2nd Pack Trip — Meet Loose Horses on Trail

Good re-start to summer’s 2nd trip. Had seen on map that fire was several drainages away, so felt safe going in as our area had burned before (see trees behind me in last post’s photo for that evidence.)

Headed to same lake visited 4 weeks ago on 1st pack trip, so again brought chainsaw, but no downed trees on road this time. Arrived at trailhead and saw four HUGE horse trailers. Looks like big outfitter has group up ahead; wonder what will do if reach river camp area and too crowded?

Decide that most likely this group will be taking a turnoff to go on a longer mountain loop, as our 6-mile destination would not be near enough mileage for people on horses. Feel some relief and start out.

We’re pleased again, to see the big white dog take up the drag position. About 3 miles along the gentle trail, after successfully crossing streams that were much lower than on previous trip, husband decides will drop down to river, about 100 yards below through much tangled brush, to fish. I tie the mules at trail and wait with big dog.

After a short time waiting on trail, the big dog jumps up and heads forward. I look up and see a very tall mule heading towards me, followed by two tall horses. All have halters, clearly escapees from the pack outfitter group. The mule’s halter has a stud-chain, so easy to grab. He clearly the leader with a mission to get back to the trailers. “Hold it,” I tell him, “someone must be coming after you guys.”

They’re very nice well-mannered animals. I grab the halter of a 2nd horse. Think will keep them here until whoever is looking for them catches up. I hear a dog barking in the distance, so expect that someone following will soon be here. “Hello, hello,” I call loudly. I whistle to get attention of the dog that was heard.

Twenty minutes pass. No one comes. “Hello, hello,” I call again loudly. No one comes. I decide will allow the mule and horses to continue on and wait at trailers. Is only 3 miles, whoever comes can easily walk that distance.

My dun little molly is standing off the trail, I lead the big mule to go past her and she suddenly raises head up, snorts, tells him in no-uncertain-terms that he will not be going past her. He jerks back, I let him go and all three head back the way they came. Good, I think, better this way, as they will run into whomever is coming along looking for them. No, is not to be, they do not want to go that way, they wanted to get back to their trailers and go home, so here they come again.

I stop them again, decide this time will drag trees across the path to make a fence. Gives me something to do while I’m waiting. Is enjoyable to make the barrier. Nice to have them waiting here with us until either their owner comes along or husband comes back from fishing, then will decide what to do.

Eventually, husband comes up from stream. Is happy, has some fish in bag. He loves seeing the big mule and horses. We decide we cannot take them with us, as don’t have extra leads. Decide will allow them to go on past and they can wait at their trailers. We move our mules way off the trail, and shoo the horses on past.

Continue the last 3 miles, cross another creek, again easier as much lower than last time. Trail gets steeper. My mules are steady, the dun molly seems finally to be learning not to be so pushy, to walk at my slow pace. (She was tied previously on a pack string behind big mules, so think she learned to walk very fast to keep up with them. Even though “retired” now, it has been hard to get her to slow to my pace. Friend came earlier this summer and helped me learn how to be firm with her. I’m grateful for that help, as think less dangerous now for the hiker leading.)

The last miles are enjoyable. I think about Outward Bound programs and camps to help girls gain confidence. Could do that, I think; would be so much fun. Many good ideas; so little time. I give husband phone and ask him to go ahead on trail and make video as we pass through a sunny spot. He gets about 30 seconds, will post it to the Healthy2aHundred YouTube channel.

We arrive at smaller river which runs into the larger one we’ve been following, are very happy to see it looking completely empty. Find our favorite campsite. Unload the mules. I put up high-line for grazing. Set up the kitchen, break out the Happy Hour supplies, notice the big white dog has gone down river, whistle and am happy to notice she’s coming right back.

Behind her is a man in cowboy hat. “Didn’t hear y’all come in,” he says, “but saw this big white dog and followed her up here.” Turns out he and wife are waiting for the pack outfitters to pick them up. They were dropped off a few days ago, hiked up the steep trail to the lake to fish. They came down last night. Tells us the mule and horses had come down the side trail, stayed with them last night; moved on this morning as if they knew right where they were going.

“Can’t believe it, though,” he says, “first time time in 30 years and no fish at all in the lake. Don’t know what could’ve happened.”

Very bad news. A mystery. We tell him that when we were here 4 weeks ago, it seemed very odd to have no fish at all in lake. None even noticed near the outlet, where it is generally a bit warmer; no dead fish on sides of lake. We had attributed it to the lake still being very cold, still having patches of ice and snow on it. Clearly that is not the case. The fish are gone.

At 6:00 we see 5 big mules and 3 riding horses come to pick the couple up; enjoyable to see a real pack operation. We enjoy the evening, eat fish caught that day, but decide will head back tomorrow. No need to climb steep trail to lake, over the 28 downfalls still crossing trail; will catch more fish in river on way out. Will try to figure out what has happened to fish in lake.

2nd Pack Trip — Want Fish, Fire Chases Us Out

Husband so disappointed at not getting any fish on first pack trip, that he quickly plans another. (Photo shows last years’ fish frying.) Will be just the two of us, so is quick to put together food and packs. All family will be coming for a niece’s wedding at the farm in mid-August. We find the only possible opening at end of July, load mules and big white dog into trailer and head out.

We’ve picked a short steep hike to a lake at 7,400 feet, which offered up delicious fish last year. Fires are burning in area, as is usual in summer, but several ridges away, so the trail we choose is open and seems likely that we will be able to pack in, camp, get out quickly if needed, as trail is in remote area, but only 4 miles to campsite, then 1/2 mile up even steeper trail to lake.

Things go well, trail is steep, will be about 3,400 vertical feet to our campsite. Mules love to be working. With two of them, packs are fairly light at 100 lbs. each.  Nice that we can take everything needed to be comfortable in camp, including table and camp chairs, even two air mattresses each this time.

Big white dog is incredible, as she assigns herself to drag position and calmly follows with purpose. No crashing about, no spooking animals, no stirring up dust as dogs in past have done. Almost a year old now, she’s not real affectionate at home, not listening to me except when suits her purpose, but I’m beginning to trust her instincts and steadiness for her job.

About two miles up the trail, we’re suddenly face-to-face with a horse packer, leading out a string of horses. He tells us the Forest Service has told him the fire is advancing quickly, winds have picked up, now on ridge behind our lake’s area, says entire drainage is being closed.

Disappointed again, we have no choice but to head home. Decide to leave all things packed and will head out in morning. Will go in opposite direction to the lake first tried at start of month. Has been four weeks of very hot weather, probably that lake now free of ice and fish will be ready to bite. Is nice to sleep in real bed at home.

Year’s First Pack Trip — Big Success, One Disappointment

First pack trip early this month with 2 mules and 1 llama was big success, since mostly went well and all came back safely. Just one disappointment in that high lake still half-frozen, so no fish for dinner.

Trip in with 3 adults, plus girls 9 and 12, went smoothly. Husband had brought chainsaw, since last year he and son cleared 26 trees off trail. This year had two to cut through on road up, but only three on fairly gentle six-mile trail to campsite. Big relief as wanted to set up camp before dark.

Mules have strong work ethic, so they and guys went ahead with chainsaw. Llamas a much better relaxed pace for me and girls. Had never taken llama out without other llama friends; was very pleased that she comfortable with mules and very willing to walk slower pace with us, although clear that she wanted to be sure would be with mules at end; no malingering or turning back, no dropping down to ground when running out of mental stamina towards end of day, as usually happens when all three llamas are together. The guys with mules waited for us at creeks to be sure all got across safely. Creeks were a bit high this early in summer.

Had two bigger rushing creeks to cross; one with footbridge tipped sideways, same as last year, was easier this year since expecting it. Felt adventurous with water rushing by below and I was glad to see girls make it with no problem. Other near end of hike was crossed on logs and rocks; one girl’s foot slipped off and soggy for rest of trip.

As the trail got longer and bodies became weary, I asked grand-daughter to teach us the snail-mail song from her school’s theater production as we walked along. The words will be perfect for my slow jogs up hill when back and made the last few miles go easier. She with perfect pitch, bit frustrated, trying to get me to learn tune first, but me with more verbal ability insisted on having words first and then tune will come with enough repetition. I’m satisfied with progress.

Thought as walking that maybe Hiking2aHundred would be better blog name, as that is my hope; in the Blue Zone of Loma Linda, CA, most like our own culture, there is said to be huge value of getting out in nature for healthy long life. I love each day to recall Old Testament Bible verse something like, “I lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Husband says so long as he has mules and llamas to carry the packs, he wants to get up each year to high lakes for fishing.

Am told the oldest mule, age 21 now, will probably be able to pack for 25 more years, so we’re set for quite a few years. Will be good to see how long we can continue the annual tradition.

The big white dog was a fabulous trail companion. No rushing or nipping at heels of animals as past dogs have done; she has a nice calm demeanor. She mostly stayed back with me; realized later was because girls and llama were with me. She had bonded with llama, it appeared, during ride in trailer; maybe adopting kids as her charges to watch over, also. Read in breed info that the Great Pyrenees was named the Royal Dog of France and used mostly to watch over children; will be great to see if this trait develops in her.

Camp was alongside a small river with grassy area to high-line mules and stake llama. Easy for us with just five people to get three tents and kitchen area set up. Everything almost done just as very light rain started. Dinners quite pleasant with animals to carry happy hour supplies and fresh food. Relaxing around glowing fire built in the campsites’ rock fire ring with log benches and stools around it shaped last year with our chainsaw. All were tired so turned in when dark at 9.

Next day was leisurely breakfast of eggs and bacon and pancakes done to perfection over glowing coals. Then short steep hike up to lake (1-1/4 miles). Previous year the going had been very tough with lots of downed trees to climb over; this year the chainsaw had plenty of gas left, so son put it to work and cleared 26 trees from trail before gas was gone. Counted 28 more to climb over on second half of trail; he thinking out loud about making another trip in on mountain bikes to finish the job; or maybe will be waiting for us to do when come next year.

Unfortunately, we had gone so early in year that the tiny lake was still one-third covered with ice and snow. Mosquitos plentiful, but fish completely absent. Luckily, after happy hour, had beef stew left from previous night dinner and Knorr’s quick-cooking rice sides, white wine brought in hope of fish dinner went well with stew, instant pudding for dessert tastes great out in the woods.

Evening was complete when young people put on an entertaining reality-type show called Building Fairy Houses from naturally found items in woods with grand-daughter using theatrical skills to be announcer awarding prizes; grandparents the appreciative audience.

Next day was a fast breakfast of oatmeal, a quick break of camp, saddling and pack up of lightweight items on llama, then sent son with girls and llama ahead as their pace expected to be much slower. Took husband and I another hour to finish loading and balancing packs for mules, we set off down the trail, caught up with others about one mile from end, loaded animals and headed home.

Blue Zones Favor Social Connections

Great walk up hill with dogs on Saturday morning. Even got husband to come; changing his exercise habits one walk at a time. He goes 3/4s of way, makes what I call the “twin-pines loop”, then heads back down, as a jillion things to do on farm, always on his mind. Is good because most Blue Zone 100 year olds were farmers and continued farm activities until they died. He heads down hill as me and dogs continue up.

Once up on Inspiration Rock, valley spread out below, I call parents to find out how things going. Sounds like doing very well and pretty much back to normal, except for frequent visits from physical and occupational therapists. They’ve resumed evening walks with big dogs; a family tradition that may help recovery and continued healthy long life. Was happy to find out that their young healthy grandson had moved into mother-in-law apartment at house; will be there while finishes college

Hear from mother that a few cousins (of which I have hundreds) have stopped by to see them and I’m amazed at the fast-acting power of social media. At first, I worry: Have I unleashed too many visitors stopping by to see them, will it be too troublesome, do they prefer quiet and privacy at this stage of life?

Then I remember that in Blue Zones, mostly tiny rural villages, is very clear that all the 100 year olds had much family interaction each day. Elders in family felt valued. Do think these days, in this culture, that a phone call first to say that visitors are on way, will be arriving in half hour, would be appreciated, so they can be sure a jug of lemonade is stirred up and front porch chairs are in good supply. (Their landline has been same number for 45 years.) Seemed that Mom was happy to tell me of visits; fill me in on cousins whereabouts; I guess it is a good result.

I’ve connected on-line with some of those cousins, many not seen in years, since starting a FB group for “descendants of” our grandparents on father’s side. Conflict in my mind at times, since having a life separate from theirs for so many years; uncertainty, since having so many other things that take so much time (businesses, golf, travel, gardening, happy hours with friends, dogs, mules, llamas, pack trips, kids, grandkids, yoga, exercise, aerobics, writing in journals and for blog, IRS notices again… it goes on and on), as to whether any time available for more people in life. As the title of a favorite Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton movie suggests, “Something’s Gotta Give”, can think of only one thing on that list I hope goes away.

Reminds me that friend shared article about “put down the phone”, which I greatly appreciated, as see it, also, saying to get away from constant stream of FB comparisons; to value your own ideas. Those Blue Zone elders did not have FB, did not constantly compare themselves to others, did not create that anxiety in lives. How can that be accomplished in today’s world? Maybe even harder than figuring out how to eat healthier. Both subjects for another day.

By now is 10 a.m., had no time earlier, so now will do 10-minute yoga with meditation and 8-minute balance and core-building routines, then get breakfast.

Unhealthy Old Age Looks Frightening

Nothing to light a firecracker under my aerobics, exercise and better eating program like seeing both parents suddenly become old people. Dad 86, Mom 81 — just last visit found them interested in lots of things and other people, animatedly planning development of property with sale of some acreage so as to have funds in case “someday” need in-home care.

This year emergency trip to California due to both parents in hospital; mom with fall, broken arm, bleeding on brain; dad pulling cherry pie out of oven, it slipped, 3rd degree burns on leg and foot, getting IV antibiotics. Many talks with brothers and sisters, will caregivers be needed now? Who has time to stay with them? Turns out there is a grandson available to live with them. That relieves us.

Luckily, both back home before I left, well enough to look after each other, although worn out from experience; conversations now totally about doctor appointments, results of x-rays, EEGs, CT scans, MRIs, wound care, nurse visits.

Wanted to skip my routine on first morning due to car needing washed, early doctor appointments. Reminded self that yoga with back-strengthening stretches is 10-minutes, balance and core-building exercise routine is 8 minutes. Hard to find space in crowded bedroom, but see reason now to prevent falls for myself. Got up earlier and did both routines.

Next day was planned for visits to other family; involved long drives. Again want to skip the aerobics workout, but decided if going to avoid heart disease, must keep up the high-intensity interval training. Had brought shoes, lightweight tights with built-in skirt, fanny pack with water and timer. Headed out the door. Enjoyable once under way.

Empty rural area when I was growing up, now houses crowding along the roads. Many with horses on 2-acre parcels, beautiful route with gentle hills. Start out with my usual Willie Nelson song in head, tempo just right for very slow jog, Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys; have fun changing words to fit situations presenting at home, such as “Don’t Let … Date Cowboys” or “Don’t Let Grand-daughters… be Cowgirls.”

Day will be 100 degrees, but cool enough still at 7 a.m. Think as moving slowly along that my extremely snail-paced jog reminding me of song just heard in littlest grand-daughter’s school play called Frog & Toad. A “snail-mail train” made up of about 8 cute kids in shell costumes with antenna on heads, large to small, marching thru audience with snail-like movements singing about delivering a piece of mail to Toad. Can’t remember the words except, “we put the go in escargot.” Will ask grand-daughter to teach me words on this year’s pack trip.

Have one day when get back home to take animals out for a pre-conditioning hike, then leave next day for gentle 6-mile hike to camp area on river; hike next day almost straight up to small lake for fishing. Only 5 people this time (3 adults, 2 young girls); much easier than trips with 9 or 10, may take only the two small mules.

Lots to think about as I finish 4th interval with jogging just when coming up parents’ long driveway. Steeled self for a long day of stop-and-go driving in heavy CA freeway traffic. Would be on the road 2 hours to sisters’ house joining her at a church BBQ, not back until late evening.

Decide is good that new aerobics program seems to be giving me more energy, as these days are long and mentally wearing. Can’t wait to get back home to regular morning walks with animals. Hope husband is remembering to move mules off pasture each night. Hope he’s going uphill with dogs; want him to be getting more aerobics, but making new habits is hard.

Eating healthier most difficult for both of us; since Blue Zones show less meat, more plants. Promise self will eat better once home. Will learn to cook Indian dish called “dal”. Think is lentils with curry. For now, we head off to parents’ favorite frequent breakfast at one specific Taco Bell location, where think was told they give “free milk to seniors!”

(Mother told me, “studies show Taco Bell most-healthy fast food place.” I’ve given up trying to tell her that probably only if she gets plain bean burrito instead of nachos with cheesy sauce for breakfast. Remind self to say, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”)

Be Skinny Wiry Old Lady or Gain Weight?

Glorious morning as walked up hill with dogs. Got slightly late start at 7 a.m. and legs moving slowly. Felt somewhat exhausted; wonder, if friend said, due to my not eating enough lately.

More likely, I think, due to dinner party last night. Day was packed as after slow morning jog up hill, throwing hay to mules in dry corral (trying to get them thinner, only letting out to paddock pasture for few hours in later afternoon), mixing dogs special food blend, then had to research a plumbing issue at rental, make calls to city and plumber, text details to tenant.

Finally able to get started cleaning outside patio, since guests coming for dinner; always wind blows in leaves and needles, wasp nests and cobwebs build up on underside of table and chairs, all flower pots again need watering with days over 100 degrees.

In-between was texting friends, as one had daughter in labor at hospital; calling my parents to find out how home-health nurse visits are going; e-mailing to sister; photographing cake husband made early in morning after picking berries and sending picture to guests.

Dinner this time was not the usual easy affair of steaks and baked potatoes with green salad. Husband raises the beef, so he loves to grill big steaks and we usually love to eat. A change this year — I’ve convinced him we must try to eat a more plant-based diet, as all Blue Zone peoples eat. He’s agreed will cut steaks in small strips and we’ll have steak tacos with chopped cabbage-lime-cilantro for filling, tomato salsa and plain Greek yogurt. Will involve a trip out to garden for fresh tomatoes and basil.

Friend is bringing a black-bean and fresh corn salad, which will be a nod towards the daily 1/2 cup of beans all Blue Zone peoples eat.

One Blue Zone has sweet potatoes each day, so I’m trying to incorporate at least several times weekly, will make a recipe from book that contains quinoa, cubed sweet potatoes, arugula, sliced red onion, fresh mint (will need to pick, wash and chop from supply on patio). The recipe wants pears, but I have none, so will substitute tiny fresh mandarin orange slices (Cuties, which we try to keep on hand) and avocado, of which I have two at a nicely just ripe, but still almost-firm stage. Compared to my usual, that will be a huge amount of cooking (quinoa and sweet potatoes) and chopping for everything else.

In-between, had fit in a late afternoon walk up the hill with big white dog, had let mules out to paddock pasture, had opened 21 envelopes received from I.R.S. and sorted into their respective quarters (2 years = 8 quarters, with almost three notices for each; one to say funds being applied, one to show penalties and interest being reversed, resulting, thankfully, in zero balances owed in one year; but strangely, still showing monies owed for three quarters of earlier year. I remember that three refund checks had been sent back, notices previously received saying those being processed, so that when finished will probably clear up that year. Will check it next week.)

Friends arrived, had cooled enough to be enjoyable on patio. We had a fabulous time, the little small steak strips made for fine tacos with lots of big salad sides. Then splurged on beautiful cake topped with fresh whipped cream. Discussion at dinner included mention of our early golf on Sunday mornings; both other couples seemed to think golf not too interesting or beneficial to be spending time on; same sentiments I’ve had at times when frustrated, so will think of its value later. One younger couple leaves early as will be hiking next day.

Other couple stayed later, men discussing politics, friend helping me clean kitchen. Tells me thinks I need to eat more, gain weight so that if get sick when old will have some reserves. Probably, I think, meaning, “you’d look a lot better if those wrinkles on face and neck were filled in a bit,” which is exactly what I see when look in mirror.

Envy the friends who have smooth skin; remind myself was too much sun exposure as a child growing up outside constantly on horses in sunny California, then baking as a teenager to be a beautiful golden brown. Started heavy sunscreen use at age 35, but too late by then.

Exacerbated now, the old-age, wrinkle problem, by such a lot of weight loss, first when doing two Fast Days a week, during last two years. Now have reduced to one Fast Day each week, called maintenance plan by Dr. Mosley’s FAST DIET book and gained back some weight. I find the plan easy, since includes small breakfast and small happy-hour style dinner.

Husband and I saw a PBS documentary about the benefits of alternate day fasting, I got the book at library, was amazed to read studies showing benefits of regular fast days, including improvements in blood pressure, in cholesterol reduction, in lower blood sugars, probably lower risk of cancers due to decreased IGF-1 levels, perhaps even repair of brain cells, at least shown in studies with mice.

I was even more amazed to find that the so-called “fast” included ability to have a very small breakfast and a very small dinner. Decided that with all the possible benefits, it would be worthwhile for me to do. For me, the weight loss was not needed, but seemed impossible to stop. I ate more on non-fast days, still getting skinny, older (no stopping that) and wrinkles showing up more.

A year after starting the Fast Days, an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) mentioned that those health benefits did seem to be real, that people were crankier on fast days, but mentally just as capable. Another article six months later in WSJ told that eating all food in an 8 to 10 hour window of the day, perhaps 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., seemed to provide some of same benefits, as body thought fasting when having 16 hours without food.

Husband had never completely joined the true Fast Days plan, but when reading about having first meal late and dinner early, he decided liked that idea, so he started doing that. I modified my eating to that plan, along with keeping one real Fast Day each week, having just small breakfast and small happy-hour foods on Thursday.

I think today, as walking up hill, that maybe she’s right, maybe could try to at least have a protein drink and handful of nuts each day. What if, when I get the dog’s food prepared, I take the Premier Protein drink (found at Costco) out of fridge, pour half into small glass and have with a handful of nuts. Then will have the other half later in mid-afternoon. That way will not overload body with protein, which I’ve read can be reason for kidney stones.

So much plus and minus information on protein amount needed. Latest study seems to show that over-65 can use more. I’d like if would make my skin stronger, as big white dog has given me a skin-tear on arm again, just by playfully putting her mouth on arm. Plus, Blue Zone centenarians in Loma Linda, CA, are big believers in half-cup of nuts each day.

I sit on highest rock on hill, thinking about what to do, watching as huge truck, tiny in distance, pulls away taking area crops to markets. Decide will accept being skinny, wiry, wrinkled old lady; will be more peaceful at this stage of life to let others be beautiful.

Learning New Things

This morning I sleep to unheard-of hour of 5:40 a.m. Will try to figure out what different last night, as have been waking at 4 a.m. on too many mornings. Sun comes up early still, probably as simple as remembering to lower blinds will help sleep; going to bed too late when dark out so haven’t thought to lower them.

I get coffee, update journal, then up to do yoga. Decided would let video go public on YouTube last week. Big scare to do this, as seems so exposed, but now is time for blog to go live and its whole purpose for being was at first to get people wanting to do the short yoga routine I devised when felt would be good to put some yoga into my life.

Wanted to have a routine short enough and simple enough that I would do it every day. The link is on button on home page of this blog. Part of “learning” to find out if it will work as planned.

Head out with dogs for the Wednesday morning aerobic workout. Easier to do the tiny jog today with so much running through my mind about steps needed to finish blog. Might be easier for a writer, I think, to stick with this high-intensity interval training aerobics workout, as creative ideas have always flowed for me when out in nature with feet doing a mindless thing.

I think about the push recently for people to learn new things to help keep Alzheimer’s away. Saw my mother take up Sudoku, crossword puzzles, word challenges. Bought her a Nintendo “brain games” tiny calculator-like device. She said tired of it after a year or so; I wonder now if it became too hard for her as she started actually telling us she was “losing my brains”.

Realize while headed up hill that did not read anything in the Blue Zones book or hear about on the Blue Zones Ted Talks saying that the 100+ year olds were learning new things to keep brains younger. Did read and hear that the incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia was very low in those populations, but gathered generally that it must be due to continual low-intensity movement, sense of purpose and eating healthier foods.

Probably can’t hurt to learn new things. At least, I hope it will help my brain grow new connections. Was difficult for me to figure out how to get the video uploaded to YouTube. Even now, I search for the Healthy2aHundred channel and it says “not found.” Have heard that even a 6-year-old can post to YouTube, it is so easy. I’m discouraged. Okay, will move onto getting the blog restarted with WordPress that my goal for today.

Back from running. I go to let the little mules out into their paddock-pasture. So enjoyable to hear them braying when they see me coming. They are fat, at risk of foundering, the farrier told me. They need lots of dry corral, but I want them moving around a bit more and eating down the paddock-pasture so they can be out it in more, walking around trying to find the green grass, as heard it is supposed to work that way. Mules and llamas are making progress, it is looking drier, but they immediately grab mouthfuls of grass, so it will be a short stay out today.

Next job, while cool this morning, is to clean carpet at a rental apartment. Feel a bit resentful to be doing this at my age, think of other friends playing golf on this gorgeous morning, but then remember that Blue Zone people were said to be doing all of their work all of their lives. Thought to be one reason they are living so long.

I remember a lady of 105-years old in our town, she said to be getting new rental properties even at age 80 and managing her properties almost until day she died. She will be my role model. I will accept this task of carpet cleaning and be grateful that I am able to haul buckets of water (20 lbs each) to pour into the machine. I spend 2 hours cleaning carpets. With 12 buckets (6 in machine, 6 out to dump), decide was 240 lbs. moved this morning. That should be good for building core strength.

Finally enough done for one morning, will finish tomorrow, head home and have breakfast at 11 a.m. That was a longer “fast” than usual, have read that body will repair self if thinks in fasting mode, article said best if all food consumed between 10a-6p.

Next task is to put the mules into dry corral. An enjoyable task, as they full now and readily head back to the corral for expected small sweet-feed treat. They almost totally shedded out now, will curry them when come in afternoon to give a small amount of hay. Think we need to load mules and llamas up soon, get farm kids to help me take on conditioning walks, as have first pack trip coming up soon.

Back finally to office. Success. Video is live. Blog is live!

Did Yoga Drive Healthier Habits?

DID YOGA START DRIVE TO HEALTHIER HABITS?
At age 60, struck me hard that life is getting towards end. Knew I wanted to be healthier when old, “someday”, due to 20 years in eldercare, seeing many in poor health at end of life.

Some disabilities and misery clearly caused by bad luck or accidents, but many — diabetes, COPD, CHF, possibly even Alzheimers’ and cancers — the result of personal choices and habits. Choices such as eating too much, drinking too many sugar-filled sodas, smoking, lack of exercise, too much sun exposure. I started reading books on longevity.

Awhile back, I’d gone to a hospital fundraiser with health presentations where one doctor told us that 70-year-old tri-athletes had bodies inside like 40 year olds. He’d given us a flyer with his advice towards a healthier old age titled F.A.C.E the Future. That was standing for Flexibility, Aerobics, Carry a load (weight-bearing exercise) and Equilibrium (balance exercise). That flyer on my bathroom counter had been poking at my conscience for over a year.

I’d been to yoga classes, knew I wanted to practice yoga for the flexibility advantage and also knew I wanted to meditate, since reading books about happiness and peace-of-mind indicated big advantages given mentally by meditation. Thought maybe just do a tiny bit to get started.

Realized after reading Dan Harris’s book, 10% HAPPIER, great read on benefits of meditation, that possibly yoga could be used as meditation. Decided to make an easy, short routine and figure out how to build a new morning habit.

Think it was the process of devising a routine with real yoga poses in which each slipped into the next, trying to clear mind while holding poses, that gave me a goal to work towards and the motivation to do it each morning. Once the routine took shape, the motivation to continue was helped by telling friends and family that this was part of my new daily semi-retirement life.

On day, while crouching over to pick up feet of recalcitrant mule — lifting, cleaning, filing hooves is a heavy job — back seized up, could hardly move to get myself home. Could hardly roll out of bed to do yoga next morning. Found books at library with exercises saying if done each day would prevent future back problems. I especially liked a book called THE 7-MINUTE BACK PAIN SOLUTION, as could see how the exercises would fit nicely onto second half of my yoga routine.

Felt rewarded when sister forwarded a yoga routine for back pain control which included those same exercises. I got a book showing correct yoga poses and found back exercises were close to those moves; incorporated into routine, along with affirmations at beginning.

As with most things when loved, I became fanatical about wanting my friends and family to take up this practice. Anyone can do it, is so short, quick, easy! My mother and sisters gamely got down on floor with me during each morning on visits (but none continued with practice on own; I’m still hoping for converts.) Decided best if leave them alone, make a video, they can watch and learn; trust that people will do if feel it improves their lives.

Now when thinking back, remembering what has come since — an easy, almost-fasting day each week (saw on PBS, then read book by Dr. Mosley called FAST DIET); an 8-Minute Balance and Core-Building Exercise Routine devised and done two days weekly (video possibly released next year); this year added a Mon, Wed, Friday high-intensity interval training workout with slow timed jog intervals going up hill; a study of Blue Zones and efforts towards eating plant-based meals — I wonder if it was all started due to the yoga routine with its affirmations at start for better health and strength.

The video is attached below, called 10-Minute Yoga and Back Strengthening Stretches with Meditation, Breathing, Affirmations. Put it into your life and let me know if you suddenly find yourself wanting to live stronger and healthier; if you find yourself changing towards better eating and exercising habits. The blog Healthy2aHundred will be a good place to find out if it works that way for others, too.