“Accepting Aging?”

I keep running into the face on the left featured in ads for Cover Girl makeup. The woman pictured is in her 60’s and apparently it is “ground breaking” to feature a woman of her “advanced” age in a makeup commercial. When I first saw this photo filling a whole page in a magazine I shuddered. To me she looked frightening, not appealing. I felt immediately that I was supposed to be delighted that an older woman was a “Cover Girl,” but I felt anything but delighted. If the look was supposed to entice me to purchase makeup it failed. I have no desire to look anything like the woman(who, as it turns out, is Elon Musk’s mother.)

I found the image on the right at the website “unsplash,” which another blogger suggested as a site for royalty free images. The woman seems to be about the same age as the model, but to me she looks inviting and welcoming. Her wrinkles show the ways her face has aged, her brown spots reveal past sun exposure, her lips lack filler, her face is free of Botox, and her eyebrows show the thinning that comes with age. In other words she looks her age, and in this case I found her lovely not off putting. If she had been featured by Cover Girl how might I have responded? For one, I might like to know the color of her lipstick. It flatters her, rather than seeming at odds with her face.

Millions of older women in the United States have a little disposable income. Some of it could go to cosmetics, especially if they seemed aimed at how we actually look. Instead most ads seem addressed either at young women or women in their 40’s who apparently are terrified of looking “aged.” This so-called groundbreaking ad won’t reassure them.

And as a final thought. Which woman would you rather have as your grandmother? I know I am clear!

“Collection Day”

 

As I watched the garbage truck pause by our house, extend a motorized claw, pick up our trash can and dump its contents into the truck I thought of a poem I wrote some years ago. While it is posted on a another part of this site, I wanted to copy it here for those who never saw it. As a child I admired the rough men who picked up the cans, lifted them to their shoulders and dumped them into the open bed of the truck. I couldn’t find an image that shows this earliest method, but at least the picture on the left shows a man lifting a can. The photo on the right shows the extended arm and trash bin similar to those in our neighborhood.

Many jobs used to require quite a lot of physical strength and stamina. In my childhood the garbage men seemed to all be short, strong Italian men. Since my father and his friends were all professionals, the garbage men intrigued me. This poem honors those workers in my childhood viewed out my window but never spoken to.

Collection Day

I miss them
Those muscled men who
Hoisted the cans up and over the truck edge.
Their arms first grew slack
Merely tipping into the compressor bed.
Then, finally, biceps smoothed altogether
Replaced by mechanical limbs
Reaching disgracefully over and up.

“Open Up?”

Contemplating a soup can(I know that I need a life!) I saw that once again designers had found a way to complicate something. Instead of opening it with a can opener, the new design features a pull-top. One of the places I have lost some strength is in my hands. My mother, at my age, invested in an electric can opener to compensate for this issue. This new packaging presents a similar challenge, one I failed. Apparently I was to “pull back slowly” and the lid would come off. On a soda can this was easier because the tin was quite thin. The soup can, however, is made of sterner stuff and doesn’t yield so easily. The tab broke off, the soup still safely ensconced. Fortunately the can opener still worked on it.

A few years ago I faced a similar challenge trying to extract tempting looking salad greens from their plastic enclosure. No matter how I turned it, poked at it, pulled at it, stared at it and spoke less than kindly to it, the greens stayed safely away from my fork. Finally a cafeteria worker came over and quickly opened it. Unfortunately she opened it so fast that I didn’t see how she did it. The next day I ordered something not so cleverly contained. When I looked on-line for an image of the confounding packaging, I found a similar item pictured on the left above. Apparently it is to make the food “tamper proof.” It would certainly do that!

My life seems full of feats to be performed for which my previous 72 years of life left me sadly unprepared. From operating my phone, to turning on the television, using the rest room, and opening food containers I have learned that I need a class on surviving ordinary life. It’s an entrepreneurial  opportunity just waiting to be taken up.

“Electric Bathroom”

The other day I was at our local library and went to wash my hands in the restroom. No water came out of the faucet no matter how I tried to move my hands in front of what I thought was the sensor. (Even this ability was fairly new to me. My granddaughter has had to teach me how to make various fixtures in restrooms operate.) When I still failed to get any water I went to tell the librarian. She calmly replied, “Oh yes. It needs a new battery.”

I stopped to wonder what persuasive sales people had taken over the fairly standard fixtures in public restrooms. Clearly different pitches appealed to different buyers, so there is no standard. Some faucets go on as soon as something is set on the rim of the sink. I learned this when I rested my purse there! Others need one to wave one’s hands in some sort of pattern. When the water comes out, there is no way to change its temperature or the length of time it flows. Somewhere somebody has made those decisions for the fixture, ignoring the various demands of users.

The biggest con has been the substitution of high speed air machines for paper towels. Knowing that users don’t like them, there are frequently signs touting their “environmental advantages.” They leave off the fact that they distribute germs from the room onto your hands as they circulate the air. And they are useless for washing off a toddler’s face or dabbing a new stain on clothing.

What towel machines still exist seem to have fallen victim to the “automatic” versions. They each have an idiosyncratic way of operating from waving to holding to staring dumbfoundedly until a grandchild takes over. Fortunately they also sport signs saying “if no towel comes out, roll the gear on the side.” I guess even their inventors don’t trust the reliability of the technology.

I never thought I would wax nostalgic for the faucets and towel dispensers of my youth. But it appears that I am.

“Temporary Truce”

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My husband, knowing I love both hawks and crows, has given me one of each. The stained glass hawk hangs on the inside of my office door. The door opens out onto a little porch, and a rusted scrap metal crow sits perched on its railing overlooking the yard. For the moment at least, separated by the French door, they are at peace with each other!

“Crow Convention”

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I have always loved crows and have learned as much about them as I could. I enjoy watching them walk, soar, fly and settle. Fortunately for me there is a large winter roost in an adjacent town. That roost has about 13,000 crows in the winter, filling trees, having a great time chatting with one another. Just before dusk, groups of crows gather everywhere before flying on together to the major roost. Flying over the car as I drive, they seem to be as excited to get together with their roost mates as I am to go meet my friends.

Apparently the Hartford winter roost, a tiny bit of which is pictured above, attracts many crows from Canada and more northern New England. While it is somewhat warmer here, I am surprised that they don’t join other migratory birds heading even further south. Hartford must have a great Trip Advisor rating among crows, so this is as far as they need to travel.

I had a cranky relative who hated crows. For some reason he seemed to take their call personally and would fire his gun at them when they landed in tall firs near his house. Fortunately he was a terrible shot and never even grazed a crow. I always rooted for the crows if I happened to be visiting during his temper fit.

My only conundrum comes from my mutual love of crows and hawks. Hawks like to go after crows. Crows retaliate by grabbing a few friends and chasing the hawk. I always hope that all the birds escape this fight to fly another day.

 

“Catastrophic Volcanoes”

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When I woke this morning I read a blog post from my friend Arlene in the Philippines reporting the beginning of a massive eruption of the Taal Volcano, about fifty miles from her home. The volcano had not erupted since 1977, and it is posing a danger not only to those living near by, but also to a wide area on all sides. The government has called it an Alert 4, which suggests an imminent explosion.

On May 18, 1980 we were heading home from church when the radio alerted me to an eruption of the usually serene Mt. St. Helens, 47 miles from our home. At least 130 years had passed since its previous major activity. This time many more people lived near the mountain and many towns were built along the river below. I drove to a ridge above our home and stood, with a crowd pictured above, to watch the astonishing sight. It turned out I could see it from the neighbor’s porch when we drove home even though we were at river level. Soon ash began to fall all around us. This heavy ash resembled tiny pebbles more than light ash. It filled gutters, covered cars, and made breathing challenging for a while.

In floods you can usually find higher ground. In blizzards you can usually hunker down even without power. Tornadoes find us in the cellar. Heavy winds keep us away from windows. But volcanoes don’t give you any options. You can’t know when and for how long the eruptions will last. Like earthquakes, they remind you that we are at nature’s mercy much more than we like to think.

My love goes out to Arlene, her family and her country. And, by the way, you will never intrigue me with the offer of “volcano tourism.” I’ve seen enough.