Coffee break

I am gazing out the window at my serviceberry tree, which is turning the prettiest shade of burnt orange. Autumn is here. The sun is shining. It’s a good day.

And we have some catching up to do. Let’s take a virtual coffee break, near the serviceberry. I’ll bring the French press if you bring the treats.

100+ and still kicking it. I’ll begin by telling you the story of two centenarians who will make you rethink any bellyaching you want to do on any given day. The first is a neighbor of mine. Ruthanna is 103 years old, and she’ll tell you that proudly. I’ve seen her, over the past year, tooling around the block with her walker. It has a little seat built in so she can rest whenever she needs to. A tiny slip of a thing with barrettes placed just so in her immaculately kept hair, Ruthanna and I were officially introduced recently by another neighbor (who is a spry 80-something).

Looking at her, I’m sure she has her age wrong. She could pass for 80, easily. And yet, she tells me her son is 77 years old, so 103 is not out of the question. Sharp and articulate, she tells me of her husband, who she says was in Normandy with U.S forces on D-day. He commanded the ship that served as backup for Dwight D. Eisenhower, in case anything happened to Ike’s ship. “My Ray didn’t talk about it much,” she says. And then muses: “Men just got things done in those days and didn’t have to caw about it.” I agree and bemoan with her that more men don’t do the same today.

Ruthanna is on her second time around the block that day—and is pondering a third. She lives in her own house and by her own rules. And my dog—90 pounds of crazy—is so very gentle with her. Bailey has a soft spot for Ruthanna–for the very old and the very young, really. Ruthanna is now part of Bailey’s pack, officially adopted with excessive sniffing and a lick of the hand.

The second 100+ maven I saw recently on a stage in a small Minnesota town, just a few weeks ago. I cannot remember her name, so we’ll call her Lettie. Lettie was being interviewed on tips for living a long life. I thought for sure she’d wax eloquent about love or purpose, but instead she launched into a lecture on—of all things—antioxidants. The long and short of it, according to Lettie, is to take in a lot of antioxidants and stay away from sugar. I found this ironic, as her interview followed a pie-eating contest.

Honestly, I don’t want to live to 100 years old. Do you? I don’t want to be the last of my friends and family to turn the lights out.

The next gen. As I refill your cup, let’s move from the well-seasoned in life to the young and green. My eldest has given me more than my fair share of sleepless nights over the years, but after a brief stint in the military, I’m seeing more of a man and less of a boy at 19 years of age. He is attending college and training with a local fire department. He is dating his high school sweetheart, a truly sweet girl. I am not only relieved to see him finding his way, I am thrilled to hear how happy he sounds.

Both of my sons are showing a wonderful sense of humor and finding their own ways in life—albeit very different ways. We recently sat at dinner and I thoroughly enjoyed the back-and-forth between them. Parents: isn’t it fun to see the people we bring into the world? To think about the myriad ways 50 trillion single cells can form to create a human being? It’s an amazing, humbling thing, being a part of that.

The dating game. You’d ask me about dating and I’d roll my eyes. A phenomenal first date that reminded me how fun it is to unwrap the gift of another person—that was nice. And a lot of men who are anything but inspiring—purporting to look for the love of their life while really searching for “friends with benefits.” Except they want to skip right to the benefits and forego the becoming friends part.

I’m focusing on my sons, my work, the small joys of life. I’m tired of coming face to face with the most unenlightened aspects of men. Especially when I still believe there are so many interesting, funny, smart, passionate men out there. I just think many of them, like me, don’t like the muck that comes with the online dating swim. Maybe I should ask Ruthanna for advice. Yes, that last bit comes with a wink.

Finding the good. I’m trying to balance between being aware of what’s going on in our world and keeping my spirits up. Despite the ugliness in my country right now, every day I see hope and goodness. Today, the phlebotomist who drew my blood asked me to stay a few extra minutes to talk to him about whether he should write the book he has in mind. He was super sincere in his desire to share what he’s learned in a certain area of life—taking care of an aging parent–with others who might be going through a similar situation. He said he’d like to help people’s lives become easier by learning on him. I walk out smiling.

And then an old woman with crazed eyes flips me off in traffic, as she runs a red light.

But then I have wonderful conversations with a couple of my son’s teachers at parent/teacher conferences and I realize they’re the best kind of educator—super competent, jazzed about what they teach, and they care. They know my son, as a teacher should. And they’re male role models I’m so glad he has. I feel inspired as I walked to my car after our meetings.

And then the grocery clerk is rude and cranky.

And so it goes. I must be getting something right because I give zero energy to the ugly now. It doesn’t usually faze me anymore. And I relish in the good.

There’s still a lot of good. Let’s clink our coffee cups, toasting to that.

“Here’s to a lot of good in the world,” I say. And you nod sagely, as you begin to tell me of your recent adventures.

I’m listening.


49 Comments Add yours

  1. I wish I had something magic to offer about dating — I hear such horror stories from all my friends, even those much younger.

    I think the one value of aging is realizing what a total waste of time it is to FREAK out over things — and now I just leave very quickly if a person or situation is heading south and getting rude or aggressive. Once you’ve gotten (even an OK one) a cancer diagnosis, the cliche works — everything else pales in comparison and importance. It’s much easier to jettison people and places that only add stress.

    1. candidkay says:

      I so agree. I am very much myself and very honest from the get-go. Not interested in wasting time that could be better spent with great friends and people that I love.

      1. The right person gets it….

  2. People who live over 100 are fascinating. I read your sentence about her having a son that is 77 years old twice. That’s such a rare thing to read. I suppose that he thinks his mom is “old,” even with him being 77. When I have met people who live to be over 100, my experience has been that they are constantly joking or seeing the humor in things wherever they can.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ruthanna was pretty direct. I don’t know if she has a sense of humor, but I cannot imagine living to be over 100 without one :-).

  3. I don’t particularly want to live to 100 but if I’m as sharp and active as that then I can live with it! Your day just showed the back and forth of the positive and negative of life – just when we’re feeling positive there’s someone there to take the edge off! But in the scheme of things the positives will hopefully have a longer lasting effect than the negatives!

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m with you on the “sharp and active” bit. As long as I have quality of life, I’m in. When that goes, I think it’s time to go–for me, at least. And I’m trying to over-index on the positive. I think so many of us are doing that right now, particularly in the States as the national dialogue becomes more polarized.

  4. Roy McCarthy says:

    Lovely, fun post – including three words I was unfamiliar with and had to look up.

    Did you ever do that thing where you arrange a grand dinner, and you can invite whoever you wish? Who would you choose as the man sitting opposite you Kristine? You’d be on my short list – maybe a close run thing with Stevie Nicks 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, Roy, what a sweet thing to say! Wow. Just don’t make me arm wrestle Stevie for the slot. I’m tough, but she’s hard as nails, I think:). Hmmm . . . you’re going to have to give me time on the man opposite me bit. That’s one parlor game I haven’t played yet . . . And now I must know–which three words?

      1. Roy McCarthy says:

        Serviceberry, maven, barrette. I’m going to go around today saying them to everybody.

      2. candidkay says:

        😂 I want to know how you weave barrette into your convos.

  5. pirootb says:

    I love that you are able to focus on the good and tune out the bad. Sometimes I make a list of 5 things for which I was grateful on that day. And that list does not consist of what extra-ordinary luck I had that day. It is always the little moments that I shared with other people which went unexpectedly well. So yes, there’s a lot of good in our world…I clink my coffee cup to that.

    1. candidkay says:

      That’s such a good point. So many times what we are grateful for is the little stuff. It’s not that we are having days where extraordinary things happen. It’s that we find the extraordinary in the little things :-).

  6. mydangblog says:

    I don’t drink coffee but I’m happy to join with a cup of herbal tea (or a glass of wine!). I love that idea of giving zero energy to the ugly–what a great way to let go of negativity, even when it seems to be all around us. While I’m sorry to hear about your son’s leg, I’m happy that he’s home and enjoying life while he heals. Have a great week!

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes–here’s to not feeding the ugly beast:). And my son is healed–fracture happened end of last year:). All good! Thanks.

  7. This beautiful big crazy world has that knack of touching us in so many ways…so we can know what is uncomfortable, ugly and sometimes downright traffic light flipping obnoxious. But by touching those we will learn to be at ease, beautiful and glow when we begin to see that beneath it all is the building of us all, creating that loving place inside us that will, as you said, ignore that ugly by believing in what we are becoming…and instead of a flip, a hug when needed, and even a smile just because (especially when leaving the teachers office 😀 ), we have already left our mark in the world and they are beginning to flower.
    Now…the other men. What can I say but they too will press all those buttons that we own, and again, underneath it all they are trying to help set us free. Now if they could all just be free before you meet them it would be a magic indeed Kristine. But alas, they also need you to press their buttons too.
    What a jigsaw place this world is dear lady, but believe me when it is finished it will show you something very, very beautiful indeed. And a wisdom that is a tiny bit older than a 100+ and not a wheeled walker in sight 😀
    Your writing is a gift my friend, and you share it well. Imagine the magic when you reach 100, mind you that is another 65 years away yet, but at least the technology will have you on a hover walker instead of the wheeled shuffle that is current 😀
    Actually, what if God was so impressed with your writing that He wanted you to be His Journalist down here but you had to do a long shift (100yrs)…oh, you already are! 😀 ❤️
    As usual dear lady, a beautifully written post. Thank you for sharing ❤️

    1. candidkay says:

      Aw, this is so very sweet, Mark. Bless your Aussie soul. First, buttons. I am sure I must be pushing buttons left and right :-). Had no idea that was a role to be had but I think I’m an expert at it :-). Second-a HOVER walker?! I’m in. Third, I guess I’m in for the long-haul but I’m still not sure 100 is my number :-). As long as I have a quality-of-life. That deal I’ll make. Here’s to you having a wonderful rest of your weekend and again-you have such a good heart. Thank you for the kind words.

      1. It is most certainly a ‘role’ dear lady, and we all play it well. By our fears we are led and I guarantee that there isn’t a soul on this planet that hasn’t ‘reacted’ to something done, said or implied to our fears.
        And our button pushing actually assists us to break free of those fears. Once stepped through a new world opens, and when you finally see through it you will be totally, amazingly astounded by what lays beneath. You will in fact be so glad that you did do this journey, as hard as it is, and the outcome could not be more loving. Believe me, there is a love like nothing else waiting with open arms and if you felt it first no partner would ever get a look in 😀
        But in the meantime remember, yes they press our buttons, but so that you can eventually find that beauty inside ❤️
        Enjoy your weekend too dear lady, and I hope it may attract a button pusher…but a gentle one (a bit rich, a bit emotionally adept, and maybe can do the dishes with a real smile 😀), to help you on your journey ❤️

      2. candidkay says:

        You had me at dishwashing 😂

  8. Amy says:

    Simply wonderful to catch up with you, Kristine! Love everything about this post. I’m overdue in getting you all caught up with my life. Will send a note in the not-too-distant future. xxxx

    1. candidkay says:

      You’re so right about it being a while since we connected! I would love to know what’s been going on in your life :-). And I hope it’s all happy things. That’s what I wish for you. ❤️

  9. suemclaren24 says:

    Your described day sounds a lot like mine yesterday, including the truck driver yelling at another driver for not taking turns at a 4 way stop. But then a lady held a door for me at the “Y”, the store clerk was pleasant, and then there was the guy who replied to my comment about a store robot that roams, that he wanted to talk to it, which really made me wonder about his social life. Even during the current “times”, there are highlights that show people who are thoughtful and kind. In a few months, I will start my 80th year; I live “alone” with 2 dogs and 5 cats; I swim three times a week (walking is not part of my repertoire). All the animals have homes to go to “if” something happens to me. One day it will. In the meantime, I’m not sure I want to aim for 100, while relishing watching grandchildren develop into real human beings. Your entry today hit home for me in several areas. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Wow! I am in off of the fact that you swim three times a week and are almost 80. That is just further proof that age is just a number. That’s great. And isn’t it amazing how our fellow human beings can really help determine how pleasant our days are? I’m trying to remember that as I am out and about in the world. Thank you for sharing. And I am cheering you on to hit 100 :-).

  10. “. . . I give zero energy to the ugly now.”

    That’s a very good approach to life.

    Take care. See ya!

    Neil S.

    1. candidkay says:

      The ugly doesn’t need us feeding it, right?!

  11. Good morning Kristine, I’ve become keen on a hot cappuccino… and on occasion my homemade banana and apple muffins (almond flour, coco oil, honey, eggs, banana, apple). I just love listening and chatting to you… if you read my true love story, you’ll know that I’m rejuvenating and a lot of us go on living quite well, easily reaching 150! Like yourself we love all the goodness and kindness around and focus on that… which just keeps these kind of people near! We love observing how our children grow, for me I have to giggle as I sense their trillion cells changing because I’m a step mum who makes a difference😄 Were going to visit our family in Aruba in December and can’t wait to hug my grandchild of 9 an age where he prefers his own and his friends company. I’m thinking of ways to capture his imagination so I can spend lots and lots of time with him! It’s been a long time since our children left the nest and home life has become quite quiet… a chance to write a lot and imagine many things😆. I don’t envy you in the dating circuit, maybe one of the young teachers! How about just knowing someone really caring and smart will surprise you one day… So lovely to be with you, until the next time❤️ much love Barbara x

    1. candidkay says:

      First, those muffins sound amazing! I can’t wait to try them :-). Second, Aruba in December sounds like the ticket. Soak in some sunshine for me, won’t you? And I love your positive attitude about the quiet time in your household. You are so right. That’s just feeding your creativity, I am sure. Thank you for the update and let’s not wait so long to do it again!

      1. another coffee catchup coming soon, it’s in my diary to visit❤️

      2. candidkay says:

        Great news😀

  12. Masha says:

    Yes, I agree with you, there is such great joy in watching your kids grow and make their way in life. It’s great that you’re starting to date, the one thing I found when I was dating online is people misrepresent themselves, the funniest was a guy who had a pic of himself when he was 20 years younger, or so it seemed when I met him and that was a real shocker. Needless to say I suddenly had a huge headache half way through the date and had to leave. LOL

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I had a guy like that at the very beginning! I’ve gotten better at spotting them :-). It’s always a shock, isn’t it? And you wonder how they think they would continue to get away with it.

  13. KDKH says:

    I can’t imagine dating at my age! You sound brave. And yes, I love to have my kids together and hear them support and razz each other. Game night with the husband and kids is always full of laughter and fun!

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, trust me, I couldn’t imagine it either :-). And yet here I am. Wish me luck and enjoy those kiddos!

  14. Dale says:

    Oh darlin’… I’ll take mine with a touch of milk – I’m already sweet enough 😉

    I don’t know how old I want to live, quite honestly. I should think as long as I am healthy and autonomous, then I’m willing to go as far as I can.

    As to the dating thing. Ugh. Every now and again, I sign up for a month and every now and again, I meet someone that seems decent but then find out that he is married and looking for a little side action. Sigh. So I give up.

    Finding the good: I have two healthy young men as sons, they are occasionally helpful’ I have a decent job that I enjoy and am good at, even if I am going to look for something else; I have a new home that I will make mine; I am healthy.

    I avoid the ugly like a plague 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      You are sweet enough, I agree😀. I agree with you on the aging thing. I want to have a good quality of life. And quality of life is gone, I think it’s time to go. And you’re dating saga makes me sad. I have been so disappointed in the general character of people. We can be good, better, best. And yet, so many are not even choosing good. Which makes us finding the good in life in general even more important. Hugs to you. Keep on truckin’. ❤️

      1. Dale says:

        Sweet…with some spice 😉
        Who doesn’t want quality of life, right? The dating saga has been going on and off for the past three-four years. I wonder where the good guys have gone, knowing full well they are out there and NOT on the damn sites.. So I have decided to do other things, go out and participate in activities. The old-fashioned way.
        Hugs right back at ya.

      2. candidkay says:

        I agree! I think if it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen.

      3. Dale says:

        Indeed. And in the meantime, life goes on and we fill the time with all sorts of things

  15. Thanks for the jo! It was great to catch up, but I had to do a double-take when you mentioned your son and his stint in the military – did I read it right that he’s out? Sounds like he’s on a great track. I don’t envy your dating. Not at all. As for me, life goes on as my focus has been teaching my teen, and talking myself off a ledge every now and then as my brain is still being rewired by Kundalini energy constantly. Taking things a step at a time, and sometimes a moment at a time. Reminding myself that all is well. And currently enjoying fall foliage.

    1. candidkay says:

      You read that right :-). A stress fracture in his leg was the cause. But, he seem to heal quite well and is really happy with his current pursuits. Which makes me happy. I hope that teaching your son continues to be rewarding. I know that it is challenging, but he reaps so many benefits from it, I’m sure. Rest up and enjoy what I hope is a phenomenal autumn for both of you!

  16. srbottch says:

    Kristine, my wife and I enjoy enjoy my coffee strong (one of a few areas where we agree), Starbucks dark roasts. I understand that Turkish is very strong. I may try it someday, maybe on my 100th. The further along one gets, I think the more one wants to hang in there. Another 27 and I’ll make it, then someone can write about me. Maybe you will because you do a great job at it. Best wishes!

    1. candidkay says:

      27 more! You can make it for sure:). Especially since 80 is the new 60. Maybe that Turkish coffee will help preserve you, right? Thank you for the kind words–hope you’re having a great autumn!

  17. Kudos Kristine. It sounds like you’re in a good place in your life, except for the whole dating thing. Ruthanne sounds like a wonderful person, neighbor, and example of living fully. I probably don’t want to live to be a 100 either. And I’m relieved with you about your elder son finding his way (and not being in the military). Savor the moment, it could change. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes! I feel like it’s a good place. Or maybe just the same place but it’s me that’s changed–that’s a bit of magic right there:). Thank you for the kind words and I hope all is well in your world . . .

      1. Jane Fritz says:

        What a nice update, Candid Kay (Kristine?). I especially appreciated the Finding the Good section. You have to work at it these days! Thanks for reinforcing that it’s worth the effort.

      2. candidkay says:

        Thanks for joining me for this coffee klatch! And I hope you’re finding the good too. It’s out there.

  18. First of all, thank you for the coffee invitation. I’ll have mine with a touch of half and half, please. I have brought a dozen chocolate chunk cookies from Tiny Boxwoods here in Austin. I’ll bet you’ll want them all, but given their richness, you probably can only eat one. I would freeze the rest. Great story on aging, and no, I don’t think I want to live to be a hundred. The way I see it now, I don’t think I want to outlive my French Bulldog. (she is that cute.) I feel for you and the dating scene. I could not imagine having to wade through the sea of “Me Firsts.” to find the right “You First.” In the meantime, I think your approach is the right one. Concentrate on beauty since there is way too much ugly these days.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ooh, now you’re going to have me googling Tiny Boxwoods. You lucky duck, having them in your backyard. I hear you on not wanting to outlive the dog. I worry too much about mine leaving us too soon. And the Me Firsts, yes, they are everywhere. But I do believe there are some really great adventures still ahead:). Hope the coffee wasn’t too strong . . .

      1. It can never be too strong. Thanks, ​Kristine.

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