Age, A Passing Fancy

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

A couple of days back, we had an intruder in our house. Nothing bad came from it, just some rocked perspectives and tainted illusions. So, what happened? I’m gonna tell ya. We have this full length mirror on the back side of a door, and I seldom ever use it. Not that I don’t need to, it’s just that as I’ve gotten older, and have left the work force, I just don’t care what I look like. I attend a country church, and if I were to wear something besides blue jeans I would stand out. Few shirts don’t go with blue jeans. So, it’s not that I don’t care what I look like or dress like, it’s that on the average day the only person that ever sees me is the lady at the post office, and she doesn’t care either.

Back to the intruder. I happen to walk by this mirror, and without paying attention, I realized there was an old guy in our house that was dressed just like me. I backed up, looked, and wondered, what happened? Who was that old guy in a camoflauged t-shirt, a pair of blue jeans that should have been replaced last summer, a grey beard and a bald head? I don’t know what happened. So he and I stood there and talked for a while. That guy is really funny, smart and good looking, too. Then I realized I was looking at the picture of my brother on the wall. Ok. Back to reality. I’m pushing 65 years old and live out in the middle of no where. Over the last 25 to 30 years I have had multiple surgeries, big surgeries. Most recently it was having my lower back repaired. I just can’t do what I used to do. So, looking at the bell curve of my life, I can tell by the slope that I’m not going to be doing more in the future, but I’ll be doing less.

Let me talk about that a little bit. When I was much younger, about the time Fern and I got married, I was around 30+ years old. All of my tools were hand tools. I did not own an electric tool, or one that used an air compressor. When I needed to cut a sheet of plywood, I grabbed the old crosscut/rip saw and went to town. Time goes faster if you know the words to Row, Row, Row Your Boat. If you’ve ever used a handsaw, then you’ll know what I mean. All of the holes I drilled were done with a brace and bit. And I’m one of those kind of fellas that knows how to use a jack plane. Good tools will last you a life time. Always buy quality tools.

But, my right elbow? It’s not going to last a life time. It blew out sometime when I was around 40, I guess. So cutting a sheet of plywood and singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat, were out of the question. Off to Sears we go, remember, always buy good tools. Sears used to make first class, quality tools, key word there is used to. I got a half horse skill saw, a half horse hand drill, and I’ve still got them today, and I still use them when I have heavy cutting needs. Battery operated tools hadn’t rolled around yet. A few years later, Fern and I were going to build a house. Well, I can’t drive nails anymore because of my elbow. I discovered the benefits of an air compressor, remember, good tools. That Stanley nail gun, pop, pop, pop? Framing is done, walls are up, that half inch crown stapler, all the sheathing is up, even used it to attach all the shingles. See where things are going here?

Let me regress a little bit. My earlier piece of property out in the middle of no where… know all those corner posts that you have to put in the ground? That’s where your post hole digger comes in handy. You do know what a post hole digger is, don’t you? I’ve still got one, not exactly sure where it is, but I’ve got one. Now when I need to put a post in the ground, I use my tractor with an auger implement. When you guys are thinking about buying a tractor, you can’t buy too big of a tractor, but you can buy one that is too small. Some free advice here. When you have decided on the perfect tractor to meet your needs, now we’re not talking about plowing 5000 acres here, we’re talking about homestead tractors. Okay, when you’ve got that perfect sized tractor you want, get the next bigger size. You will be thankful. And I hate it when people say this, but, trust me.

Back to the story here. We got our house built. I’m now using electric tools, air compressors, life’s pretty good. Occasionally my elbow will flare up, an ice pack, a heating pad and a bunch of Motrin, a couple of days later, it almost works. About that time I decide to rupture a disc in my neck. No more post hole diggers. About three or four months later, I decide to have a hernia repaired. No more 80 pound bags of RediMix. And I’m just 36 years old. But I’ve still got a lot of life to live, and I want to live it. Some of my dates here may be a little off, but just pretend that it’s an official government financial report, dates and figures don’t really mean anything, now do they. Battery operated tools are starting to show up on the scene about this time. But if you try to drill a 5/8 inch hole in a six inch deep post with the new battery operated drills, it just ain’t gonna happen. Well, why don’t I use my electric half horse Sears drill? Because I don’t have an extension cord 1000 feet long. So, the brace and bit comes out of retirement and still works great. Only problem is, the next day, here comes the ice pack, the heating pad and the Motrin, because my elbow and the muscles in my neck are not happy at all.

Let’s say now I’m pushing about 50 years old. Fern and I get this wild idea to go back to Alaska, you know, where life is easy. The first couple of months were, until I was life flighted out of Barrow, Alaska compliments of the North Slope Borough and a Lear jet. But that’s a different story. Life went pretty good for four or five years in Alaska. We lived in remote places that were fairly modern. Snow built up, somebody comes along with a plow and pushes it out of the way for you. But then we get this job offer for me to be a principal in extremely remote western Alaska, right at the mouth of the Yukon River. Well, been there about six months, life is going about as good as can be expected, and I injure my lower back, a school related injury. That was about nine years ago now, and I’ve been suffering with that thing for nine years. But that doesn’t mean that the snow didn’t get shoveled, because somebody has to shovel it. In teeny, weeny bush Alaska, when you are the principal, that means you are also the cook, the maintenance man, and any other job that someone doesn’t show up for that day.

Did you know that the wind blows everyday in western Alaska? Which means that the snow you shoveled yesterday, is still there the next morning. And the morning after that, and the morning after that, and everyday for, give or take, five months. I’ll address that more in just a minute. So, Fern and I did that for two years, and I figured I have shoveled enough snow in my life. Then we got us a couple of cushy jobs in another city school and my snow shoveling days were over. Except, of course, when you wanted to drive your car somewhere, and you have to shovel the snow to make a path to get your car out. The folks in the south won’t relate to this, but the folks up far north will. Did you know people actually carry snow shovels in their car?

We moved to Oklahoma about six years ago. My snow shovel is now called a feed scoop. When it does snow here I can normally sweep it off of the porch with a broom. Let me put this together for you now. I recently had lower back surgery to repair an injury I received about eight years ago. I had a ruptured disc repaired in my neck about 30 years ago, now. I’ve had two hernias repaired, and if I do anything orbital or repetitive with my right arm, then it will mean hours with a heating pad and Motrin to pacify my elbow. I’m now almost 65 years old.

I read lots of survival type stories. Most of them are just technical type manuals that have had a story line added to it. I read lots of them. Most of the characters in these novels are 25 to 35 years old. Most of them have retreats somewhere, and the story is normally about how they get there. Some of these stories are quite realistic, quite a few of them deal with zombies, not quite realistic. Remember that age group, 25 to 35, because when I was 35, or right close to it, I still used all non-electric hand tools. Most of these people in these novels are young, athletic, some type of super hero that has served in the military, and they seem to have a knowledge about life that few attain at that age.

When we left Alaska about six and a half years ago, we thought about moving to the mountainous northwest. Fern has a cousin that lives in central Idaho, and we talked about it a great deal. Then we talked about our age, better yet, my age. A couple of years earlier I had shoveled snow, everyday, month after month, for a couple of years. And if you’ve never shoveled snow everyday, then you just don’t know one of the pleasures of life that you’re missing. A little humor there. I love the northwest, and I love the ruggedness of the mountains. And I loved Alaska down to the very core of my being. But those are places for younger people. Now, if I was born and raised there, I would probably see it different. We have friends that live there, in the northwest. 

But we are all getting older. That’s one thing that’s guaranteed if you survive birth, you are going to get older. Let that reality sink in. It’s not just a quaint little statement. You and I are both going to get older. We all live in the moment, and for the moment. If you’re 25 now, in 40 years you’re going to be 65. That’s a long time to plan ahead, but where you’re going to spend

the rest of your life, sometime or another you have to give serious thought to where you are. Remember that intruder I told you about? What I feel in my spirit is not the man that I was looking at in the mirror. But my body is that man in the mirror. We all have to face the reality that we are getting older, whether we’re 25, 45 or 65. At my age now, I actually give thought to wheelchair ramps. If someday I can’t walk, will I be able to get into my bathroom? Because the first time I landed in Alaska, I was 20 years old. That was 45 years ago. I went back when I was 40 and spent one year. I went back to Alaska when I was 50 and spent eight years. Getting around Alaska in a wheelchair in the winter would be very, very difficult. Someday, I may be in a wheelchair, and someday, you may be in a wheelchair, too. Are you sure you are where you want to be? We had a couple of students in Alaska in wheelchairs. I know, I helped carry some of those wheelchairs. If times are good, that can be done. If something changes or there is a turn where we see changes in society, and you’re the one in the wheelchair, are you sure you’re where you want to be? Serious food for thought.

My post hole digger is now attached to a tractor. I seldom use a shovel anymore, but I do use a front end loader. I now have a set of battery operated tools, because I have not driven a nail in years. Everything I have built in the last six years has been built using screws. I mow my lawn with a brush hog. I am dependent on tools. So, how am I going to recharge those batteries for my battery operated tools? The same way I’m going to listen to my radios, with a solar deep cycle battery system. Are these going to last forever? No, not at all. Am I going to last forever? Not at all. And neither are you.

Give some thought to getting older. Have a serious, realistic talk with your loved ones. You might even want to plan where you’re going to spend your last resting place. I hope I’ve opened up some avenues for thought. Times are not going to be getting any better any time soon, and you and I are not going to be getting any younger.

We’ll talk more later. Frank

30 thoughts on “Age, A Passing Fancy

  1. M.E. Sorry about your husband's injuries. After a period of time, I seldom notice that I have slowed down, it just becomes a part of everyday life. One more reason to have goats. Next time you go to a rodeo, notice the age group of the men roping calves and riding bulls. Then notice all the older guys walking round limping. This is a natural progression in life. A little humor. Take care, thanks for the comment.Frank

  2. Thank you, Shannon. We're glad that you enjoy the experiences, this is just the way we do it. There are other folks that do it a whole lot different. Thank you for the kind words.Frank

  3. I read this one to my husband this morning. Long story short, we can appreciate that with age brings new physical problems. Mtn Man broke his bicept in his late 30's then cow caved his knee in last year shortly after turning 40. He is finding out what it is to move a bit slower and to be more careful when doing anything. We prayed about where to move when the job dried up. God put us here and has gave us the needed rest we needed. Moving forward is the only option…..just doing it carefully and with purpose.

  4. About not showing your faces….. you are right of course. Hope you know that you are loved for your willingness to share your experiences and guidance with us newbies…. get well, stay well, you are a beacon of light.

  5. Hi Kymber. A number of years back, Fern and I built our retirement home. When we bought the property it was raw land. Built a house, built a garage, built a small barn, had a pond dug, installed two water wells, fenced and cross fenced the whole place, had producing livestock – sheep, goats and chickens, had a productive garden, fruit trees were planted……the perfect retirement home. So, we packed up and moved to Alaska. Sometimes dreams change, Kymber. And right now, we are in the perfect retirement home. We'll see what the future holds. Take care.Frank

  6. Frank (and Fern) – another great post with many excellent comments. my husband and i are in our early 40's, but as i knew that could retire with a small pension when i was 40, we ditched our high-paying jobs and moved to the middle of nowhere as soon as i could retire. we have been here almost 4yrs and one of our reasons for selecting this location was planning for when we got older. we know that the hard work that we are doing right now is so that it will be well-established and easier when we are 60. we also knew that the home-care programs here are wonderful…so if we get to our 80's and need home-care, we will receive it. another plus is that our nearest town of 2,500 people has signs all over the few streets in the town that say \”drive carefully – we love our Seniors\” – isn't that awesome? and we have several small towns near us that have very good Senior's condos and homes. so we have always been thinking about 25-30yrs down the road.right now, we are in the prime of our lives, loving our small community (45 people), loving our garden, loving the fact that we can fish and hunt for our food even though we don't have to, taking on all kinds of renovation jobs on our house and property while we are still young and have the va-voom – all in order to make it so that we can stay here as long as we can.however, having visited some friends of friends in some of the retirement condos – wow! we're almost looking forward to the day when we have to move to one – bahahahahah!thanks for another great post! i love coming here and learning from you and Fern!your friend,kymber

  7. Thank you, Fiona. It's important that people talk and plan. I know plans change, and sometimes change is good. I wish more people, especially couples, would talk about long term plans instead of just wake up and live everyday. Some middle aged and older folks I know have no plans past tomorrow. Life is thought provoking. Thank you for your comment.Frank

  8. Kathy, renting an apartment for a year was probably an excellent idea. Some folks just show up with all their belongings, no job, no money and those factors pretty much determine failure. It's good that it worked out for you. There are fewer people there, and overall a more rugged group of people. I wonder what it will be like to possibly live for 40 more years? Kinda spooky. Guess we'll just wait and see.Frank

  9. Hi. We found Alaska to be a very interesting experience, and I still have interesting dreams about Alaska. But it was just not in our later years game plan. Here where we are now it gets hot and humid, which means you have a good long growing season and plenty of moisture.On a side note. Fern and I met in Oklahoma, but we are both Texans. Thank you.Frank

  10. Thank you, Rosco. It's a good feeling to know you're are comfortable where you are. I dream daily of being somewhere more exciting and adventurous. I think everybody does. But it's good to be home. Hope it stays that way as long as possible.Frank

  11. It is good to admit and accept your limits. I wish everybody had that ability. Not just physical limitations, but also financial limitations. I have friends and family that spend way too much time and money on trying to look cool. And I know older guys and ladies that just can't grasp the idea that they're not 30 years old anymore. It's good not to play head games with yourself, because who are you really kidding? I'm glad you've got a plan, hope it works. Frank

  12. Joy, I'd rather be up a creek without a paddle, than down a creek without a paddle!On a more serious note. We all slow down when we get older, that just the way it is. We just try to acclimate to our surroundings and make the best of it. That's why we have goats instead of cows. All of my neighbors have cows, but I can handle a goat a whole lot easier. This is the way we're doing it. Even garden hand tools, we look for quality tools with longer handles. Less bending over that way. A real neat tool that Fern got a couple of years back is a Mantis tiller. Other companies make one similar to it, we just bought a Mantis. It's easy for her to handle, and it does a great job. Sure beats a snow blower!Figure out what works for you. Another example. We grow beans on a trellis instead of a bush bean. There's just all different ways to make life easier. Thank you for the comment.Frank

  13. Hello. Thank you for the honor of responding. We all have trials everyday and some big trials along the way. Fern and I are trying to make life where we can participate in this game as long as we can. There is something positive to be found everyday, just depends upon which way you want to look. Thank you for reading.Frank

  14. Ralph and I had this discussion for the first time in 2010 when I was quite ill and hospitalized. Now we do [for the most part] consider mobility and our abilities as we decide things. Great Post!

  15. Oh, we have been there! I'm 58 and hubby will be 60 in Jan. When we moved from CA to Idaho we had rustic/mountain/out in the hills in our heads, we rented an apartment for a year and traveled Idaho to see where we really wanted to end up. What a wake up call to start thinking about all that work and realize that if this is where you want to age – you gotta think about aging! We bought our place – a little acreage a little ways out of a good size town – with Drs. and hospitals and snow plows! It may not be what we imagined but it is very nice, we are happy and we can take care of it for awhile. You have to plan for the long term, my grandmother is 102 and didn't quit driving the little tractor till she was 99! My 80 year old mother is taking care of grandma now! Great post and food for thought – you obviously touched a few nerves!

  16. Yes, 5 years ago we went to Alaska. I am 62 and DH is 75. We really considered leasing a cabin for a year to see if we could make it, but we decided to not do that and settled on some land in Texas. We are very happy here on our little piece of heaven. We are content to be where we are and know that this is where God put us. Thanks for the info.

  17. 77 an 83 Less surgery but slower is better with age. Agree that the next size larger on the Tractor is key to getting the work doneDesire to go over the Mtns to smaller community But closer here to two SonsLife is a string of compromisesPeace

  18. DH and I are in the process of planning a bit of a downsize. We currently live on a plot of land outside the city limits of a small farm town. It is a heavy maintenance, heavy labor plot of land that has tested our limits to the end. We bought a lot in town this year and God willing and the creek don't rise we'll build our last stand next year. In some ways it seems like a cop out for us to leave the country, but there is no way to comfortably age here.As much as we can, we're planning this little house so we can stay there for the long term. It's good to admit and accept your limits.

  19. Thank you, Frank for a dose of reality. My husband and I talk of when he retires at 66 and we know the plans/dreams we have might not jive with how our health might be. We're 60 and 64 at this point, but we can both see how our (especially him) strength and stamina is deteriorating. Not a fun thing to face, but at least acknowledging it is a step in the right direction. Now, to plan accordingly so we don't find ourselves up a creek without a paddle!

  20. I can't believe I am posting a comment here. You have the dubious honor of receiving the only comment I have ever posted. I am 54 and saw my \”stranger\” last week. I have been very physically active my whole life, taking time out along the way to repair back, knees, neck, and shoulder. I wasn't sure if I was surrendering or just changing tack when I was doing the same things you have described. I feel validated now.Thank You! God Bless! Stay Safe, Warm, and Dry.

  21. Amanda, good for you. Most younger folks have no long term plan for the future. It's just like learning how to walk, take one step at a time. If you're heading in the right direction, someday you will be where you want to go.I like to use the following analogy. Two dogs. The first dog is a little yipper, makes lots of noise and runs around in a circle at full speed. The second dog is an old hound dog, walking very slowly down the road. Everybody notices the little yipper, and how much energy it's using. Nobody pays any attention to the hound dog. But the hound dog has a destination, and will eventually get there. All the little yipper is saying, is \”Look at me! Look at me!\” Life is filled with choices. Thank you for sharing.Frank

  22. Bellen, thank you for sharing. Fern and I try to look at difficult times as times to learn and get stronger. We also use these times to see what needs to be done. Like I said in the post, I'm now looking at wheelchair ramps. It's not that I need one today, but it gives me food for thought. When anything needs replacing, like the kitchen sink faucet that I recently replaced, no more knobs, but levers. It's just become a way of life with us. I don't see the kitchen sink levers as a comfort, but as a necessity that just happens to be comfortable. We try to play the cards we're dealt, and we try to play with a smile. Thank you again.Frank

  23. Shannon, Fern and I also really enjoy the type of life that we live. There have been lots of names for it over the years, survivalism, prepping, and we've been doing this long before Y2K. It just seems to be a good way to live. We are pursuing it much more seriously, and are more sharply focused than in the past. Yesterday for lunch we had fried chicken, fried potatoes with okra. Outside of salt and pepper, it all came from right here.As for showing our faces. We just felt that it would be easier to say the things we wanted to say without people knowing exactly who we are. That's why we also chose to use pseudonyms. Some of our friends, neighbors and relatives read our blog and they know who we are. It also provides a certain element of security. So that's why we do it.Thank you for sharing your comments and your views. Frank

  24. Being that I will be turning 36 this year, I am not to where I actively need to think about these things, but you can bet, even at this age I have begun to ponder what the next 20 – 30 years will look like for me. And I think that is a good start. I have currently moved to a new home and am beginning to plan my orchard and gardens for this land and I want to make sure I do it in such a way that I can still take care of them when I am in my 60's and 70's. And if I ever do buy a tractor, I will make sure to get the next bigger size. I already had to do this with the lawn mower and the snow blower, but sure am grateful that I did!

  25. Great post with lots of things to think about, especially if you're under 50. Hubby just turned 70 and I turned 68 4 days later. Eleven years ago we moved to Florida from Connecticut because we couldn't handle the cold, snow and ice anymore. Four years ago hubby had major heart surgery and then developed severe infections including Mersa that required more serious surgery. Meanwhile I developed type 2 Diabetes which is completely under control. Recently I had carotid surgery followed 11 weeks later by having my gall bladder removed. Otherwise we're in great shape. So, what does all this have to do with aging? We've decided to make our home, our final home, a home to 'age in place'. This requires a little work, mainly reducing our stuff that doesn't add to our living comfortably. It means reducing the physical work to that which will add to our lives, like gardening, not detract, like dusting knick-knacks. It means being sure to have the house outfitted safely, like lever handles on the doors, no loose scatter rugs, and rocker-style light switches. Life as we age can be wonderful even with physical limitations, we just have to prepare for it. And, if we're smart, we'll do it before it must be done – but that's another story.

  26. I have the same encounter every day when I look in the mirror,… \”who is that old person?\” (grin). I'm 69 and only started homesteading at retirement at 62. What we look like doesn't matter, what we do and say matters. We wish we had started homesteading when we were much younger, but we didn't know about it or think about it or know that we would love it as we do.Question: Why do you hide your faces. We love you both for who you are and what you do and share with us….why not show your faces?

  27. Tewshooz, good attitude! I encourage everybody to be happy wherever they are. That's the way Fern and I feel about here, this is where we're going to stay. I sometimes wish that my body, my physical body, was different. But I have a strong belief in God, these are the cards He has dealt me, so, therefore, this is the hand I will play. But I have no intention of ever buying a snow blower! I don't remember where, but one of the schools where I worked had a snow blower on tracks. It looked like a little, bitty red tank. I bet if it had to, it could have pulled a car out of a ditch. I think that was at that cushy little school where I worked.Thank you for the comment. Best of luck, and get ready to use your snow blower.Frank

  28. Rob I hope at 75 I'm still doing well. The first 65 have been very enjoyable, and I've got a peculiar feeling that the next decade may be even more exciting. Thanks for the comment.Frank

  29. We are 76, live out in the middle of nowhere and still shovel snow. Keeping physically fit and healthy is the key, I believe. OK, we have a snow blower, but the thing is heavy as hell and one has to be physically fit to manhandle (or womanhandle) it up and down the hills from the house to the barn. We will remain here until we drop because it is where we want to be. We are getting older and wearing out, but we are not giving up.

  30. Being 65 & noticing you're wearing out is a good problem to have, not as good as having this happen at 75 but better than it could be..I liked your tractor advice!

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