Monday, March 4, 2019

Unsung Heroes - Lift Attendants

      As a geezer skier I find myself often most vulnerable on the ski slope when I am launched on the ski lift.  I can relate to many of my companions who have suffered disasters getting on the lift and getting injuries.   In some cases the injuries have required surgery of rehabilitation.    Therefore the quality of support by the lift attendants as they load the chairs is often a subject of conversation at our geezer coffee breaks.
      All the above said I must note that lift attendants for the most part are the unsung heroes of ski area operations.  There is not much glamour in time after time loading a chair or time after time observing skiers departing from the chairs safely at the top.  It can be a terribly boring job at minimum wage.  As skiers we often complain about the cold wind and the biting temperature.  Just imagine however,  spending hours in a stationary position loading the chair.
        So how are lift attendants unsung heroes.  At my home ski area of Greek Peak I have had years of observing the best of the best in this category of jobs.  Way back I can remember Harold who would load the T-Bar.  He made the loading an art.  This was true even when I was skiing with a 5 year old daughter with the T-Bar down near my ankles.  Over the years there have been many returning attendants  attending to us in a courteous and cheerful way.  Speaking of an art form of chair loading I observed one of the most graceful loaders at Gore Mountain several years ago.  He made the loading a ballet of swinging the chair just right so our launch was smooth and graceful.
         This year, the Tough Old Geezer Skiers of Greek  Peak are having our Annual Awards and End of The Year Luncheon next week.  Over the years we have given awards of appreciation to employees of the ski area who have served us well with excellent service, great grooming and comfortable launches on the lifts.  We are looking forward to acknowledging the cheerful and superb support of one of those lift attendants.   She knows most of the geezers by name and her bubbly personality makes us smile even more than having a great powder day.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Seven Minute Interview

     During the week I am mostly skiing with my geezer pals and riding the lift with them.  We swap stories and entertain ourselves with various observations about the weather, the news, the ski conditions, new equipment, and so on. The approximately seven minute lift ride goes by a bit faster that way. 
      My weekend skiing gives me an opportunity to meet a variety of people as companions on the lift ride.  It can be an eclectic mix of characters and individuals.  Sometimes my seat mates can be totally silent and completely engaged with their own thoughts.   Because I enjoy hearing other peoples stories, I have adopted a plan to engage my companions with my own informal interview.   There are all kinds of opener comments or questions to get the ball rolling.   I try to gauge what to say by the age and gender of those with me.   Most of the time we have a grand conversation.  Often in the seven minute ride I can determine where they are from,  where they grew up, what they do for a living, if they are retired, and something about their ski experiences and their family.
          I think that as a geezer they consider me to be non threatening and they are likely to open up to me.  Likewise, I have reached a certain maturity that allows me to freely express my life experiences as a way of connecting to the humanity around me.  Finally, I am amazed at how much ground can be covered in a seven minute ride of the ski lift.  It's a tremendous benefit along with the downhill ride on the skis.

Friday, February 8, 2019

What Else?

   When the ski day is abbreviated by less than favorable conditions what else would you do?   Although our ski area was open and functioning after a night of heavy rain, there was not much to brag about for the snow that remained.  Fortunately some early morning grooming made things tolerable.   After a short morning of a relatively few runs and some coffee break conversation it time to go home and look at what else the day had to bring.
     With the extra time available, it was an opportunity to dispose of some paper accumulations in my study and then a long winter's nap.  Going out to dinner is also on the agenda since a kitchen renovation is in progress.  Over course this extra time sent me back to blog writing.
     Geezers can always find some way to amuse themselves beyond the slope.  Just downloaded a new ski tracker app on my smart phone.  Now is the time to learn more of its ins and outs.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Absurd Weather Changes

   Last week I skied in sub zero temperatures as a result of the polar vortex.  Great skiing with Bluebird days.   Most of my geezer friends were sitting it out at home.  However a few of us intrepid tough old geezer skiers had lots of fun.  Coffee breaks were especially appreciated.
    Today the temperature on the same ski slope was 56 F.   What an amazing change in just a few days.  It seems that adapting to the wild swings in winter temperatures is the new norm.  Time to fight global warming that is causing extremes in weather. 
     I had a conversation about what the future might look like with my friend Andy this morning as we rode the lift.  We were speculating on what the slopes will look like at the turn of this century.  That is the time my youngest grandson would be the same age as I am now.  I am dreaming that he will be enjoying the slopes then just as I am now.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Why Do Geezer Skiers Seem to Live a Longer and Better Life?

      I recently heard about a study of older folks that indicated better brain and physical health for those that kept moving.   Any sort of movement on a regular basis appeared to increase longevity and mitigation of the onset of dementia or other brain disorders from aging.  The study did not observe just physical activity but also did analysis of brain tissue from deceased volunteers in the study.  Even if plaque tissue had developed in the brain,  movement appeared to mitigate the deleterious effects.
     I thinks I can attest to the accuracy of the results as I observe my geezer skier companions. Two members are over ninety and a host of them are in their eighties.   All of them are movers.   If they are not on the ski slope they will be in the gym, on the tennis court, playing golf, fishing or hiking and walking.  Although one of our group has developed dementia, he is the exception.   I guess we are not all immune to degenerative losses. 
      Eventually geezers will have to give up skiing.  However, we will attempt to delay that day as much as possible.   I belong to the 70?+ Ski Club and in my most recent newsletter a 100+ skier was featured.   Amazing not only physically but also mentally sharp and witty.
      Maybe overall the geezer skiers may not live longer than others but we sure have enjoy our activity.  As I write this, a significant snow fall is expected over night.   Looking forward to great week ahead on the slopes.  However,  I will have to share more of the "freshies" with holiday weekend folks.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Intersections

      I think that geezer skiers often engage in volunteer activities that intersect with their skiing passion but do not interfere with the winter activities.   I effectively manage my volunteer interests so they do not impinge on my freedom to go skiing.   My volunteer commitments are arranged to occur on afternoons or evenings.  This frees up my mornings to get the best of conditions of powder and or grooming on the local ski slopes.   I am delighted to get the best of both worlds.
        Because I enjoy the snow, I recently got training from the National Weather Service to qualify as a SKYWARN reporter.  This means I am able to report snowfall and other weather phenomena to assist the Weather Service information for the region.  The November snowfalls have given me practice in reporting.   The photos below show my snowboard (not the downhill type) that is the reference point for my measurements.   As each new snowfall occurs I measure first and then place it on the new fallen snow to prepare for the next event.  I find this fun and an intersection with my skiing interest.
       Many of my retired geezer friends manage their intersections of skiing with volunteering in similar ways.
       To my retired geezer skier readers, I urge you to find volunteer activities that are fulfilling and do not interfere with your skiing passion.  However,  be careful not to overload your days.  My current volunteer diversions beyond snow reporting include,  Blood Transport Specialist for the Red Cross, guide at the Living History Museum of Central New York and beginning training for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.   If any of you readers out there are bored, I encourage you to get involved in your community and the Red Cross always needs new blood (pun intended).
     Happy Holidays everyone!

Markers Help Me Find My Board.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving for Skiing

       Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and a time to reflect on the many blessings I have received not only recently but over the years.   For the moment I will emphasize the blessings derived from my years of skiing.
      I was fortunate enough to retire completely at age 61 a full  22 years ago.  Retirement didn't mean ceasing to do anything useful.  There were and continue to be many volunteer activities.   There are always needs out there that can be fulfilled by those of us who are fortunate enough to be healthy enough to give back in a myriad of ways. 
       However, while I enjoy volunteer activities I am also passionate about skiing.   This passion has kept me happy and healthy through 22 ski seasons with an average of 77 days of skiing per season.   During that period I only had a couple of seasons when health issues interfered.  The least number of days was 40 and the most 103!    Therefore it is clear I am immensely appreciative of those times.  Fortunately, I had only one injury that shortened my season a bit.
      One of the greatest blessing of skiing beyond the thrill of downhill traverses is the camaraderie of friends of the same passion for the sport.  Coffee breaks are enriched every day we are on the slopes by the stories of folks with a variety of backgrounds.   Recently during the off season we have gathered each second Wednesday of the month for lunch.   In this new venue we have added another dimension to our friendships.
      I am also blessed that my wife as a non skier can tolerate the winter season without a special need for a southern vacation.   As one who grew up in the south, she has had to learn what skiers already know.  You have to layer to keep warm! 
       Who knows what the future may bring for me an my geezer friends relative to their ski days.   Ultimately we may all age out of the sport in spite of our passion for the activity.   Meanwhile we will be thankful for the day we have on the slopes and cherish the long friendships we have developed.
      My hope is that as long as I live I will be able to hit the slopes.  However, I know that if that does not happen, I will have a magnificent family and a bunch of good friends to sustain me.   And there are always ways to volunteer and as long as I am mentally fit I can write this blog.
      Happy Thanksgiving everyone!