Watch that step!

This looks insignificant, but it isn’t.

Age at times brings clarity. Things that never occur to you in youth or middle age become crystal clear with your increasing decrepitude.

Take stairs or even single steps, for instance.

When we built the Hacienda in 2002-03, my child bride suggested we do a “sunken” living room. I was neither here nor there about it, so we told the builder to do it without specifying how “sunken” it would be. He took the easy route, thank the Goddess, and sank it just one step, which you see in the above photo.

And then there was the notion of a second floor even though the property is large enough to have expanded a one-story villa all over the place with lots of yard left. A smaller lawn would have been nice because the yard is a constant wedgie in my butt.

I was a nimble 58 when this place was constructed, and now I’m 77. Things change, and my advice to you is that if you’re building a home in which you expect to live out your life, don’t do steps.

They are not a significant problem yet, but they likely will be with time. Let’s look at the one-step up to the dining room, the one you see in the photo above. My catching one foot on it as I step up is fairly common, but I have yet to take a dive.

My child bride, however, due to a damp rubber sandal a few years ago, sailed off that step and ended up in an arm cast for six weeks. When will it be my turn?

And there’s the stairwell to the second floor, a floor that could easily have been avoided, as I mentioned earlier. Climbing it many times a day is good exercise, so there is that. Neither of us has fallen on the stairwell yet, but will we and when?

I read recently that stairwells are a major cause of accidents. And if one or both of us live long enough, it could be an almost unpassable barrier to half of the house. You never think about this stuff when you’re relatively young.

But I’m sure thinking of it now.

A neighborhood view

I circle the neighborhood plaza afoot for 20 minutes every weekday morning except when I’m feeling lazy. It’s half of my two-pronged effort to keep as fit as one can at my advancing age. The second prong is a gym set I have at home, which I actually use, which is more than most people can say honestly.

This photo was taken opposite the plaza, which is to say across one of the four surrounding streets. Normally, I walk directly on the plaza, but on this morning, I was going down the sidewalk outside the surrounding businesses.* I noticed this view, so I paused and took a shot with my phone camera, which I rarely use.

It turned out pretty good.

That’s an agrarian scene on a mural down there. Someone painted it some years ago, and someone else defaced it a bit with watery white paint. Graffiti is rare in our woebegone barrio. The Hacienda is on a main drag, and we’ve been lightly defaced just once in 18 years.

I quickly painted over it, which is what they say you should do.

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*”Businesses” is using the term lightly. One might say hilariously.

The long, dark road

In many respects, the day you’re born you start your journey down a long, dark road to death. It doesn’t seem that way for much of your life because the sun is usually shining, and you’re getting on with things. But that doesn’t last.

I’ll be 77 later this year, not ancient, but certainly not young, not even middle-aged. At this stage, stuff starts to happen, to change. In just the past year, two notable things have befallen me, one is worse than the other.

The lighter one, so to speak, is that I’m not skinny anymore. Since I trimmed down from 225 pounds to about 170 in the early 1980s, I’ve been what I preferred to call svelte. In the past year, I’ve put on some poundage, mostly in the middle, and now my jeans are too tight. I’m planning to purchase new ones at Walmart next week.

No one would look at me now and call me fat, but no one would call me svelte either. I’m more of a normal fellow, aesthetically speaking, and that’s okay by me.

The second thing is worse. Some months ago I noticed that my night vision was failing. I see fine during the day, but at night things get sorta blurry. This is not good for night driving, something that was put to the test this week when we had to return from the nearby state capital in the dark due to a medical appointment that started at 6 p.m.

Before going there, I told myself: It’s mostly a straight shot. What can go wrong?

After leaving the doc’s office about 7, and stopping at a drugstore for some medicine, we headed up the highway. Not too bad, but not too good either. It was worse than I had anticipated. At one point, just for a couple of seconds, I actually lost track of the asphalt. My child bride noticed, asked about it, and I responded, er, nothing.

Fortunately, we made it home intact, but we had a chat the next morning, and I came clean with her. No more driving to or from the state capital, which is about 30 miles away, after dark, something I’ve done off and on for 20 years. If, for some reason, we must be there late, we’ll spend the night in a hotel.

Why not let her drive? Because she has no experience driving on highways at night. None, zip, zero. What driving she’s done in her life has been town travel, plus she’s prone to nervousness, not a good combination for a Mexican highway in the gloom.

And she does not want to.

Life consists of stages. We’ve just debuted on a new one. Drat!

An evening alone

View from the scarlet sofa.

I’ve been in this house for over 17 years, far longer than I’ve lived anywhere.

As happens most weekdays, my child bride headed off last night to one of the two gyms she patronizes. Last evening, she was at the closer, more elegant, one only about two miles down the road, leaving me home alone like MacCaulay Culkin.

When she left I went outside and watered yard plants with a hose, the first time this season. Then I came inside and sat on the scarlet sofa with my Kindle. I’m currently plowing through a strange book titled Vagabonding Down the Andes by an oddball named Harry Alverson Franck who in the first decade of the 1900s walked from Panama through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and, well, I don’t know how far because I’m only about halfway through the 1,000-plus-page book. The guy must have been nuts, but he writes interestingly.

Did you know llama is a word from the original Inca tongue, and it means simply “domesticated animal”? Before the Spaniards arrived, the llama was the only domesticated animal in the Inca world, so that’s what they called the beast.

There was still some daylight as I started reading, but night fell, as they say, and I did not turn on the living room light because the Kindle has its own light. It got darker and darker. I looked toward the kitchen where a light was lit in the stove hood. The only other light was what passed through glass bricks that abut the stairwell.

I wonder how many more nights await me. It’s an issue as you age.