Juicy Tomatoes ~

It’s September and everyone around here is knee high in ripe tomatoes.  My friend and I got a jumpstart a few weeks ago and already canned 40 pounds of Early Girls.  Lovely little jars of sweet/tart red juicy goodness.  I’m planning on picking a bunch more now that the local heirlooms are down to 85 cents a pound.  One night this week I’ll be steaming up my glasses and cooking up a big batch of spicy salsa!

All kinds of ripe deliciousness is happening, and for some reason that reminded me of a book I read a couple of years ago called “Juicy Tomatoes – Ripe Living after 50”.  Since I’m well past 50 and it is my plan to live juicy well into ripe old age, this book called to me from the shelves of Barnes and Noble.  It’s filled with stories of women in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond who have discovered their own juice later in life and are changing the landscape for the rest of us.

Sometime in my mid-50’s I started asking myself “What’s Next?”  Not so long ago most women my age would have been putting on their support hose and sturdy shoes and settling in to retirement.  Shrinking into a smaller life.  Instead, like so many other women I know, I’m enthusiastically searching for new adventures.  I’ve been auditioning Second Acts for the past ten years.  I read a great blog post a couple of weeks ago about the joy of being a “flitter”.   That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, but I’ve decided to see myself more like a pollinator.  I’m learning from each endeavor and sprinkling my new-found knowledge as I go.  For many of us, somewhere around 50, our lives begin to transition.  We become restless and some of us feel a deep yearning.  (I’m talking to the women here.  Men, you’ll have to speak for yourselves.)  We know that there is something more; we’re just not sure what that looks like for us.  We need time to explore, to learn, to look closer, to test the waters, and of this can be a wee bit scary.  Treading into uncharted territory doesn’t feel safe and let’s be honest, most of us (me for sure) spent our lives building safety and security for ourselves and our loved ones.  Why rock the boat now?  I’ll tell you why. Because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Because Life is short.  Because there is still so much left that we want to try, to do and to become.   We’re not done yet, dammit!   As for my own flitting –  some of you know that at 57 I decided to become a certified personal fitness trainer.  This, after years of being a certified professional couch potato.  I joined a gym, was inspired, and wanted to share what I learned with other women.  From there I moved on to creating an organization for mid-life women to connect and learn and share in a fun social environment – in short to flourish.  Flourish grew into a great network enjoyed by hundreds of women each month.  I loved every minute of that time and all the amazing women I connected with.  Then one day I woke up and I was done. Time to flit on.  Lately, I’ve been researching retirement and travel on a limited income and I’m trying my hand at blogging.  Who knows what’s next?  I don’t.  And I’ve stopped worrying about it.  With each new endeavor, I’m discovering “juice” I didn’t know I had.  I’m keeping my mind active.  I’m feeding my creative spirit.  I’m becoming the ME I always wanted to be but didn’t know it when I was so busy being what I thought I needed to be or who everyone else wanted me to be.

Tomatoes are hardy.  They don’t require a lot of pampering.  Give them a little water and encouragement and they always deliver, even in bad dirt.  If you add a dash of salt and a pinch of pepper, they really come alive.  The longer they’re on the vine – the sweeter, saucier and tastier they become.  All the green tomatoes want to become them.  That’s my definition of a Juicy Tomato.  I ought to know.   I’ve spent enough time on the vine.

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Senior Moments ~

Old folks.  Now that my husband has joined the ranks of the “officially old as recognized by the United States government” and I am so close I can breathe in the smell of must and mothballs…I’m seeing old people everywhere.  They touch my heart.  To be honest – with a bit of fear, but also with a whole lot more compassion that I ever had before.

It’s almost wordless Wednesday, so I thought I would share these photos of seniors “having a moment”

May we all age with this much grace.

Climbing Back on the Wagon ~

I fell off the wagon about a year ago.  No dings, cuts or bruises, but it’s been painful nonetheless.  What wagon?  The gym wagon.  And, let me just say, it has been hard as hell getting back on.  Oh, I still walk an hour or so every day, but somehow I do not seem to be able to walk myself the three short blocks to the gym.  We were so close, my gym and I.  But our love affair has dimmed.  We’ve lost our spark.  I’ve cheated. I’ve been seeing others.  Yep, I had a fling with Jazzercise.  I’ve combed the listings for Parks and Rec.  I even flirted a little with the weights that sit patiently behind the door in my office.  None of these relationships stuck.  Maybe I’ve been looking for LUV in all the wrong places.  And now I’m watching the hubs build a steady love affair of his own with the gym.  My gym!   I feel a wee bit like the jilted lover and I do not like the feeling.  Not one bit.  Oh, I’ve got excuses…LOTS of them.  I work full time. I have social and philanthropic commitments.  I have to write my blog.   It’s hot.  I’m tired.  I’m bored.  My shoulder hurts.  Something else hurts.  The classes are full.  The list is endless.  And a complete load of horse puckey.

There’s more than a little irony working here as well.  You see, I’m the woman who started going to the gym seven years ago and loved it so much I studied for and became a personal fitness trainer.  I know better.  I’ve taught others how to get fit.  And still, I sit.     Watching my buffness slowly (thank God!) turn into mushness.  Waiting for some magic spark of energy.    Here’s what I now know for sure.  I’m pretty much all in or all out.  No halfway for me.  And lately, I’ve been all out.   Hubs always says “a body in motion stays in motion.  A body at rest …well you know.”   Every now and then the Old Guy nails it.

Fellow blogger, Andrea Mee Maurer,  posted a while back about Matt Cutts’ TED talk Try something new thing for 30 days.  Andrea was smitten with the idea and committed to blog every day for 30 days.  Love the idea. Loved every one of your posts.  Andrea, you and TED have inspired me!  I’m going to use the 30 day plan to get my butt back into the gym.  It’s not something new, but I’m going to use the next 30 days to re-acquaint myself with my triceps, biceps, lats, and quads.  Re-kindle my love of sweat.   Regain my passion for sore muscles. Remind myself what I loved about Yoga, Zumba, Lift and Sculpt in the first place.   Oh, I know it won’t be easy.  But it is time.   I guess I sat around long enough  that the I magic spark I was waiting for finally found me.  Don’t know.  Don’t care.  I’m going with it.

Day One starts tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

It was a very good year ~

And that year?  The year I arrived kicking and screaming into this world of, course.  August 29, 1948 to be exact.  So please bear with me because it seems I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to birthdays and aging and how quickly the days are passing.  Yikes!  Not to be morbid.  Just observing.  Perhaps I’m just savoring a little of what has been and wondering what the future holds for the little girl below.

So I thought it might be fun to take a stroll down memory lane.  Here’s what I dug up for 1948.   As you can see, it wasn’t exactly a banner year (well except for me).

  • 1948 was the Year of the Rat.
  • The Frisbee was created by Walter Morrison and Warren Franscioni.  The idea came from college kids who used to toss around empty metal pie plates for entertainment.  Plastic + pie plates = Frisbee.  Times were simpler then weren’t they?
  • Velcro was invented by George de Mestral.  George was a Swiss hiker and inventor.  His idea came from the burrs that stuck to his clothes while hiking. He didn’t exactly replace the zipper as he he hoped, but thanks to velcro my kids didn’t have to tie their tennis shoes until they were old enough to figure it out themselves.
  • Reddi Whip was developed by Bunny Lapin and was first sold door to door by St. Louis milkmen
  • A First Class Stamp cost 3 cents.
  • Ed Sullivan premiered on TV.  The show was Toast of the Town.
  • Bread rationing finally ended in England.  Chocolate was still rationed until 1949.
  • The Wurlitzer Juke Box was invented by Robert Hope Jones
  • Babe Ruth Died.
  • The 1948 summer Olympics were held in London.  The 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled due to the second world war.
  • The State of Israel was created.
  • The first McDonalds restaurant opened.  Ray Kroc bought it 12 years later and the rest is fast food history.
  • Whirlpool introduced the first automatic wringer-washer.  I remember the hand wringer washer in my grandmother’s basement.  It was dangerous – just ask my sister.
  • The biggest hit song of the year was The Woody Woodpecker Song.   The Oscar winning song was Buttons and Bows.  Catchy lyrics I’m sure.
  • The first Polaroid Land Camera went on sale.  It took 1 minute to develop a photo.
  • A gallon of gas was 16 cents, a loaf of bread was 14 cents, and coffee was 85 cents for a two pound bag.
  • You could buy a nice new tract house for around $7,500.

I share this birth year with a few notable (and notorious) folks like Alice Cooper, Kathy Bates, Richard Simmons, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Al and Tipper Gore, Prince Charles, Squeaky Fomme (remember her?) and Clarence Thomas.

What’s the point in looking backward?  I’m not sure.  Maybe it helps you put context to who you are when you understand where you came from.   I don’t think I realized this for a long time.  I was too busy looking forward.  Planning for the future.  These days I find myself in the most intriguing place.  I am still looking forward with interest and anticipation.  I’m excited to be planning a whole new chapter in retirement living,  but I am also spending more time looking at where I’ve already been and holding all those special moments up to the light so I can see them clearly again (or really maybe for the first time) now that I have the time and the benefit of distance.  Seeing that little girl on her horse somehow gives me a deeper understanding of the 64 year old woman I am about to become.  I think it’s time I went out and bought myself a new beret.   Yee Haw Cowgirl!

Have you seen my glasses?

Or my car keys, or my book, or, or, or…   Oh yes, we’ve entered a new era at Casa Sims.  The one where you can’t remember what you did two minutes ago.  Like where the hell did I put my car keys because they certainly are not in the special car key compartment in my purse where I always put my car keys.  Except, apparently not this time.  So, the search begins – feel around in the giant purse I use because it holds all of the important things I must carry with me at all times.  Pull out the seemingly endless stream of tiny paper receipts, semi-used but still good in an emergency napkins, glasses (several pairs), wallet, phone, camera + + +.  It’s all there, but not the keys.  Search some more.  Upstairs.  Downstairs.  All over the house…no keys.  Try the purse one more time.  Voila.  They were there all the time.  Hiding from me in the one tiny corner I missed.  Hubby gets that certain smile on his face but keeps his mouth shut.  Smart man.  He knows.  It’s the same thing with the glasses.   Keys, glasses, glasses, keys.  Lost then found.  Only to be lost again.  Repeat daily.

Then there are the new and interesting conversations.  They go something like this…
Hubs, sitting in his recliner chair watching TV:  “What’s the name of that guy I like?”
Me: “What guy?”  Hubs:  “You know, the one on that TV show”  Me:  “What TV show?”  Hubs:  “The one with the guy I like.  I don’t remember the name …”  Me:  “I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about!”  Hubs:  “Ok. Nevermind.”  Rinse and repeat.

It gets even better when we are both on the same wrong track.   Off we go to the grocery store.  Hubby and I.  Park the car.  Walk into the store having an animated conversation.  That’s when we suddenly stop, look at each other and, in unison:  “What was it we came in here for?”  I kid you not.

Is it just us or does this happen to everyone at some point?  Does grey in your hair automatically lead to mass dropping of functional brain cells?  Maybe…a little.  But I’m convinced that all this forgetfulness is Mother Nature’s not so subtle reminder to slow down.  Pay attention.  And for God’s sake, find our sense of humor.   Because it is funny.   We can’t control getting older.  Like it or not, it’s out of our hands.  But we can sit up, slow down, pay attention, live the details of every moment and savor the things we do remember.  Laugh out loud.  At ourselves.  Laughter is medicine.  And quit worrying about not finding the car keys.    The time to worry is when you can no longer find the car.

Now, where did I put my glasses?

I Did and I Still Do ~

Nine years ago today, on a beautiful sunny morning, I put on my new dress, a pair of dainty little sandals, took  extra care with my hair and makeup and then walked with my best friend out to the very end of the point away from Rosario Resort on Orcas Island.  We stood there under the branches of two huge oak trees whose trunks had grown twined together and looked out at the Puget Sound.  Boats glided by.  Birds soared and swooped.  The ferry passed and we waited.  In the background the hum of lawnmowers and blowers as the head groundskeeper and her crew tended to their daily duties of keeping Rosario lush and beautiful.  We waited and then waited a little longer.  We watched a car approach slowly and come to a stop at the end of the narrow dirt road.  Finally, she was here.  The woman we’d been so patiently waiting for.   Another Nancy, and she had come to join my friend and I in marriage.  Fifteen minutes later we were husband and wife.  Becky (the head groundskeeper) and Barbara (a neighbor of the minister) were our witnesses.  I cried from beginning to end and, of course, never thought to bring a hankie.  An hour later, after a champagne toast, my new husband and I set sail on our first adventure as a married couple – kayaking in the San Juan Islands.   Cheers to this wonderful man who has brought so much laughter and joy to my life.  I loved you then.  I still do.  I always will.

We’re off on Life’s Next Excellent Adventure. July 18, 2003, Orcas Island WA

Honey, I’m off to the gym ~

No, not me…the Old Guy, my newly retired hubby who recently turned 66…HE’s off to the gym.  Every morning, you can set your clock by him.  Out the door by 9:00 a.m. – walking up the street to join the rest of the retirees, housewives and non 9-to-5ers who are lucky enough to spend their mornings plugging in their earbuds and “pounding it on the treadmill”.   That’s what the hubs calls it.  While he’s pounding it and cranking weights, I’m at my desk solving the travel problems of one small piece of the corporate world and thinking about my next blog post.  What the heck?

Here’s why this is such an interesting phenomenon.  Until three months ago, his main source of physical exertion (besides getting out of bed in the morning) was walking up and down the stairs to his office, doing the cocktail hour arm lift and bending over to pick up the remote when it fell.  Oh, and the once a year trip with his lifelong buds (other Old Guys) when they get together to hike and play as many rounds of golf as possible in three days.  Other than that – nada.

So, what’s the deal?  Retirement.  It’s that simple.  He is a new man.  He is HAPPY and he is relaxed and he has a whole lot of time on his hands.  Hours and hours and hours.   As the Chief Entertainment Officer (CEO) in our house, I have to admit I was more than a little concerned when retirement suddenly struck.  My office is upstairs and that part of the house was immediately designated off limits from 8am-4pm.  He’s handled it surprisingly well and I am thrilled to discover this seemingly new ability to entertain himself.

Here’s to Old Guys Learning New Tricks – knowing how to let go of the past and move on to new adventures.  Here’s to the fine art of learning how to fill all of the hours that used to be your working day with activities that are healthy and entertaining and new.  Now, if only he’d take a sudden interest in running the vacuum.  He tried it once, but it takes away from his gym time.