Friday, April 12, 2024

Prime Time

     Just had a birthday!   Almost finishing nine decades.   One more year to go.  My son reminds me of every time my age is a prime number.   Yes, the 89th is prime.  Therefore, I can say I am in my prime!  Too bad that is not so.  However, I am blessed enough to be active both mentally and physically.   However, there is a significant difference in my physical activity versus my son's activity at 65.   On the 9th of April, he climbed Mt. Baldy at Alta Utah to ski some pristine snow.  His birthday call yesterday filled me in on his adventure.  As an avid skier myself, I get vicarious pleasure from his adventures!  From the time he was nine, he was the pace setter for our family skiers!  I think he continues to do that today with his companions on the great slopes of Utah, British Columbia and so on.   We agreed during his call that we both have been blessed with great time of skiing, both solo and with groups of friends.  I will not be around to see it, but I expect him to be one of those people that will be ripping up the slopes well into his nineties.  Perhaps he will be part of the Wild Old Bunch in Utah.  

   Meanwhile,  I hope to be celebrating my 90th birthday on the slopes at Greek Peak in 2025.   Since it is not likely the Peak will be open on April 11th, I may have to prematurely celebrate in March.   It would be nice to be able to hang around in enough good health to ski at my next prime time birthday of 97!  However, the probabilities are pretty low.   But as a friend at the museum where I volunteer who is just a few day younger than me,  reminded me that is good to aspire to better things.  Would you believe his sights are on 100.   So be it.  L'Chaim.




Friday, March 29, 2024

Old Endeavors

    Since my ski season got cut short for me this year, I have been pursuing new endeavors.   Just finished trying to revive what little piano playing ability I developed when I retired in 1996.  I took lessons for five years starting at age 61. I must report that my daughter  Victoria age 11 was taking lessons from the same teacher.   What took me a month to accomplish, she mastered in a week!  

    Here I am now, trying to recapture some of the ability I had so many years ago.  Unfortunately, I discover that the process of refreshing is going very slowly.    However, I can amuse myself with simple melodies, even if I can't fill in the base line.  Maybe this is all a metaphor for my skiing abilities in my more senior years.   Go for the simpler terrain and simply take pleasure in sweeping turns that can be considered as a simple ballet on snow.

    I  will continue to seek other old endeavors too.  If you have been a reader of my blog over some time, you will notice the frequency of posting new blogs has increased in the last few weeks.  Therefore I hope to come up for more tiny vignettes for my own entertainment, if not for my readers.

As we move into summer, I am looking forward to returning to the tennis court!  That is not an old endeavor for me, because I have been playing tennis every year after I started banging a ball against the barn on a the farm I grew up.  I was 12 when a neighbor gave me a beat up wooden racket.  I guess an activity that you have engaged in for over 76 years qualifies as an old endeavor in a different way.   Finally, my old endeavor of skiing started in my thirties.  Hats off to those who were able to start much earlier!


Friday, March 22, 2024

Skiing Egos

    Today's Senior Skiing newsletter had an article about ego related to skiing.   It seems that as we age into the 70's, 80's and even 90's, our ego can drive us to take chances on the slopes beyond our current conditioning and skill set.   We have imbedded in our psyche the belief we should be able to master bumps, sketchy conditions, trees, etc. like we could in our younger days.   Not so! To keep enjoying the sport we love, it is best that we know when to limit our adventures.  Really, we should not have to prove ourselves to others or ourself!

    In my 88th year, I have daily reminded myself about the above admonition.  I have learned to delight in just being on the slopes.  I have learned to enjoy what I can do, and not long for the more adventurous challenges of the steeps.   Skiing can be an enjoyable ballet on the gentler slopes.   Graceful complete turns can be most satisfying.  Also in the past, whatever the hill conditions might be, I have had pride in toughing it out at least for a few runs.  However, now is the time for me to tamp down that desire.  

    My geezer skier friends, I wish you many days of simply being out there and remind you to pause from time to time and view the scene, take a few pictures, have a coffee break with your buddies and perhaps reminisce a little about the good old day.  

   

Friday, March 15, 2024

Anchors

     Recently I ran across a quote from Henrik Ibsen's play Ghosts that inspired my thinking about what holds us down in our pursuit of life.   You may think, how does this connect to senior level skiing?  Maybe that will develop as you read on. The quote is as follow.

"It is not only what we have inherited from our fathers and mothers that existsin us, but all sorts of old dead ideas and all kinds of old dead beliefs and things of that kind. They are not actually alive in us; but there they are dormant, all the same, and we can never be rid of them"
    Metaphorically the dead ideas and beliefs are anchors we keep dragging along with us and prevent us form moving forward.  It is always time to shed some anchors and move on to new ideas.  In the area of beliefs, it is a bit more complicated.  If we are on a faith journey we cannot necessarily shed all our beliefs, but we certainly can find new perspectives and insights.  
    So what kind of anchors do I have to shed as I adjust to my skiing activities in my more senior years?   A new reality is that in spite of my attention to conditioning and healthy living, I am not as expert on the slopes as I used to be.  Thus I will have to shed the idea I can shred the slopes as if I was a teenager.  I will learn to savor what I can do on the slopes and focus on what I can do rather than what I no longer can do.  Perhaps I will also have to shed the belief I can conquer challenging slope conditions is always the goal. Beyond my skiing obsession, I am thankful that I can look forward to other endeavors.
    In conclusion, to you readers, I hope I have given you some stimulus for reflection on any anchors you may be dragging along and figure out how to shed them.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Yo-Yo Season

    This morning I woke up to a rare March sight in Central New York this year.   A blanket of snow covering my lawn!  Enough snow to get the ski juices going, but meager in the sense that most of it has melted by this afternoon.   Thus, I would define this ski season as one of providing a yo-yo of emotions--hope for good conditions for a while followed by a crash of quality skiing.  No matter what we are up to, we don't like to be jerked around.

    Along with not skiing, I am also feeling jerked around by a change to daylight savings time.   Perhaps, this angst comes from being so wired into routines that we have comfort in.  Sleep is disrupted, meals are off schedule and biological rhythms are out of kilter.  The curmudgeon in me demands more stability. Staying with one or the other time pattern year round does have some issues.  Apparently we aren't going to get out of that dilemma soon.  

    On an end note, we don't always get stability.  That is a fact of existence.  Therefore we must develop coping skills for variations.  Thankfully, I have diversions beyond skiing!  Geezers with the right mindset will adapt. And that ability to adapt will serve well for an optimistic outlook.   My optimistic outlook for skiing to my 90th year is wrapped up in having purchased my season pass for 2024-2025!


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Chaos

     Sometimes unexpected events throw your life into chaos.  Post skiing on this past Saturday morning in the rain, I returned home to lunch and my usual afternoon geezer nap.  Unfortunately, I awoke from the nap in a totally confused and blanked out state that lasted for about a half hour.   Needless to say,  something happened and things began to roll that upset my life in a big way over the next several days.  The upshot was a hospital stay which confirmed I had a stroke.  Fortunately, there are no lasting effects.   We are not allowed to call it a mini-stroke.  A mini-stroke does not show up on the MRI, but the stroke does. Mine was visible on the MRI. The doctor called it a small stroke.

    Thankfully, I am home and perking along essentially normally.   Sadly my ski season is over for this year.  However, I don't expect to miss much, since the rain and warm weather had devastated conditions at my local ski area.  I will remain optimistic about next season and buy a season pass.  However, in my 89th year it is likely I will not pretend to engage in ski conditions that I endured in my more youthful years.

    Back to the matter of chaos.   Does going through chaos have something to teach you?   All of us at one time or another have experienced a myriad of chaotic experiences.   I think how well we handle them depends on our support community and whatever good character we have developed in  the past.  During my health issue, I was and am so blessed by my community in all forms that have been supportive and concerned.  That blessing has come from family, neighbors, church folks, ski buddies and professional associates.   I cannot say enough about the extraordinary love and support provided by my dear wife of almost 42 years, Nancy.  May I be as supportive to others as they have been to me.  

    Geezer skiers, in my opinion are a special breed.  We are essentially survivors!  Our love of skiing provides incentive to be healthy, be active and to live each day as a gift, whether on the slope of off.  May we avoid chaos in all forms, but if a bit of chaos enters our lives, may we be fortunate enough to have a dynamic support community.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Rainy Day Musings

    Woke up this morning expecting to head to the slopes.  Surprise!  A steady downpour dampened my enthusiasm so my plans quickly changed.  The day will not be a complete bust since our Geezer Skier group at Greek Peak will be meeting for an already scheduled lunch.  Thankful for a great group of people in their senior years to socialize and ski with!

    I am led to thinking about how group dynamics change as we age and as some of our companions depart for various reasons.  Some that I would prefer not to mention. However, if we are a vital group we should be able to recruit new members.

    In the vein of musing on socialization, I am reflecting on some of the encounters I have had on the ski lift rides this holiday week.  At times I have been in the single mode approaching the lift and have had the good fortune to have random companions join me.  I joke with my wife that  I do 6 or 7 minute interviews as I ride with strangers to the top.   Often an opener for those conversations comes when my companions see the 85+ sticker on my helmet.  Yes, I have been a long time member of the 70+ club.  A frequent reaction I get is how old are you?  Well, I am not far from my 89th year and hoping for the day when I can put the 90+ sticker on my helmet.   Probably the most interesting reaction I got this week was amazement from two of my riders and one saying I have to go home and tell my wife I was on the ski slope with an octogenarian. It is amazing how a senior skier can open doors to candid conversations where people reveal things that might come out in a session with a therapist.   In conclusion, I am so happy to be entertained and informed by a wide spectrum of people I see in my daily sojourn on the slopes.  We all have unique life stories and they should be appropriately shared for posterity.


Monday, January 15, 2024

Avalanche Restriction

    Checked the news regarding Utah's Alta and Snowbird today.  My son and family regularly ski there. So I have a personal interest in the conditions.  I know at times the Canyon road to these areas is closed sometimes due to avalanche danger.  With 17 and 24 inch snowfalls in the last few days, apparently there have been restrictions on movement in the area.  As far as I know my son and family are safe.  However, I do know they will be blowing up the powder as soon as any restrictions are lifted.  I haven't visited them to ski in quite a few years.  In my senior years, making the trip seems beyond my stamina.  Also the big mountain now challenges my ability.

           Meanwhile, I do not have to worry about any avalanche danger in Central New York.   All I have to do is get my injured hand healed enough to hit the slopes after a long lay off.  I guess that is a substitute for an avalanche restriction.  Perhaps avalanche restriction is a metaphor for the vagaries of life.   Unexpected events that throw a monkey wrench into one's pleasures!

Friday, January 12, 2024

Playing it Safe

     In making critical and not so critical decisions, I have found myself struggling with playing it safe or taking a chance.   Today I am facing a decision whether to attempt to ski while my hand surgery is healing.  As my doctor says, if you take a fall and break open the wound you could face an ulcerative wound.  Not nice.  Therefore I am left with waiting for healing or enjoying some turns on the slopes.   It was quite a blow to have to face several more days away from a wonderful winter passion to be safe.  Before I started to write this blog, I did decide to postpone my immediate gratification and play it safe.  

    Thinking in a broader sense about what I just wrote above, I am reminded of decisions I have made on the ski slope that sometime pushed the boundaries of a safe ski run.   One of my weaknesses is to ski slopes and conditions beyond my ability.   Too often I have been tempted to ski in conditions that one playing it safe would not do.   However, most skiers are addicted to the rush the comes from conquering a Black Diamond or a field of moguls.   As a considerably senior skier, one has to weigh the benefits of rising to challenges versus playing it safe to be able to ski another day.   

    Beyond skiing, I also do some things that are not playing it safe.   E-Biking comes to mind.  I am balancing the pleasure of biking and mobility versus the potential hazards of bike riding.  I do my best to minimize the risks as a panacea to the danger.  

    The examples above are but a few of the daily decisions we make about playing it safe or taking risks.   More examples come to mind!   I'll confess that my diet does not always play it safe.   I love my fritter, deserts and fail to avoid too much salt.  Alas maybe all this angst ought to be put aside and go for it.  YOLO - you only live once!


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Kindnesses Remembered

    I guess my forced absence from  the slopes as my hand heals has given me more time to reflect on past events and perhaps consider future activities.   I woke up this morning remembering kindnesses offered to me by colleagues, family and friends.  One might think I have a muse that prods me down interesting paths.   The early morning thought has stuck with me and drives me to share some of my experiences of kindnesses as well as to think of how I can be more active in expressing and doing kindnesses to others.

    On thing I remembered today was the appearance of one of my Cornell colleagues, J. Robert Cooke,  at the funeral of my mother so many, many years ago.  He made the effort to travel a significant distance to the funeral location and provide a representative support of my entire Cornell community.  In the vein of the Cornell connection, when I was struck with kidney cancer in 1995, President of Cornell University, Frank Rhodes sent me a most touching supportive letter while in the hospital! I was amazed by the kindness of a man taking the time to reach out in spite of his busy schedule.  

    In my geezer skier community I have also been the beneficiary of numerous kind gestures.   When injured by a serious fall several years ago, my friend Roger Pellerin (now passed on) stayed with me and offered needed assistance to mange my transition to hospital care.   Some years ago while going through a rough patch with a back injury and depression, good friend Pat Ryan, founder of the Tough Old Geezer Skiers, provided wonderful support for coping with my issues.  

    On a daily basis,  I know many others, receive both large and small kindnesses.  May I be reminded to reciprocate.  As I conclude, I will not speak of the kindnesses I have given to my colleagues, friends, family and fellow geezers, but I am somewhat comforted that they do come to my mind as satisfying good deeds.  In an ideal world, a proliferation of kindness would indeed be a blessing.  Maybe we should make that a priority for 2024 and beyond.


Friday, January 5, 2024

Dismissed!

     Unfortunately, I have not been skiing for several days and will be out for several more as the surgery on my right hand heals.  Too much sun in my youth causing skin cancer.  I guess we should have known better.

      So the new year has been a bit of a bummer.  On top of no snow,  other issues have arisen.  After the first of January I have had a sequence of three doctor's  visits and one other postponed.  You certainly know you are a geezer by the size of the stable of doctor's you have tending to you.   While it is a nuisance to keep up with it all, there are surprising positives that come your.   In my visit with my opthalmologist I learned I am an outlier at my age for vision quality.  Cataract surgery still a few years away!   

    Yesterday I got wonderful news at a visit with my Urologist.  We have a close bond formed over nearly 29 years.  He essentially saved my life 29 years ago when he removed my cancerous kidney!  Over the years he has given me unusually excellent compassionate care. He is like a family member in a way.  In my visit with him yesterday I was surprised to find he will be retiring in the coming year and I had the gift of wishing him well.  I didn't want to challenge his dignity by calling him a geezer, but I hope he will become a geezer with grace some time in the future.  As he reviewed my chart and surveyed my status, I was stunned to hear from him that I no longer needed to follow up with his office unless I had an issue.   

     To put it bluntly, I had been dismissed!  Wow! And to top it all off, I also received a Bro hug!  Made my day and many to come.  It is amazing that we find blessings in unexpected as well as expected locations.   During this hiatus from skiing with my geezer pals, I look forward to getting back to the coffee session with Greek Peak's Tough Old Geezer Skiers.