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It has been over seven years since my husband died, and I am still benefiting from his foresight in planning for his death and how his absence would affect me. One of the plans he set into motion for my benefit involved his big, old, loud white truck. For his retirement from the fire department in 1999 my hubby bought himself a brand new 2000 Dodge diesel dually truck that pulled our fifth-wheel RVs for the next ten years we traveled across this country.

During the three years we lived in the Colorado mountains at an elevation of over 10,000 feet there were times I drove what he called his Big White Hoss to traverse rough rocky roads and several feet of snow, but when we moved back south to a less harsh environment it wasn’t my vehicle of choice. I could not get used to keeping the dually’s wide “hips” within the correct parameters of narrow lanes.

Knowing that I wasn’t comfortable driving the Hoss, shortly before he died from cancer he gave the truck to our daughter and her husband with the understanding that when I needed anything hauled they would get it done for me. He didn’t want me to be burdened with upkeep and insurance for two vehicles, but he knew there would be times when I would need a truck … like this past week when my daughter and I were trading furniture and mattresses back and forth between our houses. So when she drove up this morning in this 19-year-old truck delivering a big sheet of plywood to me I was reminded of how, in spite of the terminal cancer her daddy was dealing with, he was looking ahead trying to make life easier for me. Renting a truck to haul stuff is one less thing I have to pay to have done!

Even though Phaedra and Clyde have put thousands of dollars into mechanical upkeep over the past few years to keep the Hoss running, they have been faithful to her daddy’s wishes of making his truck available to me when I need it. And, every time I hear that loud old hoss driving up it makes me appreciate and be thankful for the foresight that has lightened some financial loads for me.

Once a woman is widowed she starts paying for so many things and services that previously her husband took care of, and if you don’t think people take advantage
of a woman alone, you haven’t walked a mile in our shoes. To some having a truck available (and the muscle to load and unload) won’t seem like a big deal, but to those of us who all too often have trouble finding someone ready, willing and able to do what we need done, it is an important blessing, and I’m thankful for it.

 

Meet Elaine

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  • author_first Elaine
  • introduction

    When we moved back south to a less harsh environment it wasn’t my vehicle of choice. I could not get used to keeping the dually’s wide “hips” within the correct parameters of narrow lanes.

  • publish_date_month September
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Marze
  • Column_Title Vintage Vibes
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For reasons unknown, a fad in my neighborhood during fall and culminating around Halloween is pumpkins. Multiple pumpkins. Large, small, lumpy, smooth, often orange, punctuated with white, green, sage, multi-colored. On my walks I started counting numbers of pumpkins on porches. Very few have only one (I myself have two), and the winner so far is 16.

I don’t know why. Granted I’m in a family-heavy neighborhood where children are cherished and indulged as if they were tiny royals. Also an area with no poverty, whose residents can choose to dispose of their disposable income as they wish. I shouldn’t quibble, indeed, I’m not even sure what “quibbling” is, because I adore seeing the variety and the panache with which the home owners place their harvest bounty.

Some stack several orbs on top of one another, some group colors and textures with care. Many set off large pumpkins with several miniature ones. Others combine real produce with the man-made variety. One home with front stairs positioned a pumpkin at the end of each step all the way up to the top. Another, with a short brick retaining wall, marched the produce all along the top, as if presenting the front entry to the world with a flourish.

Squirrels treat outdoor decorative pumpkins as their personal grocery store. In my old neighborhood, which seemed to have ten squirrels for every resident, a pumpkin was fortunate if it survived overnight on the porch without a gnaw. My new neighborhood has fewer critters. Still, last year only a few days passed before the golden fruit (yes, pumpkins are technically fruit) was attacked.

I’ve collected suggestions on squirrel repellents. The silliest one was to place several pumpkins together, as if propitiating the squirrel god by providing one sacrificial sphere. This only drives the critters into an eating frenzy. The defense that seems to succeed is to combine two techniques. I sprayed the pumpkins with hairspray, then sprinkled them with liberal doses of cayenne pepper.

Pumpkin flavor and scent have become immensely popular. There’s pumpkin-flavored coffee and tea, pumpkin skin scrub, candles, honey, bread, cologne, pretzels, ice cream. I wonder if real pumpkin odors mingled with aromas like burning leaves in years gone by in a wonderful medley for noses. The manufactured variety currently available don’t really seem authentic or true to their source. Although how would I know? I don’t even like to eat pumpkin pie.

I believe the proliferation of decorative pumpkins in my neighborhood is another indication of our surfeit of consumerism. Surely no one other than pie makers NEEDS 16 pumpkins. Still, this is one glut I don’t object to. It’s fairly harmless, and I tell myself we’re helping out the pumpkin farmers as well as delighting children and passersby. Then I give myself permission to simply enjoy the symbol of harvest bounty.

Maybe I’ll dig out the seeds to roast and nibble on. That will justify my permissive attitude.

 

Bonnie McCune is a Colorado writer and has published several novels as well as other work. Reach her at www.BonnieMcCune.com.

Meet Bonnie

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  • author_first Bonnie
  • introduction

    Squirrels treat outdoor decorative pumpkins as their personal grocery store. In my old neighborhood, which seemed to have ten squirrels for every resident, a pumpkin was fortunate if it survived overnight on the porch without a gnaw.

  • publish_date_month September
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last McCune
  • Column_Title Tunnel Visions
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A few days ago I received an invitation to take part in a yard sale in my neighborhood. To be honest, I’m not even considering participating.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to sell. In fact, I’m actually at the point where I’m afraid to open any of my closet doors because I’m in danger of being knocked unconscious by falling boxes, canned goods, stacks of books or assorted bric-a-brac (and believe me, the pointy ones really hurt).

The difficult part is deciding which “treasures” to part with and which to keep. Even worse is deciding how to price them.

“How much should I ask for these solid-gold earrings?” I once asked my husband as I was pricing items for a yard sale at my church.

“Two bucks,” he answered.

A few minutes later he handed me a pair of his old work-boots. “I think you can get at least $50 for these,” he said.

I laughed. “Fifty dollars? Any poor guy who buys them will have to walk bowlegged, the
heels are so worn out on the sides.”

One thing experience has taught me is that people who sell items at yard sales have to have the patience of a saint. Unfortunately, I don’t. After an hour of manning a table, I’m ready to leave...without taking any of my stuff with me.

The last yard sale I took part in at a local park really tried my patience. It began at 8 a.m., so I arrived at the crack of dawn to set up. I opened the trunk of my car, which was packed with
boxes, and carried one of the boxes over to my table. When I returned to my car, I found two
women with their heads in my trunk.

“How much for this?” one of the women asked, holding up a portable cassette-player.

“Five dollars,” I said.

“I’ll give you $1.50 for it,” she said.

“Sorry, ma’am,” I said. “I haven’t even set up yet, so it’s a little too early to start marking things down.”

“What’re you asking for this?” the other woman interrupted.

“That’s my tire iron!” I couldn’t help but snap. “Please put it back in the trunk!”

“Boy, what a grouch!” the two of them grumbled as they walked off.

Despite the interruptions, I managed to get everything set up just before the sale began. Within 15 minutes, the piles of clothes I’d so carefully laid out on the table looked as if a helicopter had just hovered over them. And the two perfectly symmetrical rows of salt and pepper shakers were knocked down faster than bowling pins at a tournament.

I made certain, however, that no one mishandled my most prized possession – an original Star Wars Princess Leia doll. I put a price tag of $150 on it, which was substantially less than its market value of about $350 at that time.

An elderly woman scooped it up almost immediately. “I’ll take this!” she said, smiling. “My grandson will be so thrilled!” She then proceeded to hand me $1.50.

“Um, it’s 150,” I told her, “not a dollar 50.”

“Hmph!” she grunted, shoving the doll at me. “You should make your decimal points bigger!”

My worst disaster, however, occurred a few years ago at an arts-and-crafts sale at that same park. Prior to the sale, I’d spent weeks painstakingly making hundreds of little tile magnets with people’s names, hearts and leaves painted on them. I then arranged them in alphabetical order on huge pieces of sheet-metal.

The day of the event, I held my breath as I carefully slid the sheets of magnets into my car. I then took the longest route to the park so I could avoid any bumpy or hilly roads that might
jostle my precious cargo. When I reached the park, I carried each sheet of magnets over to my site and gently stood them up, leaning them back against three sawhorses. Finally, I allowed myself to breathe a sigh of relief.

The magnets immediately drew a crowd of people, all searching for specific names.

“You don’t have a magnet with the name Rasputin on it?” one lady asked in a tone that told me she actually had expected to find one.

“Sorry, no,” I told her.

“How about Desdemona?” another asked.

Still, despite the frenzy, everything went smoothly…until a little boy who looked about five became impatient.

“Mommy!” he whined, stomping his foot on the grass. “I want to see if my name is on one of those “maggots” over there!”

“Then go look!” his mother said, not even glancing at him as she sifted through a stack of crocheted potholders at a nearby table.

“I caaaaan’t!!” he whined even louder. “The people standing in front of them are taller than me!”

“Oh, stop your whining and behave!” his mother snapped.

Furious, the boy suddenly transformed into Damien, the devil’s spawn from the movie The Omen. Tiny horns sprouted out of his forehead, and his eyes narrowed into tiny yellow slits. He ran behind one of the sawhorses and gave a sheet of magnets a mighty shove. Not wanting to be flattened, the customers jumped back instead of trying to save the sheet, and the magnets all landed face-down in the grass, which still was wet with dew. The names and hearts I’d so carefully painted on them were transformed into something that resembled psychedelic tie-dye.

Even Houdini couldn’t have made the boy and his mother vanish more quickly (probably
because she was afraid I’d try to make her pay for the damages).

By the end of the day, I’d managed to amass a grand total of $56.25 for all of my hard work. I rushed over to a table where I’d seen a beautiful handmade doll I really wanted for my doll collection.

“How much for that doll?” I asked the man as he was packing away the last of his leftover
merchandise.

“Oh, that’s a family heirloom,” he said. “My great-grandmother made it from cotton and wool she spun herself, and she crocheted all of the hairpin lace on the gown. I couldn’t possibly take a penny less than $175 for it.”

“Oh,” I said, sighing. “I have only $56.25.”

“Sold!”

So I came home with no cash at all, plus I’d spent $15 for the table space.

But I did buy a beautiful doll...which currently is buried somewhere in one of my overstuffed closets.

I’m sure I’ll find her one of these days, however...when I open a closet door and she falls out and conks me on the head.

 

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

    Despite the interruptions, I managed to get everything set up just before the sale began. Within 15 minutes, the piles of clothes I’d so carefully laid out on the table looked as if a helicopter had just hovered over them. And the two perfectly symmetrical rows of salt and pepper shakers were knocked down faster than bowling pins at a tournament.

  • publish_date_month August
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Breslin
  • Column_Title Alive and Kidding
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I was pushing a cart around my neighborhood grocery, when Bob, a long-time employee, approached, “You know how everybody talks to each other here?” he asked. “Thieves are taking advantage of our friendly atmosphere." He pointed to my purse in the child seat and said, “The thief asks which camembert cheese you like. When you turn to point, another takes your wallet out of that purse. Be careful!”

I called Sara Verschueren, my neighborhood police safety expert, to find ways to be careful in our day-to-day activities.

Referring to Bob’s grocery store warning, Sara said, “ Distraction is a common strategy.”

  • Zip up purses, or snap closed. Never leave them open in the child seat.

  • Buckle the child safety belt around purses.

  • Keep cart next to you, not behind.

    Another form of distraction theft occurs right at home. When a young man appeared at my friend Marilyn’s door, she was suspicious, but his disarming comments swept aside her wariness. “Hi, I’m Eric, remember me? Grew up down the block. I’m trimming your neighbor’s hedge and branches’ll fall into your yard. Want your O.K.”
    Thinking she should remember him, she let him walk through her house to her back door.  When he pressed her to follow him to the backyard, her suspicions returned and she kicked him out. She never heard his accomplice, but he had one. All her jewelry was gone.

  • Don’t open your door unless you know for sure who the it is.

  • NOBODY enters your house, especially if you live alone or find yourself alone.

  • BEWARE of emotional appeals such as Marilyn’s guilt at forgetting the “kid down the street.”

  • Keep doors locked. Install double dead bolt with inside key lock. Key near door, but hidden.

    Never let a workman you DID NOT REQUEST into the house, including a utility company.

  • If you doubt a person who says he or she is there to service something, have him/her wait outside until you call the company’s phone number.

    Verschueren’s most common recent reports were phone scams. My phone rings nearly a dozen times a day with unsolicited calls — pretending a warning from Apple Support or promising to return $399 in fees to a computer maintenance company, I never hired.

  • Apple (be sure to check on your own service provider’s rules) never calls to report breeches of security.

  • Social Security does not call with threats of legal action.

  • Do not respond to emotional appeals such as a grandchild needing help.

  • NEVER give out personal information on the phone.


Safeguarding Your Home Needs Layers of Protection. 

  • Own a dog with a growl or vicious-sounding barking – or a recording of one.
  • Monitor your neighborhood. My neighbor called when he saw someone with a flashlight crossing my backyard. That time it was my houseguest crossing to the garage but I appreciate his vigilance.
  • Have a well-lit outside environment including motion lights which switch on to signal someone is around.
  • Keep bushes trimmed and away from the building.
  • Keep doors and windows locked, ladders padlocked. Drop a thick dowel in sliding door tracks.
  • Never leave tools, purses or other valuables in sight of a window.
  • Explore installing a security system.
  • Keep a charged cell phone near the bed. Dial 911 if you hear someone. Plan an escape system with family members.  Install a bolt lock INSIDE a closet where you can hide. Keep your car key in that closet so you can set off your car alarm. Noise is a great deterrent.

Verschueren told me that we fall prey to thieves because we are not used to thinking in a defensive way. Classes such as Krav Maga teach seniors to be aware of surroundings, move along with confidence, and assess situations for potential threat. Seniors of every fitness level can learn tactics of self-defense. But, the best defense against all threats is preplanning, awareness, and understanding that it can happen to you.

 

Carrie Luger Slayback, award-winning teacher and champion runner, shares her health and fitness fascination with her readers. Write her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Meet Carrie

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  • author_first Carrie Luger
  • introduction

    Thinking she should remember him, she let him walk through her house to her back door.  When he pressed her to follow him to the backyard, her suspicions returned and she kicked him out. She never heard his accomplice, but he had one. All her jewelry was gone.

    * * * * *

    Install a bolt lock INSIDE a closet where you can hide. Keep your car key in that closet so you can set off your car alarm. Noise is a great deterrent.

  • publish_date_month August
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Slayback
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My friend Chris is jealous of me because my folks freely chose to move to a retirement community at age 85, while they still had lots of good options. Chris wants to bring her dad to an attractive for-profit facility near her own house. He is fighting the move desperately, though he no longer can adequately care for himself. Among other objections, he says the monthly cost is too high, while Chris retorts, “That’s what your money is for.”

They’re both right.

Moving from home to senior care can be a wrenching decision. Finding the right match for yourself or your loved one is the complicated follow-on. One important criterion that is often overlooked is a facility’s ownership. How do for-profit and not-for-profit senior care facilities compare?

Writer Christopher Cheney compared profit and non-profit hospitals in a 2017 article; his analysis is helpful for senior nursing care as well. Cheney notes “significant cultural and operational differences, such as strategic approaches to scale and operational discipline.” While each facility deserves to be evaluated on its own merits, these cultural and operational differences add up to significant variances between the two types of facility.

  • Cost: All nursing care is expensive. The 2019 average cost for a semi-private and private rooms ranges from $27,573-$29,291 per month in Alaska to $4639-$5293 per month in Oklahoma. Though it is difficult to obtain comparative figures, non-profits facilities are generally less costly. This can be attributed both to some lower costs (such as taxes, which non-profits don’t pay) and no need to provide profit to shareholders.

Costs are increasing at much higher than the inflation rate. A study by Georgetown University Medical Center found nursing home price rises over the period 2002-2011 surpassed increases in overall medical care (20.2%) and general consumer prices (11.7%).

  • Culture: Yvette Doran, chief operating officer at Saint Thomas Medical Partners in Nashville, Tennessee, says, "When I think of the differences [between profit and non-profit], culture is at the top of my list. The culture at for-profits is business-driven. The culture at nonprofits is service-driven," she says. For-profit businesses are designed for the express purpose of returning a profit for their investors.
  • Competitive edge: Profit organizations have a competitive edge in negotiating contracts. Says Doran, “The appetite for aggressive negotiations is much more palatable among for-profits." Good negotiating can keep some costs lower, though these savings are not necessarily passed on to residents.
  • Financial pressure: profit organizations are driven in their quest to drive down costs and improve profit. Brian B. Sanderson, managing principal of healthcare services at Oak Brook, Illinois–based Crowe Horwath LLP, says, “The compensation structures in the for-profits tend to be much more incentive-based than compensation at not-for-profits."
  • Operational discipline. For-profits are accountable to the shareholders, not the residents. Operations are designed around keeping control of the numbers: making staff accountable for reliable operations, predictable control, and reliable outcomes.
  • Quality care: Here is where non-profits shine. In a landmark 1986 Institute of Medicine (IoM) study, for-profit and chain-operated nursing facilities tended to devote fewer resources to direct patient care. The study analyzed licensure violations, complaints, and outcome-oriented quality measures, finding generally poorer quality of care for residents.

These early findings have been replicated repeatedly, with consistent results. For-profit facilities, especially multi-state chains, are more likely to cut costs in resident care, such as for nurse staffing levels and pay, and increase corporate overhead and profits.

A 2016 Boston Globe review by the Boston Globe found that for-profit nursing homes spend about 10% less on food and $11 per day less on nursing care, while being cited by state inspectors for health and safety violations 60% more than non-profits.

  • Scale: For-profit nursing care facilities are typically larger, often operating multiple facilities. This allows them economies of scale which can keep costs in check.
  • strong>Tax status: Profit-based facilities pay taxes such as sales tax and property tax. This increases costs for profit facilities, forcing them to be more efficient. The local taxes they pay can be a boon to the local community.

Whatever the preference for seniors, for-profit care is becoming the norm. While the majority of hospitals are non-profit, the opposite is true for senior care. As of 2008, about 65% of nursing homes were owned by for profit entities. In 2016 this figure was nearly 70%, according to the Center for Disease Control.

For whatever facility you may be considering, it is important to take a tour. Ask the staff questions along the lines of, "How long have you been here? What do you like and dislike about your work? How many residents to you work with?” Eat a meal and get a feel for the culture and the satisfaction level of residents. Notice whether residents are being cared for with dignity.

Chris has done all these things with her dad and believes the for-profit retirement community near her home would be a good fit. Debra Lancaster, executive director of the Center for Women and Work at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, would have no qualms with Chris’s conclusion.

"Because the evidence suggests that residents have better outcomes in facilities that are owned by non-profits, that's a very reasonable place to start," she says. But she adds, "certainly individual for-profit facilities can be incredibly mission-driven and have good quality outcomes." And non-profits can lose sight of the big picture, just as any organization can.

Differences Between Profit and Non-profit Senior Care Facilities

  1. Cost
  2. Culture
  3. Competitive edge
  4. Financial pressure
  5. Operational discipline
  6. Quality of care
  7. Scale
  8. Tax status

 

Karen Telleen-Lawton helps seniors help themselves by providing bias-free financial advice. She is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, the Principal of Decisive Path Fee-Only Financial Advisory in Santa Barbara, California (http://www.DecisivePath.com). Reach her with your questions or comments at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Meet Karen

Additional Info

  • author_first Karen
  • introduction

    Moving from home to senior care can be a wrenching decision. Finding the right match for yourself or your loved one is the complicated follow-on. One important criterion that is often
    overlooked is a facility’s ownership. How do for-profit and not-for-profit senior care facilities compare?

  • publish_date_month August
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Telleen-Lawton
  • Column_Title Financial Fortitude
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Three years ago, when I first walked through the log house that was to become our home outside of Necedah, Wisconsin, I saw potential, but wasn’t sold on the place. Then we walked the trails on the five acres surrounding it.

Ripening red and black raspberries lined the paths that meandered through five acres of scrub oak and pine woods. I nibbled my way from one bush to the next, with visions of pie and a freezer filled with fruit, obscuring anything else that the realtor said.

Little did I know then that black caps and red raspberries were just the first entries in a parade of edible offerings that ripened in our woods from mid June through August.

Since that first year, and with the help of the field guide, Wild Berries & Fruits --Minnesota, Wisconsin & Michigan, by Teresa Marrone, I’ve added blackberries, blackish gooseberries and an occasional blueberry to the harvest. 

There’s an art to picking berries. My chocolate lab, Jessie, and I continue to hone ours in the hours, days and weeks that we spend among brambles. Yes, Jessie picks berries too.

During our second year here I dropped a couple of the tasty fruits to her. Jessie loved them so much that she kept getting underfoot, prodding me to give her more.

“You need to pick your own!” I declared after I nearly tripped over her for the umpteenth time. Holding out a low branch and extending one of the berries her way, I watched as she first sniffed then gobbled, getting some of the plant’s fuzzy prickers in the bargain.

Now my chocolate lab, Jessie, picks like a pro. She delicately places her lips around each one, avoiding the prickers. If the fruit resists her tug or the branch has too much bounce, she plants a paw on the vine, to hold it still.

Here are a few tips that we’ve learned so far:

  • Squeeze slightly at the low middle portion of a newly ripe raspberry to release it from the cane.
  • Come at the bush from different directions/look high and low. Leaves obscure the berries.
  • At peak harvest pick twice per day.
  • Leave some for the critters.

This year Jessie has led me to patches of the red and black fruit that I hadn’t discovered on my own. Her company and keen sense of smell, always on alert for the scent of other animals, comforts me. I feel assured that I won’t just stumble on a bear and her cubs eating berries nearby.

Other animals depend on berries for their diet, too. In addition to black bear, chipmunks, fox, white-footed mice, opossums, squirrels, voles and birds are the main eaters of berries according to the Wisconsin DNR website.

The berries are on our property, but they come with a price. I paid dearly in blood to the bumper crop of mosquitoes that also grew this year.

There’s sweat equity too. Even in the hottest days that late June and early July served up, I donned long sleeves and pants. The latter were tucked into high socks keeping ticks at bay.I wore netting over my baseball cap but even so, the irritating drone of the mosquitoes was less than music to my ears. But it was worth it!

Almost six gallons of raspberries are tucked away for winter. As the last of the red ones ripen our blackberry and gooseberry harvest begins.

Because our property has not been “burned” recently, I have only found three blueberries in as many years. The ground is carpeted with blueberry plants, but without a burn, they do not produce fruit.

Always remember that many types of berries are toxic to humans and animals. Before eating any, make sure that you check a trusted resource. Happy and safe berry picking!

Additional Info

  • author_first Deb
  • introduction

    Now my chocolate lab, Jessie, picks like a pro. She delicately places her lips around each one, avoiding the prickers. If the fruit resists her tug or the branch has too much bounce, she plants a paw on the vine, to hold it still.

  • publish_date_month July
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Biechler
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Part of my responsibilities as a volunteer grandpa at a home for abused and neglected children was to drive the kids to doctor’s appointments or to after-school activities. As a surrogate grandparent I  tried very hard to set a good example for the kids in our charge. They had already heard enough cuss words and been exposed to enough violence in their young lives.

On this particular day, I had 11-year-old  “Tony” with me in the car. An Afro-American and new to the home, he was quite shy and I wasn’t having a lot of success getting him to open up to this old white guy. This was hardly unusual. Kids sent to our group home had reason not to trust the adults in their lives.

After a few awkward tries at conversation, I turned on the radio to listen to the 49ers football game. I’m one of these over-the-top football fans so when I hear the announcer saying that the Niners were on the one yard line  with only 30 seconds left to play in a tie game, I am excited.    

“Go Niners,” I yell. Then disaster strikes. The Niners fumble and Arizona recovers.

I don’t normally swear. I’ve never used bad language in front of the kids but at this moment I was to break all of the rules. The “F” word erupts from my mouth. Omigosh! I didn’t say that did I? No, not in front of a little kid.

There was this moment of shocked silence. Sheepishly, I looked down at Tony. His big brown eyes looked at me astonished.  “Grandpa Hank !” was all he said. Of course I apologized. “Sorry Tony. That just slipped out.”

I turned the game off and we rode in silence for a few minutes – me inwardly ashamed at losing my composure. Then I turned again to the boy. The little bugger had a smile on his face. “Damn it,” I thought to myself. “What are you laughing at?”

“Nuthin,” he answered, but the grin never left his face.

I had to smile, too. “Dude, I screwed up didn’t I?”

The boy put his hand on my shoulder for a brief second. “Hey, it’s ok, grandpa Hank. we all make mistakes.” I was touched at his words. This little guy was forgiving me.

What I recall the most about that experience was that the relationship between this old white grandpa and an 11-year-old kid named Tony was never the same after that. We connected.

Maybe in seeing my own humanity it gave him permission to be more relaxed around me. Whatever it was, we became buddies. He used to drop in on me to watch TV together. Our favorite show was “Everybody Hates Chris,” that sitcom about a junior high black kid and his experiences growing up going to an all white school.

We bonded, Tony and I.  I  like to think I was able to help him grow up through those pre-adolescent years. He helped me to grow, too. Made me realize that the good Lord uses even our goofs to teach us life lessons. I’m even grateful for the Niners for NOT winning that game.

Additional Info

  • author_first Hank
  • introduction

    Idon’t normally swear. I’ve never used bad language in front of the kids but at this moment I was to break all of the rules. The “F” word erupts from my mouth. Omigosh! I didn’t say that did I? No, not in front of a little kid.

  • publish_date_month July
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Matimore
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When it comes to punctuality, the meaning of the word is foreign to me. In my defense, however, I usually have a very good reason for being late.

Take last month, for example. I’d been having a problem with my eyes burning and itching, so I made an appointment to see my optometrist. When the day arrived, I made certain I was ready to leave the house in plenty of time for my appointment. The last thing I always do before I go somewhere is put on my wristwatch and favorite ring – a Valentine gift from my late husband.

So as I was leaving, I headed to the drawer where I keep my jewelry. My ring wasn’t there! I frantically flung everything out of the drawer until there was nothing left inside but bare wood. I then raced to check the pockets of the clothes I’d been wearing the night before. Aside from a few lint balls, the pockets were empty. Had I, I wondered, set the ring down on the kitchen counter? I checked every inch of counter-space, which was no easy task because the counter is dark granite with specks of different colors running through it. I found nothing but a dried-up splotch of ketchup I’d forgotten to wipe up.

Warily, I eyed the trash container. Did I really want to thrust my hands into a mushy pile of everything from potato peels to discarded oatmeal? Yes! Just as I started to roll up my sleeves, however, it dawned on me that I was supposed to be heading to the optometrist’s. I looked at the clock and panicked when I saw I had only 15 minutes to get there. On a good day, the trip usually takes 20-25 minutes.

I bolted out the door, jumped into my car and headed to my appointment. I arrived eight minutes late.

The optometrist wasn’t my regular doctor, but a woman I hadn’t seen before. She was young, dark-haired and stunningly exotic-looking.

I apologized for being late and explained why. “I feel totally heartsick about losing my ring,” I told her.

She was silent for a few seconds, then said, “You know, I’m going to tell you something that probably will sound really crazy, but I swear it works. I can’t explain why, but it just does.”

She hesitated, as if debating whether or not to say her next words, then finally said, “My grandmother, back in Italy, once told me that if you lose something, to take a tissue, tie a knot in it and then hold it tightly in your hand. The next place you look, you’ll find the item you’re looking for.”

I didn’t want to be rude, but I couldn’t help but laugh. “How on earth can a knotted-up tissue help me find anything?”

She shrugged and smiled somewhat mysteriously. “I have no idea, but it really works!”

I’d heard of a lot of strange things in my life – and, although I hate to admit it, tried many of them, like rubbing half an onion on a pimple and then tossing the onion over my right shoulder, supposedly to make the pimple immediately disappear. All I ended up with was a pimple that smelled like onions. But I’d never heard of the tissue-knotting theory before.

My eyes turned out to be fine, other than being dry. The doctor recommended some drops and said they should help.

I headed straight home so I could continue the search for my ring. The first thing I tackled was the trash, which yielded nothing but...trash...much of which was less than pleasant to dig through. I became more and more desperate by the minute – which was blatantly obvious when my dogs wanted to go outside to do their duties and I followed them out there so I closely could examine everything they did, just in case one of them might have swallowed my ring.

An hour later, after I’d done everything but rent a metal detector, I finally admitted defeat and plunked down on the sofa. Mourning the loss of my favorite ring, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. Sniffling, I reached for the box of tissues on the end-table next to the sofa. I pulled out a tissue and stared at it for a few moments, remembering what the doctor had told me.

“Don’t be silly!” I scolded myself. “You’ve searched every inch of the house! A tissue isn’t going to magically help you find your ring!”

But a little voice told me I had nothing to lose, so why not try it, just for the heck of it? Shaking my head and sighing, I muttered to myself, “You’re much more intelligent than this!”

Nevertheless, I tied a knot in the tissue and held it tightly in my hand.

I still can’t believe what happened next – and I swear it’s the absolute truth – I immediately recalled that the night before, when I’d taken off my ring, the stones had looked kind of dull, so I’d put the ring into a jar of jewelry cleaner to soak.

I bolted out to the kitchen and opened the cabinet where I keep the jewelry cleaner. Sure enough, there was my ring, now sparkling clean, still lying in the bottom of the jar.

I burst out laughing. And then I called the optometrist’s office and told the receptionist to tell the doctor that the knot in the tissue had worked.

“The knot in the tissue?” she repeated, her tone bewildered. She probably thought it was some new kind of treatment for eye discomfort.

"Yes, tell her exactly that!”

I think now, just to be on the safe side (because I usually misplace either my keys, eyeglasses or credit card on a weekly basis), maybe I should join one of those wholesale clubs and buy a case of tissues.

 

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

    She hesitated, as if debating whether or not to say her next words, then finally said, “My grandmother, back in Italy, once told me that if you lose something, to take a tissue, tie a knot in it and then hold it tightly in your hand. The next place you look, you’ll find the item you’re looking for.”

  • publish_date_month May
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Breslin
  • Column_Title Alive and Kidding
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I suspect most of us have the shared joyful experience of holding a newborn baby closely to us in our arms and feeling its heart softly seeking out and speaking to our own.

The mind-thoughts of an infant may be still unformed, without any context and clarity or ability for expression. But its heart knows things. Its tiny heart-voice is articulate and uncensored, compelling and terribly wise.

I have personally experienced and wondered at these heart conversations with human babies as well as other forms of new young animals – dogs and cats and horses in particular. I have also sensed it from the roots of trees and the petals of gardenias; even from sun-warmed river stones and frost-coated blades of grass; and from seeds that pop alive into a new generation – seen or unseen, planted or wild (bidden or unbidden).

I am quite convinced that all living things (and what in the entire universe is notalive in some measure?) do have this heart energy that allows us to communicate with one another. And, I suspect, we are highly influenced by this energy of the heart whether we realize it or not.

Studies have proven that heart energy – or the heart brain, as it has been called – can be measured up to five times the distance and strength of the mind brain. It’s further been determined that we can control it – or rather the message it delivers – as intentionally and as significantly as we can change our thoughts.

I am particularly intrigued by the research that shows that “appreciation” is the strongest of all the heart-brain messages. Stronger than love or hate ... stronger than happiness or anger ... appreciation speaks the most clearly and authentically.

Not long ago, I regularly morning-walked a neighbor’s untrained, highly energetic young pup. Placing my hand against her heart – focusing my heart thoughts directly onto hers – was often the only way to calm her enough to walk quietly at my side (most of the way). I suspect only the wisdom of our hearts will ever understand the how and why of that. But I witnessed its effect, its truth. And it was brilliant.

Even beyond the “heart” as we quantify it, new and wondrous science is uncovering how older, mature trees pass wisdom on to the younger ones around them – things about survival and health, how to thrive in their prevailing environment; about the sharing of resources and taking care of each other, as well as providing for other life-forms that depend on them.

We know that native American cultures expressed thanks (appreciation) to the game and plant life and water that fed and sustained them. And they lived and slept andwalked as near to and as softly on the ground as possible. Perhaps they knew their hearts could speak their appreciation to the very earth itself in this way. Perhaps the earth expressed its appreciation to them in return.

Howard Thurman – one of the 20th century’s most wise individuals – wrote: “In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.” Perhaps we can also whisper with our own hearts appreciation for life in all its forms and states of being and experiences.

Because Thurman further observed that “life wears down the edges of the mind.” And perhaps it does. Like shoes after a long journey – becoming uneven at the heels, soles thin and cracked. But then, with the dulling of the brain-mind, perhaps the heart-mind is polished to a new sheen, and made even stronger, and able to let appreciation shine out in all its brilliance, allowing us to experience and express the ultimate appreciation at the ultimate moment of appreciation – as when we were newly born.

I suspect that we should all lead with our hearts at all times – literally and figuratively, thoughtfully and energetically. We should speak through our hearts on purpose. Appreciate through our hearts with abandon. After all, babies and dogs and other living things will be listening.

 

Meet Marti

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  • author_first Marti
  • introduction

     I am particularly intrigued by the research that shows that “appreciation” is the strongest of all the heart-brain messages. Stronger than love or hate ... stronger than happiness or anger ... appreciation speaks the most clearly and authentically.

  • publish_date_month May
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Healy
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I recently learned about a craze that’s been added to the growing list of body mutilations for beautification. Doctors whittle away and add to all parts of our body. They stick needles into our foreheads, jaw lines, lips, and breasts. Tattoo artists shoot permanent ink under our skin. We
have holes pierced into our faces and various other body parts that are better left unmentioned.

And now, something I hadn’t known about. Have you ever wondered how models and other beautiful people manage to balance on stiletto heels as they strut down runways or walk the red carpet en route to picking up an Oscar? Well, I have.

I, whose duck-like waddle has, on more than one occasion, caused me to slip, and slide off my own flat sandals during the simple act of walking; I, who after four knee surgeries, deal with stairs like a toddler – one two, one two – while grabbing onto the banister; I, who am elated if I safely make it from point A to point B without tripping over low air currents, would really like to know how the beautiful people stand erect, forge ahead and even dance, on five-inch needle-thin mules that make even the ugliest pylons look willowy.

Do I sound bitter? Perhaps, just a tad. Even in my prime, lovely legs and graceful walking were alien to me. As a high-school twirler guys whistled and hooted when I strutted across the football field.

“Stay clear of Laverne,” they’d shout. “Her knock-knees have been known to start fires.”

I once had a guy, in pursuit of a date, compliment me on my calves, which were all he could see from below my hemline. 

“I’d sure like to see the upper part of those shapely legs,” he hinted with the subtlety of a charging rhinoceros. Caught off guard I responded with, “I’m afraid you’d be disappointed. My thighs aren’t nearly as slender as my calves.”

“I’m not an idiot,” he snapped. “Do you really think I thought those slim calves had the strength to hold up that ass?”

But I digress. I mention those things only to explain my rancor and elicit sympathy.

What allows models and celebrities to glide effortlessly on spindly high-heels is collagen. The same collagen used to plump up faces is injected into the balls and heels of their feet. The effect, lasting from six to nine months, helps alleviate the tenderness that occurs when putting weight on the ball of the foot.

Some podiatrists have opted not to use collagen. Instead, they inject patients with fat from their own bodies. I kinda’ like the idea of having fat withdrawn from my butt and thighs, but if they then inject it all into the balls and heels of my feet, I’m in real danger of becoming nine feet tall.

You’ll be thrilled to learn that along with all the other countless bodily assaults that take place during the aging process, after the age of 40 foot padding starts to go, also. I’m having a rough time accepting that I’ll never again be able to wear those beautiful sleek stilettos that I enjoyed when I was young – stilettos that my father accurately predicted would ruin my feet and aid in cultivating bunions and hammer toes. 

I recently purchased a chic outfit for a special function I’d be attending. It cried out for sexy high heel sandals with thin spaghetti straps. I ransacked my closet, but nothing would do, so I drove to the mall where, after rummaging through shoes in five stores, I found precisely what I wanted, and slipped them on. They were perfect. But I couldn’t walk. The heel was so high that my body pitched forward, and the spaghetti straps outlined, squeezed and pinched my bunion and hammertoe, causing sharp, pulsating pain. There would be dancing at this affair so, sadly, those shoes would never do.

Then I remembered my mother’s sage words. “To be a woman of substance you must endure the pain of bras, pantyhose and painfully tight shoes.”

I bought the shoes, made an awesome first impression, then danced the night away.In stocking feet.

 

Meet Laverne

Additional Info

  • author_first Laverne
  • introduction

    I, who am elated if I safely make it from point A to point B without tripping over low air currents, would really like to know how the beautiful people stand erect, forge ahead and even dance, on five-inch needle-thin mules that make even the ugliest pylons look willowy.

  • publish_date_month April
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Bardy
  • Column_Title Laverne's View
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One of my favorite places to hang out is the public library.

Here in Charleston, South Carolina, the library on Camp Road is less than a half mile from the apartment I share with my daughter. There are many, many perks to being a U.S. citizen, but the free public library system created by Andrew Carnegie is one of the best.

When I lived and worked in St. Kitts I was dismayed that the government did not provide a free library system for the citizens. However, there was a floating library that would visit the islands a couple of times each year.

The ship would dock in the harbor with several thousand books on board that were for sale at low prices. It would remain in the harbor for several days until it sailed to another island.

I would always make sure to write stories for the paper I edited about the library ship's presence. Hundreds of island residents, many of them young people, would visit the anchored ship to make their purchases.

On one occasion, I saw three kids in their teens. They were on board the ship gazing longingly at several Harry Potter books. I told them I asked them what books they planned to buy.

One of them, a muscular 16-year-old with dreadlocks, said, "We want to buy the Harry Potter books, but we have no money." I purchased the books for them and they happily left the ship clutching their precious possessions.

The library provides another world for readers. It provides people with armchair adventures that can open their minds to new experiences, new thoughts and exotic destinations.

Many people use the library as their own private office, using the Internet to set up businesses or write stories for publication. That is one of my purposes for visiting the library.

I also use the library to improve my skills at gambling There are many online strategies for playing dice, poker, the horses, baccarat and even slot machines. Some work and some don't, but it's always fun and a challenge to pursue them.

The employees at the Charlestown Public Library on Camp Road are not only helpful, they have become my friends. I discuss books and DVDs with people like Chris and Laura. They are helpful in getting foreign sub-titled DVDs to me and I am grateful for their efforts.

Recently I borrowed a DVD from the library called Forbidden Games. It was made in France after the end of World War 2 and tells the story of a child from Paris who was orphaned by the war and who was informally adopted by a poor farmer and his family.

The movie touched me deeply. The little girl becomes friends with the farmer's son who becomes her protector. I won't give away the plot – that would spoil it for you – but I highly recommend it as an unforgettable cinematic experience.

Andrew Carnegie may have been a wealthy white entrepreneur that today's politically correct society finds reason to attack, but his gift to the American people of a free library system is one that should make all of us thankful. People around the world envy the United States for
this gift and all of us should treasure it.

 

Meet Geno

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  • author_first Geno
  • introduction

    The library provides another world for readers. It provides people with armchair adventures that can open their minds to new experiences, new thoughts and exotic destinations.

  • publish_date_month April
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Lawrenzi, Jr.
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“My exercise routine consists of doing diddly squats.”

“I just burned 1200 calories. I forgot the pizza in the oven.”

If you’re a senior and these quotes describe your attitude concerning physical fitness, then maybe it’s time to change and be more like me. My attitude about aging and exercise is very upbeat — I believe that 70 is the new 69.

In some ways, getting old was easier in my parents’ time. Seniors in the previous generation weren’t constantly being pushed to “stay in shape.” If publications 50 years ago contained articles at all about senior activities, they typically covered topics like “Five ways to prepare rhubarb” or “Crocheting is good for you.”

Today, a guy can’t even take a relaxing trip during his retirement without coming across magazine articles like “Senior workouts in motel exercise rooms.” Heck, I get a workout just trying to figure out how to work the waffle maker in the motel breakfast nook.

It’s like, instead of facing peer pressure as seniors to get better at checkers, we feel compelled to do more push-ups than our fellow golden agers.

Today the push for my age group to get in shape or stay in shape is intense. Fitness advice is coming at us from all directions. As one recent ad expressed it, “Being over 50 isn't about slowing down, it's about revving up for your next phase in life.” Sooo, how “over 50” are we talking about?

One physician introduces the topic of senior fitness by asking his older patients, “Does anything keep you from your normal activities?” To which I would respond that nothing keeps me from my normal activities – it’s the abnormal activities that I’m struggling with nowadays.

The push for senior fitness is so ubiquitous that there are now fitness clubs around the country exclusively for adults 55 and over. With an estimated 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, the demand for such clubs is growing.

As one fitness expert observed, “The gym can be an intimidating place for seniors.” Senior health clubs provide a whole host of modifications, even offering personalized training plans.

Senior fitness gyms have trainers and instructors specifically trained to work with older people which I guess means that the instructors speak real loud. Another perk at senior clubs is that instead of doing squat-thrusts to hip-hop songs like “Butt Naked Nasty” by Da Pretty Boyz, seniors can groove on the stationary bike to Perry Como’s “Hot Diggity.”

One offering that is unique to such clubs is a computer simulated driving skills machine for seniors. Sounds like it could be fun, though I’m afraid that my wife and I would still find lots of things to point out that the other person is doing wrong.

One factor in the big push for senior physical fitness is that insurance companies appear to have finally wised up to the fact that it’s cheaper for them to help customers stay healthy than it is to help them recover from the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. My wife and I recently joined a regular local health club using our insurance provider’s discount program which is a real bargain. I admit that I had some serious qualms about joining since my idea of heavy lifting is whether to tackle an entire apple fritter with my morning coffee or just half.

Plus, I suffer from gymphobia as a result of four years of high school PE classes when I was a kid – an experience from which I only have a few memories, none of which are good. Things like getting beaned in dodgeball, getting snapped with wet towels in the locker room, and getting whacked on the butt with a yardstick by the PE instructor for screwing around — more like physical abuse than physical education.

But I have to say that my initial impression of the new gym we have joined is quite positive. It soon dawned on me that if you want to fit in with the young crowd at the gym these days you need to carry around three items while there: a phone that you constantly check, a water bottle to take a sip from every few seconds, and a small towel to wipe off perspiration.

I must confess that, up to now, I have only used my small towel for a napkin while sitting at the gym’s snack bar slurping a chocolate powerhouse smoothie.

Walking through the free-weights area does make me a bit nervous. Every time someone drops 300 lbs. on the floor with a loud “Boom!” I jump — or maybe it’s just that I’m bouncing off the floor a few inches.

The only equipment I have used during my first few club visits is the treadmill. Running inside is nice on cold, wet days, but I find the treadmill a bit scary when it gets going too fast. My plan is if I lose my balance and fly off the machine, I’ll just calmly get up off the floor, wipe my face with my little towel, take a sip from my water bottle, check my phone, and act like it’s all part of my personalized senior workout.

Meet Michael

Additional Info

  • author_first Michael J.
  • introduction

    My wife and I recently joined a regular local health club using our insurance provider’s discount program which is a real bargain. I admit that I had some serious qualms about joining since my idea of heavy lifting is whether to tackle an entire apple fritter with my morning coffee or just half.

  • publish_date_month April
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Murphy
  • Column_Title Social Insecurity
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Companion planting is today's garden buzzword for what our grandparents already knew – certain plants are happier and healthier when they grow near their friends. For instance, my Italian grandparents always planted tomatoes with basil. They said the basil made the tomatoes taste better. But companion planting doesn't just go back a few generations; it goes back thousands of years.

The legend of the Three Sisters is based on Native American agricultural lore. The well- being of each crop is protected by one of the Three Sister Spirits. “The corn, the bean and the squash are three loving sisters who must always live together to be happy. The older sister is tall and graceful, the next younger loved to twine about her and lean for strength upon her. The youngest rambled at the feet of her sisters and protected them from prowling enemies.”

The strength of the sturdy corn stalks support the twining beans, and the shade of the spreading squash vines trap moisture, deter weeds, and repel pests like hungry raccoons who love corn but don't like the prickles on the squash stems. The large amount of compost left from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the mound at the end of the season to build up the organic matter in the soil and improve its structure.

Success with a Three Sisters garden requires attention to timing, seed spacing, and varieties. Start by preparing a flat-topped mound about 18 inches across, adding lots of compost to feed the corn for the first year. A mound is used to slow the runoff of water and nutrients. The center of the mound should be five feet away from the center of the next mound.

After the last frost date in spring, plant four corn seeds in a six-inch square in the middle of the mound. When the corn is four inches tall, it's time to plant the beans and squash. First, weed the entire patch. Then plant four bean seeds, one between – and three inches away from – each corn plant to complete the square. Now plant three squash seeds in a triangle around the corn and beans. When the squash seedlings emerge, thin them to the two healthiest plants in each mound.

There are dozens of varieties of corn, beans and squash from which to choose, both hybrid and heirloom. Here are some suggestions for unique heirloom plants that will grow abundantly from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at rareseeds.com:

Corn - the tall sister: Cherokee Long Ear popcorn boasts beautiful 6-inch ears with bright kernels that come in a variety of colors including red, blue, orange, white and yellow. It is great for popping and perfect for fall arrangements as it is highly ornamental.

Country Gentleman sweet corn is a shoe-peg type, meaning the kernels are not borne in rows but in a zigzag pattern. It was introduced in 1890 by S.D. Woodruff & Sons and has sweet, milky, tender white kernels on 8-inch ears. Baker Creek says this is one of the best heirloom sweet corns.

Beans - the leaning sister: The Cherokee people carried Cherokee Trail of Tears corn from Tennessee as they were marched to Oklahoma in 1839 over the infamous Trail of Tears. This prolific variety has shiny black beans and is useful as either a snap or dry bean.

King of the Garden lima bean grows to 10 feet and yields very large white lima beans over a long season. An old-fashioned favorite since 1883, this bean is terrific in succotash.

Summer squash - the rambling sister: Early Golden summer crookneck is one of the oldest types of squash dating back to pre-Columbus times and has been popular ever since for its great taste and ease of growing.

Striata d'Italia is a nine-inch zucchini with light and dark green stripes. The superb flavor and texture make this variety popular in Italy. Try it cut lengthwise and grilled with a little olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

Growing a Three Sisters garden is a unique way to grow three popular garden vegetables, and a wonderful way to feel more connected to the history of this land, regardless of our ancestry.

 

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).

Meet Lori

Additional Info

  • author_first Lori
  • introduction

    “The corn, the bean and the squash are three loving sisters who must always live together to be happy. The older sister is tall and graceful, the next younger loved to twine about her and lean for strength upon her. The youngest rambled at the feet of her sisters and protected them from prowling enemies.”

  • publish_date_month April
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Rose
  • Column_Title The Midnight Gardener
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Dear Miss Nora: My husband and I have had many, many ups and downs over the decades. We’ve suffered serious illnesses, sacrifices and near financial ruin. We battled through separations and family troubles (on both sides) successfully. However, through the hard times, I’ve always taken comfort in believing that we were a good team and that our love would conquer all – after all, we’re still together after 50 years!

Since the beginning of our married life I have stashed away a few pennies here, a few dollars there and scrimped and saved where I could in the hopes that one day, we’d be able to enjoy a cruise someplace warm and exotic as a reward for enduring life’s obstacles. It’s been our dream to one day finally put all the strife behind us and enjoy the fruits of our labors  – of which there have been few fruits and much labor. I'm not saying there weren’t setbacks and start-overs to my savings but we finally got there. When I had put enough money aside (with the help of our 4 children), we could finally afford a cruise for our 50th wedding anniversary.

I planned everything. I booked stops along the way, sightseeing excursions, clothing luggage, hotels (two stops and 4 nights off the ship) and made sure that the dream vacation went off without a hitch.

And everything was going well, both of us were young again with excitement. That is, until a few days into our holiday when I noticed that my husband was paying a lot of attention to a single woman on the same cruise. At first, I didn’t perceive that he was slipping away to take her to lunch or to an event … without me! I just thought he was getting some sun or alone time and busied myself with my own interests. I won’t lie, the relaxation and idle time was revitalizing.

However, when I finally came to my sense and the penny dropped, I confronted him about his infatuation. Of course, he denied it and said that he was just being kind to a woman on her own and that I was being unfairly selfish to the both of them! He invited me to come along with them but I refused, I wasn’t interested in sharing my husband with a woman who had contributed
nothing to the struggle to get here but was happily reaping all the benefits.  

I was distraught. I couldn’t believe his insensitivity after all I’d endured to arrange the cruise. I’m afraid I threw in the towel at this point and just left Romeo to his new companion. I ignored them both for the rest of the cruise and have hardly spoken to him since.

Worse, the photographs of our time “together” include several of my husband with this woman at events and outings I didn’t even know they had attended together.

Am I wrong to be so jealous? Am I being selfish as I have been accused? I can hardly speak of the cruise when I’m asked about it – which is embarrassing since I made such a big fuss of it to whomever would listen before we set off. But I just can’t bring myself to recount my disappointment or to air my dirty laundry. I’m completely deflated and for the first time in my married life, I want to walk away and never come back.

Oh, one last thing, my husband is still in touch with this woman through emails. She is careful to address the emails to the both of us but what they are discussing in their exchanges has nothing whatsoever to do with me and clearly meant to keep their infatuation alive. — Done Cruising in Roanoke

Dear Done: Professionally speaking, I’m aware that I’ve only heard half the story and that there are two sides to every complaint, and that in all fairness I should reserve full judgment until your husband is given an opportunity to defend himself (good luck with that, Casanova!), but there are just too many tells in your story for me to think that there’s an innocent explanation.

I’m afraid you shoved, pulled, whipped and flogged this dead horse up the mountain without appreciating that you were alone in your hard work. You were so caught up in the battle that you overlooked how unrewarding the prize would be!

It doesn’t matter that your husband defends his less than chivalrous behavior. His callousness speaks volumes. Chalk this up to lesson finally learned and fill in the rest of your life with selfish pleasures and maybe a volunteer job to keep you entertained. If you choose to remain in your marriage, make sure you reserve days just for yourself. Find a hobby that gives you a long overdue time out.

And stop looking after your husband and his shortcomings. Let him fend for himself. Let him suffer his failures without you coming to his rescue. If he takes the leap to greener pastures, make sure you pack your whip amongst his belongings when he goes. Something tells me his new keeper will need it! 

 

Meet Miss Nora

Additional Info

  • introduction

    My husband is still in touch with this woman through emails. She is careful to address the emails to the both of us but what they are discussing in their exchanges has nothing whatsoever to do with me and clearly meant to keep their infatuation alive.

  • publish_date_month March
  • publish_date_year 2019
  • author_last Miss Nora
  • Column_Title Ask Miss Nora
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