The Second Side of 80 (or a running collection of unfiltered thoughts)

By Jan Jackson

February 8, 2004 – The Closet Non-football Fan

How can you live in the USA and not be hip about sports? You try to keep it in the closet.

My early childhood started during the latter part of the Great Depression through World War II.

I was born in the sticks, so my sports life consisted of climbing trees and playing in the dirt. Had one younger brother, but he wasn’t into sports either. We thought we were living the good life when we moved to the big city and learned how to play jacks (me), and marbles (him). A couple of years of that, and we moved to rural Boise Idaho Valley and got good at floating boats in the irrigation ditches.

My high school sports career consisted of playing clarinet in the band at during halftime at the football games and coming up with every excuse I had to get out of PE classes. My brother and I did get pretty good at playing badminton in our side yard (still in the country), but we didn’t know anyone else who did it.

College wasn’t any better because I played in the band during the Duck games too. The first time I dated a football jock, I had to scurry around and find someone (my brother) to give me some tips about what was going on in the field. I didn’t stick with dating sports jocks however, because they were only pleasant to be around when they won – definitely no fun when they lost.

Fast forward to my old age. I still root for my Oregon Ducks, though it is a real stressor because I care too much about their winning. The only games I like to watch are the ones they are slaughtering the other team and I’m assured that there is no way they are going to lose. Obviously, If I don’t care who wins, it wouldn’t even occur to me to watch it.

Fast forward again to this Sunday and the Super Bowl. I’m going to my family’s Superbowl party. I’ll knit, eat, and smile appropriately as everyone is watching the tv. It’s a tough job, but its all part of the job of being a closet non-sports fan. To quote Nike, you “Just do it”.



February 3, 2024 – What Goes Ground, Comes Around

Amazon.Com. What a concept. Bring all kinds of companies together, sell the products and deliver them quickly to the consumer’s home. We can order and retrieve the box off the porch in our robe and slippers and they use an old idea called customer service that gives you a number to call and talk to a real person. Innovative to say the least. The back lash from those who can’t seem to pull that off has been brutal, but do I think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread? No. It the best thing since the Montgomery Wards and Sears catalogues.

Ordering in those days was just about the same in that you could still order and receive the items in your robe and slippers. But, you had to fill out an order form, and take it to and retrieve it from the mailbox and that meant the whole thing took longer.

And then, oh be still my heart, in 1933, Sears came out with the Christmas catalogues with things in it like Mickey Mouse watches, Lionel electric train sets, Miss Pig Tails dolls and singing canaries. And just in case Santa needed to see what you wanted, you just marked the items and dog-eared the pages.

The old catalogues had other uses too. The winter and spring ones were so big and heavy they made good door stops, and the pages were slick so you could heat them by the stove and take them to bed as foot warmers.

Oh yeah. One more thing. You never saw an outhouse without an outdated one. They still made good reading and were a hedge for running out of toilet paper.

Just a reminder, what goes round, comes round and (at least yet), there are still a few things left the Internet can’t do.

January 21, 2024 – Cutting a Fat Hog

“I really cut a fat hog in the a$$,” is what my grandpa used to say when he did something he thought was clever. And it’s what I thought to myself when I stopped paying for my last-century land line.

I was even more proud for keeping the number active for only $10 a month so it continue to ring through my smart phone. “Self,” I said, “you’re a real smart cookie!” And I kept saying it right up until the last snow and ice storm knocked out my cell service. That was over a week ago and it’s not back yet.

The first thing I did when I lost it, was to get on my providers chat line and get the land line reconnected. Great. One problem. I hadn’t kept the old phone and I was snow/iced in and couldn’t make it to the store and get one. Amazon Prime? I’m a pro-Amazon shopper but a land line would take two weeks to deliver.

How many neighbors had land line phones in their closets? Funny you should ask. The answer is NONE.

Let’s talk about even a few things you lose when you lose your smart phone.

  1. You can’t order groceries without your smart phone app.
  2. Your AI transcription app won’t record your interview.
  3. Any online service that require two step verification doesn’t work because the code is sent to your smart phone.
  4. Your newspaper app won’t read to you while you knit.

What can you do about it? I don’t suggest everyone run out and install last-century land lines even though that’s what I did. You just need to remember that today our connection to the world dangles from the single slender thread we call technology and that connection can disappear in the blink of an eye. I have plenty of food, water and lamp oil stored for emergencies, but I have yet to figure out what to do without a connection to the outside world. My advice to myself if it happens before I figure it out, is to remind myself not to stress over it. It may land in the category of ‘what is is.”

And, in case you want to know more about cutting a fat hog in the a$$, the term originated in the Ozarks, and originally derived from when a man would slaughter a hog and discover a (surprisingly) thick layer of fat (or lard) between the meat and skin, which would then be able to be rendered off and used in cooking throughout the coming year. When a person was to have something that comes into their favor, they were to say that “they cut a fat hog in the ass”.

Courtesy: Urban Dictionary

Thursday, January 18, 2024  – Keep Moving and doing Stuff

“Self,” I said. “I don’t care what you do, just keep doing it til noon.” Think that’s a funny New Years Resolution? Well, when you are on the other side of 80 (way on the other side), it’s not called a New Years Resolution. It’s called a Rest-of-your-life Resolution.  Let me explain.

As the body begins winding down, that easy chair looks better and better. Its come-hither voice gets louder and louder.

“You know how you love to sit on your bum and cogitate,” it whispers.

“I know, but I keep getting more and more behind,” I answer.

“Come on,” it beckons. “You’ve earned a slow-down. Chill-out for heaven’s sake.”

Then I remembered reading James Clear’s book called Atomic Habits (if you haven’t read it, read it! ). Habits can be good for you. Habits can allow you to automatically do stuff you want (and should want) to do with out having to even think about it. How do you develop habits? By making it easy and making it rewarding. There’s nothing I love more than easy and rewarding. Ah, but easier said than done!

First, I had to break the relationship I had going with my chair. Oh man, I loved that relationship. I know, you can love something and have to get rid of it at the same time. That’s me and my chair.

Lets start with just mornings (making it easy). No my-chair-sitting until after lunch!!!

‘But what if I can’t decide what to do?’ I say to myself.

‘It doesn’t matter what you do,’ I answered back. ‘Just do something!!!!.’

 Well this is going to be interesting,’ says I, ‘but here I go.’

So far, I’ve done some interesting things, but the jury is still out. You’ll have to check back.


Monday, January 8, 2024 – I don’t know how far back you can remember things, but I was three-year’s old when my mother gave me advice that shaped my life. Whether I really remember the advice my mother gave my three-year-old self or I remember it because I heard her repeat it so many times, I have no idea.

I was born during the time every mother (with an adorable, talented, curly-headed daughter that could sing), hoped she would be yet another Shirley Temple. and, that’s what my mother had in mind for me. I was cute (just listen to me), I had a natural music talent, and a personality to allowed me to entertain. Because of that,   she had me singing on stage by the age of three.

Because I was getting so much praise  from everyone, my mother got cold feet and felt the need to set me straight.

“You must not think you are any more special than anyone else,” she said. “You can’t even take credit for your voice; it was given to you by God, and God gave everyone a special of some kind. He gave Mrs. Munger a special talent for baking, he made Mrs. Nelson a wonderful gardener, and Mrs. James a gifted painter.”

I bought into that lock, stock, and barrel and I’ve never looked at anyone these 86-plus years (ok, subtract the first three), without knowing for certain that there was something special about every one of them. It has made for a wonderful life.

Now for the rest of the story. The reason I heard the story retold so many times, is that my mother couldn’t sing which made her no match for the natural musical talent of my father’s side of the family. My response, when she informed me that God had given me my singing voice, was to suggest that the devil had given her hers.

Ok, so it seemed like a logical thing to say at the time – I’m laughing.


Monday, January 1, 2024 – Happy Dang New Year – I love New Years Day so much! I think it’s because I love finishing old things and starting new ones. I don’t make New Years Resolutions however. It’s a fun game, I just don’t care to play it.

I get excited about Mondays to0 (and I get 52 of those a year). You see,  I have all kinds of things I’m going to do during the week. Don’t care much for Fridays though. That’s when I have to face the fact that I didn’t get them all done.

Weekends? Well, those two days are like the heels in a loaf of bread. Just bookends that hold the week together. Bet a shrink would love to tackle that – I’m laughing.

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