I’m afraid of falling down and breaking a hip. I’m afraid the battery in my pacemaker will run out of juice and my heart will stop beating.

I’m afraid of airport security with big machines who won’t pay attention and will kill me. But failing? I think I’ve done all the failing I’m going to do this lifetime.


I count on younger generations to handle all additional failures. I’ve exceeded my personal failure quota. I am, however, seriously involved in hanging on through the next commercial cluster of life to see what happens next. I would like to do that while remaining comfortably housed, roofed, and fed. I intend to do my utmost to keep my better half healthy too, while maintaining the handful of relationships that matter to me.

I’m not afraid of failing them, just of losing them. Attrition gets personal after a certain point in life.

I have four implanted replacement parts in this not-all-that-old body. Each one has its own serial number. I stand in absolutely no danger of ever being a “Jane Doe” on some medical examiner’s slab. I figure the parts that can fail, have already failed. The next failure will be my official sign off.

Marilyn with shawl

You are free to worry about failing in love, marriage, job performance, parenting, or any other goal-driven activity to which you are committed. You may be deeply involved in making your next novel a best-seller, quaking with fear that this success or lack thereof will define you.

I’m here to tell you that no matter what happens, your failure — or success — won’t, didn’t, doesn’t define you. Unless you want it to.

You aren’t your achievements, your failures, your fears, your disasters. You aren’t even those nasty messes you leave behind. Or your illnesses and/or disabilities. You are something else. Someone else. You have a soul.

With a variety of replaceable parts.



What do you do to make a living or during the day if you are retired. If you are a student what are you studying?


I’m a lounge lizard. Okay, not a lounge lizard because (a) I don’t lounge and (b) my dry skin isn’t that bad. Yet.

As a retiree, many choices are available to me, as long as they don’t cost money. I take pictures. I write this blog. I listen to audiobooks and occasionally, read a regular book. I read other peoples’ blogs and make comments, to the degree that I have time to do that.


In the company of my better half, I watch reruns of favorite movies and TV shows. I do commentary, he ignores me.

We watch documentaries; I correct the history.

We play with the dogs. We clean while fully realizing the futility of it. We shop for groceries and chat with people at the local supermarket.


I spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone with customer disservice personnel. I “lend” (grant-in-aid) money to my granddaughter. It’s an occupational hazard.

I try to keep ahead of the dirt and I fail. I try to keep on top of the money. I fail at that too. I laugh whenever there’s anything remotely funny and Garry and I count clichés as we watch TV.

That’s life in the slow lane.

Have you ever participated in a distance walking, swimming, running, or biking event? Tell your story.

No. But Garry photographed one this summer. Does that count?


What is usually your first thought when you wake up?

How much do I hurt? Can I move?

Complete this sentence: Look out behind you, it’s a …

zombie. Or a bill collector. Probably a right-wing Republican zombie bill collector.


Nothing really gets away. Everything I didn’t get at one point in life became part of my life in another way, some other time.

Autumn road to home

The choice I made to not go to Boston University in 1965 nonetheless had me living and working Boston twenty years later. Still here and not leaving anytime soon. The man who got away didn’t go far and has been my husband for 25 years.

Dirk Gently, in Douglas Adams’ “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul” says “I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” Douglas Adams had a point.

When life seems to be leading you along random paths, don’t be surprised to discover you’ve circled back and are just where you need to be.


It was a rerun of an NCIS episode from a couple of years ago. The victim had given her life to protect others.

“She didn’t have to do it,” McGee pointed out.

“No,” said Gibbs. “She had a choice. That’s what makes her a hero.”

My cousin is my oldest friend, though we don’t see each other much any more. We communicate via the Internet, not in person.

“You’ve always been braver than me,” she said.

The context was a picture of me and Garry riding the Cyclone at Coney Island. There’s a camera at the first drop. Hard to resist buying a picture of oneself and others screaming as you go down the nearly vertical first drop on an 84-year old wooden coaster.

But brave? It wasn’t as if I’d volunteered to rescue someone from danger. I paid my money and got the best adrenaline rush money can buy. Not brave. Not heroic.


Some people have called me brave because I’ve survived. As it happens, I would have been just as happy to skip all that and lead a pleasant, uneventful life. For excitement, there’s the Cyclone. I could have lived with that.

I’ve managed to slouch into senior citizenship alive but I don’t deserve a medal. You don’t get medals for surviving or shouldn’t. Saving ones own life (and occasionally as collateral anti-damage, other people’s too) is instinct, not valor.

Staying alive is hard-wired into our DNA. Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it.

My definition of bravery or valor is the same as Gibbs’. You have to make a willing choice. There has to be a choice! Taking risks for the fun of it, to make a killing in the stock market, or because your only other option is death isn’t courage.

If it’s fun, it’s entertainment. I love roller coasters. I probably would have liked sky diving had my back not been so bad. A personal passion or hobby involving doing dangerous stuff is not brave. Maybe it’s not even intelligent.

Taking a risk for profit? Shrewd, not brave.

Saving your own life? Finding a way by hook or crook to keep a roof over your head and food on your table? That’s instinct.

I’ve never done anything I define as courageous. I’ve done exciting stuff, entertaining and fascinating stuff. Some of these adventures proved disastrous. Others worked out okay. I’ve occasionally been selfless in helping others when I could. But I never voluntarily put myself in harm’s way to save someone else.

The most I could be accused of is doing the right thing when it wasn’t easy. I don’t think you get medals for that, either.

Anyway, that’s what I think.

SERENDIPITY PHOTO PROMPT 2015 #18 — CHAI — 8-12-2015


Chai - 18 - Life

This is the 18th Serendipity Photo Prompt.

Eighteen in Hebrew is “Chai,” which means life. Every ending contains the seed of a beginning. 

Today is our little dog Nan’s date with destiny. We’ve been looking for a way out of this. Trying to find any excuse to make it unnecessary. Make it not true.

Nan Xmas

Life and death are imperatives. No matter how we parse it, Nan has run out her string. She can’t hear, barely sees, can’t manage the stairs. She has little sense of smell and often isn’t sure who we are — or for that matter, who she is.

All of which accounts for my dour mood.


Simultaneously, Amber, the mini-dachshund, has breast cancer. She isn’t well, isn’t happy, won’t eat. I suspect her final days are approaching too.

dogs with bishop and gar

One is hard. Two are very hard.


The only good side of all of this is that finally, the family is acting like a family and pulling together. Setting blame aside, now it’s time to do what needs to be done for the good of the creatures we love.


It has been a good week for pictures. Garry and I took a lot of pictures in town recently. At the dam, on the Commons.


The commons is that big green lawn in the middle of most New England towns. Boston’s got a huge one, Uxbridge has a rather small one.

The Commons

The Commons

Originally, these green spaces were called commons because they were a common area where everyone could graze sheep.


Yes, all you cowboys. Sheep. Because sheep give wool and wool becomes warm clothing, sweaters, stockings, coats. Even big Pilgrim hats.


Winter in the northeast is a cruel mistress. We need all that wood to make the warm clothing that keeps us from freezing. We thank our friends, the sheep, for their donations. And let them graze on the Commons.

You can write anything about anything, as long as you link a picture to the story. You can link several pictures and more than one story. This is a free writing challenge. Have fun.



We’re going through a difficult period, mostly because of the dogs. Dogs getting old and sick. Having to deal with stuff we don’t want to deal with.

Everything has hit at the same time. All the family drama and three out of four dogs ill or aging. That’s a lot. Garry and I are by turns, depressed, distressed, and exhausted. Not feeling much like partying.

kitchen in hadley

Everything has a cost. Nothing is simple.

Our son gave us a new television, which was great because the one we had was getting on in years. It still works fine, but it’s an older technology. Difficult to find equipment that will work with it. We were going to have to trade up, like it or not. Getting a new television was good thing, a positive thing about which to be glad. Right?

The new one is significantly sharper, almost like 3-D. But (there’s always a but), the old one had pretty good speakers.  The new one has speakers that wouldn’t be good enough for a laptop, much less a television. Not only could Garry not hear it, I couldn’t hear it either. If I turned it up loud enough, it over-modulated, buzzed, and emitted a high-pitched whistle that gave me an instant headache.


I had to get some kind of sound system. Without money to invest in a premium system, I found a sound bar on Amazon. Tonight, we have television sound again. Following three days using headphones all the time, what a relief! I feel like we’ve overcome at least one crisis.

I know it sounds trivial. It is trivial. Just $100 on a credit card. Voila. Problem solved. It was one more thing on top of all the other things. Somehow, it seemed a bigger deal than it ought.

That’s the thing with trivial problems when they show up together with serious ones. When you’ve got enough stress, anything that happens feels like a big deal. Feels like more than the nothing it really is. Small things feel much more important than they are, get more attention than they deserve.


I got a new lens for my Olympus. A great little f1.8 25 mm lens. Came with a lens hood. But I couldn’t put the lens hood on because there was no thread on the front of the lens. So I called Adorama, from whom I bought the lens. I told them there was no damned thread, so I couldn’t use the hood.

It took them a week to get back to me. There is, they explained (it took them a week to track down this information) a decorative ring on the lens. Remove it and the hood screws on.

They couldn’t include a slip of paper with the lens to tell me there was a decorative ring covering the thread on the front of the lens? The whole “we don’t need no stinking instructions” attitude by the tech industry is pissing me off. Just one more aggravation on top of other aggravations.

Finally, here’s the ultimate stupid problem.

There’s a fly in the house. A regular house fly. Every time he flies past my face, I feel a ground swell of rage, that this stupid fly won’t go away. How long does a fly live? This fly has so far been buzzing around for three days. Isn’t that too long? Just saying.

fuchsia macro june 2015

The dogs. The family drama. Every little hassle that should be nothing is exaggerated because we’re already stressed.

Soon, it will pass. It always passes. My mother’s favorite saying was “This too shall pass” and truly, everything will settle down. All will be well.

In the meantime, forgive me. I’m cranky.


And here is my original entry on this prompt. Which, as it turns out, is still pretty funny and as obnoxious as the first time I wrote it.

I am not sure I ever thought I was immortal — probably because I didn’t think about it at all. Until sometime in college, I did not ponder the nature of life and death.

College was a peak time for that kind of mental muck-raking. Was it the drugs? No, I’m inclined to think it was going to classes. You see, college presents no danger unless you actually attend lectures and stuff. If you just hang out on the quad, it’ll be okay. But I took courses like  “The Philosophy of Religion” and went to lectures on Phenomenology. And, I had a steady assignment of existential novels to read by Sartre, Camus, et al. Deep stuff. The kind of books I totally won’t look at any more.

96-Me Young in Maine

That this hyper-intellectual phase of my life coincided nicely with my first actual near-death experience was pure chance. It didn’t improve my personality, that’s for sure. There is nothing more aggravating than a teenage college student contemplating the philosophical meaning of life. And death. Had I not already been me, I would have had to expel myself as a punishment for being so annoying.

I’m pretty sure all of us thought we were very smart and had a solid grip on the life and death stuff. Even adding on my botched spine surgery — which nearly killed me for real and all — I was still an obnoxious wise-ass with an inflated sense of my intellectual prowess.

Things have really improved. Now I’m an aging senior citizen wise-ass. Oh, and I am pretty sure — not 100%, but maybe 90% — I am not immortal. Eventually, I’ll know for 100% certain.

I’ll get back to you on that.