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I’m celebrating this birthday with a two-week Viking cruise in Central America. Apart from lots of history, this is what I have learned so far:

1. There are birds chirping and cawing in a public bathroom that I’ve used several times. I don’t know if they are in the ceiling or not. They may be doing surveillance. Their song never wavers though as it’s the same series of chirps and caws.

2. The toilets in said bathroom are very low. I just completed PT for my hip surgery and subsequent fracture at the end of December and aced the chair/stand exercise, but the starting point in PT was several inches higher than these toilets.

3. The ladders to the pools on the ship are straight up and down and hug the sides of the pools. Vertical walking was not part of my PT.

4. The chaise lounges by these pools are also low. As I rocked and rolled to achieve a standing position, feeling like a fool, I consoled myself that Elvis made a lot of money singing that.

I’ve decided that to become more graceful at poolside, I will practice in the privacy of the public bathroom stall. The toilet is about the same height as the chaise lounge, and I’ll have the bonus of being serenaded by the birds.

I have not yet figured out how to practice getting the strength to descend and ascend the vertical ladders inside the pool. I may have to practice at midnight when no one is in the pool area. But that’s way past my bedtime. The next best solution may be to hail some man younger than I on this cruise, say 75, to give me a hand

So that’s what I’ve learned so far from the vantage point of a post-surgical, newly 81-year-old. When I get home, I will suggest to my physical therapist that she add exercises to the routines of prospective older cruisers that will address the necessary muscle groups. Or she can just tell them their cruising days may be over.

But if she ever suggested that to me, I’d never listen!