“Grandma, Why Are You Moving”?

By now some of you know my husband Bill and I are closing on our New Hope, PA home mid-September and embarking on our lives of Tucson as home base, with travel and rental apartments about 40% of the year.

This weekend was the last one for our granddaughters to swim in our pool and spend wonderful time in the PA countryside. It has been one of their “vacation spots” since they were born – we have lived here 15 years and they are 6 and 9. There was no life before New Hope for them.

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New Hope, PA

And so, as we tried to explain all the “grown up reasons” for moving and “downsizing” they looked a little confused – but as always full of fun and laughter and wanting to believe that things in the future may not include New Hope, but will ALWAYS include Grandma Patty and Poppy. Or at least that is the message now. We hope our own demise is far off so we skipped the mortality talk. Thought that the end of their grandparents’ house was more than enough loss for a 6 and 9 year old.

Being a grandmother keeps me on my good behavior. I want to model “loss with grace” for my granddaughters as well as show clients that of course change is often good. How can I call myself a life coach and not do well with a major move? “Attachment is overrated” and “all is in divine order” are the messages for me to send. But there is a piece of my heart that is feeling sad about all the change and working to put it all in perspective – that wonderful gift of older ages.

Simultaneously with the move I have been reading the new Jane Smiley trilogy – almost finished Some Luck and going to start Early Warning by Thursday I would guess. The third in the trilogy will be out in October just as we are going back west after a bit of a transition in the east using a furnished apartment to say more goodbyes and touch base with people.

Next in my queue

Next in my queue

Like the John Updike Rabbit Angstrom novels, there were 4, this new trilogy gets into enormous details of people’s lives – but does that in the context of 20th century American history and culture. I was of course much younger reading the Rabbit series – I read the first one, Rabbit, Run, in the late 60s (it was published when I was 10). I followed Rabbit’s life when I read Rabbit Redux in 1971 as a new college graduate. I didn’t “get it all” in terms of the perspective thing.

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By the time I read Rabbit is Rich I was 30 and rather amused by the Toyota dealership – and then 40 when Rabbit finally died in the 1990 novel Rabbit at Rest. The character of Rabbit was morally ambivalent and not a little “disappointing” as a man – let’s just say he aged a bit badly.

Now reading Smiley’s take on America I am both older and wiser. Her perspective is helping me realize how our lives evolve much like these terrific series of novels – with a series of experiences and opportunities – some of which we handle terrifically well and a few we don’t. All the while living our lives in the larger context of what is going on nationally – and now even more often – internationally.

Grandma is moving because she has to move forward or rot a bit. And rotting is not fabulous – we all have to move on and move forward to avoid getting caught empty handed or confused spiritually in the next phase of our life. I am finding that it isn’t just about throwing things out or physically moving but rather about shifting attitudes and feelings to combat the often disturbing trends of history and the limits and losses of just living longer in a complex and baffling society.

Didn’t mean to get sad – but sad is something we now understand and accept. Being sad once in awhile is a wonderful thing. Now that’s called having perspective – too bad it took so long to arrive.

Patty

 

I’m Not Sleeping Well And My Cat Knows Why!

I have always been a good sleeper. Eight hours easily. Not anymore.

My 16 year old Maine Coon cat has decided to meow in my face at least 3 times during the night. With my sleep interrupted so often, I find myself tired during the day. And, I’ve lost my husband. More about that later.

This is new behavior for my cat, so I did what any addicted internet surfer would do. I checked out websites, blogs and chat forums for hours.

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First, all of the sites agree that a physical exam is the first step. I took Ms. Blue (who was named for her grey color which for some reason is called blue by cat people) to the cat vet. $400 later I got the good news that everything checked out perfectly, except for her high blood pressure. Of course, the fact that she relentlessly hissed, lunged and clawed at the vet and her assistant probably accounted for that spike. The vet happily reported that Blue could live many more years.

So, she has no obvious physical ailments.

Ms. Blue in her younger days, eager to travel

Ms. Blue in her younger days, eager to travel

Next, the sites say that hearing problems could be causing her to vocalize more loudly than normal. There are apparently expensive tests for hearing loss, but cat hearing aids aren’t an option as far as I know. I can’t rule hearing loss out, but there’s no solution anyway.

What about senior dementia? Just like people, aging cats can get confused and might be signaling this confusion during the wee hours of the morning. Cats can’t be asked to name the month, day and year, or the current president’s name or to count backward from 10. So, I can’t rule dementia out either, although I haven’t noticed her wandering aimlessly or losing stuff.

And then there is the possibility that in her old age, she just wants more attention. This one is the most likely, in my opinion. She definitely hangs around me more. And she begs for her Temptations treats every night before I go to bed, a practice I started several years ago when I thought it was cute. Yes, it’s possible that her middle of the night meows are for treats (which I never give her), but I don’t think so.

I think she wants to be petted. If I touch her, she settles down.

But the websites agree … DON’T DO IT! You’re reinforcing the behavior by rewarding her, they say. Ignore her, they say. Only pet her when she is quiet during the day, they say. And, don’t scold her, knock her off the bed or swat her either. She could decide that any kind of attention is good attention and come back for more.

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So, what else is recommended?

  • Feed her a meal before bedtime since a full stomach might make her sleepy. (I’m trying that one, but so far it’s not working.)
  • Play with her during the day, and then again right before bedtime, to tire her out. Sounds promising, but at 16 years of age she has no interest whatsoever in cat toys. If I bounce a fake mouse on a string in front of her nose, she might deign to swat it twice. Then she puts her head back down and goes to sleep. It tires me out trying to tire her out. And yes, she sleeps all day so that she can be awake enough to keep me awake at night.
  • And, finally, add a second cat to the family so that they can play with each other and leave you alone. They’ve got to be kidding! If Ms. Blue didn’t immediately kill the other cat, the thought of them frolicking together in the house during the night is scary. Wouldn’t I be exchanging one problem for another?

So, what can I do? My husband – after threatening to move into the guest room several times because of his interrupted sleep – actually moved last night. “I have to get up early for a meeting and don’t want to be tired”, he said. He was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning, which I was not. I’m taking bets on whether he’ll move back into our room tonight.

What is his solution? Put her in a big cage with her litter box, food and treats and place it in the furthest reaches of the house, far away from our bedroom. Then let her meow all night if she wants.

Did I mention that he’s a dog person?

I told him that I hope I don’t start wandering aimlessly or losing things. Maybe I should be checking to see if he is doing any online shopping for extra large cages.

Cathy Green

P.S. Seriously, I’m open to all suggestions!

P.S.S. During my internet surfing, I spotted a YouTube video that I used to think was funny. Enjoy … or not.

Fabulous Lifestyle Change Ahead!

September 15, 2015 our New Hope, PA home will be gone and we begin our new traveling lifestyle. No second home, no moving in with anyone else, just a home in Arizona for the cooler months to serve as home base. The remaining months will be traveling and staying in various rental properties enjoying the diversity of locations, as well as the chance to spend time with friends and family spread all over the country – and in some cases, the world.

New Hope, Pa

New Hope, Pa

Why has it been so tough for me – not to part with things – but places, people and “roots”? Have I/we become like millennials who we keep reading “value the experiences” over things? This is why they don’t want our STUFF: the remnants of amassing huge numbers of books, some few photos of the past and events, holiday decorations, cookbooks, glasses and platters not to mention dining room sets on a scale previously unknown to humankind. Or are we just arrived at an emotional state where we really get our mortality and figure in this intensely individualistic culture that it is “our turn” or “now or never”?

So here’s my thoughts on those “big questions” raised in paragraph two (remember when everyone knew what a paragraph was? But I digress).

We all have a hard time parting with what we truly value. For me that has always been people and relationships – with everyone – from restaurant owners, to the dry cleaners, the butcher at the grocery store, Intrigue sales professionals who helped me find the perfect clothes, the people who are part of my church, my UPS buddies – not to mention the deeper friendships forged while spending 15 years in New Hope. And those relationships for the most part are ending. I am sad at this loss.

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While I do love people more than things, I did want “the finer things in life” growing up and growing older. And, I had them – and feel blessed I did. To me wearing a Hermes scarf or a Chanel handbag has brought me pleasure. But more so I loved my work and still want to do some of it. I love helping people grow and change – and due to technology I can now write coaching content, coach people in life transitions and volunteer to support critical causes from nearly anywhere. The relationships associated with my work and passions remain, thankfully, so that compensates some for the loss of place.

As for being like millennials, I think not. They are the new BIG generation – shaping the culture and society to their values and needs, but my roots and values remain in Boomerhood. My goal is to push forward on my restructured path while not holding tightly to the past or try to keep being the protagonist of the story. I also do not want to bash millennials – hearing about our parents referred to as “the greatest generation” hugely annoyed me. Let’s all stay on our own yoga mats.

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As to whether we fabulousover60s are just at the point where we want to do what we want to do — I have to just say no. Just doing what we want all the time has never excited us. In fact, we are doers – not wanting to just sit back. Relaxing has been more of a challenge than anything else we have tried to conquer. We have a continuous battle with ourselves to just BE not DO.

Am I nervous? A little. But being Fabulous always involves some loss and some risk – to be your best self – to keep evolving rather than fighting to keep things the same. Plan to keep you posted as my later 60s evolve – who knows – maybe all that travel, writing and being with people I love will drive me crazy. Right now I doubt it. I sincerely doubt it.

Patty

 

Fear Riding Fear

This piece was submitted by guest blogger Ginny Callaway. Send us your story or short article and we’ll contact you if it works as a guest blog. Click here to share.

Fear.

Fear is scary.

Facing fear is scarier, especially at 64.

I know. I recently looked fear in the long-nosed face of a 1200 pound four-legged creature with hard-as-nails hooves and the potential power of a small locomotive.

The really scary part is that I CHOSE to face this intimidator, more commonly known as a horse.

In the summer of 2013 we were invited to spend a week at a guest ranch in Wyoming, 100,000 acres of the Medicine Bow Mountains and green grasslands. The poplar-lined Platte River flowed through the bottomland. Carved-out draws and canyons strewn with rocks and fallen trees dotted the landscape. Remember that last part.

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A Bar A Ranch offered a variety of activities such as fly fishing, photography and painting. Most sane people opt for one of those. I heard “horseback riding” and my sanity left me.

“That sounds like fun. Sign me up.” I couldn’t believe how easily those words spilled out of my mouth.

“All right then. See you at the stables 8:30 in the morning,” responded Lynn, the head wrangler.

Naiveté is a good thing. The next morning I donned my jeans and cowboy boots, cowboy shirt that made me look more like I was from Portland than Wyoming and a borrowed cowboy hat with a chin strap. I was at the stable at 8:30 sharp. Let’s get this show on the trail.

“Ginny, here’s your horse, Patch. Climb up in the saddle and Samantha will adjust your stirrups. She’ll be your trail guide, too.”

Patch was a pinto looking horse, at least that’s what I thought having no idea except from watching Bonanza and eating beans what a pinto horse might look like. Brown splotches with white splotches. Pinto worked for me.

Patch was about 15 hands high. That would make him 60’’ in people units. But once I was asaddle, from my eyes to the ground look more like 600”. It was a fer piece down. But off we went in a tail to nose line, 8 of us with Samantha in the lead and me somewhere in the middle. We moseyed along on a wide, flat dirt trail, plenty of grassland all round, a wide-open space.

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Then Samantha took a right turn toward the mountains. The trail narrowed and started to rise. The trail narrowed some more and got steeper. I realized we were now in one of those previously mentioned draws. The smooth dirt trail became a landmine of rocks, broken off branches, even a few entire fallen trees. Although Patch was going at a snail’s pace, it was too fast. Plus, his hooves seemed to catch on every possible thing, causing us to stumble our way up the crevasse. I looked down at all the jagged rocks and spear-like branches that would pierce my skull leaving me drooling for life if I fell, if I survived the fall.

Fear.

I now understood fear. My heart was pounding. My sweaty palms clutched the saddle horn in a death grip, the horn’s raison d’etre becoming entirely clear.

This “beginner’s ride” continued like this for what seemed like 20-30 miles before we turned around. Good god, really? There’s no other way back? Going downhill, my saddle horn was almost useless. I grabbed the back of the saddle with one hand and avoided looking down.

Eventually the wide, smooth trail greeted us like a long lost friend. We headed back to the ranch with me still in the saddle. David must be wondering where I am, I thought. I hoped they save me some lunch. You work up an appetite riding for hours. I could eat a horse (no offense, Patch.)

Lynn met us at the stable and helped me dismount.

“How was your first ride?” she asked all smiles, without a hint of irony.

Once my knees straightened out and some of the arthritic agony subsided, I gave a feeble “just fine” before hobbling off to the dining room. It was empty. The hostess came up and told me lunch wouldn’t start until noon. Noon? I finally looked at my watch. It was 10:15. The ride across the Great Divide was less than two hours? You gotta be kidding!

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A week of similar trail rides did nothing to quell my fear, but I boarded Patch every morning. I wasn’t going to be defeated.

Once back in Asheville, I pondered that equine fear. I didn’t like it one bit. So I took the bull by the horns, or, in this case, the horse by the reins and signed up for horseback riding lessons.

For two years now, I climb back in the saddle Tuesdays and Thursdays and ride in a ring or head out on the trail with my excellent and patient and wise instructor. Remembering where I started two years ago, I’ve made good progress. I have more skill, confidence and horse awareness. But I’ve also learned that a horse can spook and become a wild creature at a moment’s notice. An out-of-place water bucket becomes a panther waiting to pounce. A flapping raincoat becomes a swooping pterodactyl with horse-grabbing talons.

Here’s the irony: a horse has more fear than I do! He fears everything. He is a total prey animal.

So, we’re quite a pair. Fear riding fear. But twice a week my lesson horse Randall and I team up to face our demons. Together we give each other the courage to deal with those lurking panthers head on.

Randall and Ginny

Has my initial fear disappeared? Hell no. Has it diminished? Some days yes, some days, not so much. Am I okay with that? Yes.

In a few weeks, we head back to Wyoming for another week of challenging trails. Every morning I’ll atop my trusty steed and head for the hills. We’ll stumble along rocky ravines, trot alongside the Platte, and even canter a bit along wide smooth parts of the trail, facing fear one ride at a time.

Ginny

 

Summer… Not So Sure The Living Is Easy!

It is harder to be fabulousover60 in the summer. Fabulous is all about serenity, generosity, friendship, peacefulness, calm waters and being focused on what is most important in one’s life. That of course and wearing great clothes and shoes. Looking fabulous on the beach is just not happening for most of us. And that is just the start of summer blues.

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No one likes politics before an actual election other than the real rabid “true believers”. With a 2016 presidential election coming up, this 2015 summer is filled with clutter, nonsense, and false crisis moments – not to mention Donald Trump. Current nastiness and ridiculousness ruins our sanity and sense of propriety. We likely are the last generation to feel any sense of propriety about anything. That is likely more than OK, but for now, we do find it irksome and insulting to our sense of what we feel is appropriate “presidential election politics” and civilized dialogue/debate.

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Climate change has messed with everything. Much hotter or colder days, more rain or no rain, drought or floods. Not to mention burned out barbecues and that good idea gone bad: constant outdoor eating – not on just gorgeous verandas with food appropriately covered and a lovely summer breeze, but anyplace anytime even if it is stifling – on a city street corner or a relative’s “deck” (or now outdoor kitchen/dining room) that really needs much more shade and a few more feet of space.

Too much sun is getting as scary as ice patches. We are now at the age where, though we may love boating or other summer sports, we know too many people (including ourselves) that are having this that or the other removed from our skin. Bill just had some cancer cells scraped off his head (and I see most of you nodding). We spend way too much on sunblock and other preventive measures and yet are not 100% comfortable in any intense sun situation. Then there is the non-fabulous/always unattractive look of people in protective hats.

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Finally there are the family vacations, weddings, beach events with children, and all that comes with no school, and today’s sense that every event needs to be a happy experience and as perfect as possible. In 1958 we grabbed our swim suits, shorts and a fly swatter and hit the cabin or the beach bungalow. We kids played in the lake or in the water/beach and otherwise solved giant puzzles or read books/played cards in or outside.

Today’s vacations and family get-togethers seem to require a Ph.D. in psychology plus a tolerance for near constant chaos. Today’s family outing includes 6 to 12+ people, all with personal phones and other devices, sophisticated sports equipment, dietary restrictions, elaborate safety equipment and different desires to fit in play dates, learning something new, spa time, yoga, swimming, meditating or whatever else is key to someone’s personal well-being and happiness.

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This current state of affairs is no one’s fault – just life in the 21st century. We can attempt to tap down extremes, but we will never go back to the summers where the most excitement was catching fireflies in jars with a small hole in the top and everyone eating whatever was served at the same time with zero commentary.

We don’t want or need the good old days. But we do need to relax and put our noses into our Kindles or books and read some great literature or serious non-fiction (consider anything from Lynn Olson). As well as take quiet (or strenuous) walks in shaded parks when we can – and plan some special time with our friends. Essentially we need to “stay on our own yoga mats” as a spiritual friend calls minding our own business. Detaching is often a struggle but key to our retaining some fabulous feelings about ourselves and others in the summer fun.

Hopefully we don’t start panicking about “the holidays” looming too soon. It is still summer. Pass the sun block and keep on your earplugs.

Patty

mature woman sitting on rock watching sunset over sea

 

Are Keeping Times and Dates Hopelessly Old-fashioned?

Scene one: Summer 1955 – more than half of all Americans report going to religious services in the last 7 days. Sunday morning at the Gill household. Up for church early to also make sure we get a place on Jones Beach in Long Island by 9:30 AM. Wake up time? 6:30 AM.

loud ringing chrome alarm clock

Scene two: 1965 family event of any type – picnic, barbecue, birthday party, meeting cousins and aunt at swimming pool. Time the hostess has said to arrive: 2:00 PM. Time of our family of 4 arrives at event? 2:05 PM give or take 2 minutes.

Scene three: 1979 DDI International home office in Pittsburgh. Place fellow blogger Cathy and I met. Meeting start time: 11:15 AM. Time we all arrived for the meeting? 11:05-11:10 AM.

Scene four: 1989 – meeting friend for drinks at restaurant in midtown Manhattan – her job in CT mine in Westchester County, NY. Each roughly 1.5 hours away requiring several types of transportation. Time we are meeting: 6:00 PM. Time we each arrive? Between 5:55 PM and 6:05 PM.

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Now dear FabulousOver60 sisters – before you say what I think you are going to say: “Damn right we were on time – that is the way it was and always should be. We made commitments and we KEPT them”, let’s consider a few things.

True. But remember the culture and the lack of technology made it very difficult to change plans. Plans were made, set and done “in ink on the calendar”. Changing one’s mind would involve inconveniencing someone else and this was something that simply was not considered appropriate. Besides, how would this be accomplished? Multiple phone calls? Well that was tough to do. You made a plan you kept to the plan – only death (your own or someone VERY close) would allow you to not show up on time and ready for the planned work or play activity.

Enter people 50 and younger – gen X and Y. Planning, commitments and getting together have always been a bit more haphazard for them. Yes, dinner was at 6 – but sometimes 7 – and then sometimes it was take out. Parents got divorced, businesses went bankrupt, work was sometimes easy and other times impossible to find – the world was not as rules-conscious with clear expectations as the world we were raised in.

So it’s dinner time at their house – they suggested – 6ish. You arrive at their home/apt at 6:15 PM and someone might be in the shower or suggesting that something came up and we’re all going out to dinner. There is a plan to meet for lunch at a fun sushi place at 1 PM before the show. Text arrives at 12:45 PM – “confusion – not going to make it – meet you at show”. “We are coming Friday morning” – that would be anytime on Friday between 10 AM and 3 PM.

Before you say it: “Right Patty, they all are a bunch of selfish, selfie-taking rude people who don’t keep any commitments to anyone but themselves”. Let me suggest, that the reason younger people flow this way is because our current culture flows this way and has been breaking down formalities and rules for decades. Most of us loved changing the world back in 1964 and 1974. We just didn’t think it would change quite THIS MUCH. More equality for women – we are IN on that. Women acting as crude and stupid as only men used to do, actually doesn’t seem right to us.

The scenarios at the beginning of this post were NOT the rule for generation X or Y. Their parents/elders, us boomers, were not as rigid and demanding as our parents were. What we didn’t foresee was everything demanding complete obedience and conformity then; anyone can do anything anytime and that’s okay. We wanted to be treated with a little respect. Now no one treats anyone with any particular respect one way or the other – we don’t love it. We “got” rules – we just wanted them to be a bit more flexible, not completely thrown out the window.

Phones and other devices make it easy and without consequence to change one’s mind and plans – and do it without having to explain or talk to someone face to face. Hurting someone’s feelings – a great taboo for boomers, hasn’t been around for a LONG time though we hung on to it. Everyone is supposed to be OK with that. But many of us boomers do get hurt and do not get people’s comfort with every person for themselves. We envy (or detest?) younger people’s blasé way of handling the constant shuffling of agendas and the freedom to do/not do just what they want anytime they want.

If you are FabulousOver60, let me suggest you keep expecting compliance with times and dates from your contemporaries you really know well and who share your standards. But, realize even many boomers are getting used to ‘anything goes’ – don’t be surprised if your sister Susan doesn’t show up at your 49th anniversary party; or a new friend you just met at a charity event shows up an hour late for a cocktail party starting at 6:30 PM. There is an avalanche of all of us letting ourselves off the hook for anything and everything that is pretty frightening.

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Yes, times HAVE changed and we have two choices (more but this post must end soon). Make plans only with those who share our style. Or realize, when we make plans with those not our style, (like daughters, sons, nieces and nephews, business acquaintances or new friends from a club or religious group) accept that the chances of plans changing is now near 85%-99%. Invest less in the plan so when it does change you are less disappointed. That’s a bit depressing I know, but in some ways who needed to do all the cleaning, planning and dusting for every guest who would cross our doors or to pick an outfit to wear weeks in advance? All this ‘anything goes’ isn’t perfect, but maybe we can start to take ourselves off our own hooks and go with the flow a bit more.

Not with me though – you say 11 on the 20th at a mutually convenient Starbucks, you better be there at 11. Somehow, I am not worried – we’ll both be there – dressed appropriately.

Patty

Please share this with people – we need to come to common ground!

An Open Letter To My Friend Patty: Get An iPad*!

I now own my second iPad. And you, my dear friend Patty, continue to tell me that you are thinking about buying one. If you make your purchase anytime soon, you will join the 250 million of us who have already purchased some version of the iPad since its introduction in April of 2010… a little over 5 years ago.

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We are not affiliated with nor paid by Apple

Why spend money on an iPad, you tell me, when you have a laptop that is portable. Why learn another device, you say, when you are comfortable with your laptop. And, of course, you have an iPhone.

The truth is, I’ll admit that you don’t really need an iPad. It’s much more of a luxury than a necessity these days. It’s kind of “in-between” a laptop and a phone. But, there are still some reasons I think you should consider it.

I know you well enough to know that you travel a lot, and plan to travel more. You are a voracious reader – books, magazines, articles and newspapers. You work on your laptop computer for business purposes, but not as much as you used to. You keep up with the latest news and movie reviews. In short, you are a busy semi-retired vibrant intelligent up-to-date woman who is on the move a lot and deserves to have the best of all technologies. (Did that last sentence sway you?)

Here are some things that are nicer and easier for me with an iPad:

  • Traveling. It’s lighter than a laptop, has some really great cover options, and even has lightweight keyboards that can be attached to make email or blog writing easier in planes or hotel rooms. And I can watch videos or movies in those same planes and hotel rooms.
  • Reading books, emails and newspapers. I can access any reading material I want – anytime and anywhere. And the screen is large enough for my eyes. I can even adjust fonts and letter sizes. I prop it up next to me when I’m having breakfast and sometimes take it to bed with me. (Yes, I’ve seen the latest studies about electronic devices and their impact on sleep. Don’t judge me!!)

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  • Seeing the grandkids’ photos on Facebook. Yes, I can check my phone. But it’s just a lot clearer and more enjoyable to stalk the family on a larger screen while sitting out on my deck or at the dentist’s office.
  • Checking information when watching TV or movies at home. What is Pierce Brosnan’s net worth (I can dream, can’t I?) What is the name of that actress in that movie that was directed by that guy who was married to that woman? Critical things like that.
  • Watching videos that Ray doesn’t want to watch. Orange is the New Black, for example, isn’t anywhere on his radar. But I can stream it on my Netflix app, sitting or lounging anywhere around the house, while he listens to music streamed from his new Sonos app – conveniently located, of course, on his iPad.

So, what apps do I use most on my iPad? Facebook, certainly. But also Netflix, iBooks, Email, Google Earth, CNN Breaking News, The Weather Channel… and about 20 others from time to time. (The one I don’t use is FaceTime. It’s just too depressing to see my face that large on the screen!)

Yes, iPads aren’t cheap. Depending on the amount of memory you want and the Wi-Fi and phone data network options you choose, it will cost you between $500 and $1000. (You can get an iPad mini for around $400, but why would you?)

You’ll also need to spend a little money hiring a teenager to set it up for you**.

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Is an iPad a necessity? No. A luxury? Yes. But, as a fabulous woman, don’t you deserve luxury? Of course you do!

Think about it, girlfriend!

Cathy Green

* I think iPads are pretty cool, but there are other “tablets” to consider if you really want to complicate your purchase decision.

**As an alternative to the teenager, there is an iPad for Seniors Dummies book… which apparently is a more dumbed-down version of iPad for Dummies. Sad, huh?

*** We are not affiliated with nor paid by Apple

 

Simplify Your Life – Again!

We are currently in the process of selling our home in Pennsylvania. Naturally I keep noticing items that can and should be tossed or given away. Books are something all fabulousover60 women grew up with, often treasured, and still gain comfort from. For obvious reasons, most future home owners will have fewer books to toss. Hopefully they won’t instead have 1,000 out of date technology products to sort out that are as much prone to clutter and harder to pick up and reminisce about.

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While scanning the guest room for clutter, there it was – Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways To Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter by Elaine St. James. Copyright? 1994. I sat down and re-read the quick read considering how technology has impacted a number of suggestions, but happily realizing the vast majority of suggestions were still absolutely relevant.

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I got curious. What happened to Elaine St. James, the rather glamorous former realtor turned “simple liver” who with her husband honed down her life and kept it simple. Simple in ways as varied as minimal clothing and shoes, healthy sensible food, many less obligations and friendships that added pressure but not grace to one’s life. From reading a NY Times article I figured out she is about 72 now. Hopefully she is still happy, healthy and living in Santa Barbara, California – which is a sensational place to be regardless of lifestyle.

Seems Elaine kept writing – all about various aspects of simplifying your life. Goodreads has 25 of her books listed – and on Amazon she has an author page with multiple books but no photo. Finally found a relatively current website that has a variety of authors and articles where an article she wrote and a photo were published.

It appears that she has come to a place where she is known through her work and not her current personal/professional life. She does not have a Facebook page nor is she on LinkedIn. Her position as the guru of living a simple, less fast-tracked life seems to have faded as many younger gurus and sites like The Frugal Cottage, Zen Habits.net and tidying guru Marie Kondo have their own fresh take on the “simple life” and are younger generations’ sources of seasoned wisdom and thought.

living

Though loving her book back in the 90s, I didn’t take much of her advice in my 40s and 50s. But I always thought about it in part because of Elaine St. James. Her work and my inner guide was always urging me to try scaling down and back in ways that made sense for me. I know that in the future there will be more loss, letting go, tossing out and honing down – some of which I won’t like. Some of which I will deal with more successfully because of Elaine’s work

I don’t think I need to read the new gurus of simplicity, though I can always learn something new. I think I got the message loud and clear from sitting in my guest room re-reading Elaine St. James’s book. The packaging changes, the essence of truth doesn’t.

Let’s hope our younger friends, children, relatives, and sister citizens are reading today’s simplicity gurus – and it is OK if they ignore most of their outstanding advice as we obviously did. When they get to be fabulous over 60 they’ll have memories and reminders of having heard and seen from newer gurus how to address shared issues of living: slowing down, making choices, and doing/buying only what is truly important.

I am hoping to run into Elaine on a future visit to Santa Barbara. My sense is, that like most of us now, she won’t mind a few minute chat since she has smartly exited from social media madness leaving more time for face to face connection. What happened to Elaine St. James? What happened to us? She/we got older, wiser and are using the expertise she lived and wrote about. Good for her. Good for us.

Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown Santa Barbara

Patty

 

In The 50’s, Crackers Were Saltines

While shopping for crackers to accompany a cheese and charcuterie* platter for guests, I was reminded just how many choices we have these days – especially compared to the 1950’s.

Crackers back then were saltines. Remember?

saltines

Not anymore. Since I knew that there would be gluten-frees and wheat-frees at our party (and some lactose-frees, too, no doubt), I thought that shopping at the local gourmet market would be my best bet.

There were 10 shelves of crackers. The choices were overwhelming. Should I buy wheat or rice or sesame or organic or whole grain vegan crackers? Should some of them be gluten-free or wheat-free or grain-free? How about multi-grain, 8-grain, 5-grain, rye, flaxseed, pepper, sea salt, almond flour, asagio cheese, cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese crackers? And, would any non-dieters eat the jalapeno macaroni and cheese crackers?

This headache-inducing exercise in choice made me realize how much easier and faster it must have been for my parents to shop for food in the 50’s. My mother was a terrible cook (see my previous blog post about this subject). My dad would do the grocery shopping using her list. He would buy what she wanted, but would always return with other things, too. In retrospect, it was probably his way of making sure there was something edible in the house at all times.

Here are some of the things I remember about eating at home in the 50’s:

  • There was no such thing as pasta. We ate spaghetti. Covered with red sauce from a jar.
  • Meatloaf and pork chops were weekly staples. Served with mashed potatoes and gravy and succotash (corn and lima beans). Mom would throw in another “healthy” starch once in a while just to jazz up the meal.
  • Pizza was from a box. Pre-made dough, red sauce and parmesan cheese in little packets. (I looked it up. Pizza Hut wasn’t around until 1958 and even then, my parents seemed to have missed it).
  • My dad didn’t like salads. End of story.
  • Yogurt wasn’t invented yet. Or, at least, we didn’t know anything about it.
  • Chicken was always fried. Actually, deep fried. (Just writing this reminds me of that greasy oil smell in the kitchen that lingered for days).

fryer

  • Speaking of oil, there was no palm, sunflower, avocado, sesame, coconut or extra virgin olive oil in our house. Mom used Wesson.
  • Bread was white. Sliced and packaged in plastic. White bread went into everything (like turkey stuffing at Thanksgiving) and could be served with anything (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on two pieces of white bread served as my lunch in grade school and high school).
  • Breakfast was cereal and milk. Period. (Lactose intolerant? What was that?)
  • Fruit was either sliced pineapple or mixed fruit – both from cans in syrup.
  • “Pop” (sodas) all contained sugar. Coke was our favorite because it was so healthy according to the Coca-Cola Company’s ads.

coke a cola

Now that I think about it, I’m glad mom wasn’t a good cook. I would probably have weighed 400 pounds at my high school graduation.

Despite the occasional shopping frustrations, I like today’s choices – both the quantity and the quality of the food I can buy and the stores where I can buy them.

But I am trying to imagine what Dad would have done in one of today’s gourmet groceries with a list from my mom that included “crackers”.

Cathy Green

*Charcuterie … a fancy, French word for cold meats. I’m confident that this is a word no one in my family ever used in the 50’s.

 

On This Father’s Day: Things I Wish I Knew About My Dad

It has been 27 years since I’ve had a dad to call on Father’s Day. He was 60 when he died of a massive heart attack. I was 38 years old and at my home in Pittsburgh when I received the call from a neighbor telling me about the ambulance. An hour later, there was a call from my brother.

I was a career woman, traveling around the country and caring intensely about things that from my current over-60 vantage point don’t seem very important. I was shocked at his death. I was a daddy’s girl from an early age and couldn’t believe he would no longer be around for me.

daddys_girl_pic_2

I hadn’t seen him for awhile. I moved away when I was 21 and began my life in St. Louis, then on to Detroit, then Pittsburgh. I visited twice a year, and called every couple of weeks. My dad would always answer, we’d have a happy, short conversation and then he’d say “Here’s your mom”.

He grew up in a large family of 7 … the oldest child … with a strict German father. He did well in school, but didn’t go to college. He worked hard. He loved his mom. He was a good son. He thought people should make their own way in the world and had no use for “slackers” or those who looked for handouts. He had a great voice, sang in the church choir and in a barbershop quartet, worked as a savings and loan manager, had a hearty laugh, drank Manhattans, loved bratwurst, enjoyed Cincinnati Reds baseball games, cut the grass with his push mower, went to church every Sunday, fell asleep on the couch watching football and enjoyed his two packs of Pall Malls every day.

And, he loved his middle daughter who shared his love of the English language, enjoyed going to the symphony, sang in the children’s choir, did well in school and wanted to go to college. We even ate Limburger cheese together!

He was also a mystery to me. He didn’t like to talk about himself. When I was young I didn’t care, of course, since life was all about me anyway.

Now, I wish I had known him better. I wish I had learned more about what his childhood was like. I wish I knew if he was happy with the life he chose. I wish I knew more about his friends, his relationships with his brothers and sisters and his father, his time in the service and his choice of my mom. I don’t know if he would have answered my questions, but I wish I had asked.

Francis Joseph (“Joe”) Pille on a trip to Hawaii, 1983

Francis Joseph (“Joe”) Pille on a trip to Hawaii, 1983

But, growing up, we didn’t ask things like that in our family. Dad was dad and that was it.

Once, when we were talking on the phone and he was having a coughing spell, I asked him in frustration   “Dad, why don’t you quit smoking? It’s going to kill you!” I will always remember that he laughed and said …”Honey, everyone has to die of something!” And, he did.

Every Father’s Day, I wish I could call him.

Interestingly, I married a man much like my dad. He doesn’t share a lot of information about himself with his two daughters.

I hope they get to know him better… before they can’t.man

Cathy Green



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