I wake up in the morning, sleepy and peaceful, listening to the birds outside twittering happily. (They're probably not happy at all. They're chasing other birds from their nests or yelling at the cat sunning himself in the garden.)
But I'm not really awake yet. I'm still Snow White, and the cheerful birdies are my friends, as are all the woodland creatures.
Then I sit up and try to move. Ouch! Whose feet are these on the ends of my legs, and why do they hate me?
They're not even woodland creatures, just painful logs.
I bend over to wrestle some footwear on them, and my back screams. It prefers lying in bed to bending over.
There is coffee downstairs, but to get to it I have to negotiate the stupid stairs. That's the part where my knees decide it's more fun to be ratchets and to remind me that weight-bearing connective tissue does not improve with age.
It's a slow trip down the stairs, using the handrail with each step, one stair at a time.
This is not a particularly bad morning, just the usual sort. All the creaking and groaning is par for my course. I decided years ago that playing Frisbee was no longer an option — and I reluctantly recognized that dancing the way I like to dance ain't such a good idea either.
As the day goes on, some joints and related parts loosen up a bit; the stairs are no longer an Everest-like challenge. I'm used to the log feeling of those feet, and I remember to avoid bending over quickly.
I usually wait several hours before deciding whether or not this is an Advil Day. I don't like to take stuff to relieve all those pains, because too much pain reliever isn't good for various internal parts, and I don't want them complaining, too.
Bodies wear out gradually . . . if we're lucky. The trick is to adjust psychologically to the inevitable changes. I can be angry about the loss of my former agility. Or I can figure out clever ways to deal with obstacles that confront me now.
If I see a cobweb in a ceiling corner, I must get rid of it or I won't see anything else in the room until that cobweb is gone. But how to get up there?
Well, standing on a chair with a rag in hand is not a good idea, though it worked a couple of years ago. My aches and pains wouldn't hold a candle to the pain of a broken hip or cracked skull. So I bought a dust-mop-on-a-stick. The neat part is that it is extendable to twice its original length. I can just stand on the floor and swish — that cobweb's a goner.
I think my Pollyanna streak compels me to not let the tough stuff get me down. (Don't you just hate people like that?) The occasional bout of crotchetiness is fine, if it remains "occasional.'' Why grumble about being really tired in the middle of the day? Why not just take a nice nap?
I love the bright little flowers that I plant annually along the wall by the front door. But annual planting has become another chore on my "How to do it?'' list.
I found a nifty little thing, a plastic seat on wheels with a compartment for a trowel and other small gardening tools. My little flower beds are on a downward slope with steps; I used to just sit on the steps, but that makes rising from the steps a necessity that raises the specter of being marooned for days, trowel in hand, dirt under my nails.
But my little rolling stool thing gives me just enough leverage to let me get up. I'm so impressed with my cleverness at thinking of an alternate way to do things that I sometimes forget about my ratcheting knees and numb feet.
Sure, we all have aches and pains, and most of them will be with us for the duration. I'll bet even silverback gorillas feel less inclined to swing merrily through trees or carry maidens up skyscrapers as the years go by.
We all clench our teeth (or what's left of them) when we think of that advertisement about falling down and not being able . . . yeah, that one.
(Yawn!) I think it's time for my nap. Later is soon enough to grapple with the pesky cobwebs.
Write to Sheila Stoll in care of LifeTimes, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.