Paul's Perambulations a personal blog

February 1, 2011

Comments on Big Little Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy

Filed under: Family,General,Love,Work — admin @ 7:22 pm

I recently came upon this well-written and challenging blog The author  (BigLittleWolf, or BLF) discusses personal issues of family, relationships, work, etc. from the perspective of a single mother. Here are some of my Comments on her blog and on similar blogs. They can be put in perspective by referencing them to her original postings if you wish. The bold heading is a brief identification of the nature of her original post. These topics are different from my usual ones and present an opportunity for me to write about some issues that I usually don’t cover. But I also see that the author’s situations and concerns are different from mine, and thus my blog and her blogs will naturally go their separate ways, even while we continue to learn from one another. Also, I have transferred much of my attention from my blog to my Facebook posts, where I condense some serious ideas into the allotted 420 spaces.

Her Blog Topics are in BOLD. She identifies as BLW. Her original post would be necessary to set the full context of my comments. My Comments may follow hers and be interspersed, so things may not be clear at times, but this is whatever it is and should not be considered definitive of anything. 

On Dealing with Stress

I do my best to prepare ahead for possible stressors. For example (and this is a way my wife and I differ, which is great), when we go backpacking into the middle of nowhere, I always check maps for cross-paths and emergency exits, in case one of us had a serious accident. I don’t put excess time into this preparation, and thinking ahead about what might happen and my successful resolution means that I don’t worry about it later. I’m the “plan ahead” Boy Scout at times. Fran is adventurous.

Just got back from jogging (after 40 years, it’s now mostly at hiking tempo) in the snow with my friend Jerry. That helps with stress, plus regular walks with Fran. Get outdoors, if you’re at all like me. Fran would use knitting for self-control, and when she observed that her stitches were tighter when she was stressed, she proceeded to make them looser and said that helped relax her. I can also tell when she needs some particular loving.

I notice that your other posts focus on dealing with symptoms. I suggest you deal with the causes of stress and you’ll feel better. For example, if the source of the stress is a seriously disturbed adult who is toxic to all those in the vicinity, don’t just meditate or breathe deeply, move away from the stress source. I realize that fixing the problem tends to be called the “guy” thing, but it’s generally a good idea.

On Memories and Fantasies

Filene’s Basement — the real one. The store with weekly markdowns and gave away any stock that had been sitting in their open bins for more than four weeks. My sister and mother (and everybody else) trying on clothes for size (before there were dressing rooms). I found (and gleefully bought) a switchblade that was in a box of Italian kitchen knives and small folding knives.

My fantasy life isn’t too different from my real life nowadays. Maybe I’m getting dull. Maybe I’m fortunate. I’m hoping for a chance for winter backpacking, but not sure if I’ll get the opportunity. Fantasize that this country comes to its senses and realizes that there can be no peace, here or elsewhere, without true justice.

On Style

I’ve never been one for the latest style or fashion, but do believe in neatness and utility. Not happy with folks who wander about the house half the day without getting dressed.  Form and function go together to make good dressing.  I’ve worn the old-fashioned academic “uniform” (often Harris Tweed jackets from a nearby thrift store) for years.  This keeps me warm (or I remove it if too warm), and it has sufficient pockets. Temperature control in my historic building (windows and steam radiators) is from the early 1900s. Hiking and backpacking is all function for me, and gear and clothing can be hi-tech.  Incidentally, clothing does NOT disguise fat or being out of condition (unless you’re wearing a bag, and that’s sort of a giveaway).  I kept a set of clothing from high school to wear to my 50th reunion recently. Strange that I had to point this out to folks.

p.s. Clothing does give a message, of course. When I am invited to speak publicly, I make a point of dressing for my audience in a way that will not get in the way of my message.  With young people, it’s neat but casual. When it’s civil disobedience and demonstrations, dress can be business attire (for the benefit of folks who would yell “Get a job” or “Hippie” and the like).

On Sexuality

In my youth in the 1950’s and early 60’s, my incredible naiveté of practical matters re sex would amaze those born decades later, even though I was well informed and well advised on a technical basis (in that sense, doubtless better informed than today’s youth). They are more experienced in practice at a younger age, but sadly ignorant/misinformed as a byproduct of our current cultural values, particularly as expressed via the media. One good aspect of those prior times was a sense of personal privacy – what we do not experience today. If that also resulted in some practical naiveté, then it was not all that bad.

On the Power of Affectionate Touch

A friend and I were in the process of establishing a relationship, although we had never been intimate or even kissed. The situation was complex (typical for me), and we had soon to be separated by time and distance. On departure, I asked, as a seal of our affection, if I could place my hands gently on her breasts. She agreed.

Some years later, when the relationship was agreeably concluded but we were bound as good friends forever, I said that I wished to seal this new passage either by a gentle kiss on her lips or by placing my hands on her breasts. She replied “I don’t want to mess my make-up; my breasts.”  The relationship was thereby over; the friendship and trust continues.  (cf. Yarek Oath, e.g., Gen 47:29).

On Work and Discipline

I am impressed with your self-discipline in writing a professional post on a daily basis. I write whatever/whenever (emails to friends, brief lectures on Facebook, etc). When seeing a new doctor years ago, I checked my papers when he was out of the room.  In a corner was written “Type A Personality.”  Rather than take offense (“Not me?”), I was the epitome of mellow when he returned. My family was achievement oriented around values, which is much more challenging than working for worldly success. My family excelled in values, and part of growing up was to learn to put this in perspective (not always easy). I received my Ph.D. from Princeton at age 23, but perhaps the most important thing I learned was that I did not want my life to mirror my mentors’. Personal values tend to free us; it is society that tends to enchain us.  My parents were very loving and forgiving. My father once sent me a card on which he had written “Do your work with honor, not for honor.” Only thing missing was that it wasn’t in Latin.

On importance that partners intellectually stimulate one another

Fran and I definitely help one another grow, and that is important for us. It might not be so important for some others. Can you really be happy sitting together in front of the TV?  We don’t own one, so I guess I can’t speak for others. In any case, Fran and I have an amazing relationship. Sometimes it seems almost unbelievable, and I noticed that when I posted about our happiness together, there appeared to be some cynicism/disbelief that such things could be true.

Based on this personal life experience, I am led to let folks know that wonderful relationships do exist. I know of a number in addition to Fran and me (my parents, for example), and so, for those who are looking for true love, keep up the search.

On Romance (posted on Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce blog)

Your Valentine’s Day post dealt with Romance.  In the words of the song. “I’m a believer.” but perhaps not in the way it might be experienced by some others.  The romantic first meeting between Fran and me occurred in a nighttime rain storm.  We share romance in the woods under the stars. We do dress up occasionally. Romance is still there, although it does not have the same place as some years ago, because we have so much more of everything else now.

Then there is the romance of love lost, of hopeless love, where the word could never be spoken. For sheer romance, it doesn’t get more than that, where pain and sweetness are one.

If you want to feel better (sort of) about no romance, see Blue Valentine.  I’m not much for special days, seeing that each day is a gift and a reason to be thankful for my wife Fran. She totally ignores them.  So we went for a good brisk hike (reminiscent of how we met).

NYTimes Love in Six Words (Feb 14, 201)

Rainy hike in woods – downpour love.   (#1062)

Brilliant, good, fun, not cowed by rules  (#1164)  (Did anybody get this inside joke?)


  1. My additional Comments on Big Little Wolf’s Blog:


    Fran and I take risks, but of a different sort than when younger. We don’t take risks that can only be salvaged by brute physical strength and endurance (I don’t climb with ropes). But in other ways we are much less inhibited (purple, anyone?), and I am much less concerned about risking my image/reputation (not that that ever really was my concern, or maybe when much younger). So we do some seemingly goofy stuff and can often find some fun in it. I did some solo backpacking (couple of trips where I didn’t see another human for three days). I didn’t take intentional chances (no one to help – you’re on your own), but felt surer of things than I would have decades ago.

    BLW asks in response….What risks/adventures might you take solo, and others, only with Fran?

    Your question got me thinking (you’re particularly good at asking questions). Fran and I do lots together, but we aren’t tethered. Our pair/solo times are based mostly on whether our interests and schedules are shared or not. I worry some about her when she is alone at night in South Philly after doing her volunteer work with the Burmese refugee community there. Feel it’s more risky than solo backpacking. She doesn’t worry about such things – for herself or for me. She’s adventurous/spontaneous (remember her “risk taking, not thrill seeking” and “serendipity rules” when we first met, and my wedding statement that “this marriage is to free you….”). She enjoys travel more than I do. I was arrested for civil disobedience a few years ago and had a trial and all – very good experience. Fran supported this, but that behavior wasn’t her thing. I didn’t feel it was particularly risky, although the feeling is interesting when someone first locks you in the paddy wagon and controls your life for the moment.

    Oh, she’s more cautious in the water than I am (being a minimal swimmer and having almost drowned on at least two occasions). When she was 20, she was rescued in Tahiti by a French Foreign Legionnaire. Et cetera.

    BLW replied: “Tethered.” Great word, Paul. And a concept of committed relationship that some have. (I don’t.) As for that paddy wagon thing – wow! I will say, I had my own version, the Parisian paddy wagon, but that’s another story for another day…

    ROMANCE (from BLW blog)

    True seduction is perhaps the most romantic thing imaginable. Seduction should leave a beautiful memory, full of surprises and revelations for both partners. It should not be manipulation or obligation…that is not seduction. I didn’t seduce Fran into a relationship (I needed to be more forceful than that), but I did seduce her into marriage.

    THE FRIENDSHIP FIX (from BLW blog)

    Folks tend to have more friends when younger than when older. Young people are more active, mobile and flexible. We all have lots of friends in school…that environment makes it easy. I have kept one close friend from that period, and our friendship is essentially based on our shared experience of that period. The hook for getting folks into those retirement communities is the idea that you will relive that youthful life with lots of like-minded friends who have time and opportunity to do things with you. Sometimes (in a restricted fashion) this may even come true.

    We all have lots of friends when our children are young, based on that shared experience of being parents.

    I “know” lots of people, but I am grateful for three friends who can be considered confidants, along with a couple of others whom I know I could always call upon if needed. I chose them as friends and have known all of them for decades. Some friends are at a distance, but Fran and I do so much together that that is okay. When I met Fran, I gently grilled her in my unique (sic) way. Perhaps the most challenging thing I learned about Fran (forget the time that she was at the wheel in the pilot house of a sinking ship off Australia) was that she had no female confidant and did not feel that she particularly needed to have one or that anything was missing. She is the only woman I have ever met without a female confidant. Fran is open and confided/trusted in me almost immediately in a way that was surprising. She always has friends, enjoys friends, makes friends, but does not have any need for old friends and tends to just move on when she moves on. I made sure we discussed this, and she has since reconnected with some old friends based on her experience with me.

    BLW@Paul – There certainly is a difference between those we know and those we really count on and share with. I love that you discussed this issue of maintaining friendships with Fran. I think we all need that profound connection, and with more than our significant other. Now, that “sinking ship off Australia” story – how can you leave us hanging??

    The sinking ship story…. It really needs a lifetime of context, but brief story is that in 1970 Fran was living on an old navy supply ship/barge anchored on a river upstream from Sydney, with a mailbox and a rowboat on shore. Her nearest neighbor/friend lived on an old minesweeper, a rowboat ride away. He and his buddy decided that another inlet was more suitable, and they invited Fran along on moving day. All was going well except that it had been some years since the ship had actually put to sea, severe leaks developed in a heavy swell, and the old pumps failed to work. Friend takes over working with the pumps and puts Fran in wheelhouse with instructions to “steer into the waves.” Next he runs back up and sends out “Mayday” and runs down to balky pumps again. Coast Guard cutter arrives, they abandon ship (Fran gracefully sprains ankle jumping from deck down to Coast Guard vessel). Ship sinks, two men and a beautiful girl arrive back in Sydney minus ship (guy’s whole house went down), and Fran is on front page of Sydney newspapers after daring rescue. Typical story for Fran.

    (ed.) Fran has made some unwise decisions. Of course we all do, to an extent. She is a great survivor. But we are getting older, and no one ultimately survives that.

    STATE OF MY WORLD (BLW blog re economic concerns)

    How do we spend our money? Had to laugh/cry when I heard a secretary at work discussing how her daughter’s wedding was expected to total more than $30,000. Our Quaker wedding in 2005 (conceded by many, including Fran and me, to be the best wedding ever) came in under $2,000. About a third of that was for the meal (partly purchased, partly prepared by family and friends), about a third for the Quaker marriage certificate (hand crafted paper, lettering, framing…it hangs over our bed with the signatures of all 135 who were present), and the other third for other expenses and our honeymoon along the Appalachian Trail. A great time was had by all.

    IS GIVNG COMPLICATED? (BLW blog re giving for Japanese relief after earthquake there.)

    Very good post – it IS complicated. Fran and I are heavier in time donations than cash donations, although I’ve figured that car-related expenses and unexpected costs of Fran’s volunteer work with refugees in Phila is actually our largest “cash” donation at this time. These U.N. refugees are fully legal and many have suffered loss of family members in the disorders in Burma. Some of my acquaintances have criticized our government and volunteers for helping these refugees, when there is so much need at home. But help is so inadequate relative to need when they arrive here, that Fran would now recommend that most refugees are better off eating U.N. supplied rice in crowded refugee camps than coming to U.S.A. – no land of opportunity for those with no education and who don’t speak English. I focus on resistance to warfare and war spending (e.g., as a war tax resister), with a positive emphasis on working for justice and diplomatic solutions to conflict ( ) Quaker work is volunteer based and focused on getting folks self-sufficient in a peaceful world.. I have found that the world’s problems are so immense that I do better to carefully select certain issues for my involvement, and these issues are often in areas where relatively few others are active or as knowledgeable as I am, and so my time (and limited money) can make a significant difference.

    A related issue is how do we allocate our time/money contributions with respect to our partner and/or family (Fan’s stepson is with us now.)? This can be difficult for some activist families, particularly those with different commitments. At the moment, much of my “donation” is helping Fran with her refugee work and also by taking public transport to Villanova when she has the car. When I organized a bus load of students for a D.C. demonstration, a group wandered ahead of the march “to see what was happening” and got lost by “a big white building with a flag” and almost was arrested. I was frantic; Fran rounded them up, somehow.

    THIRD DATE SEX? (BLW blog, also LDR relationships)

    I am the specialist on Long Distance Relationships. Would never do it again, even though always said I would cover the world to find the right woman (and I did, although she turned out to live near home). My only story re third-date sex: One time met a woman (high-powered German socialist intelligentsia employed by a major German firm, making probably five times my salary – what do you expect in response to my “Quaker pacifist revolutionary socialist seeks girlfriend” ad) who announced at our first date that she never slept with a man until the third date. She was interesting, and we met a second time. At the end of that date, I announced that we didn’t seem well matched, and I wished her good fortune in all her future endeavors. She was interesting and attractive, but not a likely prospect/match for a LTR, so I had to be out of there. So glad to have found Fran and also not to be dating…got so bored with it, even with my quirky approach that at the least got some interesting responses.

    Agree, that women tend to be better for deep discussion than men. However, my best buddy is a man, and we’ve discussed everything/anything while jogging together for more than thirty years. Happens that he’s a psychiatrist, but maybe that’s why I’ve learned to consider and then discard much of his advice. We usually talk politics and heavy stuff, but we help one another if needed. When I first met my wife-to-be (for a night hike in woods in the rain), she was the only woman I had ever met who did not have a female confidant. I checked this out carefully, and she’s good. We’re both unusual in some ways and a great match. Incidentally, most everything I have learned about men, I have learned from intimate discussions with women. Only way to get the truth (taking into account a few exaggerations thrown in).

    (My blog tends to be political/academic/ heavy. I appreciate this opportunity to put a more personal touch on things.)

    Comment by admin — March 15, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

  2. More comments on Big Little Wolf’s Blog:

    Vulnerable to love?

    Am I vulnerable to love? Am with my love right now, on her computer next to me (ah, the forms love take). And so, “Yes.” Have been that way for decades (perhaps not when much younger, maybe didn’t know what love really was) and would hope always to be, one way or another.


    My relationships have been all with women that I considered likely long-term friends. All relationships lasted at least one year. All relationships were identified as open and honest. They were all invited to our wedding. Some were able to come, and they all celebrated for me.

    Two beds or one?

    No brainer for me. Double bed (no larger), often touching partner in some way if possible. Our smallest two-person backpacking tent (ultra-light) – we need to turn over at same time Of course, it’s whatever works for folks as a couple. Twin beds – you’ve got to be kidding. Not MY parents or grandparents…no way!!!

    Seduction BLW post referring to me, and my response:

    As for seduction, might I quote a wise man – one of my readers – who seems to have a good handle on the matter? I’m speaking of Paul, whose comments on romance and seduction are these:
    Seduction: True seduction is perhaps the most romantic thing imaginable. Seduction should leave a beautiful memory, full of surprises and revelations for both partners. It should not be manipulation or obligation… that is not seduction.

    Paul response: Interestingly, considering my comment quoted in your text above, I’m not sure that I could be said ever to have seduced a woman, in the traditional sense. I generally have a great deal of prior discussion about most everything. How dull THAT must sound, but it can build up incredible anticipation, and my past partners are few in number and have become life-long friends.

    However, if we can consider seduction in marriage, it can be fun to gradually seduce your partner with a snuggle that may be just a “touch” closer or longer than usual, and so on and so on. Good to get beyond the Saturday morning routine, even though good sexual habits are also important.


    I am a great romantic and a fool for love, and identify with that “universal hope for love and affection” mentioned above (which might get me doing something to rectify the situation…good).

    It seemed like almost everything about Fran was different from what I had previously experienced or thought I was looking for, and yet I knew almost immediately that she was right for me and that I was right for her.

    The Royal WEDDING.

    Why the big deal? Are we just a nation of spectators and/or wishful thinkers, who can’t deal with the 21st century and so we have circuses in the coliseum? Sorry to sound so bah humbug, it’s just that I’ve never bought that Cinderella story (and Kate is no Cinderella). Hearing about their marriage is like hearing about sex…knowing someone else is getting it doesn’t do much for me.

    I see that there are nearly 900,000 Likes on the Cinderella page and less than 4,000 Likes on the Humbug page. The people (or is it the owners of Facebook?) have spoken.

    “Romance” is in the eye of the beholder. Some may like the “pomp and circumstance,” and I have been impressed by St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. This summer when backpacking near an open area by a pond, I got up in the middle of the night to pee and the sky was perfectly clear and the dome of heaven was overflowing with stars. No other light at all. It was so beautiful and compelling that I woke up Fran and we made love on the moss under that sparkling sky. Beauty and romance take many forms, but for me/us, experiences such as that are the most memorable. p.s. I told Fran I was posting on the royal wedding, and her one-word response was “Why?”


    I was brought up with the likes of “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for.” Only began to figure out what this was saying years later, and still get various meanings from it. It helps to have a perfect goal (if such can be said to exist), to direct you for as far as you get. I could be said to have failed repeatedly, but that’s not how I look at it. I was very fortunate for good family support growing up. No big regrets.

    PERFECT would be SOOO dull (being complete and not modifiable but precisely determined). And only thing immutable is death. So hurrah for imperfection. (How did I ever get to this???).

    Change for the sake of change? BLW asks the following:

    • Do you ever find that change for the sake of it energizes you?
    • When you’re on the verge of something new, do you go with it – even into the unknown?
    • Must growing older mean narrowed opportunities?
    • When it comes to facing the future, can we teach ourselves fearlessness?

    Paul’s response:

    In the order of your questions:

    Friday we went to a new little Indian restaurant, Indian is generally not my thing (especially highly-spiced food, New Englander that I am). But let’s give it a try. I unknowingly got the spiciest dish. Interesting, and although still not my favorite, now I know I can handle that stuff and evaluate it better.

    New, almost by definition, means into the unknown. I leave myself escape routes (unlike Fran), and then am fine with it. I didn’t have to eat the Indian dinner I was served, but I did.

    Aging produces changes in our opportunities. More are opening for your sons, they have narrowed for me. That’s life – good. Did a measured 5K run on Saturday, with 10 minute miles and a T-shirt at the end. That oh-so-slow rate now feels good for me at 68. Long past any personal bests in that area. Get real.

    Just do it. I don’t know if we teach ourselves that, or if we get so we don’t care (that’s a mixed aspect of folks wearing purple when we age).

    p.s. When we met, Fran accurately self-described herself as “risk taking but not thrill seeking.” We’ve shared a fair number of changes. Maybe you have to leave things behind, to go on to new things. Certainly you can’t do it all. A shared learning experience, with value added. At the moment, I’ve changed back to being a parent with a child (stepson in early 20’s) back in the house. Civil disobedience is easy in comparison. Unplanned things happen a lot…make the best of it.

    Maintenance (beauty) essentials

    Money for clothes or looks – essentially zero (Fran cuts my hair). I guess there are water bills for showers. Time…lots, if you count outdoor exercise, the best beauty aid. Fran’s costs – close to zero. Thrift stores. Her hair is long and natural reddish blond. For anything up close, it’s easy. I just take off my glasses. OK, we’re strange, and see what works for you. This works for us.


    What would it be helpful for others to know? I am ready to be fully open and honest with my own feelings, beliefs and actions, and look for the same from others I am close to (i.e., my wife, and in the past a few close relationships). But timing is important. Because some of my views are at odds with cultural norms, I have to consider what would be helpful and what can people handle. At work, I’ve learned to be quiet on a lot of things and be a “team” player, while I still upset some folks by even suggesting a very few things for consideration (google peacefulways). At a colleague’s recent retirement event, he said that student evaluations were driving what material students were being taught – that you will not have students to teach if they disagree with your factual data and your professional interpretation. If so, can Americans be considered truly free to speak and learn? Not coincidentally, newer faculty tend to be highly-skilled technocrats and bureaucrats working for advancement within a conventional system.

    Topics that are new to academe and very popular are courses related to women and sexuality. Topics that are very unpopular and/or disliked are courses that are related to critiques of war and capitalism. That’s being un-American and thus a no-no.

    Good sex?

    How ironical (or logical, if you will) of Mother Nature (or evolution, if you will). The sexual “X” graph going in opposite directions, in which women ending the child-bearing years show a steady increase in libido, while older men (now becoming less likely to survive as healthy long-term fathers) show a steady decrease. Big individual differences, of course. I’ve seen women with incredible sex drive… “The most important thing in the world”… fall off the wall and say… “I don’t have any desire to ever make love again.” If a solid love relationship has already been established, alternative approaches are possible, but this may pose difficulty. That is because for many, it is not just a lack of capacity for sex, it is a lack of capacity for intimacy. And that is fatal.

    Slinky and life

    The classic Slinky. And so we keep going, with some bounce in our step, and even if things feel like they’re going downhill, we can still enjoy the trip. Sometimes things may go astray or get stuck someplace, but a little nudge gets things going again. Also a classic science demonstration. I always borrowed a slinky from my kids when I demonstrated Bekesy’s traveling wave theory of hearing in class. I was lugging around his personal model (more elaborate) at one time.

    Non-parents giving parental advice?

    I remember Rousseau’s Emile, concerning the ideal education and upbringing of this imagined boy, written by a father who had his wife take each of their children to the foundling home in Paris without ever setting eyes on them. And yet Emile was the family reference for many of those of the “better sort” in that period. Book is interesting but often unrealistic, and more than a bit pompous (at least by today’s standards).

    High School Sleepovers

    Great. That’s such a great experience…I remember those times well. They just flop down all over the place, as buddies, and sort of chaperone one another (under an adult eye, while walking through to replace the snacks). One time my son hosted a band party – during his heavy mental period. Two bands and followers…maybe fifteen, all in black and purple, capes and hoods, etc. One daughter hosted the volleyball team plus the JV and followers – BLW, you would have thought you were in the land of the giants. Then there’s the time we had fourteen in our Ford Focus wagon…but that’s another story. Anyway, CONGRATULATIONS. (p.s. We’re about 1300 sq ft and one bathroom – it’s amazing what you can fit in — they manage.)

    Pucker Up

    BLW writes “Some time back, I was caught in a goodnight kiss at the door.” Well, how about walking in on sex? The classic situation, and perhaps one of the best experiences a child can have, if handled properly. Deal with it as a natural situation, and explain it to the child afterwards, positively. I remember my experience with my parents, after the initial shock. “Wow, they’re still at it. And I’ve got their genes. Good for them. Good for everybody.” My step kids have walked in on us. Perhaps their biggest shock may be in discovering that folks in their 60’s are still active (which is rare among our friends however). One of my daughters said that she knew the marriage was over when my former wife insisted on separate beds and there wasn’t any activity going on. She got that right, all right.

    p.s We show healthy affection in the home in front of our children (now adults) – sometimes kiss or hug and do some silly things. Nothing that should embarrass anyone, but be seen as a good or natural sign – parents (and serious relationships) have a loving life. We always kiss goodbye when we go anyplace. But no PDAs. This mirrors my experience with my parents. I remember how my mother would sometimes sit in my father’s lap when they discussed things or were relaxing (he was 6’4”, she was 5”1”.

    P.p.s. I’m a hand holder and often hold Fran’s hand when walking. Always did this when dating (remember that my initial date was often a hike or walk – good way to separate the sheep from the goats). I would explain that I was a hand holder and ask if it was all right with her. Could tell a great deal from how that all went. As I’ve said, I know a few wonderful women, very well. Also had many more first dates, and that’s all fine with me.

    Dates who disappear

    Sound like inconsiderate wimps to me. Never experienced anything quite like this personally. I would probably hound them for an answer or give a lecture on manners. You need to be kind but clear that things aren’t working out or that things have changed for some reason. But always, you need to be open and honest about this (NOT critical), at least to the extent that the other person would like to know or be helped knowing (some don’t want to know any details). Just disappearing…spineless cowards.

    Value of Change (past or future)?

    I think about changes I want to make in the future. There are things I’ve done in the past that weren’t too bright, but I don’t think about this with any particular regrets. What’s past is past; hopefully we learn something from it all. I sometimes think I’d like to regain the brain power that I had 40 years ago without losing the wisdom I’ve gained in those 40 years. But things don’t work that way, and it would be weird anyhow, so it’s pointless to consider. I sometimes wish I had been able to treat a particular person better, but the situation made it better not to do so. So what do you do? That single regret isn’t even regret…it’s a statement of still not knowing what would have been the right thing, and for that instance I will never know.


    BLW writes “Can you imagine if we all shared all the little things we did?” We’d soon get used to it and life would be much duller (think what it would do to gossip), but probably easier. I don’t believe folks are fooling others as much as they think they are, and who cares anyway? If folks have a reason to speak of things and share equally and are trustworthy, I have no secrets. Guess maybe that narrows it down to my wife. I hold in strict confidence what others tell me in confidence.

    Chronic health issues

    I am blessed with good health and no meds. I make an effort to take care of myself, but so do lots of other people I know. I cannot take credit for my health, but on the whole I am doing well and I can only be grateful as well as be sympathetic/understanding to those who are not so fortunate. I’ve experienced pain in the past and know it can be a killer. I’m 68 and don’t claim to feel like when I was 28 or even 58. I believe that 68 means some aches and pains and slowing down are inevitable – you live with that and don’t deny it like we see in those foolish ads for retirement communities. (p.s. I did have some stressful times before I met Fran, so I know life isn’t all rosy.)

    Comment by Paul — May 16, 2011 @ 1:07 am

  3. And more of my Comments on Big Little Wolf’s blog:

    Innocent until you “look” guilty? (Re racial stereotyping) May 15, 2011

    It reduces the essential freedom for all of us when anyone can feel intimidated merely by his/her appearance. The legalities of immigration are something for our national government to consider and respond to as the people see fit, in accord with the Constitution and other legal precedents. In the state instances you mention here, the money would be better spent for schools and teachers.

    Budget Bummer (on cost of children –your money and your life) May 17, 2011

    A fair balance was once achieved by natural and expected changes in family support during the respective lifetimes. In return for received support during their childhood, adult children became the support of their parents in old age. Now children are supposed to get an expensive education and then move to wherever the jobs are, and they lose close contact with their parents and are not prepared to give on-site or financial support for their aging parents.

    Doing what we feel is “right” for children is SO expensive and time-consuming today that the joy of it can become out of balance, so that it can seriously detract from one’s own life. I was fortunate to be able to do a lot for my children and still be healthy and able to meet Fran about a decade ago. My kids are happy for me now. One of them particularly knew the difficulties that I was under at the time. I explained, in an adult manner, that we are not meant to suffer unnecessarily and that I was able/responsible to take care of myself and find friends in comparable circumstances.

    BLW replies: The Sandwich Generation comes to mind, and as you say, Paul – now, we all go wherever the opportunities may be in order to survive. Often that keeps families very spread apart. The days of one generation taking care of their elders seems to be a thing of the past. All the more reason to take care of each other, with or without blood ties? Friends, colleagues, students – creating communities we fashion ourselves? I am still a believer in the benefits of the energy that children and young people provide in any environment, and the wisdom of a life well led, offered as example to the younger generations. You and Fran are examples of those who have life experience to share.

    Easy to Love? May 18, 2011

    Easy to love? When you find the right person, you’ll find that it’s not about easy, it’s about love.

    (However, I replied as follows to comment that it wasn’t as simple or easy as this made it sound.)

    Who ever said that it was simple to find the right person? Therein lies the rub. I was on the hunt for years (off and on, actually), waging what might be considered a major and focused campaign. I met some wonderfully nice women, but you can’t let yourself get too distracted by “nice” (not always easy to do, especially when you get in a comfort zone). At one point I was doing a national search (even a great story about meeting a woman at the base of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square, having never seen her picture) and did a lot of preparation and screening by very deep telephone conversations (get beyond this fool computer). No doubt, that got tiring (although very educational), and I lucked out to find Fran right here at home. But how much was luck and how much was preparation? Chance favors the prepared mind.

    Aging Out (of dating and age compatibility, except for much older men) Date uncertain

    “That leaves a 50-year old to become the caretaker of a 65 or 70-year old man. Not all the time, but often…” This can be a significant and complex issue. Another line from my quirky post that Fran responded to: “Age irrelevant, if you can keep up with me.” But Fran and I can’t expect to be healthy forever (rain all this week, so we cancelled our backpacking plans). When Fran and I discussed aging and the future, she directed me to a various sites focused on handicapped camping in state parks. Hate to think about it, but YES!
    p.s. In practice, I always stayed within a 5-10 year range of my own age. Any greater difference than that was noticeable in our different cultural experiences. One dear woman was eight years my senior (a great hiker, but different experiences). Of course, the fact that she was a southerner and an only child may have entered in, too.

    Turning a Blind Eye (re the topic of marital monogomy) May 20th, 2011

    You challenge your readers with this one. Good. How does monogamy fit with our ideas on marriage? (I prefer the word monogamy rather than adultery, a terrifying word to older wives.) Best any of your readers could say was “turn a blind eye to it” which seems to me an unwillingness to deal with the topic. I try to follow “Open and Honest” in all significant areas of my life (which is NOT irresponsibility, but taking responsibility; in marriage this would likely decrease straying if folks took it seriously – search my blog). “Open and Honest” is challenging, but is what I put forward for any serious relationship. Fran and I have chosen to be monogamous, but we understand that if either of us became incapacitated, we would, in a loving fashion, certainly support the other getting the physical fulfillment they deserve. I certainly believe in the white lie and romantic speech in the right place, and don’t care for those who claim honesty as an excuse to hit you with their selected version of brutal truths and lies.

    My past experience in this regard. Ahem. I’ve had relatively few partners (single digits), all for more than a year and still my friends. I was married part of that time, but claim to have never “cheated” on anyone — meaning never having lied to anyone on this issue (excepting the desired white lie). Some things partners might desire to be left unsaid (definitely the case), and I’ve certainly respected that. When my former wife declared, at some point after marriage, that married couples didn’t have sex and that I could take it or leave it, and I couldn’t leave my children with her considering that she had serious mental issues – I had to respond to those circumstances. I had expected to be monogamous when I got married (good sex was the reason I married her – live and learn). I told her in that case some changes would have to be made, and I entered new territory. Getting this across to my children gently but realistically (for their age) was certainly interesting. Mentally ill parents/family can be a challenge to children when they don’t understand what is happening, and families are often unable to deal with it.

    I think I’m unusual in this — took a lot of thinking to get to this place. Partners with secrets ultimately found their double life to be very difficult for them. I’ve seen strong women crumble.

    Sentimental Fool (BLW is tearing up more frequently) May 21, 2011

    Age. Perhaps not a bad aspect of age. It’s not sadness per se. I believe it may be an ability to more closely experience/understand those around us and those beyond our view. We somehow connect, at times unexpectedly via apparently minor events, with both the enormity and the mystery of it all, and our small role in it. Age. (BLW replies…I prefer to call it maturity.)

    Going for “Good” (Is “Good” good enough and realistic?) May 23rd, 2011

    In any case, marriage was never supposed to be totally fulfilling. At least, unless you’re both total bores. Save me.

    Of course, I do believe Fran’s as good as it gets. And that’s saying a lot.

    I notice that most of your pictures are of glamorous-looking young models appearing to have a romantic time. Can that be a problem of expectations?

    Wolf Pascoe says: This is why I love Simone Weil: “It is only necessary to know that love is a direction and not a state of the soul. If one is unaware of this, one falls into despair at the first onslaught of affliction.” But I think she might have been hell to live with.

    I reply: Great quote, but I thought SW loved only philosophy, Jesus, God and asceticism. Did she ever actually live with anyone? (In fact, in the quoted passage she was talking about love of God and spiritual love.)

    Comment by admin — May 25, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

  4. More Comments on BLW’s blog:

    ….and French Men (May 29,2011)
    French men? Where’s Jean-Paul Belmondo? Or perhaps BLW was not yet born at that time? I’m not much for movies, but I remember a scene from years ago — he’s paired with either Jean Seberg or Brigitte Bardot. They have arrived at a remote chalet for a romantic weekend – their honeymoon or some special occasion. Snuggling together on a sofa in front of the fireplace, she coyly produces a small silk nightie and says “For tonight.” He takes it from her, glances at it briefly, and then tosses it into the fireplace. The camera lingers as it is totally consumed by the flames. Now THAT is French –and I don’t see Jean-Paul hung up on lingerie.

    At Loose Ends (June 3, 2011)
    Change is living life. Repetition is dull. Change for getting divorced from my former wife (when the kids were old enough for her to leave the family home), change in meeting Fran — I looked forward to both of these changes. I look forward to the change when my boomerang stepson leaves our house — whew. We make these changes happen. Not all change is positive (you gotta be philosophical about old age), but when you see what needs to be done, you see how to make it happen.

    Broken Men? (June 5, 2011)
    As you correctly infer, “broken males” is not gender specific but characteristic of our broken society and applies equally (in its own way) to females. The secular trinity – sex, money, power – are the false gods of the competitive society that’s been sold to us. Who can get the most, counting by the numbers? I’m all for sex, but not in the way represented by the folks you mention here.
    Live as independently of the system as you can, with good friends and ideally one good partner. Don’t concern yourself with what others think of you beyond those trustworthy friends – listen to them and then act on your own. Good friends will respect your decisions (assuming mental health), without having to agree with you.

    No Turning Back (June 6, 2011)
    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds — Emerson (naturally)
    I could open up the quote machine on this one. I go with what William James (one of my heroes) had to say — “Habit is the flywheel of society.” In context, he meant that consistency/habit serves a practical utility, to free us to deal with more important issues. But when the old ways are no longer working, it is then incumbent on us to reconsider them. I don’t make changes quickly, unless circumstances should require it.
    Total commitment is an act of lemmings running into the sea and cattle stampeding over the cliff.

    Monogamy? (comment on my prior comment)
    Monogamy doesn’t mean that you don’t notice or feel attracted to other people. In fact, if you don’t feel attracted to others, you probably wouldn’t feel any urges toward your spouse either. So, in a way, it’s a good sign. The point is, we don’t have to act on those feelings. This does become easier with age. We’re in our 60’s now, and by that point I suspect that no more than one in five married couples are still sexually active. Glad that we’re that one in five.

    Comment by Paul — June 6, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  5. More of my Comments on BLW’s blog.

    Every Girl Should Be Married (June 7, 2011)

    Some individuals should never marry – those who are incapable of truly sharing their lives with another (even when they may feel “in love”). I tend to consider past history more than future hope, although it is interesting to consider a few famous individuals who were successful after repeated marriage failures (this may be associated with aging changes, however). Why did Hitler and Nijinsky ever marry (oops, not to one another, you know what I mean)?

    BLW replies “I’m more likely to say that some people should never become parents.” Totally agree. How about dropping the license for getting married but requiring a license for having children?

    Jealousy (June 10, 2011)

    Paul quotes BLW: “And jealousy, to me, is all about possessiveness.” (Envy is a quite different word, as you appear to indicate.)

    I AGREE, as follows: “If you love someone, set them free. If they return, they are part of you; if not, they never were in the first place.” As I said to Fran at our wedding, “My love is intended not to encumber your freedom, but to support you along your life path, so that you may live fully and authentically.”

    Paul quotes BLW: “… I believe that people will do what people will do. There is little that I can do or would wish to do to change that – Yet I do not live in expectation of being deceived“

    I DISAGREE….with the helpless/passive/wimpy attitude expressed here. Find out what’s up – what the issues are. Be alert if this means there are problems, and if so, consider how they might best be dealt with. In my experience, people show a great deal of denial and don’t speak frankly about certain issues. If by frank discussion you discover that things are unworkable, you part. There may be great disappointment, but not deception.

    Once had a relationship with a lady who said “– As long as you give me the time I need, I will never inquire of your other time. If I am happy and never know of anyone else, I have no reason to be upset – what more can I justly ask?” That said, she saw no reason for the talk approach mentioned above. A special friend, but hardly marriageable according to my needs. (p.s. She gave the exact same speech to her husband, and worked hard to make him happy. She gave him everything he wanted, except love.)

    What I am suggesting is often experienced as highly demanding and threatening for people, so likely I would do better to use the blood, sweat and tears appeal. Let me make a call for great courage for truth and openness, going well beyond the accepted norm, and affirm that in this case, the goal is worth the cost.

    BLW responds to my accusation of “wimpy,” and I try to make nice, as follows:
    “Wimpy?” Well, I was on a roll then. So what’s a plain-speaking Quaker to do? Must remember that the carrot does better than the stick. But the call for “open and honest” that I believe in, if taken seriously, is both demanding and worth the price.

    Teacher Calls Me Sweetheart (June 13, 2011) Re relationships between adults and children/minors.

    Mistreatment of children is particularly upsetting because they are so vulnerable. We must encourage them with the “open and honest” approach that I feel is so important, while at the same time recognizing that they can readily misinterpret things. Offhand I can think of two cases similar to what you describe, and I also know of one or two that were misinterpreted and as a result produced danger in the other direction. Perhaps surprisingly, the two women now consider this sort of childhood experience a part of growing up, although confusing at the time. Others would not respond this way.

    Note that, like you, I am not talking about the types of child abuse that we more frequently read about. I was on a jury case last year of a child molester. A tough jury to be on (100% graphic, with lots of emotion and crying), and because the case seemed clear to all of us, we put him away for many years,
    As an adult, I ALWAYS leave my office door ajar with students. Occasionally a girl has wished to close the door, and I have had to set it ajar. A time or two I have felt at a loss that I could not give a comforting hug or touch.

    Stand By Your Man (re family standing by politicians who “done wrong.” (June 14. 2011)

    Paul quotes BLW: “What about you? Would you stand by your parents – or your children – through anything?” I’ll take this question at face value. (Paul replies below)


    It’s not good for them, it’s not good for us, and it’s not good for others. Of course, in practice we all (including moi, believe it or not) can go a little soft. I am a strong believer in forgiveness, but that is not related to ignoring issues or not speaking the truth. I do not give up on someone, but I let them know when we disagree on significant matters. To me, that can be an act of love.

    Motherhood — and be damned for whatever you do (June 15, 2011)

    Should a parent who has chosen to devote her life to caring for her child(ren) expect to ever have a good marriage? Does a single mother in that situation have any right to complain that there are no good men out there? I did some preliminary dating of one or two women who appeared to fall into this category and found that there was no sense in pursuing it, because there would be no independent place for me in their lives. “The best thing a parent can do for the children is to love their spouse.” (Not as simple as this sounds, and of course assuming the partner is worthy of love.)

    B:W replies: Definitely not that simple, Paul, re the single mother issue. (Them’s fightin’ words, my friend… ) And yes – she has every right to state her experience of the men she encounters – “good,” “bad,” or otherwise.

    Paul responds: Ah, we all have a right to complain, but what does it mean if that particular group of women complain that there are no good men? (Grammar, grammar re my comment…not my thing). My issue concerns those parents who have chosen their child over any possible spouse, and therefore choose a spouse for the sake of the child more than for love of the spouse. What sort of marriage can be expected if that is the motivation (likely unconscious) behind one parent? Would a good man be wise to enter into such a relationship? As mentioned, I’ve seen a couple of instances that looked like this, but then, life is not simple.

    I actually say this from an idealistic position. I distrust marriages where one or both partners enter to satisfy their own specific pre-existing wants such as sex or money or some other utility. This could be considered one specific instance of this.

    It’s good to SHARE good sex and finances and children and the like, in whatever way is agreed upon so that both partners appreciate both their own happiness and that of their partner. The details can be complex — you know me….talk, talk, and more talk….then ACT. Reality is often something different.

    I Dare You – to get mad and act (June 19, 2011}

    I read both article links. Women’s Worst Fear after Fifty” is so true, for many women and substantial numbers of men. Right on with today’s post, and a key part is that you offer responsible actions for people to consider. For me, Discernment is the critical step – anger needs to move to that next step as quickly as possible or else it eats away at the individual in frustration and depression. Re Pissed-Off Women site, I’m active on Facebook and let the world know my feelings in 420 spaces or less. But I don’t join anything on Facebook anymore — I’ve had my battles with that site. That’s another story.

    Women and Money. (June 20, 2011)

    First, judging by your description, I must be a woman. 🙂
    When a teenager, I envied all the opportunities girls had for making money babysitting – my experience was that there was gender bias against boys for babysitting. There was much less financial opportunity for paper routes and lawn mowing – I never did as well as the girls in income. And at that age, it seemed that many wanted boyfriends with cars. On the other hand, I didn’t want girlfriends who had to have boyfriends with cars, so I can’t complain.

    I was never focused on money and have never bought a share of stock in my life. I have some TIAA/CREF (being fiscally conservative, and much less in total than my colleagues), but my former wife got more than half of all my earnings (including cash for house I paid for and that retirement money, plus getting her Ph.D. while we were married), and left it for me to provide their housing and handle the children’s higher education (fortunately they weren’t focused on “prestige” schools). So men don’t always come out financially ahead in divorce.

    This is not a complaint – things worked out the best I could ever have imagined under the challenging circumstances of their seriously disturbed mother. HURRAH! I am truly blessed. My children and their partners and Fran were all together with me for a great Father’s Day this past weekend. Incidentally, as young adults they almost immediately started having more spendable income then I ever saw (this includes my two daughters, re your comments re females having less money). Whatever. Of course, they are DINKS.

    Bottom line – guess it’s good news and bad news. I’ve never worried that much about money (even while being very careful spending it) and my interests tend to be inexpensive. I love the outdoors and the cheap seats at the opera. My family of five grew up with one bathroom – I’m not sure how many Amy has now. I was fortunate that all my graduate work and expenses at Princeton were paid for – I’ve never had debt (except a mortgage).

    DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND. I am not belittling those concerns that BLW describes. I am genuinely sympathetic with people’s worries – the sense of separation and insecurity that this country engenders. That is real and is very real suffering, whether you are financially middle class or like the Burmese refugees Fran works with, where families, once they get established, are living on perhaps $25,000/year in dangerous urban neighborhoods. As a peaceful Quaker revolutionary socialist, I fault those with the big bucks who run the show and set the rest of us (men and women, black and white, union and non-union, soldiers and peace people) to arguing with one another about who gets the left overs. (Watch out, pretty soon I’ll start ranting about “capitalist yellow running dogs.” It’s interesting that much of our own anti-Sino/Soviet rhetoric translated into phrases that sounded just as ridiculous (as CYRD) to Russians/Chinese in their own languages. Basically, this goofy style of overly-literal translation is a standard propaganda technique of making the other side appear ridiculous.)

    Anyhow, this country is in great need of a peaceful revolution in values and government, and if working people and those wanting work (men and women together) can see their shared goals, financial and otherwise…right on!

    Now how’s THAT for a rant!

    BLW replies: I think it’s a great rant, Paul! And I am all for peaceful change… And that’s exactly what we need. You nailed it, IMO, when you specified values. It doesn’t happen overnight. Awareness and discussion are certainly a good step toward positive change.

    Comment by admin — June 20, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  6. More of my Comments on BigLittleWolf blog.

    Too Much Togetherness? June 21, 2011

    My response to her questions as follows: Joined at the hip? NO, definitely not us; Having both same and different interests and friends? YES, in a balance appropriate for the particular couple; Daytimes apart? SOMEWHAT, fine; Nighttimes apart? NO, a different story. We always share our day then, if we have been different places. Work that separates couples physically for extended periods is hard on relationships. On occasion, we may be apart a night or few. That’s infrequent, so no problem and even a chance for checking our relationship. I’ve taken a couple of solo backpacking trips when Fran couldn’t go, had a good experience, and Fran never looked better than when I came dragging back (with lots of stories, of course).

    Starter Marriage? June 22, 2011

    I don’t care for the assumptions implicit in the phrase “Starter marriage.” I am in favor of giving dating some time and likely living together before agreeing to marriage. Living together during the engagement, or for two months or ten years, is not what I mean. If the relationship looks like it is becoming serious, set a deadline for an “up or out” decision and stick to it. Letting things drag along (as the easiest thing at the moment) happens much too often. The goal is to come to a clear decision, and if you’re not clear, that usually should mean “out”.

    Dating becomes more complex when children from prior relationships are involved. I’m a strong believer that love of the spouse should be dominant and reciprocal (with full concern for children, of course). I’ve seen instances of toxic children and toxic family members. If a to-be-spouse puts them first, the new marriage is in trouble from the get go, and I’d run away before even considering the relationship. On a more positive note, often this can be discussed and hopefully understood and dealt with positively. I would never consider my first marriage of more than twenty-five years a “starter marriage,” but I would certainly hope to have learned something from it.

    I am generally okay with your response in support of “living together in a committed relationship” but would want to be certain that things were clear re legal considerations. Recall that I wanted to have a common law marriage for Fran and me. However, it was highly significant for both of us to prepare and have a Quaker ceremony of commitment (and we then got the license when the common law thing became uncertain — grouch, grouch, re the power of the state — they license dogs and drivers, not love).

    My parents were the boy and girl next door (or, to be strictly accurate, in the same neighborhood), so at an early age they knew one another’s values. They chose out of a set that they knew well, and I believe that had a lot to do with their success. They married at age nineteen, when my father came east for further education. My parents grew as a couple. We rarely have that neighborhood stability now, and so you often have no idea who the other person really is.

    Comment by admin — July 2, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  7. Is LOVE a four letter word? July 7,2011 (Bolds are my comments to particular topics raised in her post)

    I LOVE YOU 1st. We’re excepting/accepting the use of it in family. Good. I make a point of saying “I love you” often to Fran (and we still kiss at the door and wave when one of us drives off), and my son has made me more comfortable with this among family, along with hugs (New Englanders didn’t do too much of that when I was a kid).

    I LOVE YOU 2nd. When in the throes of passion can be very nice. My view is that, when making love, you can do anything that doesn’t truly degrade the other or send somebody to the ER. No need to hold anything back. Fact is, you’re really saying “I LOVE THIS” or “I LOVE HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW.” Okay, we all know about that as adults, but my former wife got me on the hook for that one.

    I LOVE YOU 3rd. When said in the cold light of day, in thoughtful conversation. THAT’S ANOTHER STORY. SERIOUS. STOP AND LISTEN.

    When do you NOT say “I LOVE YOU” to a person you love? I’ve been there, done that (or, not done it) and very complex and still not sure what was the right thing.

    SEX issue. Don’t feel a need to justify sex by calling it love, if in reality it’s just because you love the sex or you need to justify behavior you would otherwise regret.

    Sexless marriage. It’s whatever folks can truly agree upon. But it’s not for me.

    Marriage. I see it as a statement of commitment, and I was happy to make our Quaker commitment public with family and friends and loved ones offering their support. I think I’ve posted on this already. Common law marriage is good enough for me – let the state recognize the real thing, not license it like dogs and drivers.

    Marriage re individuality/commonality. At our Meeting for Marriage, I said “My love is intended not to encumber your freedom, but to support you along your life path, so that you may live fully and authentically.” We do look out for one another’s best interests, so she doesn’t get a free ride on things if they appear wrong for her.

    Comment by admin — July 8, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  8. More Comment on BLW blog.

    Teenage Sex at Home. BLW July 26, 2011

    I’m basically with you on this, however experience has shown me that it can become complex. What I don’t want is for children to think that they have the same rights in the home as the parents. They don’t. They have full respect, along with special privileges (they don’t have to pay their bills) and limitations.

    We’re back from a New England vacation visiting family (including my Mom at 101), camping at a beekeeping conference, and camping and hiking at Granville State Forest (with AccurWeather reporting 101 there). Fran is a good sport.

    The conference camping was mostly young people, with our tents arranged in a group. Out of consideration for these twenty-somethings, we abstained from any sex until we had more privacy at Granville. I think that was appropriate and demonstrated some self-discipline, although I wonder what they would have thought if overhearing the married old folks going at it.

    REPLY Paul – you always add such depth to the conversation, and in some instances (like this one) – a great laugh! I imagine it wouldn’t have hurt the “young people” to hear the “old folks” going at it. On the contrary, it might have been eye-opening. Anyone who thinks passion (necessarily) disappears as we get older should think again. And shouldn’t that be good news all ’round?

    I agree that parents & children are not and should not be entirely “equal” in the parental home, and I applaud your notion of consideration huddled in the beekeeping tents!

    Crazy Women BLW July 27, 2011

    There is the loose use of the word and the more specific meaning (although still highly imprecise).

    Crazy is certainly not all women, obviously. But I have known one intimately – fortunately (or unfortunately) atypical but not unique. In such extreme cases, eventually you have to save the other members of the family from being pulled under. My professional training sometimes connects me with this topic in general conversation, in which case I prefer to say that the individual “has a distorted sense of reality” and avoid the debate over diagnostic categories. It is difficult for children to understand this issue, and it has to be explained as simply and clearly as possible, with lots of opportunities for the child to ask questions and express feelings.
    Particularly, the goal is for the child to know that what they see is the result of a sickness in the brain of the individual and not an appropriate response to whatever the child may have done. To give this perspective is invaluable.

    It’s appropriate to be suspicious re “crazy,” but at the same time be open-minded so as not to jump to blame the healthy partner. “Crazy” folks are not stupid, and they may have much experience with hiding their true feelings/behaviors when it’s helpful for them to do so. You can become this way at any time in life and for a variety of reasons. So there’s much more to it than “Crazy because you made him/her that way? Because if the person was crazy before, then you’re the crazy one.”

    Seems like the word crazy is as meaningless as “cool” or “that’s bad” and having whatever meaning someone wishes it to give it.

    It’s a good thing that mental health is not restricted to a statistical “normal.” No one wants to be considered that sort of normal — it sounds too uninteresting to folks. Mental health does not require that we be cookie cutter copies. Fran is really unusual/atypical/different, and with good mental health.

    Who inspires you? BLW July 28, 2011

    My heroes are Gandhi, M. L. King, Tolstoy, Thoreau, Norman Thomas, Robin Harper All these individuals are well known except for Robin, a pacifist friend who has redirected all his federal war taxes to peaceful endeavors for many decades and been in court with the IRS many times, but they have never collected on him. Oh, and the historical Jesus of course, based on his teachings and how he practiced what he preached.

    p.s. I could include my wife and parents, but that would be taking a somewhat different approach from how I’m interpreting your question. Also, we were camping with a group of young people a few days ago, and when Fran and I discussed relationships with a young woman who was at a crossroads in her life and we described how we managed our marriage and lifestyle, at the conclusion she said to us “You are an inspiration.” How surprising to hear, and how very sweet of her.

    Love and a life of one’s own (or something similar by BLW posted June 2011)

    Did I post previously about my dating a writer? Almost as much a losing venture as when I dated the beautiful pianist. I always played second fiddle to her piano. Never get seriously involved with a serious musician or artist. I can compete well with other men for the right woman’s favor, but it’s as much a losing venture to go for a woman who is a serious artist/writer as is it is to go for a woman with lesbian tendencies. (Learned about the latter the hard way, too.)

    HOWEVER, that being said, it can be a heck of a lot of fun and excitement in the meantime. And if the partners happen to have a similar focus/trajectory, there can be a special type of relationship that works for some people (although not what I would need).

    Comment by admin — July 31, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

  9. The following was my response to BLW’s post concerning the challenges facing single women of limited means as they age:

    What can older single individuals do for their care and social contact as they age? Folks in their 60’s or 70’s will be forming friendship bonds that result in more communal living patterns, It’s this mistaken notion that everyone must be either married or in their own private place that puts a burden on single individuals, their extended families, and on society. Practical friendship pairings are happening with unmarried older two-gender couples, but there simply aren’t that many older men. Something comparable should also be happening with same-gender friendship groupings.

    The financial issue is that retirement communities and assisted living facilities. being for-profit enterprises, require that you have more-than-average financial resources. Money-saving pairings for practical financial reasons would be very comparable to what large numbers of young people in their 20’s are doing currently. Two or three or four single young people live together in an apartment or house — it’s almost the norm nowadays for younger singles. Older folks will need to get on board with this approach.

    Comment by admin — March 10, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

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