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.