Saturday, January 15, 2022

A Different Day

     Minus 6 this morning with a wind chill of 20 below!  Certainly a different day.  Usually I am off to the slopes by now.  Today not so!  Am I getting soft?  After five days in a row pounding my 86 year old body on rough icy granular slopes it is time to take a break.   So here I am fresh from riding my recumbent stationary bike ready to engage in a different day.  This is a break from my usual routine of six days of skiing followed by the Sunday break.   Best wishes to the intrepid holiday weekend skiers.  

    I always enjoy having something to energize my mind and body each day.   Although this is a different day I am pleased to have a bundle of things to occupy my mind.  While exercising this morning I read the New York Times and my local Syracuse Post-Standard.  This was a stimulus to get worked up over the state of the world plus reading some good news of science and social improvements.   I also had a chance to watch a UTube video featuring Cornell mathematician Steve Strogatz explaining his dance with mathematics from early childhood through his long teaching and research career.  During my tenure at Cornell I had the pleasure of interacting with him at faculty lunch gatherings.  He is an extraordinary teacher and person able to explain mathematics for the lay person.   I recommend his book The Joy of X as a great read.  

    The rest of the day is ahead and I am looking forward to lots of reading, crossword puzzles and probably a nice nap.   Two books are calling to me!  One entitled State of Terror by Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny which is a page turner.   The other is a delightful gift from my son-in-law Matt titled Tractor Wars by Neil Dahlstrom Manager of Archives and History at John Deere.  You can see I have widely different interests!

    Beyond skiing there are many wonderful opportunities for different days.  However the love of skiing never disappears.   Looking forward to resuming the routine on Monday.  Thanks for reading my blog.   

Saturday, December 18, 2021


    In recent days I have been struck by contrasts all around me.  My son posted a bunch of pictures of 20 inches of new powder skiing  at Snowbird on the same day I was skiing on about as little as two inches of frozen granular at Greek Peak.  All of that was snow man-made some weeks ago.   Also around me beyond the white strips down a few slopes that were open was the dull brown and grey of the surrounding terrain.  I did pause once to observe the contrasting silhouette of the hill tops.   For the artistic eye the curves and breaks in the horizon were interesting.  

    Further along the line of contrasts, I recently read an article in the Seniors Skiing blog about small versus large ski areas and East versus West ski areas.   There are innumerable contrasts along that line.   Small local ski areas do not necessarily get the respect they deserve.  My family and now senior friends have enjoyed small Northeast ski areas for decades.   A thousand feet vertical provided splendid winter entertainment at reasonable cost.   By contrast we would make some trips to the mountains of Vermont and even a few journeys to Colorado.    In my retirement and senior years local skiing has dominated my days on the slopes.   I am grateful in my geezer years past 60 to 86 to have skied an average of 77 days a year.   This would have been impossible without the easy access to my local slope.  I am especially grateful for the socialization provided by my local area in the stress of the epidemic.  

      Big, small or in between ski areas all have a niche in our sport.  All have a role to play and while I no longer feel comfortable traveling to the big mountains, I am grateful for the easier terrain  next door.   

Thursday, December 9, 2021

An Eventful Week

    Lots of things happening this week as we approach Christmas.   The local ski area did open this past Friday but unfortunately I was dealing with an upper respiratory infection.  Thankfully not Covid!  Conditions at the slope were a bit sketchy to say the least as reported by my usual companions at the area.  Ended up staying away for the entire weekend due to illness and limited terrain.  At eighty six, maybe I am slowing down a bit.  I can't remember missing an opening day in a long time.  Looking forward to a go at it tomorrow since I can ease into the year on the alpha slope.  Just viewed the webcam to note they are grooming.

    Prior to the past weekend and this week I received a surprise call that my new car had just come in.  Totally surprised that it has arrived so soon.  I ordered it in October and was told due to shipping issues it might be March before it arrived.  Arranged for a pick up on Monday.  Now into a steep learning curve to familiarize myself with all the gadgets and gizmos on this vehicle.  The operators manual is a major epistle!  For now I am working on the basics and not fiddling with the fine tuning of my preferences.    My new vehicle has almost all of the special safety features now available.  I think we seniors need to get all the help we can as we reach the latter years of our driving.   My thought at this point is that  this vehicle will outlast me so I ought to go for the best while I can.  In my volunteer work I use my vehicle quite a bit as I transport Red Cross blood from blood drives about once a week with a round trip of over 200 miles.   Adaptive cruise control makes the journey much easier.

    Eighty years later Tuesday as a nation we paid homage to the armed forces personnel that perished at Pearl Harbor and saluted the veterans of World War II.   Even though I was only 6 years old on December 7, 1941 I have the day seared in my memory.  I awoke to the announcement of the attack on our tiny AM radio playing in the kitchen our farmhouse.  I understood the horror of the situation myself as well as read the distress of my parents.  As I write this, I fully visualize the scene in that kitchen as vividly as if it was today.  From that day on I was constantly reminded of the ugliness of war and at the same time learned that sacrifice of all of us was necessary and patriotic.  As kids we no longer could expect toys.   Sugar was rationed!  No candy.   Gasoline and tires were rationed so limited leisure driving if any.   We as children learned to be innovative in our play.  Also I am proud to say that we contributed to the war effort in many ways too.  We took our pennies and quarters to school to pool our money for purchase of war bonds.   Early in the war there was a need material to insert in life vests.   On our farm we had lots of milkweed growing in our pasture as was true of other pastures.  We picked the pods when ripe, put them mesh bags, and hauled them to school where they were shipped off to be added to life vests.  While it might seem that era was painful, contrary to today's political structure the nation came together as one.   Together we vanquished our enemies.   Post  WWII the armed forces returned to build a better world.  God bless them.   

    As an endnote I am remembering the veterans of WWI that I have had the pleasure of skiing with.     While skiing may be considered a very individual sport, it also brings us together in a community of shared experiences and pleasure.  Yes, quite a week for this old guy.  Happy Holidays all!


Saturday, November 20, 2021

An Exercise Bonus

     Living the good life as you age depends a lot on keeping moving.  Numerous articles have been written about the value of regular exercise for graceful aging with a better quality of life.  Beyond prolonging life exercise clearly can improve the quality of life.  

    I have a daily routine of exercising.  Because I have a bit of arthritic degeneration in my lower spine, I need to loosen up after a night of rest.  Later in the day I will during the ski season, but other days an hour on the recumbent stationary bike is is order and often yard work or hiking.  Beyond this activity keeping me going, this morning I had a bonus to start my day.  My back loosening exercise upon rising is to sit in a folding chair and bend to touch the floor 100 times.   It is a low stress exercise mostly aimed and getting freer motion.  My chair is oriented to face our open living room.  I am  still waking up so not always very observant.  This morning I was blessed with a remarkable scene.   (See the photo below).   Amazingly the sun was at just the right angle to come in through a window and door and reflect off a desk cover and spotlight my wife's  collection of dancing figures.   A beautiful sight of figures and shadows underlining the grace and athleticism of dancers.  Isn't dancing a great endorsement for the value of exercising?  I only wish I could fulfill the longing of my wife for having a skilled dancing partner.   Oh well, she may not get the skill and grace but I am always trying to improve!



Thursday, November 11, 2021

Remembering Geezers Who Have Passed

     At this stage in my life it seems that too often I am reading the obituaries of my contemporaries.  So far I have been blessed with a long and essentially fortunate life.   As a survivor, I regret that that as I approach the beginning of the new ski season, too many of my companions of the past are now memories of past glory days.

    Recently on of my good friends unexpectedly passed away.  Last winter our geezer friend Phil Dankert was at least an occasional visitor to the slopes.  A retired research librarian, he was a most erudite individual; an avid reader of books our group was passing around!   He also had great wit and could twist almost any conversation into a bit of wry humor.   Over the years there have been dozens of geezers who have been fixtures of our local Greek Peak ski slope.  Each could be identified by their unique style of skiing and and favorite gear.  I am thankful for all their good memories.   Living in the precious present and enjoy each remaining day I believe  is a good goal to strive for as a means of honoring those that have past.   Hopefully I can go on leaving some great memories for my companions at least for a little while longer.


Saturday, October 23, 2021

Delayed Gratification

     Many skiers are tuning up their gear and are looking forward to the start of the new season.   We are anticipating returning to the slope to enjoy our sport to the fullest.  For those of us in are most senior years who have a long history of hitting the slopes as much as possible most have the joy of anticipation of renewing our skills.   Yet, we are now in the mode of delayed gratification.  The sooner the season opens the better we like it.   However perhaps living in the waiting can make the day when we can regularly ski be sweeter than before.   

    On a more somber note it will be sad to be without the companionship of several of my senior group that have either passed on or terminated  skiing for health or other reasons.   Unfortunately we seniors cannot necessarily anticipate when our days on the slope will be over.   However, more cheerfully I can recall the stalwarts that have managed to ski into the nineties!   Ah well I have my season pass in hand and the locker is ready to be filled with my gear.   It will be a happy day when our geezer group can gather for coffee and chit chat.  Those of us on the hill will welcome any of our emeritus geezers for their input at any time they can make it.

    In closing the topic  of delayed gratification, here are some observations during this horrible pandemic.    Eventually it will be a joy one day to freely associate in groups without fear of infection.  It will be nice to eventually see the supply chain bottlenecks eliminate.  (A couple of days ago I ordered a new car.   Delivery is 18 weeks away!  Wow!).   Probably the greatest gratification will be some assurance that everyone can be free of worry about their exposure to a deadly virus.

    Meanwhile I am reminded to count my blessings.   As I used our indoor plumbing several times today, I am reminded how I take this convenience for granted along with central heating and air conditioning.   I grew up with neither!  Simple things mean a lot.

    Think snow!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Small Pleasures

     As I reflect on the past few weeks, I think about the small pleasures in life.  A fulfilling life does not need epic events.   There are a host of things that bring contentment, entertainment and satisfying social interactions.   

    Yesterday we had a great visit with an old friend going back at least 35 years.  It was especially poignant since he is now in Hospice care with who knows how long to live.  We had a very up beat afternoon.  His cheerful enthusiasm for life remaining and contentment in his lot was inspiring.  What a joy to share old memories and times with him.

    Another small pleasure come to mind in my watching the Little League World Series.   It is heartwarming to see these 10 to 12 year olds play their heart out and even in loss can be gracious to to their opponents.  It is  especially nice to see the victors be gracious in acknowledging the opposing players.  Competition in this form is so much more satisfying than watching the pros.

    As many of my geezer skier friends know, I have a daily apple fritter with my morning coffee!  It continues to be one of my little pleasures of life that comes each day.   

    A couple of days ago my wife and I hiked in a small park on the Erie Canal.   There were multiple pleasures on that day.   An idyllic pastoral scene of the placid canal waters.  Even getting to the park was satisfying as we took country roads rather than the interstates.  The area was a verdant panorama of maturing crops surrounded by woodlands over rolling hills.

    In few short months the ski slopes will open and it will be pleasurable to glide down the trails and take in the snow covered surroundings.  As I move into my later years I am focusing simply on the joy of being there.

    Yes, life can have the big ups as well as the big downs but I feel fortunate to be aware that I can soak up the good small things that happen all the time.