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July 2010


The 70-Something Blog is G-rated.  I’m just not comfortable saying much about sex.  After all, I am a member of the silent generation. 

However, I did have a few lovers in my single days (Mother, please don’t turn over in your grave and yes, children, parents had some fun in the olden days).  Still, I found myself somewhat surprised recently when in a single week:

1.  I read about a new drug to treat “female sexual desire disorder.” I guess I get that, a kind of Viagra for women. And then, 

2.  A day or two later, while waiting for a pedicure to dry, I picked up an issue of “Cosmopolitan,” just to see what young women are reading these days.  There was an article containing thirty-some short pieces of advice on how to keep your partner from being bored with you in bed.  Some made sense, but some seemed pretty bizarre.

Things sure have changed since the only way to a man’s heart was through his stomach.

A Public Apology

In the forty-two years that I have been married to Peter, I have never had a moment of regret (seconds maybe, but never a moment). Peter has been a near-perfect husband and father. With the exception of the (many) times I interrupted him when he was grading exams, he has never raised his voice to me. Although he is very busy in his retirement, he takes care of all our visits by plumbers, cable guys, rug cleaners etc., even when they require a four-hour window for a service call. Peter still thinks I'm beautiful and he loves to hold me. I am lucky and grateful.

So why did I tell him that I was annoyed on Thursday when he used a new bag of Monterey Jack cheese instead of a started one in the same drawer in the refrigerator? Or when I discovered every light in the basement had been left on all day after a plumber's visit that morning. Later, I regretted mentioning either transgression.

So I am asking for forgiveness for my behavior on Thursday and for similar behavior in the future.

After all, I am only human.

Employment on My Mind

I couldn't believe it when I read that Ringo Star turned seventy earlier this month. Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and Al Pacino are among the famous folks who have joined, or will soon be joining, the ranks of the 70-somethings. Nancy Pelosi is also seventy and Barney Frank will be seventy next year. They are all employed.

But according to the "Health and Retirement Study" published by the National Institute on Aging, and recently reported in The New York Times, few people my age are employed. According to the study, only ten percent of men and five percent of women aged 70-75 are working full time.

I never thought of myself as being in the top (or bottom) 5% of anything. I just do my thing. But this statistic has been lingering in my head since I read it.

I'm not sure why.

Re-Inventing Aging

A month ago, we had dinner out with friends who live in New York City on our way to the Jersey Shore.  At the next table was a very handsome and vibrant older man with a head full of white hair presiding over what looked like a family celebration.

When our friend Jack (who is a geriatrician) looked over, he recognized his former mentor and current colleague Bob Butler, well-known for his ground-breaking work on ageism and the winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his book “Why Survive? Being Old in America.” Butler came over to say “hi,” and Jack introduced us.  I was thrilled to meet this wonderful gentleman who, at age eighty-three, looked like he could run a marathon.

Two weeks later, I recognized his picture in the newspaper, and was shocked to see that it was his obituary.  He had died of acute leukemia, but had worked until three days before his death. 

We should buy his new book, The Longevity Prescription.  We owe him our deepest gratitude.

Problem Solving

I have vague childhood memories of my parents talking about all the things that were wrong with the world. But those things didn't seem important to me, compared to the pitfalls of high school.

Now it's my generation's turn to bemoan the state of the world and last weekend while away with friends, we did that big time. Here are some of the questions we discussed.

1. How likely is it that Pakistan's nuclear weapons will get into the wrong hands?

2. Can nuclear energy free us from our dependency on the oil-rich countries?

3. When will we have to ration medical care? Or are we already there?

4. Would getting rid of bad teachers solve the problem of poor educational outcomes?

5. What can we do to stem the world's march toward over-population?

We didn't have all the answers, but before we moved on to happier topics, I realized that there are many issues I could throw my energy behind once I decide to retire.

Whenever that is…


Yesterday it was two and a half years since I wrote my first blog entry. You are reading my two hundred sixty-fourth post.  Since January, 2008, I have written twice a week.  The average length of each post (now I am guessing) is about 200 words.  That means that I have written about fifty-thousand words, or the equivalent of a short novel. 

I started blogging to document my seventies.  What I can’t believe is that I am one-quarter of the way through that decade.  If I keep it up (and I am compulsive enough to do so), I’ll have written two hundred thousand words when I turn eighty. 

The other night our son Seth asked if I had reserved the domain name for the sequel, The blog.

That made me want to go lie down.

We Had Our Time

We hadn't made any plans for the long July 4th weekend, other than going to a party in a high-rise overlooking the fireworks display on the Charles River. So when we woke to a sunny July 3rd Saturday morning, I couldn't help but wish we could throw our bicycles on the car, drive to the country and go for a thirty-mile training ride as we often did prior to our many summer biking vacations.

But we're not doing biking vacations anymore because Peter is not in as good shape as he used to be. (At eighty, that shouldn't be a surprise.) But in a feeling-sorry-for-myself tone, I mentioned my wish to him as we ate our breakfast.

My good-natured and accepting-of-his-limitations husband reminded me that…

We had our time.

My Older Brother Don


I worshipped my tall, handsome, smart and popular older brother throughout high school, even though I found it annoying that everyone always asked me if I was Don's little sister.

He and I haven't lived in the same city for more than fifty years, and our lives have taken quite different turns. He has been married to his third wife for thirty-two years, is a relatively conservative business man and is still working at seventy-five. I married once, am pretty liberal, and like him, still working, but in academia.

We hadn't seen each other for more than four years when he and his wife Nancy agreed to join us at our beach vacation with our grandkids and their parents. Don's kids are considerably older than ours as are his grandchildren, and I thought he might be a reluctant visitor.

Much to my surprise and delight, Don seemed to have a good time. He thoroughly charmed our three- and six- year- old grandsons for three days.

Watching them climb all over him on the last night of his visit, cuddling with him on an oversized chair was right up there with the best moments of my year.

Thank You Skype

Our journalist son Seth is on a three-month assignment for The New York Times to travel over land from São Paulo Brazil to New York City on a budget of $70 per day. He is reporting as "The Frugal Traveler" via articles, a blog and Twitter. This is an exciting assignment, an opportunity not to be turned down. However, it meant that he would miss the family celebration of his father's eightieth birthday and Seth's sister-in-law's and his own fortieth birthday.

So there we were without him in Cape May, New Jersey in a lovely rented house a five-minute walk to the ocean. Present were two of the celebrants, Peter and our daughter-in-law Katrina, plus our other son Jeremy, our two grandchildren, my brother Don and his wife Nancy. But, of course, no Seth. He was, as far as we knew, on a boat sleeping in a hammock traveling frugally between Manaus and Porto Velho, Brazil on the Madeira River. It was week two of his journey.

It was Father's Day morning. We were gathered in the living room when Jeremy came bounding down the stairs, laptop in hand to announce that Seth was on his computer via Skype. Just off the boat and soon to leave to cross the border to Bolivia, he found a wifi signal and checked in.

There he was, clear as day, sitting by a pool in an obscure Amazon "resort." His nephews asked him to get in the pool, and we watched him jump in. With his laptop at the edge of the pool, we chatted for about twenty minutes. And then he was gone.

Thank you Skype.