Half a century

Last week I turned 50.  That’s older than I ever imagined being, and it’s older than I imagine I am.  Maybe that’s because I think of 50 as old but I don’t think of myself as old.

50 years is both a long period of time and a short one.

It’s funny to look back.  I don’t really think of a time before computers and after.  Computers didn’t meaningfully  exists – to me – until I was about 12.  Maybe that’s too young to matter.  Cell phones didn’t exist until I was about 30.  I don’t really think of a time before cell phones and a time after – they are just something that happened along the way.  I do distinctly remember being handed a cell phone and not knowing how to use it.

It’s funny the things that happened that I don’t think about.  Everyone knows that cell phones are recent.  But I mentioned to a “young” co-worker that I skied growing up and he asked if I meant skiing or snow boarding.  I explained that snow boarding did not exist – and that was a revelation to him.  Is that what it is to be old?  To know when things came into being?  To have experienced transitions that younger folks don’t realize happened?

Looking externally, the world has changed much more and much less than one might hope.  Growing up, the threat of nuclear annihilation was absolutely real.  Just a given.  Not so much any more.  Russia was the big enemy.  Germany was divided.  South Africa was under apartheid.  None of that was going to change without a lot of bloodshed.  But it all did and with practically none.  When I was born we were at war with Vietnam.  Nobody had walked on the moon.  The world population was about 3.5 billion.

The year before I was born – 1967 – there were still 15 states with ‘Anti-miscegenation laws’ (barring interracial marriage).  Which is crazy from both perspectives.  As a nation we argue about the validity of complaints about the treatment of people of color, but anyone older than 60 can remember a time where it was illegal in about 1/3 of the states to marry someone ‘of the wrong race’.  On the one hand it’s nice to think we should just get over it.  On the other hand it’s shocking to think that we should already be over it.

50 years before I was born it was 1918.  It was WWI.  Airplanes were brand spanking new.  Automobiles were very recent.  Nobody had climbed Mt. Everest.  Television was not a thing.  Plastics were not a thing.  Interracial marriage was illegal in most states (which  did not yet include Hawaii & Alaska).  Women did not yet get to vote nationally.  The theory of continental drift was roundly rejected (pun intended).  The world population was about 1.9 billion.

There are people that are 100 years old.

150 years ago – just 3 of my lives back to back – it was 1868.  5 years into the reconstruction after the American civil war.  Radio is not yet invented.  The electric bulb is not yet invented.  I guess people read a lot.

This country is just short of 250 years old.  That seems like a long time, and maybe it is.  But it’s just 5 of my life spans back to back.  Maybe I’m old and that’s a really long time.  But that’s not how I feel.  I feel like there have been a lot of changes very very recently and we really don’t have all that much experience.

I look back and I’m impressed with all the progress we’ve made.  I’m aghast at where we started.  I’m shocked at how well things are going in general.  I’m frustrated that they aren’t going better.  I’m hopeful because we haven’t all killed each other and in general most  things really do seem to be going in the right direction.  Slowly, and yet insanely quickly.

Is being old the ability to blather on for a long time?  If so, I’ve been old for a while 🙂

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Our Gracie

Today we lost our beloved cat, Gracie.

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She was always a fiercely independent cat, and you all know how she came and went as she pleased.  She would sometimes go on walkabout, and stay away from home for 24+ hours a few times a year, usually when the weather turned nice in the spring or summer.  We would always worry about her, but she always came back to us, and acting nonchalant about it.

She came home late last night, having been gone about 36 hours, but this time, something was wrong – she wasn’t eating and looked tired.  We  took her to the vet first thing this morning, and turns out she was in extreme kidney failure.  She got rapidly worse even after they tried to give her some fluids, and the vet said some of her kidney numbers were so high they were off the charts, and her chances of recovery were very slim.  We know Gracie would never want a life filled up with medications and vet appointments, and so we made sure she was comfortable and brought her home.

Gracie first showed up in our life about 8 years ago, she was probably a few years old by that time and had been abandoned and living rough.  She was a wary cat, who was happy to be being fed, but took her time warming up and learning to trust us.  We let her call the shots as a rule  (no picking up!  no touching of feet!) and she was more affectionate every  year.  She loved spending time with us, corralling us for yard patrol, hanging out on the sofa in the evenings, or coming in to say midday hellos to Kurt working from home.  She’d taken to welcoming  Ellyn at the head of the driveway every night when she got home from work.  She was even friendly to house guests in the last few years.

Looking back at the last few weeks, we imagine there might have been some subtle signs she was feeling off, but we’re really not sure.  Tuesday morning before work Ellyn caught her doing her sun salutation routine, and they had a nice chat.  And that night she slept with us in our bed, which is pretty rare for her.  We’re so grateful some of our last memories with her were so mundane and happy.  We laid her to rest at the edge of the pomegranate bush, which was one of her favorite napping spots.
We’re glad to have been able to share our home and life with her.  She was an excellent cat.  We will miss her a lot.
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Just passing through

My parents have both moved to San Luis Obispo.  They’re now within 3 miles of home.  I’m hard pressed to come up with a reason to stop in Los Angeles anymore.

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The Werle homestead of 44 years

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A SLO week

We had a really fun week. We visited two restaurants in town that we’d never (in 10 years) eaten at, and we went down to Vandenberg to watch a SpaceX launch.

The first restaurant is Koberl at Blue.  It’s one of the fanciest places in town.  We’d stopped to look at the menu several times and the vegetarian options were few-to-non-existent, so we’d always gone elsewhere.  This time we’d set out for elsewhere and it was closed for good, so decided to take another look – and now they have a full page of vegetarian options!  Dinner was yummy.  Ellyn’s wine was yummy.  Dessert was yummy.  Next time we’re feeling very fancy it will certainly be an option.

The second restaurant is Oasis.  It’s a Moroccan styled restaurant and we’d taken away from it once before, but never dined in.  Oh – and I’ve often bought from their stand at the farmers’ market (which is right in front of their place).  Honestly, I can’t say why we’d never been in.  Ellyn’s sister and her beaux are visiting this weekend, and since we went to Morocco with them last year, it seemed like the thing to do.  And it was!  The food was really good.  We’ll be back!

Friday morning we headed down toward Surf Beach to watch the launch from complex 4.  It’s just a bit over an hour south of SLO.  We weren’t sure where exactly we would park, but it became obvious about a mile from the beach that we had arrived.  It was really cool to see the mix of folks that show up for a launch.  Across from us was a Tesla, and behind that was a Harley Davidson.  There were folks in campers, there were kids in pajamas (launch was at 7:17AM).  It was awesome.

 

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The lunar eclipse

Ellyn and I got up early the other week to see the lunar eclipse.  For us it was about 5AM – though Ellyn had had trouble sleeping and got up a couple of times before that.  We went outside for about 15 minutes and had a bit of a magical viewing.  The moon didn’t change much during that time, but there was a shooting star right next to it that we both saw, and one of the local barn owls (who we often hear screeching). swooped through the neighbor’s yard right below the moon.  And we’re having a ridiculously warm spring, so it was probably in the mid 60’s – but no sign of the fog that we often have in the morning hours.  All in all, pretty awesome.

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Not my picture

Ellyn named Moonface nearly a decade ago.  I never saw it.  But after the eclipse it makes more sense to me.

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Hawaii again!

We had a great time in Hawaii the other week.  We’ve been back there a few times, but this was the first time we returned to the big island.  We first visited not all that long after we started going out 25 years ago (this month)!

The elements conspired against us in a couple of ways.  Our scheduled helicopter ride got rained out.  And the lava – which had been flowing freely to the ocean for more than a year – mostly dried up about 3 weeks before we arrived.

Other than that we had a fantastic time snorkeling, visiting volcano national park, checking out the jungles and waterfalls – all the things!  We spent a couple of days in Kona, a couple in Volcano (the town), and a few in Hilo.

 

 

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Practice trip

We went to Hawaii last week with a couple we know from college.  It was awesome.  One of the things we planned on doing was a helicopter ride.  It didn’t happen because of weather.

It had us worried because Ellyn gets motion sick – and we didn’t want to find out that helicopters were really bad when flying with friends (and strangers – which happens on these tours).  So we booked a short test flight in SLO a few weeks ago to make sure – the Nine Sisters Tour with Helipro.  They were totally cool and assured us if there was any problem for her they could just turn back immediately (since it was just us two).  Turns out they are totally fine for her!  I compared it to riding a swing.  Some folks say it’s like a bus.

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