The Wreck of the Hesperus

I’m going to start a new series on my blog entitled SENIOR CLASS. You have to be a senior, no pre-Medicares, thank you. SENIOR CLASS will be blogs that have the positives about being a senior. SENIOR CLASS will be blogs that have the negatives about being a senior.

The Wreck of the Hesperus

This first one is negative….

I’m beginning to feel like the Golden Gate Bridge. The workers just finish one end and they need to start over at the beginning. With me, I just get one body part functioning when another goes on the fritz.

Last fall, I had hair fall-out. Not pretty, but at least the only pain was emotional. With the help of Nutrafol and the dermatologist’s Rogaine Plus treatment, my hair had a come back.

So I was doing pretty well…except for the 8 pounds I gained, calming myself with comfort food and drink.

When I realized the truth—that all my clothes had not shrunk in the dryer—I started working to get back in shape. I signed up for Weightwatchers on-line, keeping track of what I ate. That was good, but nerve wracking. There’s never enough points for my double martini.

What got me in trouble was the exercise component. I read an article that said interval training was the only way to go—that I should add running into my walk. Like the Girl Scout I’ve always been, I added the run, along with hills. I increased my steps to 13,000. And I started working out with a trainer.

All went well for about two weeks. My shoulders hurt from doing the plank, but it was bearable. Then I got plantar fasciitis. (Now, we’re talking painful!) I could barely walk to the bathroom. The podiatrist made me a brace, gave me a cortisone shot, prescribed Aleve and a physical therapist.

I got better. Feeling invincible, I went back to my routine. A week later, my left knee and hamstring started to hurt. I ignored the pain even though it woke me up at night. Watching me limp up the stairs, my husband started yelling at me that I needed an MRI and surgery.

I wanted to try alternative methods: rest, ice, physical therapy, chiropractor, acupuncture, meditation. When I went to the physical therapist, she kindly explained interval training for a senior. “Cindy,” she said, “your joints are in their seventies. Leave them alone. At your age, just getting mad at your husband can raise your heart rate enough.”

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

For four weeks, I didn’t do any exercise, not even gentle yoga. Meanwhile, I tried making a deal with my Higher Power. “Okay,” I said. “I know I’ve over done it. I get it now. Please, if I can just get better, I won’t do it again.” I became the sedentary couch potato I was afraid of, but slowly the pain lessened.

I even took a short walk. When I came home, I washed my face and realized my right eye was painful. “Oh come on,” I said to the Universe, “what next?” The answer was a stye. Who knew a stye was so painful? And disgusting? Again I was prescribed Aleve along with an antibiotic eye drop.

Ten days later, my eye looks almost normal. My knee is better, too. I’m walking again and doing yoga. All the Aleve is giving me terrible indigestion, but that’s par for the course.

I don’t know why I find myself singing, “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” in my head.

Gadget Mania

Gadget Mania

I’ll admit it—I love gadgets. I might even be addicted. It started in junior high when I saw my first eyelash curler. My friends and I would hang at the corner drugstore, checking out the makeup paraphernalia. We couldn’t wait until we were old enough to buy it.

Later on, my gadget addiction focused on kitchen items. My daughter says that I’m not safe in Bed, Bath and Beyond. (I just bought the Core Bamboo bottle cleaner yesterday. I used it this morning and it worked well.)

My kitchen drawers are filled with kitchen gadgets that I must have when I first see them. Now I only see them when I open the drawers they’re stored in.

I don’t want you to think I love all gadgets. I hate remotes. Ever since they came on the scene, I haven’t been able to watch television. Why can’t I have that simple on and off button?

In today’s world Amazon and Apple feed my addiction. Sometimes the two A’s work in tandem: I have several gadgets I’ve bought from Amazon for my iPhone.

Speaking of iPhones, it’s the Mother ship for a whole host of gadgets, otherwise known as Apps. Many are fabulous but I’ve got a ton of those I don’t use either.

Since I’m a weather freak, I love the Dark Sky app. It tells you what the weather is exactly where you are.

And then there’s the health App that connects to the iWatch. It measures all kinds of things.

By the way, since this day, my knee has hurt like hell.

One thing I don’t have is the wireless earbuds. (I think some techno geeks brainstormed how they could get people to walk around looking nerdy with white tubes sticking out of their ears.)

For us seniors, there are some fabulous new gadgets made just for us. My husband is walking great after having one of these replace his arthritic hip.

But the latest and greatest by far are our new hearing aids. Not only are they not visible when I’m wearing them–they actually work.

And they have the niftiest gadget accessory ever. It’s an adapter that connects to the television and then plays the sound through Bluetooth to your hearing aids. We now can even understand some one from Scotland when they talk!

I’m guessing that the days for gadgets will never be numbered. I’m just hoping I’ll be able to keep up with the newest innovations. I’ve finally gotten fobs mastered. What will be next?

The Story of My Life

The Story of My Life

I have been very busy trying to take care of my husband who is recovering from total hip replacement surgery. At first he was on a walker and needed help with just about everything. But he became ambulatory and more self sufficient as each day went by.

My problem in these situations, is that I think I need to be Super Woman and do anything and everything 100 per cent–for the patient, for me, for the world. That’s all well and good until, like a spinning top, I wear down. I’m still going in circles but in a slower, more erratic path. I also depend on coffee cake and pie to see me through.

A week ago, on top of my extra duties, I decided I needed to get back into shape. I attempted to walk 10,000 steps a day. I scheduled an appointment with a trainer. I cut up apples, oranges, carrots, celery and cucumbers for quick snacks versus cookies.

The morning for the workout with the trainer came. Before I went, I wanted to make sure my husband had a good breakfast. Full disclosure: I don’t normally make breakfast. It’s a do-it-yourself meal . . . along with lunch. But, during his recovery, I was doing three meals a day. (He’s very happy this week that he can make it to the fridge on his own so he can get back to grazing.)

All was going well. I’d gotten up early so I could help my husband with his shower, etc. And with getting the dreaded compression stocking on. That, in itself is a workout! I was dressed in my work-out clothes and in the kitchen, getting eggs out of the fridge, by 8:30. Then I stopped breakfast preparations to take the dog for his walk. Outside I noticed a lot of weeds in the front yard, which I felt needed pulling right then and there. By the time I’d fed the dog, it was 9:15 and I knew I had to hurry up.

I cracked the eggs into a favorite bowl and beat them with a fork. I turned to check that the pan was ready, and that’s when it happened. Somehow, the bowl tipped and most of the eggs landed on the floor, dripping their way down the cabinets.

I just stood there for a moment, looking at the oozing mess. When I was younger, I think I would have cried. As a senior citizen, I weighed my options. Might as well take a picture of this mess, I thought. It could be the basis for a blog.

After doing an initial cleaning that at least got the surface mess up, I opened the egg carton to find only one egg. Oh well, I thought, so I don’t eat breakfast. No big deal.

I beat the last egg into the remaining egg mixture, checking the time. It was now 10:00. My workout was at 10:30. As I poured the eggs into the pan, I could hear my husband clumping towards the kitchen.

Okay, back on track, I thought. I turned away from the stove to check on the rolls warming in the oven. When I came back, I noticed the eggs had cooked nicely in the pan. It looks almost like an omelet, I thought and decided to give the eggs a flip. The result was the best looking omelet I’ve ever made.

And yes, ladies and gentleman, that is the story of my life. Sometimes from the pits of a disaster, I’ve rescued the situation to create a success. I never give up. I just keep on keeping on. Why not?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Whale and calf in the warm waters of Hawaii, photo by Bill McDowell

When I first saw this photograph I was struck by its beauty: the blue waters with an island in the right hand corner background; the Humpback whale’s tail, its graceful curve as the ocean water cascades off of the flukes. Then I noticed the clear image of the baby in the left foreground. What a magnificent shot!

I kept looking at the photo, entranced by it’s clear delineations, especially of the calf. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a photo like this. On further study, I noticed that the right fluke of the Humpback (in reality, it would be her left fluke) is not only damaged, but half gone. When I went to sleep, my last thought was what could have caused it? In the morning, I started researching. Two hours later, I’ve learned a lot.

For the last four years, my husband and I have lived in Hawaii in the winter. (When we were younger, we’d say that when we got old, we’d do just that. One day, we looked in the mirror and decided unanimously that it was now or never. The time had come!) We love the Big Island (Hawaii) and love sighting the whales that come by from December through March. But I wasn’t extremely curious about the whales–just accepted their presence while marveling at seeing them breach and slap their tails loudly on the water’s surface.

photo courtesy of Jennifer Muscatel

I knew that the Humpbacks left Alaska in the fall, but I didn’t know their annual migration of 6,000 miles is one of the longest of any mammal’s. It takes them six to eight weeks to reach Hawaii. This is where they mate, give birth, and begin nurturing their calves. A calf spends about a year with its mother.

But seeing the injury made me curious. I now know, for instance, that it’s called lobtailing when a whale sticks their tale into the air, swings it around and slaps the water. It’s thought that lobtailing could be a form of communication or a way to loosen parasites from the tail. It’s very loud.

So back to the injury. What could cause it? In my reading, I found out that there could have been a killer whale attack, or a collision with a ship. But the number one reason for the whale tail injuries is that the whale becomes entangled in some fishing gear. Of course, I have no notion of what caused this Mama Whale’s injury. I just wish the both of them well on their long trek back to the reality of icy waters in Alaska.

  • Whalefacts.org has a lot of other great information.

Double Exposure

I had the most interesting experience yesterday—it was also enlightening.

On my walk every morning in Hawaii, I pass by the Canoe Club, a private facility for members of Hualalai Club. Yesterday as I chugged up the incline I noticed a photo shoot in session. Since I do the Members Blog, I stopped to take my own picture of this Hualalai happening.

Ah hah, I thought. This is the demographic they aim for: a young woman and a middle-aged man.

I took several photos of the set up and then of the silver haired photographer taking the photo of the couple lounging by the Jacuzzi. I guessed this photo would end up in a magazine, either advertising life style or the swimwear the two wore. I could see the woman was young and beautiful (although I never saw her face). Although I was at a distance from them, the man looked much older than she was.

I left and walked back home, creating a whole story about the modeling session, the models and the photographers. It was a good story with all kinds of judgments and critical assessments. I was happy with the picture I’d taken and the picture I’d created in my mind.

Then last night, I met all of them: the photographer, his assistant and the two models. It was a mind blower! I didn’t want to give up the story I’d woven for the actual reality, but what are you going to do when you’re confronted with the real people?

The man was much younger looking close up than from a distance. The woman looked just how I thought she would even if I’d imagined her.

“So here’s what I thought,” I told them. “Whoever you were shooting for, the demographics were a young woman with an older, successful man.”

“Thanks a lot, I think,” the man said.

“You look much younger, now that I’m meeting you,” I said.

He grinned, looking even more boyish.“ Now that’s good to hear.”

“How old are you?” I asked.

It turned out he was 53 and she was 40.

“Ah, so I wasn’t far off.” I gave them my know-it-all smile.

I told the photographer I’d taken a picture of him photographing the couple. “I hope I framed it well,” I said.

I turned to his assistant. “It was so early this morning it looked like you needed a cup of coffee to keep you awake.”

She looked startled and then gave me an embarrassed smile.

It turned out they were all from Oahu. The man was a teacher who worked with students from the Marshall Islands. I’d worked with students from there the year before when I volunteered at Palamanui Community College, so we chatted for a while.

As my husband and I walked away I said, “I feel like was just in a Woody Allen movie.”

“What do you mean?”

“Remember in “Annie Hall” when Marshall McLuhan shows up? That’s how it felt. Kind of like a bent reality.”

As I tried to fall asleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about meeting the real people who’d become figments of my imagination. It was interesting. But also a bit more than unsettling.

When did I start Creating Stories?

People often ask me when I started writing. I seriously began when I was in seventh grade, writing poetry. But I started story telling much before that. I remember creating stories for my sister when we were little. They were always dramas involving our paper dolls, who survived only with the help of scotch tape.

Recently when I should have been writing, I got caught by an internet website, which showed famous people when they were young and what they look like now. A couple of them were photos of our movie star paper dolls.


This is Arlene Dahl who is now 93. I read up on her–six husbands and three children. She is very into astrology and is still very beautiful. Of course being me, I wanted to change her eyebrow color immediately. A little microblading?

Ann Blyth was another movie star paper doll who had adventures in our playroom. She was born in 1928. At 90, she’s still a stunner! She’s the mother of five children.

I still remember when my mother gave me a dollar to buy ground round for meatloaf for our family of five. I walked the mile to the grocery on Broadway, feeling very important. There was enough money left for me to go next door to the drugstore and buy paper dolls. What a luxury.

Radio Days

Well, I haven’t been able to do much blogging, and I have a lot of ideas I want to explore. Which makes me frustrated. But I have been busy getting my short story collection, “Radio Days” off the ground. It took a lot of organization and detail work, which is not my forte. Neither is self promotion. A couple of people have asked me about my book sales and I’ve looked at them with horror. Book sales? OMG!

I do feel good about myself that I followed through on this. When you’re young, you feel you have so much time to accomplish all you want. And then 70 hits you in the face. My motto has become, “Do it now. While you still have a chance.” Tick tock.

So here’s my book. You can order it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Also go to my author website at cyndymuscatelauthor.com to watch the book trailer and learn more.

Here’s a little blurb on the book:

 

Conflict and character are the basic ingredients of a story well told—and Radio Days is brimming with twenty-three such stories. Spanning decades, the stories in this thoughtful collection follow very different characters: the rich and the poor; the young and the old. Many are on a hero’s journey along a path to self-knowledge. Others never face reality.

And from the early part of the twentieth century until today, the radio has played in the background of our lives—just as it does in each of these tales. In “My Father’s Story,” set in rural 1924 America, Sidney, the son of immigrants, tries to stop his father from burning down the family store. “Khrushchev In My Dreams” centers on a teenager’s fear of annihilation during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. “Eruption” recounts a family’s urgent journey to survive the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption. And “Confessions of the Hot Flash Queen” follows a twenty-first century woman coming into her own with humor and strength.

 

 

An Old Dog Learning New Tricks?

I think I’m so smart but I’m as stupid as ever. One of my NYRs was to slow down and see the world around me: to not be in such a rush; to not cram more into a day that can fit; to not rob Peter to pay Paul. But give me a chance and I’ll do them all.

Take this morning. I started my day right with a walk and yoga. But on my walk to yoga, I talked to my daughter the whole time so I was basically in two places at once. I attempted to stay in the present during yoga but my mind wandered to places all over the world.

But that wasn’t so bad. It was on the way home that I really blew it. I started doing my email, thinking that I could do it then and save time when I got home. Fortunately something made me look up and I realized what an idiot I was being. My walk is on an ocean pathway that is gorgeous any day. But today it’s very windy (there’s a storm somewhere) and the surf is amazing.

The waves in front of me hit the rocks with such force that the spray blossomed like a fireworks flower.

Why was I looking down when all this glory was around me?

“Put your phone down,” the actually wise part of me said. “Quit multi-tasking and enjoy!”

A lesson learned? I hope so.