How Being Old Helps Me Get My Steps in Every Day


Photo by Kamil S on Unsplash

A few years ago I noticed that a lot of my friends were wearing big, rubber-encased watches. I saw those friends gazing at their watches as we strolled through various gardens and along a few beaches.

“This is a Fitbit!” one friend told me. “It measures my steps, keeps track of my heart rate, counts calories and reminds me to drink more water!” 

Oh.

As a confirmed non-athlete, I was unimpressed. 

Fast forward several years, however, and I found myself the slightly abashed owner of my own pink Fitbit. Covid was raging, and as a good Italian woman, I had spent several weeks trying to cook my way out of danger. I was, shall we say, getting chubby. Or to quote my adorable three-year-old grandson, I was “nice and squishy.” 

So I got a Fitbit. I vowed to slim down. I promised to count my steps.

If you are even a little bit aware of current fitness ideas, you will know that a “fit” person is supposed to take a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. With a Fitbit on one’s wrist, one can carefully plan where to walk in order to reach the magic number.

At first, the very idea of walking so much seemed out of reach. I mean, really? I live in a small house, how many steps could there be in the average day of an average old lady?

It seemed somewhat out of reach, I’ll be honest. I thought I’d have to go “hiking” in order to reach the magic number. My young, healthy sons told me about how they had to plan extra walks to make it that far. In the middle of the worst lock-down days, one of them even made a video of himself walking around and around in his own apartment, book in hand, just to get the last couple of hundred steps.

I thought that hitting 10,000 steps would be a major stretch for my aging, squishy self.

But, guess what? 

I underestimated the physical benefits of being old. I did not anticipate the wonderful impact of a wicked bad memory.

As it turns out, people my age take a whole boatload of extra steps every day. 

I’ll give you an example.

This morning, with my Fitbit on my wrist, I walked from the bedroom to the kitchen. I turned on the coffee pot, then realized that I had left my phone in my room. Back to the bedroom, where I noticed that my bed wasn’t made. Took care of that, went back to the kitchen for coffee. Remembered the phone again. Back to the bedroom. Decided to do laundry, so I grabbed the hamper and headed downstairs to the laundry room. Back to the kitchen, where I poured the coffee and sat down to sip. 

And I realized that I still didn’t have my phone. Back to the bedroom.

You get the idea, right? I took around 500 extra steps, just trying to grab my phone.

In the course of a single day, a nice mature person like myself might go into the bedroom five or six extra times. We might go all the way into the garage to take a chicken out of the freezer, then come back upstairs after leaving said chicken on top of the dryer. And down we go again.

So, see?

It is actually way easier for older people like me to hit 10,000 steps than it is for our 20 something kids to get that far. 

I might still be “squishy”, but you better believe I am getting way, way, WAY more than 10,000 steps a day just going through my day.

Grace Under Pressure?


You know, when I’m daydreaming and sort of just fantasizing about life, I picture myself as a person who would display enormous grace under pressure.

I imagine myself hearing scary news and reacting in a calm and measured way. “Well,” I imagine myself saying to my doctor, “I’m just so happy that I live in a time when there are good treatments for this disease.”

I see the looks that my dear family would share. “Isn’t she amazing?” I imagine them murmuring. “So brave.”

When I picture myself (too often these days) facing a world on fire, a world where the grid has gone down and the food supply chain is broken, I see a strong, brave woman. I see myself channeling my inner Ma Joad, bracing myself to face the danger with a sturdy back and an unflappable courage.

In my head, I am always serene but strong. I do not waver. I smile through the darkest moments. I rise above the challenges that face me, ready to take on any struggle in order to take care of those I love.

I am, of course, completely full of shit as far as this fantasy is concerned.

I know this because for the one and only time in my life (so far), I have a couple of minor medical issues facing me. I am not dying. I do not have a terminal illness. I sort of have more of an annoying few days of medical tests to make sure I don’t need some medical intervention.

Should be nothing.

But it’s something.

The reality of my life is this:

I am not a serene, calm, accepting older woman who is ready to take on any challenge. Instead, I am a scared, whiny, weepy mess of a woman who wants to curl up under my covers with a box of cookies and a glass of wine. I want my kids. I want my mommy. I want a boatload of m&ms.

I am disappointed in me, to be honest. I’m afraid that when the shit hits the proverbial fan, I won’t be the one to organize the neighbors into a rescue force. I won’t be the kind and wise lady who sets up a foraging team to feed the kids in town. I doubt that I’ll be the resilient leader who looks at the reality of the situation yet manages to stay hopeful in the face of disaster.

I suspect, to my chagrin, that if I get scary medical news in the next few weeks I’ll start whimpering and I won’t stop until I’m either all alone or no longer capable of whimpering.

I don’t want to be a horrible and wimpy aging human. I don’t.

But I’m not sure how to turn myself into the person I see in my head.

Any suggestions?

Finding Joy in Small Moments


It’s really, really hot outside. It’s so humid that going outside feels like taking a nice long walk through a bowl of soup.

A hurricane is on its way up the coast, washing away our planned boating trip off of Cape Cod.

My local hospital and doctor’s offices have been completely screwing up the first potentially serious procedure I’ve ever had to have done.

And I just finished an 8 week excruciating process to wean off of a medication that helped me with pain, sleep and anxiety.

I’m cranky, kids. I’m wicked cranky.

But you know what?

We got bunnies this year!

I’ve lived out here in semi-rural Massachusetts for over thirty years. I’m used to seeing deer out there. Don’t get me started on the ever present squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles, mice and raccoons. We see skunks, foxes and coyotes. We’ve even had bears a few times.

But this summer is the summer of the bunny rabbit. Adorable, soft, bright-eyed little bunnies are everywhere, twitching their little bunny noses and flashing those little white puff ball tails. We have bunnies living under fallen brush, beneath the branches of our overgrown rhododendron and snuggling in the tall grass at the edge of the yard.

And they make me smile every time I see one.

Sure, having a tiny ball of fur hopping around has been known to turn my dogs into slavering, howling beasts, but even that is kind of funny.

Just now one little bunny friend, whom the kids and I have named “Lily”, was calmly working her way through a patch of clover about two feet outside of our dog fence. Bentley and Lennie were hysterically barking, racing back and forth along the fence, threatening to tear her limb from limb.

She just kept munching.

I had to laugh. The dogs were determined to get her. She knew they couldn’t.

I loved it.

For a few minutes I forgot that the Gulf of Mexico caught fire this week. I stopped worrying about the ever increasing number of clinically insane members of Congress. I even forgot to be mad at my doctor.

Just a fluffy little bunny, but her sassy attitude sure turned around my bad mood.

Now I need to go see if I can find some turkeys. Those things are freakin hilarious.

Thinking About Our Alien Visitors


Boy howdy. I haven’t been this excited about UFOs since the 1960s, when my big brother used to insist to me that aliens were hovering over our house all night.

I could hardly sleep back then, partly because I was afraid that I’d miss all the UFO excitement and never get the chance to meet the alien beings. And partly because I was convinced that a Martian was going to crawl in my window and eat my brains.

Either way, the prospect of a UFO sighting dominated a lot of backyard conversation back then.

And that excitement is back once again, thanks to an eagerly awaited Pentagon report on UFO sightings around the globe.

I can’t sleep now, either, although that might be due to age more than aliens. Still, the excitement and curiosity have my little brain all abuzz.

What if there really is some distant civilization that has somehow discovered our tiny blue planet? What if they really are hypersonically zooming around our atmosphere and observing us with their weird insectile eyes?

Wouldn’t they have made contact with us by now?

I actually have a theory about that.

See, I was thinking that if the space invaders starting watching us in the 1960s, they may have decided that this planet had a lot of evolving to do before it would be safe to visit. They would have flown over us and observed thick clouds of smoke choking humanity’s major cities. Even from space, they would have noticed the stinking rivers of sludge, the stench of burning coal, and the tar-soaked coastlines.

“Jeez”, they would have chittered to each other, “These creatures don’t even know enough not to foul their own nests.”

They would have been appalled.

Naturally, they would also have seen the fighting, slaughtering, murdering and warring going on all over the place. “Too stupid to realize they’re all the same species,” the boss alien would have sighed. “Let’s keep looking for a safer planet to visit. How bout if we give these beings a chance to work things out? We can come back in 50 or 60 years, see if there are any signs of improvement.”

Off they may have zipped, disappearing into the void in search of something better.

So what if they came back in the early 2000s? Do you think they would have decided to land here and make friends?

I can imagine the conversation as the new and improved hypersupersonic intergalactic vehicle began its approach to earth.

“Sir”, the Vice Boss Alien would have said, “Our instruments show that the pollution problems on Earth have been greatly reduced.”

“Good news, VBA, thank you!”

“Yessir. That is the good news. But that’s about all the good news I can give you. The rest of the story is pretty grim.”

Boss Alien would have sighed through little vents in his upper back.

“Full report, please.”

“Well, sir, it appears that a deadly virus has begun to circulate the earth. The humans are dropping like flies. They haven’t been able to figure out how they can keep themselves safe, even though their rudimentary science has shown them that if they put small pieces of material over their breathing holes, the virus can be kept away.”

“Vice Boss, I’m sorry. You’re not making sense. They KNOW that covering their breathing holes will protect the species, right? What do you mean they haven’t figured it out?”

“It’s very hard for advanced species like us to understand, sir… but these primitive creatures are fighting each other over facts. They seem to be quite superstitious and they definitely don’t trust each other.

Let me explain a little more, sir. You see, they have also found a preventative treatment, a vaccine, that will protect them. But these creatures are unable to cooperate with each other to share the treatments, so some of them are safe, while others are getting sicker and dying more quickly. And some of the sick ones want the treatment, but the healthy ones refuse to take it. It’s basically a mess.”

Boss Alien would have been confused, but he would have studied his instruments in search of something hopeful.

He would have been disappointed.

“H’mmmmm. I see that the slaughtering has continued. These creatures have been killing each other on the same small patches of sand since the last time we were here. They haven’t learned one damn thing, have they? There are still babies starving all over the place, the number of non-human species is dwindling, they’re running out of water…….

…..and it’s a lot hotter than it was last time we flew by.”

The Vice Boss would have looked at his report once more, and then he would have closed the cover.

“It’s definitive then?”

“I’m afraid so, VBA. It’s time to move on.

“There is clearly no intelligent life here.”

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

I Can Quit This Stuff Whenever I Want.


I know I’ve been on this medication for seven long years, and that it has melded itself right into my DNA. Sure. I know that.

I know that this stuff has eased all of the aches and pains of the fibromyalgia that had been slowing me down. It gave me some energy, that’s true. It helped me to sleep. And, you know, even though it’s prescribed for the fibromyalgia, it is actually an antidepressant.

So, ya know, it might or might not have made me a little more serene than I used to be.

I don’t know.

All I know is that as I wrote a while ago, I am ALL done with this liver pickling, dependence-creating Big Pharma non-hippy chemical answer to my problems.

I don’t need it.

I can quit any time.

Which is what I’m trying to do. Really carefully. And very slowly. Because the drug in question, “Cymbalta,” has it’s very own recognized syndrome. Yes, “Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome” is a thing.

Like, an actual, real medically recognized thing. Getting off this stuff is like quitting alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, Bridgerton and weed all in the same week. Or worse.

If you know me, you know that I am a big old baby when it comes to physical discomfort.

So I talked to my doctor, and we decided that I should reduce my dose from the 90 mg I’ve been taking for four years, and go down to 60 mg. I can’t cut it down more slowly because some genius in the marketing department at whichever big pharma company makes this stuff decided that it could only be made in dosages of 30 mg and 60 mg. And they’re not nice solid pills that a person could chop in half; it only comes in capsules full of tiny dots of magical poison. You can’t cut them in halves or fourths.

Eek.

I reduced my dose by 33% and hoped for the best.

And here I am, two weeks later, thinking “I CAN QUIT WHENEVER I WANT TO” and “HOLY ACHING EXHAUSTED BODY” at the very same time.

Sleep has become something of a joke, as I fall happily asleep somewhere around midnight now (instead of 9 pm). I sleep deeply until roughly 12:10, at which point I wake up to pee and remain awake for roughly two hours. I fall back to sleep around 2, wake up at 3, wake up again at 4, and then sleep well from 4 to 7.

(oh, I forgot to mention: yes, I have a medical marijuana card. Yes I use my edibles and now the occasional middle of the night vape. Nada.)

I lie awake and ache in ways that make me wonder how many nerves there actually are in a human neck and back and arms and legs and ribs and feet and jaws. So far neither my ears nor my nose is hurting, but I am expecting both to start up soon.

So all of this is hard.

But I can cope. The world has ice, heat, ibuprofen and menthol rub. I can cope.

Alas, there is one other teeny weeny issue that has made this withdrawal a bit challenging. That would be my experience with what the medical world refers to as “irritability.”

See, I’m getting pretty damn irritable.

I’ll give you a sample.

The other night my beloved husband (the clinical psychologist with a specialty in children and adolescents and more than 30 years of experience) came home from work. As usual, we chatted about our day over dinner.

I proudly explained to him how well I had handled a behavior issue with our 3 year old grandson and his older sister. I told him what I did, how I responded, feeling good about my ability to manage the emotional storms of young children.

My husband, bless his ignorant soul, made a casual comment about my choice of consequences for little Johnny. Now, mind you, he didn’t criticize my choice. Instead, he made a casual comment about the ways that he and I have approached the concept of “logical consequences.”

Honestly, I can’t even remember what he said.

All I know is that he made a comment and the next sound in the room was the roaring of blood through my head. My heart rate went from 70 to 400 in a nanosecond and sweat broke out under my gray hair.

The next ten minutes included poor Paul making attempted comments like, “No, I didn’t say…….” and “honey, maybe this isn’t a good time”.

For my part, I’m pretty sure there was a reference to the fact that he had NO FUCKING IDEA OF WHAT IT TAKES TO RAISE A CHILD because obviously our three kids were raised by me, single handedly. There was a comment about my decades as a teacher and his complete and total lack of any actual experience with kids at any point after 1981.

I have a vague recollection of promising to kill him dead and toss his body under a passing train.

Then I cried, ugly cried with the nasal snot and the hiccups and the drool, for about three hours.

Yup.

I’m (cough, cough) “irritable”.

Please pray for Paul. I will stay on this dose for another couple of weeks, but then I have to drop all the way down to 30 mg, a reduction of another 50%.

I may suggest that he move in with one of our kids for a couple of weeks.

You know what they told us back in our younger days, right? “Kids, don’t ever do drugs.”

I Think Spring is Going to Kill Me


I love spring. I really do. I love the smell of wet earth and the sight of the first few robins. I love Easter, and stale Peeps and the first time we roll out the grill and make some burgers.

But I’m realizing that there are certain parts of the spring ritual that are not really designed for the elderly. Especially the elderly like me who have the kind of memory issues that make us forget the arthritis in our spines and the nerve issues in our necks.

Today was a beautiful day out here in North Central Massachusetts. It’s been a pretty dry and pretty warm March. My crocuses are open and the daffodils and tulips are poking their heads up through the straw that I put over them last November.

Today was the first day of this year when the leaves piled on my gardens were thawed enough to rake. It was the first day when the soil was unfrozen, so that I could scrape back the mud and find the emerging shoots.

This was the first day of the miraculous rebirth that comes around every year. Hurrah! Time to get out there, old Nonni! Grab that rake, sweep up all those mouldering old leaves! Find the thyme plant and the phlox and the yellowish tips of the sprouting tulips!

So out I went, with my grandkids in tow. Five year old Ellie grabbed her child’s rake. Three year old Johnny grabbed a trowel. Almost one year old Max sat happily in the grass, but it was obvious that he wanted to taste some sticks and dirt.

With one eye on the baby and one on the barely surviving stems of my two year old hazelnut trees, I started to rake. And I raked, baby, oh did I ever rake. I sang songs to keep Max distracted while I raked every old leaf off the newest flower bed. I gave simple directions to Ellie and Johnny, who were simultaneously raking, arguing and pretending to be superheroes.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing and it felt fabulous to work hard in the springtime air.

Until it didn’t.

One of the funny/not funny parts of getting older is the way my body can alert me at the exact moment when it has had enough. Like a tornado siren on a summer night, it suddenly shrieks out of nowhere, shocking me into the reality that these old bones are no longer thirty. Every tiny nerve ending reacts simultaneously, which means every muscle seizes up and every joint freezes.

I went from Happy Farmer to Sobbing Zombie in about three seconds.

OWWWWWW!!! My thumb was screaming. A blister! And all the skin came off!!!!

YOWWWWW!!!! My lower back was shooting lightning down both legs and I was bent over at a ninety degree angle. I wanted to drop the rake, but my right hand was cramped into a claw.

Why was my calf cramping? And who applied a vise to my achilles tendon?

I took a breath. And wheezed.

Turned my head to look at the kids. My neck cramped.

The next few minutes are a bit of a blur. Step, ouch! Bend, ouch! Lift 25 pound baby, ouch ouchie mcouchums!!!!

I convinced the “big kids” to come inside with the promise of a cookie. Do. Not. Judge.

I am very happy to report that today is a rainy day.

Huzzah.

There is no reason for Nonni to drag herself out there and scoop up the mountains of moldy leaves. Today is a day for the heating pad, the ice pack and the play pen.

Spring is a time of wonder and joy. It is flowers and baby birds and rainbows.

It’s also a time to check the mirror and look at the wrinkles before getting carried away in the garden.

Photo by Sandie Clarke on Unsplash

The Puppy to Prison Pipeline


It never fails out here in suburban New England. One dog in the neighborhood lets out a bark, and the one next door feels compelled to answer. Then the hound across the street and the one around the corner join in. Pretty soon the air is filled with the howls and yips of a dozen pups, each one standing as close to their fence as they can possibly get.

So I was thinking this morning, as the canine cacophony made its way around the block, the life of a suburban dog is a lot like life in prison.

No, I mean it!

Think about it. The dog wakes up in the morning. He’s hungry and he has to pee. Can he just head outside and do his business before grabbing a bite to eat? No, sirree. Instead he has to wait patiently until the boss decides it’s time. If he gets frustrated and starts to make trouble, he’ll probably either be ignored or yelled at.

And when he’s finally fed, will he get a plate full of beef and cheese, or at least some toast and peanut butter? Nuh, uh, not in most houses. Instead he’ll get a metal bowl filled with a single scoop of tasteless, overcooked, unidentifiable “food”. Or if he’s lucky, a blob of vaguely meat smelling goop with embedded bits of orange and white stuff.

If he doesn’t eat it, he waits until the boss decides to feed him again.

And what does the dog’s day entail? Mostly boredom, right? He can nap, gaze longingly out the window at the world passing by, and dream of freedom.

If he’s a lucky dog, he’ll get a little time outside in the yard. Of course he’ll be confined inside the fence, or possibly allowed to “walk” alongside the boss. But he definitely won’t get a chance to run into the woods the way he wants. He won’t be allowed to roll himself in a dead animal or dig in someone’s compost pile.

Every minute of his day is controlled by the boss. Will he have a chance to play ball, or fetch a stick? That’s up to the bosses and their moods.

But the most striking similarity between suburban dogs and prison inmates, as far as I can tell, is the way they try desperately to communicate with each other.

Of course, I’ve never stepped foot inside of a human prison, but I do read mysteries and crime novels. I’ve seen Shawshank Redemption about 10 times, too. So I know that lonely inmates yell things to each other from cell to cell. I know that even when they can’t see each other, they call out, make jokes, complain and plot devious methods of escape.

Apparently they sometimes even tap on the walls or bars to send morse code.

They are desperate to connect with others in their same situation. They are determined to share their experiences with sympathetic souls.

Exactly like the dogs in my neighborhood.

Just this morning I was sipping my coffee. I hadn’t fed the dogs yet, but I had let them out the door and into the fenced yard. One of the big dogs down the street let out three loud barks. The little dog across the street from him answered. They went back and forth a couple of times, just short woofs and arfs.

“Nice morning.”

“Gonna be warm.”

“I’m starved.”

“Me, too. And I haven’t pooped yet.”

The next voice to join the conversation belonged to a Shepard mix a few houses past ours. His deep, bell like voice added a note of tension to the exchange.

“I smell chickens! You know the guy across the street is raising chickens, right? Chiiiiiiiiiiiickens!”

“And ducks! Ducks! I smell ducks! I want to eat duuuuuuuucks!”

By now my two dogs were standing at full attention in the farthest corner of the fence. Both had their heads up, noses twitching. Both had hackles raised.

“I WANT OUT!” One of them suddenly howled. “I gotta get outta here!!!” Every dog voice in the area joined the chorus.

“OUT!”

“HUNTING TIME!!!”

“Owooooooooot!”

“GOTTA GOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Within a minute, the air was filled with howls, rising and falling in the morning air. You would have thought that a pack of wolves was out there. The howls were chilling in their desperate intensity.

The hair on my arms rose.

The inmates had to be restrained before there was an uprising.

“Come on inside, sweeties!” I called. “Time for num nums!”

I shook their metal bowls of crunchy food-like bits.

They came inside, but they weren’t real happy. They sort of slouched past me.

I swear the terrier mumbled something about a breakout.

I Am a Bad Mother…..


But I’m a very good Nonni!

Tonight is the last night of summer for my daughter, the fifth grade teacher. I know exactly what this night feels like for her. I taught in the same school district as Kate for more than 20 years. I know the feeling of that last night at home, that last night of knowing that you’ll be there with your babies all day. The night that is filled with the ticking clock of doom.

I remember the feelings of anxiety and excitement as I’d look forward to the first day back at work as a teacher. Those first few days of organizing, decorating the classroom, meeting with colleagues, calling parents, and more meetings.

Exciting, exhausting, thrilling and nerve wracking.

My daughter heads back into school tomorrow, but for her everything will be different this year, because this is the 2020. This is the year of the pandemic. The year of lockdowns and masks and baths in Purell. Nothing will be the same this year.

I know that all of my good friends who are teachers are as sad and scared and excited as my Kate is tonight. I send my love and my sympathy for the angst that I know they are all feeling.

Truly! My heart is filled with admiration and gratitude to every single teacher, administrator, teaching assistant, school nurse and school psychologist out there. What a stressful night it is for all of you tonight!

So I love you. And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry to all of you, but especially to my beloved firstborn child, Kate, the teacher. I apologize. Mea culpa. Please don’t hate me.

Don’t hate me because I am so euphoric that tonight is the last night of your summer vacation! Whooie!!!!!!

I will be back in the saddle as of tomorrow morning. I will be Nonni in charge. Nonni on duty. La Nonna di tutti Nonni.

I will spend tomorrow with baby Max, all of five months old. I’ll rock him, change him, sing him ridiculous songs about whales and hearts and Uncles and eyebrows.

He will have my full attention, and he will be my total focus.

Holy baby cuddles, I am lucky!

Max doesn’t really know me yet, and tomorrow will be a big challenge for him. And a day of heartache for his Momma.

But for me? Tomorrow is the first day of my next year of grandchild care. Tomorrow I get to be my very best self.

Tomorrow I will feel useful.

I’m sorry that I don’t feel sad. I can’t help it.

I am NONNI, hear me roar!!!! Bring on the school year, baby. Nonni is ready to roll!

Nonni Hits the Dispensary


Back in the olden days, when I was young and we called it “grass”, I rarely indulged in recreational marijuana.

But times have changed, and Nonni has joined the growing list of aging potheads.

Thanks to a few conflicting but minor ailments, I am now a fibromyalgia patient who can’t take any over the counter pain medications. Nor can I drink alcohol (hello there, aging liver!). I am trying to cut down on the medication that helps me to manage the fibromyalgia discomfort, which means that at the moment the only part of me that doesn’t hurt is my right earlobe.

Enter the magical joy of the Medical Marijuana Card!! Ta, da! Safe and happy pain relief (I hope!)

For the past few years I’ve been the lucky beneficiary of weed guidance from my kids. My sons and son-in-law have helped me to find relief from insomnia by providing me with cannabis infused butter. They’ve introduced me to the new version of smoked weed, which smells like a dead skunk, burns like a forest fire and can make you melt into your sofa cushions like hot wax.

Not exactly perfect for this old lady….

Anyway, the other day I had a telehealth visit with a lovely young (as in, probably a sixth grader) Nurse Practitioner. I didn’t even need any medical records. I just self reported all of my ouchie booboos, and presto! She certified me!

(No, not that kind of “certified”, although many have told me that I am definitely certifiable.)

She approved me for a Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Card, good for one year.

I then spent about an hour maneuvering the state’s website and paperwork, and printed out my temporary card. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Off to the local dispensary I went!

Well, holy confusion.

Luckily for me, the kind, patient young people behind the counter were more than willing to explain things to their gray haired befuddled patient/customer. They barely even snickered.

The young man who was helping me explained the differences between the strains of weed. Did I want to be energized and given pain relief? “Yes, please.” OK! Sativa it is!!!! But he warned me that in some people it can increase anxiety. “No, please.” OK, then Indica it is! But that would make me sleepy and sedated.

Eventually he advised a hybrid.

But then we had to talk about THC to CBD ratio. Pain relief and anti-inflammatory versus pain relief and high. Or something like that. And don’t forget, there are many other cannabinoids that are helpful for other issues, like inflammation and appetite suppression. We looked at charts. We looked at graphs. We looked at printouts and glossy images. He talked. I bit my lip behind my mask and hoped my eyes looked intelligent.

Eventually, he seemed to feel like he knew exactly the right potion for granny here and jotted down a few notes. All was good. I had pretty much stayed with him so far, and was feeling fairly hip.

Until he started to talk about terpines.

Which sound to me like some type of fire accelerant but are actually related to smell (I think?) and to various types of high but also (maybe) have different health effects. Anyway, we had to consider our terpine preferences.

By now I was just nodding and sweating. There was a line of people waiting outside, six feet apart from each other, but looking a little surly. I just wanted to get my goodies and go home.

But my young and enthusiastic pharmacy major friend wasn’t done yet. Now I had to think about how to take my weed. I could choose lozenges, infused edibles, gummies, sublingual drops, topical rubs, roll on oil, vape, flower or something that was either wax or oil. Oh, and there was even a choice of various “sauces”!

Now I don’t know about you, but when I go to the doctor for a backache, I just want him to write something down on paper and send me to the pharmacy. I do not want to have to decide on my dosage, my route of ingestion or the flavor of the drug.

My little brain was awhirl. I did NOT want to look stupid. I was NOT ready for the teenagers to laugh at me.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were other “mature” people in the place, but most of them looked like they had been using weed every single day since Woodstock. Some of them were apparently using it to help cut down on their meth use.

I kept nodding my head, and saying, “Sure, whatever you recommend.” I kept trying to repeat, “Just make the ouchie booboos go away.”

Finally I thought I was ready to order. I wanted a topical cream, some sublingual drops and one vape for sleep. I pulled out the vape I’ve been using, and told the young man that when I had gotten a new cartridge recently, it just wasn’t staying in the device. Something was wrong.

The 13 year old working beside him looked at me over her flowered mask. She frowned. “You did remember to unscrew the magnet from the old cartridge and put it on the new one, didn’t you?”

The room filled with giggles and chortles as my face turned purple. I looked around at the experts, several of whom already appeared high, and shrugged my shoulders.

“Who knew?”, I laughed, getting into my role as the funny old lady butt of the joke. “You know, we should write a show for Netflix about this situation. We could call it Nonni at the Dispensary.”

Now the laughs were real, and kind and good natured. “Welcome, Nonni!” my young man barista said. “Here’s your product.”

Thanks to a “first time customer” offer, Nonni went home with two vape cartridges, lozenges, sub-lingual tincture, cream and ointment. As of right now, everything still hurts.

I just don’t care as much!

Military Rules?


So this will be a very quick post. I’m sleepy, it’s late, and we have had a long and emotional week.

I’m thinking about the President, and his most recent “rule by tweet” effort to distract us all from his Russian connections. By this, of course, I mean his out-of-the-blue decision, delivered in 140 characters, to ban all trans-gender people from serving in any capacity in our military.

I have a few reactions to this idiocy, but they are really all pretty much the same thing.

Let me start by explaining that I am a very boring, heterosexual woman married to a heterosexual man. In fact, we’ve been man and wife for 39 years now. Holy old folks. We have raised three heterosexual children who do not seem to be struggling with gender identity.

I say all of this to prove my non-gay, non-trans bona fides. I am straight, white and middle aged.

So when I heard that the President has decided to ban all transgender people from service in our military, I hope you will appreciate the fact that my very first reaction was “Is he out of what passes for his tiny little mind?”

Here’s why I say that.

We have a volunteer military in this country. Everyone who serves to protect and defend us is a VOLUNTEER. As in, “Dude, I could have just become a plumber.” Instead, each and every one of the men and women who carry guns for our military forces is there because they chose to be.

So kudos to all of them! Why on earth would we care what genitals they are carrying under their regulation uniforms? Why would we care who they are attracted to? Or how they see themselves, in terms of their own personal gender? What possible difference could any of that make to any of us?

I have the supreme luxury of NOT carrying a gun into battle. I have the security of knowing that none of my three straight children will be forced to carry a gun into battle.

Soldiers of the United States, I salute you, I thank you, I honor your service! I do NOT care if you call yourself Carl or Carol. I just don’t.

Also, modern warfare is plenty expensive. We spend 10 billion or so dollars on ONE aircraft carrier. I really, truly don’t mind paying for medical care for our soldiers. I don’t mind having my tax dollars go toward their cardiac medicine, their psychology visits, their knee replacements or their gender confirmation surgeries.

Honest! I don’t!

So, Mr. What-Passes-These-Days-For-A-President,

Please reconsider your ridiculous, pointless, vindictive, prejudiced policy on allowing non-traditional gender identifying soldiers to help protect and defend these United States.

Those of us who sit safely in our living rooms, rolling our eyes at your obnoxious tweets are grateful to all who have volunteered to keep us safe. ALL of them. EVERY single one.

Now.

About your Russian connections….Colorado Soldiers Return Home