Monthly Archives: February 2019

On Brinkley, Clooney, and aging gracefully…

Christie Brinkley was photographed by Emmanuelle Hauguel in Turks & Caicos. Swimsuit by Monica Hansen Beachwear.

Now that’s my kind of “When I’m Sixty-Four” aging gracefully…  (“‘Christie B.’ – at 63…”)

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In this post I review some earlier posts on gracefully ageing – or aging:  RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30 (Part I and Part II), and A Geezer’s guide to supplements (Part I and Part II, featuring “Arnold,” at right) 

In RABBIT – Part I – from June 2015 – I reviewed Rabbit Remembered.  That was the 2001 novella, last of a series of novel-sequels to Rabbit, Run.  (The 1960 work by John Updike.  The sequels included Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest.)  But RABBIT – Part II is where things got interesting, at least in terms of aging gracefully.  (I turn 68 next July.)

It started with a “personal tidbit” from the 1971 sequel, Rabbit Redux.  Set in the summer of 1969 (the same summer as the Apollo 11 moon landing), the novel told of a time “when father and son are settling the bar bill.  Earl Angstrom had a Schlitz beer, and tells his son [Harry, the protagonist], ‘Here’s my forty cents.  Plus a dime for a tip.’”

RabbitReduxbookcover.jpgWhich led me to write:  “Are you kidding me…  Do you mean there once was a time when you could go into a bar, pay 40 cents for a beer and leave a dime for the tip?  And not get thrown out or insulted?”  (The answer:  “Yes, there was…”)

But the really interesting part was about how 65-year-olds were portrayed in 1969.  For example, Updike wrote of Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom’s father looking old once outside the bar; “liverish scoops below his eyes, broken veins along the sides of his nose.”  Harry then asks Earl about his money situation, and Earl responds, “Believe it or not there’s some advantages to living so long in this day and age.  This Sunday she’s going to be sixty-five and come under Medicare.”

Next Sunday Harry visits Mary (his mother) for her birthday and she greets him:

I’m sixty-five,” she says, groping for phrases, so that her sentences end in the middle.  “When I was twenty.  I told my boyfriend I wanted to be shot.  When I was thirty…”  [Harry:]  “You told Pop this?”  “Not your dad.  Another.  I didn’t meet your dad til later.  This other one, I’m glad.  He’s not here to see me now.”

The point is that even though Mary has Parkinson’s, Updike’s overall image of 65-year-olds in 1969 is of people who really are over the hill.  (“Living so long in this day and age?”  Really?)

Now compare that with Christie Brinkley, shown in the lead picture above in 2017, at age 63.

On that note see “60 is the new 30,” and also “Why 60 Is The New 30.”  The latter post noted the “55-64 age group has shown the largest increase in entrepreneurial ventures, now accounting for more than 20 percent of all start-ups.”  (Thus literally “starting over when our grandparents would be strolling around golf communities in Florida.”)

Or see Is 60 the New 40?  That article noted that what elderly “meant to the Greatest Generation doesn’t hold for their offspring, the baby boomers.”  Then there’s 60, Not 50, Is The New Middle Age – Huffington Post, and New research shows 60 is the new 40 – KING5:

Increasingly, people over 60 feel more like 40, and now they have the science to back them up…   The new research argues that since life expectancy continues to rise, age 60 should not be considered old.  It’s more “middle age,” because for many, there’s a lot of living left to do after age 60, even embarking on second or third careers.

Which brings us back to my Geezer’s guide(s) to supplements, Part I and Part II.  In those posts I noted that I “don’t want a Schwarzenegger body.  At age 67 [soon to be 68], I just want to stick around a while yet.”  (And “maybe run into a cute ‘young'” 60-some-year-old, like Christie B….)

So, to that end the “Geezer” posts  listed 10 good supplements from Menshealth, along with the question “Why do I bother with all these supplements?  Simply put, I want to live long enough” – among other things and if only metaphorically – “to dance on my enemy’s grave.”  (Illustrated at right.)

And that brings up two relatively new online articles, 11 Of The Smartest Things Anyone Ever Said About Getting Older, and 9 Things People Aging Gracefully Do Differently | HuffPost:

There’s nothing less attractive than someone desperately clinging to the last remnants of their youth.  We think it’s far sexier to be comfortable in your own skin.

That last thought was a “leaf” from George Clooney, along with the main thing people aging gracefully do:  “work out to get strong, not skinny.”  (Not to get a “Schwarzenegger body.”)

Other thoughts:  They stress less and forgive more, they learn something new every day, they stay positive, they get enough sleep – which for me includes daily naps “as needed” – and they eat and drink better.  (They “learn what changes we need to take with our diets as we age.”  Like Geezer supplements, and kale and/or spinach salads at night, not processed food snacks.)  

So here’s to Seeing Old Age as a Never-Ending Adventure (From the New York Times – that “enemy of the people” – on a thought that will be the subject of at least one future post.)

As far as those 11 Smart Things About Getting Older, here’s my favorite.  (Or as I said in I pity the fool, “I pity the fool who doesn’t … push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”)

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henry david thoreau

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The upper image is courtesy of Christie Brinkley Photos, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017.  And about that When I’m Sixty-Four.  (Referring to the 1967 Beatles song released on their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.)  Born in 1954, Christie is now – in 2019 – 65 years old, while she was 63 at the time of the 2017 Sports illustrated photo shoot.  So for this post I just split the difference.

Re:  How to properly spell “ageing.”  See Ageing vs. aging – Correct Spelling – Grammarist“American and Canadian writers use agingAgeing is the preferred spelling outside North America.”  

I borrowed the “dancing on enemy grave” image from Geezer’s Guide – Part II.  As to which enemy whose grave I “enthusiastically” look forward to dancing on, Part II said “Let the reader understand!”  (Citing Mark 13:14: “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”)

Re:  “Push the envelope.”  That also came near the end of Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

The “Chilkoot Trail” isn’t really a trail, it’s just “one big pile of &%#@ rocks after another!!!

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Back in 2016, my brother, nephew and I hiked the Chilkoot Trail.  People call it “the meanest 33 miles in history,” and I found out why – the hard way.  After that adventure, my nephew – just out of the Army – headed back east to start the fall term at Penn State.  My brother and I went on to take two canoes “up” the Yukon River – paddling 440 miles in 12 days.

Once back home I posted “Naked lady on the Yukon,” on August 28, 2016.  (The events of that trip were still fresh in my mind, for one reason or another.)  I later posted Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2, on September 7, 2016.

I guess I’ll have to revisit “Naked lady” in more depth later on. (Deep sigh.)  But for now it’s enough  to say:

I just got back from two weeks canoeing the Yukon River…  And the “mighty Yukon” is the last place on earth I would expect to see a [naked] lady sun bathing.  But one moment, out of nowhere, there she was…

You can see the full story in the 8/28/16 post.  But for the metaphorical lead picture above left, you’ll have to imagine no sand.  “(And no ‘Bikini Bottom,’ for that matter.)”

Which brings us back to the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

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The “Chilkoot” starts in Dyea, Alaska.  And Dyea is pronounced “DIe-eeee,” maybe prophetically.  (Like, “that’s what you feel like doing once you get on the &$%# Trail!”)  It ends in Bennett, British Columbia.  That’s where you end up waiting, a long afternoon, with other hikers who’ve shared your ordeal. (Of four days or more.)  There’s only one train, at 3:15 in the afternoon, so all the footsore hikers get a chance to sit on something besides rocks, and pitch their tents to dry out.

Which brings up the fact that the number of hikers is strictly limited; you have to get a special permit to even start.  And they keep track of who gets where and when.

Like on the second afternoon – on the way to “Happy Camp,” seen in part at right.  That late afternoon I was “dragging tail” and the light started fading, so a nice lady ranger came out to help me, along with a nice husky young gent who carried my pack the rest of the way.*

That’s when I experienced the phantom pack phenomenon.  It’s not unlike the “phantom limb” sensation, but leaves you weaving and rolling like a drunken sailor.

That was one time I got to “if I could have cried I would.”  (Hey, I’m secure in my masculinity.)  

Another thing:  The nice lady ranger felt so bad for me she let us three stay in her private facility – the one above right – which meant we didn’t have to pitch our tents in the dark.  (She also gave us juice boxes, like “heaven on earth.”  I could have sworn they were raisin juice, but my older brother later said raisins are just dried-up grapes. It may have been the delirium, or the relief…)

Another excuse?  “Hiking the Chilkoot Trail is sheer torture for someone – like me – with only one good eye and and thus no depth perception.”  (For more detail see the February 2017 post, On that nail in my right eye.)  So my word of advice:  If you have only one good eye and no depth perception, take it slow and easy, and be ready to let the other hikers pass you by.

More good advice:  Anyone hiking the trail is advised that if they have to get airlifted out – like for a twisted ankle or such – the cost will be a cool $28,000.00.  Which brings up another point rangers make in the process of getting your permit to hike the trail:  Watch out for the bears!

A historical note:  The Chilkoot’s claim to fame started with the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896–99.  That “transformed the Chilkoot Trail into a mainstream transportation route to Canada’s interior.”  Also, the only other route to the gold fields was through White Pass.  (Up to 1899, when a railroad was built from Skagway to the Yukon.)   So which route was better?  Pioneer Mont Hawthorne said there wasn’t much difference:  “One’s hell.  The other’s damnation.”

13 Dead Horse GulchAnother side note:  White Pass was also called “Dead Horse Trail,” apparently renamed by Jack London:  “Nearly 3,000 pack animals died.  Drivers rushing over the pass had little concern for beasts.  Exhausted horses starved, were hurt on rough ground, became mired in mud and fell over cliffs.”

Which also gives you a feel for “hiking the Chilkoot.”

Which in turn brings up the question:  Why the hell would you do such a thing?

One answer can be seen in a post from my companion blog, On St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts.  It spoke in part of the “value of such pilgrimages in general.”  For example:

We were speaking of pilgrimages.  More to the point, of why an otherwise-relatively-sane 65-year-old [at the time] would either hike the Chilkoot Trail or spend 12 days canoeing 440 miles on the Yukon River.  That of course brings up St. James the Greater

And James is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims.  On that note, the post cited the book Passages of the Soul: Ritual Today. (James Roose-Evans.)  It said a pilgrimage – like a 12-day canoe trip on the Yukon or a “hike” on the Chilkoot &$%# Trail – “may be described as a ritual on the move.”

Further, the book said that through “the raw experience of hunger, cold, lack of sleep,” we can often find a sense of our fragility as mere human beings.  (And that’s especially true when the “majesty and permanence” of God’s creation included “all those &$%# rocks!”)

Finally, the book noted that such a pilgrimage – such ritual on the move – can be “one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating” of personal experiences.

I certainly felt “chastened” after we got back to Skagway from the Chilkoot Trail.  (Although the 10-of-12 beers that my nephew and I shared – of the two six-packs I bought – helped a lot too…)  But as I said in I pity the fool, “I pity the fool who doesn’t do pilgrimages and otherwise push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”

Besides, my Chilkoot Trail experience made the Happy Camp “raisin juice” taste great!!!

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To repeat, the Chilkoot Trail is just “one big pile of &%#@ rocks after another!!!

(And this is one of the smooth parts…)

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The upper image is courtesy of Chilkoot Trail – Image Results.  From a post, “What the Chilkoot Trail Taught Me about Leadership – Pt. 6,” posted on , “b.”  A highlight:

We endured miserable weather throughout the day – cold, rainy and very windy…  At times, especially hiking up to and down from the summit I was quite frightened as I was afraid we would either be blown off the mountain or slip careening down the mountain.

I knew the feeling…  Also, this review-post borrowed liberally from On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2.  

Re:  “Up” the Yukon River.  Like the Nile River, the Yukon flows north, which makes it unusual.

Re:  “Husky young gent who carried my pack the rest of the way.”  My brother and just-out-of-the-Army nephew also took turns carrying my pack part of the way to “Happy Camp.”  

Re:  “But as I said in I pity the fool…”  There followed a loose translation of Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s saying, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”

Re:  The book Passages of the Soul: Ritual Today.  The book also noted that a healthy sense of ritual “should pervade a healthy society, and that a big problem now is that we’ve abandoned many rituals that used to help us deal with big change and major trauma.”

Re:  The negative tone of this post.  My brother thought my post “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited was also too negative; too “complaining” in general.  So I posted “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts.  

Some people reading “Hola! Buen Camino” might think I had a lousy time in my five weeks hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  For example, there was my comment on the first 10 days – after starting in Pamplona – being “pretty miserable.  My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough…”  But there were lots of good things that happened during those 30 days on the Camino…

But “fun stuff doesn’t make for good drama.”  See What Elements Make for [Good Drama]?

If your drama doesn’t have a juicy, complex, emotional, heart-wrenching, personal, intelligent, connectable role for an actor – it’s dead in the water.  And as a side note, don’t be afraid to inject some comedy into your dramatic scenes.  Except for Schindler’s List, every single drama listed above has more than one moment of levity.  However, there is one thing that every good drama needs no matter what the story is.  It’s more than a trend – it’s the mandatory ingredient – CONFLICT.  Drama is based on conflict.  And not just any conflict, but one that is powerful, relatable, and complex enough to propel a story forward… 

And BTW:  That hike on the Camino de Santiago in Spain took place in the fall of 2017.

The lower image is courtesy of Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site – Parks Canada:  “The Chilkoot Trail is a 53 kilometre / 33 mile trip through history and one of North America’s most fabled treks. The trail crosses the international boundary between the United States and Canada and is co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and the US National Park Service.”