Emphasis on the old

For nearly a decade, AARP has hounded me to join its ranks.

Always, I refused.

I wasn’t old, I wasn’t retired, I wasn’t seeing the point.

But, finally, now that I am retired, I gave in to their constant entreaties and I smacked down $16 and waited for that first magazine which would point out all the wonderful things about being retired.

That’s not what I got.

In this first issue as an official member, I was able to read in detail how I could figure out if I was dying from some dread disease.

If I couldn’t recognize a picture of Madonna, I might be suffering from dementia. Well, when I saw Madonna on the Grammys, I wasn’t sure it was her. She looks different every time I see her and her voice is not so memorable that I can just pick out of a crowd of other female voices. In the magazine, she looked a lot like Cameron Diaz to me.

They also quizzed me about Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and the likelihood of future disabilities if I can’t open a jar of jam.

I didn’t sign up with AARP to build a case of depression. I thought I was joining millions of other people in their 50s who refuse to believe they’re actually old and want to form a voting group to prove that we’ve got the power.

I was too discouraged to read the rest of the magazine so I threw it in with the recycling. Yes,  now that we can recycle magazines, I’ve found a new cherished spot for the AARP magazine.

Now I’m going to go open a jar, look up Madonna online, and practice some memory exercises — if I can remember the website where I found them in the first place.


Oh, Canada

It’s time, Canada, to get over the sulks and stop sending arctic blasts our way.

Usually, Canadians are considered a friendly sort, but I’m thinking we did something really bad to them of which I’m unaware. They just won’t forgive us. How else to explain the unrelenting Polar Vortex?

When I was walking on Friday, it was blue skies and sunshine, but there was still a wind chill of 9 degrees below zero.

That’s not right.

It looks more like the beginning of January than the middle of February around here. That’s because none of our towering snow banks have been given the opportunity to melt down a bit. This year’s idea of a January thaw was 10 degrees below zero and that doesn’t melt snow.

Even when the weather guys have predicted fair weather, I feel I’ve been suckered. I launch out onto the neighborhood sidewalks only to be slapped in the face with another icy gust of wind. I guess the danger of frostbite is gone so that’s considered fair weather nowadays.

That’s not right and it’s your fault, Canada.  So knock  it off.

Whatever we did, we’re sorry, Whatever we said, we apologize. What ever dumb joke we made about Canadians, we take it back.

Now take back your Polar Vortex and head back north.

It’s off the Russia we go

The brightest, hottest spot in the this long, cold winter is the Olympics.

The sports guys at the La Crosse Tribune used to give me a hard time whenever the Winter Olympics rolled around. Figure skating? If you bedazzle it and wear lace, that’s not sport, they’d say.

Well, it’s not NFL football, and that’s just fine with me.

From the time I was a kid, there was something magical about the Olympics. I love the stories, the heartbreak, the triumph, the can-do attitude.

But I really don’t understand the luge, the bobsled and skeleton.

I was watching late-night coverage last night as the commentators spoke breathlessly of the skill and athleticism of the lugers. I don’t agree. If a guy over the age of 40 in Spandex can lie down on his back and toboggan down an icy hillside, all that appears to require is guts to know if you hit the side of that ice tunnel, you’re toast … or at least a chip off the old ice block.

But these commentators claim to know how the tiny twitch of a toe or the bobble of a head can win the race.

More exciting are those snowboarders. Though I never watch snowboarding outside the Olympics, I have to admire the cheeriness of the whole group. A bad run? They grin, give a thumbs up, and trot off to try again. Blown away by a competitor? “Good run,” they’ll yell. I think this sport is the embodiment of what the Olympics should be.

But, OK, for me, it’s all about the skating. If it’s got a blade — barring hockey — I’ll  watch it. With speed skating, I’m amazed at the stamina. With short track, I’m amazed at the speed and danger. With figure skating, I’m just plain amazed. I can’t tell a double axel from a triple loop. I just know those girls in sequins are really fun to watch.

So pull up a couch and cheer on your favorite athlete. It just might get us through another week or too of the Polar Vortex.


That’s the way to say goodbye

Jay Leno bids farewell to his 22-year career as “Tonight Show” host tonight.

And he’s doing it with style.

Jay was never my first choice for late-night viewing. That was David Letterman.

But in recent weeks, it has been touching, if somewhat repetitive, to see the cavalcade of celebrities come to pay homage to Jay one last time.

Since most of us don’t get that kind of farewell celebration, it has been poignant to watch Jay Leno bid farewell to a job he wasn’t ready to leave.

Many of us know that feeling. At the top of the game, never feeling better, the corporation kicked us out. It was all numbers and the numbers dictated we had to go.

But not so with Jay. He was usually number one in his time spot and still was as these last weeks came to a close.

Should you really be kicking to the curb a guy who is so obviously beloved by the people who sit in the guest chairs. And who is so obviously beloved by viewers?

I don’t understand how these decisions are made. Certainly they are not made by people who are wiser than the rest of us because many of these decisions appear to be just plain idiotic.

Still, since he had to go, Jay decided to do it his way and booked his favorite guests for one return visit.

I wish all of us could have that experience but since most of us can’t, I’m glad Jay Leno could do it for us.

Good luck,Jay. They can take away the job, but they can’t take the funny away from you.


Living in Geriland

Once a year, on my birthday, I get to live in Geriland.

It’s an old habit from childhood. On your birthday, you get to do what you want, eat what you want and everybody has to be nice to you. If that’s not Geriland, I don’t know what is.

So every year, my sister Therese visits me on my birthday and is very nice to me — in an exhausting, yes-we’ll-do-one-more-project kind of way.

We got to work almost immediately when she arrived on Thursday night with the ominous words, “Let’s start on the den.”

She didn’t know how prophetic those words would be because the den transformation from junked-up all-purpose room to clutter-free office stretched out through the entire visit.

As we cleared the den, I was my usual helpful self by stacking desk drawers precariously. Predictably, moments later they tumbled from my bed to the floor and my carefully cleaned out drawers were in a mess all over the bedroom.

But nothing deters Therese. She kept plowing head moving piles and furniture as I muttered about scattered pens, papers and scissors.

It didn’t take long for all the junk of my den to be deposited throughout the house. Then Therese roamed my house looking for storage pieces that could hide away all my bits and bobs and give me a more tranquil working atmosphere.

And darned if she didn’t accomplish just that. A cupboard from the basement, a bookshelf from the bedroom, two tables from the sunroom and suitcases and trunks from all over my house.

And because I can’t be without all my colorful games and memorabilia, we added an 11-foot -long shelf along one wall. That moved some of the boxed stuff up to the wall and on display and actually allowed some room for file folders, notebooks, and papers which was the purpose of this big organizational push.

And you’d think that would be enough for the weekend.

But it wasn’t.

She also accompanied me on a television-buying expedition, and then hooked up the TVs — yes, I replaced both — because anything electronic terrifies me.

Now that we had functioning TVs, we mostly ignored them for a trip to the basement where we planned to take an old spool bed and turn it into a set of benches. Along the way, we managed to saw through a screw with a circular saw, putting that out of commission, and drop the jigsaw blade side down. At that point, Therese conceded we would make only one bench this weekend and she would take the other parts home with her where we have access to many more dangerous saws.

It was at that moment that she stepped up on an unsteady stool to unplug a cord and promptly tumbled to the concrete basement floor. After generous applications of Advil and heating pad, she survived with only a sore wrist and the energy to insist we tackle another project.

It’s a good thing I collect so much stuff because the next project involved cutting my many yardsticks into pieces to make frames for mirrors. Fear not, this time I was actually wielding the saw and it was hand powered. And no fingers were harmed in the cutting of the yardsticks.

By the time she left on Sunday, we had both breathed enough sawdust to last us for months, or at least until we meet up again in April for her birthday. Who knows what damage we can do then.

I figure I have until then to get all the leftover den stuff still sitting in the dining room sorted and stashed.