Sunday, September 8, 2019

Books of August

I started Michelle Obama's book in July and finished it in August.  It's one of my favorite books this year.  She begins with her childhood and college years: Becoming Me.  Next she talks about her meeting with Barak Obama and their marriage:  Becoming Us.  Finally she talks about their years in the White House and her mission as First Lady to encourage healthier eating for youngsters:  Becoming More.  She grew up in a family of modest means in the South Side of Chicago, was accepted to Princeton for undergraduate school and to Harvard Law and worked for a Chicago law firm where she met a charismatic intern who was first a friend and later much more.  She's very honest about her misgivings about her husband going into politics and about her life in the White House.  It's a fascinating story, and it reminded me that no matter what our ages and circumstances, throughout our lives we're always "becoming."

Sunday, September 1, 2019

How Old is Old?

The other day I glanced at Hints from Heloise, and here's what I learned:
"Dearest Readers, Did you know that AGE DISCRIMINATION IS AGAINST THE LAW?  The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines age discrimination as 'Treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of his or her age.' This law applies to people who are AGE 40 OR OLDER." (capital letters mine!)

Oh dear, if 40 is the beginning of old age, I am really really old.  But guess what.  I didn't feel old at 40 and I don't feel old now.  
And I bet many people of my generation don't feel so old either.
We have our aches and pains and we can be grumpy at times, but, thinking back, I was like that at 40, too.  Note: Advice for dealing with aches and pains:  I found this in the newspaper a few years back--try Two Old Goats Balm on this achy parts.  I'm not sure who the old goats are, but it does seem to work.  Granted it won't cure arthritis, but it's great for muscle or nerve pain.  You can get it from Amazon, where, of course, you can get anything you ever dreamed of.

As for me, I just retired last year, I do volunteer work here and in Galveston, I get out and about almost as much as ever, and I keep a "gratitude list" of nice things that have happened every day.

Anyway, I'm glad to know that employers can't discriminate against kids of 40 in hiring, job assignments, training, layoffs or benefits.  This doesn't seem to apply to social situations such as dating.  You have to take your changes there.

I once read a book about aging called Coming Into the End Zone and for those of us who really do fit that picture, we should do our best to keep active and cheerful and enjoy each day...hour...minute we have.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Checking this off my Bucket List

My dad taught me to drive when I was twelve and had to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel.  Austin, Texas was a small city then unlike its traffic-clogged streets of today.  We lived on a quiet one-block street where almost no cars drove and there were zero pedestrians...except for the lady in the bathing suit, but that's another story.  I got my driver's license at 14 and my first car for my 18th birthday.  It was a blue Ford Victoria with a cream colored hard top and a spare tire holder on the back.  I named it Victor Victoria, and it got me through college.

After that I had a white Chevy Impala.  Alas, the Chevy and the cars that followed were nameless.

 For six years I drove a silver Nissan Altima which served me well despite being partially flooded twice during Houston's soggy year of 2015.

Yesterday I got my new car, a Lexus ES 350 sedan.  I've been coveting a Lexus for years and I finally broke down and bought it.  It has a dashboard with a dazzling array of icons and a mouse to click on them, a driver's seat that adjusts to my own specifications when I turn on the motor...and I'll have to read the manual to find out what else.  Since this will possibly be my last car, I think it, too should have a name:  Maybe Alexis Lexus, Lexi for short.  I'll think about it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Quote for the Week

A goal is a dream with a deadline.
    Author Unknown

Do you have a goal?  Do you have a deadline?

Sunday, August 11, 2019

I Love Libraries

Above is a picture of the Austin History Center, formerly the Austin Public Library.  I recently read The Library Book and enjoyed the author's memories of visiting her hometown library with her mother.  Her stories evoked my own memories of the Austin Public Library, the first of many libraries I have known.  I remember my very first trip to the library, getting my first library card (Number N2852, yes, I remember that, too) and the first book I checked out:  Where is Adelaide?, one of Eliza Orne White's many books about young children.  Every chapter began, "Where is Adelaide?" 

 Thinking about that book, I searched for it on Amazon.  Of course it was there. (I suppose if something isn't on Amazon, it doesn't exist.)  I ordered a copy.  The faded brownish orange volume sits on my desk, a memory of the library with its dozens of treasures to choose from, its large children's room with arched windows looking out on Guadalupe Street, even its "library smell," a combination of polished wood tables, paper and print.
Alas, libraries are no longer a part of my life.  They have been supplanted by technology and now I read on Kindle.  Such is life.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

quote for the week

A Senior's Version of Facebook
"For those of my generation who do not, and cannot, comprehend why Facebook exists:  I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles.  Therefore every day I walk down the street and tell passers-by what I have eaten, how I feel at the moment, what I have done the night before, what I will do later and with whom.  I give them pictures of my family, my dog and of me gardening, taking things apart in the garage, watering the lawn, standing in front of landmarks, driving around town, having lunch, and doing what anybody and everybody does every day.  I also listen to their conversations, give them "thumbs up" and tell them I "like" them.  And it works, just like Facebook.  I already have four people following me:  two police officers, a private investigator and a psychiatrist."

Sunday, August 4, 2019

El Paso

My heart goes out to El Paso and El Pasoans.

El Paso has always been a special place to me, almost a second home.  I had aunts, uncles, first cousins, second cousins there and I spent time there growing up:  hiding in the basement with my cousins when visitors came that we didn't want to see, my three cousins trying in vain to teach me to play pool, sitting on the porch with Barbara, my favorite cousin and role model, another cousin teaching me to cha cha, crossing the bridge into Juarez to go to their nightclubs or to shop, sitting on a mountainside with a boyfriend watching the stars, giggling with my sister in the lobby of Hotel Paso Del Norte as we made up stories about other guests. 

 So many happy memories blurred by the terrible massacre on Saturday.  I keep hoping every one is the last.  I pray I'll be right about this one.  Each one is one too many.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Books of June

For the past few weeks I've been recovering from surgery.  July has slipped by.  Here are my books read in June:

The Perfect Nanny.  Since you know from page one that the nanny murdered the children in her care, there aren't any surprises.  The book ends so suddenly, you're shocked.  I guess that's the surprise.  Anyway, I give this a D.

Lock Every Door.  Billed as a taut psychological thriller, this book didn't deliver, at least not for me.   It's the story of a young woman desperately in need of a job who gets one as apartment sitter in a Dakota-like building in New York,  There she discovers scary secrets.  Why doesn't she leave?  I guess the author tried to give her reasons but I didn't buy them. The author, Riley Sager, has apparently written some really good thrillers.  This was the first book of his that I read and, alas, I probably won't read a second.

Truth Worth Telling.  Journalist Scott Pelley, formerly of CBS and prominently featured on Sixty Minutes has written a book about his career, mainly from 9/11 on, but also some about his early years as a teenager working in journalism.  Each chapter features a different character trait--perseverance, valor, arrogance, courage--and ends with advice to young journalists.  I found the book fascinating and well-written.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Scam Alert

Here's some useful information from the Better Business Bureau about popular scams:

1. Sweepstakes Scam:  You've won a prize.  Just pay a fee and they'll send your reward.

2. Romance Scam:  Scammers get your name from an online dating service, ask to communicate outside of the service so they get your email or text.

3. Secret Shopper Jobs:  Great jobs with high paying companies as a mystery shopper.  Of course, you have to send a check or wire money first.

4. Medicare/Healthcare Scam:  Scammers say they're from Medicare and ask for your Medicare number and other personal information so they can bill Medicare for services you never received.

5. Emergency Scam:  The popular "grandparent" scam in which your grandchild calls from jail and needs you to bail him/her out.  People who have gotten these calls say the caller sounds just like their grandchild.

6. Risk-Free Trial Offers: All sorts of products but once the "free time" is over, you get billed.

7. Utility Company Scam: Scammers ring your doorbell and tell you they can get you cheaper utility bills and try to get your account information so they can switch you to a different service.

8.Neighborhood Spoofing:  Your caller ID shows a number with the same area code as yours or even some of the same digits as your phone number so you pick up the phone.  Don't ever press the number to get off their list--doesn't work.  You get more calls.

9. Tech support scam:  Caller says s/he is from Microsoft or other tech company and says there's a problem on your computer.  Once you let them on, they can steal your personal information.

10. Arrest Scam:  Caller says it's the IRS or the police and you have to meet them somewhere to pay a fine and avoid arrest.

11. Hotel Scam:  The "front desk" calls your room number and says they've had a problem running your credit card and asks you to give them the correct number.

12. New Friends Scam:  This isn't a phone scam, but several times I've had teenagers come to my door saying they've just moved in on the next block and want to "meet the neighbors."

Be vigilant!  Don't give out your personal information over the phone.  Below are some useful numbers to call if you think you've been scammed:

FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors:  844 574 3577

Adult Protective Services 800 252 5400

U.S. Postal Inspector  800 654 8896

Securities and Exchange Commission 817 978 3821

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Best Birthday Gift

This year my children gave me the best birthday gift ever, a mason jar labeled 30 Amazing Things About You.  Inside were 30 tiny personalized notes each rolled up and tied with string.  Instructions were to take out one note each day for 30 days.  The notes were about what I'd done as a mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, speech pathologist and just as a person.  What a delight to reach into the jar and take out a note each morning.  I've gotten lots of gifts from my kids over the years but this was the most thoughtful, the very best.
Check out TheMasonJarInc on Etsy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

quote for the week

In these times, don't ask the meaning of life.

Life is asking, 

"What's the meaning of you?"

Quote from the beginning of Scott Pelley's book Truth Worth Telling

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Daddy's Hats (In Honor of Father's Day)

In the corner of my living room, my family history hangs on a hat rack.  Five generations, from my grandmother to my granddaughter.  

My father's hats are my favorite.  He is the only family member who has two hats in my collection.

One is his crimson Shriner's fez.  He joined the Shriners because it was a good venue for business connections, but as years went by Shriners became more than just a group of business associates.  One of their subgroups, the Caravaneers, planned the annual Shrine parade, and he enthusiastically joined in the fun.  He devoted much time to raising funds for Shriners' support for disabled and burned children, never imagining that someday I would become of those burn victims when my dress caught fire from a gas heater.

His other hat is the one he wore every day, a soft brown fedora.  I never learned why he felt most comfortable in hats, but I always associated him with them, and when he died, I asked for the hat he'd worn to the hospital.  He was my hero, and that is the most personal memory I have of him.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Quote for the Week

Charles and Ray Eames, a husband and wife team, designed the iconic Eames chair.

Here's a quote from Charles:
"Anything I can do, my wife and do better."

What a great guy!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Book of May

Didn't read many books in May.  I saw reviews for this book, one of which billed it as a Handmaid's Tale kind of read.  Since The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorites, I got this book for my Kindle.  Young immigrant girls who are desperate for money are lured into becoming surrogates for women who are either unable to have children or too busy (Kim Kardashian types, I guess).. They live at Golden Oaks and monitored constantly so their babies will be perfect.  Some of them want to leave, etc. etc. Very pat ending.  B

Update on Game of Thrones.  I am still in book 1, chapter 30.  Only 94 hours left to finish all 5.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Making up for Missing Game of Thrones...and other TV Trivia

Note that the TV pictured above has a blank screen.  So like my life!  I don't have Netflix (sad) and so I have never watched Game of Thrones.  To make up for this travesty, I ordered the set of books for my Kindle.  The note at the bottom of the page says, "110 hours left to finish books."  How many months/years/decades will it take me to get to the end?  Then I'll have to read the prequels.  Plus I have book club readings and "guilty pleasure" readings, too.  I'll do monthly postings.

Since I don't have Netflix, I spend most of my TV time watching sports.
    1. The Rockets didn't make the Western finals....again.
    2. The Warriors did, of course.
    3, My prediction that the Milwaukee Bucks would win the Eastern finals was wrong.  Toronto won.
    4. The Astros have beaten the Red Sox 4 of 6 times in the past 10 days,

I watch The Voice on Monday and Tuesday, but they are off for the summer.  I watch
Flea Market Flip on Sundays, and lately I have been watching Turner Classic Movies.  Yesterday I saw Inherit the Wind. 

And I watch Jeopardy.  I love James Holhauzer (not sure of the spelling).  I heard an interview with a person who almost beat him.  This guy says James has an advantage because he has played so long and is able to buzz in faster.  He also said to win on Jeopardy, you have to practice answering questions standing up--it's harder than when you're sitting down.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Another Year, Another Birthday

Thursday is my xxxx birthday.  This has been a year of change for me.  First and foremost, retirement.  After many years as a speech-language pathologist, a career I loved, I finally decided it was time to leave speech therapy behind.  It was a bittersweet ending, but the beginning of new things to do and more time to do them.  I've given away most of my therapy supplies; now I have an almost empty closet.  I've started volunteering at Shriner's Burn Hospital for Children in Galveston.  As a burn survivor myself, this is close to my heart.  I've enrolled in a senior memoir class, which has been great fun, and where I've met a delightful group of people.  I'm facilitating a writing group at Angela's House for women who are transitioning from prison.  And last but not least, I had learned to play Mah Jongg, something I thought I would never do.  Tuesday is Mah Jongg day, and I look forward to playing and chatting with the women who used to belong to a grief group...but as we've navigated our new normal, we've changed our title to support group, and we do support one another.  All in all, it's been a great year and I'm looking forward to the next.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Future

Never let the future disturb you.
You will meet it, if you have to, with the same
weapons of reason which today arm you
against the present.
              Marcus Aurelius

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Tales from Our Table

We have a new food service here in our high rise.  The company, which shall remain nameless, began providing meals last November.  In their presentation at one of our dining forums earlier in the fall, they touted their service as being "like the Ritz Carlton" and informed us that they "make everything from scratch."  Needless to say, we were impressed and early awaited their debut meals.  We were not so impressed after a few dinners.

They are big on strange salad combinations:  beet and onion salad (Yuck!), broccoli and raisin salad, and the outstanding pea and radish salad.  Peas seem to be their go-to vegetable.  They serve them a lot.  They have some weird main dish combinations, too:  fried shrimp in a burgundy sauce,  halibut with lemon basil sauce (They must have been out of halibut because they substituted another fish) And HERESY! they stopped using BlueBell ice cream--that is a crime in Texas.  BlueBell is practically our state ice cream.  After many complaints they brought it back.

One of their tastier dishes is shrimp putanesca which is made with tomatoes, anchovies, capers and olives.  It's pretty good, but since I'd never heard of that sauce, I googled it.  Turns out the recipe originated in WWII Italy.  It became quite popular with Italian prostitutes who, as you might imagine, were quite busy during the war, with so many soldiers around vying for their services.  The sauce is quick and easy to make, so they could cook and eat between clients.  The Italian word for prostitute is putta, so that's how the sauce got its name.

Anyway, there were many complaints about the food and so they've tried to improve.  They did away with turkey breast and bought whole turkeys, hired a new pastry chef, eliminated some dishes that no one would eat, so now we think they're somewhat better, but, alas, we are still not eating like the Ritz Carlton.

Monday, April 22, 2019

"The Shoes of the Fisherman"

I have become a fan of Turner Classic Movies.  Since yesterday was Easter, they showed a ton of faith-oriented movies and one was The Shoes of the Fisherman with Anthony Quinn and Lawrence Olivier.  My late husband and I saw that movie on our first date so it had a special meaning for me.  Not because of the story.  I had forgotten it, except that it was about a Pope.  Turns out he was a fictional Pope.  Anthony Quinn plays a Russian priest who has been imprisoned in Siberia for 20 years.  Then he's released and sent to the Vatican because Russia wants someone there to support them and he's immediately made a cardinal..  He's a very humble, self-effacing person.  Soon after his arrival the current Pope dies and after many unsuccessful ballots, suddenly this newcomer that no one knows except that in prison he stole some bread for a starving friend and got into a fight with a guard  is elected the new Pope.  He looks pretty stunned but he becomes Pope and we see what a noble guy he is.  He agrees to meet with the Russian and Chinese premiers to help stave off a war between them and is scolded by the Chinese leader, who says all his people are starving and the only way to prevent the war is to give them food.  So, of course, the new Pope pledges all the wealth of the church to feed the Chinese and everyone cheers.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Books of March

Hold Still is a memoir by acclaimed photographer Sally Mann whose work is currently on exhibit at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.  It was a fascinating look into her childhood, her family, the South (She's from Virginia) and, of course her photographs.  

Less is about a gay author turning fifty who is traveling around the world to avoid attending the wedding of his former partner.  This book won the Pulitzrt Prize a few years ago.  It's funny and poignant but I'm not sure it was worth the accolade it received.  Still, I enjoyed it.

Then She Was Gone.  A teenage girl disappears.  Years later her mother meets a little girl who looks uncannily like her missing daughter.  It was an okay read but I figured out the end about half way through.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Quote for the Week

Memory's truth is to scientific, objective truth is as a pearl is to a grain of sand.
   From Hold Still by Sally Mann

Monday, March 11, 2019

Books of February

There There.  The book was named one of the best of the year so I wanted to read it though the title confused me.  I learned that the setting is Oakland, about which Oakland native Gertrude Stein once remarked, "There's no there there."  The many characters are urban Native Americans who are all planning to go to a big pow wow in Oakland.  They all have their reasons.  The last part of the book takes place at the pow wow and we learn whether each achieved their goals.

Dying Well.  Mortality has always interested me and in this book Dr. Byock gives heartfelt advice on how to interact with dying patients and how loved ones or the patient him/herself can make dying a growth experience.  A good book to keep in mind when you need it.

The 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.  Billed as "Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day," it lives up to the name, but don't bother with it.  By chapter 2, I was totally confused.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Rustic Brush

Every February my financial advisor at Houston Asset Management has a luncheon for his clients who are widows.  At several of these I've passed out my "Eleven Commandments for Widows."

This year, instead of a luncheon, we were invited to a craft event at The Rustic Brush, a place where you can decorate items like trays, lazy Susans, door hangers, signs, even doormats.  I was a little nervous.  I am not a crafty person.  The only thing I do well with my hands is type.  But why not join the fun?  I chose an easy item to make--a tray with the words "Enjoy the little things" 

When we arrived, we found our chosen items laid out on tables.  We donned aprons and selected the color stain we wanted for our wooden trays.  I picked dark walnut. We sanded the trays and brushed on the color.  That was easy.  

After the stain dried, we selected colors for our decorations.  I picked a bright aqua I thought would contrast nicely with the stain.  Some people used several colors, but that was too fancy for me to even consider. We were given stencils--thank goodness we didn't have to draw the patterns ourselves.  We pressed the stencils on the wood, and painted them with our chosen colors.  We then removed the stencils and, voila, there was the pattern on the tray.  

Handles were attached to the trays, we had a light lunch and then we were ready to take our creations home.  One problem--the tray is too large to fit in any of my cabinets so it is currently residing in my newly emptied speech therapy closet.  I plan to use it the next time I host a Mah Jongg afternoon.

I'm pretty pleased with myself.  This was my first successful craft.
Good thing because, at my age, I may not have many chances left.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Quote for the Week

The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.
           Dr. Barbara DeAngel

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Two Old Goats

I have a pinched nerve near the back of my neck.  When I first noticed it, I felt like a hot poker was digging into my back.  I especially noticed it when I was typing on my computer.  Nothing seemed to help....and then....  One day I was reading the newspaper and I glanced through one of those weekly inserts, either the Examiner, a neighborhood weekly, or Senior Living.  I don't remember which.  But I came upon an advice health column.  A woman had sent in a question about the severe pain in her knee, and the columnist said, "You should get a jar of Two Old Goats cream.  You'll feel better right away."

Sounded pretty silly to me.  On a whim, I looked it up on Amazon because I figure if Amazon doesn't have it, it doesn't exist.  There it was, with 5 star reviews all down the page.  For $12, how could I go wrong?  I ordered a jar.  When I opened it, I smelled eucalyptus.  I looked at the list of ingredients and noticed that one was goats' milk.  Ah ha!  The source of the name, probably milk from two very old goats.  I tried the cream and it actually helped.  Didn't cure the pain but it soothed it for several hours. 

Look it up.  You never know when it might come in handy and it's certainly easier than keeping several ancient goats around.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Quotes for Presidents; Day by Presidents

The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.
                  George Washington

I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.
                  Woodrow Wilson

Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.     
                  Thomas Jefferson

The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.
                  James Madison

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
                Abraham Lincoln

Posterity--you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom.  I hope you will make good use of it.
                John Quincy Adams

The American, by nature, is optimistic.  He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.
                John F. Kennedy

You can do what you have to do, and somehow you can do it even better than you think you can.
                 Jimmy Carter

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
                    Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Books of January

The Reckoning.  I don't read all of John Grisham's books, but this one sounded intriguing.  A decorated war veteran murders the beloved pastor of his church.  I was disappointed.  The hero refuses to give any clue to the police or even to the reader.  No foreshadowing.  The second half of the book covered his service in World War II (I think that's the right war.  See how much I liked the book--I've already forgotten.)  Finally, a few pages before the end we get the big reveal.  If you absolutely love John Grisham, maybe this book is for you, but maybe not.

Six Wakes.  I read this for my book club and even the person who suggested it didn't like it.  It's about a bunch of clones in outer space somewhere who have all died and awakened in their new bodies and are trying to find out who killed them.  I only fiinished it so I could trash it at the book club meeting.

Disappointing reading month!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Happy Super Bowl Day!

 It's the biggest sports day of the year!  Are you excited?  Me--not so much.  I was hoping the Saints would be there.  (Maybe I should join the lawsuit alleging pain and suffering after that missed call.) 

Anyway, there's #12 still passing for touchdowns in his 40's.  Is this his last game?  And if so, what will he do after football?  Become a coach?  A TV analist?  Star in commercials for Nationwide along with Peyton Manning?

I don't know much about the Rams so I am staying neutral this year,  (Last year I cheered for the Philliies because Nick Foles is a cousin of a family friend.)  We are getting together in our event center to watch the game.  I hope it will be a close one or I might just go back upstairs and watch my favorite Sunday show, Flea Market Flip.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Books of December

On Desperate Ground:  This is the true story, told in startling detail of, of a Marine division trapped in the winter snow and surrounded by Chinese soldiers during the Korean War.  I'm not a reader of war chronicles, but it was listed as one of the best books of 2018 so I downloaded it on my Kindle, and it was riveting and inspiring.

The Liar's Wife:  It was listed on Amazon as a taut psychological thriller, but it was a poorly written book that tries to trick the reader until the Great Reveal at the end.  Not sure why I finished it.  Don't waste your time.

The Stranger in the Woods:  Another non-fiction book.  Can you imagine a man living in the Maine woods for 27 years with no human contact at all except one brief moment when he encountered some hikers and managed a brief "hello."  How he was found and what happened next are fascinating.  Did the author exploit him?  Read and see what you think.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Quote for the New Year

"How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
Annie Dillard


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