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.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021


     I'll confess that in my latter senior years I enjoy routines.   I mostly prefer my daily rituals.   Lately our household has been in a bit of chaos.  My usual routine is arising at the preferred hour of 8:00 AM,  followed by a small shot of cranberry juice while I do my back exercises,  drinking two cups of hot water with my mini bagel.   By nine I am on my recumbent stationary exercise bicycle for an hour of mild spinning while I read the digital versions of the Syracuse Post Standard and the New York Times.  There are more elements of this morning routine that I will not bore you with but I love the groove and flow of familiar activities.   However our rhythm has been upset lately with a bathroom renovation and grandchildren visiting.   My wife and I have struggled to adapt to the intervention of our quiet senior life.   We have a limit to the amount of stimulation we can tolerate.    

    I am guessing the many of my neighbors are also grooved into routines.   While riding my recumbent bike I am able to view the street from our sunroom.   During my 9 to 10 AM ride I notice a red haired neighbor making her daily walk on a street that encircles our group of houses.  By my timer, she makes the circuit in about 9 minutes.  I frequently see  another neighbor make this circuit walking here dog.  Her ritual is 9 laps.   Her dog often drops out half way through!   I also note that along with the red haired neighbor walking the circuit there is an Asian-American neighbor that does the same circuit in the opposite direction.   

    Although I am grooved into my current routine, I am sufficiently flexible to move to other routines based on the season.   It is now summer but when winter arrives and skiing starts I will change to other daily rituals involving exercise on the ski slope rather than on the recumbent bike.  

    I suspect it is healthy to have routines, but not be so rigid you can't adapt to new situations.   Aging seems to reduce ones ability to adapt to change.  In spite of the sometimes jarring effect of change I like thinking that each day is a gift.  That keeps me  excited not only about what is routine but also about new possibilities for my life.  

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Riding The Wave

     On this day in 1944 the GI Bill was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.   Who would know that my 9 year old self of that day would make a connection to that event?  

    The GI Bill was a remarkable piece of legislation that opened the doors to college education for the WWII GI's.  They flooded into colleges and universities in unprecedented numbers.  Even doubling the enrollments in some institutions.  Before WWII college was the opportunity of the wealthy elite 18 year olds.   Only 15 percent of the 18 year old population went on to college.   The GI's flooded to this opportunity to advance their lives unrestricted by costs that would have been prohibitive in the past.   In retrospect it was one of the most useful pieces of social legislation every passed by our Congress.

    Here is the personal connection.   I entered Syracuse University in 1952 as the first of my family to go to college.  Not on the GI Bill but on a Chancellors's scholarship.  Next year I transferred to Cornell University  more to akin to my interests in engineering and agriculture.   The wave of GI's had passed through Cornell where it had challenged the faculty to deal with a totally committed and serious population of older students.   During my undergraduate years at Cornell I encountered  veteran faculty members who had experienced the glut of GI's entering their classes.   As a student Teaching Assistant  of Professor Burton A. Jennings I had the honor of hearing him reminisce about the dedication of his GI students.   He would describe them as no nonsense, eager to learn and get on with life individuals.   He had the greatest respect and admiration for their commitment.   In a sense those of us who came from families that had not experience a college education were the next wave starting in the 1950's and 1960's.  

    As an end note I had my own experience with returning GI's from the Viet Nam war.   By that time I was a professor at Cornell as well.   I clearly remember the Viet Nam veterans in my classes as the most dedicated and admirable students.   And so these waves pass through our institutions.    I trust that each generation is looking for upward mobility.   As a nation we owe those who have sacrificed in wars a boost to more opportunity.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Shovel Leaning

    On this day in 1935 Franklin Delano Roosevelt inaugurated the WPA -Works Progress Administration.   In the depths of the depression this new venture provided millions of jobs for unemployed Americans.    This happened just a few weeks after I was born over 86 years ago.  Our family was fortunate to be living on the land.  Farming continued and although there was little cash, we were employed and had plenty of food.  The WPA was a lifeline to millions not so fortunate.

    WPA was ridiculed by many as a waste of public money.   However, many of us today are benefiting from the parks and recreation facilities that were built in the years between 1935 and 1943 when this endeavor ended.   Some of the critics of this support spoke of the workers as mostly shovel leaners.   Some would say they would observe the work crews as having lots of their workers simply leaning on their shovels while watching some of the others work.  Probably if the critics were to hang around for a while,  they would see the shovel leaners pitch in for a while while some others became shovel leaners.    So here is my defense of the shovel leaners.   

    During my college years in the 1950's I had several construction jobs.  I helped build a Rochester Gas and Electric building in Sodus, New York.  In Fairport, New York I helped install a water pipe line.   In upstate New York I helped lay concrete across the Montezuma Swamp for the New York State Thruway.   These are my "creds" for having legitimate experience with public works projects.   I am not ashamed to say I spent some time shovel leaning!   As a laborer working with a shovel or other hand implement for as long as 12 hour days there is not a way that you can keep up this repetitive motion without a rest.   I challenge even the most fit among you to sustain shoveling continuously hour after hour without a rest.    In my experience some of the most hated supervisors were the drivers who would be on your case if you took at least a moments rest!   I vividly remember one day being assigned a tamping job.  Not with the current day powered vibrators but with a hand tamper lifted and dropped by hand.   I was working away with a rhythm that I knew I could sustain almost indefinitely.  Not good enough for the boss.   He comes over and says here is how to do it.   He grabs the tamper and proceeds to do a series of rapid thumps for about 10 seconds and then hands me the tamper and says that's how to do it.   Yeah!  Anyone can do that speed for ten seconds.    Let me say that I was pissed.    I got the job done, but I assure you not at the speed of the boss who  goes back to his job site office and push paper!   

    Let me assure you that I have no love for anyone of the team on the job that fails to carry their share.   However, if one is an outside observer you can't be too quick to criticize individuals unless you get the whole picture.   To this day there are still skeptics of the benefit of the WPA.   However, I think history has shown the benefits far outweighed the cost and gave millions of Americans a leg up in a difficult time.  Fast forward to the present.   We are on the cusp of having a massive infrastructure spending by our Federal Government.    It is controversial!  I, for one, see it as a lifeline for generations to come.   An investment for my grand children and great grandchildren.    Sure the there will be some shovel leaning but that will only be a minor part of the cost.   

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

About Getting Mad

     I usually read my daily horoscope in the Syracuse Post-Standard.  I read it for amusement rather than for seeing it as a template for my day.   Mostly the advice is the kind that can fit a wide array of interpretations.    Occasionally there are real gems of wisdom that one can take to heart.   A few days ago my horoscope included the closing statement:  "Don't get mad about something you can't change".      It blew me away in a surprising way as being great insight for leading a more peaceful life.

    There are a lot things in society today that can touch my hot button.  On a daily basis I see behaviors that are so uncivil they are beyond comprehension.  Perhaps I have a rose colored picture of my decades ago childhood and youth.   Public cursing using four letter words was unheard of.   Disrespect for elders by youth brought stern retribution and was basically held in check.   Not so today!  Outrageous claims are bandied about to sully reasonable discourse.   All of these things can trigger feelings of disgust and anger.   Is it reasonable to allow these things to raise my ire?   Is there anything that I can do to change the course of societal behavior other than my anger?  As a responsible member of society, righteous anger can be a positive motivator to effect some good.   The kicker is to channel ones anger toward things you can change.   I guess what I will keep trying tamp down my anger about the things I cannot change and look for opportunities to contribute to a more civil social and political society. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Too Many Choices

    Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by too many choices.  Of course it is nice to have options but when there is a plethora of choices, it can be confusing and even stressful.   Some time ago we visited a Japanese restaurant with a stupendous array of buffet items.   After wandering up and down the aisles of options, I was in a quandary of what to choose.  It would be impossible to sample everything even in small portions.  I had to shut down my confusion and simply pick a few items that were more familiar to me.   Imagine what it would be like for someone who had never encountered a huge array of choices in a grocery store.  

     In my distant past  of the late 1970's I hosted a visiting engineer from the Soviet Union.  We set up a comfortable apartment near the Cornell University Campus.   As a part of our welcome two of us took him to a local super market to stock up on food and household items.   During our shopping spree he was in a daze.   In his life he had never seen that many different food choices in one location.  He had been living in a country where one choice of a food would be available for a short period of time.   While we were checking out the array of cheeses in a cooler, he decided that he better take one of every choice there.  (In retrospect, he thought the abundance was a set up and this food wouldn't be available the next time he shopped).   Later as we became friends, we would laugh about this.

    Is there a psychology about having too many choices?   Is there an optimum number of choices to satisfy the customer?   Probably each of us has an optimum number of choices built into our personality.   Because this blog has a skiing theme I am ending on that note.   When skiing at my local ski area the number of slopes open on any day varies.    If all slopes were open, I probably would be unable to sample the entire mountain.  In this case the many choices of slopes wouldn't stress me out.  On the flip side I can tell you that when only a half dozen or less trails are open it is not enough.  Conclusion:   Too many choices or too few choices can be stressful in their own way.   I want the sweet spot of choices!  Not too many to overwhelm me, but enough to convince me I can be satisfied.

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 does 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.   

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".