Big White Dog Lightens Mood

Woke to NPR telling us to be sure we know where people are, said if leaving home to have them tell us when plan to be back. Most likely due to NYC elderly dying at home alone?

Sobering to think of, but I text my younger brother and ask him to secure plots at a rural cemetery where oak trees overhang the historical small town’s headstones. Much more pleasant to visit parents there than place they have planned. Shall we tell them or just do it?

Was his idea originally, so tell him a very good idea and we’ll figure out how to sell the plot they have purchased for themselves at a once-rural, but now huge cemetery surrounded by businesses and traffic. Told him I wouldn’t relish the idea of visiting them that busy spot, so nicer if we start a family area at the far out rural town where our dad’s brother, a favorite uncle, is buried. Might be another 50 years before the city encroaches on that wide open farming area.

Then walk up hill with husband, who I’m pleased to find going more often for exercise now that “sheltering in place.” He’s at high risk if infected by flu viruses, as had pneumonia twice (once from Hong Kong flu in 1968, then again from normal cold ten years later) and punctured a lung in serious car accident in 1989, so is trying to stay away from farm workers and handle work management on phone, since tells me he sees younger kids often piling into cars with older brothers and heading out towards more public areas.

Not sure the kids understand to wash hands thoroughly when return or wear something over faces when in public or if being around older people. I talked on phone to my mother yesterday and it’s clear to me that she doesn’t take seriously enough the hand washing and covering face advice needed; one reason I’m thinking about funeral and memorial service arrangements and wondering how I’ll get there if needed.

NPR was interviewing a funeral home director who made it clear that bodies do not have to be cremated, even if dying from Covid-19.

Anyway, as started back downhill and half mile from home, I realize the big white dog is not with us. Whistle and her big white body is easy to see then on hillside coming out of bushes. Am relieved to know she’s coming, as I’ve had to leave before or go try find her when she decides her “work” of chasing coyotes or digging after groundhogs is more important than my call.

I usually wait now and leash her for last quarter mile as found she heads automatically towards farm worker housing to chase chickens or towards neighboring farms where she thinks their goats should be brought back to “her” farm. I know she’d love a real job at our farm, but am not willing to take on responsibility of goats, as we’ve “been there, done that.” Never again.

Gross! So Gross!!! “Look at her,” we exclaim when see white fur covered with black and brown on back and one side. Smell something awful. Clearly she’s found something dead and maggot-y to roll in. “Get away from me,” I shriek as she heads my way, but realize I need to leash her, so hold my breath and grab collar on the clearer side.

I’ve trained her to walk close to me so I can put my hand on her back when at steep areas heading downhill where tripping is likely, so it confuses her when I now say “Out,” to move her away from me a few feet. I start jogging down hill and tell husband will get the trip over with more quickly. Ask him to please hook up the outside faucet where we have warmer water, as was turned off for winter, so I can bathe her when home.

Just another aspect of life with animals. I put her in pen with food and then head in to mix up our LIFESPAN potions and eat breakfast before tackling that nasty chore. Certainly a good task to take my mind off of possibly burying parents before expected.

Will write note to parents with safer hygiene practices in big letters and mail later; perhaps mother will keep on counter where can see and remind both when coming into house. Until next time, hoping all friends and family are washing hands and staying well!

Safety from Virus

Each morning before getting up to do yoga, I read day’s entry from THE BOOK OF AWAKENING by Mark Nepo. Lovely, poetry-like readings that remind me each day that whatever I am is okay and the only way to live a valuable life is to allow our own individual spirits to have freedom; it gives me reassurance in these strange times that this too shall pass.

Today’s entry in AWAKENING was headed We Share the Same River. The meditation at end reminds as you breathe to “feel the life of everything swell thru you.” Similar to what MINDFUL LOVING said when telling me that positive and generous and loving thoughts will go out to those around us and create a better living situation for all.

A few days ago the AWAKENING entry was topped with a quote by Rumi, “Say whatever your pained heart chooses.” That, of course, encourages me to write and keep blog alive; as for some reason I was given this mission to encourage healthier living towards the goal of better old age.

Therefore, today, here are what I think are most important few things we’ve learned about avoiding infection of coronavirus until a vaccine can be offered or enough people can be tested so we know who has anti-bodies; distilled from hours of TV, pages of Wall Street Journal and hours spent reading on-line articles.

  1. STAY HOME. If you must go out where people are, stay 6’ apart and take following precautions.
  2. WEAR A MASK whenever going to be near other people or in places they have recently been. Face covering of any kind protects both you and others. It is also an effective way to keep you from touching eyes and nose, which are said to be primary entry spots for the virus into our bodies. No mask available? Wear a bandanna, scarf, beekeeper’s helmet, camper’s insect netting. Anything to remind you not to touch eyes and nose.
  3. WASH HANDS frequently. At least EVERY TIME you enter your home from outside. My favorite way to do the recommended 20-seconds is to sing the A-B-C song. Have heard can sing Happy Birthday twice. Wearing latex gloves, if you can find them, will remind you not to touch your face; some say they are easier to wash and will protect hands from drying.
  4. KEEP AWAY FROM HOSPITAL. Only go there if you CANNOT BREATHE. Otherwise, you risk exposing self to the virus. News said that people with sore throat are thought to build up anti-bodies that can then protect lungs, so sore throat is a good sign. Until you have trouble breathing, best to stay home and treat as if you have a regular flu or cold. Those can be miserable, also, but not as deadly as Covid-19 once it gets to your lungs.
  5. DRINK WATER FREQUENTLY. Not on the usual list of things to do, but I did see it in one posting to wash germs to stomach where they can be killed, which makes sense to me. Also, frequent water drinking is mandated for better health from the Loma Linda Blue Zone people, so I have a special fondness for passing on this tip.

Time to go out now and move mules to bigger pasture turning green. They’ll enjoy that, but then my worry will be about founder. Perhaps founder is a situation that develops to tell mules to stop eating so much? If I see limping shall I just watch it and wait or take them off pasture right away? Many things to worry about with animals. Llamas are harder to catch and halter, so waiting until tomorrow to take on that chore.

Again, hoping for all I know to start yoga (which will give you the discipline to do the other healthy things), start aerobics, start core and balance exercises, start intermittent fasting, start healthier plant-based eating the Blue Zones Way and mostly, Stay Well!

Shelter-in-Place a Bit Longer

Sunday morning is for spiritual reading while fire burns cozily to take chill off sight of cold, gray day and dead brown hills out windows. Eerily quiet with shelter-in-place orders, as I’m missing the normal susurration of traffic on highways below my windows that I tell myself sounds like ocean waves to help me sleep.

I open a book received for Christmas called MINDFUL LOVING: 10 Practices for Creating Deeper Connections by Henry Grayson, PhD.

Reading first parts and finding it lovely with information about author’s journey from steady church upbringing while young (a wrathful God), his move towards atheism and agnosticism, returning to a spirituality that seems to encompass a more-loving God that he says embodied in all of us as human beings.

A different perspective than past Sundays’ book, MERE CHRISTIANITY. But both authors somewhat echo a journey I’ve felt in my life, so I’m interested in what Dr. Grayson, a marriage counselor, says next about building better relationships and stronger happier marriages. Never enough joy and happiness in these stressful times, right?

Difficult reading in first chapter as he’s citing both renowned physicists and world’s religions to show how he arrived at his understanding of our relationship with God and how we use that to help us in relationships with each other.

I leave it eventually and walk uphill with dogs as gorgeous sun comes out. So great to be breathing fresh air, seeing coyotes race across fields and green just appearing on bushes. I remind self when back to feed mules and llamas or fences will get pushed over, not quite enough grass in pasture yet.

I think while walking of response drafted to my brother’s Facebook post gently chiding me for being, perhaps, fatalistic in saying that harm to economy must be considered as well as harm to humans. Decide it can be this stand-alone blog post, since travel and time constraints have not allowed writing lately.

I’m very fortunate to have a greatly compassionate little brother, who I’ve hardly known over the years, as left home when he was only 6 years old. He’s taken on the huge responsibility of helping our “extreme”-elderly parents several times each week in recent years.

I hope he realizes that he’s very appreciated by both his siblings and his parents — from whom I’ve heard enough now about the “really good” son they raised that helps them and brings by food, as opposed (I’m hearing) to those older girls who moved away. I calm myself and know that I’m being the best daughter I’m capable of, even if not mentioned.

My brother said he thought perhaps I’d never had the flu, which is wrong — I know it makes you wish to die. One reason I get flu shots each year; many don’t. I hope to avoid flu and all other diseases of aging if at all possible. There’s no question this is a horrible situation the world finds itself in right now. Similar, though, to pandemics over the ages, which is one reason I posted that graph previously.

Perhaps nature means to wipe out some people every generation. Although, we’re hearing now that Bill Gates told us 5 years ago that this would happen. Why then, I’m wondering, didn’t he stock up on masks and ventilators to help save the world. Doesn’t he care about us as much as other places he’s spending money? Probably both he and Jeff Bezos doing more than I know.

However, to continue on-topic. I continue to see that mostly old or health-compromised people are killed by Covid-19, in numbers that don’t seem great in U.S. compared to those likely to be infected; but my brother’s right, of course, in that some younger healthy people will become ill and possibly suffer for years afterwards. Unfair things are always happening to good people; the downside of living.

Depression. Isolation. Anxiety. Suicide. Alcohol. Drugs. Domestic violence. Those kill, also. Increasing risks when jobs are closed, income is lost, retirement funds disappear, future seems so uncertain.

Maybe we’ll know enough soon to change things before the situation becomes desperate for many who are not at huge risk. Maybe we’ll be lucky and people will get in the spirit of helping all get through this situation, lessening risks of deaths from non-virus causes.

As I appreciate my BFF pointing out in same FB post, this is a perplexing situation. Therefore, many different perspectives will go into figuring out what to do; most certainly never pleasing everyone.

In the meantime, may those whom we each specifically love and want to keep safe, both old and young, somehow make it through this time.

Gov’ts Over-React to CV?

Yesterday I posted on my FB page saying this a good time for “older people” to start yoga since governments requiring citizens to shelter-in-place. Suggested that using HDMI cable to show yoga video on large-screen TV makes it much more impressive and believable, apparently, as husband got down on floor and tried to follow along. Really hard for him, like trying to bend a 2×4 he’s said in past, but I encourage keep at it as eventually may get more flexible and deep breathing very good in a time like this.

Today my sister sent me a level-headed article with nice graphs pointing out that most CV infections are mild to moderate. Asking if saving a few elderly and health-compromised people (often due to their own actions) is worth burden of debt we’ll be leaving to children and grandchildren. Seems worth sharing, so I’ve attached link at end.

Possibly healthier elders like me, with no biological children therefore no built-in reason for living, in some opinions, should volunteer for vaccine testing, but I’m not going to do it and, instead, encourage my friends to get and try stay healthier themselves, as I’m hoping we’ll all see each other somewhere on the other side of this pandemic.

Better Eating Needs Focus

Healthy eating is most difficult part of this program for me, so luckily a Blue Zones link popped up in email about Loma Linda, which I’m sharing, as has ideas about food choices. Although, truly, the Italian Blue Zone my favorite, with its sourdough bread, hard white cheese and red wine.

Jogging today was harder, since a bit off schedule during family visits. Although, I’m happy to be back to routine and during walk periods think about good examples demonstrated, with some family completely off sugar now — amazing discipline!

Other family is vegetarian and for a few days we had fake meat chili and other meals with tofu options, vegetables, oven-baked sweet potato fries and big salads. Food was delicious, but what a lot of chopping and saute-ing and so forth. Work made light by many hands, but harder to get motivation now when just two of us to feed and very hard to get husband to feel meal is complete without meat. Says the fake kind doesn’t do it for him; I tell him we must need to flavor it better.

I try to make it easy by buying packaged vegetable saute kits (really, delish!), by buying packaged salad kits, but still find myself having too many processed foods (such as, chicken burrito bowls from Costco) or, worse, Thin Mint cookies with tea each afternoon (so hard to resist and nice to help those Girl Scouts, right?)

Now the Weekend WSJ had big article telling us, pretty much, that Blue Zones way of eating, with little meat and many vegetables, is better than trying diet after diet. The article called We Actually Know What We Should Eat specifically mentions that we’d know to choose chickpeas (also known as garbanzos) over Doritos.

I cringe, as my favorite each evening while watching news is to down large amounts of tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole. Seem to crave that salt, especially with beer, and reminds me of times in Mexico, so maybe good memories help offset some badness of deep-fried item.

Did see and try a recipe which made round sweet potato slices into “healthy” chips for nachos by brushing with olive oil and baking until slightly crispy, grate some cheese over and drizzle with salsa. What a lot of work that was! Yummy, but I won’t actually do it again.

Maybe just eating in “moderation” with intermittent fasting one day a week now and moving meals to twice a day so as to fit within 10 hour period will do the job to keep us healthy and offset some of my fried food splurges.

How do others handle healthier eating? Ideas to make it easy are welcome!

Yoga Eases Anxiety

Saturday’s Weekend WSJ had wonderful article about William James, called the founding father of psychology, who wrote book in 1890. Over one hundred years ago and yet its words speak so well to helping calm today’s worries.

I hadn’t known before that it says “the Yoga discipline [may be a] methodical way of waking up deeper levels of will power than are habitually used, and thereby increasing an individual’s vital tone and energy.”

Seems perfect for me to pass on that quote and post what I’d started several days ago about anxiety. I hadn’t posted due to expecting increased anxiety if posting about my crazy unwanted mental states, although they well known by friends, so what’s to be worried about? I’d started with title at top, then written following:

Anxiety is senseless, useless, not needed, but for some there seems no way of escaping its torment. I remember while taking care of elderly over twenty years the many women with baseless frustrating anxiety; how extremely wearing and mentally challenging that was for caregivers.

I don’t want to drive others and myself crazy by being like that and must find ways to calm self; to see the “longer view” as husband says. Have read that anxiety useful in past eras to keep families safe from danger. Will appreciate some part of it, yet learn how to let it go when not helpful.

Clearly no need for me to wake each morning anxious with things needing to be done flooding through mind; anxious about parents aging and need help preparing taxes, soon help with living; anxious about getting own taxes done in time, as computer program froze, will require hours on phone, printer out of ink, so many frustrations; anxious about stupid things done in past, about making new mistakes; anxious about things said that someone took wrong, so many things to be anxious about.

Most helpful is morning yoga. To breathe in Good-good-good while inhaling deeply and breathe out very forcefully exhaling Bad-Bad-Bad. Over and over with the yoga poses. I find William James was right and finish feeling “vital tone and energy.” A better way to start each day.

Post video again for those who need a nudge to start an easy yoga routine.

Balance & Core: 8-Min Routine (Part 4)

Lots of family arriving due to holiday, so changed schedule to put aerobics a day early, then 8-minute exercise on Friday morning. No procrastination!

Very enjoyable to spend time with family and an important Blue Zones element. All left today, so finally posting actual routine. Balance first (1-1/2 minutes standing on each leg while doing different poses), planks next (1 minute each with front, side, side), then wall sit (90 seconds).


1) This first part was seen in a golf magazine and said to improve body turn and balance — Bring leg up, knee bent, to about waist high; bring leg across in front of you by keeping upper body straight and using hip swivel to help move leg across and back for 30 seconds; singing the song (see Part 3 post) makes the 30 seconds pass quickly for me with laughter. At end of 30 seconds, keeping foot off floor, grab foot with hand on same side as raised leg and move into Stork Pose.

2) Stork Pose involves holding foot off floor with hand while stretching leg back and body forward with free hand outstretched to make the stork’s head. As balance improves, move out-stretched leg and opposing out-stretched arm into different levels or positions to offset balance so body learns to correct quickly. Again, singing the song makes those 30 seconds pass quickly for me. At end of time, immediately move upraised foot into Eagle Pose.

3) Eagle Pose is to place the foot of outstretched leg behind knee of the leg anchored on ground; then raise same side arm up and out into 90 degree position, wrap other arm under the 90-degree arm and bring hand up on outside so that both hands make a form looking like the eagle’s head, i.e. body will be very straight as if being a bird on a perch surveying the landscape. Balance is very hard to maintain when first doing this pose; as balance improves, bend the knee to lower and raise the heavy body. When finished with these 30 seconds, put foot on floor and raise other leg to start with first balance exercise and go through same routine for other leg.

When finished with all three positions for both sides of body, drop to floor for core strength.

As describe in Part 2, the orthopedic surgeon had shown on his diagram F.A.C.E. the Future that planks are a valuable exercise for what he called “carry a load” and I call building core strength. I got further encouragement towards doing planks when friend told me she heard Cher saying that at age 70 she does 5 minutes of planks. You might want to do more, but I decided that my routine with 3 minutes done twice a week is sufficient for me, as follows.

Core Strength:

1) Front plank, since I started at late age, is done with forearms resting on floor, body raised to make a “plank” between the toes and upper arms/shoulder. While raising the body, tighten and pull in all of the groin area to help keep muscles around pelvis strong and help stave off the unfortunate incontinence that sometimes comes with old age; both urinary tract and rectum are helped with tightening exercise. Do one complete minute. (If younger person, you may want to do plank position with arms completely out-stretched.)

Doing a complete minute means two renditions of the 30-second song. I keep track of which rendition I’m on by having my hands balled into loose fists during first 30 seconds and then vigorously pointing fingers straight out during second 30 seconds. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to forget, when this becomes habit and your mind drifts away to other things, if you’ve already done 30-seconds or are still on first pass-through, so I suggest having a method to know.

2) Next, for side plank, roll onto one side with weight still on forearm, lift side off ground and have body make a sideways “plank” between foot on ground and upper arm/shoulder. Again, will do for one minute. To keep track of which 30-second portion I’m doing, I have foot behind leg, bring upper hand down and tap underside of waist to encourage the upheld position, and then, when starting second 30 seconds I bring foot in front of leg, raise that arm to straight up pointing towards sky, which seems to help it become stronger and feels victorious. When finished with one side, roll over and do same on other side.

3) For final core-strength exercise, the F.A.C.E the Future handout said “wall sits.” I was excited to remember I’d seen these in swimmer Diana Nyad’s book in 1980 while I was in Alaska and going to a gym provided by Arco for its employees on the North Slope. She called the exercise 90-90s, since back is against wall and lowered to position with legs at 90 degrees, then that position held for 90 seconds. For me, that means the little song is done three times.

Again, you will be surprised, but if not having something to tell you which rendition of song you are on, it is easy to forget and, to be sure you’ve done the 90 seconds, you may have to keep going. Therefore, during first 30-seconds, I tap fingers on legs, then for 2nd time, I raise hands and place arms against wall, as if in surrender (saw that as chest expansion exercise on a golfer video), then for 3rd part, I stretch the arms and hands up while still keeping shoulders against wall. Is hard!

So there you have it. An 8-minute routine to improve balance and core strength for safer aging. Or, possibly, even for greater safety while walking, skiing, riding and running at any age. Hoping some will tell me if they able to follow and have included in their own program for healthier life!

Sing in Morning: 8-Min Routine (Part 3)

Weekend guests left this morning, so yoga and exercise came after seeing them off. During yoga while breathing Good-In, Bad-Out, my mind gave memory of first on-stage duet singing experience when 7 years old. Me and my friend, adorable little blond girls both, chosen to sing Onward Christian Soldiers at our small school’s assembly (was grades 1-6, with 3 grades each room.)

I wonder what happened to that girl, as the family moved before we finished grade 6. Therefore, during my usual “procrastination period,” i.e. before starting 8-minute exercise routine, I went to computer, searched her name on Facebook and PM’d a possibly right-aged person. Justified by thinking that connections important and will be good to remind her of that early point in our lives.

Then did the 8-minute balance and core-strength routine. Felt happy while singing out loud the 30-second song for each segment; remembered, as Gretchen Rubin says in THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, that research shows singing in the morning contributes to happier start to day.

I head out for daily walk when finished with exercise, as have realized that only during walks do blog posts most reliably come to mind. Perhaps, I think, morning singing is why I’m happier during last few years, since have snail-mail song with aerobics on 3 days a week and have singing 2 days a week during the 8-minute exercise routine. That leaves 2 days without any morning singing. What shall I do on those days?

Our house guests introduced a lovely song at dinner each of 3 nights. Something from her religious tradition, my friend said; it was like a prayer before the meal. I believe words were, “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; we ask the Lord’s blessing on all that we do.”

I decide, since husband and I not usually having formal sit-down dinners except if company present, that I’ll make that blessing song part of drinking the morning potion of NMN & Resveratrol. Probably good to have a blessing on that experimental new routine.

However, now will start on Part 3 of the 8-Minute Balance and Core-Strength Routine’s post by giving you the 30-second song I use, repeated over and over during each segment of the routine. It’s the easy-to-sing Battle Hymn of the Republic. More familiar to you, possibly, when I say it starts out, “Mine eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of the Lord…..”

I slightly revise it to words that I remember (even if wrong), by continuing, “He is trompling out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored.” Then, have never known correct words for the next part, so I sing, “Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-the-mighty-sword, His truth is marching on.” Then the course, known to everyone: “Glory, glory, Hallelujah. Glory, glory, hallelujah. Glory, glory, hallelujah, His truth is marching on.”

If sung at the pace the writer intended (by listening to Johnny Cash sing it on YouTube), it goes excruciatingly slowly and lasts a full minute. Therefore, I speed it up to the pace I’ve always known, which makes it last exactly 30-seconds. Proven by watching second hand on clock many times while doing wall sit, which will be described in Part 4.

Therefore, practice this song to get ready for Part 4, which will describe each segment of the routine and while doing it, you will sing this 30-second song exactly 15 times to get you through the entire routine. Actually, only 7-1/2 minutes of exercise. All the best, until next time!

Note: As said previously, if helping children do balance exercises, you can use a song they like better and if sung slowly it will last 30 seconds, which is the Do-Re-Mi song from Sound of Music.

Better Sleep for Energy

Aerobics this morning, the snail-mail song keeps my legs going up hills, which pleases me. During walk portions when other thoughts allowed, I realize still difficult to finish the “Balance and Core-strength” post, as will take too much time to get it just right. What is good subject for today?

Decide again on topic from THE HAPPINESS PROJECT. Author’s first subject, titled Boost Energy (Vitality), is where she talks about needing better sleep for more energy. She says she’s going to bed at 9:30p, which doesn’t seem to work for me, as 10:30 is earliest can seem to manage. Can I do something to sleep all night and even a bit longer in the morning? As read so often and again there— darken the room.

Even though our bedroom seemed dark now since closing blinds and pulling across the lightweight curtains, I realized there was still light coming thru on bright moon nights or even from lights passing by on roads or from neighborhood streetlights. Then, as days get longer, the most powerful light of all was seeping ever more early thru my blinds.

I’d struggled to pull across the older style curtains and since they not doing the job completely, I searched for and found an easier-to-slide style with darker, heavier fabric. Have linked it here in case others need.

Two weeks now and it seems to be working as planned. I’m sleeping through night more often and waking naturally at 6:30a, when I fling curtains aside to let natural light come it so as to wake husband; crops may be resting for the winter, but still plenty of home projects for him to take care of.

Question is, do I actually feel any better? Hard to know, as still exhausted towards 5 p.m. Okay, since that’s the time for happy hour, right? Will accept it and appreciate having more energy in the mornings.

Passion/Purpose Similar?

Reading The Happiness Project early this morning and in chapter titled Pursue a Passion, i.e. shall you find and follow yours for happier life, the author is saying that she wrote each day during that month (September for her) and by end had created a novel of over 50,000 words. She tells about a book that outlines how to do it. Not sure if I want that book or that project; although reminded me that an important Blue Zones longevity element is purposeful living.

I can see my sister doing the novel-in-30-days, as since retiring, she’s become a published writer of poetry and already produced her memoir, so another book would probably be easy for her, but what about me?

I’ve no interest in writing a novel, but is a memoir something I want to do or would simply posting smaller writings each day on the blog be more enjoyable and create a sort of late-life memoir along the way?

Yes, I think so — that’s what I’ll do. Fits better with my unexpected newer passion of encouraging people to join me in a 40-Year Experiment to be Healthy2aHundred; or even, since now part of David Sinclair’s LIFESPAN experiment, perhaps even healthy, he says, to 120.

Is more fun if other people join and tell me when they’re trying new healthy things, but it seldom happens. I wonder, do people feel they jinx themselves if saying will be healthy to 120?

I’m a fatalist, as more likely to think that whatever is meant to be will be, and yet, also a dreamer, believing firmly that affirmations have directed my life towards good things imagined. What about you?