Rights of Aging: Claiming Old


One day during our trip to Florence, I took a walk along the Arno River, near the Ponto Vecchio. The raised sidewalk is narrow. If you pass another person, someone needs to step off. A polite, agreeable sort, I’m often the first person to acquiesce in situations like this.

A young man approached me. I got ready to step down.

Wait a minute, I thought, I’m his elder by decades.  Shouldn’t he step down and let me pass?

I kept steady on the path, and the young man did step down.

But this was one of the first times I’ve claimed age. It’s been my goal (and still is) to remain youthful, to grab all the gusto I can, and to not let my creeping years influence my attitude or my behavior.

When I featured the poetry collection, How Did This Happen: Poems for the Not So Young Anymore , reader Gail commented: “I wonder all the time, ‘How did I get to be this old?’ I recently let my hair go natural, and it is totally white. My sister told me that people would begin treating me differently, and she was right. Now people let me go first, hold the door for me, etc. Sweet, but also can make me feel way old!”

I remember feeling shocked the first time my parents took a senior discount at a restaurant. How dare they get old? But Mom didn’t look sad. She seemed pleased to be saving four dollars.

So I can see it’s a balance, between claiming old and keeping youth.

And if I’m ever lucky enough to walk by the Ponte Vechhio, Old Bridge, again, I may just step off the sidewalk and let the young man stay on.

And I got to say, saving some dollars through senior discounts now makes me happy just like it did my mom.

What about you? Do you claim age?

Speaking of senior discounts, Coupon Chef sent me this link to this Retail Savings Guide for Baby Boomers.  Check it out!

Bathrooms Abroad: Peeing on Everest



A post by writer and traveler Gwen Bellinger, who uncovered some interesting ladies rooms on her Everest trek. Take it away, Gwen!

In September I completed the Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. Before I began my 18-day journey to 17,598 feet, I thought I had looked up everything. I knew the temperatures, the clothes I needed, how much money to bring for food and lodging, and generally what to expect. It’s easy to find photos of the mountains, information on altitude sickness, and people’s life-changing experiences, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to pee on Everest?

Day One: I started with a 12-hour jerky and bouncy van ride form Kathmandu to Salleri, a small mountain town about 12 days walking from Everest. Eight of us were crushed inside the car so tightly we couldn’t even move our arms. This was our first potty break:

We stayed in a lodge that night in the town of Salleri with slightly better plumbing:

Day 2: I had a pleasant walk from Salleri to Taksindo. No cars are able to drive after Salleri, and most tourists fly to a town further up on the mountain. This meant the walk was very quiet, mostly just nature and a few locals. This outhouse was attached to an empty house on the side of the path.


I stayed in a nice lodge that night. The room was 100 rupees per person ($1 USD), but we negotiated that we could stay for free if we ate the homemade dinner there.


Day 3: Another outhouse on the walk from Taksindo to Kharikhola. In Karipkola I took my first shower of the trip. There were no lights so I hung a flashlight from the ceiling of the outhouse.

Day 4: Karikhola to Paiya.

On the way to Kharikhola I bumped into some of the trekkers from the van ride from hell from Kathmandu to Salleri. We actually decided to pass Paiya and walk an extra hour. We stopped at a lodge in the middle of nowhere, between two towns. Once again, we offered to eat dinner at the lodge in exchange for a free room. What you pay for is what you get, right?

Day 5: Paiya to Phakding.  Phakding is the first mountain city that exists after tourists reach the region by air. It’s the beginning of the more popular Lukla to EBC trek. You can see the amenities are a lot better!

Day 6 & 7: Namche Bazaar. I took a rest day in the largest city in the region in order to acclimatize. The toilets in my lodge were similar to those in Phakding. However, I did find this slightly crude door in the highest located bar in the world:

I also found a nice looking outhouse in a local resident’s garden:

Day 8: Namche Bazaar to Tengbouche. On day 8 we got a mixed bag of toilets during the walk.

Day 9: Tengbouche to Dingbouche. The toilet situation wasn’t much improved. By this point my legs were so tired that squatting to pee became quite difficult.

Day 10: Rest day in Dingbouche to acclimatize. The high altitude affected different people in different ways. Many people felt sick or light-headed. For me, I woke up nearly every hour needing to pee.

Day 11: Dingbouche to Lobuche, nearly there! Unlike the rest of the trek, almost no villages exist between these two towns.

Final Day: Gorakshep and Everest Base Camp. No toilets! Not anything. Just ice and rock.

But peeing outside isn’t so bad when this is your view:

Gwen Bellinger is a freelance writer and editor currently splitting her time in Medellin, Colombia and Buenos Aires, Argentina. In September 2016 she solo trekked the Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal. For more stories about Everest or to follow her adventures living and traveling around the world, check out her blog at: www.Gwengetsglobal.com

Downsizing: Goodbye to the Land of the Lost Socks



Our house isn’t officially on the market, but a few weeks ago, a realtor asked if we would show it. Sure! Knowing the house hunters might walk into our walk-in closet, we set to work. Cliff gave up four pairs of old basketball shoes.

So I decided I could do it. I could shut down The Land of the Lost Socks. This basket, which lived on the floor of the closet, held wayward socks for thirty years. At one time, little girls socks lived there along with mine. (Cliff never loses socks. In fact my mother-in-law once said to me, “How can you lose socks?”)

Anyway, every few months, I’d dump out The Land of the Lost Socks and find some pairs. What a happy, satisfying moment when a pair was reunited.

But what to do with a sock whose missing partner never shows up? How do you know when it’s time to chuck that lost sole (soul)? And how DID I lose these socks?

These questions troubled me for years. But no more. The Land of  the Lost Socks is gone. All remaining stray socks have been given a proper burial in the kitchen garbage. The basket is now at the new house waiting to hold potato chips or napkins for a cookout.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with stray socks in the new house. Maybe I’ll lead a life so perfect, so orderly, that I’ll never have a stray sock.

Ha. Most likely not.

What about you? Do you lose socks? Do you have a Land of the Lost Socks?

And this socks discussion brings me to one of my favorite poems, written by yours truly:

Socks don’t lead

An easy life.

Missing partners,

Sweaty feet, and

Hours squinched

In tight quarters.

Yet I never hear

My socks complain.

Maybe I should be

More like socks.

Complaining less,

Absorbing more,

And ever ready to

Step into shoes

For the next adventure.


My poem, “Socks,” was published in Tangerine Tango: Women Writers Share Slices of Life, edited by Lisa K. Winkler.

Photo: This is The Land of the Lost Socks basket. The socks are fake news. I added them to the empty basket for photo appeal when I decided to write this post.

Giveaway Winners: Congrats to the latest winners! Joyce, who won the Golden Books; Linda who won How Did This Happen? Poems for the Not So Young Anymore; Karen, who won The Deepest Acceptance: Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life; and Dawn, Vickie, and Sandy who won tubes of SYLK.

Mammogram: A Poem




 A poem by Jo McDougall

“They’re benign,” the radiologist says,

pointing to specks on the x ray

that look like dust motes

stopped cold in their dance.

His words take my spine like flame.

I suddenly love

the radiologist, the nurse, my paper gown,

the vapid print on the dressing room wall.

I pull on my radiant clothes.

I step out into the Hanging Gardens, the Taj Mahal,

the Niagara Falls of the parking lot.

“Mammogram” is from In the Home of the Famous Dead: Collected Poems, University of Arkansas Press.  The poem is posted on Friend for the Ride by permission of the poet. Read more about the poet Jo McDougall and her work on her website.

 I first was introduced to “Mammogram” on Twitter by Mary Esselman, who read my cancer post and knew I’d be moved by the poem. “Mamogram” is included in the anthology How Did This Happen: Poems for the Not So Young Anymore, complied by Mary D. Esselman and Elizabeth Ash Velez.

 And check out this recent article: “Inside the Debate over Breast Cancer Screenings.”
Photo:  I was struck by this painting of Mary Magdalene at the Pitti Palace in Florence. The artist is Titian, and he painted this in 1533. I’d love to know what the model was thinking as she posted for the painting.