Thread

  

Poem by A. B. McFarland

There is a thread

that reaches back

through the needle-eye of history

around

and forward

toward tomorrow’s beyond.

It connects all those present

in the now

with the ancient people

who wanted so very much to help us

   become

our best selves

that they left pages and sayings;

   instructions

for us children.

Now grown, we feel how close the thread’s end

is to our fingertips.

We wake up —

   for

now we know

why our elders spent nights telling yarns by candlelight,

and sunlit days showing us how to tie knots.

Consider how you might take the hand of someone

newer to this world than yourself

and be a guide

for the benefit of

   others

before the end —

worn and frayed

slips through the hole where you once were.

·    ·    ·

A. B. McFarland is a PNA Village member and volunteer. She has recently written a novel, Pieces of Home, in which a poet loses her home to a house fire, ends up living with a family she barely knows, and lives are changed in the process. It is available at Couth Buzzard and Amazon.com.

Poem originally published on A. B. McFarland’s blog here.

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Free Online Courses Keep Retirees in the Know

By Walecia Konrad
MARCH 19, 2015—The New York Times

Mary Lou Russell has a passion for learning. Since retiring 10 years ago, the 79-year-old former grant maker has taken more than a dozen classes on subjects including classical music and appreciating Andy Warhol. She has attended most of her classes from her Manhattan living room.

“I used to go up to Columbia, down to N.Y.U. and over to New School. I was all over the place with my MetroCard,” Ms. Russell said. “Then I learned about online courses and that has been so freeing for me. I call it the anti-aging vitamin for those of us over 60 who want to stay relevant.”

Taking courses online is well suited for retirees, according to John Blair, 85, a retired engineer in Wayland, Mass. He especially likes the accessibility to top professors at elite universities. He adds that online courses have given him a way to dive into subjects unrelated to engineering, like economics. “By jumping from Yale to Harvard to Stanford to M.I.T., I was able to sample economics courses in a broad way,” Mr. Blair said.

Colleges have been catering to online adult learners for years, often offering video lectures and courses on their websites and posting popular lecture series on YouTube and iTunes. Starting around 2011, the latest iteration of virtual education, massive open online courses or MOOCs, hit the scene. Often free, many of these classes take online learning a step further and provide interactive video features like mini quizzes and student discussion forums.

Read the full article here

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Wonders of Green Lake

Ann Rodgers and Friend at Greenlake Spring 2015

By Ann Rodgers

Dear Village friends:

I wanted to make sure you knew that this is possible on the Green Lake walk.  I have been feeding the red-winged blackbirds for about three years now.  It is a delightful feeling when one lands on your hand!

Ann Rodgers and Friend at Greenlake 2015 close up

woman feeding birds by hand

Related posts:

http://pnavillage.org/2013/11/23/my-fun-in-the-village/

http://pnavillage.org/2013/06/08/walking-the-talk/

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Finding Success, Well Past the Age of Wunderkind

Lucille Shulklapper started writing in retirement and has published poetry and a children’s book called “Stuck in Bed Fred.” (Ryan Stone for The New York Times)

Lucille Shulklapper started writing in retirement and has published poetry and a children’s book called “Stuck in Bed Fred.” (Ryan Stone for The New York Times)

By Abby Ellin
March 20, 2015—The New York Times

As a girl growing up in Jamaica, Queens, Lucille Gang Shulklapper dreamed of being a writer and “having a househusband like Edna St. Vincent Millay.”

Life didn’t unfold quite that way. Instead of having a literary career, she married, took a teaching job and raised three children. She wrote off and on, mostly for herself. But when she retired in her late 50s, “words came tumbling out of closets and drawers, leaking from rusty faucets and reappearing as character actors,” said Ms. Shulklapper, now 80. She began sending out poems and short stories, and published her first book of poetry in 1996, when she was 60.

Since then, she has published four chapbooks, which are typically small editions of 40 pages or so, and a fifth is in progress. And in January, Guardian Angel Publishing released Ms. Shulklapper’s first children’s book, “Stuck in Bed Fred.”

“We absolutely have to revamp this idea of a linear pattern of accomplishment that ends when you’re 50 or 60”

“I am living beyond my dreams,” said Ms. Shulklapper, a widowed grandmother of six who lives in Boca Raton, Fla. “I feel as though it’s my baby. A long pregnancy and now its delivery, all 10 toes and fingers.”

Conventional wisdom holds that if you do not write your “Farewell to Arms,” paint your “Starry Night,” start the next Twitter or climb Mount Everest by young adulthood, or at least middle age, then chances are you will never do it.

But that idea is becoming increasingly outdated as people are not only having successes later in life, but blooming in areas they never expected. Maybe they are not making millions, or wielding a brush like Rembrandt. Still, many people are discovering that the latter part of their lives can be just as (or even more) rewarding creatively, emotionally and spiritually.

Read the rest of this article here.

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The Architect Who Wants to Redesign Being Dead

What if We Composted Our Bodies Instead of Burying or Cremating Them? The Revolutionary Idea Behind the Urban Death Project

The three-story structure for composting humans could have a circular ramp to the top, for processionals and other funeral rites. JEREMY SORESE

The three-story structure for composting humans could have a circular ramp to the top, for processionals and other funeral rites. JEREMY SORESE

By Brendan Kiley

The Stranger—March 3, 2015

“We can’t heal our relationship with the world until we heal our relationship with death. And Katrina’s project, done well, could help with that.”

If you happen to die in North America, this is probably what will happen next: Someone will pause for a moment in front of your corpse and then make a phone call. They’ll call either a funeral home or a local government agency, depending on how much money you have. Some minutes later—I’ve never timed the interval, but in my experience it’s always at the crossroads of too soon and eternity—two people will show up in suits to take your body away. They will briskly shake hands with the living and say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” in a tone that indicates they’d like to be sorry for your loss, but this is what they do for work. To preserve a semblance of dignity, they might invite the living to step out of the room while they begin the awkward business of wrangling your body onto a board, strapping it down, and getting you out of there as quickly as possible.

After that, unless you’ve planned ahead for something exotic—donating your body to a university, burial at sea—you’re headed in one of two directions: a casket or a furnace.

Read the full article in The Stranger here.

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The House III

Zuckerman home kitchen remodel (courtesy Louise S. Wright Design)

(Photo courtesy Louise S. Wright)

By Marilyn Zuckerman

“…the painters care that the wall is smooth…the carpenter cares that the corners are mitered properly.”   (From Steven Kurtz’s New York Times article, “Thanks For Ripping Up our Home”, about the combined effort of workers building a Chelsea loft and a fulsome thanks from the loft’s owners.)

Just Looking

Seeing beauty everywhere—
the deep glow of cherry wood cabinets
bookcases and ruddy floorboards
perfectly laid, arrow straight
and walls where the paint flowed flawlessly
light green and eggshell white
—the gorgeous tiled shower
fit for the Taj Mahal.

Like a visitor to the museum
I’m gazing at the art
examining the details
—a geologist at the Grand Canyon.
I think of the effort it takes
to make a house—
I think of barn raising—
everyone sweating toward one goal
—a house with walls
and a roof, sweeping windows
a basement and a fireplace.
This same effort once made the Pyramids
a cathedral or a prairie home.

But here’s the miracle—
everything has come together
as we planned—
See the workspace before the window
bookcases around it
for papers and poems in progress
no longer lying precariously as they once did
on the top of the dining room table.

Now the new refrigerator
sings, hums and makes
unseemly noises
in greeting.

·    ·    ·

This poem is intended as homage to the crew of Upright Construction, some of whom I met once or not at all while others I learned to know quite well.  Everyone on the team did more than pull his/her weight and left individual fingerprints on the job—my deep thanks for being so aware of my needs and leaving behind a work of beauty for my pleasure!

This poem forms the third installment in a sequence about the construction of my home—read the first hereRead the second here.

 http://marilynzuckermanpoet.com

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Monthly Book Group at Couth Buzzard

By Dick Gillett

Would you like to know what a group of seniors in the Phinney Ridge area might be reading these days? Books on aging, right?

Dancing Fish and Ammonites coverWell, sure—books like Embracing Life, by David Goff, or The Healthy Aging Brain, by Louis Cozolino, a book that looks into the neuroscience of the brain (said to be readable for non-scientists), or Dancing Fish and Ammonites, by Penelope Lively.

On the second Wednesday of each month, the Phinney Village book group meets at 11am at Couth Buzzard Books (8310 Greenwood Avenue). Surrounded by cozy bookshelves and sipping coffee, the group meets for a little over an hour and instead of selecting a book to read together over a period of time, we go around the table and report on what we’re reading or what we’ve recently read. With 10 or 12 of us generally present, there’s enough time for a brief report from each person and questions or comments.  In March, this group will celebrate its first anniversary! As one who came aboard last April, I find myself astonished at the range and depth of books we are collectively reading.

"All the Light We Cannot See" book coverThis month, for example, Roger reported on a World War II historical novel, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. This tale centers on a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide during the war years. Next, Don (a confessed “map nut”) reported on the book, Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities. One of the book’s global maps portrays countries’ sizes in proportion to the number of languages spoken there. Which place do you think would be the largest?* (You can likely guess the size of the U.S. )  In the brief discussion of this book, Terry asked a great question of the group: What will happen to our young people who navigate only by GPS?

Do you want serious history? In previous months, Marian reported on Indian Summer: The End of the British Empire by Alex Kunzelman and Terry reported on a book on Afghanistan under British rule. This month Tom reported on The Philosophical Breakfast Club by Laura J. Snyder. This book relates the story of four young students in the 19th century at England’s Cambridge University. Inspired by the philosopher Francis Bacon, they sought to promote the use of science for the public good and ended up designing the first mechanical computer.

"Strange Maps" book coverWe’ve also heard about books about books—and they’re more interesting than you might think. Marguerite reported on a book about the history of libraries, The Library at Night, leading to comments about Andrew Carnegie’s passion for building libraries, including a number of them here in Seattle. Don shared Bound in Venice, by Alessandro Marzo Magno, about the first book printed—only five centuries ago in Venice.

But lest the hour get too weighty intellectually, Marguerite offered Dial C for Chihuahua, a hilarious mystery by Waverly Curtis in which a Spanish-speaking Chihuahua detective shines a light on human foibles!

To learn more, you can email our convener, Nancy Spangler: nancyespangler@gmail.com.

New Guinea

Find these books!

Seattle Public Library

IndieBound

Goodreads

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Pssst….Need a Cat Whisperer?

English tabby cat from Wikipedia

By Liz Bjorkman

Among the many vetted vendors on a list maintained by the PNA Village Business Referral Committee, there is one that you might not think about on a routine basis. However, if you have a cat, you should know about a fellow named Zack. Zack has been called the “Cat Whisperer” due to his special affinity for cats and because he just seems to speak their language. This gifted man can help you carry out your veterinarian’s instructions to give your cat a pill or even give your cat a subcutaneous injection. He can take your furry creature to a vet appointment and back if you cannot. He can also take care of your cat when you travel.

If you’d like to know more about Zack’s services—or any of the vetted vendors on the Preferred Vendor list—please call the PNA Village Office (206.789.1217).

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Reading for the Weary

antique books By Alyssa McFarland

Some days (or months, or years) you just can’t summon the energy to actually read a book, and it makes you melancholy, because reading is something you really enjoy. Maybe it’s just a temporary condition for you – you’re ill or just had surgery, perhaps – and you know your love for reading will return eventually. Or maybe this weariness for reading has been going on for a long time. If you’re like me, you occasionally go through phases where reading seems to take too much brain power. But still…books call to you, like needy kittens and puppies, begging for your attention.

So what can you do? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Books on tape can be especially helpful when your eyes are tired or just not working as well as they used to. You can relax, even lie down, and listen to someone else read to you.
  • A change of genre might be what you need. For example, if you read history books, try a little poetry. Or instead of fantasy, try a how-to book.
  • Revisit some of your favorite books from an earlier era of your life. Even making a list of, say, the books you read when you were a teenager, could be inspiring.
  • Children’s books aren’t only for children. Whether it’s picture books or chapter books for a younger audience, you can find some top quality entertainment in books geared toward a younger audience.
  • You could skip words entirely and indulge in some art books or coffee table books with great photos of places you have never been or would like to visit someday.
  • Get out of the house and browse the shelves of your local library, bookstore, or museum gift shop. Visit an art gallery and see if any of the paintings inspire you to learn about the lives of the artists, or a different place or time.
  • Clear your head by taking some time to watch the clouds, birds, and squirrels in your neighborhood.

Taking a vacation from your usual reading habits might be just what the doctor ordered!

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Seeking a ‘Beautiful Death’

Ken Orvidas (NYT)

Ken Orvidas for NYT

By Jane E. Brody
The New York Times Well Blog—February 9, 2015

Virgie Divinigracia had the kind of death last month that most Americans say they want: at home, relieved of physical and mental pain, surrounded by those she loved, “a beautiful death” as those present described it. Alas, this is true for too few Americans. Most still die in costly medical facilities tethered to machines, often unable to communicate, in a futile attempt to prolong their lives.

Dr. Angelo E. Volandes, the author of an enlightening new book, “The Conversation,” said that although Americans received some of the best health care money could buy, “they also experience some of the worst deaths in the developed world,” mainly because people failed to articulate what they wished for at the end of life, and doctors failed “to recognize that fixing specific problems may not fix the whole patient.”

Mrs. Divinigracia’s experience is illustrative. At 88 and in need of full-time care after 10 years with Alzheimer’s disease, she developed acute kidney failure. Her doctor suggested dialysis.

But after a clearheaded review of her prospects, her devoted husband and primary caregiver, Paul, and their son and daughter acknowledged that, had she been able to say so, she would not have chosen aggressive medical treatment that would only further diminish the quality of her remaining days.

And so she lived to have an 89th birthday celebration with her family before deteriorating health prompted a call to hospice for help.

Read the full post here.

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