In case it hasn’t been blindingly obvious — stop shouting, guys — I’ve been a little out of sorts.  Part of it is that we’re in a time of great change.  No, I don’t mean politically, but that too.

I’m finally getting my thyroid issues treated, (though I need to schedule a check-up blood test) and I have a desk treadmill, both of which by and large make me feel 20 years younger.  Unfortunately there are things making me feel twenty years older.  Such as… younger son moved out this weekend.

Now, we still have older son on the property, but he has his own area, where he can live without coming upstairs but once or twice a week.  So suddenly I find myself an empty nester.

I was never one of those mommies.  You know exactly what I mean.  When they were toddlers, and I was looking forward to their entering school (yes, yes, I should have homeschooled.  Hindsight is 20-20) I was talking to a bunch of other moms and the consensus was “oh, when they go to school you’ll miss these days.  You won’t know what to do with yourself.”

I was doubtful on the accuracy of this, and in fact it wasn’t accurate at all.  When the kids were at school I wrote.  That’s what I did.  I never had any problems figuring out “what to do with myself.”

So why does the move out, and being alone with my husband (whom I happen to like, as well as love) freak me out?  Why does it feel so weird?

I think I figured it.  It’s not even the reorientation of our priorities.  We’re still partly financially responsible for each boy and will be for two more years, and they are, of course, our priority till they’re wholly self sufficient.

No, it’s the images in the head of what each life stage should be like.  When and where I grew up, when the kids left, you were done.  You had done your job.  Retirement was around the corner, and then you slowly dwindled into irrelevance while life went on without you, with nothing more to look forward to than visits from the grandkids.

Obviously this has changed in the last fifty years.  It was always different for some people anyway.  There were always exceptional people who started their career/interest in their fifties or sixties or even, occasionally, seventies.

But when and where I grew up sixties was “old” and seventies was very old and eighties was unheard of.

My parents are in their eighties and have broken the mold to an extent.  I know what they did when the last kid (me) left the house.  They went traveling.

I don’t particularly want to go traveling and besides, I think that was part of the assumption they were old and counted for nothing.  They were going to travel before they died.  They’re still around, and dad is keeping up on his reading and walking, but I don’t think my old age will be like their old age.

Part of what is changing everything — some for the better, some not — is that the entire concept of life milestones is changing.  First is the longevity thing.  We now can live to our nineties, or can count on it, barring the obviously unforeseeable stuff (I’ve lost friends in their fifties.)  Expectation CAN extend to the nineties without straining credulity, and if you’re lucky, you can get to a hundred.  It’s not only not unheard of, older son while working at the hospital saw a lot of centenarians.

That’s an almost doubling of the “reasonable expectation” of life for people when I was a kid.  And before you say “but most of that is useless old age” … well, my dad complains (who doesn’t) and he’s not walking as fast as he was, but if I didn’t know his age I’d rate him as early seventies or, in village terms when I was little, sixties.

And yes, I too saw the article saying we can’t get past 114 because of errors in copying.  (Rolls eyes.)  This sort of assumes our gene-science never gets better.

The point I’m trying to make is that I have shoved the last kid out the door (not true, he skipped out) and I have an expectation of maybe forty years more, maybe more, because, well, look at how things changed in the last 50.

That is a lifetime.  Careers lasting 20 years are full careers. Thirty, definitely.

It’s no time to dwindle, no matter what my subconscious says.  But I have no models for what it is a time for.  And humans are social animals.  We live and die by models of what to do.

Hence I’ve been a little out of sorts.  I’m trying to get over it, honest, because I have books to write, and there is no reason to be moping around waiting for grandchildren that might or might not happen (except for the adopted ones, who live too far away.)  And certainly no one in my generation is seeing one red cent from social security, so we’ll have to work those next forty years, anyway.

But it’s all new.  There is no guiding experience of previous generations, no model for this stage of life (we’ll call it “second maturity” shall we?)

Maybe I’ll start wearing a bun and dress all in black, to assuage the instinct, while I go about finally getting my career off the ground (almost impossible with offspring in the house.)

But I — and a lot of people who find there is no “model” for their stage of life — am going to be a little out of step, a little out of sorts.  It’s almost like a second adolescence.

Bear with me.  And advantage of being older is that I do know this too shall pass.


238 responses to “Milestones

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I had to chuckle.

    A month or so before my sixtieth birthday, I commented to my sister that I always thought of 60 as old.

    She objected that 60 isn’t old.

    Of course, since she’s two years younger than me I suspected that she didn’t want to think of herself “getting old”. 😉

    Mind you, I don’t think being born in 1954 makes me old. 😀

    • Well, you’re younger than my dad….

      One of the cool things about the internet is that you get to meet *people*, instead of the presentation stuff that they can’t help. (I have a really annoying voice, my husband looks like a Sicilian knifeman when he’s tired, we’re both either too young or too old for most of what we do, etc.)

      • Ooh . . . they’ve been giving my wife and I senior discounts. That ranks right up there with AARP junk mail as an indication you’re getting old.

        • Feather Blade

          AARP thinks that 35 is old, so I wouldn’t call them the best indicator of advancing age.

        • *blink*

          I was old at nineteen (When I got my first AARP junk mail, VFW junk mail, and started getting the credit card junk mail…)?

        • Luke Perry was just on the cover of an AARP issue. Luke. Perry. Who is 50, apparently.

          THAT IS NOT OLD.

          • Heh.

            You’re right about turning 50: It completely sucks
            By Kyle Smith
            Luke Perry fans, don’t kid yourselves. He used to be handsome; now he’s 50. Let the raked and rusted remains of what was once a flawless face be your warning. Fifty is not the new 40. It’s the same old 50: a wasteland of suckage.

            Fifty, I can tell you after having beaten Perry to the mark by four months, means everything you fear: crackling joints, plummeting acuity, evaporating memories. A pillowy softness conquers the midsection, deforestation rules the scalp. To put it in stark terms, in only 15 more years, I’ll be old enough to be a median viewer of CBS.

            The only reason I haven’t started digging my own grave yet to get a head start is that I’m too tired. Plus, I really want a millennial to get stuck with the job.

          • *blanks on who Luke Perry is*

            *looks him up. Still has no idea*

            *reads some*

            One of the 90210 guys is only 50? They actually hired folks that weren’t late twenties for some of the “teen” male roles?!? Wow, I didn’t know anybody mainstream but Saved By The Bell and the show with Urkel did that.

            So when is character was supposed to be 26, the actor was only 34. Mildly impressive. It’s not like I pay a whole lot of attention to pop culture, I just remember that almost every time I went “Dang, that person seems kinda… mature… for a teen ager,” I went and found out they were about 30.

        • At one point, I was getting junk mail from cemeteries; then I moved and they quit.

      • Being on the internet means nobdy can see what an ill-dispositioned old curmudgeon I am.

        OTOH, I am told that on the internet nobody can see my eyes twinkle.

        • This is NOT directed at you, RES.

          “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
          “On the internet, everybody can still tell you’re an ass.”

          Donkey: I am a donkey; he is an ass!

          • Oh, I am well aware that I can come across the ass*, and Orvan, I can trust you (and others here I will not name) to let me know when it happens. ‘Cause that’s no bull.

            *Only a fool would claim to never get a hare up his ass. And I pity the fool.

    • Won’t forget how one day, my grandfather, when he was in his eighties, sat down and said “I feel good today. I feel like I was sixty again.”

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Several years ago I saw a cartoon that had two older gentlemen watching a pretty young woman go by.

        One gentleman said to the other “Ah, to be sixty again”. 😉

      • Reminds me of one of my dad’s jokes along that line, but it involved laxatives so I’ll let you figure it out.

    • Ah, when my brother and I were in high school, we got in a dinnertime discussion of one of our teachers, who was an ‘old witch’. My dad asked my brother ‘how old is she?’ ‘Ancient,’ he replied, ‘she is almost 40.’
      My dad gurgled a little as he was 39 at the time.
      Now, being born one year before Paul, 40 seems young, fresh and like childhood.

      • Hah!
        Recently Rhys found a compilation CD with music from ’99. He gave it to our daughter, who said delightedly, “Ooh, oldschool!”

        Rhys tells me later, “I don’t know if I should laugh or be insulted.” We adults are in our thirties, and I’m the oldest.

        • “Old school rap.” Ouch.

          I noted it was odd (Odd?) that my first mp3 player, when I finally got one, I loaded it with various things, and about the first that played on random was… something digitized from a cylinder record.

      • When telling the cashier at the gas station about something, I occasioned to ask her age, after which I told her that the occurrence had happened before she was born. She told me that I didn’t look old enough for that, which was flattering, but suspect – women don’t usually tell a man her age unless they see him as very young, or very old.

        Although, to be fair, my weight probably does hide my age a bit – fewer wrinkles in the face, you see.

    • richardmcenroe

      Dude, that’s like another century! Did they even HAVE people then?

    • Slightly OT, but I decided I had officially attained Middle Age when I saw the centerfold model of a mostly-current Playboy magazine was born in the year I graduated from High School.

      • I remember being told the sign you are old is when you think “I am old enough to date/be a Playboy centerfold” and the sign you are really old is when you realize “I am old enough to be that Playboy centerfold’s parent.” But the truth is, you aren’t even old when you think “Granddaughter.”

        You are old when you can’t imagine why anybody would be interested in one of those centerfolds.

        • “You are old when you can’t imagine why anybody would be interested in one of those centerfolds.”

          No, that’s when you know that you’re dead.

          • Says a man who looks at those centerfolds and starts calculating lens length, f-stop, exposure, lighting set-up, gels, filters, the amount of Vaseline on the lens and concludes, “That girl looks like she’s a mite cold.”

  2. I have a model, sort of, in my mom. She married late, at twenty-seven, had me at thirty-six, home schooled me for the next eighteen years, and when I went off to college became a university instructor. She still is, at seventy-two. Says she plans to retire at eighty-eight. Based on historical family lifespans, like her grandmother, that’ll leave her with twenty-three years of retirement, barring medical breakthroughs.
    The problem with her as model, is that right now, at thirty-six, I have six kids, the youngest of whom is two. She has an MA, I have a BA. But those are very small difference, as it goes.
    You are all free to borrow from her/my life plans. They aren’t copywriten at all.

    • my mom died at 50 and my dad at 70. I’m 55.

      • Whereas both of mine are still kicking at 85.

      • My father, who is ninety, is older than his father, mother, and siblings were when they died. Only one known direct ancestor was older, and he fought in the Revolutionary War. So yes, you can break expectations.

        FWIW, seven years ago, when he had five bypasses and a cleaning out of the carotid and was in CICU, he looked across the hall at another patent and said “That guy’s in bad shape.”

        • Are we related? 😀 My father commented in what he thought was a low voice (he wasn’t deaf!) at the doctor’s office, “There are a lot of old people here!” He was 82. The “old people” were maybe in their 70’s.

      • My mother died when she was 64, her brother when he was a bit over 50 and my maternal grandfather when he was a bit over 30. But on my father’s side – father lived to 90, two of my aunts who were both chain smokers well over 80 and so on. Very long lived bunch.

        So for me it might be anything. I am not in a good shape which kind of points more towards mom’s side (overweight and can’t lose much no matter what I do and what I sometimes do manage to lose comes back very, very easily, diabetic and high blood pressure although both so far well in control) but who knows.

        • Have you had your thyroid checked?

          • Not a full panel, just that one test and it always comes back within normal range, if occasionally just barely. I suspect I do have some sort of hypothyroidism, I do have several of the symptoms which supposedly go with it (low basal temperature etc) but getting things checked thoroughly here seems to be impossible, or at least quite hard. Because that one test always comes within normal range. :/

            • And they won’t let you insist on a full panel? *passes a stick to beat them with*

              • Single payer healthcare. They are very cost conscious. You do get good care with something like broken bones, but anything not immediately obvious is problematic.

                • And thanks for the stick.

                • You have my sympathy.

                  • Or we could raise the money for you to have it privately. How much is it?

                    • Thanks, a lot, but with the new second job I can actually probably afford it without help (after a few more months). Not necessarily in Finland, but prices are lower in Estonia and it’s right next door, using the ferries doesn’t cost much either. I just need to find out where and if I need something like a referral from a Finnish doctor first (which I can afford). So, a bit of googling. Or maybe more than a bit with the language barrier, except those Estonian doctors do get lots of traffic from this side of the gulf so they advertise both in Finnish and in English.

                    • I was going to ask if it’s even legal–I know in Canada, you have to leave the country to legally get non-gov’t care, although I think there was one pilot program going on or some such– but she already answered with a plan, so good. 😀

              • I do have occupational health care from job, but the firm does not pay for something like that full panel.

            • ask them to check Reverse T3. It looks like normal thyroid function but RT3 actually gives you the symptoms of hypothyroidism more than no T3. That was my issue and until I had a COMPREHENSIVE panel they kept telling me I was normal, even as I sank into obese imbecility.

          • I’ve had mine done in a nice chalk stripe.

            • Having my thyroid checked would cause it to clash with my privilege, which is covered in a tasteful Glen Plaid.

        • I had to start working a very physical fast-paced job, plus eating a lot of food with cultures in it or fermentation. And never eating at night. And….

          • I am awake mostly during nights. Inverted schedule due to job. Probably is one of the problems, vampire schedule can mess up a lot of things in your body.

  3. These weird middle years are fantastic.You can throw yourself into a different take on the old career (my husband is now consulting geologist, rather than an employee, something he didn’t dare while the kids were in college) or (wo)man up and turn a bit of hobby writing into an all new career.

    We wouldn’t have dared go double-self-employed while raising a family. Of course now Tom’s looking at it and wondering why he didn’t do it decades earlier. And I wish I’d gotten started earlier, but what the heck.

    You’ve got a couple more years before the kids totally fly the coop, but trust me, this is a really good stage of life.

  4. We are going through a bit of the same thing. My youngest graduated high school last year and my oldest is building her family. Now if only they would get out of the house so we can get on with our living our new childhood.

  5. Expectation CAN extend to the nineties without straining credulity, and if you’re lucky, you can get to a hundred.

    I’m not sure of your use of lucky here. I know many in their eighties and a few in their nineties. I am not sure that I would want to make it to see a hundred without some major medical advances. Yes, many of us are living longer. Some might argue it is not exactly that we are living longer, but are taking longer breaking down before death.

    • My maternal grandmother made it to 97 and was of sound mind and still pretty functional physically up until shortly before she died (was of sound mind right up until she died, but her heart was giving out). I don’t think she was sorry to have those years, and I’m sure glad she was around!

      Grandma had two aunts who lived to be 97 and 100 years old — the aunt who lived to be 100 had mild dementia for a couple of years before she died, but other than that both of them were healthy and active almost up to the end.

      So I think it partly has to do with genetics. Partly diet and lifestyle. But I don’t see any reason to fear living to be that old.

      • Great grandad, at 102, was still working the farm a few months before he died. Yes, he had heart surgeries (starting in his late seventies- this would be back in the 1970s, then). But he still drank a glass of whiskey (small glass), moonshine (smaller), or beer (tall glass) a day, worked his grandchildren into the ground when they thought to out-do him, and kept a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendar current in his house (that he increasingly couldn’t see, since his nineties).

        Yep, I’ll second the genetics. That side of the family tends to die late, if violence, weird diseases, or accident doesn’t get them. The thing I don’t get about lifestyle is my grandad in his middle sixties had *much* lower cholesterol than I did- and ate comparatively horribly. Instead of green leafies, his regular was black coffee, biscuits and gravy, eggs and bacon, and all that home cooked Southern food that’ll stick to your ribs if you don’t work it off right sharpish.

        Me, I want to get old like Great Grandpa. Hard working, full faculties, capable, and rascally till the end. *grin*

        • We’re learning the last few decades of dietary advice was bunk. Fat makes you full, not fat. Carbs make you fat. Dietary cholesterol is pretty much meaningless when it comes to blood cholesterol – and egg yolks have this choline stuff that seems to be beneficial. It seems that the last few decades of dietary ‘healthy choices’ could be killing people.

          • Give it a few years. Or decades. *grin* I predict that once again, all that was bad will be good and all that was good will be bad.

            Me, I like to cook and have been blessed (or cursed) with a decent metabolism, quite possibly complicated by a tendency to forget to eat unless reminded. I paid my way back to solvency as a cook in a wee three star restaurant back home.

            Fat and salt enhance the taste of food. Not to get too involved in a correlation/causation trap, but there’s probably a reason for the basic taste structure that all humans seem to share (salt, fat, sweet, and savor). We need this stuff when we are growing, so our bodies tell us, “hey, remember what we stuffed in our maw yesterday? That was awesome. We should totally get more of that.”

            So I make tasty tasty food that is loaded with stuff doctors say is bad for you, often. I don’t binge on one thing or other. Which reminds me, I need to make my bastardized version of omurice again- olive oil baked chicken with steamed veggies, eggs, and fried brown rice, bit of spices and cheap brown sauce. The great thing about it is you can freeze it and heat it up again later, and it’s just as good. Not every food survives a reheat that well.

            • Ooooh. I have to ask – how do you get the egg wrapped around the rice? Got any tips? I find my scrambled egg wrapping breaks when I try to flip-roll the thing.

              • Hrm… I guess I cheat a bit. It’s not like making proper egg rolls, the filling mixture is usually tougher than the egg! *chuckle*

                I use a deep cast iron skillet, but a wok is more proper. Once you have your filling (chicken, rice, whatever ash and trash veggies you sacrificed to the food gods form the leftovers), set it aside in a plate, still hot.

                I use dairy creamer with the beaten eggs- it adds a bit of richer flavor- about a tablespoon per 2 eggs. Check your skillet is hot enough (medium heat)- a drop of egg should turn from gooey to gluey in an instant, but not brown. I use olive oil. The lower smoke point on olive oil will tell you when you are too hot (past too hot, actually). *grin*

                Drop the egg mixture in. Let it set for a second or two, then lift the skillet and swish it gently, letting the heat of the skillet/wok do the work. You’ll see egg mixture rolling around a skin of cooked egg on the bottom. All is good, no worries.

                Add in your filling, heat should be low or off by now, and the egg mixture ~90%+ cooked (the resident heat will finish it off, trust me on this- it’s like making al dente pasta that way). Make sure it’s a roughly centered roll. Peel the edges up gently with a spatula. They should flop over the filling decently well.

                Flip the omurice onto a plate, shape the edges in with a paper towel.

                Now if you want the harder way, you *can* make egg-roll omurice, but it’s a bit of a pain. Veggies, chicken, mushrooms etc should be fine chopped or minced. If you brown the edges of the chicken (not thoroughly, just the edges!), you can get a nice caramelized flavor from the chicken once the spices are worked in (I should mention, this works better on bigger chunks, not wee little pieces). Put in a crock pot once the cooking is done.

                Once the fried rice/chicken/veggie mixture is done, make a *thin* layer on the eggs, a little bit at a time. Roll as you go. Cheat and add more egg mixture to “heal” any broken spots on the outside (I use a hot knife to cook said spots sometimes if I have one handy)- the inside doesn’t matter so much.

                The bastardized, easy and lazy way (aka bachelorfood) is steam the rice, fry the rice, stir fry the veggies, drop in the crock pot. Brown the chicken chunks, drop in the crock pot, cook a huge mess of eggs, use a whisk to shred into tiny pieces as you cook, drop in the crock pot. Stir in spices. Let it set low/med. heat, stir occasionally, add bit of oil if you stir more often. Give it about thirty min to an hour of this, if you used 2 cups rice, about 5 lbs chicken, about 3 cups mixed veggies before stir fry (give or take), and about eight or so eggs, you have enough to feed 4-8 people. Or one teenager twice. *chuckle*

                Hope that helps.

            • I have long sworn that if told I could live an extra thirty years by eating nothing but oatmeal, forswearing garlic, peppers (hot and mild), and onions … I would cancel my subscriptions and dig my grave. A life like that isn’t worth the price.

            • I did like the advice one fellow who promoted a low-carbohydrate diet had for those unable or unwilling to go that route: “Just eat real food.” Which meant, “Your (great) grandmother would recognize it as food.” I suppose that’s an imperfect way to put it, but it is generally understood.

          • It seems that the last few decades of dietary ‘healthy choices’ could be killing people.

            I’m lucky my hubby is sensible when it comes to food – and well, he has to be. His job requires him to do daily PT and a lot of physical work can happen -depending on the task. Meat is necessary; such exertions require protein, fat; etc. Salt and sugar are not verboten in our household especially since with the hot months coming in there’s a lot of sweating; and we stay well hydrated – though the hydrating part is more of a problem for me when I sit down and start writing and get absorbed in something I’m doing. I just don’t notice the time flying! (I’ve gotten around that by making a biiiiig pot of jasmine green tea, and keeping it next to me to have, it’s still good even if cold.)

            I don’t go high-fat – mostly because I’m not fond of the greasy feel; but I also don’t cut away ALL the fat from the meat. (Dry, flavorless meat – ugh.)

            I work with the culinary philosophy of: it won’t matter how ‘healthy’ a meal is if it isn’t delicious, you’re not going to get anyone to eat it. Meals should not be unpleasant, or awful, but enjoyed. Which, research is finding, if your brain thinks you’ve enjoyed a meal, you feel fuller. Which is also why I have a small dessert at the end of the meal – even if it’s a small square of chocolate or a bit of fruit. I found I don’t wake up hungry if I do that.

    • We had a maternal relation who passed away in her mid(?) ninties, and although she was blind, she was only starting to become forgetful. My maternal grandmother only died because she got in an accident, and she was in her late 80s. I reckon I’ve got a pretty good chance.

  6. Being old is at least partly in your mind. My mom’s sister was always old, even when she was in her teens.

    My grandfather was young, well into his 90s. (Then it all caught up to him at once.)

    I’m fifty, and people at work routinely think I’m in my 30s. There was one guy who didn’t last long there, when I’d ask him to get something in the basement, would gripe about me sending an old man to do something like that. He kept giving different ages whenever challenged about that, I think the oldest was 41. He was mostly teasing, but you do that sort of teasing after you get the item, not before.

    • After blowing out a knee at twenty-seven I discovered it ain’t the years, it’s the miles on the vehicle that matter. Getting old and getting decrepit typically but not always occur in tandem.

      It is a good idea to avoid confusing one for the other.

      • Aye. It’s so strange to hear people half my age complain of “getting old.” And/or not keeping up with me. I am (relatively) ancient – they should be figuratively kicking my [donkey], but instead I’m leaving them in the dust.

        I have said, “I am $AGE, I am overweight, I have some health issues[1]. Try to keep up.” and they think I’m joking… nope, they slower than ox.

        [1] Fortunately, the health issues are trivial or even slightly to the good. I do need to keep my fluid intake up or my blood pressure drops to borderline worrisome levels – which makes sudden standing.. interesting.. for a few moments. Fortunately it’s a condition readily treated with… water.

        • I have said, “I am $AGE, I am overweight, I have some health issues[1]. Try to keep up.” and they think I’m joking… nope, they slower than ox.


          I have had major health issues, but for the moment they are sidelined. For this I am thankful.

          Right now my main problems of aging is finding I do not have the margin I once had. I have to pace myself. I can’t stay up have the night without immediately feeling the consequence. I can’t skip eating meals. I need to keep hydrated. I can’t drive hours non-stop, I have to stop somewhere and walk every few hours. When I don’t exercise I know it, and it takes much longer to get past the symptoms that comes with starting up again.

          But last year, when I had been doing all I was supposed to be doing regularly, I had the strange experience of healthy people half my age working to keep up. Of course, they were being young and silly, not staying hydrated, skipping sleep and meals, and such.

        • Fortunately, the health issues are trivial or even slightly to the good. I do need to keep my fluid intake up or my blood pressure drops to borderline worrisome levels – which makes sudden standing.. interesting.. for a few moments. Fortunately it’s a condition readily treated with… water.

          Trying to convince my aged papa that he must drink more water for this kind of reason. It’s very trying even with the medical profession backing me up. But I think/hope we’re finally getting there – “every time you get up, take a sip”

          • We had a similar problem with The Father-In-Law as he got older. He needed to drink more water. He had been told many times and knew it, but he didn’t feel thirsty. We had to find other ways to cue him to take a drink.

            • Coffee, lots of, helps with low blood pressure. Minimum 32 oz a day.

              Problem with straight water, for me at least, is my body is perfectly happy with 76/60, or at least my kidneys are!

              • The Father-In-Law is no longer with us; he was in his early 90s when he passed. Coffee was not an option for him in the end. There was a race between his heart and his kidneys as to what would fail first. Treating the heart hurt the kidneys. Treating the kidneys hurt the heart. In the end his kidneys gave out. Because of other age related problems he was not a good candidate for dialysis, which would he would have required several times a week. He said he was done fighting, and refused to even try. He died in his sleep the morning he was to do the final interview and paperwork to be taken into Hospice.

        • For many years back spasms (consequent to walking imbalanced post-knee reconstruction) made bending over or stooping down a risky proposition; I was to the point where a coin had to be worth at least a quarter before it was worth my picking it up, and fast approaching the “it better be a five-dollar bill or larger” when I found a chiropractor who straightened me out and I now cheerfully swoop for pennies just out of the joy that I can.

          Those of us born when bicycle speeds were determined by how hard you pedaled, not what gear you were in, have the advantage of vigorous childhoods which accustomed us to physical exertion. I shan’t rant about playstation couch potatoes, but I do think there were virtues to active play even for those of us who could happily sit and read.

          • Oh, yes indeed. I was that child, more like to be found lost in a book, or pile of books… But also turned out to play at dawn in summertime and expected back before dark (and at scheduled mealtimes- miss it, and you waited. period)… On a good weekend of a time.

            Most weeks we still helped out around the house and with whatever my folks were working on, from the time we were old enough to understand directions.

      • Arthritis made me hang up my helmet and jacket at 51. It sucked all the joy out of riding.

        In the years since, I bet I know how former heroin addicts think about the good old days.

  7. A large part of the absence of models is likely due to the fact that kids have no real idea about what adults do. Amongst other things, now is a good time to start piling up cash against the day no more income comes in, because you know Social Security is a) insufficient to your needs, much less wants and b) ain’t gonna last as long as you do.

    Write books while you can, before the inevitable Carpal Tunnel Syndrome reduces you to typing with only your two middle fingers.

  8. In case it hasn’t been blindingly obvious — stop shouting, guys — I’ve been a little out of sorts. 


  9. Back in the day, (OK, not the Roman Legion’s 25 years – I’m talking about the 1950s and 60s here) the military’s twenty-and-out for your pension basically made for a good retirement. Now twenty-and-out means you have a supplemental income for your next career.

    What society will look like when twenty-and-out leaves an individual 60 years of productive lifespan remaining is why we have Science Fiction.

    • One of my fellow soldiers’ dad did that twice. 20 years army, 20 years post office. Two retirement checks by about the time he was ready to retire and not worry about things.

      • My Dad did that, then ran a woodworking business for 20 years before officially retiring.

        • Apparently his dad had some issues that prevented him from going further than ‘hobby’ level post retirement. It’s been long enough I don’t remember what they were.

      • I’m working on pension#3, though FERS isn’t nearly as good as CSRS was. I’ll be working until at least age 68. My parents died at 82. Both had horrible lifestyles. I have a very large number of direct ancestors who lived well into their 90s. Including their parents.

    • what they are doing to Military Retirement will mean that you will have to have a good job after you retire. Even the Thirty and out will be hard pressed.

  10. Have you thought about using the newly cleared space? About ten minutes after older daughter left I lined the room with bookcases and declared it to be a library. When younger daughter left she told me not to fill her room with cardboard boxes, so I didn’t. I filled it with Elfa shelves to store my fabric stash. All that organizing took time and helped fill the empty mental space. By the time I got through I was used to living without them.

    • yep. #2 son’s room is going to be my sewing room. And craft room.

      • Margaret Ball

        Good for you!

        Of course, refurnishing doesn’t always work; younger daughter and her husband are temporarily living in the “library.” It’s lovely to see them every day, but I’m getting just a little tired of clambering over guitar collections and coffee tables to reach my books.

  11. My great grandmother[1], when I was a teen, lived on the 6th floor of perhaps the tallest building in town (it had a seventh floor as well) and before a stroke slowed her down, her concession to old age was to take the elevator up. Down? Stairs it was. I recall her dropping some note and my bending to pick it up – and she had been down and was back up before could reach for it.

    My grandmother died early (in her 70’s) due to the quite sudden onset and effects of ALS (motor neuron disease) or I suspect she’d have lived perhaps another 20 years.[2]

    There was some oddness to it, but not much. Then it was typical to go, roughly, “Sure, there are default settings. Doesn’t have stay at those!”

    So… invent the future you want, or need. Yeah, there might be a few misfires. So what? Then you know another that doesn’t quite work — for you. It might be just dandy for someone else.

    [1] One of them. I’ve met, at least, two and a great grandfather. He (allegedly – truth coefficient is… er, less than reliable) lied about his age and went to France with an artillery unit in WWI. The other grandmother had the packer’s knack – if you opened something she had packed, you would need a larger box to put it all in. She also tended to call “out of the blue” when something was amiss, asking just what was wrong. I don’t know if these calls also happened when nothing was amiss. But then, in the 1970’s, when wasn’t something not quite right?

    [2] Many older male relatives smoked, and their longevity seemed to be rather curtailed by that. My father did not smoke, so that (unless second-hand) was not a factor. The last few decades of insanely reversed dietary instruction might have been, but is not provably so.


    Our book club read The Last of the Doughboys, where the author went and interviewed surviving WWI vets, most if not all of whom were 100 years old at that point. He was surprised by how many of them were still sharp and functioning at that point.

    • My mother’s friend of WWII generation in his 90’s now, is starting to slow down. Starting, mind you. He gave up tower climbing a few years ago, and does only small carpentry jobs now — and still does enough before breakfast one can get tired just listening to (not tired of!) it all. I do rather suspect that he can be active is because all along he was active.

      He’s related a couple stories of his encounters with doctors…
      Doc: I don’t know what you’re doing, but whatever it is, keep doing it.

      Him: Doc, can I keep drinking my whiskey?
      Doc: My word, it’s worked for you this long, don’t stop now!

      He hasn’t used the George Burns line yet, at least that I know about.

    • Robert says some of the 100 year olds look in their seventies (we’re hoping dad takes this path) and some look… well, dead.

      • From what I can see there are three key things to having a decent stab at an active life at 100.
        1. Keep mentally active
        2. Keep physically active
        3. Don’t have a major injury or cancer

        The third element is key. If you are old and break a leg, get cancer whatever your body doesn’t bounce back and recover they way it does for a younger person.

        • I think the major injuries may have trimmed a few years off my dad’s life. I think he was 55 when he broke his ankle badly falling off a ladder (he would have been fine, just falling, but his foot ended up under the ladder, which the rest of him landed on), it was near that same year, but I don’t remember if it was before or after, that he nearly cut his arm off with a circular saw, he had to have had spinal damage from falling from the rafters in the barn when he was a boy and landing on his back, and he had a tendency to overwork himself. The abdominal aneurysm that burst when he was about 70 probably didn’t help, either. Still made it to 90.

      • You know, it’s difficult to separate out the effects of cigarettes after WW II. The government handed out the cancer sticks, many men smoked them the rest of their lives, they became fashionable among women, and even when smoking didn’t kill people, it made them look older much sooner. I could name 70 plus year old actresses working now, who never smoked, who look younger than, say, Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck did at fifty.

        • The 100 year olds he was dealing with were mostly vets who smoked. So, I don’t think that’s it. In fact, we might come around to wondering if smoking is why they lived so long. Don’t believe me? Watch.

        • I think the “looking older” thing has more to do with how they smoked than anything. Some people let their cheeks draw in when they drag on their cigarette, and some people don’t. I suspect the ones who let their cheeks suck in are the ones who look older.

          It certainly didn’t make my parents look older, and they both smoked for at least 50 years.

  13. Maybe I’ll start wearing a bun…

    Alas, these look like they are now gone, but at one point you could have purchased a set of these, for special occasions:

  14. Skip the bun and go full out Dowager Countess – enormous hats, Edwardian styles, a fancy walking stick, and intimidate and/or shock the bajeebers out of everyone by saying exactly what you think.

  15. You have thyroid problems, most of your cats have thyroid problems. Obviously you were right when you were little. You’re a cat.

    • I do wonder about thyroid and how odd effects come about. Due to time and place, my usual suspicion (test shot downwinder & such) doesn’t seem to fit. But there are other factors, which I admittedly do not know.

      • They used to put iodine in bread flour to retard spoilage. Now they use bromine. Buy sea salt? Read the label and make sure it actually has anything besides salt in it. I suspect we don’t really have an abundance of thyroid problems, we just have a lot of iodine deficiencies.

        • Plus all the people who refuse to use salt at home.

          • Salt makes food taste good, therefore salt is bad.

            That’s about as scientific as any of the “studies” seem to be…

            • Salt does increase blood pressure for some of us. Eating a lot of salt raises mine. Anyone who isn’t affected by salt should count their blessings.

              FWIW, the idea isn’t salt free as much as salt control. After a while you get used to it.

              • The problem with these notions is trying to make one diet for everybody.

              • Reduction to zero added, in practice.

                For people who don’t have the problem being treated.

                As has been mentioned here before, if a treatment has enough oomph to do something when it’s needed, it’s going to have enough oomph to do something when you use it and don’t need it.

                I would not be at all surprised if a significant portion of our medical problems turn out to be from the “don’t bother figuring out if someone reasonably has the problem, make sure they’re doing the treatment for it anyways” mindset best exemplified by the BMI.

                For those who’ve avoided my rant on that so far: the BMI is a screening mechanism. It’s supposed to make it so you aren’t checking someone with a fractional chance of being obese for obesity. The way it is being used is that they are diagnosing the entire population that should be screened. A similar thing happens with men and blood pressure– my dad was diagnosed as requiring medication for “high blood pressure” because he went one day later than otherwise. The definition changes for men over whateverthecutoffageis. Day before, he was “normal” with the same blood pressure. And yes, there is a nice big list of side-effects on that medication.

                • We found out my son doesn’t have high blood pressure. He has insane caffeine levels. He had to dry out on caffeine for medical reasons, and his blood pressure is very normal thankyouverymuch.

              • Six months and everything still tastes like cardboard. No noticeable change in blood pressure at the doctor’s office. I started recording my own blood pressure twice a day about a month ago; another few days and I’ll bring the salt shaker back out and see if anything happens.

                “Data is good.”

              • Salt control I don’t mind; it’s the elimination of it and demonization of it (and sugar) that I snarl about. “Sugar is poison” is a meme that’s been going around, and I even got told once that I was wrong that the brain required glucose in order to function. I shut up because it was clear there was no point in arguing biochemistry with someone who doesn’t know it.

                Some people seem to think that just because I drink cola I should be suffering from diabetes (and seem invariably grumpy if I have a blood test that results in lower than average blood sugar.)

                To top it off, on a whim, I looked at a book for one of the ‘I quit sugar’ fad things, and one of the advised recipes was to ‘make your own maple sugar’ – by using sugar and maple syrup. The same with ‘honey sugar.’ It’s one of the reasons why I laugh at people who go “I QUIT SUGAR! I FEEL GREAT!” as part of their dietary thing and act all superior to other people.

                This isn’t a jab at the ones who need to do such things (eliminate or control things from their diet for medical reasons), but the folks who don’t need to do that, then behave as if they’re doing something better than the person who isn’t doing so (because they don’t want to nor need to.) I honestly think that the mindset replaces religion in some folks (A fair few of the same tend to be proud of being ‘nonreligious’, I have found.)

                Medical reasons? Allergies? I don’t argue with that.

                • To be fair, when you read / listen to the actual docs on the “sugar is poison” debate, you realize all they’re saying is “Insulin resistance is a thing, and all carbs, but especially refined sugar, exacerbates this. If you’re not prone to insulin resistance, have all the sugar, starch, and carbs you want, and enjoy. If you are prone to it, moderate, and if you’re already so resistant you have Type 2 (not Type 1!) diabetes, the best way to break the persistently high insulin level driving the metabolic syndrome is to cut out all the carbs (and excess protein) that make the body produce insulin, until the background insulin level drops sufficient unto restoring health. Then moderate intake. But it’s not that simple, and sometimes cutting carbs doesn’t work, because of the following other factors in this multifactorial disease…”

                  But that doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker, or even a single tweet.

                  Just like “Salt causes blood pressure spikes in 10% of the population, and so among those effected, salt control is essential for blood pressure modulation. For the rest of the populace, have at it!” doesn’t fit the bumper sticker mentality.

                  Heck, how about those of us in the “MSG has been linked as a trigger for migraines, in some of the migraine-prone population” pool? I’m not going to tell you MSG is evil. I’ll just tell you it’s not in my house, and that I usually skip knowingly eating it, because my migraines are infrequent enough I haven’t ruled it in or out as a definite trigger.

                  • I’m aware that for some folks, sugar is something they absolutely cannot have. (MC Hogarth, I vaguely recall, can’t have sugar, and was really happy with a hot chocolate recipe I shared because she could use sugar substitutes with it and the chocolate didn’t taste strange.)

                    Like I said, there are people who can’t have some things for medical reasons, allergies, etc. I don’t have a problem with them, at all! For example, Rhys used to have a lot of food allergies, and still avoids some of them, so I take that into account, in the same way he is careful about giving me ‘no sugar’ or ‘diet’ things. Some of the kids who come on playdates can’t have chocolate or tomato-based anything, so I take that into account when preparing snacks/lunches.

                    I just rather wish the ‘sugar is poison’ bumpersticker mentality would leave me alone about it. (Ditto the SALT ERHMERGHERD EVILS) and no sod off, I will NOT give up meat because (insert person making protests) has read NEW SHINY DATA OH LOOK MEAT CAUSES CANCER – I don’t care, I’m not eating nothing but vegetables and I refuse to be vegan. And no, I do not suffer from celiac’s disease, I have no reason to give up carbs myself, oh, (other person) has issues with gluten? They can eat gluten-free if they like, but I’m not that person, their diet is not mine, no I am not evil for not taking on other person’s diet in a show of solidarity.

                    Haaaaaaaate. That. So much.

                    (And I don’t use MSG either.)

                    • The world is over-laden with folks who grasp a small bit of knowledge and think they understand everything. They believe they understand the elephant when all they’ve done is stuck their head up the elephant’s heinie.

                    • I’m rather glad right now, my dear wallaby, that my drink is still too hot for me to drink and is sitting next to me, cooling. XD

          • Between that and non-iodized salt, I wonder if we might have an IQ drop in time. Supposedly after iodine was generally added to salt, there was a jump.

            And salt (sodium) can affect blood pressure, though I do recall hearing the claim that if salt really affected your blood pressure… get your thyroid checked out.

        • Remember the seven countries study which connected serum cholesterol, diet and cardiovascular problems? Well, Finland, and more precisely, eastern Finland was one of those countries.

          Now I have never looked at that study much, but what I do know about eastern Finland: guess which chemical element used to be found in rather small amounts in eastern Finland’s diets back in the day due to the fact that it is also rather scant in the soil?


          Both goitre and cardiovascular disease were common in the area.

    • No. Old women and old cats have thyroid issues. And “old” is mother nature’s old. 45 or so.

  16. Going through transitions here. Part of it is setting things up for when I’m dead. Not that I think it could be imminent, but you never know. As I told a friend, it’s actuarial, not depression. Right now it’s a feeling of things winding down, the whole phase of life thing ending at home and a feeling of, well, things winding down career-wise. It came as a start yesterday that there’s only five people at the company who’ve been there longer than I have. More and more I’m thinking of things to do now, while I’m able, against the day when I won’t be able.

    As it stands now, the house will be completely empty quicker than we realize. So it goes. We’ve already had some taste of it so that part we can adapt to.

    What the future will hold? Shrug. Who can say? I really have no definite plans on what we’ll do after I’m retired. I don’t see travel. Maybe research full time. Maybe finally writing more. Maybe making one of those Gingerly metalworking shops, or a metalworking multi-machine from an engine block. I only know I’ll have to do something.

    • When we retired 8 years ago, I was #3 in seniority for the city I worked for (admittedly out of only about 70) and my wife was in the most senior top 10 teachers (out of 700+) at her school district. I bought a tractor (we live on five acres) to play on and my wife has found many things to keep her busy, too. We *did* avoid the two biggest killers I saw of retired people when I worked for the PD: TV and alcohol. Too many retireds I dealt with spent their time drunk and/or in front of the tube. They may have hung around a while, but it could hardly be called living. So long as you are doing *something* (and doing it most days), you’ll be okay.

  17. Both sides of my family tend to live long and relatively healthy lives, if we don’t smoke (that’s what got my father, and his mother). My great-aunt was shoveling snow in Niagra Falls at the ripe age of 90+, but when she got over 100 *did* have to use a walker. Given most of her healthcare was circa early 1900’s, I think she could have easily gotten to 130 with modern medicine. Even when her body was frail nothing was wrong with her mind, even at the end (102).

    Given my genetics, I HAVE to plan for a long retirement. Barring accident or nasty sudden illness, I expect many years of being a crochety old lady 😀

  18. Medical knowledge is a blessing and a curse. My family tends to just wake up dead so trying to get a lot of my major wants out of the way. On the minus hand you have to accept a short life but plan for longer. But on the plus side all those hobbies with disclaimers ‘up to and including death’ or ‘ultrahazardous’ can give you quite a rush and be fulfilling.

  19. First, I hope you have success with treating the thyroid issues. That’s my big challenge and have struggled with it for years now. I found a great resource for information in “Stop the Thyroid Madness” … the book, the site, the Facebook group.

    Second, embrace the empty nest! While you still have some responsibilities for your kids at this point in time, they are, for all intents and purposes, self-sufficient and no longer dependent on you for their daily needs. Celebrate … you’ve done well in creating two human beings that can take care of themselves. That’s far more than many parents of young people these days can say.

    Rich and I managed somehow to get 8 of 9 out and on their own. We do have one “failure to launch” still with us, but that’s a pretty good track record. We live by the motto, “Growing old is mandatory, growing UP is optional” and we live to play. We geek out, we travel, we indulge our vast and varied hobbies, and we do so with great gusto and glee.

    We are also removed from the roles of Parents to our children now that they are adults, and most of them parents themselves. That allows us to be their friends now. They still come to us for advice or help, but they are in control of their own lives, and we just get to enjoy them for who they have become. And then there’s the grandchildren.

    Relax. Look forward to this new chapter. It’s pretty awesome. Just don’t sit there waiting on old age … have fun!

  20. “No, it’s the images in the head of what each life stage should be like.”

    I gave up on those images a long time ago. Nothing I do looks the way it is supposed to, as everyone never stops telling me. I have the wrong car, the wrong house, the wrong relatives, the wrong job, the wrong attitude, etc.

    Stage of life? I’m somewhere around 19. I’ve been 19 since 1975. Sometimes I wonder when I’m going to become a Real Grownup, but then I think about most of the Real Grownups I know, and start thinking about what’s for lunch instead.

    I’ll probably be a hyper-capable 19 year old when I finally wheeze out my last breath, whenever that is. Could be worse, I suppose. I could be whatever the hell Hillary Clinton is. Bucket of Eeeevile held up by a robot pantsuit.

    • You have to get older, but you don’t have to grow up.

      As a child, all the adults I saw seemed sour and disgruntled. At least I’ve avoided that…

    • Margaret Ball

      Those life-stage images! I intended to be, by age 35, a sophisticated, much-traveled woman, fluent in at least five European languages, whose hair never looked messy and whose stocking seams were always straight.

      I blame the failure of this plan on the fact that they stopped making nylons with seams.

      • I was that in my twenties. Then I came to America and became a writing hermit. The stockings: there was this little hole in the wall store in Porto that was open erratically and was subsisting on pre WWII stock. It was an old man’s hobby, so prices had NOT been upped (I suspect he was selling stock his father had acquired. The family lived upstairs from the store.) I bought them out of silk, silk lace and silk fishnet stockings. My husband loved those on me. I think they’re partly responsible for his proposing 😉

      • There’s your problem — you should not have made up your mind!

        Jenny made her mind up when she was twelve
        That into foreign languages she would delve
        But at seventeen to Vassar, it was quite a blow
        That in twenty-seven languages she couldn’t say “no”

        Poor Jenny, bright as a penny
        Her equal would be hard to find
        To Jenny I’m beholden
        Her heart was big and golden
        But she would make up her mind

        Jenny made her mind up at twenty-two
        To get herself a husband was the thing to do
        So she got herself all dolled up in her satins and furs
        And she got herself a husband but he wasn’t hers

        Poor Jenny, bright as a penny
        Her equal would be hard to find
        Deserved a bed of roses
        But history discloses
        That she would make up her mind

      • I blame the failure of this plan on the fact that they stopped making nylons with seams.

        Well, there’s your project – bring back nylons with seams. There certainly is something fascinating about them.

  21. Sure, the boys will eventually move out, but trust me, you never get shut of the pesky devils entirely. Mine still poke their noses in at some of the most inconvenient times.
    At least now they won’t keep pilfering mom’s Heinlein collection. Or if they do just hit them over the head with a Kindle.
    I’m about as old as anyone here, retired for five years now, and about to enter into a new business partnership with one of the many authors I work with. Extremely talented, but no head for business.
    My birth father died in his late 30s from cancer. I beat cancer seven years ago. Of course I have medical issues, but under control due to a partnership between myself and my doctor.
    I was worried when I retired. I’d seen too many retirees dry up and blow away within months of pulling the pin. Needn’t have worried. I’m busier now than I was while working. You just need to have things you care about and devote your time and energy to involving yourself in them.

  22. I turn 67 later this year. I got married on May 1 (for the first time, but to the woman I’d lived with for 31 years). In August we moved to a different city, where she’s attending the University of California as a transfer student. I’m still working as a freelance copy editor, and in fact I’m currently negotiating with two new prospective clients for continuing work; I don’t aspire to stop working, though I suppose the day will come. My biggest gap right now is that I haven’t located a tabletop roleplaying community yet. . . .

    So I don’t have a model for this either, but I’m enjoying the sense that life changes are still possible and that I was able to cope with them, despite the stress involved. In some ways I feel as if I were in my mid-twenties; a lot of what I’m doing is the kind of stuff people usually do at that age.

  23. …when the kids left, you were done. You had done your job.

    Time was! But today, a parent’s job continues through the kids’ need for “parentally assisted” mortgages, their job losses and bankruptcies, their need for a place to stay “just till I get back on my feet, Mom,” their fights with their Significant Others, and tragically too often the need to “talk them down off the ledge” after their divorces.

    Ah, you have so much fun ahead of you, Sarah! Take it from one who knows.

  24. Wendy Delmater Thies

    “Second maturity” or an extra lifetime is a theme I saw in a recent book: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, by Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s sort of a coda to the whole Vorkosigan series, on how life-extended Cordelia handles life after her non-life-extended husband dies. At 60, with a 120-year lifespan predicted, she realized she has a whole lifetime ahead of herself, and changes her career to something that fascinates her and a new partner.

    In my own life, I had my ex skip out on the whole white picket fence lifestyle and leave me with three kids. I reinvented myself and went from homemaker to engineer (and writer). Like you, the time challenges of parenthood left me little time to write – and throw in no spouse and a massive commute and mandatory overtime.

    So when the kids left, I reinvented myself again. I quit a six-figure job that was killing me and married a fantastic brainiac of a guy in a semi-rural area and was able to concentrate on recovering from the abusive job, and write and edit. We have three bedrooms in this house: one is his computer lab and one is my office-cum-library. Life is good.

    We don’t expect the government to keep its promises about social security. It can’t. So we are making ourselves as energy, health and food secure as possible. That’s fun too, and all in the spirit of reinventing ourselves for this new world. Onward.

  25. Since Social Security has come up a couple of times . . . Seniors vote. SS will be the last government program cut. Well, except for the Congressional pensions . . .

  26. When an inmate broke Peter’s back, the docs told him he might as well get a scooter, because he was going to be paralyzed and never work again, and walking would soon go from difficult to impossible. Then they handed him lots of pain meds, to go fog the misery of his life.

    He’s now nearing sixty, happily married, walking (with a cane, but walking!), and supporting us with the book income. (Ok, I work too, but we went and bought a house, and he’s had a year of expensive medical misadventures. Almost, almost through fixing / healing the last complications!)

    He never expected to make it to sixty – after too many years of interesting times in Africa, too many times of being shot, stabbed, and nearly blown up, he figured he was used hard, put up wet, and not going to make it to be an old man by African standards. And yet, here he is. And year on year, his health is actually getting better. God willing, he might see seventy or even eighty despite everything, after all.

    So let’s embark on this awesome second wind of life together, as hybrid authors & as friends!

    • That is fantastic!!

    • Peter is an awesome guy. Didn’t get to meet any of y’all proper that came to LC last year, too busy working (again). But, far as I can tell, there are few men out there who *can* enjoy life so much, even despite the cares that come from a life well lived.

      The doctors in the late seventies told my great gran she had six months to live. Great gran told the docs, “I’ll see you in six months.” And she did. For *years.*

      The docs, bless ’em, still don’t know everything. I’m glad, because it allows for these pleasant surprises to keep happening. *grin*

  27. roy in nipomo

    I’m 69. My father and maternal grandfather both died at 70. I’m still planting tree seedlings in the expectation of seeing them at maturity (theirs, not mine). I may turn out to be over-optimistic about this, but I’ll never notice if I’m wrong.

  28. I remember coming back to my house, the afternoon after I saw the Daughter Unit swear into the military – she had left a message on the answering machine when she had a free moment at the airport before she and the other enlistees boarded an evening flight to South Carolina (They always calculate these things do that enlistees arrive at the basic training destination in the wee hours!) and thinking – damn, that’s all there is? But it was just so short a time …
    Eh … but she came home again, after two hitches, and the economic situation is that she lives with me as a housemate, and we have two businesses between us … and have written three books together…
    So motherhood never quite ends … although I wish she had more of an independent social life…

  29. Sarah, my brother retired twice, and now he works as much as he ever did before reaching Social Security age. He was given early retirement from IBM about 20 years ago, picked up by one of his customers, and retired from that job four or five years ago, and now he buys rental property and helps his contractor do the fixing-up work. I’m sure you can figure out how to make it work.

  30. I love the black frock coat and bun (especially if your hair is thick enough for hairstyles). Classic.

    Now you just have to decide between one of those steel-shafted umbrellas (ala Mary Poppins – book version) or a walking stick.

  31. My favorite milestones? I have been thinking about how I would answer this and realized that they are the short stone obelisks that stand by the Blue Ridge Parkway reading from 0 –> 469.

    • *grin* I know those stones. Good drive, any season.

      • Yes. It is a delight to my soul anytime of the year. The Spouse thinks I have it memorized, which is a bit of an exaggeration. I am most familiar with those sections between Roanoke and Cherokee.

        One year The Daughter and I took the same hiking trail near Meadows of Dan every other week for 10 months of the year monitoring the changes in the plant life. This was before we started home education.

        There is only one month of the year that The Daughter and I have not been on the summit of Mt. Mitchell, February. When we were there in January the sound of the wind was such The Daughter told me that she knew why people believed in Banshee.

        • I haven’t been up to the mountain in years, but I remember going there with my Mother when I was little. We went that way to Galax many a time when my grandfather was playing (or judging) music. *grin*

          Once I get the engine back in my car, I plan to take a day or so trip starting at Cherokee just to see. My folks, my sister, and I used to go to the parks around there, Grandfather mountain and all, to play and hike and take pictures. I’ve family sprinkled all along that route that come and visit for family reunions. There’s a rock collection somewhere of mine from the southern bit of the parkway, shiny little stones from the creek, rough edged bits from the trails, and all.

          It’s a bit of a drive, but there’s a nice little BBQ place in Tennessee over the border near Bluff City I like to visit when I’m in the neighborhood. Worth the trip over there- good pulled pork bbq, slaw, and Southern Sweet tea. I always eat too much, but don’t get to go too often these days.

          Camping out that way is nice this time of year, too, if you don’t much mind a chilly morning. One of my favorite memories is waking up to the smell of cooking bacon and eggs coming over the smell of cold and damp around late October. Handwashing clothes directly after breakfast and hanging them up on the line, not so much. *chuckle* I do appreciate not having to use a washboard anymore quite a bit when I remember what it was like. *grin*

          • Yesterday afternoon it was 34 degrees on top of Mt. Mitchell at 4 in the afternoon. The trees above about 6,000 feet were covered with rime ice*. It was breath taking, but The Daughter and I were both glad not to be among those who had camped on the mountain the night before.

            * for those who don’t know about rime ice: