Thursday, June 16, 2022

What Are You Doing This Summer?

     Recently I have had a number of people quiz me about what I am doing this summer.   I am somewhat puzzled by these inquiries.  It seems that many of my acquaintances who know I ski a lot think I have no other interests to keep me occupied.   It reminds me of the year I retired and everyone was asking me what was I going to do in retirement.  I had really planned for that and had a number of family and volunteer adventures lined up.   I certainly was occupied being a stay at home dad with a 10 year old daughter at the time.  To satisfy the inquiries in my initial retirement I made up a business card with a list of my activities.   Perhaps I need to do that again!   I like to market myself as a Professional Retiree!   

    Along the line of doing in retirement one has to keep reinventing yourself.   Aging has a way of restricting some physical activities.   I participated in the New York State Senior Games in tennis this week.  Only three of us in my age bracket and I hadn't done much training leading up to the event and didn't make much of a showing.  Happy to say though that I am still participating.  Showing up is a win!

    Changes keep happening in the volunteer activities too.   I have been a Blood Transport Specialist for the Red Cross for  a number of years driving about 800 miles a month delivering blood from the drives to the lab.  Yesterday I heard of a change in the protocol for handling blood for the most part will  phase out that opportunity.   

    I guess I am not too worried about finding things to do.  As each day rolls around there are numerous spontaneous things that pop up.   There is always some landscaping and gardening around our home.   Home maintenance items are more frequently showing up after 15 years too.   E-biking, hiking and day trips will become more frequent.   I also have a significant writing project that needs attention as I document dairy silos in Cortland County and their relation to transitions in over a century of dairy farming.   A history project!

    In conclusion, perhaps we all should pause from worrying about what we are doing and kick back and just be.   Be aware of the joy of living,  Be aware of our relationships.  Be aware of what amuses and motivates us.  And savor each day as God's gift of existence.


Monday, May 30, 2022

Tiny Soft Hands

     On this Memorial Day weekend we were entertained by the visit of two grandsons and their parents.  A wonderful time to gather and engage in some family activities.   Grandsons aged two and six enjoyed an outing at the Ithaca, New York ScienceCenter escorted by Poppa (me) and father Matt.  There were a plethora of creative play choices centered around science and engineering!   Fascinating for me as well as them.

    On the next day we had ample opportunity to bike ride together and use a lot of sidewalk chalk on the driveway and our basement concrete floor.  

    Today we enjoyed a tennis outing combined with a bit of exploring the SUNY Cortland athletic facilities on a walk.  Around all of this there were additional  trips for mini golf and ice cream.

    Here is what I am leading up to.   While walking on the SUNY Cortland campus, I had the opportunity to be hand in hand with two year old Finnian!  Any time this happens with a very independent child is a gift.  Holding his hand I was deeply moved by this tiny soft hand.   It is amazing how touch is such a vital part of our life.   Also this experience moves one to consider how both vulnerable and trusting our children and grandchildren are.

    On a sadder note Memorial Day reminds me of the horrible losses that have occurred by shootings these past few weeks.    The anguish of the parents that have lost their children wrenches my heart and soul.  As my youngest grandchildren grow and continue their schooling, I fear that this nation will continue on a path to destruction of norms that my childhood upheld.    When will this insanity end?

Wexford's Creation

Fluid Dynamics for Kids
Watching the Ducks go Down the Flume

Finnian's Water Wake

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Weird April

     Yesterday April 20th I rolled out my snowblower to clear eight inches of snow from my driveway.   That's weird after a ski season of meager snowfalls.  And now a big dump in April after our local ski area has been closed for over two weeks.  Ironically Greek Peak reported the highest and perhaps a record snowfall for the day of 12 inches.   I pulled out some winter clothing that I already had in storage to be comfortable  with my snow removal chore.

    A few days before I was inspecting my yard and noticed that the grass was getting long and it reminded me to have my mower ready to go.   On this inspection tour I glanced across the road at my neighbors lawn and was amazed to see he had mowed it for the first time this year.   Oops!  A few days later it is still covered with snow from our freak April dump.   I contemplated clearing his driveway as a neighborly gesture but now a day later the driveway seems to have melted off.  

    Although this seems to be a very unusual April storm for out area we have had similar events in April.  (However, they don't seem to have been this late in the month.)   On my son's April 9th  14th birthday 49 years ago we skied at Greek Peak in perfect winter conditions.  Forty nine years late he gets to ski at Alta in Utah on his 63rd birthday.  He is fortunate to live in Utah for much of the year and his April is weird only if he doesn't get a daily shot of new powder.

    For now my weird April  is likely to change to a more normal climate.  Maybe I can re mothball my snowblower and focus on the grass, restore the winter clothes,  breakout of the tennis gear and charge the e-bikes.   


Friday, April 8, 2022

Walking The Dog

    I don't have a dog at this time in my life.   However I do have fun observing my neighbors dogs as they walk them past my house.  (Thankfully we live in a neighborhood with folks who clean up after their dogs.)    

    This morning as I was riding my recumbent bike in our sun room I was struck by the sight of a somewhat senior gentleman walking his very senior dog.   They were mostly ambling along at a snail's pace.  I couldn't tell whether the dog wanted to go slower or the man!  Each would take a few paces and stop to gaze at their surroundings.  Mostly the dog was setting the pace.  I think the leash was just for show since I expect the running days for both were past.  

    I think dog walking in this case is a metaphor for relationships that have lasted a long time.   We seniors often have relationships that have endured many companionable years.   The pace in those relationships has slowed down over the years.  Early on we engage in mad dashes of activity sometimes lasting over days. Connections are tight and sometimes like a leash restraining.  Later on we loosen the reins and participate together with less restrictions.  And in the later years expectations wane to the point where we sit back and spend more time in contemplation rather than activity.    I guess the dog and man in my illustration today have found a comforting pace providing time to stop and "smell the roses'.   No need to rush through the necessities of the day, 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A World View

    A few days ago I was amused by a comic where the main character was negotiating with a travel agent for a world trip.  The upshot of the panel was that the only possibility for her budget was to buy a subscription to National Geographic!  This really struck home with me.  Although I have made a few international trips in my lifetime, I have not been much of a world traveler.  Even though I have the means, I never was a comfortable traveler either internationally or domestically.  However I have been an avid reader of the National Geographic from childhood.  In childhood my parents did not provide the National Geographic but our neighbors did subscribe and loaned the magazine to me.   

    I think I got a great education over the years in forming my world view via this magazine.   However things can change.  I have changed and National Geographic has also changed.   After all these years I have abandoned receiving the printed copy.   I will no longer read the monthly magazine cover to cover.   It will not be total abandonment of this classic magazine but I will continue with a digital version where I can select the articles of interest and almost daily scan the highlights.  A new era.   Also the magazine has gone to such small print both for the articles and picture captions,  I find it difficult to read it with comfort.   Obviously they must be aiming at the younger reader.

    So  here with the end of the ski season, I will change from a world view focus on daily ski fixes, raise my head and look more widely at the world around me, both locally and beyond.  What I see internationally is quite disturbing.   In my comfort in America I still feel united with the people of Ukraine as a human being exposed to injustices of the world.   Although I will never visit Ukraine, in my world view people of the world wherever they are need to respond with at least empathy and recognize that Ukraine's  tragedy is our tragedy.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Value of Slowing Down


by William Henry Davies

What is this life is, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare."

   The above are  the opening lines of a poem the poem entitled Leisure.  The theme centers around taking  time to observe your surroundings.   How true it is that we become so engaged in our daily routine and cares of our lives that we just don't see our environment.   When I read the poem a couple of days ago, I vowed to take his observations to heart and really focus on what I could see around me.    

   On that day of skiing I was especially drawn to staring at the trees, slopes and people in my view.  I tried to stare a bit to drink in the detail of the geometric and natural forms of the terrain and flora.   I tried to slow down my activity to appreciate the hum and buzz of the conversations around me.   

    I would naturally enjoy riding the lift with my ski companions but sometimes it is nice to ride solo and enjoy the quieter pace with your thoughts unleashed to wander where they will.   Many folks practice meditation.   That certainly is a form of slowing down with a purpose.  I would consider it a form of slowing down to simply stare with your mind.   

    I conclude it would be  healthy to become disciplined enough to take at least a few moments each day for  consciously slowing  down to drink in ones existence.   Slow down and savor the precious moments of this short life we have and revel in this wonderful physical universe as well the precious relationships we have with others.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Good and Evil Men (Humans)

    I know in this blog I am straying from a connection to skiing but certainly commenting from the perspective of a geezer that has seen too much of good and evil for more than eight decades.  

    From a newsletter that I read produced in the Writer's Almanac here is a quote for today.  March 9, 2022.

"t was on this day in 1933 that newly inaugurated President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a special session of Congress and began the first hundred days of enacting his New Deal legislation. For the next several months, bills were passed almost daily, beginning with the Emergency Banking Act, followed by federal programs such as the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation."

This item struck a chord in my soul.   Whatever you might think of Roosevelt  I hope you can recognize he was a man for his time to bring our country of the United State of America out of the depression and leave enduring legacies we appreciate daily in our lives.    How thankful we  should be that there was a person to lead the way for good in the world.   For the most part he wielded his immense influence and power for the good of our world.  It is a striking testimony that a good person with immense power can combat evils.

In our current situation with the invasion of Ukraine by a power mad authoritarian Putin there is the illustration of how power invested in an evil man can wreak havoc, mayhem and death on so many innocent  people.   I have read that power has the ability to corrupt and absolute power can lead to total corruption.   What a tragedy it is when the citizens of any country fail in their responsibility to curb evil authoritarians.  I weep for the world may be leaving to my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  

Wake up world!  I fear the stupidity of the human race may send us to extinction!