Sunday, August 20, 2017

Summer Sizzles as Boomers Consider Difficult Questions

Hub and I pack a bag and hit the road often, exploring places far and near. It is one of our retirement priorities, and we have taken advantage of the opportunity.

There are occasions the time and place of trips is not of our choosing. This week is one of those times. We sit cocooned in air conditioning amidst the torrid temperatures baking South Florida, grandsitting. Temperatures hover in the 90s with a heat value index around 104. I don’t know what that means scientifically speaking except that it is hot. Really, really hot. Walking out the door my glasses fog over, and stepping outside barefoot my feet burn on the sidewalk. I cannot drink enough to purge the thirsty, dry feeling.

Are we having fun yet?
Not me, but maybe my granddaughter in 10+ years!

Question: Where is the coolest place in Palm Beach County?

I won’t make you wait for the answer. It is the ice skating rink.

I tagged along with two of my grandchildren as we experienced a refreshingly cool atmosphere for a couple of hours. I donned skates and ventured onto the ice, keeping up with my 6-year-old granddaughter, a novice skater. I remained upright the entire time!

My fellow boomers spent the week in more serious pursuits. Tom Sightings spent the week reviewing some issues about the life that we face ahead of us. In the process he asks himself 8 Questions About Retirement . . . from the financial (How will taxes affect our IRA withdrawals?), to our futures (Do we have a retirement plan?)

Carol Cassara wrestled with the question: Do patients always need to know the unvarnished truth about their disease? Is there value in hope? We've all known friends and loved ones who have had difficult diagnoses. Over at Heart Mind Soul, Carol Cassara and her readers discuss the question " how do we best support them?"

Divisiveness and discord bombard us on the national scene everyday, but observing our immediate environment we hopefully feel less distressed. Laura Lee, like so many of us, is feeling a bit confused lately, torn between the ugliness of racial hatred and the amazing beauty of her present surroundings!

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, reports on a new study that shows more than 40 percent of student loan borrowers leaving college or trade school owe at least $20,000, double the number of borrowers a decade ago. In addition, more borrowers are taking out student loans later in life, and fewer borrowers are paying down their student debt in five years.

Enjoy the week and take advantage of summer activities in your town as the season winds down. And take a few minutes to visit our boomers!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

White Food Bad Food Great Tasting Food

The title summarizes my sentiments. White processed food tastes yummy but is bad for the body.

White food was not always bad, and unprocessed white food like onions, cauliflower and white beans are good for us. But over the decades manufacturers managed to suck good nutrients out and replace with bad ones, adding ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, and hydrogenated oils.

I did not realize how much my eating habits changed over the years until my grandson visited. We – hub and I - consume only a small amount of white processed foods at home. We dine out regularly, however, and the trouble with eating out is that undisclosed ingredients can ruin the illusion of healthy eating. And chances are we never know about the bad stuff: chemicals, artificial ingredients, manmade foods, all of which might enhance the taste of a dish but are not beneficial for our bodies.

My grandson likes to cook and has specific ideas about what he likes and refuses to eat, so hub and I indulged.

One night he cooked Crispy Garlic Parmesan Chicken with Zucchini. Sounds good for you. So I thought, until collecting ingredients needed.

The only reason I had white flour in the house was because earlier in the summer my granddaughter visited and we made play dough. Main ingredient: white flour. I purchased a small bag for the craft project. (The play dough came out great!)

 The chicken recipe called for eight tablespoons of butter. Butter is not technically white, ranging in color from dark yellow to almost white. My no salt butter sported a pale yellow hue. I don’t use eight tablespoons of butter in months. I rarely use butter.

The recipe specified soak chicken pieces in butter, then coat with bread crumbs.

No bread crumbs in my house, but the grocery store carried several brands.

My refrigerator supplied lots of zucchini thanks to my CSA.

The chicken and zucchini tasted wonderful, but I know I did not do my heart or waistline any favors.

One morning we made pancakes. We could have found a recipe using whole-wheat flour and other healthy ingredients, but my grandson would not have eaten them. The Original Pancake recipe included: white flour, baking powder (white), salt (white), white sugar, milk (white), eggs (partially white), and butter (pale yellow – almost white).

An old-fashioned goody, but…

Another night we made potatoes. White potatoes. Another unhealthy choice.

White potatoes are high in the type of carbohydrates the body digests rapidly, causing blood sugar and insulin to soar and then drop. Long term, a diet high in this type of food contributes to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Potatoes rank high on the culprit list. 

I love French fries and mashed potatoes.

Uh oh…

We made ice cream. Luckily the flavor of choice was peanut butter, not my favorite. I did not taste, so missed another dose of white stuff: milk, cream, and sugar.

My grandson went home, and hub and I resumed a healthier diet.

Next week we grandsit the kids for a week.

Our healthy diet, I fear, will be short-lived. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Countdown to the 2020 Presidential Election: Installment #2



Nowadays we hear way too much about what the current President is doing every day, whether tweeting, playing golf, vacationing, speaking to rallies of the faithful, dining, traveling, even governing.

There has not been much information about anyone or anything else until articles began appearing recently about possible 2020 Presidential candidates – Republican candidates, the President’s party.

News organizations must believe the American public waits in excited exhausted eerie anticipation for the 2020 election. I would not be writing about the event so early in the election cycle except other journalists, talk show hosts, radio windbags, celebrities, and social media are now providing input into the great event.

So as not to be thought ignorant or oblivious of this momentous future moment in American history, I enter my words of wisdom into the great pot of poop being generated over the 2020 Presidential election.

Should the current President not be his party’s standard bearer, the gossip goes, who will be?

Much speculation centers around the VP, Mike Pence. Which is a subtle way, I believe, of the current President’s political machine working behind the scenes to undermine the guy and ensure he is NOT the candidate. I am unsure what the sleaze leak will be, but something will happen. There is plenty of time to shovel dirt on the guy’s political grave.

Republicans are everywhere nowadays, and so are potential candidates. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is a fresh face, and a female one, although that is not necessarily a plus in the mind of many Republicans. Consider her a VP possibility. Unless the party thinks they are desperate.

The Republican Senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake, is interesting. He recently published what is apparently a scathing indictment of the current President, Conscience of a Conservative. Or at least that is what I heard. I have not read the book yet. The other Arizona senator, John McCain, will be too old to run. He tried in 2008, but the most conservative element of the Party stuck him with Sarah Palin for VP. That sunk his candidacy almost immediately.

Ohio governor John Kasich might decide to throw his hat in the ring again…and Ted Cruz, assuming he is re-elected Senator from Texas in 2018, and most of the other 2016 Presidential wannabees.

As for the Democrats, a lot depends on what happens in 2018. Will the party gain any House seats? Maybe, especially if the Supreme Court takes action on gerrymandering. Wishful thinking on my part…Will Dems gain Senators? Lose some? Of the 33 Senators up for re-election in 2018, 23 are Democrats, 2 are Independents who caucus with the Democrats, and 8 are Republicans. Democrats face an uphill battle to keep all current seats and add more.

Looking toward 2020, well-known politicians include the old guard: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Hillary already bowed out. But the Dems would do well to offer a fresh-faced candidate not necessarily a household name - yet. It worked for Kennedy, Carter, Clinton, Obama.

Potential contenders include Kamala Harris, Senator from California, apparently a viable candidate because she is already facing negative feedback from her own party. I think some of the bigwigs do not like her – another talkative woman. Imagine a well-spoken, smart, liberal woman with a Jamaican/Indian heritage. Ouch!

Moving on…how about Hillary’s VP candidate, Tim Kaine…Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey…Andrew Cuomo of New York…Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado…then there are non-politician candidates. Steven Colbert…Mark Cuban…Mark Zuckerberg…Caroline Kennedy (almost a non-politician with a potent name)…and the list goes on.

The fun has only just begun. Or the agony, depending on your perspective.
 
How many of us feel this way!?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Music Lives On


 What defines a generation?

Major events like the Depression and war define the people experiencing them. New discoveries and devices change people’s lifestyles, from the wheel eons past to electricity, the telephone, radio, TV, and automobiles in the modern era. Social movements transform society - the Renaissance and the Reformation, and more recently women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, and…
Rock and Roll!

That might seem somewhat dramatic, but rock and roll coincided with a tumultuous era in our country’s history. The music played a part in 20th century social upheavals and influenced the lifestyles, fashions, opinions and language of a generation.

Rock and roll defined the era and the youth experiencing it-the generation christened the baby boomers. My generation.

One of the ways the music spread across the country before the advent of split second social media blasts was via the newish invention infiltrating American homes – television.

On August 5, 1957, American Bandstand premiered on TV screens across America.

Originally a local Philadelphia show, an ambitious 26-year-old named Dick Clark convinced ABC to expand the show’s audience. Initially a two-hour program airing Monday through Friday, over the years the network cutback to 1-½ hours, then to half an hour, and finally broadcast a one hour Saturday afternoon show. Live the first few years, the network videotaped programs by 1963. Dick Clark hosted American Bandstand from July 9, 1956 to the final 1989 show.

Bandstand promoted the hottest hits, introduced new artists, and (usually) at least one big name appeared on each show to personally pitch their latest record.

The first song played on that first show was Jerry Lee Lewis’ Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.

Various bands made their debut on American Bandstand, the appearance catapulting them to national fame and fortune – among them the Jackson Five, Sonny and Cher, Aerosmith, Prince.

Teenagers around the country loved seeing their idols sing (actually lip-sync), and scrutinized the teens dancing the afternoon away. Viewers imitated the dancers in an attempt to learn the latest steps, and studied the fashions and hairstyles.

By 1959, 20 million people – teenagers – tuned into the show. Not yet a teenager and not yet steeped in the youth culture of the times, I watched occasionally, although usually lost out to Mom and Dad in fights over who was going to view a show on the one TV in the house. Therefore I must admit, in the spirit of full disclosure, I was not an avid fan or regular viewer.

Boomers grew up singing along with the TV show, the radio and their own 45s, one song on each side of the record, although we usually played only one of the songs. My record player, a birthday gift one year-I don’t remember which year-allowed me to listen to favorites all the time. I no longer impatiently waited for a fave song to play on the radio.

Money was scarce in my family during the 1960s, and my record collection was meager – except during the few months I worked in the record department of a local department store. After my short retail stint my collection quickly became dated. I could not afford to buy records as I moved on to college and additional dollar-deprived years.

The music shadows my junior high and high school experience. Hub and I listen to a collection of CDs we keep in the car to entertain us on trips. Much of the music produces eye-rolls from younger folks, especially the grandkids. Nowadays young people are exposed to a wide variety of music, but years ago we all grew up listening to the same shows, vinyl 45s and 33-1/3’s. The music, the artists, the bands are part of the fabric of our lives, our personal history. Favorite songs, concerts attended, significant occasions where a particular song played, the event and the music commingle in our minds. We listen, sing along, reminisce and remember.

A note of nostalgia to end this blast from the past - the American Bandstand theme song.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ushering in August

The month of August ushers in more summer - hot weather, humid days, dry spells and occasional short thunderstorms, the best of garden produce-especially tomatoes, the continuation of tourists invading my shore town, busy roads and stores and restaurants. All good. I may not like the hustle and bustle, but cannot deny it is great for the local economy.

Yet the beginning of August is also tinged with sadness. Daylight hours diminish. There is talk of kids returning to school and vacations ending, and for most people the slower paced season is inevitably replaced by fall activities. For hub and me, summer is the busy season. We look forward to the less frenetic seasons of fall and winter.

However there is much to look forward to before summer officially ends. September is considered the best month of the year around my part of the universe.  The weather continues to be warm enough to enjoy the beach and outdoor activities, the crowds have departed, stores and restaurants are open, no annoying long lines and waits  (except sunny weekends).

August is a busy time this year for hub and me. Currently entertaining our oldest grandchild, the three of us explore the neighborhood and nearby attractions.
Trying out the Skybike at the Franklin Institute and...
Testing virtual reality equipment.
Riding bikes around the neighborhood...

And of course eating!
My grandson cooked this dinner - Garlic Parmesan Chicken with zucchini.
We have lots of zucchini (from our CSA) and use the veggie in a variety of dishes.
Also cooked a large pot of zucchini/tomato sauce and froze batches.
Challah French toast for breakfast. Yummy!
Of course hub and I are consuming too many calories - too many trips to the ice cream parlor and the bagel shop, splurging on French fries and other delicious foods dear to the heart of a 13-year-old.

But we are having fun. Next week back to the gym!