Monday, May 11, 2015

Golden Years

What is This Term I've Heard So Often Called "Golden Years"?

When I was younger, I could remember anything whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying . . . soon I [won't] remember anything but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it. - Mark Twain

I've been on a Mark Twain kick recently. Mark Twain was clever, a genius, really, and I wish I were more like him. Even a teeny tiny bit. Alas, it is unlikely I will ever be. So I will satisfy myself with immersing myself in his writings as best  I can. We little people have to find solace where we can.

In a couple weeks Marty and I are going up to Angels Camp for the Annual Jumping Frog Jubilee. I am going to absorb as much of the spirit of Mark Twain as I can. We'll go up to the rebuilt cabin on Jackass Hill and nose around to see if there's any feeling of the old days when he sat and wrote his famous story about the frog and Jim Smiley.

In the meantime I have been thinking about the term "Golden Years". That's what inspired me to research what Mark Twain said about aging. Marty mentioned something the other day. He said whoever called it Golden Years sure wasn't a person in their Golden Years. What is this term supposed to mean? Is old age supposed to be some kind of beautiful, peaceful place? Well, I'm old and while I can say that there is some decent peace of the mind there sure isn't a heck of a lot of physical peace. Don't get me wrong. Marty and I are in pretty damn good shape for our years. But Golden? I am somewhat speechless but I'll try to elaborate.

We can tolerate the forgetfulness. Many people younger than us are just as forgetful or even more so. We don't seem to be singled out in that regard. We can tolerate the lack of get up and go. Get up and go, which is lavished in such great amounts on the young, seems just so undignified in old age. I think old people should cultivate a kind of regal grace such as one might find in a monarch sitting on his or her throne. It's a mighty fine replacement for get up and go. 

Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.  - Mark Twain in Autobiography with Letters

Where we once would have bounded down the lane like a gazelle or sprung into the saddle with one motion we're simply happy to walk with a steady vigorous stride and not wobble. If I try to do a gazelle bound it looks so ludicrous. I have to stop immediately.  The main thing left to the old person in their "Golden Years" (insert rolling of eyes here) is to speak their mind. Being crotchety and not suffer fools lightly is the domain of advanced age.  Being crotchety is as undignified for a young person as attempting to bound down the lane is for an old person.

Marty and I agree that the term "Golden Years" was probably concocted by some young person contemplating what they might receive for their inheritance.

Downton Abbey is wrecking my life

I am nearly free. We have one more season, the last and most recent, to watch and I will be free. We never watched any of the episodes while they were on. We just rented the entire series from Netflix and then we started in on a marathon of watching it. We only watch it at night but I really could be doing things that are much more productive. 

I've engaged in this obsessive behavior before. Years ago we had a marathon watching of The X-Files. Then I was free again. Years went by and I was productive. Now I'm caught again and this time it's by the Abbey and the characters that inhabit it. I'm caught like a bug in a web. Thank God it's a quality web! We're enjoying our captivity very, very much. We're so engaged with the characters and their trials and tribulations. Marty and I agree that it's a high class soap opera. Kind of like Jane Austen is a high class soap opera. All you anglophiles out there, shudder in unison! But I don't care. It's just that and we can agree to disagree. 

I'm a little bit worried about how I will get along when we're done with it and I'm in the throes of the empty nest. I'm making plans for a lot of drawings and rag rugs and pithy little essays. I'm really studying my new volume of Ray Carver short stories so I'll be ready to channel. If there's any hope that I can. Which there probably isn't. Hope, that is, but it's OK.  I was born to try, fail and try again. What's the point of life if not to try things, fail and keep trying and learning?

The Flora and Fauna of Grindstone Ranch

Then to leave you with something organic I offer a couple of creatures we have been encountering recently. The Northern Pacific rattlesnake and the scorpion. I don't have a special name for the scorpion and he doesn't have one for me either.

A mortally wounded rattlesnake
It's mortally wounded because we don't wait around to get the camera when we find a rattlesnake. We run and get the shotgun first. So after the deed was done I carefully arranged myself to get this picture so you were spared the reality. 

This is a juvenile scorpion in a detergent scoop. Ask me how it got in there. The answer is I have no idea. Now I make sure to shake out my shoes before I slip them on. It's a jungle out there. I mean, in here.

Last night as we drove in the front gate we came upon this:

No, not the dollar bill. The dollar bill is there for scale next to the wavy marks in the sand. What are the wavy marks you might ask? Why, you may be shocked to know they're the tracks of a gigantic snake. I was thinking anaconda but we live in an almost waterless place so it isn't that. We're assuming they're the tracks of a pretty big rattlesnake since gopher snakes are much thinner. We didn't see the maker and it didn't leave the dollar bill contrary to popular belief. I really hope the track was made by a beneficial king or gopher snake. If it's a rattlesnake I'm not going to like it one least little bit.

That's all for now.

With warm regard,



  1. Hej me,
    you should pop the head of the snake next time and use the skin! Would make one heck of a accessory like a hatband, knife sheath decoration or whatever.
    I keep seeing those Mark Twain quotes and the guy intrigues me. Maybe I should read some of his writings.
    The term Golden Years remind me of a tv-show we used to watch a lot about 3 elderly ladies and one of their mothers. Was quite hilarious at times. Golden Girls, now I remember the name...

  2. My mother-in-love says "getting old is NOT for sissies!". I think the Golden Years came from when you retired from your lifelong job with the gold watch. Maybe.

    Mark Twain, yeah, I should read some of him.

    1. How does one "cure" the skin? You're right. It would make one heck of a conversation piece as a clothing accessory.

      Hej you two: Google "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". It's only about 2,500 words and you can read it in its entirety online. It's the story that started him off on his road to fame and (not always) fortune but definitely history. It's quite humorous.

      Ron, I once worked at a gaming software company and one little pipsqueak of a sales rep accused me of not being the "demographic" for their company (which was true enough but what a thing to say!). He said I was more of the "Golden Girls" demographic. I wanted to say I was making a ruckus and living out loud way before you got out of diapers, sonny boy. But I held my peace and quit the job.