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April 2017

Beards and Music

Recently we attended a memorial concert honoring the former principal bassoonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The performers were members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra who have formed the Boston Cello Quartet.

The players are all male. It seemed odd to me that in these return-of-facial-hair days, all four were clean-shaven. I mentioned that to the woman sitting next to me. “Oh,” she said, “symphony orchestras don’t allow beards. It can interfere with the music.” I let it go, but it didn’t make sense to me.

Two weeks later, I took my new computer to the Apple Store to clear up a few problems. The young man who helped me ran some diagnostic tests.

While the tests were running, we talked. Turns out he is only a part-timer at Apple. He works there to get the benefits that he doesn’t get as a freelance orchestra conductor. He hopes to get a job as an assistant-conductor of a major symphony in the near future.

Since he had nicely-groomed facial hair, I couldn’t resist asking him about orchestral beards. He assured me that many of his musician friends, including members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, have beards.

So I got more out of my afternoon at the Apple Store than I expected. My computer is fine. But, more important, I have the answer to my musicians’ facial hair question. I can’t wait to correct the woman who sat next to me at the memorial concert.  

Breakfast Banter

When I walked into the kitchen after exercising the other morning, Peter was organizing breakfast, as he often does. I pointed out that he had one slipper on and one bare foot. He hadn’t noticed, and he didn’t feel the need to do anything about it.

Moments later, as we sat at the breakfast table, I noticed that his hand holding a knife was dangerously close to his right eye. I suggested rather urgently that he be careful.

“Why?” he replied. “If I only have one slipper, why would I need two eyes?”  

End of discussion.

Parkinson's Disease Update

It’s nine years since Peter started experiencing unusual fatigue and some other obstacles to his active life-style. That means it’s been almost nine years since we found out that he had Parkinson’s disease.

It was a relief to know what was going on, but his diagnosis raised new questions. What activities would we have to curtail? Could we stay in our home? How much time would we have together?

Just the fact that we still have each other other nine years later is something to celebrate. Although we’ve had to curtail some activities (some of which we’d have curtailed anyhow because of our age), life is good. We’re still in our home, we still travel, we still get great joy from our kids and grandkids, and Peter is as handsome, sharp, and funny as always. Yes, he’s quieter, he walks with a shuffle and he has some trouble with things that require finger dexterity. And yes, I do a few things that he used to do. But I have him and that’s what matters.

Weekend Report

This was not your ordinary weekend.

The Pluses:

  1. Peter baked me some amazing gluten-free scones.
  2. The weather was gorgeous, and our daffodils bloomed.
  3. We had lunch on our patio for the first time this year.
  4. We watched Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal do a mating dance (and the follow-through) in our backyard.
  5. We had a lovely Saturday night dinner out with friends we hadn’t seen for months.

The Minuses:

  1. On Sunday, we had a doozy of an argument.

The weekend will be forgotten. The argument, never.

Our "Fifteen Minutes" of Fame

On Tuesday, our son Seth’s YouTube channel (Amigo Gringo) featured a seven-minute interview with his parents (us). The “filming” took place more than a month ago, but we didn’t see it until it "aired".

Any viewer would see it as a loving portrayal of his parents. Of course, I cried.

Two days later, I watched it again. In 48 hours it had been viewed 19,000 times. There were 600 comments, almost all in Portuguese. Seth told us that we are now the most famous couple in Brazil.

The video includes a photo of Seth as a toddler. Who would have predicted that that adorable kid in diapers would make his parents Brazilian celebrities?

In case you missed it …


Nine months ago, I decided that driving almost twenty miles on an often-clogged highway to get my hair cut was a burden. So sadly, I “broke up” with Kelly. For more than 30 years (only 12 of which she was so far away), she had been doing a great job. But on wintry days and summer beach days, the trip was getting to be too much for me.

I had a plan. Two very attractive neighbors have their hair cut at a nearby salon so I tried their hairdresser. I liked her and loved how easy it was to get to her, but after two cuts, I wasn’t really happy. So when I saw a woman waiting next to me in line at the deli counter with a fabulous short haircut, I introduced myself and asked her who cut her hair. I liked woman #2, but not so much the haircut.

So I emailed Kelly and asked her if she would take me back. We had a joyous reunion about a week ago, and you should see my hair. It’s a long trip but who cares?

Our Changing Travel Landscape

Ever since I took my first plane ride as a child from Pittsburgh (where I grew up) to Buffalo (where my mother’s family lived), seeing the world has been one of the joys of my life. I’ve traveled by just about every form of transportation, including camels and elephants, through almost fifty countries. My memories include a few mishaps, including a brief hospital stay in France, but they were part of the fun.

In this decade, however, we’ve had to make some adjustments. After 25 years of biking every summer, we had to stop because Peter has a bad sense of balance and takes a blood thinner, so a fall could be life-threatening. We’re finding that jet lag has become more of an issue, and a trip like our not-so-long-ago visit to New Zealand would be daunting today. Regrettably, we probably won’t get to China.

But even though we can’t travel the way we used to, we still travel. We tend to join groups and although that’s not our preference, we’ve met nice people. We still love new places and are grateful for new experiences, but our changing mode of travel is just one more indicator that…we’ve had our time.

Welcome to


        The 70-Something Blog documents my journey through my seventies.  Now in its ninth year with almost a thousand posts, I continue to write about the ups and downs (mostly ups) of my eighth decade, always bearing in mind that the years in front of me are not increasing.  I write about parents and parenting, about aging, exercise and my body, about friends, travel and more.  Please join me.


70-Something vs. Facebook

In response to the recent 70-Something post about the comfort food of my youth, a reader wrote to say that when she grew up in Dixon, Illinois, Jello fruit salad was a staple in her family. I asked her if by any chance she knew my friend Gordon, who also grew up in Dixon, (which is Ronald Reagan’s birthplace, by the way). She didn’t.

But I sent Gordon her comment anyway since Dixon is a small town and I thought he would be pleased to see that I had another blog reader from there. Gordon didn’t know her because she is several years younger than he is. But he did take piano lessons from her mother and he did play in the Dixon City Band for a summer or two (for a salary of $4.00 per concert) with her older brother.

She said she is going to put Gordon in touch with her brother.

Who needs Facebook when we have 70-something?