Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If It's Tuesday, Who Cares?

One of the difficulties of being retired and not having a rigid work schedule is knowing what day it is. Doing laundry meant it was Saturday; liesurely breakfast of sausage and eggs while reading the paper, meant it was Sunday; morning conference call was Monday; completing my expense report was a Friday activity. Each day of the work week had it's agenda--some task requiring completion.

Not so, the life of this retiree. I must admit I found it disconcerting to awaken unsure what day of the week it is, not to mention which day of the month! That disoriented feeling is passing and being replaced by a strange, tranquil calm ; a warm, comfortable realization that it no longer matters what day it is. Laundry duty needn't be relegated to any particular schedule as long as I have clean clothes to wear; grocery shopping can be accomplished when the urge hits or when the refrigerator is depleted; activities can be scheduled at whim!

I'm relishing that sense of freedom along with the realization that I have earned it. For many years my life revolved around my work schedule, my children's schedule, and my husband's; now, at long last, it's my time, and what a delicious, giddy feeling this is!

Monday, June 29, 2009

How to Clean a Toilet

I hate housework; it's another of my serious flaws. Obviously, when I find a way to do things easier or faster, I'm delighted. I found a helpful tip on line this morning, and it was simply too much of a Time-Saver not to share it with you.

How to clean a toilet:

1. Put both the seat and the lid of the toilet up,And add 1/8 cup of pet Shampoo to the water in the bowl.

2. Pick up the cat and soothe him while You carry him towards the bathroom.

3. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close the lid. You may need to stand on the Lid.

4. The cat will self agitate and make Ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.

5. Flush the toilet three or four Times .This provides a 'power-wash' and rinse'.

6. Have someone open the front door of your home.Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.

7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift the lid.

8. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, And run outside where he will dry himself off.

9. Both the commode and the cat will beSparkling clean.                                              Sincerely,

                                            The Dog

I hope this is as helpful to you, as it was to me!   Have a great day!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

This will probably be Joe and I in 20 years. I can hear my sons saying, “Who are you trying to kid, Mom? That’s Joe and you now!” They already have us in the same league as dinosaurs!

In any case, I think growing old together is a wonderful gift. I have friends and family members who are still in marriages that have lasted 30, 40, and 50 years. What a testimony to love, loyalty and longevity. I’m sure their relationships were not always easy, but they made a commitment and a decision to stay with it. I’m not condemning those whose relationships failed to weather the storms; having been divorced after a twelve year marriage, I’d be the last one to cast stones. (The second time has proved more successful. . .we’re approaching 26 years!)

As this is June, the traditional month of nuptials, it seemed appropriate to congratulate those who chose their mates wisely and well; those who had enough faith, kindness, and devotion to not abandon ship when the waters grew turbulent; whose love has endured and perhaps even been deepened by adversity. I admire, envy, and honor them and wish them many more happy years.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Alphabet for Seniors

A is for Apple, and B is for Boat,
That used to be right,But now it won't float!
Age before Beauty is what we once said,
But let's be a bit more realistic instead.

Now A's for arthritis;
B's the bad back,
C is the chest pains, perhaps car-di -ac?
D is for dental decay and decline,
E is for eyesight, can't read that top line!
F is for fissures and fluid retention,
G is for gas which I'd rather not mention.
H is high blood pressure--I'd rather it low;
I for incisions with scars you can show.
J is for joints, out of socket, won't mend,
K is for knees that crack when they bend.
L for libido, what happened to sex?
M is for memory, I forget what comes next
N is neuralgia, in nerves way down low;
O is for osteo, the bones that don't grow!
P for prescriptions, I have quite a few, just give me a pill and I'll be good as new!
Q is for queasy, is it fatal or flu?
R for reflux, one meal turns to two.
S for sleepless nights, counting my fears,
T for Tinnitus; there's bells in my ears!
U is for urinary; big troubles with flow;
V is for vertigo, that's "dizzy," you know.
W is for worry, NOW what's going 'round?
X is for X ray, and what might be found.
Y is another year I'm left here behind,
Z is for zest that I still have-- in my mind.

I've survived all the symptoms, my body's deployed, and I've kept twenty-six 'doctors' fully employed!

I wish I could take credit for the above, but I found it on line and just had to share it! there was no author listed. Hope it made you smile!

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'll see the USA in my Chevrolet!

Saving our planet is important; I recycle, I try to conserve energy by using compact flourescent light bulbs and turning lights off when not in use, and wearing a sweater in the house in winter rather than turn up the furnace. But after our train trip to Boston yesterday, I've come to the conclusion, I am not a train person. Sharing space with crying babies, obnoxious children, oblivious parents, and people who don't care who hears about Aunt Martha's hysterectomy, is not my cup of tea. Then there's the shake, rattle, and roll of the train cars themselves; the ride had more bumps and grinds and less grace than a stripper at a bachelor party. There was little relaxing about the ride, except for on the way home, maybe the fifteen minutes between the next to last stop and ours, after the couple across the aisle from us decided to disembark, taking their hyper-active grandsons with them.

My Chevy Malibu may not be new, but it is comfortable and peacefully quiet--and I can decide when and where I want to stop. Maybe I'm just old! For sure the children on the train weren't any worse behaved than my own were at that age when required to sit for 2 hours, but my tolerence level was much greater in my late twenties and early thirties than it is today!

With that said, the rest of the day (the time spent in Boston) was lots of fun. We took trolley tours of Boston and Cambridge with City View Trolley Tours --they had a kiosk right in the train station. The tour of Boston was exceptional due to our driver and tour guide, Vinnie. He was just full of interesting historical tidbits about Samuel Adams, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party, etc., which he shared with colorful detail and humor. We had some great laughs throughout the scenic and informative ride.

Later in the day, we took a second trolley tour of Cambridge, the home of Harvard University, Bunker Hill, and MIT. Our guide on this jaunt, although knowledgeable, seemed to have a limited vocabulary. Every site he pointed out was "cool" or "the coolest," and the word "like" was in every other sentence: "Like this is where the U.S.S. Constitution is docked. Like wow, it's really cool."

I would recommend these tours to anyone who goes to Boston; they are a great way to learn about the history of the city, plus you can get off at any stop you choose to learn more about, knowing there's another trolley going by every 20 minutes, so you can continue your tour.

The highlight of the trip had to be lunch, however. Joe had seen on the food channel or the travel channel a small restaurant called Pizzaria Regina located in Boston's North End, which was reputed to have the best pizza in Boston since 1926. You can visit their website: The brag is not unfounded. I love pizza and have tried it at many different places, and this was by far the best I've ever tasted! We chose the "Sausage Cacciatore Pizza" from the extensive menu and were not disappointed. The oven-baked pie had a crispy crust; the sausage (made by the Polcari family) was delicious, and there were losts of green and yellow peppers, fresh mushrooms, and onions. I've heard that although there are several locations, the best one is on Thatcher Street in the North End of Boston. I know I'll have to go back again. . .it was too good. (and I'm not being paid to say that!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nature's Cruel Ways

It doesn’t seem that long ago, we frolicked on the beach,
Built castles in the sand,
Walked together hand in hand;
The whole world was at our feet.
We were innocent and sweet.

We bloomed into young women and took on the world out there;
Each morning brought new challenge,
And we were strong and sure and
Confident we’d find our ways.
You’d agree: Those were the days!

But time and life do take their toll, and now we do grow old.
O’er time we wed, and then we bred;
We raised our kids, oh, yes we did.
And cellulite snuck in o’er night--
And our backside view’s now quite the sight!

I posted this a day early, because we're taking the train to Boston tomorrow for lunch. I'll post again on Friday.

Shopping in Comfort

Will the internet eventually make shopping malls obsolete? I love to shop online. There is no need to venture into the cold, rain, or blistering heat, battle traffic, and fight for a parking place. I can browse with no one hovering like a thirsty mosquito buzzing, “May I help you?”
The ability to browse for books at Borders or Amazon from the comfort of my home, click on the items I want, and have them delivered to my door is a delight. Shopping Sears, J. C. Penney, Wal-Mart, and most major chains is simple and quick. Granted, in most cases you will pay extra for shipping, (although some sites offer free shipping specials), but if you put a dollar value on your time, factor in the price of gas, there’s not much difference in cost between online shopping and in person shopping. There is something to be said for being able to physically handle the merchandise, experiencing texture and tones first hand, and the immediate gratification of taking the item home on the spot, of course. So I suppose there will always be a demand for specialty shops and department stores.
In some cities, the major grocery stores offer the option of shopping online or by phone with a small charge for delivery. Personally, I enjoy Schwan’s; I have a paper catalogue, plus I can browse their website, select what I want, and every other week, their truck pulls up to my door with my choices. There is a $1.00 delivery charge, but the quality of the food is good, and if you are not satisfied with your purchase, you can return the item for a refund the next time the driver stops by. I still go to the supermarket for some things, but I love the convenience and quality of Schwan’s (and no, this has not been a paid announcement; I am not being compensated for my words—I just love being able to shop in my undies at midnight, if the spirit moves me!).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's Your Ride Choice?

Somehow the illustration tells it all: the story of what happens between ‘From dust to dust.” We come into this world immobile and often leave that way. It’s the ride we take in between which matters.

Some of us spend our lives clinging to that convertible coupe which is our youth, getting facelifts, tummy-tucks, Botox, hair plugs, and Viagra; others never want to leave the mini-van, living vicariously through their children—the stage moms & dads, meddling in-laws, the parents who find the need to constantly intervene in their off-springs' lives, long after the chicks have left the nest.

I want to jump into that RV and experience the adventures that await me now that the bonds of child-rearing and work have been lifted. (I’m writing figuratively, of course; my husband is not a camper!) . Travel will be a part of that RV juncture of my life, however; Joe and I are planning a cross-country trek to visit his son in Seattle and see parts of this great land en route. The Mall of the Americas, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Pacific Highway, and other yet to be determined destinations beckon.

Now that I have been freed from that 9:00 to 5:00 schedule, it’s time to explore what the world holds in store for me. This blog is a part of that; testing my talent—finding out if I have any!

Monday, June 22, 2009

This is Bliss??

During the four years since my husband was retired, when I rose, showered, had breakfast, and left for work in the morning, I never gave a second thought to the fact that he often was still asleep. However, now that I, too, am retired, I’m beginning to wonder about our compatibility: I’m a morning person; he’s a night owl. I like to get up, shower, get dressed and have breakfast by 9:00 a.m. at the latest; he likes to sleep until 9:30 or so, then watch some tv or surf the net, eventually decide to eat breakfast, then maybe shower and/or get dressed around noon or later.
I’m ready to go to sleep most nights by 11:00p.m.; he’d rather watch the news, watch Letterman, and maybe even play a little spider solitaire on the computer—sometimes until 1:00 a.m.
(The problem occurs when I’m asleep and he decides to crack open a tray of ice and dump it into the ice bin (crash, bang!), or when he drops something (another crash, bang!), or when he starts flipping through the TV channels on the bedroom set and hits one where the volume is much louder and maybe there’s a heavy metal band playing (crash, bang!) and I end up wide awake, just as he dons his CPAP mask and immediately goes to sleep. Then I lay there pondering my revenge: Should I “spill” ice water on him at 7:00 a.m? Start vacuuming the house at 5:00? Use our noisy blender to make a fruit smoothie at 6:00? I finally drift off to dreamland with get- even plots swirling through my brain. (Of course, by morning the anger has abated, and I quietly begin my day whle he sleeps on—totally oblivious of the evils he has again avoided!)
If I want to go some where, I like to be on the road by nine; I like spontaneity in my day. He prefers to plan ahead. He says if I want to go somewhere, I only need to let him know the day before and he will plan to be ready. I don’t always know, for example, on Thursday afternoon that I want to go to Boston, or Skowhegan, Waterville, or wherever on Friday. So if I decide it’s a beautiful day when I’m up and ready on Friday, once he gets his act together and is ready to do something, it’s 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. By that time, I feel it’s too late to go anywhere.
Meal times are a challenge to coordinate, as well. Breakfasting before 9:00 a.m. most days, I’m thinking lunch around noon, when he just finished breakfast! It could be worse, I know, and I’m sure we’ll work out the kinks. In the meantime, it’s good that we have no firearms in the house! But then, that’s been true for the last 26 years!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Romancing the Road

I've included in this post an url (web address) of an amazing video. If you click on the url, give it time to upload, then click on the arrow in the picture of the lady in her car, you can watch the video. I thought it was inspiring! I hope you will enjoy it as well.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nobody's Perfect!

It’s time to own up to one of my flaws: Maybe because she had seven children, my mother didn’t have time to baby any of us if we were just slightly under the weather, so we learned to “suck it up.” It is said that we learn what we live: I am not a good nurse. I truly believe my sons benefited from this short-coming. I never fussed over them and coddled them a lot when they were sick. If they were too sick to go to school, they spent the day in bed; no television; toast and/or soup for sustenance. Having learned early there were no special benefits to being sick, they seldom were. To this day, neither of them takes a sick day from work unless they are TRULY incapacitated
My husband, on the otheer hand, was the younger of two children. Lots of fussing and coddling time there! The “suck it up” gene is absent from his DNA; a sniffle could disable him at any time. And by some quirk of fate or bad karma, he married me . . . Nurse Rachid (the unsympathetic caregiver in the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) Not to say that I’m sadistic in any way, but I’m just not a clucking mother hen—“there, there, dear, what can I get for you?”—which I recognize is terrible, because my husband is much more solicitous. (I’m sure he learned what he lived!)

Last winter when he took a fall and broke his shoulder, I tried to be a better person. The right shoulder was the broken one, so the basic things we take for granted became a challenge for him: dressing and undressing, shaving, showering, etc. My assistance was required for him to be able to complete these tasks, and I tried to be patient and helpful. That we got through it all with our relationship intact, is no small miracle! As I said, I am seriously flawed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

See you on the Net!

The number of seniors cruising the internet is really exciting. We are certainly disproving the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” Computers were non-existent when we were teens. We passed notes back and forth during class; there was no “texting,” because the only telephones were those black boxes on the wall (and pretty much, there was only one per household!). You held the earpiece to your ear and waited for the operator to say, “Number Please?” Well, the operator spoke to you if the line was clear; most of us had party lines, and there was a pretty good chance that when you put that earpiece to your head, you would overhear your neighbors having a conversation. Telephone etiquette dictated that you hang up immediately; if it was a true emergency, it was acceptable to ask them to please hang up so you could place an emergency call. I still remember my phone number back then: 754J.

Today, I admit I still don’t text; I think my fingers are too fat for those little keys! But like many others of my generation, I have completely accepted the computer as an essential part of our communication system. Emailing out of town family members is a boon; it operates without regard to time zone differences. Sharing pictures via the internet is now a common occurrence. We get to watch our west-coast granddaughter smile, learn to crawl, and get Gerber carrots all over her face without our leaving home.

Friends and family members in their 70’s and 80’s tell me they keep up with their families via Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. The information at our fingertips is mind- boggling. Missing a recipe for broccoli salad? Not sure what the side effects of that newly prescribed medication might be? Looking for the movie theater schedule? Want to see a preview of the movie before you go? Looking for your soul mate? Missed yesterday’s soap opera? Want to read your hometown newspaper? It’s all there on the internet.

Kudos to those who have welcomed this technology into their lives. For some of us, it has not been easy; I pooh-poohed the necessity of it for some time. A reluctant convert in the beginning, I’ve become a bit of a zealot; I keep up with family, friends, and former students on facebook, create my own greeting cards, download (or is it upload?) photos, and now I’m blogging. What a great fun way to keep learning new things!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reaching for the Brass Ring

My dream has been to be a writer; well, that and to have a cleaning lady! I wrote some in college--a couple of short stories, a couple of poems--but then I graduated,. got married, and it seemed that life got in the way. Marriage, work, kids. . .all seemed to demand more of my attention then that dream. Maybe that's not a fair assessment; I chose to give more time to those things than to writing.

When my first marriage began to falter, a counselor suggested that I start keeping a journal as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. I followed his suggestion. For a couple of years, through the breakup of my marriage and the start of my life as a divorced mother of two, I chronicled my journey... sometimes through tears, often with humor. The ability to look back through my writing and view my progression gave me the strength I needed to carry on

Four years later, I had acquired a new job, a second marriage, and a stepson, and again I put writing aside as a lesser priority. Getting three boys through adolescence into adulthood seemed task enough. During that time, I did get a few poems published (The Literary Guild will publish most anything, in hopes the authors will spend $50 on the book!), and I did some free-lancing for the Sun Journal in Lewiston. While I worked at TD Bank, I became sort of the branch poet laureate, from time to time penning humorous pieces for special occasions such as birthdays and retirement parties.

Recently an article in HAO magazine featured three writers who published their first books published after age 65, convincing me that it's never too late. Retirement has given me the time; I have my HP notebook, an office space all my own, and no excuses! One of the self-help books I've read says, "If you want to be a writer, write! Write everyday to practice and improve your craft." Hence, this blog: a place to write everyday. I have also submitted a short story to a literary contest, and submitted a couple of anecdotes to Readers' Digest. (Of course, Readers' Digest receives over 250,000 submissions per year, of which they may purchase 100; odds are against me there!) Wish me luck in pursuit of my dream in my silver-haired years.

It's never too late for anyone. (Except for me and that cleaning lady--unless I manage to write a best-seller and become rich!) If there's something you've always wanted to do... go for it. At least you and I will know we tried!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Show Me the Money!

I guess I get to join the rest of the retirees out there at the mercy of social security. Today my first benefit check was due, and it's not there! I phoned social security, and they tell me that my request for a starting date change for my benefits which they received on April 22 is still in process. Now let's see: today is June 17th, which means they have had the request for 56 days--just 4 days short of 2 months and they have not finished processing it. Ah, the wheels of progress turn ever so slowly!

I called my congresswoman's office, Chellie Pingree, and explained the problem. Hopefully, the problem will be resolved. The benefit isn't that large, but I certainly still want it! I was told that I needed to sign a Privacy Release Form, which they could fax to me if I have access to a fax machine. Well, when I purchased my HP laptop, I also purchased an "all in one" printer, copier, fax machine, and scanner. Yahoo! I get to use it. I gave Chellie's office the fax number and waited excitedly for my first fax. The machine has a little viewing window which displays the date and what feature I am using.

My phone started ringing, and I looked at the view window expectantly; sure enough, the words, United States Government came into sight, followed by a message stating that my phone was off the hook. I'm embarrassed to say we have six phones in this house; I raced from one to another, looking for one off the hook! None were. Then I checked the connections between my fax and my phone. They seemed to be okay. On the third attempt, the fax came through.
It was a form giving per mission for my records to be released to Congresswoman Pingree's office if neccessary. I signed the form and faxed it back. It's cool to have my own fax machine!

Now I get to wait patiently for the problem to be resolved. Hope to see that first check soon!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Piano Player with Balls

videoI found this video to be totally amazing; right up there with the Horny Frenchman. There's not much to be said about it, except maybe this fellow has way too much time on his hands if he was able to learn this skill! I put it here strictly for your entertainment, and because I couldn't come up with a topic for today.

If you've been enjoying this blog, feel free to pass the url on to your friends. Also, I relish feedback, so click on the comment button below and leave me a message. Hope all my visitors are having a great day,

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Thoughts on Father's Day

Sunday is Father’s Day. Once a year, we take the time to show our appreciation to all the Dads out there. Those among us who are fortunate to have our Dads in our lives should be grateful. The youngest of seven children, I lost my father when I was 27. He died of a heart attack while driving in Canada on vacation. In some ways it was tragic; we weren’t ready to lose him. Too many things left unsaid; too many goals unachieved. In some ways it was a blessing; he died doing what he loved, and we didn’t have to suffer the pain of watching him wither at the mercy of some debilitating disease.

Dad had been a pipefitter at the paper mill in Waterville. He spent 40 plus years working there to support his family of 7 children. He would have liked to have been a plumber and have had his own business. He never found the courage, the financing, or the business acumen to achieve his dream.

Sadly, Dad didn’t live long enough to see one of his sons achieve that dream in his place. One of my brothers did start his own successful plumbing and heating business. Mom often said she wished Dad could have been around to see that fleet of red vans with white stenciling proclaiming “Plourde’s Plumbing and Heating, Inc.” My brother eventually retired and sold the business, but I suspect Dad was looking down on him with great wistful pride while the business was in operation.

My Dad never got to see all of his grandchildren; there are 25 in all. He also never saw any great-grandchildren and there are at least 45 of those (I’m not 100% sure of that count!). And now there are great-greats showing up. In among those grandchildren are a teacher, a physical therapist, several computer specialists, a couple of business managers, a couple of small business owners, an accountant or two, and several other productive citizens. He also fathered and grandfathered many loving Dads. What a legacy!

Dad never talked about love; he lived it. He spent the better part of his life working hard to provide for us. There was never a shortage of hugs in our house, but he was strict and firm with us. I remember if there was too much horsing around after bedtime, he would come to the foot of the stairs, pound his beefy fist on one of the wooden steps, and threaten (in French), “I’m going to come up there!” I don’t remember that he ever carried out the threat, but we shook between the sheets; there was no question he meant business! We instinctively knew that Dad coming upstairs would NOT be a good thing.

I remember him cooking sometimes. Homefries made from leftover boiled potatoes, French toast, hot dogs, and I especially remember him helping my mother make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, once the oldest of us had married and would come home on those holidays.

I may have inherited his stubbornness; we locked horns from time to time. When I decided to go to college against his wishes, we nearly came to a parting of the ways. He saw no reason that a girl needed to go to college! In the end, he and my mother came to my college graduation, and both shed tears when I went to the podium to give the Ivy Oration. I may have gone on to college, but I learned my work ethic, my values, and the importance of family,growing up on our farm. Thank you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

Girls' Night Out

(This is a repost from June of 2009 because I had lunch with the birthday girl in this post today, and she says she never saw it.  I had only been blogging for a week or two when I posted this, so I suspect it won't be a repeat for too many of you, as I only had a couple of followers back then!  Hope you all--including the birthday girl enjoy it!)

There's nothing like a night out with the girls to put some life into your week. Its certainly something I haven't done often enough during my working years.
Probably the most fun I've ever had on a girls' night out was when one of my best friends turned 75 a couple of years ago. Her daughter sprang for a limo and tickets to Ogunquit Theater for a group of us.

We were to meet at a predesignated location, where we would be picked up by the limo, and then drive to the birthday girl's house. She would be properly surprised to see her friends in the limo, and then we would be whisked off to dinner and the theater.

Apparently the limousine driver had not been fully apprised of the plan, for as we waited in the parking lot for him, we watched him whisk by us and proceed toward birthday girl's neighborhood. My friends were waving frantically and shouting in an attempt to catch the driver's attention. I was still in my car, so I tore off after the limo, so as not to spoil the surprise. (They later said I turned the corner out of the parking lot on two wheels, but I think that may have been an exaggeration!) I did go flying after him with my lights flashing and my car horn blowing. I pulled up beside him, lowered my passenger side window, as he lowered his and yelled, "Pull over!"

He did stop. "Are you out of your mind??" he shouted. I suppose a gray-haired lady driving at breakneck speed, lights flashing and horn blaring would appear to be of questionable sanity. I tried to explain to him that he was making a mistake, and that he was supposed to pick up the group of ladies in the parking lot on the corner before proceeding to his destination. (I think he was stressed because he thought he was about to be the victim of a limo-jacking, so his sense of humor was non-existent.)
He followed me back to the parking lot while calling his office to verify my story. When he finished the phone call, he apologized for being so short with me, and we all climbed into the limo for the short ride to birthday girl's house.

Birthday girl was indeed surprised, and she and her daughter joined us in the limo for champagne, cheese, and crackers on the way to the restaurant. I had only ridden in a limousine once before, but this was much more fun. We pulled up to Litchfield's in Kennebunk for a fun dinner, with people looking at us curiously, trying to determine if we were famous. (By the way, I discovered this weekend that Litchfield's is closed and up for auction, but I don't think that is in any way a result of our party!)

We piled into the limo again after dinner for the ride to the Ogunquit Theater for a production of "The Full Monty." The show was wonderfully, hilariously funny--a perfect choice for the occasion. As the limo returned us to the parking lot where we had left our cars, birthday girl declared it was the best birthday she'd ever had... and I would say it was the best birthday party I've ever attended. I hope my kids are reading this and will keep it in mind for my 75th!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Open Wide and say, "AAAAhhh."

(To watch the video, click on the arrow at the lower left of the window)

Well, I finally paid off my dental bill last week, as part of my attempt to enter retirement debt free, other than the remaining mortgage and the balance on my car loan.

Last fall during a visit to my bank, I made the mistake of helping myself to a Dum-Dum Lollipop from the dish on the customer service representatives desk. As it turns out, I was the Dum-Dum! Never one to let candy melt in my mouth, I bit down on the lollipop and promptly broke a tooth. Actually, it was a filling made to look like a tooth. I had broken the original tooth about 15 years ago, and being unable to afford to have a crown installed at the time, I elected to go the least costly route and have this filling put in which looked just like my tooth. The dentist told me it might last a few weeks, a few months, or a few years; fifteen years later I found my self having to have the crown placed videoI in my jaw, so I have no complaints there.

When a dentist today says, "Open wide," he or she is not referring to your mouth. The item you need to open wide is your wallet! The price quoted to me for two cleanings and a crown was $1800.00. They now have you sit with a finance manager who helps you find a way to pay for this service.

Offered a line of credit specifically for these procedures, I could stretch the payment out and have no interest charged to the account for two years, as long as I made regular, timely payments. Sounded simple enough. Luckily, I have a habit of reading the fine print. The interest rate was 18 and 1/2 percent, and if I were to be even a day late on any payment, the full interest would be tacked on my account..the full two years' interest, regardless of how many months remained.

Naturally, I was determined to make the payments on time. The first payment was due on the 5th of the month; careful examination of my subsequent statement disclosed the fact that my payment due date had been changed to the second of the following month. There was no mention of the date change other than the due date listed for next payment. Also, I was instructed to make the minimum payment of $50.00.

I decided to pay more than the minimum.. If I had opted to pay the declining minimum they requested on each statement, it would have taken me much longer than 2 years to repay the debt, and, of course, the interest would have been tacked on at that point, even if I had managed to beat the changing due date for each payment. Not wanting to risk being late or worse, I decided to use the balance in my Health Savings account to clear up the debt.

For the price of a small car, I could have a percfect smile. Sorry, world, you'll have to accept me with my imperfections; there'are no more funds in my Health Savings account, and I'm unwilling to help finance a Harvard education for my dentist's progeny!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Looking for Mr. Goodbar

Now there's a business opportunity for someone! A match-making agency for retirees. I know of several widows and widowers who might be great candidates, not to mention the divorced men and women out there. It could be done on the internet or face to face; there are certainly growing numbers of that demographic.

The possiblilty for catchy names is wide open: Last Chance Liasons; Seeking Senior Sweethearts; Mature Match-Ups. Yep, the possiblilities are endless. Maybe someone has already jumped on the idea. I know there are many websites like E-Harmony out there, but are any of them specializing in the 55-plus population?

This isn't an area I would venture into personally. I only have a 33% success rate on the match making I've attempted in the past; and I mean theWAY past. Back when I was in my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, I did set 3 friends up on blind dates. One couple never had a second date; the other two couples married; of those, one couple divorced about 10 years later, and I've lost touch with the third couple, so I don't know if they're still together. (Ray and Lainey, are you out there somewhere?) I guess even my 33% success rate is questionable. I just think there's a market niche out there that may need filling and maybe some lonely souls looking for solace.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Drive-Thru Confusion

A couple of years ago, a new Dunkin' Donuts opened down the road from us. The first time I approached the drive-thru window, there were no other cars in line. I stopped at the speaker and waited to be acknowledged. After a couple of minutes, I began to think the service was poor because no one had yet asked for my order.

That was when I discovered I was parked next to the waste receptacle; the speaker was a few feet ahead of me. I tried to act cool, as though I had been checking my purse to see how much cash I had with me before placing my order. I've often wondered if the girl at the window was aware of my error, and trying not to embarrass me by laughing and pointing!

It was an honest mistake; how could I know that shiny red cylinder with the hole in the front was the trashcan? Being brand new, it didn't have that obvious trashy look about it; don't most places have the trash container after the drive-thru window?

So I totally identified with the lady in the above cartoon... she's not near-sighted; she's just confused!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Please Pass the Blueberries!

One of the perplex-ing things about this age is the elusive-ness of those facts and items that were always on the tip of my tongue or at my fingertips.

Take the name of the actress that plays the mother on Brothers and Sisters: I know who she is--I remember her from The Flying Nun--but the only name that keeps coming to mind is Patty Duke and I know that is incorrect. It will come back to me at a later time when I don't need to remember it. (Although I've read that if it does come back to you, you don't have Alzheimer's. That's comforting!)

Then there's my favorite recipe for peanut butter fudge--you know, the one made with marshmallow fluff. I can't find that, either. The sad part is, I put it someplace safe, where I knew I wouldn't lose it! And I missed the playoff game between the Lakers and the Magic last night. I forgot that, too!

My friends tell me of similar experiences. I am really concerned about that lady in London who gave birth to a baby at age 62--her, not the baby!--I'm afraid she will set that infant down one day and totally forget where she left it.

My sister Jeannine keeps telling me blueberries are supposed to help your memory, but I keep forgetting to buy some!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Truly Horny Frenchman (It's Not What You Think!)

I just had to put this video on my blog, in hopes that it will bring smiles to some of your faces. If you like music , if you like horny men, this is for you. I do hope you enjoy it. To start the video, click on the arrow at the lower left of the window. I think you'll find it quite entertaining.

Monday, June 8, 2009

For us computer dummies.. and we KNOW who we are!

Even though my laptop computer and all-in-one printer are new, I'm not a total novice to this technology. I have owned 4 different computers prior to this one over the past 15 years, each time having upgraded to a newer model. This being the case, what I'm going to relate is even more embarrassing!

When I first bought the printer, I hooked it up according to the directions, installed the ink cartridges and printed the test page and photocopied it as instructed. So you can imagine my chagrin when I decided to print something the other day, clicked on print, and nothing happened! I tried a second and third time, and my printer still sat there, defiantly quiet.
I then decide to check all the connections. Yes, it was plugged into the receptacle, and the electrical cord was inserted properly into the back of the printer; the USB cable was also in place and connected to my laptop. Okay, I decided, maybe I need to re-install it. I dug out the installation cd and inserted it into the drive. A message came up stating, "Your printer is not on line."
Oh... I forgot to turn it on, so I pressed the power button; nothing happened. Usually the little screen says "warming up" but nothing appeared. Again I checked all the connections, re-inserted the installation cd, and again the message, "Your printer is not on line."
All of the above took at least 30 minutes if not more. After fiddling and finagling and frantic button pushing with no better result, I began to panic! We had a very intense thunderstorm between the time I set up the printer and the day I tried to print... what if lightning had damaged the brand, spanking new printer before I even had a chance to use it, just because I neglected to connect it to a circuit breaker instead of directly to the wall outlet?
I tried one more time. This time I discovered what I thought was the power button was in actuality the reset button! Once I pressed the correct button, the "warming up" message appeared, then my printer began printing and printing, once for each time I had clicked on print! Talk about being a computer idiot! I felt like a DOUBLE dufus!
(I only shared this experience to let any other computer dummies out there know they are not alone! )

Sunday, June 7, 2009

21st Century Mapreading

Have you used a GPS (Global Positioning System?)? This is one gadget that totally amazes me. When I was on the road making medicare supplement sales, I found it to be indispensable! If you're not familiar with this product, it is like a little computer screen that mounts on the dashboard or windshield of your car--although now you can buy a hand held one or get the capability with your cell phone or blackberry. It has a touch screen that allows your to type in your destination, and then it proceeds to give you directions, both on screen and verbally, to get you there.

If you are like me, finding the print on roadmaps seems much smaller than it used to be, and not good at following or even remembering instructions, it can be a real life saver. I purchased mine on the internet through my son Jason's on line business, but I'm sure there are other sources.

It's not an infallible gadget, however. Mabel (as my husband fondly refers to my GPS) has once or twice led me astray. Once I was on my way to a potential customer's home in Limington, ME, and Mabel directed me to turn right on the River Road. It was late March and about 4:00pm when I made the turn. I had no idea the road name was true to fact. It started out as a tarred road, then became gravel. I probably should have paid more attention to the sign I passed which said "No winter maintenance." The gravel started to get a little mushy, then there were puddles. When I came to the small stream that was gushing across the trail (road, at this point no longer seemed an apt description), I foolishly forged forward. I had already traveled 3 miles and according to Mabel I only had 1 mile left. There were deep, muddy ruts, and then I rounded a curve to find a car stuck in the muck in the middle of the byway. With no space to get past on either side, my only option was to reverse direction. I did get turned around and made it back around the curve--did I mention it had now started to rain? I drove another 50 feet, then felt my wheels sink in and lost the ability to go forward or back. ( I didn't try very hard, because I knew that would only make the situation worse!)

Thank goodness for my cell phone; after dialing AAA and explaining my predicament to the lady on the phone, she asked, "Is the mud up to your hubcaps?"

"Just a second, I'll check," I answered. Upon opening the door , I discovered the mud was up to the bottom of my Chevy. "Yes, I'guess it is."

"Well, you know, if the truck driver feels he is in danger of damaging his vehicle or yours, he may refuse assistance. I will send someone to you, however."

Oh great. Rain was coming down, and daylight was dwindling, and I could be refused assistance. I couldn't even recall when I had last seen a house. Immediately I made a call to my son Jason. "If Triple A can't help you, call me back, and I'll come get you out."he assured me. That was some comfort at least. Jason has a huge mother of a truck, and I had no doubt that he could save me from spending the night in the cold, rain, and mud!

Within just a few minutes (although it felt like an hour) the Triple A Tow Truck appeared. Apparently the other stranded driver had called, and they had already been on their way to my location. Two burly men climbed out of the truck and approached my car. "Got a problem?" asked the closer of the two. Talk about understatement! They were both trying not to laugh as I nodded emphatically. In no time at all, they had used a winch to pull me out. "Now do you think you can make it back to the highway?" they asked.

"I don't know," I responded, doubtfully. Those ruts looked deeper and more water filled than before.

"Well, don't worry. We'll get the guy behind you out, and then we'll come back this way to make sure you got out safely."

"Thanks," I replied gratefully. I proceeded with caution, avoiding what looked like the deepest ruts and largest puddles.

When I finally reached the highway, the until then silent Mabel spoke up: "A better route is available."(now she tells me!) I did make it to my sales appointment and made the sale, but not without having learned a lesson: Follow Mabel's instructions, but never, never ignore a sign that says, "No winter maintenance."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What's that thing on your ear?

Does anyone else out there wonder "What's next?" I wonder what the next invention will be that no one can live without. Cell phones are a great example. Fellow retirees will remember that we lived for 60 or more years without one. We went on trips, went to the grocery store, went out to dinner, went to the beach--all kinds of places without a thought to the fact that we had no means of communication in our pockets. And we survived, amazingly enough. Our friends and family just had to wait for us to get home to speak to us.

Now, Im not denying the value of the cell phone. Certainly in an emergency it comes in handy! If you are in or see an accident, if your car breaks down, if you're going to be late getting home--great occasions to make use of a cell phone. But I really question the necessity of inane chatter while you are pushing a cart at the grocery store, attending a sporting event, or roaming aimlessly around the mall. And using that cell phone or blueberry or whatever kind of berry to email (they call it texting) while you are driving? (I won't even go there!)

Ah, well. Maybe good manners went the way of the dinosaur!

The other night Joe and I were at The Longhorn Restaurant having dinner and the couple in the booth across from us were both chatting on their cells during their meal. Now I assume they were having conversations with different people. I could be wrong; they may have been so dependent on their phones they didn't know how to have a face to face conversation! Maybe I'm old fashioned, but if I'm out for dinner with someone, it's usually because I enjoy that person's company. Why would I want to sit there and talk with someone else?

If someone knows the answer to that one, please let me know. (There's a place for comments below.) I really need to be enlightened. Maybe it's a new kind of double date? Or maybe it's multiple dating. I remember being guilty of that once or twice in my youth, but I was usually finished the first date before starting the second!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Grandkids: The Reward for Having Been a Parent

One of the greatest things about reaching retirement is that if you've been lucky, you have grandkids. They are so aptly named, because they truly are grand! A source of pride, wonder, and joy, these kids never cease to delight me.
Rosie the seven month old cutie is on the other side of the country from us. Computer access keeps us up to date on how fast she's growing and changing; right now she's big on "Peek-a-boo." Rosie's cousins are more local, living 30 to 45 minutes away.
Jamie is the beautiful, bright teen who finds time to help immigrant children with their schoolwork and spent part of last summer working as a missionary in Costa Rica.
Her younger brother Nick who's a whiz with Leggos, cracked us up last week when after his grandfather asked for a glass of rootbeer, said, "I didn't know old people still drank soda!"
That family's youngest, Allie, can't wait to ride the bus to school with Nick in the fall and is the apple of her daddy's eye.
Allie's oldest sister, Tanya (a spunky redhead not pictured here), is out of college and in NYC working to build a career in the film industry. She's a delight who dotes on her younger siblings when she comes home for holidays.
Their cousin Austin, when he was 5, made me nervous when he asked what color underwear I was wearing. As it turned out, the question was an excuse to show us his new Spiderman jockeys!
Austin's younger brother Carter is a happy-go-lucky sort who , when not on horseback, walks around the house singing, "We will, we will Rock you!"
Now I'm sitting back and waiting for the day when they give their parents gray hair just like their dads gave me! Hee Hee! I know the day will come. I say that mostly in jest because I'm fortunate. All three dads have made me an extremely proud Mom.

Watching Baseball in HiDef

Now that I'm retired, I have more time to watch television. In my house it seems that more television means more sports. That's not really a complaint; I enjoy the Red Sox and the Celtics, and on occasion I've even watched the Patriots.

My only complaint about baseball is there are WAAAY too many games. If you want to follow your team, they require an exclusive relationship. By exclusive, I mean excluding So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent, Big Bang Theory, Old Christine, etc, because baseball is on nearly every freakin' night of the week!

Basketball is a little less demanding; their games are spaced somewhat. At least you get a breather... Football schedule is the least demanding of the fan; mostly they play once per week. (I can't swear to that; I have only watched a couple of games per season.)

Maybe the reason I like baseball the best of the three sports is because there are more good-looking men in baseball than in the others. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate the bullpen banter, the precise pitching, the homeruns, and the fantastic fielding. But you have to admit, players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Nick Green, George Kottaras, Mike Lowell, J. D. Drew, Jason Veritek, and Tim Wakefield aren't exactly hard on the eyes.

Basketball has Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Garnett, but I've never noticed too much eye-candy in football; maybe it's because they're hidden under all those shoulder pads and helmets!

I can hear my granddaughter Tanya now: "Gramma Jane, I can't believe you wrote that!" Hey, I'm retired, not dead!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Welcome to AARP

It all started a couple of years ago. . . I received an invitation to join AARP (The American Association of Retired Persons); as if I needed a reminder that I was getting up there in years.

Now, with my 65th birthday practically in sight (feel free to send gifts), what started as a few infrequent drips in the mailbox (You are guaranteed life insurance, no matter what your age!) has grown to a tsunami. Not a day goes buy that I don't get a wave of mailings warning me soon I will be at the mercy of medicare, seeking solace in social security, and I need to act now to ensure I have drug coverage and medical coverage; that it's not too late to make plans for my "final arrangements."

That's the business I was in just prior to retiring, so I am familiar with the landscape; I can wade through the jargon. It remains to be seen, however, whether I can resurface from under the sea of pamphlets, postcards, and letters.

Enough, already! You'd think these guys could throw you a birthday party instead of throwing your mortality in your face!

I am not old; I am seasoned and wise; If I were single I'd be a cougar! Put that in your pipe and smoke it, AARP!

The End of a Musical Career

In a conversation with my daughter-in-law last night, I mentioned that I had picked up a new pastime during my retirement. Kristen thought about it for a minute and said, "Kareoke?"

When I stopped laughing long enough to catch my breath, I said, "No. Blogging."

You might not think that was so funny unless you've heard me sing. I love to sing; as a 'tween (10, 11, 0r 12 year-old) I devoured Hit Parade magazine. The lyrics to all the current songs were in it, and I learned them all and loved to sing along with my record player. (I'm referring to the era before 8-tracks, cassette tapes, stereophonic sound, and CDs!) I had all the 45 rpm records, including Elvis, Connie Francis, Bobby Rydell, and Fat's Domino.Vocalizing was so much fun to me.

Back in the seventies, I even performed on stage in a community theater production of the musical, "Godspell." The fact that my physician at the time, Dr. George Bostwick, who had been in the audience, later commented that I had "so much personality on stage that no one even noticed your voice" should have given me pause.

A few years later, when I sang to my then four-year-old son Eric as I was tucking him in his bed, "Are You Lonesome Tonight?' I assumed he was crying because my rendition was so touching.

It wasn't until 1984, shortly after I married Joe (yep, husband number 2) that I learned the truth: I am singing impaired! At least that was what Joe called my affliction. It's been a rude awakening, and I now only sing along with music from the 50's on satellite radio when I'm ALONE in my car. . . which is why the notion of me taking up kareoke was such a hoot!

The sad thing is, being singing impaired does not qualify one for disability benefits, either, which could eventually leave one tone deaf AND destitute.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lunch or Chocolate?

I've discovered a problem with being retired (in addition to the fixed income); husbands expect you to cook! Now don't get me wrong. I CAN cook; I sometimes even enjoy cooking. But preparing lunch and dinner everyday? I think not.

The obvious answer is to share the responsibility, right? So today I asked, "What are you making us for lunch, Joe?" After some hemming and hawing, it turned out that the chef at Thornton's (a new restaurant in the area) was cooking lunch. I'm not complaining; my sandwich and fries were delicious. I'm just afraid our budget can't absorb the expense of my husband "cooking" lunch with any frequency!

Maybe an abundance of sandwich and salad fixings in the fridge to allow for "do it yourself" lunches would be a solution; then at least I could cut back to preparing only one meal per day. The next trip to the supermarket will require a concerted effort to stock the pantry.

I'm not convinced we have to eat three meals a day anyhow; I know I could substitute Godiva chocolates for one. That, too, can strain the budget! Okay, so I'm spoiled. I want Godiva chocolates or Lindt truffles. Once one has savored the gourmet, it's difficult to settle for the store brand.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Catharsis Reeks!

This whole blogging thing is totally new to me. In someways it seems narcissistic to suppose there's anyone out there interested in reading my thoughts. It's also somewhat cathartic, and I say that with full realization that one of Webster's definitions of the word is "evacuation of the bowels." That being said, I guess you might compare this exercise to written verbal diarrhea! (no coincidence that some of my entries reek!)

If I am guilty of pollution of the blogosphere, I apologize. Please make allowances for the fact that I now have loads of free time and this is one thing I can do that doesn't cut into my social security check. (Welcome to life on a fixed income! ) It wasn't meant to be a fixed income. But then the bottom fell out of my (and a lot of other people's) 401ks and tapping into that prior to a market comeback would be a no-win situation. I keep thinking that as long as I don't touch those funds, I have a shot at recovery. . . If I live long enough!

So...since I can't afford that trip to Aruba or much of anywhere else, here I am, blogging. I like to think of it as digital jogging; I should end up with really svelte digits by the end of the summer. I might even drop down a whole mitten size!

Musing on Maturity

I'm half-way over sixty:
My middle-age spread is such
That I can no longer see
The toes I used to touch.

I've lost hearing in one ear,
My youthful energy is spent.
As near as I can tell,
My get up and go got itself up and went!

To keep my boobs up off my knees
It takes a heavy-duty bra:
My teeth spend nights away from me
On the dresser in a jar.

Once an avid Cosmo reader
"100 Ways to Please Your Man,"
Now I find total fascination
Learning the benefits of bran!

Okay, so I took a little poetic license there...I still have my own teeth. But who knows what the next thing to go will be?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Technological Trauma

I grew up with a manual typewriter, an old squarish Underwood. It was the kind where you "threw" the carriage at the end of each line and were amazed it didn't land on the floor. I remember the letter 't' used to stick, and if you weren't careful it would repeat, as though the machine had a stutter.

The electric typewriter was an amazing invention. Then the IBM selectric with that round ball that rotated from one letter to the next was REALLY something! Quite a few years later, I purchased a Sharp electronic typewriter which held up to 20 pages of memory, had a 1" by 5" viewing screen with editing capabilities and would print your corrected copy at the touch of a button. I was in heaven! That was back in the mid 1980's.

Now I sit here typing on my HP notebook; I've entered the 21st century! Of course, I spent 3 hours trying to figure out how to add a footer to each page of the manuscript on which I've been working. But, hey, yesterday I didn't even know what a footer was!

So here's an assignment for my retirement: Learn how to use Microsoft Office and some of the other features of this computer. I confess I'm making progress, so maybe there's hope. (although part of me is very tempted to dig out that Sharp typewriter... I was fluent with that!)

Now It Begins

So I’m retired. What now? It’s been just a little over a month and I’ve read four books, made six jigsaw puzzles, baked a cake, baked brownies (and ate the better part of both!), watched Jay Leno, visited family upstate, and occasionally taken a nap midday—all those things I didn’t have time to do when I was working .

It’s a strange sensation rising in the morning with no set schedule and no pending agenda from my manager. I feel a little out of sorts; like something is missing. I should be heading out on appointments or filing sales reports or making customer calls. The phone is strangely quiet; I check for a dial tone. Yep, it’s working, but I’m not!

There’s a rising sense of panic in the pit of my stomach. Is this what I was so anticipating? Surely, the next 20 (more or less!) years will hold more excitement than looking for that missing puzzle piece, or deciding which recipe to try?