Friday, December 29, 2017

More Than 10 Mostly Political Prognostications for 2018

My idea was to come up with a list of predictions for the coming year. I must have spent too much time this past year watching 24/7 news and reading newspapers because my mind could not move beyond the political sphere into other categories. I finally gave in. Below are my mostly political prognostications for 2018, not necessarily serious, some wishful hoping. 

During the frigid (for a good part of the country) month of February millions of Americans gleefully take the additional cash generated in their paychecks by the new tax law and head off to the nearest McDonald’s to celebrate with a Big Mac, causing a run on Tums at drugstores everywhere. And the economy steams forward!

The Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl (but I wouldn’t put your new-found money on it).

The Democrats win both the House and Senate in the November election. As a result of lengthy, contentious, nasty political races, millions of Americans fall prey to an illness characterized by horrible headaches, sleeplessness, restlessness, and feelings of alienation and helplessness. Although not terminal, symptoms may linger for months. There is currently no known cure or vaccine, and another outbreak is predicted in 2020. 

The oldest member of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, retires due to poor health following the November elections.  

Trump will NOT be impeached in 2018.

As a result of climate change the Antarctic ice shelf continues melting at a rapid clip and inundates Mar-a-Lago (this is not a political statement).

During the second half of the year the stock market declines more than 10%, officially entering a bear market. The country slumps into a (hopefully) minor and short-lived recession. Also in the world of business Tesla and Uber merge, laying off thousands of drivers replaced by driverless cars. Many of the unemployed seek jobs as pizza delivery men and women and gas station and car wash attendants, while others begin nefarious careers in auto theft.

With a continuing influx of immigrants walking across the U.S. border into Canada, Canada announces a plan to build a barrier across the two-country border and have the U.S. pay for it. Meanwhile construction begins on a wall across the Mexican border after Putin agrees to loan Trump the funds. 

Congress passes an infrastructure bill. One of the first projects is a tunnel between New York and New Jersey (finally!), and two bridges - one from Miami to Puerto Rico, enabling those still impacted by Hurricane Maria an easier way to get to the U.S. mainland, and a second bridge linking Alaska and Russia. Both Trump and Putin plan on attending the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Transbering bridge (the Bering Straight separates Alaska and Russia at the narrowest point), bringing Russia once again into the sphere of influence along North America’s Pacific coast, not seen since Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. in 1867 for $7.2 million - 2 cents an acre - a bargain even in 1867. Trump withholds funds for the Miami-Puerto Rico bridge but forges ahead with the Transbering connection.

Obama hosts SNL (Saturday Night Live) the week before the November election and breaks the  record for viewing numbers. Fox News declares the numbers bogus and fake news.

I continue a personal tradition and get sick on my birthday.

Hub and I spend several days during the holiday week of 2017 (between Christmas and New Year’s) in the VERY cold but beautiful state of Vermont. Next year we hope to spend the week anyplace promising warm weather.

Happy New Year!

The wonderfully frigid weather experienced in the Winter Wonderland of Vermont, December 27, 2017.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

My 2017 Year Abridged

I should begin back in January, but my mind is not what it used to be. Remembering what I did a year ago is challenging. And gives me a headache.

So I will move along to February. Hub and I escaped the cold. We visited friends who deserted us up North and now call Florida home, then hopped a Spirit flight to Costa Rica. It is always a pleasure flying Spirit (note: sarcasm here). 

As retirees we try to travel at a pace more conducive to 60-somethings on a flexible schedule than young working folks cramming a whirlwind vacay into a week or two. We visited friends (another couple who deserted us Northerners) at their Costa Rican casa.  We lounged in their pool, drank their wine, ate their food, picked bananas off trees in their yard, the visit an integral part of our budget-conscious travel strategy.

We returned stateside for a wild trip with the grandkids to Disney World, a reminder that WE are not kids anymore. 

Our at-home schedule would be considered boring by many. We attend classes offered by a local organization and I spend hours on the group’s program committee. It is my unpaid retirement job.

I research trips we rarely confirm.

I garden when neighbors working outside make me feel guilty I am not.

I attend zumba and yoga classes, hard work that never appears evident on my body.

We visit doctors who missed us while away.

We drive to Vermont to babysit grandkids. In May we fly (Spirit again) to Florida to see grandkids in year-end school activities. 

We drag table, chairs and grill out of the garage, clean them and look forward to spending time outdoors. Then it rains. Copiously. All spring.

Mid-year. June and a festive two-week family trip to Israel. We return home with no time to recover from the grueling itinerary because summer means relatives and friends knock on our door. We shop, we cook, we visit, we are pooped. And every year in time for my June birthday I get sick. 2017 was no exception.

We go car shopping but do not buy. 

We return to Florida in August because it isn’t hot enough in New Jersey and babysit the grandkids for a week while their parents fly to Paris. Business trip is the excuse. I know better. Mom and Dad want to escape the oppressive Southern heat.

Suddenly September. Family and friends flee (until next summer). Cool weather reigns. The garden needs attention. The house demands care. I procrastinate.

December. We return to Florida for grandkid events ($40.20 each way on Spirit, the airline for cheap travelers willing to scrunch into seats and do without free mini-packs of pretzels). 

And all year long we pass too many hours in front of 24/7 news feeds feeling depressed and wondering what the f**k is happening in our world. My 2018 New Year’s resolution: pay less attention to all the news. Ignorance is bliss, and I want more bliss in my life in 2018.

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, non-stressful and peaceful 2018.

Happy holidays! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

They’re Coming to Take Me Away

I don’t know when they’re coming to take me away, but unfortunately it will probably be sooner rather than later. I am not sure who they are – anonymous people in white suits? My family? The police? Friends? – whoever they are, they are coming.

I am not sure where they will take me or what will happen to me. Will I be confined to my home? Installed in a locked-down facility? Signed into a hospital? Dropped on a park bench someplace? If so, I hope it is someplace warm.

My decline became obvious yesterday. I did not think I was ‘losing it’ yet. But yesterday’s episode made me rethink my sanity. Or lack thereof.

Hub and I pack a few things and head to our old hometown. We throw the bags in the car, including one with my laptop case inside, and drive off.

Three hours later we arrive at our quarters, a small two-story townhouse. We unload the car and settle in comfy lounge chairs to relax for an hour before meeting friends for dinner. I take the laptop case out of the shopping bag, take out my computer, return the case to the bag and place the bag on the floor.

I am on my computer until we leave for dinner, and after dinner again use it, eventually noticing it needs recharging. I reach for the bag where my computer case is stashed. The charger is nestled in the case’s zippered compartment.

The shopping bag is gone.

I begin searching the house. The small house. The very small house. I look everywhere but cannot locate the bag.

It is hub’s turn. Maybe I overlooked it. Maybe it is staring me in the face and I cannot see it. Maybe it is time to have my eyes checked. Maybe I need cataract surgery. Hub combs the house and cannot locate the bag.

What did I do with the bag? It definitely did not walk away by itself. Too tired to keep hunting, I decide to go to bed and resume the search the following day. A rested body and open mind would locate the bag easily in the morning.

Morning arrives. I begin looking for my treasured lost object. I peek in drawers and cabinets, closets (only one downstairs), under and around chairs and furniture. I return upstairs and continue searching. I do not remember taking the bag upstairs, but am beginning to question myself. I inspect under the bed, in my suitcase, closets, all over the floor. The bag is not a tiny object that got kicked under a vent or cabinet.

How could the shopping bag disappear? I check the car. Maybe I absent-mindedly grabbed the bag and took it back to the car when we went out to dinner. No idea why I would do that. I didn’t. No bag in the car.

What do I do now? Buy another charger? I hate to spend the money. I plan on buying a new computer soon, but not tomorrow. My computer is old (for a computer) and loses juice quickly, so needs charging often. I need my computer. I am like an addict without a fix. I cannot hold out long without a usable computer at my disposal 24/7.

I see myself going out screaming, “Where’s my charger? I want my charger!” clutching my computer to my breast.

A nagging thought sneaks across my brain – What will I forget next? Misplace? Fail to remember?

My downward slide begins…and they (whoever they are) might come soon to take me away. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

December Holiday Highlights from the Best of Boomers

Although the calendar indicates winter has not officially arrived, the season made an early appearance in my hometown. Snow swept in and presented us with a glorious white blanket. Unfortunately the town cancelled its twilight holiday parade due to the weather, but the holiday spirit is alive and lively in musical events scheduled throughout the month, Santa sightings, outdoor decorations, and a festive atmosphere in stores, restaurants and community gathering places.

The onset of cold and snow gets those of us living north of the Mason Dixon line in the holiday mood. But the holidays can be tough for many. Whether it's a holiday or not, Carol Cassara has some helpful, simple-to-implement ideas for taking care of ourselves that anyone can do. My favorite suggestion: eat chocolate! 

Do you have any Festive traditions?  Traditions are an important part of life, especially as we reach midlife and beyond.  It ties family and friends together. Sue Loncaric over at Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond shares 5 of her favorite traditions for this time of year. Living in Brisbane, Australia means it is Summer so no snow or mulled wine!  Read how she and her family enjoy the special time of year.

Rebecca Olkowski at Baby Boomster is reliving a river cruise she took several years ago to see the Christmas Markets on the Danube. She shares a recipe for authentic German Gingerbread on her blog as well as photos from some of the markets she visited.

This past week Tom Sightings took advantage of the freedom (and the senior discounts) afforded to us retirees by making a quick trip to New York City. So if you're at all curious, ride along by punching your ticket over at Two-Day. . . and see what's currently showing at The Met.

Over at Unfold And Begin, Jennifer did another interview for her Begin Again Series and chatted with Molly at Shallow Reflections. Molly is a nurse who picked up humor writing later in life.  You can read about Molly and the book she recently published in Who Is That Boomer On The Ledge. 

Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, is in a stew about the holidays. Robison returned from a two-week vacation to Australia about 10 days ago and been “lost in space” since with jet lag. She didn’t have a plan to get ready for Christmas before she left, so received a jolt when she calculated it’s just two weeks away. Luckily, Robison has been blogging, so take a look at her articles on how to make tasty chicken stew, which can help you if you, too, are in a stew about the holidays, and how to avoid sugar, which abounds in desserts and alcoholic drinks during the holidays. But then, things aren’t all that bad. Robison also wrote about the second Volkswagen executive being sentenced to prison for taking part in the company’s emissions testing scandal. That’s good news for consumers.

I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season. Don't forget to take time to sit back, relax, and stop by the Boomers. We love to hear from you.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Short Road Trip Extended

Six o’clock on a drizzly December weekday evening and already dark, it was my turn behind the wheel tackling rush hour traffic. Hub sprawled comfortably (as comfortably as possible in a small car) across the front passenger seat. We dropped Mom at her apartment on Long Island and headed home to south Jersey.

Cars converged onto roads from all directions, motorists and passengers intent on getting home ASAP, allowing no time or patience for slow drivers, for those unsure when or where his/her entrance or exit would appear, and no tolerance for cars moving merely at the speed limit on the one hand or crawling in stop and almost-go traffic on the other.

I have driven the route numerous times, but sections still prove stressful, especially a piece of road where, coming off the bridge from Staten Island (NY), millions (an exaggeration, but not much) of cars merge onto seven southbound lanes (according to Wikipedia) of the Garden State Parkway.

I maneuvered onto this wide stretch of parkway in a painstaking effort NOT to destroy myself, hub, and/or the car. As if on cue the drizzle became a downpour. I could not clearly see lane borders. The glare from parkway lamps, car lights and rain obscured pavement markings. Windshield wipers worked furiously but partly obscured the roadway, sweat crept across my forehead, hub repeatedly asked what was happening and cars sped past both sides of me – passing on the right common on these roads. Dwarfed by mammoth vans and sedans (no trucks allowed on the Garden State), the car inched forward into a murky abyss.
The Garden State Highway looking north.
The vehicles created a mass movement of steel and humanity replicated, I am sure, on highways in cities across the nation.

My car is not among the daily commuters. Never was. My commute involved a six mile drive along two-lane roads, at one time country lanes but by the end of the 20th century congested suburban corridors. Driving these roads is nothing like facing metro city traffic – slow crawling traffic jams or multitudes of cars careening down the highway at breakneck speeds.

Maybe I am getting old. I am not as aggressive and single-minded as the wild drivers around me on New York and New Jersey highways determined to get someplace fast, traffic and rain be damned

Exhausted but happy, four and a half hours after leaving Long Island we exited the car, exhaled a huge sigh of relief and gently rose from a curled, bent position to an almost straight one, our bones not as flexible as years past.

We were home.

Until the next trip. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

10 Things to Do While Home With a Sick Spouse

Or significant other, relative, friend, or anyone else

Hub came down with pneumonia a couple of weeks ago. We thought it was a cold but the nasty cough lingered. He spent days with the TV on and eyes closed. 

What does a caregiver do for days home when the sickee (as opposed to sicko, which hub decidedly is not) does not require 24/7 constant care?

Here are ten suggestions (in no particular order) for anyone facing this predicament:

1. Spend money...lounge in your favorite chair, laptop in hand, multitasking - watch TV, listen to music, observe your significant other sleep. Buy anything. Doesn’t matter. Keeps you busy and stimulates the economy.

2. Cook. Jewish penicillin, a.k.a. chicken soup, is a must-have in a home inhabited by sick folks.

3. Watch TV. Don’t feel guilty. Be a couch potato. It’s part of a caregiver’s job and somebody’s got to do it. I reviewed a list of the 100 best movies of the 20th century. We watched All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity…oldies but goodies.

4. Clean the house. You can do it. I thought about doing it. A lot. But didn’t get further than feeling guilty that I wasn’t cleaning but should be.

5. Read. Magazines, newspapers, that book on the top of a pile waiting for attention…

6. Clean out your computer. Delete old emails, documents, pictures, anything and everything.

7. Create photo albums online, or better yet use real photos printed on real paper. Place them in real albums. If you are like me, there are boxes of old photos sitting in a closet patiently waiting for you to reach in, drag out the boxes, organize pictures and create photo albums.

8. Plan a trip or two. Not going anywhere is a good time to research where you want to go. Plan a getaway or two, maybe a day trip into the city to visit a museum or see a play or spend a day with friends, or a longer trip farther afield.

9. Catch up with family/friends/business associates/other humans. Call folks or send an email that is like an actual letter, with sentences and paragraphs.

10. If at a loss for something to do and starting to go stir crazy, there is the best modern time waster of all – social media.

To maintain sanity, there is one thing you absolutely should NOT do:

Do NOT under ANY circumstances listen to a 24/7 news channel. You will become anxious and fearful, the result a desire to take out your anxiety and nervousness on the nearest human – the poor sick guy or gal under your care.

And remember – this too shall pass. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

On the Move Again

We left the house about 9:30 Thanksgiving morning. First stop the local coffee shop for a coffee and muffin for the road. The shop was surprisingly busy for a holiday morning – especially a day when everyone looked forward to a huge meal a few hours later – but the place is famous for its baked goods. Most people walked away with a bag full of pre-ordered goodies for the dessert table - and a cup of coffee.

Hub and I headed off on a three-hour drive (assuming minimal traffic) to my sister’s for Thanksgiving dinner. The big question was how long it would take to get through Philadelphia. We needed to drive the Schuylkill Expressway – an ironic name for a road often jam-packed with vehicles progressing at a crawl.

The drive proceeded smoothly. No traffic. I think most people traveling distances were where they wanted to be. Local traffic trekking an hour or so to reach their dinner destination had not yet clogged roads.

Almost at our destination, we encountered the first motorized vehicle usually ubiquitous on the roads – a truck.

I realized one key reason the drive had been a pleasant one. No trucks. The more trucks on the road, the more drivers (or at least this particular driver) become stressed. The larger the trucks, the more tension. Trucks run from big, to bigger, to the double whammy, all of which dwarf our small (but cute and gas efficient) Mazda. Sandwiched between monster trucks is a powerful stimulus to rising blood pressure, anxiety and a far from enjoyable trip.

We drove home Friday afternoon, detouring to meet friends at an airport hotel for dinner. Our friends spent the holiday with family in Philly and were flying home the following morning, staying at the hotel Friday night to decompress (it is exhausting spending a week with grandkids 24/7). The four of us sat at the hotel bar drinking (not me – I was the designated driver) and eating – again.

Not our Thanksgiving turkey.
 Did I mention we enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast? My vegan sister prepared traditional fare – soup (squash or corn chowder), then the main course - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes (white), sweet potatoes (with marshmallows on top), Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce (choice of canned and homemade)…etc. Then dessert of course….

We are home now. No travel, a return to careful eating, and a weekend sans appointments, meetings, nothing on the calendar!

Will we bore ourselves to oblivion? Will we survive?

We are looking forward to a couple of days with no pressure to accomplish anything or go anyplace, an uneventful, pleasant interlude, possible as long as we don’t listen to any 24/7 news channel, the American 21st century equivalent of mental pain and suffering. We will read. We will watch old movies, non-political, non-violent ones with easy to follow story lines. The good old days… 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Day in the Big Apple

I live about three hours from New York City, the city that never sleeps, the Big Apple, the concrete jungle, the center of a metropolitan area that sprawls across three states. Home to millions of people.

I do not often venture into the city, and rarely drive. Driving can be a nightmare. Traffic ranges from bad to worse to impossibly jammed up with no one going anywhere anytime soon. Add the cost of gas, tolls, and parking and the ka-ching, ka-ching becomes daunting.

Yet the city entices. So Wednesday (matinee day) I boarded a Greyhound bus at 7:40 a.m.
for the Big Apple, the goal rendezvousing with two girlfriends for lunch and a show.

The bus rolled north along the Garden State Parkway. Trees line both sides of the road, and some still boast fall colors. As we neared the city the landscape transformed into an ugly panorama of warehouses, commercial structures and power plants spewing smoke and I don’t want to know what else. Traffic intensified. I was thrilled NOT to be behind the wheel of a car crawling through the congestion, dwarfed between BFT’s (big f**king trucks) and buses.

The bus pulled into the basement of Manhattan’s Port Authority terminal, I grabbed my things and headed out into a clear, cold sunny day.

The mass of humanity assailed me immediately, wide sidewalks packed with people, everyone in a hurry. People congregated at street corners waiting anxiously for the walk icon on the traffic light. A few folks dodged vehicles and walked across the street while a red hand indicated do not walk!

New Yorkers are renown for impatience.  And bravado.

I walked over to Broadway and strolled through Times Square. Sesame Street and Super hero characters solicited people for pictures, expecting a gratuity. If out-of-town visitors are clueless to this custom, signs explain costumed creatures expect a tip when posing for photos. Other individuals hand out fliers advertising shows and restaurants. Groups of tourists walk around, stopping to snap pictures and stare at the high-rises and huge signs dominating the Times Square area.


Cheap is in my genes. City prices can shock those venturing in from the burbs and hinterlands. But as infrequently as I hob nob with the theater crowd I can splurge. The food was good although not memorable. Our waitress seemed disengaged and annoyed when we asked for anything – water, an extra plate, coffee.

My friends and I enjoyed the Broadway play Waitress, a musical about a woman in an unhappy marriage who finds herself (surprisingly) pregnant. She has an affair with her gynecologist, her two friends/coworkers indulge their own love interests, and of course all ends well. The band remains on stage throughout the show. Waitress happened to be our third choice (the first two shows closed before our trip).

On the walk back to the bus terminal I detoured into Dean & Deluca, an upscale chain offering, according to the store’s website, the world’s best epicurean treats for cooking, eating and entertaining. I purchased a pastry for hub – to assuage a bit of guilt over leaving him home – and an iced coffee for the road, or rather the bus.

When arrangements were made for the trip my calendar was empty, but during the ensuing weeks events requiring my presence arose. I was not going to cancel my travel plans, so instead sent a substitute.

Hub, and he did a fine job!

The bus home half-empty, I stretched across two seats. Finally home, I entered the house tired but glad for the opportunity to reunite with old friends, relax and catch up over a leisurely lunch, take in a Broadway play, experience the vitality and ambience of a great city, and breathe New York’s foul air. I am not sure how contaminated the city’s air actually is, but the aromas were closer to unpleasant than pleasing.

My New York experience summarized:

Savored good but not great pricey food served by curt waitresses who want to be somewhere else doing anything but serving the theater crowd.

Saw a Broadway show with superbly talented actors at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, a magnificent playhouse built in 1926.

Inhaled the smells of the city – food from street vendors, coffee shops and restaurants…the nastier odors of car and bus exhausts…a variety of aromas from the multitudes surrounding me.

Heard the sounds of audience laughter and applause, car horns, hawkers advertising their wares, sirens, whistles, shouting.

Viewed the sights – skyscrapers, billboards, shop and theater signs, window displays of food, clothes, souvenirs. The unceasing street scene swirling by – cars, buses, taxis, carriages, bicycles. People everywhere. And lines - lines for the theater, lines for the ladies room, lines to the cashier, lines for the bus. I hate lines.

I look forward to my next New York City experience.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Stock Market, Our Savings and Congress’ Meddling

In a previous life I worked for a financial firm. The TV next to my desk broadcast a business channel, muted most of the time. A stock ticker rolled across the bottom of the screen. I researched stocks, bonds and mutual funds and helped clients invest for their future, the goal being a poverty-free retirement and fulfillment of their bucket list.

I worked through the buoyant economic environment of the 1990s and the Great Recession and financial crisis of the 21st century. I saw clients panic and take their money out of the market while others perceived opportunity and jumped in. Most investors stayed the course, hoping the market recovered and moved forward, which it eventually did.

Market history is a series of ups and downs, crashes and bull runs. Maddening to most people, especially investors following the market regularly. Perspective is necessary to avoid heart attacks on a dreadful down day and uncontrolled euphoria on an exceptionally elevated day.

Investors in for the long haul usually are rewarded. Those shifting in and out are often disappointed.

A market milestone occurred November 14,1972, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed above 1,000 (1,003.16) for the first time. The market plunged soon after, losing almost 40% of its value. But it recovered, dropped additional times, recouped, and the cycle continues…

Forty-five years later the DJIA hovers around 23,500.

Mighty impressive!

Anyone investing a small amount in 1972 and adding to it over the years would own a sizable nest egg today.

Recently out of college and newlyweds in November 1972, hub and I were lucky to have enough extra money for a pizza on the weekend. But life moved quickly. Hub’s discharge from the military followed by a good job meant more money, which immediately got eaten away by runaway inflation.

The economy settled down, but kids assumed the job of depleting our income.

Finally we started investing for our future. IRAs and 401(k)s, introduced into federal law in the 1970s, were promoted and adopted by individuals and corporations during the 1980s.

Statistics tell us most Americans do not invest for the future and upon retirement have limited financial resources. Meanwhile Congress is doing all it can to cut the amount folks can contribute to 401(k)s. Few people save the maximum, but those who can should be allowed that privilege, while the rest of us save as much as possible. The limit on IRAs is much lower than 401(k)s and should be increased. It won’t happen – not in the current Congress.

The government needs as much money as it can muster for the federal budget. One way to get more income (American taxpayers’ hard earned cash) is to redirect IRA/401(k) contributions into Roth IRAs. Roth dollars are taxed immediately while IRA/401(k) dollars are not subject to the greedy hands of Uncle Sam until withdrawn, often decades after the initial investment.

Congress aims to cut Social Security and Medicare, so the least our elected officials can do for senior citizens of the future is to encourage folks to save. America’s seniors will need the money for ordinary expenses like food and medical care.

The proposed tax bill is not finalized. Everyone is fighting for his or her piece of the pie. Tax reform is an excellent idea, but playing with people’s lives is not. Congress should be upfront about the pros and cons of the bill, which apparently throws a few bones to the middle class now but costs them dearly down the road.

I wait anxiously to see what convoluted concoction Congress cooks up next. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Countdown to the 2020 Presidential Election - Installment #3

1090 Days (as of 11/9/17) Until the Next Presidential Election
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Mark Your Calendars!

Election Day 2017 came and went, generating more interest than most off-year elections because of the current POTUS and the deep political divide seizing the country. Election night results indicated anti-Trumpers had much to celebrate while pro-POTUS-ites had lots to think about.

Before the election I told hub I was not going to vote for any Republicans. Our local ballot had a lot on the table – a governor’s race, state assembly reps (2) and senator, county freeholders and sheriff. Hub’s point of view was that local politics should not interfere with national politics. A good local Republican candidate should receive our vote despite the party’s national leadership and agenda.

I disagreed. My feeling is that a Republican vote is a vote in favor of the party, locally, statewide and nationally. I could not in good conscience pull a Republican lever.

In my corner of the world most Democratic candidates won. The Republican running for state senator won a seat.

But the biggest surprise came after the polls closed.

Our Congressional representative, Frank LoBiondo, is a Republican, a moderate leaning toward conservative. The general consensus is that he has served his district well. In 2018 he will have represented south Jersey for 22 years.

LoBiondo announced he would not seek reelection in 2018. His decision, stated in his official announcement, had nothing to do with his health or personal life. In his words:
…as some of my closest colleagues have also come to realize, those of us who came to Congress to change Washington for the better through good governance are now the outliers. In legislating, we previously fought against allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. Today a vocal and obstinate minority within both parties has hijacked good legislation in pursuit of no legislation.

LoBiondo is not the only outlier announcing retirement. A fundamental change is sweeping the Republican Party. The 2017 election and the number of Republicans announcing they will not seek reelection portends positive things for anti-Trumpers. Despite Trump’s media publicity, his tweets and the PR received by right-wing bigots he cajoled out of their holes, the majority of the country opposes Trump, his policies, morality and ethics, as well as the characters he has chosen to populate the swamp (today swampier and slimier than ever).

It is a long way to the 2020 election, but 2017 election results provide the opposition with hope and the administration with much to think about. Not that they will do that. Trump will, as always, resort to blaming everyone but himself for Republican losses.

As far as the opposition candidates go, who knows? I predict a long shot will appear, someone not on anyone’s radar today or low on the list of possibilities. Following the 2018 election things will heat up. Meanwhile the 2018 mid-term election takes precedence. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Organized Chaos

Organized Chaos defined: My life.

A well-ordered personal environment helps an individual lead an organized life. Or so I have read. A disorganized environment, on the other hand, leads to chaos at home and in life.

This is probably true, but as hard as I try, an ordered lifestyle eludes me.

My brain’s awash with to-dos, all a jumble. I note appointments on my calendar, but on days I forget to check I miss something – an appointment, an exercise class, a to-do with a time constraint, missing a deadline.

This is my life.

My house will neither appear on the cover nor on the inside pages of a house beautiful magazine. No one will interview me about my quirky yet imaginative decorating ideas. No one would ever pay to see my home on a house tour. I, alternatively, might consider paying people to avoid my house. Or at least my bedroom. Should an individual disappear amidst the piles of clothes, bedding and other paraphernalia scattered around the room or in the dark recesses of my closet, they are forewarned.

I knew a man who moved from one house to another a few miles away. He took the junk drawer from his old house, drove over to his new home and dumped the contents into a newly designated junk drawer, then returned the empty drawer to his old house.

Not to give the wrong impression, I do laundry (when necessary), put away clothes (usually), make my bed (most of the time) – yet the mess resurfaces, rising again like the phoenix. Piles propagate, appearing higher and wider every time I enter the room. This past weekend I spent time decluttering, filling bags for the local thrift shop, feeling good about cleaning the room AND donating clothes previously worn but in great condition.

Getting rid of items not torn, stained, too small (must have shrunk in the wash) or otherwise unwearable is not in my genes. It is hard for me to sort through stuff and decide what to keep and what to give away. I have done this before. Hub and I downsized – twice - but it is still difficult. A friend goes through her closet yearly, and anything not worn in the past year is tossed. I am not that cold blooded.

Then there are papers. And books, magazines, newspapers. I have files and shelves and toss newspapers and magazines, but after I read them. Problem is I don’t get around to reading them every day. So the material piles up.

I think about going to the Container Store and buying a carload of organizers, but there is no room in my house for all the containers. And I probably would never get around to filling the containers in an orderly manner. I consider calling 1-800-closet organizers, but am unwilling to spend the money.

On the other hand should I need a particular book or document I can locate it in a surprisingly short period of time. I am orderly in my own peculiar, disorganized fashion.

Organized chaos. That’s my lifestyle.

Perhaps a gene warped in utero, forever condemning me to a lifetime of unneatness (it is a word – I looked it up). Or maybe I inherited a disheveled gene from a well meaning but also untidy forefather or mother.

There may be special programs for people like me, but at my advanced age I doubt the treatment would be effective. I am fated to be me, chaotic but content.

After years feeling guilty living and working amidst chaos, kidding myself that I will straighten up the clutter one day, someday, I no longer feel guilty. This is me and I’m going with it. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Best of Boomers Halloween Edition

A New England fall offers a feast for the eyes, assuming one is lucky enough to catch the crimsons and golds at the right time. Hub and I ventured north to grandsit, the brilliance of the land a bonus. Once past the creeping traffic and grays around New York City, colors stunned as the terrain morphed from suburban flatlands to a countryside of rolling hills and mountains. We enjoyed the opportunity to get in the spirit of the season, buying pumpkins, wandering a corn maze, and visiting Spookeyville. 
One of many
Spookeyville characters. 
This week we welcome a new member to our group, Jennifer Koshak. I have not met her, but already feel a kinship. She likes chocolate, practices yoga, enjoys trying new things and likes to travel. Me too on all these things!

If you've ever wanted to travel internationally but live like the locals then join Jennifer of Unfold And Begin as she interviews Suzanne Vickery of Global Housesitters.  Suzanne shares how she and her husband are spending their retirement housesitting around the world.

Tom Sightings invites anyone who needs a dose of Halloween to hop on a magic carpet, rev up the broomstick, or in any other way beam over to Summer Leaves, Fall Nights . . . to see some ghosts and goblins and skeletons come out to play on Sightings Over Sixty.

This week Laura Lee Carter, Adventures of the NEW Old Farts, saw the most interesting show on the National Geographic Wild channel. All sorts of animals indulge in psychoactive drugs in their environment for all sorts of amazing reasons. Where do you stand on this topic? Indulge or not?

At Heart-Mind-Soul this week, Carol Cassara gave blog space to a law enforcement officer who pitched in to help with the fires in Sonoma County, California. His report from the fire and his vivid photos tell the story from an angle you won't find anywhere else.

Two of our boomers discuss medical topics this week.

Sunday, October 29, is World Stroke Day, and Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski of Baby Boomster helps spread awareness on the importance of blood pressure monitoring for Baby Boomers. She includes tips on how to keep blood pressure regulated by making four lifestyle changes. 

Saturday was National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, but many communities have drop off locations where you can take unused or expired drugs throughout the year. Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, recommends going through your medicine cabinet and disposing of drugs regularly. About 6.4 million Americans abuse controlled prescription drugs, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Four out of five people who start using heroin start with inappropriate use of prescriptions.

Have a good week and please take a few minutes to stop by the Boomers and leave a comment. We love to hear from our readers. 
Corn maize cornfusion

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lottery winner?

The following email arrived in my inbox. I read it and should have been excited, dreaming
about wonderful things to do with my new fortune.

Unfortunately I am not so gullible to believe everything on the Internet and in my inbox is truthful. On the contrary, fake news proliferates. I read the email and hit delete, but first copied and pasted it here for your edification. Should you receive this or similar correspondence, ignore and erase immediately. Here is the entire text of the email:

Dear Lucky Winner,

We happily announce to you that Your email has won you US$4.2m for 2017 Uk-Lotto Sweepstakes Lottery International programs, reply for more information.

Juan Peterson
Telephone: +4470457 86726

How many other people received this communication? Knowing I was not the only one, was there 100, 1,000, tens of thousands? Maybe millions? Or am I the only one – the supposedly lucky one – to be chosen as the recipient of this magnificent gift?

It is a miracle! Or it would be if I won. I rarely win anything. And never bought a Uk-Lotto Sweepstakes Lottery International lottery ticket.

I googled the Uk-Lotto Sweepstakes Lottery International and this is what came up #1:

No one won any money.

I occasionally buy a lottery ticket – a Powerball or Mega Millions – when potential winnings are great. Not that a million or so is mediocre, but I do not buy tickets regularly. The most ever won is $2, and immediately bought another ticket.

And of course won nothing.

Most scam emails land in my spam folder, but once in a while one announcing I am the winner or the inheritor or the recipient of a fortune drops into my inbox.

Before lamenting a fortune lost, I received another email, this one much longer.

A humble Sergeant in the U.S. Army not well schooled in the English language sent a letter chock-full of grammatical errors. The Sergeant must get $1 million worth of gold out of the Benin Republic, where his package resided over the past few years. He received the money as a result of a peacekeeping mission in Libya in 2011.

Anyone interested? Anyone believe this fairy tale?

Benin is a small French-speaking republic in West Africa. Its biggest claim to fame is that it is the origin of the voodoo religion.

Voodoo…bogus claims…a 21st century phony tale…Excerpts from the letter exactly as received:

Dear (nothing personal – but the writer did NOT know my name. Maybe the letter is from Trump?)

This message may come to you as a surprise but i want you to patiently read my proposal and respond back to me for more details if interested. My name is Sergeant John whyte, I am a Sergeant in United States Army but currently in Afghanistan for a peace keeping .  I humbly need your assistance in a transaction which i will need a trusted person that will handle with me, I  got an urgent information from a security company in Benin Republic were i deposited my package few years ago and according to the information i got from the company , they notified me that the government of Benin has issued urgent approval to all security companies in Benin to release and deliver every financial packages that has been deposited in their company for a period of 6 years…

The letter continues for a couple more lengthy paragraphs, and then requests the reader to contact the writer, at which time a request for funds to transfer the money (or the gold) will be made. The author of the correspondence receives the money from the gullible email recipient who never hears from the person again. No cash or gold or any follow-up.

Does anyone believe these fabrications? How many people answer the scams? Do receivers of these unsolicited messages send money when requested? The sender(s) must make money or would not waste time.

Remember the TV show The Millionaire? The series ran from 1955 to 1960. A rich guy gave away a million dollars each week to an individual who may or may not have deserved it.

Should a real modern-day benefactor appear looking for worthy recipients, I will humbly accept the gift.

Regrettably it is not likely to happen.

But I can dream. We all can dream. And disregard scam emails. Fake news too.

An interesting study would be to discover whether or not a correlation exists between responders of scam emails and fake news fans. What do you think?