Wednesday, February 24, 2021

What Makes You Laugh?

         There is nothing better to make you feel good than to have a good laugh.   At least that is true for me.   I just finished reading a few chapters of Garrison Keillor's recent book "The Lake Wobegon Virus".     This is another diversion for me after a great day on the slopes.  A way to mellow out before bedtime.   

   I find Keillor particularly funny both in his oral stories and in his prose.   Tonight I broke out into giggles as I read some of his most outrageous descriptions of his characters both in type and behavior.   It felt so good I am driven to write about it.   

    In the broader sense it has me thinking about what are other things that make me laugh?  And also why are we often so individually different about the things than inspire our laughter?  My wife doesn't find Keillor funny.   Maybe it is because she is a writer of a different genre.    We do have one thing in common about our laughter.  Our youngest grandson tickles us to pieces.   His laughter just lights us up.

     I am guessing that laughter is inspired by the unexpected!  The little twists of verbiage, prose or physical behavior of others can simulate our laughter response.   And I have read about seminars that teach people to laugh through forced laughter exercises.  When I don't get my laughter kicks from the unexpected it might be a good idea to laugh anyway.

    In closure on a skiing note a day on the slopes may not make me laugh out loud but surely on a gloriously sunny day with new fallen snow there is will be a huge smile on my face.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Vaccination Relief

      A shorter day at the slopes!  For a good reason.  My wife Nancy had a a Covid vaccination scheduled for 1:00 PM and appreciated my driving her to the location for administering the shot.  This was her second dose.  I had mine this last Sunday so we are both on the way to being as fully immunized as is feasible.   Another couple of weeks and we will both be as prepared as possible for riding out this pandemic.   It is amazing how unburdened we both have felt!  We are so grateful to our daughter for wrangling appointments for both of us.  My efforts to get appointments we thwarted left and right but she stuck with the task of scheduling and got it done.  

    Our vaccination location was a state run facility with National Guard folks handling traffic and a temporary tent like structure provided the venue for folks to safely enter and leave.  We were extraordinarily impressed with the courtesy and efficiency of the operation.   I don't know who had charge of the logistics for the effort, but I applaud the folks who pulled this off.    The whole thing has restored my faith in the possibility our government can really care for our citizens.   

    As you might expect the conversation in the locker room at Greek Peak where I ski often swings to the question of when and where can we get our vaccinations.  Since I mostly associate with the geezer or soon to be geezer crowd vaccinations are viewed as lifesaving events.  Meanwhile we still need to practice all the hygiene  recommended by the CDC.  Thankfully almost all of the skiers I encounter are careful to protect themselves and others.  Of course in all crowds there can be a few bozos!   Meanwhile we must maintain vigilance to defeat this dastardly disease.   Over one hundred years ago my parents as children survived their pandemic.  We can do it now!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Making Errors

     A few nights ago I had a dream about making errors!  In the dream I was visited by a person whom I admired for probably 40 years.  He is deceased within the last few years but he remains in my mind a model of integrity and servant leadership.  In the dream visit, he was comforting me about making errors.  For some reason or other I was fretting over mistakes I had made in my life.   His basic comfort advice was that everyone makes errors!   I guess the value of the errors must be that you learn from them and strive to avoid those errors in the future.  In spite of that comfort, I am sure that I, along with all others will be making errors and mistakes in the future.   Perfection is beyond our means but striving for that goal is a worthy endeavor.   Minimizing our residual errors keeps us alert.

    I have since thought about applying the teaching I  received from this dream.  Since this is the ski season, I am reflecting on the errors I might make on any given ski day.  Probably the biggest thing I have to watch for in my senior years is the mistake to push myself beyond the level of my ability to cope with the conditions of the day.   There is wisdom in withdrawing from the scene when the risk is not worth the reward.   So isn't that true about life in general?   One must know what a worthy risk is and recognize that there are errors that are so unforgiving that there is no recovery.   This past Sunday I had my second Covid vaccination shot.  I'm looking forward to so-called maximum immunity after a couple of weeks.   Even then I will continue all approved safe practices to prevent the spread of the disease.  This is no time to tempt fate by making an error that I can't recover from.

    A final thought.  Since making errors is a given for everyone, I need to be as forgiving of others whose errors negatively effect me.   

Monday, February 8, 2021

Mirror Inspired Thoughts

    A few days ago while shaving one morning  I took a look at myself in  the mirror and was struck by the fact I really look old now!  It didn't especially bother me since I have embraced geezerhood for a long time and have no particular vanity about my appearance.  However, I am beginning to realize that while I have one perception of myself as a vibrant oldster, people I encounter may have another perspective.   Maybe with mask wearing what has become the norm for the pandemic is a boon for we seniors.   While on the ski slopes I frequently encounter folks who look at my helmet with an 85+ sticker and get the reaction "You can't be that old!"    Perhaps they have had too many experiences with less agile seniors.

    My musing at the mirror also sent me into thoughts of my geezer companions that haven't been on the slopes this season.  Over 10 years ago our senior group of Greek Peak geezers dubbed ourselves as "Tough Old Geezer Skiers".  This came from the leadership of Pat Ryan.   Many of us began wearing name tags with our name and that identity.  I don't remember making any particular formal census of numbers but it must have exceeded 20 people that identified with the group even if they didn't wear a name tag.   For a period of time our annual luncheons near season's end would number more than 30 in attendance.  In  subsequent years our numbers have dwindled.   Ten years ago we were mostly 70 and 80 year olds.   You can do the numbers and now if we have survived we are 80 and 90 year olds.  Thankfully some of us are still cranking turns on a regular basis.  However, illness,  aging and death has decimated our numbers.  Plus the pandemic has discouraged some.

    So what can we expect to happen in the next 10 years or so?   The statistics would indicate that the late 80's and early 90's are the tipping points for retiring the skis.  For me that will be the time to move on to other things.   I like to think that one can adapt and fill the time with other endeavors.   For me it will likely be doing projects that require researching interests in agriculture and engineering and writing think pieces if only for my own satisfaction.  Learning never stops and a stimulated brain keeps one young in thought.  Meanwhile, every day on the slopes is a precious gift.   Living in the moment is a joy that I have embraced in my later years.  May I continue to enjoy these latter years.

    Finally what about  the fate of the informal "Tough Old Geezer Skiers" organization?  Now is the the time to recruit the 60 year olds!  They need to be initiated into the joy of geezerhood skiing.   Perhaps I need to write a book entitled the "Joy of Geezerhood Skiing".  It could be a recruiting tool for more senior skiers!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Pandemic Change: Changing Geezer Skiing Dynamics

     This has been an unusual ski season.  The pandemic has changed our ski routines in many different ways.   Of course the need to mask up is essential.  As an old guy  I often find myself challenged to suck in enough air.  Fortunately on the slope runs I can pull the mask down to improve  air flow.  

    This is the year I miss the companionship of several of my contemporaries.  More than one has  left the sport for one reason or another.  Time takes it toll on the body simply by aging.  However others have developed health issues that preclude the safe participation in skiing.  For some of them I hope that these issues will be corrected and they will return to join me on the slopes.  Another change in socialization is the elimination of our coffee breaks for the few of us that are still skiing.  Unfortunately it is a weak substitute to have occasional gatherings seriously social distanced.   The outcome is to simply skip the coffee break and ski right though the morning and have an  early departure for my age group.  It's a bit challenging on this old body but in some ways I am really enjoying the change.  (Note this comment comes after just completing  an hour nap).  

    Perhaps we are coming to the end of an era.  Is it time for a new generation to step up and replace our crew?   Is it the tough old geezer group's responsibility to help the youngsters to transition?   Probably it is the responsibility of the younger crew to find their own way.   Meanwhile I have had the good fortune to ski a lot this seasonwith a some 20 year younger friend, Tim.   From this I have learned that it is a good idea to ski with a younger and better skier!   I don't really expect to stay with him on all aspects of his adventure in the trees and in the steep powder runs, but by watching him I know I have improved my skiing.  Probably the best thing a geezer can do is to spend some time with the younger generation of good skiers.   He does tempt me to go into the trees.   Thankfully I resist and wisdom takes over.  I do know my limits.

    This pandemic will pass as I hope as well the the idiocy in our political structure.   I am hopeful if not optimistic that these burdens will be lifted.   Meanwhile I will strive to be grateful for the many blessings that have been bestowed on me in this life.   As one of my professional colleagues would say, "Keep smiling".


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Sounds of Winter

     I woke up this morning to the sound of the snow plow traveling through our neighborhood.   A definitive sound of both the diesel engine and the scrape of the plow blade over the macadam.   It was too early to get up but I was a bit wakeful so my mind wandered off into thoughts of winter sounds.  Here I was in my cozy nest of covers where I began to think of my winter childhoods on the farm.

    The vivid winter sounds I especially remember from my childhood 75 or so years ago arise from sleeping in an unheated bedroom.   Our farmhouse was uninsulated with no storm windows.   The only heat was a kitchen stove and and pot-bellied stove in the living room.  Needless to say, overnight the temperatures in my bedroom mostly matched the outdoor temperature.  On those bitterly cold winter nights I would lie in bed with as many covers as possible, listening the sounds of a storm beating against the clapboards.   The wind would moan and howl!   Loose windows and clapboards would rattle.   I can feel the cold, loneliness and despair even now as I think of the challenge of surviving those discomforts.     Eventually I wold drift off into sleep shutting out the storm sounds.    Then there was the wake up call for my winter morning.   My mother didn't have to shout up the stairs for me to get up!   However, there was a signal that alerted me to rise.  It was the clank of the metal lids on the wood stove in the kitchen.  When I heard several clanks, I knew my mother had started the fire in the stove.   Soon the kitchen would be warm!  After an appropriate interval of time, I would grab my clothes and dash down the stairs to start the day.

    Beyond my childhood memories I've continued  thinking of contemporary winter noises.   There are the noises of both my and my neighbor's snowblowers.  There is the noise of the scraping shovel as another neighbor clears a sidewalk.    And now I can rest in my cozy house and still be in comfort as the wind of the latest snow storm beats on us.   (Just now as I write this blog, our plow people are making another noisy run).

    Now my thoughts turn to the sounds of the ski slopes.   For Eastern skiers, there is the annoying sound of the snowmakers for many days of the season.  Depending on the type of snow maker there are variety of raucous roars to gentle swishes.  I surely like the gentle swishes!  The din of some snowmakers can be overwhelming.  When the snowmakers are shut down there can be blissful near silence on the slopes, especially when we have had a powder snowfall.  Other times we deal with the scrape, scrape, scrape over the hard pack or ice.    Of course each lift has it's characteristic running machinery sound.  On the ride up the mountain the pulleys and cable have both squeaks and hums.     I could go on, but here is the challenge.  Try listening for uniques sounds of winter.   It entertains me!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Back Off

     A beautiful crisp winter morning!  Sun glinting off the snow with sparkles of light.  Should be a great day to go skiing!  I hadn't planned on it though.  Thinking that the weekend day of Saturday would likely be a busy day at Greek Peak I had tentatively decided to stay home and hit the exercise bike.  Skiing during the Covid-19 pandemic has become a challenge.  Too many people in any space is a danger to old guys like me.   Even rides on the quad chair with one other than a close friend can be treacherous.  Yesterday a dude asked to join me.  Once on the chair he lowers his mask!  Hey man, that's not cool.   I didn't say anything but turned my back and hoped than I wouldn't be downwind of him.   Back to today's situation.   

    After showering I took another look outdoors.  The sun was fantastic and the snow continued to beckon me to the slope.  I told my wife Nancy I had a change of heart.  I'm heading for the slopes to get in a few runs.  In fifteen minutes or so I called for an update on the conditions, geared up, and headed out.  On the way I enjoyed listening to my latest audio book and dreamed about the first run.

    Then I arrived at the slope.  Wow!   A ton of cars in the parking lot.   A mega line waiting to get tickets.   And a quick glance to the area around the two lifts showed what kind of a day it could be.  There were mega crowds dispersed in the run up to the lifts.   Ringing in my head was the thought, Back Off old man!   Rethink your day because you really don't want to go through the frustrations of navigating the crowds and the waits and the potential exposure to Covid.   I made a rolling exit from the parking lot and headed home.   I plan to live for another day such as the normal weekdays at the slopes where the early morning geezers have our own little playground.

    Surprised my wife that I had returned.   She applauded me for being circumspect.   Ah well.   Today's exercise became some snow blowing and shoveling and nearly an hour on my recumbent exercise bike.   Didn't have to back off of those activities.