Agatha Christie said that if you marry an archaeologist, the older you get, the more interesting he will find you.

It’s a little late for me to marry an archaeologist, but a man who still thinks you are beautiful when every law of your universe tells you that you are not, is even better.

Beauty is not in the eyes of every beholder. Many people don’t find anything older than a 2-year old cell phone beautiful. Not everyone likes to wander the ruins of previous ages or gets teary-eyed while looking at a stone circle. There are many who look at the wilds of the arctic and only see places to drill for oil. They look at cities and imagine a bulldozer taking it down to nothing so they can build again.

None of us expects to get old. We might anticipate maturity. A mellowness, perhaps. A few gray hairs, the odd wrinkle that could still be considered a laugh line. None of us expects to get old and tired, full of aches and pains. No one thinks struggling to climb the stairs or even get up from the sofa is something great, to which we all aspire.

Climb every mountain – Photo: Ben Taylor

A few people will age with few complaints and some lucky ones will continue to have some of the powers of youth. Whenever I see one of these 90+ people who has been waiting his whole life to run a marathon, all I can think is:


Is that “it” for you? Now that you’ve run the distance, what’s next? You going to keep running until your legs crumple under you? If this was your lifelong plan, what waits for you in your future?

I never expected to become ill or too damaged to do the things I’d always managed to do. I was damaged early, but for a long time, I did it — whatever “it” was — anyway. When age and ill-health crept up, I gradually recognized no amount of will or determination was going to make the days of youth return. Age was not a number. Age was a reality and now, a big part of my reality. Age wasn’t going away or even taking a long vacation. But I can live with it. Getting older is not willing yourself to keep doing the same things you did thirty years ago. It’s creatively figuring out what you can do that you will enjoy and will find worth doing.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot of that. Arts and crafts and painting and writing and thinking and talking and learning don’t have to disappear.

Take pictures of – but do NOT forge – every stream.

Dealing with age is not forcing yourself to do the things you did when you were younger. Dealing with age is recognizing what you can’t do and probably should not even try to do … while simultaneously figuring out what you can do. Even when you were more fit, not everything worth doing involved running, strength, speed, or agility. Your brain is part of your body too — and it needs a lot more exercise than you imagine. Even if you can’t remember the name of that person you used to work with — how important is he or she? A lot of the things we forget as we get older weren’t important anyway. For the small stuff, we have lists. Just to be fair, I’ve always needed lists and that included when I was a lot younger!

And have a good gaze at the beauty of the world

As for the people whose names we’ve misplaced? Ted Kennedy, famous for his inability to remember names, used to say to everyone: “Hey, it’s YOU!”

Not being a politician I have a different mode: “Excuse me. I’m sorry, I’ve misplaced your name! It’s an old person thing. Could you remind me?”

Surprisingly, it works. Try it. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life looking at people and not knowing who the hell he or she is? Won’t that make you feel stupid? When they give you their name, but you still have no idea who they are … well … maybe they weren’t all that important. I’ve had people give me their names, what we did together in High School, mutual friends … and I still don’t know who they are. That really is embarrassing.

And yet … life goes on. Go figure, right?


A Photo a Week Challenge: Blue Skies

We’ve had some amazingly blue skies for the past few days. I’m not sure why, but this time of year, the sky seems a deeper blue that in the summer. Maybe it’s the cooler air and the lack of haze. And of course, there’s much less dust now that the leaves have fallen.

Whatever the reason, when it’s clear in the winter — or nearly the winter — it’s like crystal.

In summer, we have more haze, more clouds. More dust. The expression “hazy, hot, and humid” pretty much says it for summers in the northeast. It’s not just the way things look … it’s also how they feel.

Another blue sky day tomorrow, so they say. With all the awful stuff happening around here, it’s good that at least the weather is nice.


This morning, I had to fit a king-sized duvet (also known as a comforter) into a form-fitting cover. If you spend a lot of money — a couple of hundred dollars, for example — you generally get a cover for your duvet which has buttons or zippers on at least two sides. This is designed to make the process of stuffing a huge, plump duvet into its cover easier. Because otherwise, this is a lot like putting toothpaste back into the tube.

Spending a lot of money on this was not an option for me. I simply wanted a larger version of the comforter we already owned so we can stop our nocturnal struggle for covers. We don’t get violent, but it can get a bit rough as we battle for the few spare inches available.

This cover was inexpensive. It is possibly the least expensive cover you can possibly buy for a king-size comforter, a whopping $17 microfiber slip case bought from the bottom-end of Amazon’s bedroom specials. However, I’ve bought this company’s products before and they have always been surprisingly high quality, despite the low price. I keep being surprised by it.

The fabric patterns aren’t special, but the colors are normal and the quality of the materials is better than stuff  for which I’ve paid a lot more. In fact, my previous comforter has the same cover on it, but it is queen-sized cotton percale. The new one — which is the same design and color — is 100% microfiber. When I bought the first one, it was part of one of those limited time super sales Amazon has sometimes. This was on sale too, but the cotton one was full price. Fifty dollars versus seventeen dollars? I decided I’m not quite that organic. I can cope with a microfiber covering of my not organic comforter.

Next came the insertion of the comforter into its cover. Stuffing a king-size comforter into a big fabric bag through a short, plastic zipper is a thing. I’ve done this before. Many times. As good as you can get at this thing, I’ve managed to be.

So, here’s the routine. Make sure you’ve got the cover and the duvet directionally matching. Long side to long side, short side to short side. As soon as you know you’ve got the two items squared up, grab a bottom corner and shove it all the way through the big bag to the bottom corner of the cover on the same side. Then, do it again so both bottom corners are in the equivalent corners at the bottom of the cover. Usually, this will be opposite the zipper.

Breathe. Stay calm. You’re almost halfway home.

Gently, gently, push the rest of the comforter into the bag. I grab the corner of the comforter and the corner of the bag, one in each hand to make sure it’s sort of squarish. The zippers they use on cheap comforter covers are pathetic, so easy does it. Push the duvet just a bit too hard, and you have a big fabric bag, sans zipper. I have been known to sew up the hole when the zipper breaks, which it has done quite a few times — and not only on inexpensive covers. I’ve owned some pretty expensive items with really cheesy zippers. It makes me wonder why we pay more when we don’t get more for the money.

When I finally get the entire comforter in the comforter, I zip it up, then start to gently shake it until, eventually it settles in … and remarkably, suddenly, all the lumps disappear and it fits. That’s when I fling myself onto the bed, panting while mentally patting myself on my back. Good girl, Marilyn! You’ve done it again.

I was so proud of how efficiently I’d done the job, I went into the bathroom and fixed one more broken item. Okay, it merely required I smack it firmly on a hard surface — not exactly high level physics. Still, fixing anything these days is a minor victory. Modern stuff isn’t designed to be repaired.

Everything is disposable. I hate throwing things away unless they are genuinely useless and beyond repair, so I battle even with small things.

Garry thinks this is admirable. The truth is, almost everything I do is simple. No mathematical complexities, no schematics. I give things a whack to make them fit, to get the hinges to fit into plastic hooks.  I look at things, try to see how they should fit together. Then, using some semblance of logic, I try to make them fit like they should.

Garry can’t do that. He looks at stuff and has no idea what it should do. I suppose that’s an inborn quality, like my son’s ability to look at a flat thing and mentally turn it into something three-dimensional — which I can’t do. Or, for that matter, his ability to find his way back to anyplace he has been before. I’m exactly the opposite — I have no idea where I am no matter how many times I’ve been there before.


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Fences and Gates

Old wooden gate in a stone fence around the farm in the valley

Grasses and an old wooden fence

The long fence in a blizzard

Deck fencing – snow again

A very western fence in Arizona — Photo: Garry Armstrong

Fencing in the cows