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Ronni With Playmate



[c.1982] With my biological clock closing in on midnight, I took a year to seriously consider motherhood. For many reasons, I said no. As I get older now, I’ve come to think, sometimes, that our biology is backward, that we should have children in our later years.

In my case, at least, I have patience now that I lacked when I was younger, and I think there may be a grandmother gene that kicks in - only recently do I go gooey over infants and toddlers. But that is in the abstract; I have never doubted, then and now, that I made the right decision for me.


the_nannish_one @ 2003-10-02 said:
You too, huh? As for mixing the wee ones with those who have found a bit more patience, it’s a great idea. There’s a place in this world, God knows, for grandparents. They are, for most of us anyhow, our first experience of unconditional love. Well, my dog first, but Grandma came right after that.

hamlet @ 2003-10-02 said:
It does seem backwards, doesn’t it, in some respects. Not sure what you and your playmate are doing, but it looks like a nice moment. Nannish one’s comment is quite profound. Never really thought about it that way, but it could be the case, unfortunately.

An Aunt Edith Story


Edith at age 80

[1975] After I moved from Portland to Sausalito with Mom when I was 14, Aunt Edith and I wrote many letters to one another. She loved me unconditionally and I felt safe telling her everything.

When I visited in 1981, she handed me a large manilla envelope saying I was old enough to have these now. It was every letter I’d sent her, in order, through 25 years. Of all the gifts she gave me, this is the most precious.


av_producer @ 2003-10-01 said:
The gift of memories. What wonderful foresight on her part.

ribena @ 2003-10-01 said:
She is so beautiful.

zinetv @ 2003-10-01 said:
Aunt Edith must have been truly a one of kind. There aren’t many people like her anymore.

setya @ 2003-10-02 said:
I have many letters that my grandmother wrote to me. I cherish them.

Stories For the Infinite Future

[NOTE: Thank you all for your birthday greetings yesterday, and it was terrific to hear from some of you who've been reading Time Goes By, but have not left comments before. You all helped make the celebration of the first day of my 65th year even better.]

On my post about Jill’s blog, Legacy Matters, Cowtown Pattie of Texas Trifles posted this comment:

“You bring home the notion that you never truly die if you remain in someone's heart and memory. Sadly, though, it only takes the span of a couple of generations before our own story grows dim. I hope that my future great grandchildren and beyond have a curiosity about me and that some of my writings will survive the time test.”

It is only the descendants of kings and queens who have access to their family histories for centuries, and I have sometimes wondered what it is like to be, for example, Prince Charles, who can read in great detail about his direct ancestors going back for more than a thousand years. Genealogy is a popular internet pastime, but beyond names, birth and death dates and a few other public records, there isn’t much to discover about ordinary people and what they were like.

However, the time has come now, I believe, that Pattie’s lament no longer applies. There is an important admonition about the internet and email: Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of The New York Times - the point being that everything lives forever somewhere online. That's bad news for those who may have published in haste, but it is good news if you want to leave the stories of your lives behind.

Although I have no children, there are younger folks I love as much as if they were blood relatives. Some time ago, one of them accepted the responsibility of tying up loose ends when I die and now, having thought over Pattie’s comment, I have left with the other papers my friend will need, a final blog to be posted. Yes, it begins with, “If you’re reading this, I am dead,” though I intend to update it every six months or so and I may be able, in time, to get more creative than that.

I’ve also left instructions to set aside money to pay my blog host for at least a year after I die, along with other instructions for downloading my blog onto CDs (or whatever storage medium has evolved by then) to give to anyone who cares to have it.

In my case, in addition to whatever I’ve written here, there is the Timeline of my life in photographs. But you don’t need to do that in a blog necessarily. You could create one on a photo program on your computer to leave behind with the stories you want your descendants to know.

And you could encourage your children and grandchildren to start a similar timeline now with stories in their own words, for their children, and add to it during their life journeys. It doesn't need to be a daily journal as our blogs tend to be. But an account of a birthday party, first day in second grade, a summer vacation trip, college graduation, a book they liked reading, etc. will leave a sense and sensibility of these times with their personal stories for those whose lives will be as different from ours as the details of daily lives of 150, 200 and more years ago are to us now.

Imagine if you had such a record from your grandparents, great grandparents and even further back what a gift that would be. Now it can be so into an infinite future.

...When I'm 64


Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

When The Beatles released that tune on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, I was 26 years old and age 64 was so far off in the future to me that I couldn’t imagine what it would be like.

Ronni age 64 Today, 38 years later, I am 64 and I am still working on imagining what it’s like to be that old.

From one point of view, the time has gone by in flash. When I close my eyes, I can be that young woman in my mind. I see myself in our living room in Houston, Texas, where my then-husband and I played the Sgt. Pepper album, when it was new, again and again with friends, mixing it up with Alice’s Restaurant which was released about the same time. The year was 1967, and the world was a different place:

Teens and 20-somethings were converging on San Francisco where Flower Power and the Summer of Love were in vogue. Tim Leary was exhorting us to “Tune in, turn on and drop out,” and anything British was all the rage in the U.S.

People were reading Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, Our Crowd by Stephen Birmingham and William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner. At the movies, we were watching Bonnie and Clyde, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night.

Mickey Mantle hit his 500th career home run. Peggy Fleming won the world figure skating championship in Vienna. Billy Jean King won just about every tennis competition in the world open to women. And Twiggy was the model for every young girl to emulate.

Lyndon Johnson was president. His wife, Lady Bird, was busy beautifying highways. Israel captured the city of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. Che Guevara was killed. Muhammad Ali refused induction into the U.S. Army. The anti-Vietnam war movement was coming to a head and we didn't yet know the awful events we would witness the following year.

I can remember it like yesterday and yet, so much has happened in between - too much to synopsize. My timeline will have to suffice.

It was about a year ago that I began this blog in earnest, searching then and still for what it’s really like to get older. I have a somewhat better idea of that now (though not nearly enough) through these daily postings which have become the narrative thread of my days – and through the conversations that have resulted with those of you who have so kindly accompanied me on this continuing quest.

There is nothing I look forward to more right now than to blow out the 64 candles today and keep up the pursuit.

“It’s frighteningly important for a writer to be his age, not to be younger or older than he is.”
- W.H. Auden in a Paris Review interview, 1972 (at age 64)

I believe that's "frighteningly important" for all of us.

Dad 1981


Dad in 1981

[1981] He was about a year into chemotherapy, in this photo, for three kinds of cancer. Dad spent the final two years of his life as a professional patient and his body finally gave out on 12 September 1982. The last person to arrive for his funeral was a mystery woman, stunningly beautiful in black with a touch of red who, I found out later, had loved Dad, had wanted to marry him and Dad had declined. Perhaps a capacity for happiness is a grace not everyone receives.


av_producer @ 2003-09-30 said:
Though not the case here, I am often surprised that what we discover after the fact sometimes reveals more about us and what we were blind to then the other person.

the_nannish_one @ 2003-09-30 said:
Certainly a family resemblance here. Sounds like Dad might just have been the stand up guy he appears to be too!

virgorama @ 2003-09-30 said:
You said on a previous pic that your father loved your mother greatly. Perhaps that was it for him. However beautiful this woman was, there’s no rule that says he would fall in love with her. He has a look of someone (probably like all of us) who has an un-revealed private life and thoughts. My father was like that too.

hamlet @ 2003-09-30 said:
“Grace to be born and live as variously as possible" - Frank O`Hara. You mentioned grace, and it made me think of this. One of my favorite quotes. Open to interpretation, I believe. I find that I am always able to put a good spin on it, or am able to use it to put a good spin on something else.

sckelly @ 2003-09-30 said:
Because my grandaddy had fresh flowers on his grave whenever Granny went to visit it, she joked that he had a mystery woman of his own. I wonder...I agree with nannish. You two look just alike!

jungalero @ 2003-09-30 said:
He looks so regal here. R.I.P. Dad.

ribena @ 2003-09-30 said:
I’ve said these words before, among your photos, but nothing else suits today: powerful, and moving.

Crabby Blogs Blogs

In general, blogging about blogs leaves Crabby yawning. Unless it’s about new technology and techniques or she can find some good, new older bloggers for her list, she is little interested.

Nevertheless, in the past month or so, Crabby kept her eye on a widespread discussion about the lack of women in the upper echelons of the blogosphere. Another, associated, complaint seems to be that alphabloggers do not link frequently enough to either women bloggers or less well-known bloggers thereby depriving both groups of exposure and new readership.

Oh, pshaw. It sounds to Crabby like some little green monsters are on the loose causing otherwise rational beings to whine. Those top-traffic bloggers have been at it for years, gradually building an audience and for the most part, they are good at what they do - which can’t be said for some other bloggers. Besides, have you seen the length of the blogrolls on their sites? Literally hundreds. What good would it do anyone’s blog link to be stuffed somewhere in a list that long?

Anyone who thinks they’re going to get the readership of Daily Kos, Instapundit, kottke or Doc Searls without putting in about half a decade delivering compelling, well-written, cogent ideas from a unique point of view on a daily basis needs a new, perhaps less demanding, hobby. A good blog is work and the whiners would do well to tend to their own blog knitting.

More interesting to Crabby are two - related - aspects of blogging that are rarely touched upon in all the blogosphere navel gazing.

1. Our Essential Natures
Even though few of us meet face-to-face, bloggers can’t hide who and what they really are. Over time of publishing regularly, spouting rants, offering opinions, arguing (politely or otherwise), discussing this and telling stories about that, one’s essential nature cannot help but be revealed.

In fact, Crabby would argue that in reading someone's blog regularly, it is easier to suss out a blogger’s principles, ethics and general demeanor than those of new friends or colleagues with whom personal contact is less frequent.

There are four bloggers Crabby reads whose arrogance would be unbearable but for the quality of their writing or information. They may, if they are capable of recognizing the sounds of their own voices, take pains to cover their haughty pretensions, but it leaks through week after week. Crabby is grateful none of them is working in the next cubicle.

More often, however, it is an agreeable process to gradually come to know bloggers through their interests, attitudes, likes and dislikes, senses of humor, photos selected, general outlook, how they carry themselves in this public venue and their styles in expressing it all. And some become friends.

2. Cyber Friends
Who would have thought, prior to computers and the internet, that we would come to regard people we are unlikely to ever meet in person with affection and trust?

Some of it is, Crabby believes, connected to the speed of reaction time compared to snailmail of the past when weeks could go by before an answer was received. The internet telescopes time and fast emails – even instant messages – can be exchanged before the subject at hand, mood and intention have faded and threads of conversation lost.

Although people meet online in other ways, for bloggers in particular, a good sense of what someone is like is gained from their daily writings. Sometimes a post rings a chord of recognition prompting a private email. On several occasions, others Crabby had come to like from their posts and comments have reached out to her and friendships were born.

Crabby has not yet been able to articulate for herself the difference between these and in-person friendships, but she does not feel the personal attachment less strongly for not having met her online friends. Certainly, with bloggers, the inability to hide essential natures contributes to openness which may be a reason, when these friendships blossom, people reveal themselves more readily.

Certainly, this will be fodder for some intense study by social scientists sometime soon, if they haven’t begun already. Meanwhile, think of it: we begin as strangers out here in the blogosphere, but it is impossible to remain so for long. It's a much better idea, Crabby thinks, to dwell on this than the number of one's blog readers.

New Skills For Aging Bodies

category_bug_journal2.gif We haven’t spoken much at Time Goes By of the not-so-good things about getting older for a reason: thousands of other media outlets do such an excellent job of it every day that it's not necessary here. Then I read this:

“…getting old…can be wonderful, and everything that isn't happens gradually enough to get used to…” [emphasis added]
-, 2 April 2005

When we were kids, we were thrilled, at first, when we got the hang of riding a bicycle. It soon was so easy and commonplace that we forgot the struggle to learn, and it became just another among the many new skills we were accumulating.

In a similar way, I believe, at the other end of life, we can adapt to the changes as they come along and get on with living. For example: a few years ago, I wondered why I was having trouble hearing my companions’ voices across the table in a familiar and noisy restaurant. I didn’t remember having the problem previously.

I forgot about it until it happened another time, and another, and another. At first, I was concerned I was going deaf until I remembered it is a common kind of hearing loss as people get older: the ability to filter extraneous ambient noise becomes difficult.

My adaptation is to avoid noisy places now when I know I want to have a conversation, something I take into account in choosing restaurants.

That adage about it taking twice as long to do half as much when we get older seems to have afflicted me recently. There was a time I could clean the entire apartment on Saturday mornings, but no more. I’m not sure if I’m slower or, perhaps, just more distracted by things that I believe are more important. Whichever it is, now I spread out the cleaning over the week – different rooms on different days – so I don’t lose an entire day to household boredom.

My arms get too tired these days to carry as much weight as I once did walking home from shopping, so I make more frequent trips and have discovered I like the additional walks around the neighborhood.

And, for the first time in my life, in the past couple of months, my eyes sting when I’m at the computer too long. Some drugstore magnifying eyeglasses have solved that annoyance.

It took some hard thinking to come up with these examples of adjustment to aging and surely I’ve missed some. But without twisting myself into too much of a pretzel to pat myself on the back, I've been able to fold the changes into daily life without dwelling on them once I found a solution.

Undoubtedly, as the years continue to pile up, there will be larger and more irritating adaptations to make to my aging body. So far, they are minor and they do seem, as the lady wrote, to come on gradually which means there will be time for a lot of practice at adjusting as more of the not-so-good stuff arrives.

Think of it as new skills - the old folks’ version of learning to ride a bicycle.

Ronni and Barbara Walters


Ronni and Barbara Walters 1981

[1981] We took this photo for Mom who had never shown any interest in celebrities that I knew of, but admitted after I took the job with The Barbara Walters Specials that she was a fan. Every woman in television journalism owes her job to Barbara who, early in her career, refused to be relegated to fluffy stories about fashion.


umdiaumafoto @ 2003-09-29 said:
Nice history here!

zinetv @ 2003-09-30 said:
This is the best photo I’ve seen of Barbara Walters.

the_nannish_one @ 2003-09-30 said:
What an interesting trip you’re taking us on here.

Jim in Zagreb


Jim in Zagreb 1981

[1981] This good man, terrific in all possible ways, adored me and I probably should have married him as he once wanted. Contrary to what we women sometimes maintain, men do not have a corner on the market in bad behavior. This time it was I who did the harm which is why, of course, Jim stopped wanting to marry me.


cloud_nine @ 1929-09-27 said:
so sorry, but anyway: nice picture, shows, that there are still feelings about him ;-) and thanks for your nice comment.

yolima @ 2003-09-28 said:
1981, the year I moved to Hoboken. This man reminds me of Jean Paul Belmondo, from, among others, "A bout de souffle". He was, as they say in French, un joli laid. A good looking ugly guy. Thanks for guiding me to your thoughts in the blog. You articulated my feelings vis a vis getting older better than I could have ever done! Especially about all the time wasted on lamenting my looks instead of enjoying them.

av_producer @ 2003-09-28 said:
I think there was a song, "I was in the right place at exactly the wrong time." Reminds me of that.

zinetv @ 2003-09-30 said:
I am really moved by the juxtaposition of written statement and photograph. We all have those moments of not doing the right thing for ourselves, or those close to us. Rarely does anyone really publicly acknowledge it.

Social Security – Part 17: A Simple Solution

Did you know that in mid-March, the U.S. Senate voted 55 to 45 to adjust taxes on Social Security benefits in such a manner that people who earn more than $200,000 a year in retirement would pay 14 percent less while those who make less than $30,000 would get no tax break?

Crabby Old Lady didn’t know that until she read it in the Christian Science Monitor and she is steamed about it. They just won't stop chipping away at the little guys' meager resources.

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) – the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who will be responsible for turning President Bush’s Social Security privatization plan into a congressional bill - was having a hard time last weekend trying to sell the program to his constituents back home.

“What I need to hear people say is, ‘We expect you to fix this,’” he told AP writer, Mike Glover. “I’m not hearing that.”
- SF Gate, 26 March 2005

His difficulty may have something to do with the fact that he’s still telling people Social Security will "go broke" by 2042, and we know now that is a falsehood.

Steve Goss is chief actuary for the Social Security Administration, a man whose job it is to know the numbers inside out. According to Goss, the deficit in Social Security over the next 75 years is about $4 trillion. While being careful to note that it his not his place to endorse one plan over another, he says removing the $90,000 salary cap on which Social Security payroll taxes are collected:

“...would eliminate the deficit entirely,” says Goss.
- SF Gate, 25 March 2005

In fact, he says, with that solution, there would be a surplus until at least 2090.

How simple is that? Crabby asks. No benefit cuts. No rise in the retirement age. No borrowing trillions of dollars. Just fix the system in one fell swoop and anyone who wants a private investment account can call Wall Street like they've always done.

So what’s the problem? Scroll back on up there to the first paragraph for your answer. We have a Congress that will go to any length to transfer wealth to the already wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

The objection to this simple solution is a doctrine known as transfer-of-wealth, which is what Social Security was set up to do in 1935, to help old people then, during the Great Depression, who were literally starving. And it continues to keep 40 percent of people older than 65 above the poverty line.

But our elected representatives, supported by the vast lobbying resources of corporate America, have been busy for many years transferring much larger chunks of wealth in the other direction. According to the story in the Christian Science Monitor [which will go behind a paid firewall next Monday]:

“Between 1979 and 2002, the top 1 percent of the population enjoyed a 111 percent increase in their real income, the Congressional Budget Office reported recently. The top fifth enjoyed a 48 percent gain during the same period while the bottom fifth got only a 5 percent income hike.”

This kind of transfer of wealth upward is accomplished, partly, by Congress passing the kinds of tax bills again and again, over time, mentioned above. In addition, the wealthy have benefited from huge tax cuts during this Bush administration and it is time, Crabby believes, for the wealthy to give something back. They can start with the simple solution Steve Goss has identified.

Why should Congress adopt this plan? Why should the wealthy agree to it? Crabby Old Lady found an excellent answer in the following quote at Kathryn Petro’s weblog, A Mindful Life:

“And when people ask why they should give their money, even in taxes, to help those who have less and cannot afford to care for themselves, I want to shake them and say, ‘Because you can and they can’t. Your wealth creates in you a responsibility to your people and to your culture. It helps insure that your culture remains healthy.’”
- Kenneth W. Collier, What’s Up with America?

You might want to send your senators and congress person a note about this. You can do that here. be continued...

Social Security Privatization Series Index