Archives for posts with tag: Aging

We’re just over half-way on getting these trees into the ground. We’ve seen planting in too-warm weather, in relentless rain, and now, snow. Since the trees arrived we’ve had one major illness in the family, one death, and one family crisis. We are reeling.

The advantages of the trees’ early arrival, is that they’re going in quite dormant, and before the bugs arrive. The disadvantages are mostly weather related. Something is reminding me that a couple of years ago, I said, “No more than about a hundred,” after having exhausted myself putting in over two hundred. I guess I have no self control in the ordering department. Oh, that, and that the biggest price break hits at one hundred trees. We get to plant almost twice as many for the same price.

In some ways it’s a good thing to have this mammoth task, because it forces us outside–away from the fretting and worry that come with multiple crises. The past ten days has also been a slap upside the head to get our own estate matters in order. Who are we kidding? We are not young. And there’s nothing like seeing an estate or two wholly botched to know that you have no business visiting that upon your heirs.

That’s partly what we’ve learned from Covid–we are all living on borrowed time. Age and good habits are no guarantee. You can roll your eyes over someone’s diet–and get hit by a bus because you were momentarily inattentive. The least we can do is enjoy the time given.

So, we suit up, gather our tools and head into the forest to plant trees that we will never see fully grown. The forest is quiet. The ramps and dutchman’s breeches are pushing up through the leaf litter. The Spring Beauties are already up, and blooming. The work is not strenuous–just steady and repetitive. Marching up and down the hills is strenuous–but good exercise to get us ready for the rest of Spring.

In tree-planting, and in life generally, we’re half-way there.

Can I vent? I’ve been peevish for days–made worse by the fact that I’m split on the object of my anger. I guess, mostly I’m pissed at myself. After all, we are all the captains of our own journeys. In particular I am usually the first to question “the experts,” but in this case, I failed myself.

Not long after landing in Michigan, Rick and I decided it was time for a refractory check-up. He hadn’t had his eyes checked in well over a decade. I was at that awkward age, where one’s vision begins to go. My eyeglasses were woefully out of sync with my vision. We were new in town, so felt lucky when we found an eye care professional we really liked–and he directed us to a local outfit for the purchase of our new eyeglasses.

The new glasses were marvelous. If you let that go too long, the return to vision is, well, eye-opening. And, I loved the frames. Like the last pair, they are progressives, which can be a compromise. In exchange for not having to carry three sets of eyeglasses, you accept some loss of acuity, on one end, or the other. In this case, the reading end was never as good as I’d have liked.

It’s been five years. In that time, we’ve been busy, mostly building and planting. During that time, some things have fallen by the wayside as is normal during a busy phase. But I recently realized that a lifelong reading habit had waned, in part because I couldn’t see well. I’d given up needle-crafts–sewing, crochet and embroidery. I decided to make an appointment for an eye exam. Rick asked that I set one up for him, too. I was pleased that he wanted an appointment. I’d noticed that, when reading, he’s been sitting in a funny position, his head tilted oddly–sometimes, with one eye closed. What was up with that? Rick reads a lot–probably averaging five hours a day.

Now, the reason we like our eye doctor was because he shared our view that underlying health and nutrition are essential to all health–including eye health. For many years he’d taught at an out-of-state college, and had returned to private practice when family issues brought him back to Michigan. His clinic was attached to an Herbalist shop–so we saw him regularly there, even though we didn’t frequently visit for eye exams. This past year he’d moved his practice–when the Herbal shop fell victim to the pandemic. When I dropped by the new location to make our appointments, he asked what brought me in, and I quipped–because I can’t see well enough to read. He checked my record and replied that it’d been five years since our last appointment…so it was time.

When we appeared for our appointments, the first thing he did was drop our existing eyeglasses into a fancy scanning machine. In both cases, he exclaimed, and then manually examined our existing lenses. “No wonder you can’t read! These glasses have no reading level at all–they cut it off to fit the frames.”

Rick’s weren’t quite as bad, clipped deeply on one lens, but leaving a small reading field for one eye. The reason he was contorted while reading was because his defective eyeglasses had dictated the only posture where he could see. In my case, I just flat out couldn’t see well enough to read, because that part of the visual field didn’t exist.

So, at whom should I be angry? The optical company that sold me the specs? But why did I wait five years? Why did I let the world of reading go by the wayside? I am, after all, an author! Why did we trust some store-front eyeglass purveyor when our eyes were desperately trying to tell us otherwise? Five years! Part of it was that I was just figuring that it was a part of aging. Needless to say, I’m not going back there for the new eyeglasses.

Next though, I need to have my head examined, to figure out why I let this go on so long. I can hardly wait to get the new glasses. There are a lot of books I need to catch up on.


Most of the country is suffering a serious heat wave. The temperatures are up–though not searing. The issue is this new measure, the “heat index” that combines heat and humidity for a new measure of miserable. This, they say, is the weather of the future.

In addition to gardening, beekeeping and our other regular outdoor duties, Rick and I are working to finish the exterior of the barn. We have a crew (who seem to show up when it’s convenient for them). So, in their frequent absences, we soldier on, on our own.  Right now we are staining the exterior materials. Two coats of Sikkens.

It’s easier to apply the stain before the siding and trim materials are installed. You can do it inside the barn, away from the sun and the bugs. You don’t have to work 30 feet up, on a ladder. And you get a better finish. I’m doing the trim materials downstairs and Rick is doing the siding upstairs. We listen to the radio.

We’re tuned into a station that plays oldies-rock n’ roll. About every twenty minutes they do an update on the weather. Given the high heat index numbers, the weather report comes with health advisories–warnings to keep hydrated and minimize exertion. We just keep going. Our goal is to finish all exterior work by the end of the month so we can be free of the hassle and expense of the crew.

Yesterday, after the umpteenth warning regarding the special dangers of a high heat index number to “vulnerable populations,” I had a flash of insight. These warnings are for folks who work outdoors, or small children… or the elderly. Rick and I are both in our sixties.

“Hell,” I called up to him, “You know, they mean us!”