Thursday, February 22, 2018

Go South, Old Folks

Too long bundled up in the cold, gray, snowy north, aging bodies longed for sun and warmth. So hub and I loaded the car with winter clothes, spring outfits and summer wear, prepared for whatever weather encountered during our drive down the East coast in search of balmy weather.

Meanwhile our Jersey hometown experienced a winter warm wave. We could have stayed home and soaked up the sun. For free. Instead we squandered our kids’ inheritance on our pursuit of fun in the sun.

Our tour group explored the history of
urban slaves. This sculpture of a slave
family in chains is on the
Savannah riverfront.
We are in the sophisticated, tree-lined southern city of Savannah, Georgia. The first part of our winter getaway is a 5-day Road Scholar tour of Savannah, comprising a stay in a renovated historic hotel, lectures, great restaurant meals – including a cooking class and the opportunity to enjoy our culinary endeavors - tours of historic sites, and the chance to meet fellow Road Scholars from around the country.

Savannah’s ever-expanding tourism industry (about 14 million visitors in 2017) can be traced to two 1994 events: the success of the movie Forrest Gump, and the success of the book and a few years later the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I admit I had not read Midnight before planning a Savannah visit, but finished the book in time to get a flavor for the city, its inhabitants and history before setting eyes on the place.

James Oglethorpe
James Oglethorpe, founder of Savannah and the Georgia colony, stopped by and regaled our group with stories about his Georgia adventure. I unlearned ideas acquired in school. For example I believed the state’s initial settlers were debtors and criminals. I was wrong. And I did not know the colony was an ambitious idea in an early form of socialism that ultimately failed.

A musical trio entertained us with songs written by, and stories about, Savannah’s famous and favorite son, Johnny Mercer.

The tumultuous growth many cities experienced in the 19th century bypassed Savannah. General William Tecumseh Sherman and his troops occupied the city during the Civil War (or the War Between the States as Savannahians call it), but Savannah escaped the fate of many Confederate cities. Union troops did not torch the city.

Savannah’s historic district today retains many of the buildings and ambience of the 18th and 19th centuries. The historic district embraces tree-lined streets, elegant Colonial and Federal style homes and small businesses, over 100 buildings comprising the Savannah School or Art and Design, and 22 squares landscaped with live oak trees, bushes beginning to flower, and monuments to events and individuals in Savannah history. It is a city well-suited to walking leisurely along shaded streets, reading historical markers, stopping for ice cream (Leopold’s the city’s best), and partaking in the slow-vannah lifestyle.

I think Southern hospitality is very... I don't think it's just a term.
I think it really exists. You can come to Savannah,
and the people are so sweet and so nice.
 - Paula Deen
(No, I did not visit her restaurants or store.) 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

More Grief, Another Shameful Spectacle and Still No Action

What is wrong with our country?

March, 1996, 16 children and one teacher die in an assault on a school in Scotland. As a result, Britain passes a Firearms Act restricting gun ownership.

A slaughter in April,1996, in Australia results in 35 fatalities. The country implements strict gun control laws.

Following shootings in Germany in 2002 (16 people killed) and 2009 (15 people killed), Germany enacts gun control laws.

Only one recent mass shooting – the 2011 attack in Norway (no mass shootings in Norway since) – was deadlier than the Las Vegas massacre. No mass shootings in Norway since 2011. The U.S. cannot say the same after Columbine…Virginia Tech…Sandy Hook…Orlando…Texas…Parkland…

Politicians utter messages of vapid prayers and empty words blaming mental illness, the community, immigrants.

Prayers from those who have the power to change things but do nothing are meaningless, the author a coward.

President Trump did not mention the word ‘gun’ ONCE in his message to the nation concerning the tragic deaths in Parkland, Florida. He and his accomplices turn their back on one of the greatest scourges confronting the country. Trump mentioned mental illness initiatives in his speech. Yet one year ago the Republican Congress passed and Trump signed legislation repealing an Obama-instituted law that prevented individuals receiving government-funded treatment for mental illness from purchasing firearms.

Hands outstretched, politicians kowtow before the NRA. The organization showers millions on men and women working to prevent any form of gun control. Grateful recipients of NRA largesse include:

John McCain – Republican Senator from Arizona - $7,740,521. Most funds received during his 2008 Presidential campaign.
The two Republican Senators from North Carolina Richard Burr - $6,986,620, and Thom Tillis - $4,418,012.
Roy Blunt - Republican Senator from Missouri - $4,551,146
Cory Gardner – Republican Senator from Colorado - $3,879,064
Marco Rubio – Republican Senator from Florida. He tweeted
, "Just spoke to Broward School Superintendent. Today is that terrible day you pray never comes."  NRA Contributions: $3,303,355
Joni Ernst – Republican Senator from Iowa - $3,124,273
Rob Portman – Republican Senator from Ohio - $3,061,941
Todd Young – Republican Senator from Indiana - $2,896,732
Bill Cassidy – Republican Senator from Louisiana - $2,861,047

Congressmen receiving substantial funds from the NRA can be found here.

Democrats collect NRA contributions, but not much. In 2016 Democrats received a total of $3,845,342 while Republicans got $19,074,616.

We must step up and do something besides feel angry, frustrated and powerless. The groundswell of support for sensible gun control must come from the bottom up, because elected officials do nothing substantive to stop the shootings.

Donate to organizations working for gun control such as the Brady campaign and Giffords Courage to Fight GunViolence

Contact your representatives and express support for gun control. You can fill out a form on the Everytown for Gun Safety website. 

Support officials advocating sensible gun control measures and vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Elect Congressmen and women who will fight for effective gun control.

Additional ways to support gun control laws can be found here.

It is up to us to do more than pray.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Love, Loss and Life’s Disruptions

What’s worse than to wake with the alarm before dawn for an exercise class, dress, throw on a coat, venture out into the cold and dark, clear off an ice-coated car window, rev up the car, drive to the rec center, park the car, trot in the arctic air to the front door of the building, walk up the steps not-quite-eager but proud you roused yourself on this dreary morning?

Reading a sign posted on the entrance:


REALLY? Inconvenient? I had such good intentions…

Such is life sometimes. Good intentions shot down by life’s disruptions.
My yoga moment - I concentrate on the 'I'm hungry' meditation.
After my early morning awakening and preparations for exercise class only to find the class cancelled, I was unwilling to return home disappointed. A 45-minute zumba class warmed my muscles, got my blood moving and provided the impetus to move through the rest of the day.

I read a wonderful little book about life’s disruptions by Ilene Beckerman, Love, Loss and What I Wore, a couple of years ago. The author recounts her story in brief prose snippets with an accompanying drawing of the getup worn at momentous moments, and not so significant but remembered, life events.

Nora Ephron and her sister Delia also loved the book. They wrote a play based on the story, which debuted off-Broadway in 2009. A local theater group presented the play in my area this past weekend, and hub and I went to see it.

Before purchasing tickets, I warned hub he may not like/appreciate/enjoy the play, since it is so woman-centric, but he willingly joined me.

From earliest childhood to mature adult, the play’s monologues talk about the difficult, funny, heartbreaking disruptions and unusual events women face every day. Marriage, divorce, mother-daughter relationships, the “I have nothing to wear” syndrome, illness and lots more. Hub related to a lengthy monologue on women’s pocketbooks. He was always amazed and annoyed at his Mom’s oversized bag containing mainly junk, and regularly comments about my inability to locate anything quickly in my small but disorganized purse.

And while on the subject of love…Valentine’s Day is Wednesday. Hub and I may go out to dinner, or maybe not – depending on the weather, how tired we are, how crowded restaurants are. Maybe we will order in. Or, if feeling ambitious, I can cook!

This week’s Best of Boomers discusses Valentine’s Day from a variety of perspectives, and includes a Valentine’s Day story I posted way back in 2012. Check out this week’s Boomer blogs!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Football, The Olympics, and Political Games

Mid-winter and life can be dull. Luckily this year events locally and far afield prevent the onset of dark-day depression.

I mentioned previously I am not a football fan, but living in the Philadelphia sphere of influence, home of the greatest upset in Super Bowl history, ignites the spirit and makes the hoopla impossible to ignore. The playoff games, the pre-Bowl hoopla, the big game frenzy and after-game goings-on fuel the euphoria.

Next up: The Winter Olympics. Not quite as exciting as the Eagles Super Bowl game and victory, but the spectacle begins (on NBC networks in the U.S.) with the opening ceremony on Thursday, February 8th, 8:00 p.m. EST and continues until the closing ceremony Sunday, February 25th. The Olympics offer interesting - and some not so interesting - viewing. I don’t care. It is winter, it is cold, it is dark too many hours (although additional minutes of light slink in every day), and I am eating too much comfort food.

The munching will not change as I station myself on the couch, wrapped in a warm blanket or even better my hoodie footie, stationary and almost comatose as I nibble the afternoon and evening away watching young, strong, beautiful men and women from around the world do amazing things.

These two athletic events prompted an idea unique, untried and untested, thought-provoking and attention-grabbing, yet unfortunately will never be adopted. Anywhere. It should, however, find a home in the United States.

Everyone agrees the election buildup is too long, too divisive, too expensive, and just plain annoying. We heave a gigantic sigh of relief when the polls close, whoever wins.

My idea enlivens the process, increases electorate participation, and reduces the long, drawn out process.

Let’s introduce a series of athletic events in place of the current electoral process. Bowing to the age and physical condition of those involved, events too dangerous or physically taxing will be eliminated. Activities will be age-appropriate. Instead of boring speeches, candidates face opponents in a series of tests of skill and endurance. The candidate with the overall top score gets the job.

Here is a sampling of contest ideas:

  • Read as many words as possible of the Declaration of Independence without taking a breath.
  • Participate in a Trivia contest with categories such as: Weird and Funny District (or state or national) street names, local fave foods, high school mascots, location of the largest potholes, worst traffic jams, etc.
  • Yell loud and long the words: Yea and Nay.
  • Maneuver an obstacle course from a Congressional office to the doors of the Congressional chamber.

  • Which candidate devours the most rubber chicken in a specific amount of time? or
  • Pats the head of the most babies in a set time period? or
  • Maintains a smile for the longest time? or
  • Lifts the most (printed) legislative documents?

  • Contenders must repeat a tongue twister five times – examples below, but longer ones can be used – the candidate with the loudest voice, greatest emotion and fewest errors wins this challenge.

I wish to wish the wish you wish to wish, but if you wish the wish the witch wishes,
 I won't wish the wish you wish to wish.

Whether the weather be fine
or whether the weather be not.
Whether the weather be cold
or whether the weather be hot.
We'll weather the weather
whether we like it or not.

I thought a thought.
But the thought I thought
Wasn't the thought I thought I thought.
If the thought I thought I thought,
Had been the thought I thought,
I wouldn't have thought I thought.

How about some children’s party games - a balloon blowing contest (the politician producing the most hot air wins)? Pin the tail on the donkey (or elephant)? A piƱata contest where, when broken, votes pour out and contenders get the number of votes collected? Or tug of war? Musical chairs? A treasure hunt?

The possibilities are endless. I am sure constituents can create lots more intriguing, innovative ordeals.

Meanwhile my couch (and hoodie footie) beckons… 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Football’s Over, Boomers Sail On and Offer Tips for a Long, Healthy Life

Super Bowl LII is history. I am not sure when my part of the world reluctantly returns to normal as the Eagles (unbelievable!) Super Bowl win sparks a days-long celebration. Living in a land enamored of the Philadelphia Eagles, a sea of green swept over everything and everyone for weeks. Personally not a football fanatic but rooting for the home team, it was refreshing to push politics to the background for a while.

The boomer bloggers are a diverse group and includes Eagles fans, Patriot enthusiasts, and those who don’t care at all about football. Yet we all get along!

What the world needs now are more people listening to each other in the world and in everyday life. Rebecca Olkowski of Baby offers tips on Why it’s Important to Perfect the Art of Listening.

Over on Unfold and Begin, Jennifer (a Patriots fan) uses a quote from Jimmy Dean (yes, the sausage king!) to remind us that it's OK to adjust our sails when the wind blows in a different direction. We all need to be flexible and adapt when change happens.  Find out more in her Wednesday Whoa post, But I Can Adjust My Sails.

If we thought we would have less stress as we aged, we might have been wrong. Carol Cassara gives us an easy way to use an abundant natural resource, oxygen, to manage stress and anxiety in these times over at A Healing Spirit.

This year’s flu season seriously impacted boomers, and the past few weeks Laura Lee Carter of Adventures of the New Old Farts nursed her illness, and then faced the medical costs. As a result Laura Lee has been learning some hard truths about health care costs and survival this past week or so. As usual, insurance covers everything except what you need right now!  Insights into Boomer Health Care Costs.

Speaking about health, Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond offers tips on maintaining good health, and our consumer journalist recommends a post about our financial health and welfare.

February has arrived and probably any New Year Resolutions have departed.  Don’t worry, that is quite usual and a reason Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond doesn’t make New Year Resolutions any more. She still sets goals though, and in this week’s post discusses the benefits of checking progress. In her article ‘Why Checking on your Health & Fitness Goals is Essential’, she outlines what she considers to be the 3 top benefits when you check in regularly and track your progress.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes that Equifax’s free Lock & Alert, offered because personal information was stolen from 143 million of its customers, is lacking. It is supposed to allow consumers to lock and unlock their Equifax credit reports indefinitely for free. However, putting on freezes at all three credit bureaus may be a better option. News reports filed after the Lock & Alert was launched last week reported that it did not work.

While some us prepared for the big game or nursed illnesses this past week, Tom Sightings went on vacation.

Tom Sightings is on vacation in the Sunbelt this week. But even way down south the temperatures are running ten degrees or more below normal, so he thought it might be time to revisit an old but now-more-relevant-than-ever post. So ski, skate or sled over to Does Cold Weather Help You Live Longer? and find out the cold truth about the cold weather.

 I hope everyone has a good week, and take a few minutes to visit the boomers and leave a comment. We love to hear from you!