Dear Mage

You are so nice to keep looking for me. I am fine; better than I’ve been all year. I’ve just been lazy about writing. Spent much of the last eight months doing leg exercises to counteract my arthritis. I have also lost 27 pounds and am working on losing 10 or 20 more. I am no longer in pain, I can walk normally, and haven’t opened the Tylenol bottle for the last couple of months. I had a wonderful birthday celebration last month. Instead of giving me gifts, I asked my guests to make a donation to the Israeli volunteer organization, Road to Recovery, that helps West Bank Arab children get to hospitals in Israel. Here is a video that tells all about it.

You can learn more about them at

I’ll tell more about my celebration in my next post, which I promise will be soon. I have to get pictures from Robin and she’s out of town this weekend.

How old is old?

After my 79th birthday last May I started to think about becoming 80 and what it might mean. First, let me say I know a number of people in their 80’s, and older, who are doing just fine. But, in the past, I knew many who weren’t fine, or were already dead, and the prevailing stereotype is 80 is old old. Should I stop traveling? Should I stop driving? What does it mean to be 80?
Added to that my knees have been bothering me for months and the pain makes me feel very old. I had cortisone shots in July that helped enormously–no pain for months. But while I was walking around in the bitter cold in New York City something happened to my right knee and I’m suffering again. I have been going for physical therapy and doing exercises religiously. I joined Weight Watchers just before Christmas and lost 11 pounds, so far. Still suffering. Finally I decided that 80 was just the day after 79 and my real problem was the terrible cold weather and snow and ice in Pittsburgh.
I am writing this from Israel where it is warm and sunny and I’m feeling better–not great, but better. And my friends, Yona and Arik, are treating me like a queen, so this my not count as traveling alone.
I’ve been to Israel many times in the distant past, but this is the first time in, probably 30 years. I am amazed at how the country has grown and changed. The roads and highways are wonderful and there are cities replacing the sand, shrubs and a few shanties from before.
Yona picked me up at the airport on Monday and I saw only the view from the road, but that was amazing enough. I postponed my collapse from jet lag long enough to play with Yona’s three grandchildren. The youngest seemed to be fascinated with me until I told her, in Hebrew, that I spoke only English. That was the end of our relationship. Actually, I am amazed at how much of my very scant Hebrew has come back to me.
Today we went to Ceaserea where there has been extensive excavation of the port city built by Herod during Roman times and a large, newly constructed, modern city.
From there, we went to Atlit to see the prison camp built by the British to incarcerate the Jewish refugees who had survived the Holocaust and were trying to enter what was then Palestine. These people, who had no place to go and were welcomed nowhere, went from Nazi concentration camps to remarkably similar British concentration camps. Imagine the terror. Once the state of Israel was proclaimed by the UN, all of the Jewish refugees from Europe were welcomed along with a huge number of Jews from Arab countries who were forced to leave their homes.
We had a late, excellent lunch in a restaurant in the Arab village of Ein Hud and that was the end of my day. Wiped out and jetlagged.
I am taking pictures but I don’t think I will be able to post them until I get home. I replaced the cursed Asus with an iPad mini and I haven’t figured out how to get the photos onto the mini. Nothing like new technology.

Cardio rehab

Much to my amazement I'm really enjoying the rehab three days a week. I look forward to going, instead of having those interminable arguments with myself about getting over to Club One. Not that Club One is bad. The rehab is like have a personal trainer, but one that monitors your heart, not just the way  you do your exercises. I think I like all that attention. Also, I work harder. Nothing like being accountable to someone.

It's interesting to speculate about why some of those people are there, especially the thin ones. After a lifetime of being told that fat will kill you I see as many skinny people there as fat ones. Did they have heart attacks, or just stents. I'll probably never know, but I have to conclude that being thin is no guarantee of anything. And even though I never returned to the dietitian, I've lost about 5 pounds.

Saturday I went on an Osher trip to Meadowcroft Rockshelter. The rockshelter is a fascinating archaeological dig documenting the oldest inhabited site in the new world. We were fortunate to hear a lecture by Dr. James Adovasio, the original excavator of the site. You can read a little about the controversy he generated at the link above.

Here is a picture of me with Dr. Adovasio, taken by Pat, our Osher program assistant. I told her I thought he looked like he was in pain. She replied that he was probably wishing I was 50 years younger.



Inspired by my weight loss I've not only bought new things, I've been going through closets, drawers and boxes to find things I outgrew and stashed away. To my dismay I found a number of never worn garments–2 suits (pants from one still missing), one jacket, one pair slacks. All of these things needed alterations–inevitably sleeves and pant length. I finished one suit, am working on the extra slacks and still looking for that pair of pants. (The jacket has huge shoulder pads and will need extensive reworking so I'm not too anxious to find the pants.) (How old is that?)

I don't like most of this stuff, probably why it never got fixed and worn. I think I bought it because it fit around the waist and not much did. These were desperation purchases. So how come I seem to be able to buy stuff now? I take it clothing manufacturers have become more realistic and are making things that fit real people. Nice that I've lived long enough to see it.