On to 2023 and Turning 80… Yikes!

Years that end in three have a special significance to me. They mean another decade has rolled by. I was born on March 3rd, 1943. According to the issue of Life Magazine for that week, Americans and Australians were duking it out with the Japanese at the Battle of Bismarck Sea, Westinghouse was firing frozen chickens at airplane windows, and women were wearing bow ties as a fashion statement. None of these events registered on my young mind. Looking back however, I would have loved to have seen the frozen chicken splat test. World War II was winding down when this photo was taken. I’m the little tyke, age 2, on the right. Next to me is my brother Marshall and my sister Nancy. The tall guy is my father; the short woman my mother.

Ever since that fateful day in 1943 when chickens were being sacrificed for the cause, I’ve been doing what comes naturally: Aging. Mainly, I have refused to let that slow me down. None-the-less, there are certain aspects of the process that are impossible to avoid. Some of them, I have captured in the cards I create. Any hares I have misrepresented, I have totally done so on purpose.

You know you are growing older when:

Cartoon on aging by Curt Mekemson.
Grey hares start showing up in your bath tub…
Ugly grey hares insist on hanging out of your nose and ears…
Receding Hare line cartoon by Curt Mekemson.
You develop a receding hare line.

Other aspects of aging are more personal.

Your vision isn’t what it once was…
The trees you climb are smaller…
Parties that go on into the wee hours are a thing of the distant past. Unless, of course, we are at Burning Man.

“What?” is heard around here a lot. Flexibility, strength, and balance are also on the line. As the world renown Sci-Fi Fantasy author, Ursula K. Le Guin, noted in her book, No Time to Spare, “If I’m ninety and believe I am forty five, I’m headed for a very bad time getting out of the bathtub.” No doubt about it. I’d like to counter that, however. If you are forty five and behave like you are ninety, you are in much worse trouble. Admittedly, Peggy and I tend to push the envelope when it comes to ‘age-related’ activities. I didn’t encounter any other 75-year-olds on my 750 mile backpack trip down the Pacific Crest Trail. Peggy, who was 68 at the time, backpacked 300 of the miles with me. Our adventures continue. The two of us just completed a 12,000 mile trip around the US pulling a trailer and dodging things like buffalo and tornados. We tried to keep our speed at 65 or under. Iorek, our powerful F-150, would speed up to 70 if we didn’t pay attention. Once, when we were having a serious discussion about the sex lives of prairie dogs, I looked down and he was going 80.

I realize we are lucky health-wise. Part of the reason is we live an active life style and practice moderation in eating and other lifestyle choices. More importantly, from my perspective, is maintaining a ‘can do’ attitude and filling our time with things we have fun doing, look forward to, and contribute something back to the community, even if it’s nothing more than giving people a laugh when they are reading our blogs, or inspiring them to try something new.

I just spent the last week working on my plans for the year, as I do every New Year. To bring Le Guin back into the equation, there is no time to spare. This is certainly true for a soon-to-be 80 year old. But it is also true for anyone. Life’s short. Once again, we are planning lots of travel. We will be celebrating my birthday on a riverboat chugging up the Nile River in Egypt. It’s been on my bucket list forever. Trips to Mexico, the eastern Canadian Provinces, Hawaii and the big game parks in Africa are also on our agenda. Thinking of big game parks, I just thought of another card. A lion is staring out across the Serengeti Plains which is filled with really evil looking gnus. His comment: “Bad gnus, bad gnus— everywhere I look, bad gnus.” A sign of the times.

Writing, card development, and photography will continue to be central to what I do. As in the past, I will share much of it on our blog. It is my intention to get back to revising and writing my books: The Bush Devil Ate Sam, and Bear Tales. Both came to a halt with our move this past year. Peggy is helping with the blog, working on a quilt for her niece, and a word search book that will feature petroglyphs. Family and friends will also be a focus. G’ma and G’pa will be kept busy. With a little luck, I will also get into mischief. I usually do. Check with my lawyer. Our daughter Tasha, gave this to me for Christmas.

54 thoughts on “On to 2023 and Turning 80… Yikes!

  1. Loved the drawings of the hare.. very much typical for our age.. life must go on to follow the hare.. love your blogs..please add pictures of your quilt you are by making while Curt climbs trees..
    Linda Rakela
    RV friend and Quilter
    Rocklin Ca

  2. Wishing you a wonderful year Curt.
    We are lucky to be here and able to move on. Too many do not have that privilege; I just received the obituary for a high school classmate who was looking great when we saw him in October.

    • We are lucky, Ray. My sister’s husband passed way last week and my sister in 2022. My brother four years ago. I’m the last man standing, so to speak, in my family. I plan to keep on appreciating the fact that I am able to ‘move on.’ –Curt

  3. Your big 8-0 is sneaking right up on you. I couldn’t believe it when I saw this. Wasn’t it just last year you went hiking to celebrate your 75th? Yikes! is the only way to put it, but you sure look good!!

  4. Seventy-five is creeping up on me, and that number is unreal on so many levels. Happily, I still feel like there is lots more to experience and enjoy in life. I can joke about mortality and not fear the ending of my story because I have no regrets.

  5. So glad to hear how eagerly you are embracing a year with 80 in it! Congratulations on your attitude and perspective, and happy birthday in March. I know three other people with birthdays on March 3, so you make #4. What a fun year ahead that you have planned! Kellen and I were on the Nile, and I decided that I actually do like cruises, as long as they are in a river. It is just marvelous to watch the world go by from the upper deck, like you did in Germany. Big wildlife on the African continent is another of my biggest travel dreams, so I am eager to hear from you both once you get to experience that one. This year we only have Mexico planned, and my travel buddy Margaret might tempt me to Serbia and Montenegro, but otherwise, I do not know what travel I’ll engage in during 2023. Soon enough, I’ll find out though. Receding hareline….funny.

    • Darn, Crystal, only #4 on your March 3 list. And here I wanted so much to be #1. Grin. We are eager for the Nile trip. I have been working my way through the details. I remember talking to you about your trip. As for the big game parks. Considering I was last there in 1965, it’s probably time. What are your plans for Mexico? We are looking for a non-touristy small beach town. Do such places still exist?

  6. Wow, the time flies really fast, it was like yesterday when you hiked PCT on the 75. But I’m glad you have wonderful plans for 2023, wishing you best of health, and fun, to both of you!

  7. It shocked me a bit to read that you’re going to be 80. Then, I realized that I’ll be turning 76, my two best friends are 85 and 93 respectively, and we’ll all chugging on, in our way. And of course there’s the locally famous fisherman who’s still at it despite being 89; he wears a tee shirt that say, “Carpe Carp.”

    I’m reading more and more articles about the important role that optimism and a positive attitude play in healthy aging, and you and Peggy sure could be the poster kids for that approach. Best wishes for the coming year, to you both: after all, Peggy’s the one who has to put up with your shenanigans!

    • Peggy just said she likes my shenanigans. 🙂 And I’m not alone in that department, Linda. Laughing. And I agree that attitude and optimism have an important role to play.
      One of my all time favorites in the growing old with grace category was Orvis Agee, my backpacker on the Sierra Trek who started backpacking with me at 70 and did his last trek at 87. I’ve always held him up as an inspiration. The 87 Trek was Peggy’s first.

  8. Folks like you are an inspiration when folks like me (a mere almost 66) feel a little creaky. If you and Peggy can do it, I can’t justify just sitting on my laurels.

    Although that seems like an odd thing to sit on in any case.

  9. Yes, and may the adventures keep coming for you, Peggy and bone. Age hardly ever enters my mind and at 82 feel as normal as I did at 81 or 18. One keeps going upright as much as possible. As the Greek Theodorakis danced and said, “Strose to stroma sou”.

    • I had to look that one up, Gerard. 🙂 Agreed. But hopefully without fitted sheets. Grin. Thanks. We will continue having adventures of some kind or the other as long as nature allows!

  10. My Mom just turned 80 in December and we celebrated with a painting party since she loves art. Not sure that what I created while sipping cabernet could be classified as art, but we all had fun. Hope you have a blast observing this milestone!

  11. Curt, they say age is all in the mind and therefore you are still that little tyke! Your adventurous positive spirit will never allow you to grow old, yes, the numbers go up somehow, perhaps the trees you can climb are slightly shorter than before but wow, what an incredible year of travelling! I am in awe of you both and what amazing sights you’ve seen and fantastic experiences of you’ve had – you have no time to grow old!

    Good luck with your book revisions / rewriting, Curt!

    Wishing you and Peggy a fabulous 2023! 😀

  12. Happy Almost Birthday, Curt! You are a great role model for aging and what it does and doesn’t mean for us. My parents are 90 and 91, and they have used the same method as you for staying young: never stopping the adventure! Here’s to many more for you – supervised and unsupervised – especially that awesome trip to Egypt!

    • Thanks. Lexi! 🙂
      Being active and having things to look forward to definitely helps. Can’t discount luck either. We realize how fortunate we are. Here’s hoping we do as well as your parents. And I am excited about Egypt!

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