Aging in Place

And so this is where the actuarial rubber meets the road.

Baby boomers appeared of a sudden, historically. We swelled the ranks of the middle class. We demanded and got affordable housing just out of town, and cheap gas to get us back and forth to the places we spent our money.

Now we’ve grown up, grown old and grown to need a lot of new things that society is just now wondering how to offer to both the well-off and the not-so-well-off elders of our times.

Chief among these missing older-boomer things is a way for aging folks who have enjoyed those city edges and settled neighborhoods to stay in or near them when their physical, emotional and health needs become more demanding of the help of others in the context of a familiar and supportive setting for their final years.

Hence, “Aging in Place.” I attend a three hour meeting this morning at Hotel Floyd to discuss this complex issue, both at the personal and the community level. I rather dread being forced to look at the inevitable demands that come with inevitable decline and increasing dependency on community, neighbors and family.

But face it we must.

Some gathered resources from a quick overview this morning:

Age In Place | The National Aging In Place Council

Aging in Place |

Aging in Place and Senior Resources

Plate is Full, Blog is Empty

Earth in Ice: Image from Goose Creek January 2008

I made the mistake a few weeks back of saying I hoped to be doubling down on efforts to apply the brake to the creening path of humanity towards the brink–as if one person can make a difference; and yet…

One person can be a bystander or can give aid at the scene of a horrific accident.

Where we are as a species today is a horrific consequence of ignorance early on, followed by full intention in the past decades–since the Great Accelleration of 1950–to push the pedal to the medal, calamitous consequences (for all but the present stockholders and CEOs) be damned.

And so since I made that declaration here (I am too lazy to make a link) I have had new obligations and opportunities to man the oars and paddle against the currents.

I am now serving on the Volunteer Core Group for the nomination then election of Anthony Flaccavento to Congress from the 9th district of Virginia; and have a multitude of new hats to wear with SustainFloyd, perhaps more about that at some point.

Also i have elaborated on the Personal Climate Pledge project of SustainFloyd and that essay will be up on Fragments in excerpt tomorrow, with a link to the full piece at

So I intend–because it is something I want to attempt to do for the first time in years–to post to the blog every day this week. The posts will come mostly from material already generated elsewhere (like the two Forestry-related presentations for the Living in Our Forests series at the Floyd library, yesterday and on January 11th.

Also now will be planning for an hour-long presentation (vs the 20 minute versions at the library) for an organization in Roanoke probably in July.

Idle hands…not so much. But I like it that way–up to a point that might have been passed a couple of weeks ago. Balance. Serenity Now! World peace!

Seeing the Forests

Found in my collections of snippets, a quote from Wendell Berry, one of the few wise men of our era, in my opinion:

To destroy a forest or an ecology or a species is an act of greater seriousness than we have yet grasped, and it is perhaps of graver consequence. But these destructions will mend. The forest will grow back, the natural balances will be restored, the ecological gap left by the destroyed species will be filled by another species. But to destroy the earth itself is to destroy all the possibilities of the earth, among them the possibility of recovery.

And adjacent to that quote and I think from this article, comes this statement about land use changes (forest conversion) in the modern era:

Nearly two-thirds of the net conversion to other uses occurred in the second half of the 19th century, when an average of 13 square miles (mi2 ) of forest was cleared every day for 50 years. By 1910, the area of forest land had declined to an estimated 754 million acres, or 34 percent of the total land area. In 2012, forest land comprised 766 million acres, or 33 percent of the total land area of the United States. Forest area has been relatively stable since 1910, although the population has more than tripled since then.

This data supports ONLY the notion that from the air, more acres are in non-pasture non-asphalt than in 1910. This is deceptive.

Many of the trees that exist in today’s “forest” (in fact almost all) will live only about 15-20% of their life expectancy if undisturbed. They will not produce “old growth” or even middle-aged growth for that matter.

Consequently, what we see from the air is a stand of trees (vast numbers in this count are even-aged pulpwood pine trees in laser-straight rows.) It is only vaguely a forest compared to that landform as it existed four hundred years ago.

The biodiversity of Earth has drastically fallen largely because the global forests, north and south of the equator, in which species evolved no longer exist. The water holding capacity, the oxygen producing abilities, the soil building process and especially for our times, the CO2 holding capabilities of today’s small-tree-populated Eastern lands are all homeopathic dilutions of the services that true forests once achieved for the planet and its living communities.

Going forward and in my dreams, we rededicate our species to live in peaceful coexistance with those living systems that allowed  our species to prosper and learn, create culture and art and science and technology.

If we don’t, all those marvelous humanities our kind has created and enjoyed for a few brief eyeblinks on the timeline of Earth will become a faint and fading trace record of yet another vanished civilization that thought, somehow, it alone was exempt from its debt to cosmic biology (insert divine providence or sheer random good luck here as your understandings would have it.) We are beholding, no matter, and our arrogance to the contrary is not to our favor.

Dingo: The First Month

This is a screenshot from a video. STILL shots of this dog would require sedation!

It has been almost a month now since we first freaked when a new dog terrorized our chickens, and only two weeks since we first “met” this dog. He has come so far, and we have so far yet to go. I’d hoped to spend more time shaping this early cameo of Dingo’s early days, but alas, the Muse now carries a leash and a peanut-butter Kong and does very little typing.

There have been times over the past week when I was sure we had over-committed, had acted out of the heart and not the head. In the end of things, we would surely be compelled to endure the pain of a promise, broken, and would see the grief of goodbye in the eyes of a dog we almost loved and then, relinquished with mixed emotions, to strangers.

I’d like to think this was the hardest week in the long life of a new family member sent by the Adoption Agency of Canine Fate. I know the week of Dingo’s neutering has been an ordeal for all of us—quite possibly, least of all the dog. There will be weeks worse than this, maybe, but surely, please, not the week to come. We all need a break.

I say this as I see this through the eye of faith, with hope, more than a little exhausted by what it has taken to keep a year-old puppy from “running, jumping or getting the stitches wet” for 7 to 10 days, per the recommendation.

This has been almost impossible, since the dog kept saying “What stitches?” and dashing full speed to an abrupt halt at the end of his six foot leash or bounding over furniture, unrestrained by pain, discipline or good sense.

At the root of this logistical turmoil has been the apparent novelty for this dog of every aspect of “normal” that we’ve grown used to now with almost seven years with Gandy. She reads our thoughts. She knows the nuance of our footsteps. She totally wants to do the dance that has become so deeply a part of her personality and character. Dingo does not hear the music at all. And what’s worse, he is all left feet.

He has no social skills or sense of behavioral propriety whatsoever—not having been much around people or other dogs; never in a house or a car (except to be dropped off in this strange place along Goose Creek almost a month ago; never was the recipient of all of the attention and love he so earnestly asks for there at our side no matter what we are doing, inside or out.

This is a smart dog. He already knows (and inconsistently obeys) the command to SIT. He does this faithfully at the beginning of walk-about, and both dogs sitting attentively looking up for a treat makes a gratifying scene. Once sitting, STAY will keep Dingo across the room until COME brings him to his food or a Kong with a smear of peanut butter.

We have to suspect that he has never been on a leash before. He’s done well on that count, and learned quickly to walk with us instead of freezing in place as he did on day one—as if he’d once been chained in place.

He may have never had much human care. Although he is a loving and affectionate dog, he hasn’t a clue how to show it. With Gandy, now that his interest has shifted from his Little Brain’s fanatic drives towards his Big Brain’s desire to make friends, he is like a gawky adolescent: enamored of the opposite sex, but drop-dead dumb about how to engage one of them without a total turn-off.

“Hey, watch me put your whole face in my mouth! Want to see me spin around really fast and catch my back foot in my teeth? Think I can run all the way under your belly and come out on the other side? Huh? Huh?” Gandy says: Dog NERD!

But he is having some calm moments, finally, not so many days after returning from his surgery, on the heels of totally forgetting any progress he had made before it. We’ve started over again from the bottom of the learning curve.

He has been actively affectionate to Gandy—when not showing off—and to us this week, including to my mother who was a stranger to him for only a half-minute. It will take time to widen his exposure to other creatures and humans, and know he can trust them. He has had a shaky first year in that regard.

Like the puppy that he is, his brain map has a huge territory devoted to the MOUTH. He is prone to showing his affection by mouthing the hand of whoever attempts to show him attention, and if he persists with this, we withdraw attention and scold him: NO BITE! He has shredded a rubber glove, a small pillow and an old quilt. So far, no gnawed furniture, which was part of Gandy’s puppyhood tooth-works.

The encouraging background of all of this is that he shows much promise on many fronts, and that we don’t have to endure his first year, but only his second, as a puppy. It will be a long year, to be sure, but one higher in energy and longer in country miles around the pasture and woods than without this new activity director living with us.

He is an intelligent and oh-so-faithful dog. I think we should have no fear of his running off, after he has so decisively chosen this family and this place out of all the places he must have wandered to get here. His claws are mere nubs. We will always wonder about his story, before Goose Creek, and never know.