Saturday, December 28, 2019

My 2019 Year Rehashed

The year began with a New Year’s celebration in a warm climate, far south of my hometown, compelled to don attire that does nothing to disguise my round figure. I spent the entire first month of 2019 idling in sunny balminess, although the month was not totally devoid of toil. I worked at avoiding the news throughout the year, aiming to be uninformed, ignorant, and unaware of goings on inside the Beltway. Never checked tweets for Presidential platitudes. My way of preserving mental health.

February I ventured further south and sailed around the tip of South America before returning home in time to experience a few days of winter, observe signs of spring, and visit all the doctors who missed me while I was away. Too busy traveling and lounging in doctors’ suites to pay attention to the latest news, I did not care where Amazon decided to build its megacorporate center or when Britain will Brexit or who won Academy Awards. I watched only a couple of nominated movies. My pop culture IQ has sunk to the low double digits. 

With a hint of spring in the air at home, I headed up north where spring doesn’t arrive until summer, to visit family. Rummaging through the closet for my warmest clothes, I loaded up with layers and walked around like a zombie, unable to move limbs weighted down by Arctic apparel.  

I was a bouncing ball this year, home for a while, then on the road, home again and soon off once more. In April hub and I drove the dreaded Interstate 95 to Boston, the New York to Boston route one of the worst in the country. Too much traffic and too many trucks. But we saw our son run in the Boston marathon and took a quick trip to Martha’s Vineyard before seasonal crowds descended and prices skyrocketed. 

Returned home for a short time, then took off on a Spirit Air flight to witness grandkids’ activities. Southward ho!

The weather warmed and the month of May meant really, really cheap flights to Florida – twice - for family events.

June arrived and the state of Maine called. Boarding a Windjammer for a six-day cruise island hopping across Maine waters, hub and I shared the tightest quarters in the history of tourism. And shared toilets. Shared by lots of people...We connected with our grandkids in Boston and Cape Cod. And while on the subject of travel, I noticed the President visited the next tourist hotspot - North Korea. I think he negotiated a hotel deal, but that is officially top secret.

I observed another birthday. The following day I carefully examined my hair, face and figure. No changes from the day before. What a relief! 

July brought family knocking on our door at the shore. I spent lots of time on the sand, in the sea, and at our favorite ice cream and bagel shops. Meanwhile in the wider world a slew of politicians and wealthy men declared their desire to be the next President. The debates proved music to fall asleep by, and by the end of the month hub and I needed a break. Thought about exploring Greenland, possibly the 51st state, but instead flew off to Scotland.

August ushered in much needed quiet time. Never made it to Popeye’s for one of their best-selling chicken sandwiches. 

Suddenly September. I briefly considered a visit to Ukraine. The country dominated the news and I felt a kinship for the far, far away land that relatives bolted over a century ago. Opted for another trip to Florida. And Vermont. Family beckoned!

I stayed home October and November. Prepared a Thanksgiving feast for a select group of eight family members. Served peach pie in a nod to current events. My taste buds thanked me for the holiday repast but my waistline did not.

Cold weather swooped in, days grew shorter and skies grayer. Catalogs clogged my snail mailbox, ads jammed my email box, and product commercials temporarily replaced drug ads on TV. I spent the last month of the year viewing vapid Hallmark Christmas movies, all three seasons of the Crown and season three of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, dozing through The Irishman, occasionally exercising, NOT shopping, languishing in true couch potato fashion, and eating – especially eating.

Whew. I’m exhausted. Time for a long winter’s slumber.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Winter Festivities Foreshadow the Season Ahead

The winter solstice arrived December 21st, a non-event for most people, briefly mentioned but probably not noticed or cited at all. Most of us no longer live in agricultural communities and the change of seasons does not significantly affect our lifestyle. Outdoor exercise routines may have to be adjusted. Some folks, teachers for instance, mark the days until summer. 
A seasonal outdoor activity in Cape May, NJ.
 For most people living in the Northern Hemisphere the winter solstice is one more gray day in a string of overcast days. I do not look forward to more of the same – cloudy, cold, not always dry days. But the winter solstice does portend hope that change eventually occurs. For the better. More hours of daylight, the sun’s warmth replacing chilly shade, teasing us, promising brighter days. 

Alas, the worst of winter is yet to be experienced. But first there are holidays to celebrate, a tradition reaching back ages, a ploy to turn the reality of long, cold winter days ahead at bay a little longer. Homes and buildings glisten with holiday lights, businesses bustle as folks shop, eat, and socialize before a modern form of winter hibernation sets in. The somber quietude of January has almost arrived, so enjoy a few days of festivity first!

In honor of the holiday season and hub’s birthday, and thanks to a birthday gift card, we patronized a restaurant in Cape May, New Jersey, a resort town that has discovered how to celebrate the holidays in style. The restaurant was packed with groups enjoying each other's company and the festive occasion. Blocks of Victorian homes, many B&Bs, decked out in lights and decorations inside and out, captivate visitors. Holiday-themed events are scheduled throughout the month of December.

The festive lights will be turned off after the first of the New Year, the decorations carefully packed away until next year. Many businesses and restaurants will close their doors so the staff can take vacation and prepare for the next tourist season. Locals may temporarily take off for places offering warmer waters and sunny days. Including hub and me...

Saturday, December 14, 2019

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for...Asian desserts?!

I consider myself fairly open to unfamiliar foods and enjoy trying new dishes. This week my kids introduced me to Asian sort-of-like-ice-cream-but-not-really desserts. We visited an establishment called Kasai and Koori, and I indulged.

Kasai and Koori is not the name of the store’s owners. The stores (currently four in south Florida)  are owned by two American guys who, while traveling the globe, discovered these culinary delights and decided to offer the frozen dishes to a new audience. Kasai and Koori are Japanese words for fire and ice, representing two opposing forces that come together for a unique experience.

Asian dessert places are a new ‘thing’. Trendy. Popular. Google Asian dessert locations and up pops: 10 Best Asian Dessert Places in...Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Austin...and the list goes on. Not being in the loop on trendy stuff, I was unaware of Asian treats of any kind. Except lychees, a dessert served at Chinese restaurants for as long as I can remember.

But dessert offerings have gone upscale (translation: not cheap), trendy (the stores are packed), varied (selections overwhelming), and multinational.

An introduction to some of the eye-appealing and apparently low-cal 
offerings found at Kasai and Koori
and other Asian dessert bars colonizing the country:

Kakigori, originally a specialty reserved for royalty but now available to all commoners with a few discretionary bucks to spend, are shaved ice creations. Available in various flavors, at Kasai and Koori they have exotic names like Tropical Fuji, The Sleeping Dragon, and Up All Night (coffee-flavored. Love that caffeine!). 

Taiyaki are fish-shaped waffle cones (they taste like waffles and not ice cream cones) with a frozen cream filling. Choices include Shake Senora, Summer of 69, and Tree Hugger. The treats are composed of a flavored cream, two or more toppings, and a drizzle, such as chocolate sauce, coconut, or Nutella.

Hot Taiyaki are a popular street food in Korea and Japan. A waffle cone is stuffed with a sweet or savory filling, such as: chocolate and cherry, Nutella, or a dark chocolate, banana and coconut combo.

Mochi are (usually) round, hand held Japanese delights. Traditionally made with glutinous rice, nowadays prepared with rice flour, a hard shell encases a cream concoction. Available in various colors, typically pastel shades, they are sold at Trader Joe’s and Costco. However I have not scouted out the items in either store. 

Hub and I shared one dish. Two sizes are offered: large and humongous (my terms). The store calls the two sizes regular and sumo. The cost will dent your pocketbook: 7.88 and 12.88 (the number 88 symbolizes fortune and good luck in Chinese culture) for the Kakigori we shared. The large/regular was more than adequate for the two of us.

I enjoyed my Up All Night Kakigori - flavorful, light, interesting - but doubt I will become a dedicated fan. I still prefer my decadent dish of Ben and Jerry’s. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Boomers Reminisce Holiday Festivities and Preparations

This week I was flying high, not a drug-induced kind of high, the soaring-in-the-sky kind. In a Spirit Air jet. A short ride, comparatively speaking, 2½ hours from the wind-swept cold of the Northeast to the balmy sun-drenched state of Florida. For a few days I am enjoying the company of my grandkids. I have sat for hours in stiff steel bleachers waiting for my granddaughters’ teams to compete in cheerleading. We got manicures and pedicures. Sampled Asian ice cream – a shaved ice concoction, actually. Baked cookies, strolled a craft fair, and witnessed the usual family feuds (of which I did not participate).  

Meanwhile my boomer buddies have spent time this week in end-of-year reflection and holiday preparations.

Carol Cassara ruminates about...stuff. Can you really manifest a Rolex, a Mercedes and great wealth by simply envisioning them? Over at A Healing Spirit, Carol Cassara addresses her issue with so-called "manifestation" gurus in Why Stuff Doesn't Make You Happy & What to Do about It

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer and personal finance journalist, urges consumers to use caution when signing up for “free trial offers.” Companies, using the fine print, may begin charging you for the items after the free trial period is over, even though you haven’t given permission.

Laurie Stone of Musings, Rants & Scribbles is haunted by Christmas trees past. She catches glimpses of large Christmas firs in other people’s living rooms, aglow with lights and shiny ornaments. She pictures wreaths and bows and poinsettas and gives a sigh. That’s what her living room used to look like. But time moved on and her family has gone through three distinct Christmas phases…

Concerning our health and well-being...

During the past 11 months, Jennifer of Unfold And Begin had a monthly post about Cheryl Richardson's book The Art of Extreme Self-Care.  There was a lot to learn, but during a crisis, it's easy to forget what we've learned.  That why it all wraps up in December with this look at How to Make Your Own Extreme Self-Care Tool Kit.  

Tom at Sightings Over Sixty considers the factors that go into our health ... and how long we will live. Some of them are drawn at the lottery of birth -- how healthy our parents were, how long they lived. But in Can We Live Forever? he also finds that there is a lot we can do to help ourselves live longer and feel better, no matter who our parents were -- or however much we may have mistreated ourselves in our younger years.   

Regarding another celebration – birthdays!
Rebecca Olkowski with will be 66 this month and has been thinking about what makes someone young and someone old as a state of mind. How old do you feel in your mind as opposed to your actual age? 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Small Business Saturday and more

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Museum Store Sunday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday - are we Americans crazy or what?

Disclosure – this year I am not participating in any of the madness, and since the turn of the 21st century have not actively and definitely not enthusiastically participated in America’s holiday spending rage. 
It begins sometime in October with TV commercials, snail mail catalogs, e-mails inundating my inbox, and escalates until the BIG DAY - Black Friday! - an occasion I like to avoid. Tussling with crowds and long lines is not my idea of a good time. And although the rest of the world does not celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Friday is making its way around the world.

I like the idea of Small Business Saturday, but do not need to devote one particular day a year to patronizing my local merchants. I am a year-round fan of shopping local. But the concept is a great promotional gimmick, introduced by the marketing gurus at American Express in 2010. The idea caught on...and the rest, as they say, is history.  

Museum Store Sunday is a newer phenomenon. 2019 is the third year for the event. Over 2,100 museum stores throughout all 50 states, Washington D.C., and several foreign countries will participate. 

The long holiday weekend ends, but the shopping spree continues. Cyber Monday began as an unofficial, convenient way to buy online. Back in the day before high speed internet was common in homes, people marched into the office Monday morning, fired up their computers and...went shopping. Professionals noted the peak in e-commerce and decided to encourage the habit. The term ‘Cyber Monday’ was first coined in a 2005 press release by the National Retail Federation. 

Giving Tuesday, subtitled ‘a global generosity movement,’ initiated in 2012, presents a simple concept: encourage folks to do good. It does not necessarily mean opening your wallet – again. You can give dough, but Giving Tuesday is all about giving in other ways - donating goods, giving your time to a favorite nonprofit, or raising your voice – metaphorically speaking – to support a cause you believe in.

It’s the holiday season. Shop if you want, but take time to do the fun stuff, whatever that may be for you, whether baking cookies or brownies or just indulging, spending time with family and friends, traveling, binge-watching Hallmark Christmas movies, eating and eating and eating...enjoy!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Thanksgiving Trivia

Planning dishes and activities my fellow diners will enjoy Thanksgiving day, my mind drifts to thoughts of holidays past...

The first Thanksgiving repast took place in 1621, but the celebration did not become an annual event. 168 years later George Washington declared November 26, 1789, a day of thanksgiving hailing the adoption of the Constitution, also a one-time occasion. 

President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an annual happening. In a bid to unite the nation during the Civil War, he proclaimed a national holiday on the last Thursday of November, a “day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” 

The United States is not the only country with a thanksgiving holiday. Canada and Germany celebrate in October. The Japanese holiday began as a harvest celebration, but today Labor Thanksgiving Day honors labor, production, and thankfulness. The Netherlands observes a Thanksgiving Day in honor of the Pilgrims that lived in the country before venturing to the New World.

The Netherlands?

A bit of history...100 Pilgrims left England in 1609 seeking religious freedom and settled in Holland (the Netherlands by another name). Holland welcomed them, and the Pilgrims began integrating into Dutch society.


The group’s religious leaders believed smooth integration into Dutch society a threat to their Church. William Bradford, who became governor of the New World colony, wrote that the Pilgrims were being, “drawn away by evil examples into extravagance and dangerous courses.” Not a good thing. So the religious leaders gathered their flock and sailed to a place where church believers would not be lured by the temptations of 17th century European life. 

The New World. 

The Pilgrims arrived in the New World 400 years ago next year (2020), and celebrations are planned to commemorate the event. Check out the festivities here

Moving ahead a few centuries...

Parades are one of the most revered Thanksgiving traditions today. Philadelphia held the first parade in 1920. Originally the Gimbels Parade – Gimbels a major department store – it is now known as the 6abc Dunkin Donuts Parade, co-sponsored by a TV station and a restaurant chain. What a great combination! Gather the crowd, send one person to the local Dunkin for a large box of munchies, turn on the tube, settle in and enjoy hours of couch potato-ing before dinner!

Probably the most famous parade is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The first parade

Balloons are an important part of the parades.
The first balloon appeared in the
Macy's parade in 1926 - Felix the Cat. 
marched down New York City streets Christmas, 1924. Over 250,000 people witnessed the spectacle. It was such a success the parade became a yearly event, rescheduled for Thanksgiving to usher in the holiday buying season (and welcome Santa Claus).

Plymouth, Massachusetts holds America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade, highlighted by a military flyover, floats and costumed folks representing residents from the 17th century to the present.

Other Thanksgiving Day traditions...

Many towns sponsor races – walking, running, one mile or longer, known as Turkey Trots. The first Turkey Trot occurred in Buffalo, New York, in 1896, and takes place every year. About 13,000 participate in the 4.97-mile race.

Let’s not forget Black Friday. The origin of the term? Philadelphia police officers referred to the day as Black Friday because of the heavy traffic and tendency for more accidents. The common belief is that the expression refers to the date retailers’ profits swing from the red to black.

Then there is Buy Nothing Day, originally celebrated in 1992. It is an international sort-of holiday, celebrated outside the U.S. on the Saturday after our Thanksgiving.

And let’s not forget football (much as I would like to). We can thank the first Detroit Lions owner, G. A. Richards, for Thanksgiving and football becoming synonymous. The first Thanksgiving game was broadcast in 1934. It was a hit, and the rest, as they say (unfortunately), is history. 

If not interested in watching football, there is the National Dog Show, televised following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Families have their own holiday traditions. Our family enjoyed experienced a tradition my sons are thrilled not to continue:

The Gathering of the Leaves 

Our house had a lot of trees. Mature trees with lots of leaves, the kind that sail to earth in the autumn. We never invested in a leaf blower. Why waste the money when we had two able-bodied boys to do the work?...There were times hub shined the car lights on the lawn so the work could get done. As the boys got older they were thrilled to go back to college – early if necessary – to avoid the dreaded chore. But fresh air, exercise, family time together – what could be better?

A lot, apparently.

We now live in a house with two trees. The largest is an evergreen that does not shed. The boys and their families, with kids old enough to join in the family tradition, do not descend on our house for the holiday. If we join them at their humble abodes, hub and I, as members of the older generation, are exempt from the tradition (says me).We are relegated – happily! – to watching the work from inside a warm house, wrapped in a blanket, rocking away, sipping a cup of hot coffee or spiked cider or eggnog...       

Happy Thanksgiving 
Enjoy your favorite holiday activities, 
especially blissful binging!

One of the best Thanksgiving TV pieces is the WKRP Turkey Drop
Many readers probably remember the show.
Here is the segment for your viewing enjoyment. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thrift Shop Shopping

I didn’t realize charity thrift shops have gone upscale until I dropped off several bags of my stuff. I guess I can’t blame them. 

First, the staff is composed of all volunteers. Every item in each bag must be carefully scrutinized, and that takes time. People time. 

Second, apparently today no one wants clothes that are torn, stained, and dreadfully discolored, nor are folks eager to buy chipped, broken and/or unworkable goods. 

Third, the store has limited space. Items less than in almost-pristine condition do not sell quickly, if at all. The charity makes more money with top-notch items. And the word gets around. Folks tell others about a shop selling high-quality, or at least UNdamaged, merchandise. Store traffic rises, sales increase, and the charity makes more money.

Rewind a few years and many things not accepted in thrift shops today were gladly accepted – and eventually sold. Old clothes were purchased and reworked for quilt material, nursery school craft projects and costume boxes, and other reusables. Maybe people are not as creative nowadays. Maybe they don’t have as much time for do-it-yourself projects.

The embarrassing thing about all this is that a day or two or three before my discarded items landed in a give-away bag, they were in my house. Used. Worn. One day I toss them in a bag and drive to the thrift shop. The volunteer behind the counter says, “We have to go through the bags. Anything we don’t want you have to take back.” So I unpack the bags and one by one the volunteer examines them, then throws each piece on one of two piles – the accepted stack, or the reject pile. Luckily few items are excluded – sometimes none. I’ve learned. I now toss items I assume will be rejected into the garbage, eliminating the middleman. 

I am well acquainted with thrift shops and consignment stores. When I worked at a women’s center helping people re-enter the work force, an enjoyable activity was shopping at a consignment shop for interview outfits and staging a fashion show. 

One year my niece and I bought a variety of items at a thrift shop which we threw together for Halloween costumes.

When I pass a consignment store when visiting cities and walking neighborhoods, I cannot resist stopping in. Frequently I end up purchasing something, most often an article of clothing.  Hub and I were out of town years ago and packed an inappropriate wardrobe – spring clothes when a cold streak blasted through town. Within walking distance of our motel was a Goodwill store. We purchased sweaters.

I have bought toys and games for the grandkids at our local thrift shop and at garage sales.

And – who knew – thrift shop shopping is now IN – a trendy thing. While writing this post I came across the following article entitled Regifting Is No Longer A Sin In Red Hot Resale Market

I am being environmentally friendly by recycling possessions I no longer need and I am being green by purchasing and reusing previously owned items...thrift shops, garage sales, consignment stores rock!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Binge-watching Bliss

Daylight hours grow shorter, the dark hours of late afternoon and evening seem endless, and each day gets a bit colder and grayer. 

It is binge-watching season! 

Pop the popcorn, unroll a blanket, don the sweats, dig out the leftover Halloween candy, get comfortable in a favorite chair or couch and enjoy a program – maybe a mini-series with three or four installments, or a series with years of episodes you never got around to watching. Or never heard of until a friend suggested it.

Hub and I just finished binge-watching a show highly recommended by friends, a comedy with occasional dramatic overtones, available on Netflix, The Kominsky Method. Michael Douglas plays an actor now acting coach, and Alan Arkin is a talent agent. The two are not a couple, but friends helping each other stagger through seniorhood. They deal with issues most seniors can identify with – death of a spouse, sexual anxieties, health issues, work matters, family problems, the fear and doubts of growing old. 

Chuck Lorre, creator of The Big Bang Theory, one of my all-time favorite shows, likewise created The Kominsky Method. Throughout the 16 episodes, each about a half hour, a continuous line of oldie but goodie performers appear – Patti LaBelle, Danny DeVito, Elliott Gould, Alison Janney, to name a few. A number of mature actors have recurring roles, including Paul Reiser, Jane Seymour, and Kathleen Turner.

I realize everyone may not be able to enjoy The Kominsky Method on their TV or computer. Nowadays it is not easy figuring out whether or not a particular show is available on your screen. There is Comcast OnDemand, Netflix, Dish, Direct TV, Amazon, Hulu, and others I am unfamiliar with, plus pay channels like HBO, Showtime...we used to get Turner Classic Movies, but Comcast, eager to milk old folks who enjoy old movies for more money, decided to add the channel to an upgraded package. Which we do not and will not get. 

I am not sure what our next binge-watching experience will be. 
Any suggestions?

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Pondering the Political

My congressional district made the national news this past week. A sleepy district in the southern part of the state of New Jersey, it covers a large territory – the largest in terms of land in the state – encompassing farms, suburbs, towns and casino central - Atlantic City. Our esteemed Congressional representative, Jeff Van Drew, a Democrat elected last November who replaced a Republican who served 22 years and retired, was one of two Democrats who voted against the impeachment probe of the President.

Van Drew probably voted against impeachment because he wants to be reelected next November, and he needs Republican votes to accomplish that goal. His Republican opponent last year was so extreme that the national Republican party disavowed him. Next year Van Drew's opponent will be more mainstream in terms of Republican ideology, or at least be more careful with his rhetoric. Van Drew knows he faces an uphill battle. 

Local Democrats – or to be more accurate, a lot of local Dems but not 100% - were not excited by Van Drew’s candidacy. He was bestowed upon our district by a regional (unelected) Democratic boss, George Norcross, a man previously under investigation by the FBI and who recently wrangled with the state’s Democratic governor. Norcross has ruled Democratic politics in south Jersey for over 30 years. 

The era of the political boss is not dead. It is alive and well in south Jersey.

Our country has a history of political bosses. Examples include New York City’s Boss Tweed during the 19thcentury, Huey Long in the south in the early 20th century, mid-20th century Chicago/Cook County’s Richard Daley, and Atlantic City’s notorious Nucky Johnson of Boardwalk Empire fame. Johnson ruled Atlantic City during the Prohibition era of the 1920s and 1930s. 

But Johnson is not the last political figure involved in crime and corruption in Atlantic City. On October 3, 2019, the city’s mayor, Frank Gilliam, resigned after pleading guilty to wire fraud. He stole $87,000 from a youth basketball league he founded.

Gilliam enters a special roster of Atlantic City mayors. He is the sixth mayor since the 1970s to resign in disgrace. But the city’s corruption does not begin or end at the top. In 2007 one-third of the nine member City Council pled guilty to accepting bribes. 

Then there is the disappearing mayor. Mayor Bob Levy left Atlantic City on September 26, 2007, destination unknown at the time. He checked into a clinic specializing in psychiatric and addiction issues, and a few days later resigned. At the time he was under investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs for embellishing his military record.

Corruption runs deep in casino city and throughout the state. In the first decade of the 21st century almost 150 of New Jersey’s senators, mayors, county executives and council members got caught accepting bribes.

...I could go on...and on...but the evidence is in. The state’s culture of corruption is deeply rooted, and doubtless one reason for New Jersey’s #1 ranking as the state with the highest property tax rate in the country. 

A #1 ranking, I guess, is worth noting, however inexcusable and appalling it might be. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

A Sad Fond Farewell

Bidding farewell to long-held possessions can be somewhat traumatic. Some items may have been owned for years, decades, maybe even a lifetime. How many of us have - stuffed in a drawer or box in the basement, attic or garage - a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or other childhood treasure? Most things, however, disappear during our journey through life. Items get lost, they break and cannot be repaired or cost too much to fix or replacement parts are unavailable. Some we give away. We might donate items to charity, send them off to a consignment shop in the hopes someone else will want and actually pay for our discarded stuff, and sometimes we gift a treasured possession to a friend or relative.

Over ten years ago, when my Dad could no longer drive, his car was passed down to a family member. Skipping a generation, my son Jason became the proud owner of Dad’s 1998 Toyota Corolla.

The car, which registered 35,000 miles when Jason took possession, went to college with my son, accompanied him to job interviews, stayed with him as he entered the work world, drove him home for occasional visits, carried his gear to bike races and marathons, and transported his daughters to preschool and play dates.

Now 20 years old with an odometer reading of 165,000 miles, the car shows its age. Frequent visits to the car repair shop, weird sounds when it runs - coughing, hissing - like a very old person, it is ready for the next chapter in life.

So this afternoon Jason drove his beloved Toyota to the Good News Garage and donated the vehicle to charity. He is unsure what will happen to it. The car still runs so it may go to an individual in need of transportation to school or work. Or it may be mined for parts and metal. Or…we have no idea.

It was a sad, somber scene, saying goodbye to a possession used and cared for, for so many years, linking generations. 

Cars have become connections to events in our lives…the car I drove - or tried to drive - for my first driving test. I got behind the wheel and the car refused to start. It was towed to the nearest repair shop…the first van hub and I bought one Christmas Eve…the red Saturn I drove off the lot, not a sports car but close…the car (NOT my Saturn, but a Ford Escort) handed down to our son (NOT Jason) when he learned to drive, affectionately known as the POS (piece of s**t)…There are other stories, life through vehicles owned, used, experienced. 

I end this tale of woe with a picture of the Toyota, 1998-2019.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Boomers on Pursuits Major and Mundane

Continuous rain signaled a quiet day at home on my couch, under a  blanket, reading the best-seller Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I finished the book, which was highly recommended by friends. The author will be in town in November and I wanted to read the book before attending her lecture. I became engrossed in the story, a journey into the land and inhabitants, human and otherwise, of North Carolina’s Outer Banks before the region became a tourist mecca.

Meanwhile my fellow boomers spent time this week on endeavors major and mundane.

Health happenings 
Rebecca Olkowski, with, attended a 2-day Osteoporosis Summit with a group of over-50 bloggers and influencers at Amgen. Participants flew in from all over the country to learn about bone health and the importance of having a bone density scan. She toured the facility, listened to a panel of experts and even did a cooking class – recipe included. Read about what she learned here.
Levelheaded ideas on a controversial topic 
Tom at Sightings Over Sixty steps into the line of fire with this week's post Guns Don't Kill People . . .  Take a look, if your mind is even slightly open about the subject.

Money-saving Ideas 

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer and personal finance journalist, offers 10 top tips for saving energy and money. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the average household spends at least $2,200 on energy, and at least half of that is for heating and cooling their home.

Pursuits close to home

If you've ever wondered what the "secret" was to vision boards -  a collage of images and words that represent what a person wants to do, be, or have in life - then Jennifer of Unfold and Begin has an answer for you.  In How to Unlock the Secret Behind Vision Boards, she shares the 4 key steps to creating and using one.
Laurie Stone from Musings, Rants & Scribbles knows how we take many things for granted in life – health, shelter, water, food, and yes...comforters. She's been on a quest for a new one for months and you’d think she was pursuing the Hope Diamond or Ark of the Covenant. Why is Comforter Land playing such hardball this time? Did bedding change or did she?

Thanks for stopping by and hope you take a few moments to drop by our boomers and say hi! We love to hear from you.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Three Blind Mice, and Another One...

A wonder of the internet is that we can explore and discover all kinds of information. A piece of worthless trivia unearthed this week is that on October 12, 1609 – over 400 years ago – the nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice was published in London. In case it has been a very long time since you crooned with a toddler or two, here are the lyrics:

Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?

The verse seems cute and innocent. It is anything but. Adults and the toddlers they teach have no idea the rhyme has underlying meaning. And not a delightful one. 
Many nursery rhymes recited today were written in England during a time when speaking openly against the government, the King or Queen, or the Church, was dangerous and could result in dire consequences. To get around this obstacle dissenters wrote poems cloaked in innuendo.
Three Blind Mice, based on a true event, is one example. The three blind mice refers to three Protestant noblemen convicted of plotting against Queen Mary I, ruler of England and Ireland from 1553 until her death in 1558. Mary was Catholic and determined to reverse the Protestant Reformation. She killed many Protestants and earned the nickname Bloody Mary. The farmer’s wife alludes to Mary and her husband, King Philip of Spain. They owned a number of large estates. Mary did not have the three men dismembered and blinded, as inferred in the rhyme. However the three men were burned at the stake in 1555.
In our time free speech is a right (in some parts of the world). We can speak and write diatribes proclaiming opposition to whoever or whatever we want. Sometimes the target is apparent, and sometimes the target is revealed obliquely, or not at all. 
An example is the popular 1980 song by the British band Queen, Another One Bites the Dust. I don’t sing along whenever heard on the radio because of the song’s message; the message I learned. A Google search finds more than one meaning, but I still don’t feel comfortable warbling the lyrics.

A theme of the song is death, referenced in the phrase “another one bites the dust”. The song may represent a metaphorical death, like the end of a romantic relationship, or - the interpretation I learned - the song is all about mass murder. On a lighter note, another piece of trivia discovered in my research is that the song played backwards conveys (maybe) a pro-marijuana message.

Perhaps each person should figure out what the song is all about for themselves. As for future generations, young and old may continue crooning the song, its enduring popularity due to the captivating tune and lyrics.

Here is a YouTube of Another One Bites the Dust. Reach your own conclusion...

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Golden Years Bring Tears

 Age-wise, I am in a sweet spot dubbed ‘the golden years’. The term was first coined in a 1959 ad for Sun City, Arizona, considered the first active adult retirement community. The phrase is supposed to conjure images of retirement, leisure time, relaxation, enjoyment of life - a stretch of time before the ailments and illnesses of old age prevail. 

What I am learning as I march into my sunset years is that those ailments and illnesses don’t pop up one day, a message screaming, OK, gal, you’re now OLD. Rather those disorders creep up on you – maybe not you, but definitely on me. One day I feel fine, one day I AM fine, and the next day something is not quite right...

My latest issue is, according to my doctor, an allergy. To what I have no idea. I never had an allergy. Until now.

Suddenly I am fine and then my eyes tear and redden, my nose runs, I sneeze. Then the symptoms disappear. I tested to find out if the problem was my soap, makeup, shampoo...none of these variables made a difference. After months of this on-and-off scenario it was time for a professional opinion.

The diagnosis: I probably have an allergy to something (Eureka!). So I am trying an over-the-counter antihistamine, and if that doesn’t work will add a prescription med. 

What is going on? Why am I turning into a weak-bodied specimen?

Apparently I am not alone. There has been a world-wide increase in allergies among folks over 50 in the past few decades. In fact, so many older people succumb to allergies that WHO, the World Health Organization, has classified the trend an ‘epidemic’ of the 21st century.

Reasons for the rise in allergies over the past few years include:
·      Environmental transformations, such as climate change and pollution, contribute to increased susceptibility and lower body immunity.
·      Mold and pollen are common respiratory-related allergy agents. Climate variations, habitat destruction and alterations result in increased cases of allergies among adults.
·      The immune system and tissue structure changes as we age. A consequence can be heightened sensitivity to allergy-producing agents, such as foods and substances we breathe.
·      Everyday life may contribute to allergies in the form of stress. Stress releases hormones and other molecules that lead to allergy symptoms. Although not a direct cause of allergies, stress can make an allergy worse.

All this information is interesting but not helpful to my situation. On doctor’s orders I am to keep a diary of my allergy episodes, in the hopes that eventually a commonality will be found (another Eureka moment!).  Otherwise I will walk around forever wearing dark glasses as tears stream down my face and I bump into people and objects because my sight is impaired, while folks wonder – what is wrong with that woman?

To be continued, eventually, for better or worse...