Friday, October 30, 2015

Discarding Rules

In the prologue to my memoir, Tree Lines, I wrote: “I followed all the rules. Even rules that didn’t exist. My table manners were impeccable. I never interrupted, never contradicted authority. I waited my turn, I folded my hands. I did my homework and chores. I went to church, babysat, got summer jobs. I was so bland I practically disappeared."

I got over all of that… or most of that.

I also got over the ‘truths’ that were proclaimed by my parents and their white American middle-class culture. I now know that -- women, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, homosexuals, transgender people, Asians, the homeless and indeed any non-white/non-middleclass humans are not inherently evil, inferior or dangerous.

There are other ‘rules’ that I now disregard:

"A couple should be married before engaging in sexual intercourse."  That was one of the first ones to go.

"Marriage is the only form of committed relationship." Baloney.

"Only married couples should have children." Really??? My son and his very significant other – who are deeply committed to each other -- just had the most beautiful little boy (my very first grandchild). And they are both deeply committed to taking care of the little guy and doing whatever it takes to prepare him for our very scary world.

And I couldn’t be prouder of them all.
Who knows what rules I will next discard? Stay tuned.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Barely Living Through Chemistry

Well that title isn't really accurate.

If I take all the pharmaceuticals and herbal supplements I am supposed to take, I do just fine.

Think of Hansel and Gretel a half a century or more later. Instead of bread crumbs, I could drop a trail of pills and capsules.

Recently, I actually counted them all.

Before breakfast, I take 2 digestive aids, 1 probiotic and 2 or 3 Vitamin D capsules.

After breakfast, I take 1 multivitamin (without iron because I am post-menopausal), 2 ‘macular protect’ capsules (really, more vitamins), 1 statin to fight cholesterol, 1 capsule (to protect my liver/kidney from the statin), and 1 MSM for joint flexibility.

At night, I take 2 cal/mag/zinc tablets (for joints I think), ½ of a blood pressure tablet, 1 allergy pill (which I probably wouldn’t need if I got rid of my cats … which I won’t), 2-3 capsules for night leg pain and, finally, 2-3 melatonin concoctions to help me sleep.

So every single day – between 18 ½ and 21 ½ remedies and aids.

At minimum it ensures that I drink more water.

And I am – mostly – grateful. Being able to function at my age is cool. It’s just a little time-consuming.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


The very same friend who told me that elk do not come out to play until 4:30 also told me that they stop playing after Oct. 10. How do they know the time and date? No matter. If she was right about 4:30, she was probably right about Oct. 10. How does she know these things?

So when Oct. 6 dawned gray and rainy and cold, I did not cancel plans to take my brother up to Rocky Mountain National Park to see the elk. I did tell him not to hurry up from Denver; that the show wouldn’t begin until tea time.

So he didn’t hurry. In fact he didn’t get to my place until noon. We stopped for coffee then I drove up into Estes Park where we had a leisurely lunch at a restaurant he remembered enjoying. We wandered around a store or two then drove into the park itself at almost precisely 4 p.m.

Using the Beaver Meadows entrance, it only made sense for me to drive first to Moraine Meadow. And there they were. First just two, in the distance – and looking the other way.


Then, as we drove out of the meadow-- a whole harem and a bull who seemed quite pleased with himself.

We got out of the car and walked as close as the rangers would let us. We could see the gradations of beige, the white rumps and black shiny noses. Even hear the crunching of golden grasses.

But that was not enough for me – I had missed this autumnal ritual far too often. I decided we needed to drive over to Sheep Lake meadow, so I headed in that direction.

En route, along the side of the road, a whole panorama of elk, majestic in a meadow framed by brilliant aspen and deep green pines. After several minutes of deep appreciation, we proceeded, stopping at a park commode before heading for the Sheep Lake overlook.

There, as darkness gathered, we looked out over a meadow crowded with elk. Their bugling echoed in the twilight as three does waded in the lake.

We listened to the witty banter of the ranger then, around 7 p.m., headed out for dinner then down the mountain.

It was a long and most excellent day. Finally, finally, finally, I was elked.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tea Time for Major Mammals

When a good friend learned I was going up to Rocky Mountain National Park to see the elk, she expressed surprise when I said I would leave as early as possible.

“They only come out after 4:30!”

‘Really,’ I thought. I seemed to remember crowds of elk on prior visits, quite possibly well before 4:30 p.m. I just smiled thinking how wrong she was.

So I went up to the park. It was a free (no entrance fee) day so the parking lots were pretty full. I drove past Sheeps Lake meadow – no elk. I drove back into upper Beaver Meadow – no elk. [I did find a picnic table where I had a snack under golden aspen.] I drove past elk-less Moraine Park to Sprague Lake. During a leisurely stroll around the perimeter I saw rainbow trout in its clear waters and feeding ducks.

Taking a side path I absorbed the beauty of a stand of aspen.

Back in the car I retraced my route, finding a parking place by Sheeps Lake meadow. There was nothing going on … except people were setting up lawn chairs and getting out picnic baskets.

Okay. Something may happen here.

I settled in. Got out the newspaper section I had brought and sort of read while alert for action. Pretty soon I noticed people pointing, getting out cameras, moving toward the edge of the viewing area. I got out of the car. Seeing a great bull herding his harem across the meadow, I went back into the car to get my camera.

 looked at the car clock. It was 4:30 p.m.