Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2021

Archive for the tag “Aging”

One Man’s Collection Is Another Man’s Trash

Lately I have been seeing a lot of things online about people and their collections of this that and the other thing. It seems that if it exists there is someone who collects it. I was never much of a collector. I left all of that to my older brother.

Jimmy was just a little guy when someone gave him some stamps and an album to stick them in. That gift lit the fuse in him and he became a serious stamp collector…or a “Philatelist” as he chose to be called. He kept on collecting for decades and turned his hobby into a significant bankroll.

I saw how much pleasure he got out of his stamp collection so I figured that I’d try it.

I found it to be mind numbingly boring and my collection soon found its way into one of my brother’s albums.

“Stamps: Free to a good home.”

I tried coin collecting. I was a failure at being a Numismatist too. At least the stamps were colorful. The coins were as exciting as dirt.

As the years passed and my brother and I moved on our separate paths his collecting gene kept him accumulating stuff while I went in the other direction and worked hard at getting rid of things. I began to suspect that one of us was adopted. He was dark and muscular. I was pale and flabby, but I had seen our birth certificates so there was no doubt about our lineage.

It was in the 1970s when the next Great Collection Storm began. I started collecting British Sports Cars. I didn’t let it get out of hand. My collection topped out at One. They take up room.

I was living in Cleveland. He was in the suburbs of Washington D.C. It had been awhile since I had driven down there to visit him, his wife and kids. I just assumed that he was still into Stamps. The stamps had become residents in a safe deposit box silently gathering in value. He had started a new collection that gave him both pleasure and the need for additional space.

I was both shocked and mystified when I walked into their den and saw row after row of shelves on

every wall filled with Beer Cans. Empty beer cans.

It had never occurred to me that anyone would collect beer cans. I don’t drink beer. I don’t like beer. I don’t have even one beer can, full or empty, in my life. He had hundreds. Of course I was given a detailed tour informing me about the “vintage” of each can. My brother made a good docent. The tour did not end in a gift shop. I have to admit that his display was both overwhelming and disturbing. Someone had to have chugged all that beer. His wife was nurse and couldn’t show up for work smelling like she hung out with Clydesdales and their daughters were significantly underage.

People love to collect things. They all have their own reasons, much like I have my reasons for not collecting things. My reasons result in a lot less dusting, but who am I to shake my head and go “tsk, tsk.”

I never criticized or belittled my brother’s collection of beer cans. It could have been worse. He could have collected Italian Sports Cars.

A Little Face In The Crowd

I find that the older I get I spend more time, while sipping my coffee, thinking about my younger days. It doesn’t take much to get me wandering back to the days of my life when I lived in a narrow valley in Western Pennsylvania.

These days my time is filled with thoughts of hi-tech computers and low-tech viruses. Neither of these are the sort of things that make for lingering memories. The things that did, do, and will continue to generate memories involve the people I’ve known and the places I’ve been. Today and tomorrow interest me less than the thousands of my yesterdays.

When I woke up this morning and turned on the TV in the bedroom one of the first images I saw was of a classroom. It reminded me of one in the elementary school where I was introduced to the world outside of my family. St. Mary’s Catholic Grade School was already old when i was enrolled in 1952. The school was started in the 1870s.

I was born in 1946 smack in the middle of the first wave of the Post-War Baby Boom. The hundreds of thousands of soldiers returning home from the horror of World War Two were thankful to be alive and they celebrated by starting families. My father was too old to be taken into the military, but he  got caught up in the spirit of the day and there I was six years later sitting in a classroom alongside 59 other First Grade Boomers. I sat there with the others, all of us staring at Sister Avila standing by her desk in her black and white nun’s habit.

You read that right. There were 60 kids in my first grade classroom and there was another classroom just as full across the hall. We were packed into our rows of little wooden desks like sardines in a can.

And we learned.

We learned how to sit quietly with our hands neatly folded on the desktop. We learned to stand up every morning and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. We learned how to read. We learned how to write in cursive. We also learned how to get along with 59 other kids.

We learned how to be the good kids everyone expected us to be.

That expanding bubble of Baby Boom kids continued all through my school years and it is still there even now. Now, however, all of us who sat in that crowded first grade classroom are hitting 75 years of age. We are the Senior Citizens who are filling up the hospitals, nursing homes, and cemeteries.

Today the desks at St. Mary’s are occupied with a new generation born in this century. The classes are smaller now. There isn’t a rush to build new schools like there was in the 1950s. The old schools that had been filled to the walls with the sons and daughters of the returning veterans are being torn down and replaced with Health Clubs and Organic Food Stores.

My generation – The Baby Boomers are now fading from the scene. The nation’s population is still growing but at a slower pace. There might never be another classroom with 60 little kids squirming in their seats and practicing their penmanship. Today’s teachers are horrified when they are faced with more than twenty curious faces staring at them.

In 1952 our stern-faced nuns in black and white struggled through the turmoil and managed to have most of those 60 youngsters turn out just fine. If there was one most important thing we learned in those crowded classrooms it was how to work together and not be afraid to ask questions. Those skills have served us well over the years.

Thank you, Sister.

 

 

 

 

Those Days Are Coming

 

ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS I DID ONCE I LANDED IN FLORIDA was to locate the nearest Starbucks. No matter where I am I gotta have my morning coffee. My afternoon and evening coffee too, but that should be obvious. The closest Chapel of St. Arbucks to my lodging is about two miles away. I can live with that. I have to. But all Starbucks are not the same.

While the buildings vary little from state to state, country to country, but the clientele is unique to each store. On a college campus most of the customers will have just finished puberty, while in Midtown Manhattan the majority of the sippers will have high blood pressure and be paying child support. This week I am in sunny South Florida.

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By The Sea, By The Sea

 

GUESS WHERE I’M AT? NO. NO. NO, NOT THERE EITHER. I AM IN FLORIDA -The Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Area. What am I doing down there when there is a perfectly good winter going on in Indiana without me? Well, for at least a few days, that is the idea.

Ever since our five week visit to Ireland I have been cold – freezing even. I needed to do something or I was afraid that I would not survive to see another Springtime. The cold feeling exhausted me. I was empty Physically, Emotionally, Creatively, and even Socially. I felt like I was an empty shell with freezer burn. I hated feeling like that and I don’t think I was very good company for anybody. I was either silent or snapping at everyone – and that’s just not like me. Going to where it was still warm so I could thaw myself was the solution. So here I am in Florida.

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Taxes On The Spin Cycle

 

THE WORLD IS MADE OF PEOPLE, THINGS, AND EVENTS. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell one from another. Which is it? Am I reacting to the person, what I am seeing, or what is going down? I guess the reality is that, in most cases, it is a combination of the three.

Such is one unusual thing that happened to me in, of all places, the neighborhood laundromat. The laundromat is not my usual haunt. I don’t think I have any “usual” haunts just a bunch of verifiably “Unusual” ones.

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I Am A Creature And I Want My Comforts

SOMETIMES HAVING THINGS DIFFERENT IS GOOD…SOMETIMES NOT SO GOOD.

I’m a person who likes his creature comforts. I like being warm when it’s cold outside. I like to take a shower with hot water. I want to have the toilet flush when I push the handle. Am I asking too much?

I am in much of Ireland it seems.

It looks like there are different standards of expected comfort. In every place we have stayed in Ireland, not just on this trip, but over the last 13 years of my personal experience.

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Rolling After The Rock

MAYBE I AM GETTING OLD, BUT GETTING UP AND WALKING JUST ISN’T AS GRAND AS IT USED TO BE. I had that change pushed in my face this week.

We loaded up the car on a fine Irish morning (That means it wasn’t raining as hard as it was last night.) and headed out from Enniscorthy to play tourist. Our destination was about a 90 minute drive away. We were going to revisit “The Rock of Cashel,” an ancient Royal Castle perched high on a hilltop with a commanding view of the countryside. Anyone with plans of conquest would come around the curve in the road and see that humoungus Fortress Castle up there and think, “Perhaps we should forget this and just go to the beach. We could get a shrimp roll maybe.”

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I Think I Forgot To Remember

PEOPLE COME AND PEOPLE GO. Over the course of a lifetime how many people drift through our consciousness to be seen, meet, stay for a moment, and then disappear back into the fog.

I was thinking about that last night. I saw someone on TV who had the same name as a person I knew briefly some forty years ago. It was not the same person. It could have been a relative I suppose, but just that momentary memory bump had me thinking about both of the people who shared that name.

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That Kid Looks Old To Me

 

IT WASN’T THAT LONG AGO when I had those dreams about what I wanted to be when I grew up. At least it seems that it wasn’t all that far in the past. But, now when I look at with a calendar in my hand I realize that it was the better part of a century ago.

My God, where have those years gone?

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You Don’t Have To Be A Druid To Have Rituals

 

WE’RE INTO A TIME OF SEASONAL CHANGE so I have begun to undertake the sacred seasonal rituals. Not wishing to offend the minor gods of calendar page turning I started getting into these rituals today.

I got a haircut.

As I have begun aging from being a responsible adult down the slippery slope into Geezerhood I have noticed that my hair does not grow as quickly as it used to. I also noticed that there are fewer hairs to cut than there were back when. At least the thinning of my cranial forest is evenly distributed. I’m not waking up, looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing a clear cut landing site on my skull. Thank heaven for small favors.

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Is That Too Much ?

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN. After two weeks in Texas I’m back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “There is nothing in the fridge.”) and trying to sleep through the night again after being in a strange bed.

The luggage hasn’t had the chance to cool off and plans are underway for the next test of my ability to digest the food and water of another part of the globe. This time the passports are aimed at Ireland for a five to six week stay.

Do I enjoy Ireland? Very much. Do I enjoy being away from comfortable and familiar surroundings? Not so much anymore. Somehow I have suddenly become an old man and my adventuresome spirit has dimmed. There was a time when I would go anywhere at any time with less than a moment’s notice. Now I have a need to sit in a chair that knows my shape and sleep in a bed where I can be warm and where I can find my way to the bathroom in the dark.

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I’m Not Dead

 

TODAY IS A SPECIAL DAY FOR ME. It is yet another birthday. This one marks the end of my 73rd year on this earth.

Each of those years has had things worth remembering – and things that have merited forgetting. I’m sure that holds true for everyone. It’s part of the ongoing flow of life.

This past year has been much like many of my recent years. It held joys and sorrows, hopes fulfilled and hopes filled with disappointment. Dreams and nightmares, laughs and tears.

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Who Are These People…Including Me?

I DIDN’T GO TO MY HIGH SCHOOL CLASS REUNION THIS WEEKEND. Will that get me sent to the Principal’s Office?

This reunion was to commemorate 55 years since graduation. I went to the 50th and was appalled by how old they had become. All this reunion would prove is that none of the attendees had died in the interim.

Fifty-five years ago – 1964. When I think about that span of time I shiver. So much has happened – some good, some not so good. There have been some astonishing changes in our lives, and then again – some things have defied change no matter how hard we have labored to change them.

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I Will Swat Flies And So Would Gandhi

 

WHAT CAME FIRST?

I’ve heard feverish arguments for both The Chicken and for The Egg. I’ve also heard that The Chicken was busy crossing the road and forgot where it left The Egg.

I don’t know. It is 6:18 in the morning. It is still dark outside – much too early for any Philosophical Questions. Even The Chicken and The Egg thing is too demanding. At this hour my brain can barely handle basic body functions: Heartbeat, Vision, Bladder. After that it is Hit and Miss until my coffee kicks in and that could be anytime between 7 AM and 7 PM. Before or after that I am not a responsible human being. Some people have argued that 7 to 7 isn’t all that great for me either.

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45…60…100 – It Beats Me

 

I HAVE NOTICED SOMETHING THIS MORNING: Old people spend a lot of time complaining about their health (Or lack thereof) and their Doctors.

This morning I was cornered by one of the Usual Suspects – a fine man in his 80s who is also something of an athlete. Today he spent twenty minutes telling me that he has to go in tomorrow and see his Cardiologist because his Pacemaker needs adjustment. It seems that his heart (While still working) is running at about 100 beats per minute day or night, at rest or active. Even I know that 100 beats per minute is a tad brisk if you are just sitting down having a talk with me.

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Throwback Thursday – “The Way Of The Geezer”

 

Throwback Thursday – “The Way Of The Geezer”

 

G8We are now well  into the new millennium and, like it or not, things are changing. One of the most notable is that the first crop of the “Baby Boom” babies is turning 70. The implications of this are many, but the one I think is most important is that this nation is going to be inundated by tens of millions of new Geezers.

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Being Taken For A Ride

FOUR DAYS TRAPPED IN A FLASHBACK. Four days back in elementary school with the Little Sisters of the Right Cross. Four days in the same building with a couple hundred nuns. My knuckles are still aching.

We recently attended the Midwest Meeting of Congregational Ministers – my wife, the lovely and divinely inspired, Dawn, and me (Her Arm Candy), all together at a Conference Center run by Dominican Nuns. Lots of Dominican Nuns.

Oh, the memories. Oh, the nightmares. Oh, the scar tissue.

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A Cut Above

 

IT’S HAIRCUT DAY! The rest of the world has told me that it is time. Seven billion people are right. I need it. My head looks like a frightened groundhog. I’ll get the haircut or there will be six more weeks of “Game of Thrones.” My wife said that she looked over at me the other night and thought that the Chupacabra had gotten into the house.

I don’t have as much hair as I used to – at least not on my head. My back still looks like a field of neglected Astro-Turf. I’m not bald by any means. My hairline hasn’t really changed all that much. It is just more of a dotted line any more. When I run my comb through my graying locks I can see the top of my head looking back at me. My head underneath my hair looks surprisingly like a week old cantaloupe.

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Reblogged from A Teacher’s Reflections: Best Job Ever!

A Teacher’s Reflections: Thirty Years of Wonder

 

Best Job Ever

Friday was a rainy day.  I played the autoharp, and children sang and danced their hearts out.  I love rainy days.  I love music.  More importantly, children love music.  A child came up to me in the middle of the songs and asked, “Jennie, can you play “I Want to Hold Your Hand?”

Did I hear that correctly?
“I Want to Hold Your Hand”, by the Beatles?
Yes, that was exactly the song he wanted to hear.

After I got over my initial shock and excitement, I said, “Better yet, I have the real song, a record album.  I’ll bring it in on Monday.  And I did.  You could have heard a pin drop as I pulled the record out of the album cover with fifteen saucer eyes staring at what was happening.  It was wonderful.

This is as good as it gets.  I’m giving a child a song he wants to hear.  I’m introducing music on a record player.  I’m playing some of the best music from my teenage years, and the children love it.

Jennie

https://jenniefitzkee.com/

 

 

Best Job Ever

“Hang On, Lupe. Lupe, Hang On”

HANG ON LUPE! LUPE, HANG ON!

I know, I know, that’s not how the old song by the McCoys goes. For my purposes today however that is how it’s going to play.

We are down in Texas right now making our Spring visit to family. Dawn wants to spend some quality time with her Mother who is 98 and has a strong heart. At 98 she now has 24 hour Home Health Care, but still needs her family around her. Her two sons and daughters-in-law live just a few streets away and are very attentive to their Momma’s needs, but there is nothing like having her baby daughter coming down from Indiana for a visit. I come along too.

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