Friday, April 16, 2021

Changing Seasons

     So strange on this mid-April day to see snow coming down outside my sun room window while exercising on my recumbent bike.   The ski season here is wrapped up so I am transitioning to another exercise pattern.  Fortunately a few days ago we were out on the tennis courts.  For now it looks like we have a week or so of lower temperatures.  Alas, I need to find some indoor activities.     I am somewhat envious of the folks in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine who will likely get in a few more days on the slopes.  Although the conditions are likely to be challenging with the high water content of the new snow fall.

    Changing seasons doe jolt one out their usual routine.   During the ski season there is no doubt about what I will be doing at least six days of the week.   However in this changing season time I am still struggling to find my rhythm.   There is no doubt I will get in some exercise one way or another.   With warmer weather tennis will become more of a daily routine.   As other things shake out, hiking some local trails at least once a week will be on the agenda.   And the e-bike is charged up and ready to hit the road. 

    Of course exercise is not the only thing for the day.   Since this old geezer is still committed to our own lawn and landscaping care there is always a chore or two to keep me occupied.   Also to adapt to the off ski season I always need a project for mental stimulus.     I am looking forward to continuing my silo project to photograph all the silos in Cortland County, New York.  I have covered about 75 percent of the county so far visiting over 250 sites.   Many of my sites have silos that have been defunct for over 80 years.   It is a fascinating study of the change of the dairy industry in rural America.   I look forward to interviewing retired dairy farmers.   I hope to elicit from them their experiences in transitioning from active farms of several generations to retirement or other employment.  The use of their silos will be chronicled in the process.  I hope to hear when the silos were added to their operation and when these structures were retired from use.   The silos are truly monuments of history.   Just as there are transitions in the seasons of the year, there are transitions in industries,  agriculture and our lives.   Hopefully I will be able to capture those transitions in word and photos.

    Perhaps these musings are part of my continuing search for meaning in life beyond the simple pleasures of the day.   I expect much of the time we ramble through the days without a great deal of thought of the impact we have on society and the world.  There  is comfort in being a bit numb about our meaning in the world.    However, I think we all have a yearning to leave this world having left some sort of legacy.   Hopefully a legacy that has made this world a little better because of our existence.  

    (If you have read this far, I hope you haven't wasted your time.)    

Remnant of a One Time Successful Dairy Operation

Monday, April 12, 2021

Embracing Stains, Flaws and Mistakes

     A few days ago my wife Nancy spilled some tea in our den.  She said, "It's not too bad and won't even leave   a stain."   My immediate reaction was to say,"Not a problem, its just a mark of living life".  I don't know where that came from.  Upon further reflection I think I have mellowed enough to realize striving for a perfect environment is not necessarily a good thing.

    I think there is real merit in embracing the stains, flaws and mistakes we make in living our lives.   I am not suggesting that we get lackadaisical but let's recognize that we should not be obsessed with always having to be perfect.  (even in skiing).

 I remember reading about someone who had a dining room table that showed a lot of nicks, scratches and dings.  A friend asked why he didn't refinish it?   His reply was that each of the flaws was a reminder of a family gathering of celebration around that table.   Of course there are some mistakes we would like to forget.  Perhaps the best way to embrace those memories is  process what has been learned from the mistakes and use the insight as a reminder to live a better life in the future.

    All of us have made mistakes in our relationships.   Some are more serious than others.  There are broken friendships, divorces, and estrangements.  All of those have left a mark in our lives.  However I would hope that in retrospect, we had learned something from those events and moved on to improved relationships without wallowing in too much regret and remorse.  

        Just as a tea stain on the rug fades with time, the flaws in our psyches are healed.   



Friday, April 9, 2021

End of the Season Thoughts

     Two days ago I wrapped up my 20-21 season on the closing day for Greek Peak.  The Peak was open for 111 days and I managed to log 81 days skiing with 79 days at the Peak and two at Toggenburg.  Many of the days at Greek I was musing about the character of this season.  In many ways it was a good season albeit a strange season too.  We were careful on the slopes and in the lodges to social distance and wear our masks.  To my knowledge we had no infections as a result of our ski adventures.  At least where I was skiing.  For those of us who commonly ski weekdays and mostly in the morning, it was strange to have so many youngsters on the slopes.  With remote learning the school kids were free to be with us during the week almost any time.

    What was missing in this strange year of the pandemic?  I regret to that a whole host of my geezer friends were not skiing for one reason or another.  Truly I am saddened that so many had injuries or health problems preventing them from participating in the sport we love so much.  For many  I am looking forward to their return in 21-22.   I missed the companionship of our mid-morning coffee breaks.   This year I took no mid-morning breaks and skied through the morning and completed my day no later than one o'clock.     A new pattern!

    I spent many hours at Greek Peak sensing the aura of past experiences skiing with old friends that have now passed away.   At various trails I would recall our mutual experiences.   Do other long term  skiers have those memories?   Here are  number of events that came to mind. 

    Bob Jenkins and I were trying Olympian one day and found it to be a real rough ride.  I made it down and waited for Bob.  He didn't show so I knew I had to go back and see what happened but really didn't really want to do it.  He had crashed and by the time I got to his location, he had himself together.   I guess I just should have waited for a while longer.  Bob was a great guy and since has passed away.  I miss his sage advice and great integrity.

    Some years ago a group of us had a kick for improving our skiing by doing Gorilla Turns.  The idea was to bend down, tough the top of your boots and press and tip the ski to engage the turn.   There we were on the slope doing apelike motions which I suspect amused observers.   Several of that crew have passed on.   Marty Stiles for one is gone but not forgotten.  A real mensch who started skiing in his late sixties and became an institution at Greek Peak.  He even qualified to do some instructing.   He had a cynical wit that always entertained me.

    While riding the lift a few days ago my companion and I riding on the Visions Express Quad were approaching the end where it was time to lift the safety bar.   I was prompted to remember our geezer companion Bob Sanjoule who had a thing about when to lift the safety  bar.   He would insist that the bar not be raised before passing one of the last towers.   This became known to be Bob's Rule.   Bob has now passed on but his memory lives in the minds of many skiers that rode with him.

    I could go on for a long time recalling so many memories of geezers past and events we shared but I would like to end on a forward looking note.   This past season has been one of making new memories.   I have had the privilege of getting to know and ski with the next geezer generation.   Yes, there are the sixties something guys and gals showing up to fill the ranks.   Most are hard core skiers of the past who now have a bit more free time.   Generations come and generations go, but the love of skiing prevails in a core population.  I am happy to think that when I leave this earth there will be a group of "youngsters" that might tell some stories about me.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Delayed Gratification

     A few days ago while riding the ski lift I began thinking about delayed gratification.  It occurred to me that skiing is good training to practice delayed gratification in all aspects of ones life.   Of course when I state this, I am assuming that delayed gratification is useful.   

    If you love skiing you want to be going down the slope as much and as soon as possible.  Time on the lift is a waste of your precious day.   However, perhaps the lift time is good for you since you truly appreciate the time on the runs.   If there was not a wait time you would have instant gratification and  could become jaundiced about the sport.  

    If I extend these thoughts beyond skiing and reflect on my long life of dealing with delayed gratification that I have experienced both in the present and the past, I am struck by how useful that has been in appreciation of each desire being satisfied.   Reaching back to my youth during World Ware II it was a time when toys were not being manufactured.  Thus at least in my experience there were few to no toys for Christmas.  Only after World War II  was I able to get a new Schwinn bicycle that I had yearned for.   How sweet it was to ride that shining new bicycle after the long years of wait.   Later on in my high school years I longed for a motor scooter!   My parents were in no position financially to satisfy my wishes.   After a year or so of extra hard work,  I was able to buy my Cushman motor scooter.  You can imagine how much I appreciated that acquisition.   

    As my life has spun out beyond growing up,  marrying, raising families and having a professional life,  I believe my early life experience kept me in the mode of delayed gratification.   Whenever possible I delayed acquisition of material things until I had accumulated the means to obtain them.   Avoidance of debt has been my mantra.   Perhaps this denial behavior has been onerous for others but in my latter years I think there are immense rewards for this behavior.    In the order of the mundane let me mention that as I finish this blog, I am anticipating my delayed after dinner dessert.  How sweet it will be now!

    Readers, I look forward to your reactions on my thoughts about delayed gratification.

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.