The Secret To Staying Young


My body is a temple — it just needs a seismic retrofit. Nothing earth-shattering — just a little nip and tuck. Or I could do what Heidi Beck has done for decades. Get up at 4 a.m., have breakfast and be in the pool before 6.
Heidi swims an hour a day, every day — rain or shine. At 82, she figures she’s swum three-quarters of the way around the world — all at The Hills Swim Club, where she joined as a charter member in 1962.
“The Red Cross was offering a pin to anyone who could swim 50 miles in one year,” she remembered of those early days. “My daughter was taking swim lessons and said ‘Mommy, will you do this with me?'”
Since then, things have gone, well, swimmingly. Heidi’s health has allowed her to do things most seniors don’t get to enjoy. At 76, she tried sky diving. Twice. She still tends to her hillside garden and hosts her grandchildren for summer vacations. And she never forgets where she’d be without her morning routine.
“I’m convinced I’d be in a wheelchair,” she said, referring to a lung condition she’s had since childhood.
Heidi is like a fine Swiss watch. Time marches on and she keeps ticking. Oh — and she’s waterproof, too.

OVERCOMING ODDS: When artist Michael Grbich lost his home in the Oakland hills firestorm, it would have been easy to slip into a funk. His wife had died a year and a half earlier and the house had been a labor of love for the couple.
“We built it out of recyclable materials,” Grbich said, adding they found their beautiful Victorian doors in a trash bin in downtown Oakland. Their home was so unique it was featured in Newsweek magazine.
But out of the ashes rose hope.
“I told my kids, ‘Don’t ever refer to yourselves as victims. We’re survivors,'” he said.
Today, Grbich’s art reflects his optimism and zeal for life. And his home, with the same architectural layout as the earlier house, is part of an artists tour this month.
You can meet Michael and see his work this weekend and next, during the East Bay Open Studio. I think you’ll find him as inspirational as the panoramic bay view from his sun-kissed home.

YEAH, BABY: Do Oaklanders know how to party or what? Even Mike Myers would have been impressed by the recent Austin Powers party in the hills. A fund-raiser for Corpus Christi School, the attendees were groovy in their polyester bellbottoms and polka-dot minis. But the real highlight was the pad, man. It was right out of a James Bond movie, complete with go-go dance cages and a wrap-around love seat. Oh — and the carpets were “shag-alicious”.

BOTCHED BURGLARY: Somewhere out there is a burglar without his “booty.” The hapless crook snuck into a hills yard the other night, tried to drug the dog and then broke into the house — only to escape with a handful of CDs and a CD player. After all that, he didn’t even like the music. It was found dumped outside the 7-Eleven on Thornhill Road.

CRIME STORY: Speaking of illegal activity, remember Mike Healy, the guy I wrote about last week who chased two thugs off the tennis court in Montclair? The masked teens were looking for loot but got an earful instead when Mike let loose with a verbal tongue-lashing that would have made a sailor blush. Turns out, Healy has other talents as well. He’s written a book and is looking for a publisher. The topic? Let’s just say it’s a crime novel.

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