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Christie’s Chronicles: The ups and downs of aging

Lambs, shown here at a past U.P. State Fair, now get me more jazzed than a rollercoaster. This could be attributed to my aging process. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

For the most part, you’re supposed to get better at some things as you age. The first time I rode a two-wheeled bicycle, I made my inaugural left-hand turn onto a neighbor’s driveway. It didn’t go well. I fell, and then I cried.

Fortunately, I now can ride straight and make turns on a bicycle without wiping out, although I did lose the ability to ride without holding onto the handlebars. Now I hang onto them for dear life.

My bike riding also is vastly improved from the early 1970s since I no longer wear a metal clamp to keep my bell bottoms from getting caught in the greasy chain. However, I wear a helmet on present-day excursions, which would have been considered an extremely dorky thing to do in the Brady Bunch era.

I’m improving at using my iPhone and various apps too. Often I can troubleshoot with success. In fact, my email account was messed up a while back, and through a little interwebs research on my desktop computer, I found the solution.

I could go into detail, but that would imply I understood exactly what I did to correct the situation.

About a month or so ago, I announced on Facebook that I had trouble with Saran Wrap. I still do, but my frustrations began with trying to find a starting point on the roll. It can seem invisible, kind of like when the squared-off tip of clear tape splits and it’s hard to get it back to factory condition.

Wrapping Saran Wrap around a bowl isn’t a big deal, but often I return to the previously used roll only to find it impossible to find the tear-off point. This happened in a recent incident. My husband Dave then performed major surgery so I could extract another sheet.

I realize the whole point of Saran Wrap is to be clingy so it sticks to the sides of containers. However, I just wish I were more adept at getting a piece off the roll for starters and not cutting my hand on the container’s sharp edges in the process.

Admittedly, I am on my way to leaving each roll after I’ve used it in pristine condition so I don’t return to another frustrating episode that requires scissors, a knife and a neurosurgeon’s medical magnifier. The trick is to tear off the Saran Wrap swiftly.

All this is not to disparage Saran Wrap. It is essential to our existence. I just need more practice.

One skill at which I seem to have regressed, though, is ice skating.

I was never a Peggy Fleming, but I recall zipping around the rink as an eighth-grader at what was known then as the Athletic and Convocation Center at the University of Notre Dame.

Anyway, this winter I finally visited the ice rink at Lions Field in Marquette Township. Using a pair of used boots was part of the issue since I had a difficult time lacing them properly. I also was wearing a heavy parka.

So, I had at least two excuses going for me. Whether they were legitimate is up for debate, but I had to pull off to the side and grab onto the fencing for support. I also retied my skates.

Eventually I got up the nerve to make circuits on the rink, but with my arms outstretched and my strokes uneven, I resembled Randy in his snowsuit in “A Christmas Story” as he toddled on the snow.

A later foray to the makeshift ice rink by the lower ore dock in Marquette produced similar results, including having to lace up again. Grabbing onto the ore dock for support, however, was more challenging.

Granted, outdoor ice rinks probably as a rule aren’t as even as indoor rinks. A frozen Lake Superior in a spot that rarely freezes this way is testament to this.

What made my skating experience worthwhile was having the opportunity to skate out onto the lake with many others who were experiencing the same thrill of being so close to a structure such as the ore dock.

When I found a clear, snow-free spot, I looked down. Did a lake trout look up at me and wonder about the strange creature skating on its home?

Another thing I mastered better at a young age was going on an amusement park ride. In my 20s, the wilder the ride, the better. I loved the corkscrew twists and steep inclines.

Now I’m not sure I could handle even a merry-go-round. Is it a stomach or inner ear thing? Do I psych myself out? When I go to county and state fairs now, the highlights are the animal barns and the Croatian chicken dinners.

Does this mean I’m officially old?

However, even getting close to farm animals is a skill in itself. For example, being in the vicinity of goats in a petting zoo requires constant vigilance. There seems to be one overly dominant goat that wants all the feed to itself, and some poor meek one that can’t move past the more aggressive animal.

Therefore, I have learned to mete out the pellets and veggies in equitable amounts.

Maybe getting older does have its advantages.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Christie Mastric is a staff writer at The Mining Journal. Contact her at cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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