Tuesday, June 20, 2006

aging gracefully

Tweak, tweak, tweak!

Hark! It's the call of the Variegated Blog-Nerd!

I've got had a few spare hours today and I just can't stop tinkering with this blog template. I think I've got it where I want it now, apart from being unable to remove the bloody frames around my flickr images. [sigh] So sorry about all the publishing, if any of you are reading from Bloglines & co. I should be finished now.

AP had a birthday on the weekend. She turned the grand age of 86, and to celebrate had a very elegant tea party, complete with silver teapot, beautiful little floral teacups and cakes served on very old and delicate plates. She invited 7 people, all women, and I (at the coltish age of 38 and a half) was the youngest.

It was a lovely afternoon, with the sky outside her large windows blue as blue could be and the chill sunshine slanting in until it dissolved into dark. The company was polite, warm, intelligent and for me, completely inspiring. If I can grow up to be like any of those women, I'll be fortunate.

I popped in on another old friend the other day: Jan Brown, who is illustrating one of the books I'm producing. She's 84, and hopes to live as long as her mother, who died at 102. Visiting Jan is terrific for a number of reasons:

1. She's great to talk to, very blunt and interesting. Doesn't believe in small talk.

2. She has a community of birds around her house, mostly magpies and currawongs, that she has been feeding for generations, so she knows each one by sight and they know her. You walk up to the house with many feathery eyes upon you...

3. ...and then you walk into the loungeroom and encounter many other beady eyes upon you:

beady eyes

Jan is a sculptor, and this is just a small example of the work that fills the entire room. I've blogged her before -- she's the creator of the kangaroo statues in Commonwealth Park. I love sitting and talking to her amid all these creatures, especially the hungry baby magpie statues. Here she is herself, talking on my phone to a mutual friend:


I've never see Jan in a dress in all the years I've known her and I guess I never will. We talked about poetry and drawing and she told me the best way to climb a palm tree (but to be careful on the way down, otherwise you scrape off the tender skin on your inside thighs).

I have a lot of time for women over 40. Even more for those over 60. There's a confidence about them that isn't present at an earlier age. They age far better than men, in my books.

I've probably mentioned this before, but every week when I drive away from AP's house I feel young and active, and it keeps me in perspective about where I am in my life cycle. This week, after hanging out with all these excellent role models, I felt like the best years are still ahead of me, as long as I can keep fit and alert.

Now if that isn't inspiration for a regular fitness routine, I don't know what is.*

*Mind you, I quite often tell myself it's not worth getting fit because I'll just get caught by the family demensia and end up living for many long years in good health but totally blank. That's when the chocolate cake/pudding/oven chips get eaten. I don't want to be a liability.


Lucy Tartan said...

Beautiful post. Wonderful photographs. Just what I needed to read today.

Yours in chocolate pudding

x x

JahTeh said...

Being of that age between 40 and 60 I love this post but I think you are lucky in finding such interesting women.

I have lived in the same street for 36 years and none of the women who moved here at the same time are remotely interesting and hardly seem to have changed anything except their hairstyles and definitely haven't upped their intelligence level.

Luckily only two remain, the rest became upwardly mobile, property wise.

JahTeh said...

That last comment sounded very bitchy but over the years I copped a lot of flack from the Stepford Wives because I preferred books to housekeeping.

Ampersand Duck said...

Sheesh, who doesn't? Well, obviously your neighbours. I think a spotless house means a boring life, but maybe that's just me.

Enny said...

I like the new template bestest.

Ampersand Duck said...

Thanks, Enny! I'm happy with it now too.

Kate said...

I have a spotless house RIGHT NOW because we just had a real estate inspection, so that's my excuse, but the normal state of squalor and disorder should resume shortly.

Val said...

Your Jan is quite amazing, more power to her, and lucky you to know her.

Oh, I'm know I'm in good company when I see that others also place more value on reading books than cleaning house. Hmm, that reminds me: my mother-in-law is coming over for dinner tonight and although she loves to read, she also keeps a spotless home. Sigh, I think I'd better have a quick flick around with the duster and mop.

Ampersand Duck said...

yes, tidy mothers-in-law are usually the bane of sane women.

My mother (who also doesn't clean happily) lived under the shadow of her cleaning-obsessed mother-in-law. Even now we joke about 'channelling Annie' when we have a cleaning frenzy.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

sigh... I am a tidy person... and love to read. am I an abberation?

but I'm not the Bleach Queen, a gay friend of mine who used to don enormous rubber gloves and attack everything in sight every saturday. you had to be very careful not to get in the way!

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

ps - does Jan sell the small sculptures? they rock!

Ampersand Duck said...

yes she does! Dunno prices, though. Can ask if you're serious :)

JahTeh said...

The Stepford wives extended to the children. One told my son she wouldn't come to his house because it wasn't clean. I told him he could clean his room but he said he'd rather read a book. I dun brung the kid up right.

Anonymous said...

I love the young birds sticking their faces up in the air too!
Beaver has a Jan Brown for about 1100.00.