Anne Notations

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Nana is snoring

Lately I am either anxious or asleep. Or, in the case of some recent nightmares, both.

Small pleasures, part 1: Feeding wild birds in the winter is relaxing for me in somewhat the same way as puttering in my gardens in the summer. Even the commonplace sparrows, which dominate my mixed-seed and sunflower-seed feeders, delight the eye and ear. When we sit in our sunny living room on a bright winter day, the birds alighting on feeders outside cast flickering shadows.

The squirrels amuse me now that I've squirrel-proofed all the feeders and they are reduced to ground-feeding on whatever spills, or finding frozen berries.

Related avian pleasure: Puffy, the gorgeously colored rescued adult parakeet (at right) who joined our Blueberry after Chip, his former cage companion, died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve. They are quite happy together, and like to "talk" about it.

Rant: In today's Parade magazine, an article points out that women's heart health is relatively uncharted territory. For example, taking aspirin every day (which I've done for the past five years at my doctor's request) is a much more effective heart-attack preventive for men than for women. Ditto many drugs. My BP is good and my cholesterol excellent (yay for good genes), but my CRP reading is terrifyingly high. Which leads me to the rant part of this: I am only 57, but I feel as if I, and other baby boomers, live each day with the shadow of doom over our heads. We know too much, in a way, about health risk factors. We read too much about prevention only to read a year later that the earlier findings were wrong. Do eat this. Don't eat it! Exercise. Wait – only strenuous exercise for 90 minutes at least five times a week makes any difference. Eat margarine, not butter. Wait – margarine has bad trans-fats; butter is actually preferable. Eat olive oil. But remember that all fats add 100 calories per tablespoon. Etc. Etc.

My grandparents lived to 88 and 95. They had some health issues along the way, but I can't imagine they began living in fear in their 50s that their breakfast ham and eggs was going to kill them, possibly soon. Grandma never jogged or did water aerobics (the very idea is laughable); she did adapt her diet after age 70 or so to offset type 2 diabetes – successfully. But this wasn't something she was dreading in her 40s and 50s, as I have ever since I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant.

I realize, intellectually, that blissful ignorance can be risky. I know that health experts and medical journalists have only the best intentions in publicizing what they know. But every once in a while, I wish I knew less.

Small pleasures, part 2: Kozy Shack Flan single-serving desserts. Heavenly.

The economy: It sucks. In May Michael will have been unemployed for two years. He is getting interviews but no call-backs. The Sunday classified job section has shrunk from its normal three to four pages of listings to a half-page or less. My own employer is eying staff cuts. Economists can't seem to agree. Are we inching into a depression now? Already there? Will the markets begin to recover this summer? In three years?

I could not have imagined as a young person just how much I would care about my children's lives and welfare, even after they became adults. Whether they're experiencing good (exciting, cool) things or struggling, I am right there with them emotionally. It's exhausting to care this much! Before we had full-time kids, in my late 30s, I had been a prolific writer of magazine features, profiles, and news stories. I worked at this full-time and freelanced on the side. I won awards for my articles.

Within a year of adopting three children, and certainly after giving birth to a fourth, I noticed that I struggled with the longer feature medium. Eventually I became more editor than writer. It was very clear to me at the time that much of my creative energy was re-routed to solving the puzzle of parenting. To caring. I rarely have the energy to write in this blog, but when I do, it's wonderful to find that zone again.

Small pleasures, part 3: Snow. This year we've had a real winter like those I recall as a child in New England and Illinois. We've had snow on the ground for at least a month, with modest snowstorms almost weekly to replenish it, and cold temperatures. It's pretty. The reflected light is bright. It wins hands-down over depressing brown lawns and shrubs.

Another small pleasure, every Friday: our three-year-old granddaughter. Sometimes I doze off while reading her book after book – last Friday it was The Little Engine That Could, seven times – but Caroline takes my unscheduled mini naps in stride and plays with her toys until I come to. Once I awoke to hear her commenting matter-of-factly, "Nana is snoring."

Our winter sunsets are an enduring source of awe.


  • Reading your posts is a source of nourishment for me. Happy, sad, honest,and real,your writing means a lot to me. This post was a great one.

    I wonder about people from the old days who lived long. Take George Burns and Henny oungman...please. Take Abe Vigoda, still going at 87.

    I also wonder about the findings that change from day to day, the fads thesefindings promt that quickly fade away.

    I hate to use a cliche' but we just have to do our best to walk the straight and narrow. (My favorite story about a cliche' is tha Dorothy Parker had a hard time thinking of an original name for her dog,ntil she decided to name him Cliche'.)

    Keep up the good writing. One day maybe you'll cull a book from these excellent posts.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Mon Feb 02, 07:44:00 PM EST  

  • During these times, it's important to see and appreciate those small pleasures; I know they keep me from sliding down into the dumps. (And I'm going to try those single-serving flans!)

    By Blogger bozoette, at Tue Feb 03, 10:36:00 AM EST  

  • Thanks, you guys.

    Neil, I love the story about Dorothy Parker's dog named Cliché.

    Mary, the thing with those flans ... "You can't eat just one."

    By Blogger Anne D., at Tue Feb 03, 01:21:00 PM EST  

  • You forgot about beta carotene which they're now saying *causes* cancer. Anyway, it's not just the babyboomers hearing all of this--it's every member of any generation who's alive right now. I don't know how much it's worth, but I have decided that the best way to eat and live is probably to do so as close to nature as possible. Whole grains are better than refined starches and sugars, for example. When I eat like that, I also really shape up. Olive oil is certainly good; I think the point they are trying to make is that overall fat intake should be controlled, and what extra fat you DO take (outside of what's already in other things like your meat portions) should be good fat like olive oil. I can go days without eating butter or margarine, so I don't even care about that debate. I think if you stick with nature and really vary your diet (so there won't be too much of any one thing) you'll do a great job. Wish I had time for more--I have to deal with some fussiness in the other room.

    By Blogger Karen, at Thu Feb 05, 10:00:00 AM EST  

  • Your parakeets are beautiful! I was lucky to live with a pair back before video cameras came along but their antics have thankfully stayed with me. You remember Weebles, right? One time my birds figured out they could fit into a Weeble swingset I had and from that day on it was theirs. :)

    Yay for small pleasures to keep us going! *hugs*

    By Blogger BrideOfPorkins, at Thu Feb 12, 07:01:00 PM EST  

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