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May 2016
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July 2016

June 2016

From My Soapbox

Last year, for the first time, there were more people on this planet over age fifty than under age five. According to the World Health Organization, between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world's population over sixty years old will nearly double from 12% to 22%.

Birth rates have fallen because people no longer need to have a lot of kids to have a few survive. And the cost of raising even a few is daunting. On the other end of life, people are living longer which is mostly a good thing but it leaves us with more old folks.

At a recent symposium on “Preparing Health Systems for an Aging Global Population”, we heard some frightening statistics about a future with an increasing number of people suffering from dementia and other diseases of the aging, accompanied by a declining number of young people to look after them.

We have to prepare to meet the housing and healthcare needs of the old without depleting the resources we need to meet the needs of the young.

And we’re not going to get that done that if we don’t work on it.


Best Father's Day Gift Ever

When Seth was home in May, he remarked on his father’s dreadful posture as he worked on his laptop computer. I told Seth that I’d stopped nagging Peter about it because it just makes him angry.

But Seth had a solution. For Father’s Day, he and Jeremy would get Peter a large monitor that he would have to sit up straight to see.

It took three separate deliveries—the monitor, the wireless keyboard and the wireless track-pad. For once, Peter’s lack of attention paid off and I managed to get all three parts into the house without his noticing. Example: Me: “Honey, was that the doorbell?” Peter: “No”. Me: “Well I’d better check. Nope, it was nothing,” I said as I walked by our study carrying a huge package.

When Peter opened Seth’s Father’s Day card that Friday, it mentioned the gift without revealing what it was, but it said that he expected it to be in use by the time he called on Sunday. So I decided to give it to Peter early.

I have known my husband for fifty-one years. I have never seen him cry. But his reaction to this thoughtful, caring gift from his children looked a lot like tears were going to appear. I said, “If you were a crier, would you be crying now?”

He nodded.

Car Talk

In 1965, I bought my first car, a bright-red VW beetle. I saved the $1739 check I wrote for years. Last Friday, fifty-one years later, I bought what will likely be my last car.

It made me pause…

The car we traded in was eleven years old. It had lots of dents, scratches and memories. It probably would have lasted as long as I will, but just in case we might have to buy a new car some day, why not start enjoying it now?

It has a few bells and whistles that our old car lacked. You can see what your backing toward and you don’t have to peer through the steering wheel to see the speedometer. It has Bluetooth which is very cool.

But to me, a car is a car. It’s to get from here to there.

Still it’s fun to see a shiny new car sitting in our driveway

Our Crate and Barrel Culture

Persian rugs aren’t doing well. There’s not much of a market nowadays for these works of art, often a year in the making. And when the artists who make them die, they are not being replaced by the next generation. It seems that people don’t care about handmade quality anymore.

Well, I don’t own a Persian rug, but I do have an opinion on this subject.

It looks like my generation might be the last that cares about fine china and crystal, well-made furniture and rugs, and other things that we inherited from our parents and grandparents. Our kids don’t want their grandparents’ china or silver. It’s just too much trouble.

Our children belong to what I call the Crate-and-Barrel generation. Things aren’t made to last any more. And that’s fine.

It’s just different…

The 70-Something Solution

I've been giving some though to running for president.  If I decided to run, my platform would be simple. I would do two things to fix our country:

  1. Take money out of politics.
  2. Get people to talk to each other.

When I mentioned my platform to Peter, I added that I hadn’t done anything bad enough… He finished my sentence “to qualify me”.

The Clothing Art Party

What we do in retirement!

A neighbor invited me to her “ Clothing Art Party” featuring three artists/designers displaying their handmade crafts accompanied by a glass of prosecco with a raspberry on the bottom on a sunny late-spring afternoon.

I can’t believe I went. I knew I didn’t need baby clothes or hand-crafted tablecloths (I don’t even use the tablecloths I have). My scarf drawer overflows. But I like this neighbor and I was around, so I went.

Attending were a group of amazingly dynamic women. I talked at length with a fascinating documentary filmmaker from a nearby town. I met a few neighbors I didn’t know. Everybody was interesting.

I admired the beautiful African fabrics used for the dresses and tops made by the lady who lived much of her life in Kenya. She gives a percentage of the money she gets from her sales to provide "Girls Dignity Kits" to young girls so that they can attend school during their menstrual periods.

I tried on a bunch of the African tops. They ballooned over my thin body and made me feel like I was in a tent. But it was for a good cause.

So I bought one.

Just an Ordinary Friday

We’d had a busy week. Our son Seth’s visit involved lots of activities (all of them fun). On Tuesday after he left, we attended a conference and on Thursday evening, we went to a book party. So on Friday we took it easy, Peter and I each in our “office”.

It was cloudy when we took a late afternoon walk in nearby Mt. Auburn Cemetery, followed by a glass of wine on our patio when the sun finally appeared. Everything was green. Our peonies were bursting from their buds. Birds were devouring the berries on our trees. And our bunny friends ignored us as they chomped on our grass.

Later, watching the evening news, my eyes filled up twice—first over the joyous tears of a little girl whose birthday present was a doll with a prosthetic leg just like her own, and the second over the annual montage of graduation speeches, ending with the moment the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 2016 threw their hats into the air.

Most of all, I was appreciating Peter. So grateful that we have this time together.

Bat Wings

Put this in the category of “Now I’ve heard everything!” According to The New York Times, it will soon be possible for doctors to use hyaluronic fillers to fix upper-arm skin that hangs like bat wings. (If you don’t know what hyaluronic fillers are, you probably haven’t worried much about those ever-deepening facial lines left by a lifetime of smiles.)

As a vigilant observer of my own increasingly imperfect body, I rushed to the mirror, took off my shirt, and had a look. Alas, it’s true. The skin on my upper arms isn’t as tight as it once was. But bat wings? Not yet.

I will continue lifting weights because I think exercise slows down the inevitable. But for a solution that’s easier (and cheaper) than hyaluronic fillers, I think I’ll just stick with long sleeves.

Party Rules

It’s been a long time since we gave birthday parties for our children. And the rules have changed.

The pediatric wisdom in the 1970’s limited the guest list to the age of the child plus one. For those who are math challenged (as I am) that would be six kids for the fifth birthday. Nowadays, if you don’t invite everyone in the class or play group, you are in trouble with the party cops.

Back then kids played games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey. At the most exotic parties, there would be a clown or a magician. I recall Seth in cape and high hat playing the magician’s role at his brother’s fourth birthday party. Now there are bouncy tents, visits to indoor pool complexes and I don’t know what else.

So, imagine my trepidation when I decided to give a birthday party for Seth and his two best high school friends the other night. One friend was in town from California, one lives here and Seth was visiting from New York.

I decided to forego the party favors. We did have candles, but only the two gracing our dinner table. Instead of kid-fare, I made a dinner party as if I were entertaining President Obama. Wine flowed. Conversation was of the grownup variety.

But still, it was our kid, his friends and a birthday party.