I suppose it’s good to have an occasional day like this. It’s one of those winter events when a constant, windblown horizontal snow asserts its rightful ownership over the out-of-doors, and builds an ever-growing white and fluffy testimonial to its strength and fury to await my feeble attempts at removal later. Much later. As I cautiously peek out through the slatted blinds, fearful that if my presence is detected, the storm will respond by furthering its onslaught reaffirming Nature’s ascendancy over us poor mortals. I think I’ll cozy up somewhere in my little house, and maybe do some long-neglected reading, or finish some minor cosmetic tasks in one of the rooms. Or nap. I have a Christmas dinner invitation for this evening if I can get through the snow.

I had established some travel plans, driving, over the next 10 days; this storm will sharply curtail those plans or even in fact cancel the trip altogether. I was to leave today, Christmas Day, and head for Kansas City; then, on the 27th leave KC to visit my one nephew who is a Park Ranger on the Mexican Border with Texas. On the 31st, back north to Frisco, Texas, where my wife and our two sons and their families are to convene for New Year’s Eve and two days following. It appears that Saturday is the earliest I can leave, and perhaps only get as far as southern Wyoming. I no doubt will be closely monitoring the Weather Channel and Road Information during the next two days. That will have a major bearing not only on when I leave, but on which vehicle to take. I have an elderly (190,000 miles) All Wheel Drive van for snow and which I love, but which only gets about 20 mpg. on the highway, or my FWD Hyundai Sonata which gets over 35 mpg. I hope driving conditions improve!

One of the recent blogs I wrote brought up the subject of Denial, which I described as being rampant throughout our social and political relationships. I neglected to include myself in that analysis, and recently I realized that I too am a part of that picture, but on a personal basis. I’m facing what all of us will have to confront eventually, the Denial of the Aging Process.

During recent years, I have continued to believe that “a small adjustment in my grip” or some other minor change, would once again produce those booming drives off the first tee at the golf course. That the daily desire for an afternoon nap was only a temporary condition. I can resume firing 27-foot jump shots accurately if I “warm up and stretch” more enthusiastically beforehand. (this ignores the fact that I no longer have much in the way of a jump, and that I can barely get a free throw to the rim). These are certainly indications that I need to get back to using my Total Gym and Health Rider on a daily basis. I had, over time (years!) adjusted to the fact that I can no longer dunk a basketball; I was 29 when I did it the last time—and it wasn’t pretty. Maybe I can’t play well anymore, but I can still teach almost anyone to be an 80% free throw shooter, or hit a straight drive off the tee. My grandsons, for instance.

Anyway, what really brought this to my attention was that last week, I received an email indicating a number of opportunities for me once again to resume my travels overseas to evaluate schools. I received the notice around midnight, and immediately responded that I would like to apply for several of these ventures, in Cairo, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. But then, my hand wavered a bit as I reached for some of my support material, featuring Arabic language books and most especially “Arabic for Dummies”, a sort of Bible to go along with the flash cards I made and have saved. I recalled that in the past year, I had cancelled two such assignments at the last minute, due to a health concern that the teams of doctors were unable to identify and which caused them to recommend cancelling the trips (subsequently it was found that it was a very temporary condition that, had it been diagnosed, needed no medication and would not have prevented my travel).

In any event, it occurred to me that as I’m to complete my 76th lap around the sun next week, such unwelcome events are not unlikely to occur even though at present I could easily carry out the travel and responsibilities. With the trips being several months in the future, it seemed unwise to schedule me for those assignments. On the other hand, our scheduler and I have agreed that if she has any last minute cancellations from any of the other team personnel, she will call me and ask if I’m in shape to go. Actually, the arthritis in my back is the most annoying problem and which I tolerate; I can still play golf.  I’ve been cleared of any major issues such as heart disease or cancers. Even though my legs and feet are still neuropathic, I was able to walk about 6 miles daily on last year’s trip to Scotland although there was a bit of adrenalin involved on the days I walked The Old Course at St. Andrews, and at Royal Troon.

Maybe my body is telling me “Enough is enough”, that things just really aren’t the same. In my Peace Corps days, traveling to Timbuktu on vacation we thought nothing about sleeping on the desert sand or concrete floors in hotels (fortunately not knowing about the size of the scorpions on the desert—wow!). I recently bought a motor home, but almost immediately put it up for sale when I realized all the physical effort and mental planning necessary to use the thing (the 8 mpg helped in that decision, along with trying to keep it on the road in the Wyoming wind). Now, for me it’s a hotel with TV and a refrigerator, or friends who have invited me to visit.

I can no longer be like some of the folks I know, mostly women, who multi-task to the ultimate, and still keep their sanity and perspective. I don’t know if it’s just because they’re the ones I know, but it seems to me that women are much more able to do these things than men; raising children, maintaining a household, and having one or more careers, even on the national stage!  I’ve often wondered if they’re doing “too much”, but they just shrug and go about doing more.

I’ll just continue to volunteer as a helper for big golf tournaments for charity, watch my grandsons achieve, work on my Middle School Primer, and travel as I can. And I might even play a bit with my new toy, a 2003 AWD Jaguar sedan. If you know anything about Jaguars, you know that there’s always something to be fixed!

Oh, yes, there’s still all those frequent flier miles to be used!

Always Be Happy  To Our Youth

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