Illinois 64 Pentax K10D, 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL 2019
We lost Margaret’s mom last week. The funeral was yesterday.
JoAnne Joyce was 90. She wasn’t ill; it was just her time. She leaves behind a husband of 63 years, eight children, 25 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.
Margaret and I got away last weekend, impromptu. We drove straight to her hometown of St. Charles, Illinois. We saw the house she grew up in, and we walked the town’s lovely main street. It was good to reconnect with her past as she faces a future without her mom.
I’ve reached a time in life where I can recall memories from my adulthood with great clarity, as if they happened last week — but to my surprise, some of those memories are 30 years old.
As I think back beyond 30 years, memories seem to have aged on a logarithmic scale — the farther back I go, the disproportionately more ancient the memory seems. My college days now firmly feel like they happened a long time ago. My public-school days feel more remote and disconnected the farther back I recall them. What little I recall from before those days seems to have happened in another era, in a different place, the jumbled images faded and color-shifted like cheap photo prints left in the sun.
Yet so much happens in even a relatively short time span that it’s easy to forget key details. In this ten-year-old photo I’m at my first Mecum classic-car auction, having won tickets in a radio contest. I was in nirvana, happily experiencing cars I’d only ever before seen in photographs. I had recently bought my first digital camera, a surprisingly capable Kodak. I shot a couple hundred photos there with it, depleted the battery, and wished I had a spare. I switched to shooting with my phone, a Palm Pre, until its battery had depleted as well. And look at my hair! I wore it to my shoulders in those days.
This photo reminds me of most of these details. Would they be lost to me now otherwise? Do I remember the last 30 years as clearly as I think I do?
More importantly to me now: at what point will my 20s start to feel like they happened a very long time ago? My 30s? My 40s? I know a blogger in his 80s who says he mostly can’t remember his kids’ childhoods anymore. Is that my fate, too?
Every year on my birthday I write about growing older. But 52 isn’t that old.
It’s twice as old as 26, which is about the median age of the software engineers who work for me. I feel twice their age as I notice their youthful good looks and see them struggle through things I mastered long ago. I miss my youthful good looks but would not unlearn these valuable life skills to get them back.
As the rest of my 50s unfold I look forward foremost to our children all building independent lives. I’m eager to see what they choose and whether it brings them joy and satisfaction. I am eager for Margaret and I to turn our attention toward the life we want to build for ourselves, and to enjoy our children and grandchildren.
Margaret and I met Damion at McCormick’s Creek State Park for a little hiking.
Damion now lives minutes from this park, which is near the small town of Spencer, about a half hour northwest of Bloomington. It offers camping and swimming, but we’re hikers and so we care mostly about the trails.
None of us was prepared to cross this creek on our hike. We did our best to pick our way across the rocks, but all of us slipped off and hiked the rest of the way in sopping wet shoes.
Margaret and Damion explored this little cave. I wasn’t down with being on my hands and knees in shorts. Later on the trail we saw another opening to this cave, so on a return trip I’ll wear long pants and we’ll crawl through.
The most impressive sight on our hike was this waterfall. We passed by it at its level and later on a ridge, from which I made this photograph.
I didn’t intend to document this day in photographs, save perhaps the obligatory group selfie. But I’d forgotten how lovely this park is, so thank heavens for the iPhone in my pocket.
I hadn’t been here in 20 years. On my last visit, I pitched a tent for a weekend with Damion’s oldest brother, who was a teen then. That brother is now in his mid 30s and lives in Bloomington with his wife.
Damion is likely to soon move to Bloomington, as well, as he started his first career job recently and it’s located there. While I secretly wish he’d found a job closer to where I live, I’m openly glad he’ll be in the same town as his brother.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve turned off the ads on my blog.
They had become more trouble than they were worth. Ad placements I didn’t authorize kept appearing, ruining the look and feel of the blog. Many times I heard from readers that ads were auto-playing videos or, worse, automatically redirecting to junky and scammy sites. I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with WordPress.com support, getting them to turn off the unauthorized placements and squash the bad ad actors.
I made only about 50 cents a day from ads here. That paltry income wasn’t worth the hassle and, more importantly, the risk of alienating you. Nobody wants to keep visiting a site where videos automatically play or the page suddenly redirects to “Your computer is suffering from 23 viruses!!!!!”
The small stream of income was nice, as it covered this blog’s annual hosting costs with a little left over. But it’s not like I can’t afford this blog. Down the Road will live on without ad revenue.
Perhaps, however, you’d like to partner with me to fund more film, cameras, and adventures. If you do, you can click this “Buy me a coffee” button to send me $3. My favorite color film costs about $3 a roll, so it’s perfect.
I’ll quietly drop that button into posts from here on out. Clicking that button can be your way of saying you appreciate my work and want me to keep at it. But no pressure or stress — you’re welcome and wanted here even if you never click the button.
At the company that fired me last year I picked up the reputation of a serious coffee drinker — enough that at the holiday party, when they handed out silly awards I won Most Caffeinated. That really tickled me.
At that point I was drinking about a pot of coffee a day — half of that before I drove to the office.
I was also known as a whiskey drinker. That company had occasional happy hours where they provided wine and beer. I’d mingle, but seldom drink, until someone asked me why. When I told them I was more a whiskey man, a bottle of brown spirits appeared at future events.
I used to tell them, jokingly, that I drank coffee so they’d like me better, and whiskey so I’d like them better.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that through the unbelievable series of unwelcome and unwanted life events my family has lived through the last three years, I was drinking shots of whiskey every night to come down off the day so I could sleep.
A few months ago I realized I was falling into a deep hole so I cut out alcohol entirely. Immediately, sleep came with difficulty and sometimes not at all. I had just started to find regular sleep again when I took my new job. It triggered three solid weeks of insomnia.
So I went to the doctor, who prescribed something short-term to take the edge off. It works great. I’ve also started seeing a therapist for support.
The doctor arched her eyebrow at how much coffee I drink, so I’m trying cutting way back on that, too. Instead of half a pot of coffee in the morning I now drink three cups of black tea. I like the experience of sipping a warm liquid as part of my morning ritual of breakfast and blogging, and I worried that if I went all the way to decaffeinated coffee the headaches would be debilitating.
At work I allow myself one cup of coffee. In the afternoon I try to cut out caffeine entirely, but if the craving is solid I’ll allow myself one more cup of tea.
That cuts my caffeine intake in half — and glory be, my body is less often edgy-anxious at bedtime. I need to pop the prescribed bedtime pill far less often now.
I have tentatively tried a little alcohol again over the last few weeks. Margaret and I drank a couple bottles of wine while we were in New Harmony and on our wedding anniversary here at home, and I’ve had a few cocktails while out with friends. What I’m not doing anymore is pouring a tall bourbon or scotch and sipping it in bed, and another and another or however many it took to put me to sleep. This is an experiment and we will see how it goes. As I said before, if booze won’t stay in the box I put it in, I’ll teetotal forever.