One of the odder things about getting older is the unexpected — and unanticipated — systems failures you get to experience along the way.

For the past few years I’ve been pretty diligent about going to the gym, at least four times a week and often every day except Sunday. That’s kept me in reasonably good shape, and, in fact, made it easier to do stupid things, like weeding the garden from a stooped position. In fact, I didn’t even think about what I was risking by doing that. At least up until something would give out in my back.

Even with being a slow learner about such things, I eventually realized it’d be better to go back to the “old ways” and sit on the ground while weeding. Problem solved!

So you can imagine my consternation yesterday when, while sitting on the ground weeding, I pulled some grass out and did something so awful to my lower back that even today I’m having trouble with walking, let alone anything more strenuous. And it wasn’t even a deeply-rooted clump of grass!

Sheesh. Where’s the warranty on this thing??? 🙂

Tiger (1999 – 2015)

We had to put our remaining cat, Tiger, to sleep Thursday afternoon. She’d been getting progressively weaker for a while and losing weight. I think the final blow involved a fairly serious respiratory infection. It would not have been kind to her to keep her struggling on.

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Has It Really Been That Long???

I don’t normally do a lot of reflection when birthdays arrive. The day is important to me, of course. But it’s just another day on the calendar so far as the real world is concerned :).

But this year is a little different, because it’s one of those Years With a Zero. Six decades is worth a few moments looking back-and-forward.

When I was a kid I remember thinking that 40 was old, and 60 was ancient. Yet while daily experience and recuperating from my recent motorcycle accident are reminders I’m physically not as robust as I was when I had those thoughts, I don’t feel all that old. Which is probably not a bad state of mind to be in.

I still enjoy seeking out new knowledge and insights. And I’m particularly impressed that I can discover long-held ideas and beliefs to be just flat out wrong. Sure, it’s disruptive, sometimes painfully so. But who would want to live in a world where that didn’t happen? Isaac Asimov once said about scientific inquiry that:

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’

If six decades has taught me nothing else, the same is true of life.

Today is extra special because my wonderful kids, Arthur and Caroline, as well as my brother Art, sister (in-law, technically, but I think of her as the older sister I never had) Diane and my sister Ann are all here helping me celebrate. I wish Ann’s husband Gary and my brother John could have made it, too, but travel is challenging for them, and John is dealing with my sister-in-law Gail’s pneumonia.

I am eternally grateful for all the other friends and family I’ve had with me on this journey.

I am continually amazed at how lucky I’ve been to share the majority of my life with my love and best friend, Barbara.

And, being the greedy sort, I look forward to more years of the same :).

Enjoy the day!

Sox (1999 – 2014)

The cycle of life took another turn today. We had to put down Sox, one of our two kitties, because she had gotten into bad shape, and was suffering. Actually, considering she was 15 years old, give or take, she wasn’t in that bad shape. But fifteen is pushing it for cats.

Besides, Sox was a fighter, and I’m sure she wouldn’t have wanted to go out totally enfeebled. She always reminded me of a line from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, about Batman coming out of retirement: surely the fiercest survivor, the purest warrior. She started out life as a stray and had to be re-adopted, by us, because her first family developed an allergy to cats.

Shortly after Sox joined our family Caroline came up to me while I was getting dressed for work and said “Daddy, there’s a dead baby fawn outside our side door.” To which I responded, “Right, Caroline, of course there is”.

But when I went downstairs — holy !#$!$#!!! — there really was a dead baby fawn on the side deck. And Sox, looking very prideful. Now I doubt she killed the fawn. Even as a newborn it was bigger and heavier than she was. But I have no doubt she dragged it from wherever she found it up onto the deck to share with us. She had that kind of determination.

She was also the only cat I’ve lived with which my neighbors used to greet when she trotted after us on walks. Why? Because she apparently hunted down and killed every gopher in the area.

But she was friendly and outgoing and cuddly and loved to play, too. Her reflexes were blindingly fast, as I experienced, painfully, on several occasions while teasing her with a string or cat toy. But if you respected her, she would respect you, and sit purring in your lap for hours.

We miss her.

Masonry Foundations

Today I went to a 150th anniversary celebration for the local Masonic lodge. While San Carlos, where the lodge resides, hasn’t been around that long, the lodge itself traces back to one which was founded in San Mateo in 1863, moved to Redwood City sometime around the early 1900s and then merged with the San Carlos lodge.

It was a very interesting experience, as I hadn’t known anything about the Masons. Except that they figure in a large number of conspiracy theories, I suspect because they don’t share the details of their beliefs with outsiders.

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Tricks of Memory

While I haven’t watched many episodes recently, I was a huge fan of the original Star Trek. My sister and I watched the episodes so often in reruns that we could almost always name them from the first few opening bars of music.

A year of so I ago I was given a BluRay collection of the first season. I left it unopened for quite a while, but after recently re-installing iTunes I decided to rip a few favorite episodes to my library.

When I looked at the show list in the package I was convinced they’d put the episodes in a different order for marketing purposes.

But I was wrong. A quick visit to Wikipedia proved my memory was what had changed. Because my very favorite episodes were in season two, I’d reshuffled everything to put all my favorites in season two. In reality, most of them were first year episodes, with only a handful — and my most favorite — in the second year (the third year, as any true Star Trek fan will tell you, is, with a few exceptions, best forgotten, or only discussed in mumbles).

It makes me wonder what else I “know” that just ain’t so :).

It’s Not Just the Gut that Expands

Growing older is not for the faint of heart. But it can be confusing at times. As I relearned the other day while shopping for hiking shoes.

I know, and am familiar with, presbyopia, hearing loss (both acuteness and focusing ability) and the weight problems that result from a declining metabolism. But I never knew that one’s feet also expand!

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The Cake Was Very Yummy!

Can it really have been 18 years since Caroline entered our lives? That’s what the calendar says. But it seems like only yesterday when we brought her home…

The Children Are Gone!

As of today, we have no more children in our family.

What’s happened to Arthur & Caroline, you ask? Nothing…except that Caroline is now 18, which makes her an adult. Which means we’re all adults here now, and will be unless and until some grandchildren show up.

It’s been a long road, but a worthwhile one. I’m proud of both the younger adults in my family. May they live long and prosper :)!

Way to Go, Caroline!

Parents reading this post won’t be surprised by what I have to say. But I can distinctly remember walking my daughter to her first day of kindergarten, and that evening attending the first back to school night for her.

And now she and her friends from that day — which seemed like it only happened yesterday — are striding across the platform set up at her high school to receive their diplomas.

It was a grand, wonderful, exciting, momentous and emotional day.

I love you, sweetheart. More importantly, I am very proud of you.

Live long, and prosper :).