Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Downside to Adding Up the Years

I vaguely remember the old folks – my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – sitting around the dining room table, lingering over coffee and pie while discussing their aches and pains, past and future doctor visits, and whispering when news was particularly bad.

Fast forward a few decades and the old folks are my friends and I. The scenario came to mind during a breakfast at a local restaurant.

 Every few weeks my yoga class, composed mostly of retirees, gathers for breakfast. We walk into the restaurant, still stretching and massaging sore muscles, sit around a table, a dozen or more of us, and order coffee and fairly healthy food. I don’t think anyone wants to appear a glutton and, for instance, order potatoes with their omelet–a side of sliced tomatoes will do. Work hard in exercise class; cancel the benefits with a satisfying meal. My routine, but most of my yoga friends have more motivation and willpower than I.

Conversation ensues. “Getting up early, going to the gym, sometimes I just want to turn over and go back to sleep. Not today. Looked forward to breakfast.”

“Me too, once in a while I don’t make it. But the exercise helps ward off the evils of osteoporosis, or so I’m told. Probably just another old wives tale.”

“You know what, if you don’t come every week nothing much happens. On the other hand coming religiously will not make you beautiful.”

“But not coming ever will make me stiff and fatter, I know…”

A handful shun eggs due to high cholesterol concerns. The ordering initiates a discourse on how best to lower cholesterol-foods to eat, foods to avoid, meds to try, meds to avoid…

The conversation over the course of the morning encompasses a variety of topics, from good reads to bad movies, current events and politics, kids and grandkids, holiday plans and recent travels.

Health-related issues dominate dialogue when setting a time for the next breakfast.

On the first date suggested the conversation proceeds generally like this:

“I hate to admit it and it took a long time to come to terms with this, but I have cataract surgery that day, so can we get together another time?”

“Let me see…I can’t make it either. Dentist. Need a cap.”

The next date proposed a couple of folks pipe up:

Outpatient surgery. Nothing major…”

“Follow-up from hip surgery.”

And on the third date, voices heard:

“Big day for me. Never mentioned it before because it definitely means I am OLD, but a few months ago got shingles. Mild case, but have to wait six months to get the vaccine. Marked the momentous day in red on my calendar. But I can go after breakfast. It will be a kind of celebration.”

“Hair appointment. Time to color the gray–again.”

“Since we are on the subject…any of you wear hearing aids? I know I need them but don’t want to spend the money. I’ve heard mixed things about how much they really help.”

“By the way, can anyone suggest special exercises for my arthritis?”

“I just started meds for high blood pressure. Tried keeping it down with diet and exercise, but didn’t work. Doctor said some people can’t fight genes, and aging.”

“OK, we have a date!”

“Wait, I missed that discussion. When is it?”

“Have to put it in my calendar now or I will forget.”

“I’ll remind everyone in class the week before. And the day of.”

“What’s the date? Didn’t hear it…”

“Don’t remember it…”

“Anyone see my phone?”

“See everyone next week…S**t, where did I park the car?”
 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Good Government Experience…for a change

Interactions with federal and state agencies and large corporations - paying taxes, Medicare and medical insurance processing and snafus, cable, phone and internet company hassles to name a few - get in the way of living a tranquil, laid-back life.

Dealing with large entities has become synonymous with stress.

But not all the time!

Since hub and I travel a lot, we applied for Global Entry status, a program allowing holders to sidestep immigration lines when entering the country. In the past we experienced exasperatingly long lines following lengthy flights, adding to our exhaustion and frustration. Bypassing lines, inserting our passport into a kiosk and allowed to move on is appealing.

The process seemed intimidating, however, involving interface with the largest and probably most fossilized bureaucracy on earth – the U.S. government.

The online process begins with an application fee, $100 per person. Uncle Sam keeps the dough whether or not approval is received. A risk, but I was optimistic we would be granted Global Entry status.

Hub and I filled out forms and waited. Pre-approval meant progressing to the next step, a personal interview. Most interview site locations are airports, with a handful at government offices scattered throughout the country and abroad.

Pre-approval came via email less than two weeks later. We immediately logged into our accounts to set up an appointment at the Philadelphia airport, closest site to our home.

Viewing the interview schedule proved discouraging. The only slot available for the next two months was 4:00 p.m. the following Saturday afternoon. We went for it.

Hub signed in immediately, and then as I tried to log in a message appeared stating the slot was unavailable.

Now what?

We were not going to forfeit hub’s interview. I called and asked if I could possibly get an interview at around the same time. The agent, not supportive, reluctantly stated I could come in and see what happens. 

No traffic hindered our one-hour drive to the airport. We found our way to the customs office, pressed the intercom button and stated the reason for our visit. The door magically unlocked.

Aside from being very cold, the waiting room was not crowded and individuals were summoned steadily. We arrived early, leaving plenty of time in case we got stuck in traffic or could not easily locate the office, and were ushered in for an interview before the assigned time. Explaining our situation, the immigration officer readily took care of both of us.

Personal information verified, picture snapped, fingerprints taken, and we were done.

An added bonus with Global Entry is TSA pre-check with most airlines.

Courteous, accommodating officials, escorted in to the appointment early, completed in a timely manner, willing to work with both hub and me – government at its best!

There is hope for the future after all.

Global Entry status is good for five years. We trust the program is not cancelled before then. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Reflections on the Position of President of the United States

                  As of April 6, 2017 - 1,306 Days Until the Next Presidential Election

 Since there are only 1,306 days until the 2020 election–three and a half years, a long time or a short interval depending on your views of the current POTUS–it might be time to begin evaluating candidates for that austere position.

But it is too early for me to speculate on Democratic candidates. Hillary and Bernie will be over the hill, in my opinion, although my feeling that Hillary’s baggage would preclude her from running in 2016 obviously was not heeded. Another important but often-overlooked reason neither Bernie nor Hillary would have won is because both are too short. Bernie is somewhere between 5”8” and 5”11” and Hillary is 5’5”. Recent Presidents have been tall: DT is 6’2”, Obama 6’1”, George Bush 5’111/2 ”, Clinton 6’2”, George H.W. Bush 6’2”, Reagan 6’1”, Carter only 5’91/2”, Ford 6’, Nixon 5’111/2”, Johnson 6’3”, Kennedy 6’ – there is definitely a trend here.


The Dems need new, youngish, tall fresh faces. One of my state’s senators (NJ), Cory Booker (6’4”), is making a name for himself, but will the country elect another black man so soon after Obama?

A female dynamo around a long time, California’s Diane Feinstein, is too divisive. I did not know she is, well, quite mature – 83. Cross her name off the 2020 list. On the other hand the junior CA senator, another Democrat, Kamala Harris (5’4” – may be a problem), is only 52. I know nothing about her.

I heard Colorado’s Michael Bennet (height unknown) on TV discuss the Gorsuch hearings, and he impressed. He is only 52 (age here being a relative term; after all, the President must be at least 35 years old). No Coloradan has been President. And he is not bad looking. All good reasons to consider him...but enough about the Democrats. It is reassuring to realize, however, there are potential candidates in the wings. Whether they are good aspirants or schmucks*, research and time will tell.

The current POTUS will be 74 when 2020 rolls around. But more important, First Lady Melania will be 50. Will POTUS stand for a First Lady of such vintage?

If DT decides to opt for trophy wife #4, I am sure his admirers will forgive a divorce. After all, they did not mind that he already suffered through two. As for all those other women sexually harassed by the POTUS, his followers will forgive. Again. And again. And again...We are all familiar with the infamous tape putting the lie to DT’s denials of sexually harassing women. He is an inveterate cheater, invoking the Fifth Amendment 97 times during divorce proceedings from his first wife (Ivana) when questioned about relationships with other women.

But let us not overlook the fact that the POTUS is a magnanimous, forgiving soul and good friend. On Bill O’Reilly’s recent indiscretions, or rather the publicizing of his transgressions, DT said in an interview with The New York Times, "I think he’s a person I know well. He is a good person...I think he shouldn’t have settled. Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong."

After all, the POTUS is such a romantic. Commenting on his second wedding (to Marla Maples) he said: “I was bored when she was walking down the aisle…I kept thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’”

I would LOVE to hear what DT's two ex-es have to say. Unfortunately their stories are unavailable due to confidentiality clauses in divorce decrees. Speak and ye shall lose your $$. Not that they get oodles of money, due to prenuptial agreements, but a check in the mail occasionally for a million pays the rent. And food bill. And some entertainment. And travel…but I guess only if carefully disbursed.

Ladies, should you need help, in a previous life I was a financial geek. Call me…

DT will be the Republican Presidential candidate in 2020, assuming he is alive, breathing, and not impeached. In his own words from a 1990 Playboy magazine interview:

The show is "Trump" and it has sold out performances everywhere. I've had fun doing it and will continue to have fun, and I think most people enjoy it.

Meanwhile…in small offices and large corporations around the world writers and publishers huddle over laptops, furiously updating children’s books about the Presidents to include #45. I wonder what fairy tales will be spun to make DT’s story G-rated.

* schmuck - a Yiddish word with a common understanding today of someone who is on the stupid side of the intelligence spectrum, perhaps obnoxious, difficult, a jerk. Original, literal meaning of the word is penis.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

110 and Counting!

 You meet a lot of interesting people in an assisted living home. My mother-in-law graced one for over five years. A lot of people think these places sad–old people everywhere.

But there is another side. Initially against the move, most folks end up enjoying life in their new home.

Why?

A major reason is social interaction. Sidelined at home because of physical problems, unable to drive, poor weather preventing the weak and unstable from venturing outdoors, seniors become bored and depressed, wallowing in aches, pains and ailments because there is nothing to do but dwell on their problems.

Not confined to what is viewed on a TV screen, a facility is often more cheerful than an isolated apartment or house. Residents become part of a community offering a variety of activities and people to communicate with, trips to local places such as the supermarket, library, and bank, restaurants, shows and tourist attractions. An outing to the beach, a short van ride, and hanging out on the boardwalk is a favorite warm weather destination at my MIL’s place.  

Residents are served three meals a day in a lovely dining room. Medical care is consistent and pro-active. Health issues are taken care of before becoming a catastrophe. I realize all homes are not high quality, but many are.

Why is this topic on my mind?

Helen Turner, a woman I got to know at my MIL’s assisted living facility, marked a special birthday, and the local newspaper highlighted her celebration and her life.

Helen turned 110 on April 1st.

Helen uses a walker and has some eye problems, but her eyesight is good enough to knit every day. And her mind is ‘all there’.

Helen and many others are living a long time nowadays. How many of my friends and family will celebrate 100 years of living?

Should I live a century, I have one-third of my life ahead of me. An overwhelming thought.

As long as I am fairly healthy – mind and body working well enough so I can take care of myself – living another three plus decades is not a bad idea. For instance I will probably never finish the constantly growing list of books I want to read. Or articles I want to write. Or places I want to visit…

Yet it is not just about the quantity of time. Quality counts. Mae West said it best:

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

The topic also brings to mind a TV series about two women of a certain age played by fabulous actresses Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The show: Grace and Frankie (Netflix). The women play young 70-ish women. In real life Jane Fonda is 79 and Lily Tomlin is 77.

Talk about role models.

On the other hand I am not into face-lifts or cosmetic surgery. I remember Jane Fonda’s exercise tapes – “feel the burn” – but not in a million years and hours of exercise would I ever have a Jane-like figure.

But I admire the spunk and energy these two women project.

I must learn to be satisfied with the me in the mirror.

Helen Turner enjoyed her life – growing up on a farm, a teaching career spanning 37 years, marriage and children, travel. 
Her slogan: Have you hugged anybody today? 
And Helen's recipe for successful aging, “Work through things. Don’t let them bother you.”



Hub and me at 103??

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fashion Sense and Nonsense: Leggings and Jeans

I have never been a fashion maven or interested in the latest fashion trends, but recent news articles about leggings and jeans captured my attention. In the leggings story, two teenage girls were barred from boarding a United Airlines flight because of their attire. Leggings are not banned for everyone, the airlines assured distressed customers, only individuals representing the company. Apparently the girls were dependents of United employees.

The second article impacts me personally, stating men and women over the age of 53 should not wear jeans. It is not a hard and fast rule, a guideline, but reinforces the fact that people over a certain age should not wear particular items of clothing.

Back in the good ole days my grandmother wore a housecoat or dress, clunky black shoes and stockings. I cannot recall her ever wearing pants, although that does not mean she never did. But I think her clothes screamed, “old! I am old!”

I do not want my clothes advertising that message, but on the other hand I do not want folks whispering about my appearance, “silly old lady trying to look young. Ugh!”

The leggings issue brings to mind numerous times I observed rather overweight individuals ensconced in leggings and a top not covering, or barely covering, their backside. Often the top is a tight-fitting halter. It is not a pretty sight, and I wonder if the person looks in the mirror, scanning their figure front and back before leaving the house. Does the person care how she looks? My guess is either the individual would rather be fashionable than frumpy, or skewed vision alters brain cells and the woman believes her appearance fine. Maybe even fetching.

The girls refused entry on the plane may have looked adorable, as slim young things often do in leggings, but whether or not they looked hot or not, the airline viewed their apparel as unsuitable.

Confession time: I own a pair of leggings, but wear them with a long, loose-fitting top reaching at least mid-thigh, attire comfortable and hopefully not distasteful-looking. I cannot, however, see myself wearing leggings every day.

United Airlines assured everyone in numerous communications that regular passengers can wear leggings onboard. A popular current style, whatever fashion statement the wearer believes they are making, leggings are comfy, especially for sitting in tight spaces for any length of time. The tights are definitely more comfortable than figure-hugging, clingy, fitted jeans, the other fashion choice of the young and slim. I, on the other hand, an untrendy fuddy duddy, have no problem donning jeans that fit easily around my core.
  
The fashionistas spoke, and I should not wear jeans. But I do not have to listen. I cannot – yet – retire mine. The article mentions the fact that on average it takes five days of shopping to find a good fitting pair of jeans, and the frustration sometimes results in tears.

I can relate.

On the other hand, the harried shopper probably will not need to buy another pair of jeans for three to five years.

What a relief.

I can postpone the jeans to-wear-or-not-to-wear question until I need a new pair, a couple of years away. Meanwhile I will wear my jeans proudly, my head held high, knowing I am making a fashion statement the designer Yves Saint Laurent gave the stamp of approval:

I wish I had invented blue jeans.
They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity –
 all I hope for in my clothes.
-       YSL

The next compelling fashion question of the times: can women of a certain age wear leggings?

I researched this significant issue and the answer is YES – as long as the accompanying top drapes somewhere well south of one’s butt.

Another sigh of relief. I do not have to toss my leggings out – yet. And, just like jeans, leggings are not for women only, as the following quote attests -

Final words on the subject, expressing my feelings perfectly, from one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Franz Kafka -

Monday, March 27, 2017

Spring Challenges, Retirement Roles, Cannabis and Washington Updates

I am recovering from one incredibly long day of mental anguish, computer hassles, testy words, and a huge meal of comfort food. The dinner spurred me to attend yoga class this morning for the first time since returning from my winter sojourn south.

Yesterday was Tax Day.

It was not as easy as downloading Turbo Tax and filling in the blanks. I upgraded my computer’s OS - operating system, which took far too long. Programs began automatic updates, taking additional time, and then I discovered Quicken Essential unusable with the ‘improved’ OS. I purchased a new Quicken program…but enough of my tax-related woes.

The good news is that by 10:00 p.m. federal and state taxes were completed and e-filed.

Spring’s worst task concluded. Until next year.

Unfortunately Laura Lee Carter of Adventures of the New Old Farts also experienced a challenging weekend. A BAD lightening and ice storm struck Southern Colorado Thursday night and knocked out the electricity for three cold days and nights. No heat, no cooking…read all about her saga in Southern Colorado is Closed Today and Tomorrow – Slipping Off the Grid!

Sometimes support in the form of drugs helps us cope with temporary difficulties or on-going problems such as health-related issues. And that assistance not only applies to humans. Heart Mind Soul's Carol Cassara’s dog is on cannabis. The drug has been found to have real benefits to dogs with anxiety, cancer, or end of life issues, as she writes in Cannabis: Rx for Dogs.

Tom Sightings, Sightings Over Sixty, addresses the issue of how we transition from work
and family to retirement and new pursuits. In other words, he wonders, once we're retired, what do we do all day? Check out What's Your Retirement Role? for some thoughts on how we can find meaning and focus in our lives after we retire. 

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, says the consumer news from last week is good and bad. The good news is that the Republicans failed on their first attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bad news is the Trump Administration hikes fees for student loans. 

Other consumer news is an environmental group releases its annual list of the fruits and vegetables with the most and least pesticide residue and Experian is fined $3 million for deceiving consumers about credit scores.

This week promises sunny, almost warm weather in my part of the country. I look forward to wandering outside and re-acquainting myself with my yard and neighborhood. I hope everyone experiences sunny days this week while also taking time to read our boomer posts and say hi!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

An Honoree, a Reunion, and Vegas, baby

Young wives and mothers (emphasis on young!), Kathe and I connected over 40 years ago. Over the decades we shared the highs and lows of life - jobs, school, holidays, graduations and weddings, divorce and remarriage, grandchildren, funerals.

Kathe's boys went off to college and soon after she left town, following her soul mate across the country. Settling in the sprawling desert metropolis of Las Vegas, she obtained a position in her chosen field and lifelong passion, education.

That was over 20 years ago.

Twenty years - historically a generation, Biblically and as recent as the Gettysburg Address a score - seems like a long time when reminiscing about a life’s journey. In my life the span stretches back into the last century, but in my mind does not seem so long ago. Time moves and compresses at an increased pace as we age. I am not sure scientists have quantified the phenomenon, but it is worth investigating.

Two old friends growing older each year kept in contact and saw each other occasionally.

The Honoree giving her speech
Kathe retired from a career in education reaching back 50 years, but could not tear herself away from her school and the kids. She continues to volunteer in the library. In recognition of her teaching career and dedication to the school, she was honored at a dinner this past weekend. Hub and I traveled to Vegas for the event.

Our journey turned into a four night, three-day reunion in the surreal land of Vegas, baby. The recognition dinner was the highlight, and that too had a definite Vegas flair. Attendees included owners of strip clubs, tour companies, restaurants, and at least one professional gambler. These people have spouses (serially, not simultaneously as far as I know) or significant others and children. They want the best for their kids, so they started a private school and scoured the region for the best teachers. Kathe was the first professional educator hired.

Activities the days before and after the dinner included a tour of the Mob Museum...
The Mob Museum, all about an organization
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover said
did not exist, "There is no Mafia."

...a visit to Fremont Street, a.k.a. Downtown Vegas,
Chihuly ceiling in the Hotel Bellagio, Las Vegas
a stroll along the Vegas Strip, and much time catching up. And eating. Drinking too...
Ceiling of the Aria hotel

Starbucks in the very upscale Crystals at CityCenter mall (Gucci, Prada, YSL, Cartier -
 lots of designer stores I never heard of.)

Stairs leading to the Starbucks, the only store we could afford. 
Hub and I leave Vegas anxious for home, but glad we made the pilgrimage west. Kathe and I are planning another get-together. Unsure of the date, it will definitely occur in less than twenty years. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Disjointed Deja Vu Lament

So here I am again. In the back of a Spirit Airbus.

I am not alone. Hub is on my right and an unknown woman wearing headphones watching a game show on her iPhone lounges to my left. Around me men, women and children, wedged into narrow seats, try to get comfortable for the five hour flight.

Yes, hub and I are nuts.

Every time we log onto the Spirit website we ask ourselves, "Why are we doing this?" then surf other airline and travel sites, eventually returning to the low-budget, intensely uncomfortable but affordable Spirit Air.

I hate Spirit's website. Moving from one screen to the next, encouraged to buy seats and insurance and book a rental car and make hotel reservations and pay for express checkin and check bags and...

I want to check out, but comparing prices it inevitably is the cheapest. Often by a lot.

The woman next to me is now probably sleeping, her head against the hard plastic back of the seat in front of her. I tried that position hoping I might nap, but got nauseous and quickly raised my head.

No food or snacks to break the monotony, unless purchased onboard or carried on by passengers. Not hungry when boarding, hub and I have no drink, no food, no snacks. Not that I am hungry, but eating would be a diversion...

I read the paper, but am too tired to concentrate on a book. I dozed a little, but for far too short a time. Way too much flight time ahead.

We arrive at our destination 11:15 p.m. Pacific time. It will be 2:15 a.m at home. Bleary-eyed and exhausted, we will deplane, make our way to baggage claim and drag our one suitcase and two bodies into a cab, exiting joyfully at our final destination. 

Why one suitcase for two people? Because Spirit charges per bag. One large piece is the same price as a small one (within size and weight limits). Instead of checking two small bags we lug one large one. In one place for three days, once ensconced in our quarters we will not have to drag our bag anywhere except back to the airport and home three days hence.

What kind of word is hence? I don't think I ever used it before. I must be getting lightheaded, punchy, but hopefully not sick.

Hub just ordered a bottle of water. Maybe I am getting dehydrated, a possibility when flying high.  Literally, not figuratively.

Three dollars. That is what Spirit charges for the water. 

We are usually good about bringing drinks, water specifically, aboard a plane. For some reason we forgot this time.

I cannot wait to throw off jeans, sweater, socks and sandals and plunge into a large, clean, soft bed. Sleep. My body yearns for a dark space, a quiet environment, comfy sheets and a blanket. A place to rest my weary, headache-prone head, sore butt, achey back, and cramped legs. 

I tried packing light for this short trip. As often as I travel, I never seem to get the packing thing right. Too many clothes. Not enough outfits. Not the right ones - no warm clothes during a cold spell, no lightweight apparel during a record-breaking heat wave, no rain gear and it storms...Shoes take up space, are usually heavy and how many pair do I truly need? It was cold when leaving home. Definitely needed socks, but closed-toed shoes would not be worn for the next three days, sandals the shoe of choice for the weekend. I donned socks and sandals, not usually a duo on my feet, but a way to forego packing an additional pair of footwear.

So much for my Spirit saga of woe. I am grateful hub and I can travel to special events, the reason for this weekend's trip far from home, but during the actual uncomfortable hours of flight I get edgy and short-tempered, and my body slowly rejects me. The message is getting through - sore muscles in my legs need massaging. I need to reposition my butt, but the seat does not allow for much maneuvering. I should probably get up and stretch, but the seat belt sign is on. 

We experienced a bit of turbulence. Minor, but an announcement cautioned everyone to remain seated and belted. I would worry, but am too tired. My brain is numb.

Hub and I are wracking up Spirit Air points, but quite frankly, who cares?  Attempting to use them results in another frustrating Spirit story...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Wear and When of Pajamas

Is it OK to wear pajamas all day if not sick?

I realize this is not a major issue of the day. It does not compare to computer hackers stealing state and corporate secrets or whether or not the GOP’s health care plan should be called Trumpcare or Ryancare. Personally Idon’tcare. It does not even rise to the level of 24/7 TV coverage of the latest weather emergency – possibly a blizzard of epic proportions, a record breaker, or maybe not…

But the matter of whether or not I can remain pajama-clad during the day is on my mind. Of course if ill I can curl up in bed or on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket sipping tea, watching old movies all day. And night.

But what if there is no physical excuse for hanging out in pajamas the entire day?

The subject is on my mind because yesterday was an indoor day. News reports warned days before of an impending disaster. I mean storm. It turned out NOT to be an onslaught of epic proportions, but it did rain the entire day. Minor flooding occurred, blocking roadways around the neighborhood. The wind howled. TV and text messages advised everyone to stay indoors and ‘shelter in place’.

So hub and I did.

Armed with newspapers and books, laptops and phones, we settled in for a quiet day at home.

The question of proper attire for a home-based day arose. Neither one of us was sick, but we lounged around in PJs for hours. Warm PJs. Flannels. It was cold outside…

Finally I changed into loungewear – sweatpants and sweatshirt, my favorite outfit of choice, and I believe most telecommuters’ outfit of choice. I never saw a poll on the subject, but I would bet it beats any other at-home get-up. Some telecommuters may work in their underwear, or pajamas, or birthday suit, but probably would not admit it to a pollster. Or me. Or anyone else.



Another question to ponder. What time in the afternoon or evening can I toss my sweats and change into pajamas? Whenever I don pajamas, does that mean it is officially evening, no matter what time it is?

Does it have to be dark outside before I can put my pajamas on?

Is it decadent to stay pajama-clad all day? It is definitely comfortable. Would I be embarrassed if someone – the mail carrier, UPS guy, a neighbor – knocked on my door in the middle of the day? Would the intruder think I was sick, a lazy bum, or a senile old lady?

Do I care?

And if I don’t care, is that a bad thing? After all, I do not want to become the pajama-clad equivalent of the weird neighborhood cat lady.

“No cats,” neighbors would whisper and point to my house, “but she wears pajamas ALL the time. Day and night. I see her peeking out the window sometimes. And she walks to the mailbox in her PJs. Oh, she might throw on a jacket, but I KNOW she is wearing pajamas. And slippers. Weird, isn’t it?”

I am not thinking about wearing PJs all day every day. Most days I have commitments, so I dress, put on a little makeup and head out the door.

I am not a total recluse. Yet.

But winter weather is very conducive to hibernating. And wearing pajamas a great deal of time.

As spring approaches I will venture outside more. Gardening beckons, and I will not sow the soil in PJs.

I am sure the neighbors will be thrilled to know that. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Boomers Rescue Companies in Financial Straits

The boomer generation buys lots of stuff. We travel, we eat out, we indulge our kids and grandkids, and we spend oodles of money on medical care and health-related products. 

Boomers disperse so much money we inadvertently became saviors of some companies whose business would decline, and maybe fail, without us.

One of these lucky industries is paper manufacturing. The 21st century term International Paper uses to describe their business is ‘fiber innovators’.

As society digitized over the past couple of decades the demand for conventional paper decreased, and continues to decline. E-mails, e-books, e-readers reign today. Sales slid and profits plummeted. Companies needed new products, new consumers, and new ideas.

And we – the boomer generation – came to the rescue! Boomers, along with aging populations around the world, salvaged the slumping fortunes of paper companies.

Healthier than previous generations, boomers still succumb to age-related maladies and require the on-going use of certain products. One particular item is on the upswing.

The product: adult diapers.

And none of them, or very, very, very few, are the cloth kind. Disposables rule.

Not every senior, or a majority of seniors, will require the product. But even a tiny minority using diapers daily adds up to a lot of diapers. Tons of sales every day. Ka-ching, ka-ching…

A few statistics make the point: there were 562 million people 65 or older in the world in 2012. By 2050, the 65+ populations will reach 1.6 billion.

Yup, incontinence – defined as “leaking urine you can’t control” – is a major health issue, and incontinence merchandise a growing market. One-quarter to one-third of adults suffers from some degree of incontinence. The good news is that new products are not as big, bulky, and uncomfortable as older designs.

Capitalizing on the declining health of our generation and the increasing life span of most people around the world, the paper industry, or at least a couple of the big players, discovered aging populations were the key to prosperity for decades to come.

We boomers provide economic windfalls to many businesses and industries, and have done so ever since purchasing our first 45s, make-up, and comic books. We continue to help fuel the economy. Boomers rock! And pee. Often. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Six Weeks a Wanderer


Not alone on my wanderings, hub (sometimes reluctantly) trailed along. We drove south to the Sunshine State, detouring to visit the North Carolina mountain town of Asheville, site of the largest private home in America – Biltmore, a Vanderbilt legacy - and unisex restrooms. On to Florida and friends and family, then hopped on down to Costa Rica, transport a compact, crowded, tightly packed Spirit Air plane.

We spent three weeks in Costa Rica eating, hiking in the jungle, eating, walking beaches, eating, visiting friends and enjoying local cuisine. Returning to the U.S., luckily unencumbered by TSA pat downs or immigration officials, we rendezvoused with family for a captivating visit to the magical kingdom of Disney World (four days + four parks + four parents + four grandkids = two weary grandparents).
We saw lots of princesses in Disney World.
Driving home, exhausted and eager to NOT be on the move, we once again sleep in our own bed.

I am of two minds about travel. I love to see new places, tour famous sites, meet people, sample local cuisine, and stay in one locale long enough to hang out with the locals.

I also like being home.

I guess I did not get enough of the travel bug out of me when younger. Nowadays teens and twenty-somethings haul a knapsack around the world. The kids keep moving for days, weeks, and months with no ill effects. Not me. Or hub. We need our down time, our rest time, our simply hanging out time. Otherwise we end up with a variety of physical ailments, which in their own way are telling us, “Enough!”

Staying several days in a house or apartment, whether an Airbnb rental, house exchange or a place secured by other means, partially makes up for constant on-the-move activity. We can relax in a way impossible in a hotel room. A kitchen allows us to relish leisurely breakfasts, cook dinners, put our feet up and unwind. Do-it-yourself fare saves money and is healthier than copious dine-out meals. No matter how careful we try to be, hidden calories and ingredients, too much salt and sugar play havoc with our weight (I initially wrote waists, but neither of us has one anymore. Ours disappeared years ago), blood pressure and general health.

So now we are home, catching up on mail, bills and shows missed (if you are not already hooked on This is Us, watch it!), washing two suitcases full of dirty laundry, and restocking the refrigerator.

We have a couple of days of R&R before reviving our home life – organization meetings, doctors appointments, yard work (spring has sprung!), house repairs…I think I will start planning our next trip. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Fitness Vacation, Sort of

Use it or lose it, the saying goes. That is exactly what hub and I are doing, experiencing a four day physical fitness walkathon. Anyone can do it, but I warn you - it is NOT cheap. The word I would use is: costly.

We are in a place with a moderate climate this time of year, hovering in the mid-70s during the day. Cool in the morning and again in the evening, but not cold or uncomfortable.

Flat terrain everywhere, walking is easy, relatively speaking. No inclines or steep grades, with few steps. Wide paved walkways accommodate large numbers of people.

Restrooms, restaurants, recreational activities and snack bars line the route.

By mid day the place is packed. Walking in a straight line proves almost impossible. Weaving around folks large and small, numerous strollers and motorized scooters make maneuvering forward tricky. 

Colorful displays line pathways.

People watch as parades pass. We observe the crowd, infants to nonagenarians, men and women babbling in many tongues.

Early morning until nighttime, we keep moving on.

Can you guess where we are?

Disney World.

With the kids.
 

We sit during rides and shows, but too soon are up and walking again. Fast Pass ensures we do not stand on too many lines for long periods of time, but keep plodding forward. Enter one area, zig zag through a series of roped lines, then eagerly enter another area - only to continue walking through long passageways until finally reaching the ride or theater. 

Standing still for long periods of time is worse than walking, and we do some of that too. Waiting, walking, waiting, walking.

But we are having fun. Disney World is a magical place. Exhausted at the end of each day, we massage sore feet and quickly fall asleep before beginning the scenario again the next day. Four times, four parks, ten people on the go.

Once our Disney adventure ends, hub and I drive home. I am looking forward to sitting in the car, resting my weary body, horsepower providing the action.