MAUNDERING, June 2009

Posted Jun 17, 2009
Last Updated Jun 19, 2009
MAUNDERINGS OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
June 2009


Deep Thoughts
These were selected from a list I recently received.  They vary from irreverent to clever to penetrating.

• Save the whales.  Collect the whole set.
• A day without sunshine is like…night.
• He who laughs last thinks slowest.
• Depression is anger without enthusiasm.
• A clear conscience is usually the sign of a poor memory.
• How many of you believe in  psychokinesis?...Raise my hand.
• OK… So what's the speed of dark?
• When everything is  coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
• Everyone has a photographic memory.  Some just don't have film.
• What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
• I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.
• Why do psychics ask your name?
• Inside every old person is a younger person wondering what happened.
• Just  remember — if the world didn't suck, we'd fall off.
• Light travels faster than sound.  That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Jess and Dragon
Today I got an email from a good and cherished friend, Dragon Dronet.  Dragon makes his bread with an unusual set of skills.  He's a large and impressive martial artist and armor artificer — trained and mentored by Jess Rowe. 

Besides weapons, Dragon makes props, sets, miniatures costumes etc (www.renegadeeffects.com ), choreographs fights for films, and does fight stand-ins, stunts, and other roles …oh, and plays the saxophone.  He makes an impressive Darth Vader.  And loves science fiction conventions, which is how I came to know him.  He is one of several large young men who tell lies about my drinking prowess, all in fun, exaggerating enough to make sure no one believes them.
 
Dragon and Jess do martial arts demos together, armed and unarmed.  And Jess is four  years older than me!
"Have you lost some speed?" I asked him? 

"Oh yeah, but I'm sneakier than ever."

Soldiers
There have long been martial artists, traditional and de facto.  But there are also others who simply find themselves armed and in uniform and do the best they can.  Whose lives are or had been ordinary, but also meaningful, sometimes even distinguished — and replete with lessons in living.  To the best of my limited ability, I luvs 'em all. 

But lives lived on the soul's own terms, I find especially beautiful, though sometimes only near the end.  So here's to Jössi Ekblad, with respect.  And to the 1st sergeant, Erkki Kivikoski, who never quit.  True both are fictional (see Armfelt), but I believe they are also plausible, valid...and meaningful. 

Health
Saw a guy on the News Hour yesterday, talking about the increase in obesity in America.  He cites a neural chain that starts with the sight of luscious food, which can powerfully stimulate appetite; followed by tasting, which can activate a feeding loop likely to persist until the food is gone. 

Delicious, of course, is in the eyes and taste glands of the beholder.  One Saturday in January 1953, I sat in a farm kitchen near Marcellus MI while a guy worked on my '39 Chevy.  Sat and watched the very large farmwife eat her way through a large skillet of greasy fried potatoes, with her fingers, one slice after another.  She didn't offer me any, and I didn't ask. But I can recall myself, some 30 years ago, buying a half gallon of chocolate chip mint ice cream and polishing it off in a single sitting, happy as a vulture on a pile of guts.  (Now there's an appetizing simile for you.)

With me it doesn't work that way any longer.  I cook for myself, and when I make a grocery run, I deliberately route myself through the bakery section with its awesome cakes and pastries buried deep in fancy frostings.  Gooey chocolate chip cookies.  Frosted doughnuts.  (Jävul i min själ!)  You get the picture.  Then past the ice cream lockers and the frozen pizza cabinets.  All deliberately, feasting my eyes, admiring.  But not buying, not even tempted.  Without pain, strain, or weight gain.  What's my secret?  I don't know.  Perhaps because it's deliberate, with my left brain in charge.  My actual desserts are usually a dozen grapes or an apple slice — large Galas, 6 slices per apple.  And sometimes gjetost, Scandinavian goat cheese — looks like GI soap from my era (1944-46) — sliced, on honey-sesame crackers.  Oh my but that's tasty!  But not compelling.

Back when I was a mere 72, people generally judged my age as late fifties, early sixties.  I did hour-and-a-half Nautilus work-outs three times a week, and weighed about 175 lb nude.  But in my early 70s my energy slumped.  I quit my thrice weekly trips to the gym, and bought some dumbbells, a  rowing machine and a chinning bar.  To work out at home.  But my energy level kept declining, and I began to fatten up, so I replaced the rower with power-walking, and stabilized at about 175 lb again.  Then an old 1951 smoke-jumping injury surfaced, requiring orthoscopic surgery on my left knee.  Nicely successful, but not as good as new, requiring care in such tricky activities as getting out of cars, to avoid torque on that old knee.  And the workouts kept shrinking, following my energy levels.  Finally I gave up the 20-lb dumbbells; my lower back was complaining.

Nowadays my workouts consist of tai-chi warm-ups (from a video tape titled TAI CHI FOR SENIORS, by Mark Johnson), with supplemental stretching and balancing exercises to reduce the risk of accidents; and light strength exercises so I can get up if I fall.  My doctor says I'm in excellent health for my age, despite a leaky aortic valve and mild emphysema.
  
"Emphysema?!  How'd you get that, John?  I don't recall you smoking."  I  did, though.  In 1954 I married a smoker, and took it up.  It seemed a friendly thing to do.  Besides, I told myself, I was a runner and exerciser.  That made up for the smoking, right?  And I seldom smoked more than 6 or 8 ciggies a day. 

I quit in 1984, on an impulse — and to my surprise, within two weeks felt a distinct difference in my wind and my running. 

My doctor says other, earlier forms of dirty air, like coal bunkers and boiler rooms, probably contributed.  And second-hand smoke.  Gail smoked a pack or so a day, but not long after I quit, she cut back.  On her own volition.  And when Jack and Jill moved in next door with their two little kids, she quit smoking in the house and rationed herself to 5 a day.  She'd light up, take a few drags and butt it out, to light up again later.  I was impressed.

Also she didn't smoke in the house anymore — mainly on breaks at work, and on the back porch.  Never quite quit though — until she broke her hip; the hospital and rehab center prohibited smoking. 

When she was getting ready to come home, she told me to get her a pack.  I said "are you sure?  You've already gotten through the withdrawal."

Blink.  "Right.  Cancel that."

So her last cigarette was on December 10, 2004.  On December 30, 2007, she died of multiple causes, resulting pretty much from strokes, with pneumonia as the immediate cause.
 
Geez, John, you wrote that last without weeping.  Didn't even tear up.  The healing must be pretty much complete.
More soon. 

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