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I recently was invited to something called a “sprinkle”…and I honestly had no clue what it was. My first thought was perhaps it was a party held outside in the rain.

Through some research, I learned that a sprinkle is a baby shower held for a couple’s second baby. I guess it’s because it’s not as large scale as a shower for a first baby.

All I can say is when it comes to buying things for babies, I’m pretty much clueless. I learned this the last time I was invited to a baby shower, which was about four years ago. Prior to that, I hadn’t been to a baby shower since Nixon was president. Back then, expectant mothers didn’t know the sex of their babies in advance, so most newborn babies started their lives wearing various shades of yellow or green.

But at the shower four years ago, the couple knew they were having a girl, so I set out to buy some cute little girly things for the baby. Everything for baby girls, I soon discovered, was pink – pale pink, neon pink, dark pink, flamingo pink – pink as far as the eye could see. After a while, I actually found myself searching for pastel yellows and greens, just to break up the monotony. I finally decided to buy something practical instead, something non-pink – like diapers.

“Are they going to use disposables or go the organic, eco-friendly route and use cloth diapers?” the sales clerk asked me.

“I don’t know,” I said, shrugging.

“Cloth diapers are making a big comeback,” she said, “they don’t harm the environment. I heard that a thousand years from now, today’s disposable diapers still will be sitting completely intact in landfills.”

The vision of a mountain of old, used, disposable diapers that popped into my mind wasn’t an attractive one. However, I also had a flashback to my high school days when I used to babysit, and all diapers were made of cloth…and sat soaking in smelly diaper pails. They also had to be secured with safety pins, which became potentially lethal weapons when the baby was squirming.

So I decided to forget about the diapers and buy a case of baby food instead. After all, I reasoned, all babies had to eat at some point. I checked the jars and they were dated far enough in advance so the baby probably would have a full set of teeth by the time they expired.

“Are you sure the mother-to-be isn’t planning to make her own baby food?” the same clerk asked me. “A lot of mothers are doing that nowadays, to make certain everything is 100 percent fresh and natural.”

Again, I had to say I didn’t know. Years ago, babies were fed strained peas, strained carrots and strained beef right out of jars. Nothing fancy, and it probably was loaded with salt – which, from what I’ve recently heard, now is strictly taboo (I’ll bet if babies could talk, however, they’d be begging for the salt).

“I thought I’d just buy a case of a famous-brand baby food,” I said. “I ate it when I was a baby, and I grew up just fine.”

“Well…if you’re certain the mother isn’t intending to make her own baby food,” the clerk said, arching an eyebrow.

It became pretty obvious to me that the clerk wasn’t working on commission.

I then noticed a selection of baby shoes – adorable little sneakers, Mary Janes, even cowboy boots – all so tiny, they looked like dolls’ shoes. I immediately fell in love with all of them. It took me quite a while to decide, but I finally selected a pair of tiny white leather sneakers that had a swirl of sparkly pink crystals on each side. They, I felt, were guaranteed to be “ooh-worthy” at the baby shower.

As I was holding them up and admiring them, a female customer who was looking at baby socks a couple feet away, smiled and said to me, “Those are adorable!”

I smiled back. “Yes, aren’t they the cutest?”

“Too bad they’re such a waste of money,” she said. “I mean, it’s not as if a newborn baby is going to be walking anywhere, not for months, so why does it need shoes? It’s kind of like buying a toothbrush for a goldfish!”

At that moment, I fully understood why gift cards were invented.

 

Sally Breslin is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” Contact her at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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  • author_first Sally
  • introduction

    The vision of a mountain of old, used, disposable diapers that popped into my mind wasn’t an attractive one. However, I also had a flashback to my high school days when I used to babysit, and all diapers were made of cloth…and sat soaking in smelly diaper pails.

  • publish_date_month July
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Breslin
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One of my least favorite bumper stickers is ASK ME ABOUT MY GRANDKIDS for a couple of reasons: First it is a presumptuous request. OK, I suppose if the driver’s grandchildren graduated Harvard as 12 and 14 year olds, or better yet have appeared on “Master Chef-Junior” the sticker is appropriate. Otherwise I’d rather see ASK ME ABOUT SELLING STOCKS SHORT.

Reason number 2 is that if I had the chutzpah to slap on the ASK ME ABOUT MY GRANDCHILDREN bumper sticker, my awkward answer would be when someone asked: “Yeah I know that I look old enough to have grandchildren, I have thinning hair, a well-hidden but significant hearing aid, and wrinkles that scream out “collecting Social Security.” I am 66, but in fact I DO NOT YET HAVE GRANDCHILDEN so stop asking me”

I was an old dad, being 40 and 43 when my boys Craig and Matt were born. My classmates who are grandads have kids 8 to 12 years older than mine. Thus my non-granddad status. I don’t think that as a non-granddad that I am missing a life affirmation as I did when my wife and I were childless. But right now we can only spoil our dog Cookie. It would be nice to have that three-generational presence in my life so our gifts wouldn’t be chewed up.

I miss the existential calm of knowing I will have a lengthening family tree branch. I tend to lessen my grandparenting envy by imagining the pitfalls of grandparenthood. Take babysitting for instance. Grandparenting babysitting is great for retirees who have from 10 to “enough already” free hours weekly.

Sure, babysitting assures that your grandchildren will address you as “gramps,” “papa” or “grandpa” instead of “who are you.” But this practice could take away time otherwise devoted to building birdhouses, or collecting both Bigfoot and carbon footprints. Grandparents can satisfy their wanderlust by just taking the grandkids along on cruises. A couple of Disney cruise heads- up though: Don’t book character tables for all breakfasts as Goofy will eventually be unnerving, and don’t buy your grandkids the “all the soda you can drink“ package.

I’ll deal with these pitfalls – real or imagined –  and hopefully be a meaningful granddad, not just a patriarch on the family treetop. Right now, conventional wisdom, at least on TV, is that meaningful grandfathering is active, touch football playing grandfathering. I am impressed by my friends who are engaged in frolicking grandparenting like in the Celebrex ads. One friend mentioned that he went trick or treating with his grandchildren in full costume. Other friends treat their kids and grandkids to a weekend at an indoor all-inclusive waterpark resort in mid-winter. As a sucker for indoor pools and fake Hawaiian décor, this three-generational splash-in is appealing rather than claustrophobic.

I fear though I will be too old to do hands-on, active, three-generational events with my grandchildren. I can envision that my go-to intergenerational activity will be hosting family sit-down dinners in my senior living quarters dining room. Hopefully my grandkids will enjoy salt-free foods. This was my dad’s standard grandparenting event once he moved into Hebrew Senior Life when my kids were 12 and 9.

I do hope though that I can better Dad and have the wherewithal to orchestrate active family events. I would like to babysit my potential grandchildren, provided I don’t need my own sitter. Yet I understand that hands-on grandparenting is not the only scheme in the grandparenting playbook. My dad showed me this.

Though my dad,  because of his age, did not engage in immersive, hands-on grandparenting, he demonstrated that you are never too late to do meaningful grandparenting, My nephew mentioned to his grandfather (my dad) that at age 20 he wanted a bar mitzvah. My dad at age 94, took this request and ran with it. Several months later in the function room of dad’s Hebrew Senior Life complex, my nephew was called to a portable Torah in front of 80 or so guests. Due to his age, dad delegated many of the tasks, but he footed the bill and was the impetus for this event. He sat in his wheelchair and took in a perfect grandfatherly moment. He died about 6 months later, leaving a wonderful grandfatherly legacy. I know all his 4 grandchildren were touched by this unique event.

I hope I can ,if lucky enough to achieve grandfatherhood, proudly affix this bumper sticker: ASK ME ABOUT OLDER GRANDPARENTING, to either my car or my walker.

 

Meet Bill

Additional Info

  • author_first Bill
  • introduction

    Sure, babysitting assures that your grandchildren will address you as “gramps,” “papa” or “grandpa” instead of “who are you.” But this practice could take away time otherwise devoted to building birdhouses, or collecting both Bigfoot and carbon footprints.

  • publish_date_month July
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Levine
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Superstition has it that wearing garlic around your neck will make the vampires leave you alone. Honestly, if you wear garlic around your neck, everyone will leave you alone. But eating garlic is another story. Nearly every culture on Earth has a recipe or two that includes garlic, either a little bit for flavor or a lot as the main ingredient. There seems to be no in between with garlic – some folks, like vampires, wrinkle up their noses and back away. The rest of us adore the aroma and flavor.

Garlic is easy and fun to grow – for every clove you plant, you'll harvest a full-sized head filled with cloves. To get beautiful garlic heads that will store well into the winter, plant the cloves in the fall, right around Labor Day. The idea is to get the cloves in the ground during warm weather for good root formation. It is good sign when you get green shoots peeking above the soil in late autumn. Don't worry, garlic can tolerate frost. Don't plant garlic from the supermarket as it has been treated not to sprout. Get your "seed" garlic from a good local nursery or an internet supplier.

When you're ready to plant your garlic, carefully break it into individual cloves. It is best to do this right at planting time so the cloves don't dry out. Plant each clove, pointy end up, four to six inches deep (two inches of soil over the top of the clove, three inches for elephant garlic), leaving six inches between each clove. Garlic roots like to go deep, so well cultivated soil is a big help. Poke holes in the ground and drop one clove in each hole, covering up the entire batch with a rake at the end.

Plant the biggest cloves and eat the rest. Your garlic will send up green shoots this fall, go dormant over winter, and then continue growing next spring. After the leaves grow in June, a seed scape will form on top of the stem. Remove it so the extra energy can be used to grow a larger bulb. Eat these little morsels – they make a great stir fry vegetable.

Keeping garlic in the ground too long does not result in bigger bulbs, but rather dried out, split and nearly useless ones. Harvest the bulbs when the lower half of the leaves has turned brown. Test dig one or two plants. You should be able to see the shape of the cloves beginning to bulge through the wrapper. To get the bulb out of the ground, carefully loosen the soil around each plant with a pitchfork. Then you can lift out the whole plant.

Cure garlic bulbs before storing. The entire plant, leaves and all, should be dried out for two to three weeks. Do not wash the bulbs or expose them to water. Tie up a dozen bulbs with string or wire and hang them in a well-ventilated place. Or pack them loosely in a large mesh bag and hang them where they'll get a lot of air circulation. If you do find any that are molding, throw them away as quickly as possible. After the garlic is cured, cut off the tops an inch above the bulb and trim the roots.

Store the bulbs in a ceramic garlic keeper or a burlap bag. Do not store garlic in the refrigerator or it will try to sprout. Hardneck garlic and elephant garlic can be kept for several months. Softneck varieties tend to have a longer shelf life.

Eating garlic boosts the immune system, so eating lots of it can only do us good. When using garlic in recipes, remember that the smaller you cut it, the stronger the flavor. Chopping finely or pressing a clove exposes more surfaces to the air, causing a chemical reaction to produce that strong aroma and flavor. Try not to burn garlic – it will become bitter.

If anything that includes garlic gives you the dreaded garlic breath, try chewing fresh mint leaves or parsley to help neutralize the odor. But if you really want to ward off the vampires, eat lots of garlic and breathe your garlic breath with pride.

 

Lori Rose, the Midnight Gardener, is a Temple University Certified Master Home Gardener and member of the GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators. She has gardened since childhood, and has been writing about gardening for more than 15 years.

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Additional Info

  • author_first Lori
  • introduction

    There seems to be no in between with garlic – some folks, like vampires, wrinkle up their noses and back away. The rest of us adore the aroma and flavor.

  • publish_date_month July
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Rose
  • Column_Title The Midnight Gardener
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“That is so cool. I wish my husband dressed like that.”

I looked around, wondering who was the subject of such a compliment. To my amazement the speaker was a woman in her 30s – and she had directed it at me!

I had just walked into the Talking Stick Casino near Scottsdale, Arizona, to play poker. And that morning I had donned my usual outfit which included black pants, black shirt, leather Larry Mahan boots, a western hat and a serape I had picked up in New Mexico.

I had suffered a heart attack over a year ago and had lost about 30 pounds while recovering from it. Result: most of my clothes were too big for my new skinny frame. The Mexican serape helped conceal that fact and that was why I wore it.

I stammered a thanks for the compliment, but I made a mental note that I really needed a new wardrobe.

After a man hits retirement age, he turns into one of two things: he either forgets about fashions feeling he is pretty invisible to the world, or he becomes a fashion plate, determined to recapture the youthful image age caused him to leave behind.

When I was a young journalist in my 20s and 30s, I had a big collection of suits, sports jackets, slacks and ties. I wanted to look perfect when I covered a breaking story or went on an interview for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner or People magazine.

Even when I covered the student riots in Watts or East Los Angeles, I was one of the best-dressed people on the scene. The Black Panthers and Brown Berets took time from burning flags or throwing rocks to admire my wardrobe.

“You cool, man,” one member of the Black Panther Party said, removing his shades. “I gotta say that for you even though you work for a ------ (unprintable) newspaper.” I thanked him and took notes.

My wardrobe had been depleted after I spent five years working on three islands in the Caribbean. The tropical weather made it nearly impossible to wear a suit during the summer months and I reduced myself to wearing light slacks and a tropical shirt like the other island residents and tourists. By the time my work permit expired and I headed back to the states, I had no wardrobe to speak of.

Men over 65 need a fashion adviser to help them decide what to wear. There is no question that most of us are caught in a time warp when it comes to selecting clothing.

I have received quite a few compliments on my serape over the past year. It helps that I live in Phoenix and spend a lot of my time in Scottsdale which has always had a western atmosphere.

But I am starting to get a bit tired of the Clint Eastwood look. I recently visited a western clothing shop and spoke to my friend who owns the place. He is getting in a new shipment of fashionable western suits in the next two weeks and promised to call me when they arrived.

All I can say is, look out world. The Serape Kid is going to have a new look and it willdefinitely be cool.

Geno Lawrenzi Jr. is an international journalist who has worked in many parts of the United States as well as the Caribbean on newspapers and magazines. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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  • author_first Alan M.
  • introduction

    Even when I covered the student riots in Watts or East Los Angeles, I was one of the best-dressed people on the scene. The Black Panthers and Brown Berets took time from burning flags or throwing rocks to admire my wardrobe.

  • publish_date_month June
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Lawrenzi, Jr.
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Hot peppers are fun. Pepper plants in general, and hot pepper plants in particular, are so pretty that they are perfect for the vegetable garden, patio container, and the flowerbed.  Even the fruit is pretty, especially when left on the plant to turn yellow or red. Here's another reason to love hot peppers. By weight, hot peppers can contain 300 percent more vitamin C than an orange.

All hot peppers contain capsaicinoids, natural substances that produce a burning sensation in the mouth, causing the eyes to water and the nose to run. The primary capsaicinoid in peppers is capsaicin, which has no flavor or odor, but acts directly on the pain receptors in the mouth and throat. The more capsaicin a pepper has, the hotter it will be.

Heat is measured in Scoville units, how many parts capsaicin per million. One part per million is 15 Scoville units. Bell peppers (mildest) have zero, habanero peppers (hottest) can have over 300,000 Scoville units. Here is a list of peppers sorted from mildest to hottest: bell, poblano, jalapeno, wax, serrano, cayenne, Thai, habanero. A cayenne pepper can be up to ten times hotter than a jalapeno pepper, and a habanero pepper can be up to ten times hotter than a cayenne pepper. Keep this in mind when choosing a pepper plant for your garden, and when choosing a pepper for your favorite recipe.

Pepper plants love hot weather and lots of sun. You don't need a large garden to grow peppers, and they make pretty centerpieces in containers surrounded by flowers trailing over the edge of the pot. Here are some delicious hot peppers to grow in the garden or in containers.

“Mariachi” is a mildly hot (600 Scoville units) pepper that ripens from yellow to red but is used mostly when yellow. Named after the Mexican musical band that became popular in the mid-1800s. This aptly named pepper is as festive and colorful as a mariachi band.

“Fresno” peppers score 5,000 - 10,000 on the Scoville heat scale, growing hotter as they ripen from green to red. These peppers are beautiful in the garden, turning from green to orange to red. 

“Jaloro” is a jalapeno pepper that scores 20,000 - 25,000 on the Scoville heat scale. The fruit is starts out golden yellow before turning orange then red, making a lovely show on the compact plants.

The “Red Savina” habanero pepper is super-hot, at a whopping 300,000 - 580,000 Scoville units. Since it can be 20 times hotter than a jalapeno, wear gloves when handling this pepper, and take care not to touch your face until you remove the gloves.

There are several remedies for the effects of eating a pepper that is too hot for you. Try drinking tomato juice or eating a fresh lemon or lime, the theory being that the acid counteracts the alkalinity of the capsaicin. You can also try drinking milk (rinsing your mouth with it as you sip) or eating rice or bread, which absorb the capsaicin. Drinking water won't help, since the capsaicin, which is an oil, does not mix with the water. Water will spread the capsaicin around your mouth instead of diluting it.

Hot Sweet Habanero Chile Sauce is a unique hot sauce has a nice sweetness to balance the heat. Try it on grilled chicken or fish for a burst of flavor, or use it as a dip for veggies or chips.

10 habanero peppers, stemmed and seeded

4 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and seeded

4 Fresno chile peppers, stemmed and seeded

1 cup water

1 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup chopped sweet onion

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring

salt to taste

Puree the peppers in a blender until smooth. Add water, vinegar, onion, brown sugar, garlic powder, and liquid smoke to pureed peppers. Blend until liquefied, season with salt. Blend again. Pour sauce into a sterilized glass container with a tight seal; refrigerate overnight.

Pick yourself a perfect pepper, or pick plenty, and plant them on the patio for perfect pepper pleasure.

 

Lori Rose, the Midnight Gardener, is a Temple University Certified Master Home Gardener and member of the GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators. She has gardened since childhood, and has been writing about gardening for more than 15 years.

Meet Lori

Additional Info

  • author_first Lori
  • introduction

    Pepper plants love hot weather and lots of sun. You don't need a large garden to grow peppers, and they make pretty centerpieces in containers surrounded by flowers trailing over the edge of the pot. Here are some delicious hot peppers to grow in the garden or in containers.

  • publish_date_month June
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Rose
  • Column_Title The Midnight Gardener
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Dear Miss Nora: Please help me with this problem before I do something rash! My husband of decades is a kind and fun man. We are both retired now and have plenty of time to do
the things we love. We didn’t used to go to restaurants very often in the past. While we raised our children and had jobs, we didn’t have much time or money for such luxuries. But now with time on our hands and more money, we eat out at least once a week and the problem is becoming unbearable.

At the end of every meal, when the check comes, my husband scrutinizes it as if he’s auditing the restaurant’s books! He’ll even get out his calculator to go over the more problematic add-ons and extras.

I hate it. It’s offensive to me that my husband cares so little about how this looks and how embarrassed I am by his pettiness. I've repeatedly asked him not to do this but he won’t listen. Only two times in all the years we’ve eaten out has he come across a discrepancy and neither of them were substantial enough to warrant this act of meanness. Yet he recites those two incidences as proof that he needs to be this vigilant.

How do I make him stop? Because, if this can’t be resolved, I'm not going out to eat with him anymore! – Table for one? in Dallas
 

Dear Table for One: You do have a few options available to you. When the bill comes, excuse yourself from the table and inform your husband that you will wait for him in the car while he analyses the receipt. This doesn’t stop him from calculating every morsel of food but it does relieve you of having to watch the spectacle.

The other option is for you to pay the bill. Leave the table when you're both finished ordering and pay covertly before it’s brought to the table. If your husband complains let him know that it’s your way of managing his embarrassing behavior since politely asking him to stop has fallen on deaf ears.

Last, and this is a little naughty, refuse to sit with him at the restaurant. Request your own table and order at your leisure. If your husband complains, let him know that he can only sit with you if he promises not to scrutinize the bill when it comes. If he can’t (or wont) promise this, refuse to allow him to sit with you. Be assertive and possibly a little vociferous. Stick to your guns. Point out that your actions are no more embarrassing to him than his are to you. I'm confident he will see the error of his ways. 

 

Dear Miss Nora,: I'm struggling to keep my opinions to myself where my daughter is concerned. She just informed me that she is pregnant with her fifth child. I love all my grandchildren dearly, and she and her husband seem to be able to afford so many children, but I find it embarrassing to tell people that I am expecting another one. Surely this isn’t normal. How can I broach the subject of my daughter being more careful without hurting her feelings or causing a scene? — Overflowing with grandchildren in Seattle
 

Dear Overboard Overflowing: Every once in a while, I'm asked a question that defies belief. This is one such instance. Very simply put, your daughter’s choice to have a large family is none of your business. The ONLY time you should interfere and offer your opinion without being asked for it is if your daughter is unable to care for her children, unable to care for herself or unable to think of further names!

You don’t go into much detail about finances but I'm confident that your daughter and her husband have figured out that children aren’t free. Furthermore, I don’t know if your objection is that it’s too much for you to care for all of the grandchildren at once if you help babysit or have sleep overs. But if this is the case, ask to have two at a time instead of all at once.

However, what I do know is that if you voice your unsolicited opinion about something as personal as a woman’s choice to have the family she wants, you might end up not seeing any of them while your daughter recovers from your impertinence!

 

Nora will take requests for advice through email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Meet Miss Nora

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  • introduction

    Very simply put, your daughter’s choice to have a large family is none of your business. The ONLY time you should interfere and offer your opinion without being asked for it is if your daughter is unable to care for her children, unable to care for herself or unable to think of further names!

  • publish_date_month May
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Miss Nora
  • Column_Title Ask Miss Nora
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I recently read an article about the importance of  “stepping outside one’s comfort zone” by trying new things. The senior brain thrives on new experiences. It leads to the creation of neurons (commonly known as brain cells). This has a positive effect on cognition, from creative problem-solving to learning new skills. For instance, instead of knitting another scarf or baby booties, try a letter sweater — for your cat. Instead of ordering your standard cup of coffee, you might try a caffe mocha macchiato.

I confess to being resistant to new experiences. Nonetheless, I recently found myself ejected from my comfort zone and forced to deal with change. Last month, while stopped at a crosswalk, I was rear-ended by a Dodge Ram. Fortunately, I was not injured, although my Mini Cooper wagon was no match for the truck carrying a load of bricks and following too close while going too fast. My first thought was one of regret: Two days earlier I had paid an extra $4 at the car wash for an under-carriage rinse and wax.

At the crash scene, having given the police my information, I was allowed to drive the short distance home. Poor Monty (as I call my wagon) was in bad shape: Chunks of window glass and shards of tail light fell from the smashed-in rear doors. Inside, the dashboard lit up with symbols I’d never seen before. I really hoped the little guy could be saved.

For those who’ve been through the process, you know the drill: Call the insurance company, the body repair shop, the car rental agency. In one day I spoke to a dozen new people, some helpful, some not so much. The following day, a truck from the auto body garage arrived to take Monty away. Bobby the driver briefed me on rear-end crashes. Today it’s not the teenage drivers who are texting, he claimed; it’s adults. Today’s teens learn about the dangers of texting in drivers’ ed classes. Bobby said it's the middle-aged driver who’s guilty. These multi-tasking midlife motorists are not only texting while driving, they’re eating breakfast and applying make-up!

With Monty gone, I visited a local car rental. I told assistant manager Cecily what I didn’t want. I didn’t want all the electronic bells and whistles. I didn’t want a keyless vehicle whose sensors would sound an alarm if I got in without the appropriate gadget. I needed to keep it simple. “Something from the ‘50s,” I suggested. She led me outside. We stopped at an enormous white Jeep. “This is pretty basic,” Cecily said, opening the door so I could get in. I climbed up behind the wheel. After little Monty, it felt like boarding a school bus.

Cecily showed me the controls and gave me instructions on windows, lights, heat. Then she handed me a key and wished me luck. I bravely waved goodbye and turned on the ignition. The Jeep was parked on a hill and when I tried shifting into drive, it rolled downward. I tried again; it rolled more.

I pulled the emergency brake and raced back inside. Cecily had just sat down. “I’m rolling down the hill,” I gasped. Instead of rolling her eyes, she smiled kindly. I wondered what was in her coffee. We went back outside where she eased the Jeep down the hill. I took over while Cecily watched and waited, no doubt wondering what would happen next.

Miraculously, I drove away. What a novel feeling, sitting up high. Three days later I felt secure enough to turn on the radio. One month later (Monty had a lot of injuries) it was as if I’d always driven big rigs. The real challenge was in finding parking spaces.

Now Monty is back, mended like new. I think I’ve experienced my share of changes for awhile. Although I know my brain is the better for it, it’s nice to return to the familiar. When all is said and done, there’s nothing so comfortable as being inside your comfort zone.

 

Sharon Love Cook is the author of the Granite Cove Mysteries and the novel Phantom Baby, a “triple-A tale” of adultery, addiction and abduction. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Additional Info

  • author_first Sharon
  • introduction

    Today’s teens learn about the dangers of texting in drivers’ ed classes. Bobby said it's the middle-aged driver who’s guilty. These multi-tasking midlife motorists are not only texting while driving, they’re eating breakfast and applying make-up!

  • publish_date_month May
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Love Cook
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By now, how many of us have already broken any and all new year’s resolutions? I’ve decided that I’m just going to live by these 18 precepts and forgo any more new resolutions. It seems to be working. What do you think?

  1. Life isn’t fair, get over it.
  2. When you make a resolution, new Year’s or otherwise, take baby steps instead of trying to change everything all at one.
  3. Holding hate and grudges against others, hurts you and not them. Forgive, but don’t be stupid, it’s ok not to forget.
  4. It’s better to be happy than it is to be right.
  5. Eat in moderation most days. If you love chocolate, eat it, just don’t eat a 5 lb. box (at least not all in the same day).
  6. It’s futile to envy others, you don’t know what they really have or don’t have.
  7. You can’t fairly judge others unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
  8. Life is short, if you don’t like the book, don’t finish it.
  9. It’s ok to feel sorry for yourself, as long as it’s for a finite period of time. Then move on.
  10. If you do what you’ve always done, you will surely get what you’ve always had.
  11. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you want something, go get it. You are the only one stopping you.
  12. Others can make you unhappy, but only you can make yourself happy.
  13. Use the fine china. Wear the good jewelry. You can’t take it with you.
  14. Don’t wish away today assuming you’ll get to it when you’re old. If you want it, figure out how to do it now.
  15. Don’t forget the failures you’ve had for two reasons:  1) As you age, you’ll see how much smaller they were than you thought at the time, and  2) Each failure teaches you something, bringing you closer to success.
  16. If you’re not happy, change something.
  17. Ask for what you want, the worst they can do is say no Then you’re no worse off than before you asked…and they might just say yes.
  18. If you think you have nothing, be grateful for it anyway. There are plenty of people out there who would be grateful for what you don’t realize you do have.

 

Leslie is a 2015 Society of Newspaper Columnists award winner. She currently lives smack dab between Philadelphia and New York City with her husband, 3 dogs, a collection of fish, said husband's cockatoo which she's been trying to roast for dinner for the last 33 years, and a few occasional uninvited guests. LeslieGoesBoom.com.

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  • author_first Leslie
  • introduction

    13. Use the fine china. Wear the good jewelry. You can’t take it with you.

    14. Don’t wish away today assuming you’ll get to it when you’re old. If you want it, figure out how to do it now.

  • publish_date_month May
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Handler
  • Column_Title Leslie Goes Boom
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Where’s it written we have to look like a frump when we get to a certain age?  No, we can’t wear hair bows or spike heels, but darn if we can’t still look pretty good. Sure, the younger generation may be prettier and sprightlier, but we have maturity, grace and a great personality cultivated over the years. We can’t all be size 8 – and don’t have to be. Women are lovely in every shape and size. Personality is a plus, and well-thought-out fashion sense goes a long way in enhancing beauty.

Here’s where I upset a lot of ladies as I continue to rant about fashion for older ladies.  When did women begin to look like men? And why would a lady with healthy hips want to cram them into skin-tight jeans when a skirt flowing down those hips would hide a multitude of sins and be so flattering?

Yeah, yeah, I know pants are comfortable, but ask your husband. Bet you a chocolate sundae that he will tell you he likes you in dresses or suits with a pretty blouse or feminine jacket. He’ll also say he likes you in jeans and pants — once in a while. And if you don’t believe him or me just watch him as he checks out a lady in a pretty dress when she floats into his vision. He doesn’t take his eyes off her.

And for those spike heels that we have to forgo. There is a plethora of beautiful — and sexy — shoes with a modest heel that any of us can wear. And slides and wedge heels are “in” these days. While not the same as a pretty, sleek stiletto – which gives the leg a fabulous look –  a modest heel is still a viable option. A small heel is just as attractive to a lady’s leg and goes a long way in completing an outfit and showing off to perfection a flirty, floating hemline.

This spring, ruffles (at a minimum for us) and fabrics that float are in. And they are very feminine and look fabulous on our less than girlish figures. A pretty blouse with a bit of sparkle is okay, too.

As for those damn, unflattering pantsuits – how on earth does one manage in the ladies room (especially public restrooms that are often not as clean as they should be) without the hems dragging on an icky floor. Leave the pants to the male in your life and put on a dress.

I know a lovely lady who slipped into the “frump” stage when she reached a certain age. One day, several years after she had been widowed, she was attending a special event and I couldn’t keep my mouth shut another minute. I insisted she toss the plain beige, no-style dress she planned on wearing and wear something chic and elegant. She frowned.

I ignored her and we set off shopping. Even stopped by the lacy lingerie department. She frowned again. But I insisted she had to look just as nice on the inside as she did on the out. When she looked as if to defy me, I told her about my friend, Pat, who liked to shock folks with outrageous comments. She said, “My mother always said to wear nice underwear in case you are unlucky and get in an accident.” She’d grin and continue, “I say, wear pretty underwear in case you accidentally get lucky!”

The lady frowned at me, and my friend’s humor.

Anyway, I picked out this fabulous navy blue sheath dress — a silky, faintly slubbed fabric with a wide satin band around the waist that ended in two long satin ribbon-like pieces of fabric, shaped like the broad part of a necktie, that flowed down the side of the hip. It had a high enough neckline to flatter an older lady and long sleeves. It was perfect.

But she exclaimed, “I can’t wear that! It’s too fancy for me!” And she gave that satin flap a flip.

My turn to frown at her. “Remove that and you just have a plain navy dress. This adds pizzazz,” I said firmly. “It’s perfect. The inset satin band disguises any imperfections around your waist and the eye is drawn to that glamorous side sash.”

I won the battle of the elegantly chic dress — and  lingerie in a matching color!

Back home, we stood before a tall pier mirror. “Oh, my,” she breathed. “I can’t believe how I look.”

I couldn’t keep the smirk from my face, but I did refrain from crowing “Told you so!”

She paired that lovely dress with silver, strappy shoes with a small, slender heel, added her mother’s diamond earrings, and a necklace with silver and navy beads. I insisted she wear a diamond and sapphire ring that had been reposing in my jewelry box.  She looked fabulous. She even had her hair styled, ditching the look (at my insistence) she’d worn for 40 years.

That evening her date escorted her into the room and every head turned. What an entrance!  Her escort whispered, “Every man in the room just poked his fork in his eye because they were all looking at you!”

Older generation? This just proves you’re never too old to look lovely and to turn a few heads. Several ladies came over to speak to her and ask where she found the beautiful dress. Several of them had to give the swatch at her hip a little flip saying, “I just love this.” 

Oh, by the way, this lady was 80 years old. Which just proves, it doesn’t matter how old you are. A little fashion pizzazz and an attitude will carry you through any season.  

 

Meet Fern

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  • author_first Fern
  • introduction

    “My mother always said to wear nice underwear in case you are unlucky and get in an accident.” She’d grin and continue, “I say, wear pretty underwear in case you accidentally get lucky!”

  • publish_date_month May
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Smith-Brown
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I recently again experienced a possible option for punishment. It's commonly called back pain. I don't mean the typical aches and pains of sports or aging, but the knock-down, drag-out excruciating kind.

What fools these aging mortals could be. For example, I have been racewalking for exercise, and previously in competition for quite awhile. A number of years ago, my brilliance involved my trying four fast quarter-miles around the local high school track without properly stretching and doing flexibility exercises first. And this was the day before we were to leave for a Florida visit.

My misconceived motivation was a snap decision to determine if I was in good enough shape to compete in the New Jersey Senior Games as a last-minute entry – the track and field event being 15 days away.

The pain wasn't getting any better in Florida during a short visit to my wife's mother. Upon returning home, I knew it was time to see my orthopedist.

Since I have reversed the preferred process – by making a short story long, rather than making a long story short – let me conclude by noting that I had to arrive at the local hospital by ambulance rather than under my own steam. It wasn't herniated discs as I had suspected, but it was muscle spasms, and my doctor told me that it would heal slowly and fully, with physical therapy and time.

It was my second serious sports injury – the first one involving two herniated discs 10 years earlier after completing the New York City Marathon. The discs eventually healed and I resumed running until switching over to racewalking.

I am still racewalking, and one day while doing so, I started thinking that with persons living longer and healthier lives, you can frequently be sandwiched between care and concern for your children and care and concern for aging parents.

Unfortunately, there are situations in our society when you find parents not giving enough attention to their children and vice versa. You can get it from both sides – the needs of older children and the needs of aging parents.

I have been told that in some Asian cultures there aren't assisted-living facilities or nursing homes because it is considered an old and cultural obligation for children to take care of their aging or ill parents.

Humanity being a study in contrasts, there is also the old saying: "One mother can take care of nine children, but nine children can't take care of one mother."

In any event, the animal kingdom on this planet provides countless examples of the enormous, instinctive bond between animals and their offspring – as well as with human
beings, which also includes the element of love.

I recall an incident while I was in the Navy during the Korean War, in which our destroyer raced toward a Navy fighter pilot who had crashed in the ocean off the Korean coast. As we got near him, you could see that he was in agony and apparently delirious – and he was shouting periodically : "mom...mom...mom" before we got him on board.

The bond is never broken.

 

I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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  • author_first Arnold
  • introduction

    I am still racewalking, and one day while doing so, I started thinking that with persons living longer and healthier lives, you can frequently be sandwiched between care and concern for your children and care and concern for aging parents.

  • publish_date_month April
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Bornstein
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While gazing into my closet full of black, beige, and gray, I realize how drab everything appears. The tulips out my window are regal in bright red, purple, and yellow adorning the earth with color. I should move them to my closet full of dull!

Yes, it is spring! Time to shoo the winter out of our minds and out of our closets! Spring is the time to breathe fresh air and experience renewal.

When I witness the dogwoods blossoming and azaleas turning pink, I often wonder why we can't rebloom in spring. Why am I getting older with each passing season instead of starting over with new hair and skin every April? Doesn't that seem a bit unfair?

Even though I am a mature woman doesn't mean my clothes need to reflect my age. Drab old blah needs to transform into colorful joy! The old oak tree whose branches spread over part of my window will soon turn gray dormancy into bold new green depicting vibrancy and youth. Yep, that tree is talking to me!

Could my black dress be cute for spring if I accompany it with a bright yellow sweater? Could I pair my jeans with a coral linen shirt? Perhaps I could update my beige slacks by adding a cute top with sassy jewelry to turn boring into spectacular! Should I splurge and buy a new pink outfit to wake up my youthfulness, buried under the snow spirit?”

I love when women and men evoke who they are through the clothes they wear. What we wear should be an extension of our actual personalities. Our clothes need to reflect our innate sense of comfort with ourselves making us more confident, to stand a bit taller, and our smiles brighter.

In our neighborhood are some extraordinary women who exemplify great style any time of the year. Their clothes are an extension of their ageless vibrant personalities. They continuously strive to stay young at heart.

Balancing the idea of youthful style with maturity is akin to walking a thin wire without a net over teeming alligators. Some women wear dowdy because someone somewhere told them they needed to dress according to their age. Some women believe they can wear cut-off blue jeans and a bikini top at 90. Some women need a brain and glasses.

However, let me introduce you to the perfect balance through four beautiful examples.

I telephoned four women friends and asked, “Will you do me a favor? I need you to go to your closet and find a spring outfit. Be sure you select one that reflects who you are. Do not buy anything. You have two days before we take your picture!”

Because they are all good pals and put up with my bossiness, they agreed.

I laughed as they came through the door – all clad in clothes that precisely echoed who they were. Their selection of what they chose to wear was no surprise at all.

Meet Ricki, age 72, a retired school counselor with a slew of grandchildren. I call her Miss Preppy with sass. Donning wedge shoes, ankle jeans, and a coral linen top with a matching
scarf. She is joyful, classy, beautiful and a friend to all. She tries to improve her life every day with a new idea, a renewed attitude or a lesson she has learned from the many books she reads.

Judy is the youngest at 66 and newly retired. She has faced some hardships in life including cancer, but you would never know by the broad smile she carries through her daily life. I believe she must wake up every day looking exactly as she did at the party the night before. Judy is always dressed in perfect style, with not a hair out of place while spreading an
abundance of cheer.

The pearls around Geri's neck are the perfect accessory for a gem of a lady. She is 74 and wears elegance as comfortably as I wear a pair of jeans. She, like Judy, is a cancer survivor, a pure Southern belle, and steel magnolia. Strong, vital and assured that age is just a state of mind. She learned such a pearl of wisdom from her 101-year-old, stylish, smart mother, Nadine, who lives a few miles away.

Deborah is 67, and I know her so well I could predict with accuracy what she would wear to our little photo shoot. Her tall frame can pull off a bold black and white check dress with ballet flats. The bright yellow sweater is precisely the color of her happy attitude. Family, kindness, and faith keep this beauty grounded in the belief that ones' clothes are an extension of our souls.

Beautiful clothes in vibrant colors will not cover a drab spirit. If we are fearful and consumed with our age, then we need to stay in the gray of winter and close the closet door.

This spring why not throw drab away, lift your youthful spirit and proudly let it show! Just like the oak tree, remember you are never too old to renew.

 

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a weekly columnist for a Georgia newspaper. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Meet Lynn

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  • author_first Lynn
  • introduction

     Some women wear dowdy because someone somewhere told them they needed to dress according to their age. Some women believe they can wear cut-off blue jeans and a bikini top at 90. Some women need a brain and glasses.

  • publish_date_month April
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Walker Gendusa
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A vase of flowers is a joy. Whether a huge bouquet or one tiny blossom, cut flowers make us happy. It's true –  a few seconds spent contemplating flowers during a busy day will lift your spirits. And that's something everyone can use.

There's nothing like cutting and arranging your own vase of flowers. If growing and arranging flowers sounds scary, your worries are over. You don't have to be especially creative to grow a cutting garden and arrange your colorful harvest like a pro.

Where to grow your cutting garden? That's easy – anywhere. You can use containers of any sort that suits your space needs, or any plot of ground whether in sun or part shade. Just check the light requirements of the plants you choose to grow. You can find that information on the plant tag or seed packet. Make sure your flowers get good, fertile soil. Mixing in some compost is a great way to amend any soil.

Which flowers are grown specifically for cutting? The list is almost limitless, however there are some flowers that have a longer vase life than others, and some that lend themselves better to cutting than others. Annuals, perennials, everlastings, bulbs, and even plants grown only for their leaves can be destined for the vase.

Annuals are flowers that grow, bloom, and die in one growing season. Many annuals that are good for cutting can be grown from seed, such as cosmos, larkspur and zinnias. They sprout quickly, they grow easily, and they come in a rainbow of colors –  zinnias even come in green.

Perennials are plants that die back each winter and (sometimes) return fresh in the spring. These are best suited to a plot of ground instead of a container. Reliable, easy-care choices for spring flowers are iris and peonies. Summer blooms like Shasta daisy and purple coneflower are lovely in the vase.

Everlastings, like statice, baby's breath and globe amaranth are easy to dry and they should last, well, forever. They give an interesting texture and subtle color to dried or fresh arrangements. Statice and baby's breath make lovely, airy fillers for cut flower arrangements. Globe amaranth, has pompom flowers that are lovely in the garden as well as in dried bouquets.

Spring and summer blooming bulbs make great cut flowers. Tulips, daffodils and alliums last a long time in the vase, and cheer us out of the winter blues. Lilies, gladiolas, and dahlias provide unique colors and shapes, whether you choose a single blossom or create a one-of-a-kind floral masterpiece.

Don't limit your bouquets to just flowers. Any arrangement, even a simple store-bought bouquet, can be fleshed out with branches of forsythia, evergreens, or even autumn leaves. Ferns, ivy and ornamental grasses are also perennials, and will add grace and texture to both the garden and the vase.

When and how to cut? Theodore James, Jr., author of the comprehensive book The Cut-Flower Garden, suggests cutting flowers early in the day when the stems are firm and filled with water. Use sharp shears or a knife to prevent injury to the growing plant.

When you get the flowers inside, cut each stem at a 45-degree angle under water so air is not absorbed into the stem. The angle allows water into the stem while a flat cut will cause the stem to clog as it rests flat on the bottom of the vase. Remove all leaves that will be below the water line of the vase.

For flowers or branches with woody stems (lilacs, dogwoods, azaleas, roses and also chrysanthemums), smash the bottom inch with a hammer, or cut a slit about 1/3 of the way up the bottom. Flowers with hollow stems (daffodils, zinnias, Shasta daisies, lupines, dahlias, poppies) need the sap that leaks out the bottom or they will wilt quickly. Prevent leaking by searing the bottom of the stem with a match or candle flame.

When the flowers are ready for the vase, add two drops of bleach and one teaspoon of sugar to each quart of water to keep the flowers fresh and well-fed.

Your time, effort, inspiration, and creativity will be richly rewarded with the knowledge that you can create vase after vase of beautiful bouquets.

 

Lori Rose, the Midnight Gardener, has gardened since childhood and is a Temple University Certified Master Home Gardener and member of the Association for Garden Communicators (GWA).

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  • author_first Lori
  • introduction

    When the flowers are ready for the vase, add two drops of bleach and one teaspoon of sugar to each quart of water to keep the flowers fresh and well-fed.

  • publish_date_month April
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Rose
  • Column_Title The Midnight Gardener
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In this 2018 spring fashion report for ladies-of-a-certain-age (www.ladiesofacertainage.com, a blog for invisible, powerful, dynamic women) I am sharing my research findings of latest fashion trends and colors.

 

What Older Women Report

Comfort is the number one consideration for buying a piece of clothing.

Women our age want to wear what they buy for more than one season.

Color is key, they told me. I was surprised with how many women knew their color “season.”

Also, I was impressed that their fashion personality type played such a key role in their buying decisions.  (All fashion types were represented in my survey.)

Hard to find clothes that fit was a universal lament of the group.

They love to shop consignment stores, Good Will, hospice and other nonprofit shops.

Surprisingly, almost all of the women told me they were doing more online shopping; however, they stated finding the right fit and returns were challenging.

Many mourned the loss of favorite retailers and were concerned others would soon close their doors.

One woman asked, “Do you think it is appropriate for women our age not to dress their age?” “No,” was the resounding answer.

 

Brief List of Latest Fashion Trends and Colors

Romance (ruffles, and fabrics that seem to float).

Lavender!

Sparkle (my hair stylist will love this).

White shirts.

Trumpet sleeves (watch out if you have a gas stove).

Pant suits (I loved them in the past – now, that I make so many trips to the loo, I don’t think so).

Trench coat look.

Checks.

Fringe continues its appeal.

Asymmetrical neckline.

Black and white dots.

Square neckline.

Backpacks for a purse.

Shoes – good news – sneakers, mules, flats still stylish in case you do not want to wear stilettos. (How do House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, 77, and PBS NewsHour Anchor Judy Woodruff, 71, do it?)

Additional Info

  • author_first Elizabeth
  • introduction

    One woman asked, “Do you think it is appropriate for women our age not to dress their age?” “No,” was the resounding answer.

  • publish_date_month April
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last Wheeler
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How many of us used to look forward to the nightly news, because back in the day, terrorist attacks, massacres and school shootings were unfathomable? And now before going to bed aren't you tempted to put the hospital's emergency number on speed dial for “just in case?” Like maybe you'll suffer a stress-induced stroke?

But wait, there's hope! My three aging sisters and I recently discovered an outlet for national news anxiety and a panacea for depression brought on by dwelling on what's all wrong with this wacky world. Great news! I can tell you what's RIGHT with it. Stay with me here and I promise you'll feel wildly light, invigorated and enthusiastic to share with other seniors your newly found freedom — IF you live to tell about it! C'mon, at our advancing ages, is it such a big deal to be toying with the idea of landing "from here to eternity" in just one swipe?

First, in preparation you must disregard those aggravating aches and pains that keep you chained to your couch; also that crippling idea that you're too old to try what you might have been too scared to do at age 10? Forget the words “I can't.” I have found now at 70-something, that the words “I can” have a therapeutic connotation – and we four sisters have taken it to the limit, literally, and we want more, more!

That “more” is something we've heard about from those 60 years younger than ourselves –  the winter sport of tubing. And yes, we did feel silly and self-conscious about our ages standing amongst those “babies.” So that's what prompted me to ask George, a worker at Holiday Valley, if anybody older than us went tubing.

"We got one 91-year-old regular who comes here with his 75-year-old 'kid.'" And then to
rattle us up, he adds that the son just asked his dad to up his life insurance — double indemnity if there's an accident. " Naw, just fooling ya guys about the dad's insurance, but I'm right on about their ages."

With George's assistance I manage to plop myself into the seat of the big, round, rubbertube. He hooks the cord hanging from the side of it to a pulley that starts jerking me up over the icy jagged terrain, and our ascent begins up the hill. Hill, heck! It looks more like a mountain!

"Brace yourself up on the tube's sides with your arms, and raise your bum up from the seat's bottom, so it doesn't hurt like hell!" he yells out to me.

I'm the first sister to reach the summit, followed by sister two, three, and four. We used to refer to ourselves as the Little Women, now it's more like the Big Bruisers since we're all decked out in one-piece snowmobile outfits that belong to four husky men. And darn if mine doesn't fit perfectly. I ask you, where is the justice?

The steep hill before us appears so long, and we all suddenly feel so short on guts.

"Look, what do we have to lose?" quiver's Mary's voice.

"Only our lives," trembles Beth.

"Hey, did you notice at the end of this monstrosity that mound of snow that's supposed to stop our tubes?" nervously asks Joyce. "What happens if we go over it?"

"According to George, we die!" Don't think that I didn't think to ask that joker that question beforehand and, luckily, he had that mischievous glint in his eyes. But really with my wearing thick safety glasses, could I be sure of anything I saw?

"There's only one-way down, Karen, and because you're the oldest, and you're always wanting us to defer to you first — HERE YOU GO!"

One push and I'm sailing through the air, my frozen strands of hair whipping my elderly, weather-beaten face, and it feels like I'm being attacked by razor blades, and yet I feel so free
and alive! Absolutely no time to think about the world's problems, only the inconvenience that my nose is running and I don't want to use somebody else's sleeve. Oh, what the hell!

My speed-breaking flying tube hits the snow mound and swings me around like a mini merry-go-round. Oh, to feel like one is back on the playground again! As I turn to see my first sister whizzing down this runway, I can tell that my playmate is having the time of her life! Never mind that her expression of horror resembles someone who's maybe just been informed she's going to be working in Trump's cabinet.

Look, it's so hard not to revert back to thinking about the national news. But the four of us are really trying. In less than two weeks we've gone tubing three times. How crazy is that? A delightful crazy, I might add. More sane than working with you-know-who, in you-know-where.

 

Meet Karen

Additional Info

  • author_first Karen
  • introduction

    One push and I'm sailing through the air, my frozen strands of hair whipping my elderly, weather-beaten face, and it feels like I'm being attacked by razor blades, and yet I feel so free
    and alive!

  • publish_date_month April
  • publish_date_year 2018
  • author_last White-Walker
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