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June 2014

May 2014

Another New York

We took a road trip to New York City last week, not Manhattan, but Jackson Heights in Queens, the wonderfully diverse neighborhood where our son Seth lives.

It was a jam-packed forty-five hours. 

We hadn’t seen Seth since Christmas, so after a tearful reunion (my tears only), we took a mile-plus walk to the Louis Armstrong home in adjacent Corona. Armstrong lived there for thirty years until he died in 1971 at age 70—an unassuming house in a poor neighborhood when he could afford to live anywhere.  The house is as it was, its 1950’s kitchen with aqua cabinets and appliances, its bedroom dresser still with his wife’s huge bottle of Shalimar on top.  Worth a trip, especially if you are heading toward a Met’s game, just two subway stops away.

Dinner that night was at Ayada, a tiny Thai restaurant in Elmhurst, only a ten-minute walk from Seth’s home.  Small, unassuming, but different and delicious.  A New York Times food critic’s favorites are noted on the menu. 

The next morning we headed to Manhattan and my first-ever visit to the Frick Museum.  It’s been on my destination list forever, and I shouldn’t have waited this long to see such a gem.  A Broadway matinee, some chair-shopping with Seth, and dinner with cousins at a local restaurant on the Bowery followed.

Seth walked us to our car the next morning.  He suggested that I not cry and I didn’t.  I could only think how lucky we are to have had such quality time with him.

And how exhilarating, expensive and exhausting New York City can be.



Angier Falling

It’s not every day that you visit your kids’ elementary school, especially if they graduated 30-some years ago.  But when we heard that the Angier school building, age 93, would be torn down to be replaced by a brand new school and that they were having an open house to say “good-bye,” we had to go to represent the family.

So last Sunday, we parked our car in the old neighborhood and walked through Waban Square (the town center) to go back to school.  Still there, the shoe repair shop, hidden down a flight of stairs.  One summer, our son Seth ran errands for neighbors for a fee.   The shoe repair shop errand cost more because he usually had to wait in line. 

Also still there, the hardware store where everyone knew your name.  Gone, Bob’s where the kids went to buy candy after school and Steve’s where they got their haircuts.

But visiting their elementary school was the highlight of the day.  At the entrance stood J.W., the kids’ fifth grade math teacher, now retired himself, and Mrs. Peterson, the red-headed, ebullient music teacher, now white-haired and also retired.  And we recognized a few of the kids’ old friends, some with their own kids in tow.

We toured the school building with two current fifth graders, members of the final graduating class, and signed our names on the wall in the entry hall.

End of an era.

Breakfast Ritual

I know that breakfast isn’t usually an exciting topic, but our breakfast on Tuesday was a monumental event.

Background:  For breakfast, Peter has some excellent toast of one kind or another.  I, however, have to settle for the best of the horrible gluten-free bread offerings.  We both have juice and coffee.  So far, so good. 

It’s at the next step that it gets interesting because Peter has a banana and I have a piece of cantaloupe.  I get up from the table to get my melon and his banana—we call it the fruit course.

On Tuesday, Peter announced that he is going to bring his banana to the table before he sits down.  Just like that.  No discussion.  I will no longer get up from the table to serve him his banana. 

I’ll adjust, but change is hard at our age. 

Boomer Tech

I have no idea why the Washington Post invited me to a presentation on Boomers and Technology.  I’m not even a boomer.  But I didn’t have a full calendar that day (actually I had an empty calendar) and I am always up for the latest technology news. So I decided to go.  I figured there was a 50-50 chance that I’d like it.

It was wonderful.  There was a great series of panels. Here are some of their messages;

From MIT Agelab Director, Joseph Coughlin:  Older folks embrace technology if it is fun.  It’s fine that toilets can now tell us how healthfully we are eating and what we weigh.  And that stoves can tell us that we forgot to turn them off.  But what we will love is technology that allows us to continue to drive, to live longer and better, technology that allows us to have fun.

From the Entreprenuership Panel: You don’t have to be young to be an entrepreneur.  In fact, you improve the more you do it, claimed Bill Aulet, Managing Director, Center for MIT Entrepreneurship .  He urged us to heed the advice of Gabriel Marquez “We don’t lose our playfulness because we get old.  We get old because we lose our playfulness.”

Panelist Geri Brin, started faboverfifty ( to celebrate boomer women five years ago. Her site now attracts several hundred thousand visitors monthly.  Visit it and be inspired.  And Jeanne Sullivan, co-founder of StarVest Partners advised all would-be entrepreneurs to get a personal Board of Advisors to support their new undertakings.  And then she offered her card to anyone who wanted help.

The Tech for Life Panel showed us innovations for managing fitness and health.  And much more.

I had to take my bike, a subway and a bus to get to Boomer Tech, but you can see the highlights just by visiting

Mother's Day Report

Why do we mothers have such high expectations for this particular day?  Maybe we figure that our children, who intend to tell us everyday how much they love and appreciate us, need reminding by Hallmark and 1-800-FLOWERS to actually do it.

In any event, my 2014 Mother’s Day was worth waiting for.  Both of our boys sent cards and called and I felt very loved.  It was a perfect spring day.  The sky was as blue as blue can be. There were still plenty of pink and white  blossoms on the trees.

We paused at the doggy swim area on our long walk around the nearby reservoir to watch all manner of happy dogs swimming after balls and sticks and one another, and hopping out to shake their wet coats on innocent observers, i.e., us.

I thanked Peter for making me a mom.  He said it gave him great pleasure to do so.


Something About the Last Two Weeks

I’ve had two outstanding weeks.  Here’s why.

We visited our kids and grandkids in Maryland for a weekend.  We went to a Boston Red Sox game.  We heard two wonderful concerts. 

We had a few perfect spring days and we have the daffodils and tulips to prove it.  We had our last poetry class, and I actually dislike poetry a little less.  (In fact, I may even like it a bit.)

I had an excellent training session for my non-profit consulting volunteer work and I attended a star-studded presentation about boomers and technology.  I had an hour’s walk along the river with a very dear friend, lunch with another, and an unexpected visit from a third.

I want to remember all this for the weeks that aren’t so great. 



Good Tears

A former principal bassoonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra was a member of my institute for learning in retirement.  When he died last year, some of his former students and fellow orchestra members played in a memorial concert, now an annual event that Peter and I attended last week.

The sun was streaming in the tall windows of the Harvard gym. As we sat in the second row, we could have touched the members of the wind octet playing the Mozart piece or the former BSO concertmaster playing the violin in a Brahms sonata.  The wife of the honoree, a fine violinist in her own right, sat in the row in front of us.  Something about the moment—her erect posture and proud face, the joyful Mozart played by her husband’s former students, the sunny day and, perhaps, where I am in my life—brought tears to my eyes.

Shortly after the concert, a former student called to me from an outdoor restaurant table as I was on my way to do an errand.  He jumped up to give me a hug, told his luncheon partner that I was his mentor and said how much he and the school misses me. I could feel tears welling up again as I walked away. 

This joyful sadness is a good thing.  It reminds us to savor events in the moment.

Because they are fleeting.


"Who's the Old Lady?" and Other Weekend Quotes

When we visited the grandkids last weekend, I had one really bad moment.  I was sitting on their living room sofa when I heard a person in the front hall say in a derogatory tone,  “Who’s the old lady?” I’m not sure whether he was dropping off a kid or picking one up, but he must have peered into the living room and noticed someone with gray hair.  There was only one possible candidate filling that description—me.

Jeremy told the visitor that his parents were visiting, and the guy was gone before I could have a look at him.  But even when Jeremy and Katrina explained that he has made inappropriate comments before and offered their deepest apologies, it didn’t make the statement less hurtful.

On the other hand, when I gave our ten-year-old grandson Leo a big hug and told him he was an awesome grandchild, he didn’t miss a beat before replying, “You are an awesome Grammy.”

And when we checked in for our flight home and the lady at security asked me to remove my shoes (being over 75, it is my privilege to leave them on), I protested.  She replied, “You have the most beautiful skin.  I didn’t think you could possibly be that old,” I smiled all the way to the gate.

On balance, it was a good quote weekend.



Weekend with a Zip Dog and a Fire Pit


Josie (pictured above) is a three-legged mixed breed belonging to our kids’ next door neighbors.  No one knows how Josie lost her leg because she was that way when she was adopted.

Our kids often borrow Josie for their neighborhood walk.  Jeremy calls her their “Zip-dog.”  And when the grandparents visit, as we did last weekend, we go along.

What’s amazing about Josie is that she doesn’t seem to know (or care) that she is different from other dogs.  She runs up and down stairs and around her yard with boundless energy.  She even climbed a ladder once, and there is a video to prove it.

Other weekend highlights:

1)    Being greeted at the school bus stop with a huge hug and a “Hi Grammy and Gramps!” from grandson Leo’s friend Marcus.  (Leo and his brother Grady hugged us too, but that’s expected.)

2)    Two flag-football games, a soccer game and a baseball game.

However, perhaps the best moments of all were Sunday night’s cookout, followed by three generations sitting around the fire pit that Jeremy built on one side of the house, roasting marshmallows for s’mores and singing around a blazing fire.

It doesn’t get any better than that.