that I was in my 20's.  The loud music, dancing and noisy crowded pool area weren't "my thing". except for the people watching, (some of which made me want my eye wash along with my ear plugs).  But my aunt and I managed to get in a lot of gin rummy at poolside anyway.  Most of the evening entertainment was also good.  Must say I hated going anywhere near the casino with the lousy smoke smell. 

Well, that's my personal critique of my Caribbean cruise.  I'm not sure what age group it's especially best for.  My guess is that it's better suited for someone with more physical stamina than I have.  And I would say it would be more enjoyable for a married couple or younger singles.  Don't think I would take children on this cruise, maybe Disney, but then that's just me.

I did leave the ship in two of the three ports.  There were a lot of commercial tourist shops with many diamond and jewelry merchants and some local vendors. The one activity that I liked the most was a buggy ride through parts of Belize City.  It was interesting to see the churches and the schools with children in uniforms.  The housing that we saw looked very poor, but all the children and other residents appeared happy and healthy as far as we could see. There were paid excursions available, but I didn't do any of those.

Bon Voyage Party

                                                     Ready for a card game.                                                           

                                                              Busy poolside                                                                                                                            
                                                      Shopkeeper in Cozumel                                                           

Buggy driver describing the sights in Belize

Multifamily dwelling in Belize

  Heading home

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thoughts on the Media

A facebook friend posted the following Dan Rather statement:

Dan Rather
August 18, 2016

"If residents of Louisiana are watching television news, they must be feeling woefully forgotten. We have the worst natural disaster in years. People have lost their lives and families have lost lifetimes of memories under the waters. However, on cable news at least, the bizarre, apparently fabricated story of the discredited armed robbery of Olympic swimmers is getting almost wall-to-wall coverage. It is ridiculous.

I don't mean to downplay the interest of a story like the one out of Rio. It is so strange that it is compelling. What were they thinking? I wonder that as well. But the news business should have higher standards. Technically the supposed robbery is news, but not when compared to what is happening in Louisiana. It doesn't take much imagination as a reporter to find gripping human interest stories there too, not to mention the headline-worthy state of emergency and the underlying take away about the specter of climate change on extreme weather.

Of course that kind of reporting requires resources and may not draw the easy ratings of pundits playing the schadenfreude game in air conditioned studios. But that doesn't mean it isn't important. It doesn't mean it isn't news. And it doesn't mean that news organizations can give it the second-billing it is getting. I must say that I had reason to be around many local newsrooms in Texas this week and they were dedicating resources to the disaster befalling the state to their east.

A final rhetorical question- if these floods were happening in New York City, or Washington DC or even San Francisco, do you think the coverage would be different?"
My Thoughts on the Media

Thanks to Dan Rather for that statement!  Maybe it's only we "seniors" who recall entirely different journalistic standards and priorities.  Just a few of my own thoughts follow.

It seems a focus on compassion and true priorities is largely gone from the headline "news", and is perhaps missing from society in general.  Can the media can no longer create enough public interest to profit from stories like the Louisiana flooding?  Or is it just easier and more profitable to focus on sensationalism, crime, celebrities and immorality?  Has politics become as "down and dirty" and slanted to extremes of right or left as the media reports it?  It just seems almost impossible to find truth and relevance in any of these extremes. Has advertising profit become the guiding force in news reporting as it has in the rest of - well - just about everything.

Journalism was a part of my English courses in high school.  Truth and factual objectivity  was most important.  The content, ethical and moral standards that we were taught to expect are so lacking in most media news today.  Profit and ratings seem to be the number one factor in reporting the so called "news".  At least they seem to be imply that they report "what the public wants".  Really?  Not this member of the public!  "Years ago the Rio Olympic "robbery" story would have been relegated to the sports section of any reputable news outlet, or maybe just in a gossip column!  It is actually is more suitable for the tabloids except they've gone a step further into outright fiction and lies.

I doubt I'm alone in my hunger for the old standards in journalism!  I've developed a cynical attitude toward the media and politics.  I'd like to see a change.  But I think the media has to take the initiative to change and return to the old standards of objective, relevant and truthful journalism along with a more beneficial and educational focus, keeping the opinion pieces separate from the factual news, Hopefully the public will then re-capture a trust in media news reporting and find it to be the information source that is needed in a productive and educated society.  We should have access to true factual news to enable us to form our own opinions and to conduct our lives. There is a need for comprehensive news of disasters such as the Louisiana floods.  I sure didn't need headlines and continued updates about the supposed Rio robbery!  Guess it's a matter of values but I agree with Dan Rather!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tech Issues and Goodbye to a Friend

Finally, I'm back.  Seems there was some "suspicious" activity and Google closed my account.  I have a feeling the suspicious activity was me on my "smart" phone trying to access some Google thing and not getting the password right.  How can "they" be so cruel, in cyberspace, to require a senior person to keep track of 500+ passwords?  Then just try to unravel the secret of re-establishing a broken connection and coming up with an acceptable new password.  That MAJOR undertaking was giving me anxiety attacks after hours at it, so I abandoned the project.  Then Facebook adopted a new photo sharing system that required a google account.  So I tackled this again and finally got my account back, including access to this blog.

Now that I've aired that grievance, the only other thing to share for today is a view of our Iowa winter.

I'm sorry to say goodbye to Clayton Kelly Gross who has passed away. He was a fellow P-51 fighter pilot, who knew and flew with my Dad in WWII before my Dad was KIA. I was privileged to meet him at an Ace Pilot's gathering a few years ago and he shared experiences about the war. We then connected on facebook and I enjoyed his posts and tales of his poker games.  His book, "Live Bait" has been so very special to me.  

Soldier, rest!  Thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more,
Days of danger, nights of waking.
~Sir Walter Scott~

Monday, June 22, 2015


How do I explain an 18 month gap in blogging, or do I need to excuse myself?  It's been an unusual time, mostly about my Mom, her escalating dementia and her final acute illness. I could try to describe my own feelings and stresses related to her illness, but they pale in comparison to the nightmare she must have been living with daily. Since her passing on March 31 this year, I have felt grief, but also a sense of relief for her escape into eternity in heaven. She struggled so valiantly to hang on to reality, but while losing that battle more and more, I know she longed to leave this life on earth behind. I've struggled with mixed feelings. From about 1998 when I moved back to Iowa, to live near her, until about 2012, we became more like friends than we ever were before. I miss those times terribly and wish we could have had more of that. But at the same time I want to forget the tough times of the last 2 to 3 years.

Somehow I need to close that door, let go of unpleasant memories, put the good ones in storage and open the door to life and new experiences again. It's not that I stopped everything these past months, but there was like a fog hanging over each day. First on the agenda is the continuing great crochet project. Mom left hundreds of skeins of yarn and 3 unfinished afghans. Two are finished and I'm about to finish the third. Then I'll decide what to make with the rest or give it away. Her estate matters are being settled and still need attention. Some of her remaining possessions have been added to my own clutter to be dealt with. Yes, I'm still a pack rat and still working on that.

Summer vacations will include a camping trip and a visit to my sis and family in IL. So it's like the fog is lifting and joy is seeping back in. Hope to continue sharing happy thoughts and some more lively experiences here without so much time between posts.

In Loving Memory
1922 - 2015

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."-Psalm 30:5

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Productive Intentions

This seems to be occurring with more frequency as the years go by. I start the day with every intention of accomplishing something productive, but at the end, can't for the life of me name one really commendable thing I've done. The necessities seem to eat up all my time and energy (more emphasis on energy).

This week was typical. It's well into January and my Christmas tree seemed to be calling out to me to put it into storage. So after at least a week of exhausting procrastination I finally trudged upstairs to bring down the appropriate containers. While up there I decided to look for some wallpaper to patch a hole in my dining room wall (from a tree that hit the house last summer). That called for a flashlight which I was unwilling to go back downstairs to find. So I searched my son's room for his, but ended up picking up his trash and some dishes and observing his lack of housekeeping. Didn't find a flash light, so I went back to the store room and took out several rolls of wallpaper before finding the right one. What was it I came up here for? Oh yes, the Christmas storage boxes. There was a lot more rummaging through stuff and re-arranging things, but I couldn't say exactly what.

Having found the wallpaper and the boxes, I toted them downstairs in about four trips. Then I needed a break. Break time involves checking my email, the news and facebook. Two hours later it was lunch time. Then my recliner seemed to be inviting me to stretch out and crochet while watching a little TV. Everyone needs a bit of "me" time, right? So I stretched out in the recliner watching TV around the Christmas Tree and over the storage boxes stacked in the middle of the room. Three (or maybe four) hours later (did I fall asleep?) my son came home from work and it was time to fix supper. Then I remembered to check the mailbox. Stepping out my front door I noticed two neighbors still had their Christmas lights on! Well, might as well enjoy ours one more night.

So that was maybe Wednesday? It's now Saturday and I have removed all the ornaments and tinsel from the tree and had my son take the boxes back upstairs. (I'll need to go up and put them into the storage area where they belong.) The tree is still staring at me all bare and forlorn. I KNOW I've felt busy most of the time, so why can't I list more accomplishments? Maybe I need to do a time study like we had to do when I was employed as home health care nurse, listing each activity and the times. YUCK!

I'm retired and I've decided not to let my apparent lack of accomplishments bother me. Maybe I'll go back to making a daily "to do" list. Yes, that would be better. That helps to show what I've done as I cross off the items. I've just put off doing the list. First item, "breakdown and store Christmas tree". (Add and cross off: remove and box ornaments, find wallpaper to patch dining room wall, compose blog entry.)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Procrastination, Change and Technology

"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."
~Mark Twain

I'm continuing to become more and more skilled in procrastination. I don't even want to look back and see how long I've put off coming here. I don't think I have a huge following that I need to apologize to. But I am puzzled about how I could find something so rewarding as blogging, then tire of it or let it go so quickly.

What's new in my life that might have gotten in the way? One thing stands out that's not so much new as as it is like a creeping growing storm cloud. My mother will be turning 91 next week, and our days of meaningful conversation are now infrequent and decreasing. My prayer is for her to have less depression, anger and suspicion. The confusion and disorientation aren't as troublesome as long as she is in a pleasant and contented mood. Some days I feel the burden of her, but most days I just feel the sadness of her slipping away. How is it that we have no real concept of this stage of life, hers or mine, when we are thirty something? I watched her care for her mother through the same things, yet my time for this seemed ages away, or almost like it would never happen. Not many days go by without a phone call from a nurse at the nursing home about Mom's illnesses, falls, medication changes or other reports. I automatically expect to hear a nurse's voice each time I answer the phone. I don't say it, but my thought is "what now?" followed by relief when it's something minor. It's reached the point where I can't call her on her phone. She doesn't answer or isn't in her room. Occasionally she has a good day and is able to call me, but most of the time says her phone doesn't work. The worst call from her was about a week or two ago. She got angry about something and I thought she hung up on me. But when I visited, I found the charge base for her phone way under her bed where she had to have thrown it. This just isn't the Mom I've known all my life. This dementia, or whatever it is, just keeps chipping away her personality like some gobbling monster. Well, now I've vented about the central current issue in my life. It does help to verbalize it even if just in written form.

Next thing with this growing procrastination might be the decreasing tolerance of technology changes. I find it hard to believe that I got a Dragon Speech Recognition Software gift for Christmas last year, yes 2012, and haven't used it at all yet. It was something I really wanted to help me write more here, and maybe even some more poetry or other writing. Well, a year has gone by and I've done less writing that ever. I could sit and try to think of the reasons or excuses, but that just seems unproductive. Oh well, why not evaluate the reasons! I've had two more computers wear out and had to buy one with Windows 8. Makes me sigh and wonder just how many more steep learning curves I will be able to conquer. I turned 70 last month and I'm very tempted to use age as an excuse for avoiding several things: snow shoveling, lawn mowing, new technology, spring/fall housecleaning, window washing, etc. The thing is, I really can still do these things with some limits, so I think I need to stay active if I want to avoid brain and body atrophy. Plus I don't want to depend on others for things I can still do. One thing I don't mind is using my age as an excuse for my inability to remember people or names. Secretly that has always been a problem for me, but I fudged it not wanting folks to be offended that I didn't think enough of them to retain their name. Now I think I have enough gray hair to get by with asking, "Excuse me but my memory has gotten so poor I've forgotten your name." So aging does have it's perks!

Now I'm into going through my Mom's 20+ photo albums, reminiscing and trying to recall faces, names and dates before they slip into permanent obscurity. And I do intend to learn how to use that voice recognition software now that I've spent 3 months unraveling the mysteries and demons of Windows 8. I refuse to let procrastination, life changes or technology rule my life or throw me off balance even if they do make my brain hurt sometimes.

Even not knowing the language doesn't hide the hilarity of this fellow's technological impairment.
His daughter asks him how he likes the iPad they gave him for Christmas then the rest is obvious...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Comfort Zones

This expresses my thoughts on Windows 8 (in addition to a few more that are unprintable)! Is this related to aging? Or is it just a price we must all pay for change? When do the benefits of change fail to outweigh the inconveniences and brain fatigue? Well, OK, moving on... I did finally figure out where my desktop is (on that crazy start up app page). Haven't had access to my email on the new computer since I got it set up two weeks ago though, and haven't got a photo editing program yet. I just unloaded a roomful of defunct PC parts and equipment and now have another crashed laptop and desktop to dispose of.

On a more positive note, I find myself spending less time on the computer. I have to use my son's laptop for email and solitaire and my new one for online games and such. I did get a new Wi-Fi device and figured out how to set it up all by myself! Even got a new book downloaded from Amazon and into my iPad! Yay!

It's hard to believe I've let this blogging go for about a year. I just retired from some online volunteer work that I did for 3 hours every other Sunday evening for about 4 years. I need to establish some other habit to add a little structure outside of my day to day life. Maybe getting back to doing this at least weekly would be a good idea. It does force me to think beyond the ordinariness of just existing. I've lost my creativity in the past year. Maybe it was too many crises or maybe just coasting along between them that made me so dull. Whatever the reason, I need to wake up and do something about it. Having to use my brain with the new computer and Windows 8 may have been just the spark I needed to make that move out of my comfort zone!