There are so many blessings that we inadvertently take for granted. Life in the United States is one of them. As a college student I had the opportunity to work in northern Spain in the highly political Basque country during final days of Franco’s reign. In one month’s time I witnessed the “disappearance” of an entire family whose son had been an active protester of Franco.

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. JOHN MUIR

I was incredibly fortunate to be able to pass a couple weeks on photo safari in Africa. From Johannesburg, we flew into north central Botswana, mounted safari trucks and didn’t emerge for twelve days. There were four trucks carrying six each plus a native guide. A number of my fellow travelers were professional photographers.

Over the past thirty years certain trends have emerged. We’re living longer than we used to.  In general, thanks to Social Security, private pensions and the saving ethic of the depression era generation, the average income of the senior population has increased.  All good news.

I knew it was really fall when my neighbor brought out her Christmas lights for the spruce tree in her front yard.  She wisely finds a warm day in fall to prepare them for an easy flip of a switch later on. I’m usually out there in the ice.

I lost my father at age 90 in 2006. About ten years before that he was diagnosed with chronic dementia. For a brief period I went into denial. He was personable and brilliant; a nationally known pioneer in aeronautics and the space industry.  How could this be?

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry”. GEORGE ELIOT, 1866

And a different view, “I know nothing grander, better exercise,…the triumphant result of faith in human kind, than a well-contested American national election”. WALT WHITMAN, 1948
In idealistic longing, it makes sense that a multi-party system would bring together some of the best minds to debate different perspectives of various solutions to national issues. The resulting consensus would be a compromise bringing the best tenants of each perspective into a solid plan.

Particularly after a hot, hot July, the coolness of August nights seem to beckon change. The fleeting pace of time as it races through summer towards fall feels sometimes like it’s all going too fast.  But of course all is going as it should.

One benefit of a recent family reunion was the blending of generations. Some of the little ones paused in their attention-getting shrieks and antics and started to ask questions and listen to the stories of their uncles, aunts and grandparents.  Older children regaled their stories, testing their experience on the reaction of adults. Young adults shared their explorations into finding a life for themselves with a mixture of excitement and fear.

My mother always encouraged me to dream. That was good advice. Dreaming in and of itself is fun, spurs creativity and creates a great sense of “what if…”  It also helps you recognize and seize opportunities as they come along. The excitement becomes self-perpetuating as every now and then dreams do come true.

When’s the last time you vacationed somewhere with no air conditioning when it was pretty hot? Sound uncomfortable? There’s a definite upside. Heat makes you slow down. It also brings everyone outdoors.

Taking responsibility for your own actions, honesty, and doing your share of the work were key values in my family when I was a kid. As a teenager lost in the sand dunes along Lake Huron after a night bonfire and coming home after curfew, my father only had to look at me and say “I’m disappointed in you” for me to never ever want that to happen again.

In April a quiet but profound change happened at the federal level. At least it was big to those of us who watch trends and have professions in the field of aging.
A statement from Cabinet Secretary of Health & Human Services Sebelius announced the bringing together of the federal Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities into a single new ”Administration for Community Living” [ACL]. The new Administration for Community Living is headed up by Assistant Secretary on Aging Kathy Greenlee.

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year. It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You’ve got to be carefully taught”. The line of course stems from the play South Pacific. It’s always been a favorite of ours. As a teenager it was my husband’s first touch with professional theater and he’s still amazed how a bare stage transformed into a tropical island. We enjoyed the movie version and then both got to experience an outstanding stage performance in Stratford a few years back.

Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, I’m just old enough to remember what now could be deemed quaint customs- the bell on the produce truck that sold vegetables on the street, and the milkman. The milkman delivered our milk and put it in our milk shoot: a shoulder high little door on the outside wall of the house that opened onto our kitchen counter on the inside.

Easter – a time of renewal and rebirth in religious communities around the world with Christians honoring the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead and his Resurrection into heaven.

Decades roll by imperceptibly and then suddenly add up to a whole bunch of time. I could relate to Pat Moody’s comment recently that he loved his job and just kept coming to the office every day and pretty soon thirty-seven years had gone by. I’m right behind him.

One of my early recollections of books was my mother reading to me at bedtime. She wouldn’t always read stories, sometimes she’d read about birds or bugs or animals.  I loved the descriptions that helped me picture what she was reading about. Whether she read stories or facts, it was always a different world and I think it made me comfortable with the bigger world out there.

A  recent article in the Herald Palladium  detailed how 25 percent of persons seeking health care through the local emergency room were not “emergencies” but rather people seeking health care who felt they didn’t have a viable alternative.

Anyone beside me trying to fit more relaxation and exercise into their already full schedules? While I’ve never been a big one for New Year’s resolutions, I’m a firm believer in the “never quit, never give up” perspective - at least on the big goals. To keep trying has to reap more rewards than giving up --- right??

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

Those are the times that make life sweet; all trials worth bearing. Such times are unique for each of us yet there is usually a similar thread - the interrelation between people, often between generations.

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