BOOMERBROADcast

The voice of Baby Boomers from a woman's perspective


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Celebrating the best years of our lives

Remember this? My mother was so thrilled with her little bungalow as everything was brand new.

Remember this? My mother was so thrilled with her little two-bedroom bungalow as everything was brand new and it had an oil burner in the livingroom to heat the whole house so there was no wood stove to feed.

One question I often like to ask people is “What period would you describe as being the happiest years of your life”? While the answers vary they’re always fascinating. My mother remembers the first years of her marriage when they were living in “wartime” housing for veterans. I was a baby and my aunt, her sister lived just two doors away with her husband and baby daughter. The whole neighbourhood was young couples just like them. On Saturday nights they would get together (no money) with the guys splitting a six-pack while the girls enjoyed home-made chocolate cake with whipped cream. Women describe the years while their children were young as being particularly satisfying. Men often refer to times when their careers were peaking.

Another aunt fondly remembers when my uncle finally retired. For the first time in their lives, they were free of all encumbrances—no young children to worry about, no job concerns, enough money to improve their home and do the things they wanted and no major health issues. That reflects my own experience as well and among my Boomer friends the best time of our lives seems to unequivocally be the present — right now. We’ve all retired within the last few years after paying our dues in the working world . For the first time in history, most of our entire generation of women worked outside the home as well as raising children and doing our bit for the community whenever and however we could.

Here are just ten of many reasons we’re one happy bunch of Boomer Broads, living in the now and enjoying it more than any other time in our lives:

  1. Nobody’s the boss of me anymore. No deadlines, no office politics, performance reviews or exhausting days trying to get everything done.
  2. clock1No more beeping alarm clocks on a cold winter morning reminding me to get out of a warm bed and fight traffic on icy, snow-covered roads for an hour to get to work.
  3. Cheap movies. And I can take in a weekday matinée with no line-ups and a theatre full of prime seat choices.
  4. Acceptance of our authentic selves. While time and gravity have taken their predictable toll on our bodies, we no longer stress as much about our physical imperfections. We’re happy to be healthy, able to walk about and do what we like. In fact, Boomers are probably the healthiest generation of our age so far in history.
  5. As Mick Jagger once said, time is on our side. If all goes well and we continue to take care of ourselves, we still have one-third of our lives ahead of us. As we enter our third trimester we still have time to do whatever we want to do, whether it’s read, play tennis, golf, garden, cook or simply stop and smell the roses.
  6. Seniors’ days at retailers and seniors’ prices on public transit are not to be underestimated. Now that we have the time (see Item 5 above), we can take advantage of all the benefits available to our particular demographic.

    We've earned the priveledge of being a lady who lunches.

    We’ve earned the privilege of being a lady who lunches.

  7. Our days are filled with doing whatever we want to do including finally enjoying those long lunches with girlfriends.
  8. Remember when “What will the neighbours say?” guided behaviours? I’ll never be a Red Hat Lady but I do admire their ethos. Finally, we’ve reached that time in life when we don’t have to impress anyone. We’re comfortable wearing whatever we want and saying what we want, without consciously hurting others.
  9. Our options are practically unlimited. We can move to a condo; go to Florida for the winter; travel the continent in an R.V.; sit and read all day; take up painting; learn to play a musical instrument; live off the grid in a cabin in the woods; or help build schools in third-world countries. Every day is Saturday and we can spend our time however we wish.
  10. Free drugs. The Baby Boomers’ battle cry. Once we’re sixty-five, all our blood pressure, cholesterol, antidepressants and gout meds are free. Does life get any better?

Every day we should be celebrating the bounty that is being a Boomer Broad. I certainly do and I know my girlfriends do too. I’ve reworked some of the words to in the last couple of stanzas in Mary Hopkin’s 1968 hit as our new battle cry:

Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And think of all the great things we would do

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la…
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

These are indeed the days, my friend.

These are indeed the days, my friend.

Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way
If by chance I’d see you in the tavern
We’d smile at one another and we’d say

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la…
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Just tonight I stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that older woman really me

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la…
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

Through the door there came familiar laughter
I saw your face and heard you call my name
Oh my friend we’re older but much wiser
And in our hearts the dreams are still the same

These are the days my friend
We hope they’ll never end
We’ll sing and dance forever and a day
We’ve lived the life we chose
We’ve fought and now can choose
And we’re here to celebrate the day
La la la la…
These are the days, oh yes these are the days

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read. Click on this link: http://www.lulu.com  or http://www.amazon.com

 


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Newfoundland’s sacrifice is permanently commemorated on French soil

A replica of the original "danger tree" shown at the left of the photo is as far as the Newfoundlanders got that day. Their cemetery is visible in the valley in the distance.

A replica of the original “danger tree” shown at the left of the photo is as far as the Newfoundlanders got that day. This is the land they gave their lives for and they are buried in the cemetery visible in the grove in the distance.

On July 1, 1915, seven hundred and seventy-eight men of the Newfoundland Regiment followed orders and went over the top of their trenches at Beaumont-Hamel near The Somme in France to capture previously shelled German strongholds. An hour later only sixty-eight men remained alive, without a single shot being fired by the Newfoundlanders. Even the Germans acknowledged the tremendous sacrifice made by the Newfoundlanders that day. Prince Rupprecht, a commander of the German 6th Army reported that “our losses of territory may be seen on the map with a microscope. Their losses in that far more precious thing—human life—are simply prodigious. Amply and in ground we’ve sold them. They can have all they want at the same price.”

In 1925, years before Newfoundland joined the rest of Canada, the mothers of Newfoundland raised ten thousand dollars to purchase from French farmers the battle site at Beaumont-Hamel in France to be forever dedicated to their men who were killed that day in July 1915.

The caribou monument honours Newfoundland's lost men.

The caribou monument honours Newfoundland’s lost men. Both of these pictures were taken by me during our visit to the site in September 2014.

There, they commissioned a caribou statue in commemoration of their lost sons, brothers and husbands. Thousands of pine trees native to Newfoundland were planted and the site remains preserved as it was one hundred years ago.

Michael Winter honours these men and their families in his new book, “Into The Blizzard”. He describes his trip to France to visit this battle site and others, retracing some of the steps taken by those men so long ago. We are introduced to the real people behind the story including where they came from, why they joined up and how their service has affected their families and descendants many years later.

blizzardThis book was particularly interesting for me as we visited these sites ourselves in September 2014. The author eloquently sums up his position on the futility of war. “The words we are asked to chant are ‘never forget’ and remembrance. And the politicians would have you believe that it is the dead we should not forget. . . . It is not the dead we should remember. It is the atrocities that occur when men in charge throw individuals into war and kill them for some idea. It is this we should never forget.”

 


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And the winner is . . .

The glamorous dresses remind me of playing with my Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor paper dolls when I was little. They were always wearing glamorous paper evening gowns when they were fighting over Eddie Fisher.

The glamorous dresses remind me of playing with my Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor paper dolls when I was little. They were always wearing glamorous paper evening gowns when they were fighting over Eddie Fisher.

Am I the only person on the planet who hates watching award shows?  Now that we have the Golden Globes and a couple of other awards shows under our belt, it won’t be long until the big one, the Academy Awards will be upon us. It’s not that I’m opposed to the awards themselves and I love the glamour and beautiful dresses associated with the event, I just find the shows themselves to be painful to watch so I prefer to simply check the newspaper the next morning to get the results. Much easier and less stressful.

No matter what your profession or role in life, a little recognition goes a long way. About thirty-five years ago, my boss happened to notice I was working late every night (we weren’t paid for overtime) trying to keep up with the workload so he gave me a raise of twenty dollars a week and I’ve never forgotten that gesture of recognition. Authors are rewarded once in a while with a book prize or a well-deserving world figure such as Malala Yousafzai will receive the Nobel Peace Prize but otherwise, the majority of us function in our jobs with little fanfare or recognition—unless you’re an actor, director or other person working in the motion picture or television business.

The superficiality of the entertainment business is not news and we’re all participants in furthering this by going to the movies, buying celebrity magazines and watching television. I love going to the movies and part of the fun is hunkering down with my bucket of warm, over-priced popcorn and barrel of diet pop resting in its convenient armrest cup holder. For an outlay of about twenty-five dollars I get to watch people pretend to be someone else in the context of telling a story. Who doesn’t love a good story. It’s art and we need art.

Would it kill the recipients to prepare their words ahead of time?

Would it kill the recipients to prepare their words ahead of time?

What annoys the crap out of me and makes it impossible for me to enjoy the award shows is the incredible inability of the presenters and recipients to conduct themselves in a professional manner on the stage. Instead, the presenters stand up there unable to string three coherent words together without squinting at the teleprompter, often flubbing their lines and generally delivering an abominable performance. And the award recipients act like they were pulled in off the street, had no time to prepare an appropriate response and shuffle around grasping for words before the music cuts in. You would think that a person who has the ability to memorize pages of dialogue for a movie script would be able to compose and deliver an articulate and sincere thank you speech.

And speaking of music, the production numbers are usually excruciating to watch. They try too hard. They’re overproduced. They strive for an emotional response that will never materialize. And they’re usually a giant waste of time. Much as I love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, even they seemed strained delivering their material at the beginning of the Golden Globes. The jokes are usually limp and delivered cautiously so naturally they often fall flat. After a few minutes, I switched channels.

The pre-show fashion parade on the red carpet is always interesting but all the behind-the-scenes work by hundreds of stylists, designers, hairdressers and makeup artists has eliminated any semblance of spontaneous glamour and fashion taste being exhibited by the stars on their own merits. While I don’t expect Jennifer Lawrence to whip up her gown herself the night before, I would like to see more Diane Keaton-types who have the confidence and presence to show up in something they chose themselves from their own closet. Remember the year Sharon Stone looked stunning in a crisp white Gap shirt and evening skirt?

These people did not cure cancer, feed a village or rescue the young school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria. And for pretending to be someone else for ninety minutes on-screen, they’re heralded with an event that is broadcast to billions of people around the world that results in international fame, obscenely high salary levels and a statuette to remind yourself and everyone else that you’re good at pretending.

. . . and  the award goes to Lynda Davis for BoomerBroadcast

. . . and the award goes to Lynda Davis for BoomerBroadcast.

I realize I’m in the minority in hating award shows and I can guarantee that when I receive my Oscar for being the Best Girlfriend of a Woman Who is the Aunt of a Major Stylist-to-the Stars (Brad Goreski), I will not pull a cocktail napkin out of my evening bag and read a hastily prepared, poorly delivered speech; it will be concise, eloquent and memorized. I will look you in the eye, smile and deliver my words in a clear, well-modulated voice. In this world of recognizing achievement in the superficial entertainment business it’s the very least I can do. Thank you. Thank you very much.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read. Click on this link: http://www.lulu.com  or http://www.amazon.com


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Hints from Heloise live on

Reading Hints from Heloise in this morning’s paper reminded me that the passing of depression-era members of our population does not mean the end of our appetite for how to do things better, cheaper or more efficiently. While Martha Stewart has her own special arsenal of how-to tips, they’ll never be as folksy and down-to-earth as those carried on by Heloise’s daughter in her syndicated newspaper column.

If your old rubber boots are beyond repair, turn them into an art installation.

If your old rubber boots are beyond repair, turn them into an art installation.

As Boomers and Gen X’ers, we have a lot to learn about saving the planet from the Greatest Generation who never wasted an atom if it could be re-used. Is there a Boomer who doesn’t remember her Dad patching her brown rubber boots with a cheese-grater thingie, a rubber patch and some glue. Sometimes we wrapped our shoes in waxed paper inside our boots to help keep our shoes and feet dry until Dad got around to fixing them. And when the soles of his own shoes got too thin, he bought a piece of thick leather, cut it to fit, removed part of the old sole and tacked on a new one. That’s a far cry from today’s world where we have closets full of footwear that we simply chuck into the garbage when we’re tired of them.

One household hint in today’s paper struck me as particularly interesting and thought I should share it with you. Fay Mayfield from Kentucky says, “I use tea-bag covers as little note-papers and never run out. Also, the string tags are great for price tags at yard sales and such.” Why didn’t I think of that? Or what about the suggestion from Charlene in Pennsylvania to take damaged air mattresses, cut them open and use them as tarp covers for outdoor items during winter. I should put her in touch with my Dad who could go one better and show her how to repair those leaks in air mattresses.

We're making progress but there's so much more we could be doing.

We’re making progress but there’s so much more we could be doing.

Heloise’s hints serve to remind all of us that we could be doing so much more to reduce, reuse and recycle. Starting immediately, instead of taking clothes to Goodwill I’m going to cut them into pieces, put them into my blender until they turn to pulp and then make paper. This works particularly well for denim jeans and other cotton items (you can Google how-to) but polyester may require me to melt the items down in the microwave until I have a blob of plastic. I suppose if I catch it while it’s still hot and pliable, I could make cups, jewelry or even furniture. Old curtains, bedspreads or blankets could be treated as yard-goods and using my forty-five-year-old Singer sewing machine, I could whip up an entirely new wardrobe that would be completely original and unlike anything anyone else is wearing.

Never under-estimate the versatility of the simple tea bag.

Never under-estimate the versatility of the simple tea bag.

If my husband’s socks are beyond darning, I could unravel them, Google “Learn to knit”  and knit him new ones.  Before I turn those tea bags into note paper, I will also now make an effort to re-use them several times, squeezing every drop of flavour out for as long as the bag holds up. Leftover food could be thrown in a pot with old KFC chicken bones and used to make delicious soups such as salad soup, overripe banana soup or french fry soup (as if there are ever any left-over french fries at our house).

There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement in my daily lifestyle practices. Those of us who are lucky enough to still have our parents have access to a gold-mine of information. Pay attention when they put those coffee grounds in the garden instead of the garbage or keep using towels until they no longer have a nap. Those worn-out towels can be remade into lovely blouses or underwear. Leftover slivers of hand soap can be compressed into a single multi-coloured bar with a rare and exotic fragrance. The plastic sleeves my morning paper comes in could be glued together for a stylish rain poncho. The possibilities are endless. Just ask Heloise—or me. Starting today, I’m turning over a whole new “green” tea leaf.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read. Click on this link: http://www.lulu.com  or http://www.amazon.com

 

 


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City of Women describes Berlin in WW2

cityWe know all Germans were not Nazis during the Second World War. Given the choice the average person would never chose war; John Lennon had it right when he suggested putting all the politicians in a boxing ring and let them duke it out amongst themselves which I think is a marvelous idea.

City of Women by David Gillham is a fictional account of one woman’s struggle to maintain a degree of normalcy in the midst of the horrors of living in Berlin under Hitler. Sigrid Schröder has a boring job as a typist in the patent office but it provides enough income to buy cabbage, onions and potatoes for her and her disagreeable mother-in-law to eat while her husband serves on the eastern front.

Life takes an unexpected turn when she is approached by a strange, handsome man in a movie theatre. Then, she finds herself swept into a series of events that marked many average German citizens during the war. Her relationship with Ericha, a neighbour’s nanny turns her into a criminal in the eyes of the law as she becomes increasingly more entangled in the lives of others who do not share Hitler’s view of a perfect German society.

City of Women is part love story, part mystery and part political commentary and all parts come together in an engrossing tale of historical fiction. Stories involving strong women always appeal to me and this insight into the ordinary lives of ordinary people during extraordinary times is well worth the read.


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Catherine Gildiner’s new book is a solid “10”

Coming Ashore is the third in Catherine Gildiner's autobiographical trilogy.

Coming Ashore is the third book in Catherine Gildiner’s autobiographical trilogy.

Coming Ashore is the third installment in Catherine Gildiner’s autobiographical series and anyone who requires three volumes to cover her life up to age twenty-five has obviously lived a more interesting life than mine. Boomer Broads will love her books. I guarantee it. The first book, a best seller, Too Close to The Falls covers her life as a young girl growing up in the fifties in Lewiston, New York. As the precocious daughter and only child of a pharmacist father and a mother who never cooked a meal, Cathy McClure as she was known then, lived a rather unconventional lifestyle as a pint-sized drug dealer. Actually, she rode around in the delivery vehicle with her father’s illiterate driver acting as his reader and partner while they delivered prescriptions in the Lewiston and Buffalo area.

The second book, After The Falls which was also a best seller covers her teenage years marked by the beginning of her involvement in political activism. As a teenager she kept company with such interesting characters as members of the Black Panthers and her romantic relationship with a married man, whom she didn’t know at the time was married. We’ve all been there.

Coming Ashore takes Cathy McClure to Oxford University in England on a scholarship won by writing her one and only piece of poetry which she composed under the influence of speed while cramming for exams. Since meeting her future husband while attending University of Toronto’s Victoria College in the early 1970s, she has lived and worked in Toronto.

Yorkville Avenue in the sixties. Was it really fifty years ago?

Yorkville Avenue in the sixties. Was it really fifty years ago?

As a Boomer I could relate to her experiences on so many levels in each of the three books but this third one really hit close to home. The clothing she wore, the music she listened to, the cultural touchstones of the time, the streets she walked on and the buildings she moved through were so close to my own experience that I felt I was re-living my own life as it was then. McClure moved to Toronto in 1970, lived for a brief time in a rooming house on Huron Street then Rochdale College near University of Toronto. She describes the Yorkville scene as it was during the Riverboat, Purple Onion, Myna Bird, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young days.

When I compare her experiences to my own life at that time, I probably passed her on the street and perhaps even sat in on the same feminist meetings. I clearly remember attending one such meeting at the Park Plaza when feminist Laura Sabia was the guest speaker in 1971 and could so easily picture what she describes in her book. At the time I was living on Alexander Street, a couple of blocks north of Carlton, just east of Yonge Street. Gordon Lightfoot was then living in the tower next door and I passed him on the street one day on my way home from work as he was walking toward Yonge Street in his fringed buckskin jacket accompanied by a friend. It was the most incredible time to be living downtown.

At that time, I was working on Bloor Street across from The Colonnade and would walk down to have dinner once  a month in the grand dining hall at U of T’s Victoria College with my brother who was studying English there. Fran’s Restaurant, U of T Law School, Philosopher’s Walk, Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education are all familiar landmarks. The trip north on Bathurst Street to visit her future in-laws in their modest apartment on Wilson Avenue is so perfectly detailed that you feel you’re there.

McClure even worked for a while at Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital at the foot of Kipling Avenue in Mimico. The former patient buildings have now been converted into classrooms, workshops and administrative facilities for Humber College and a couple of years ago I sat in classrooms in those same buildings while taking writing workshops. I loved the book so much I’m now going to sit down and re-read Part 3 (starts on page 235) of Coming Ashore which describes her life in Toronto just so I can savour a bit of life the way it was for Boomers more than forty years ago. Thank you Catherine Gildiner for delivering an amazing read.

P.S. To read Catherine Gildiner’s own comments on this posting, open the Comments section, and feel free to add your own.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read. Click on this link: http://www.lulu.com  or http://www.amazon.com


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I know somebody who knows somebody who’s a somebody

Celeb stylist Brad Goreski still takes time to visit his grandmother in Port Perry, Ontario where he grew up.

Celeb stylist Brad Goreski still takes time to visit his grandmother in Port Perry, Ontario where he grew up.

There’s an old song from 1927, “I’ve danced with a man who’s danced with a girl who’s danced with The Prince of Wales”? I can make a similar claim, although several degrees removed from The Prince of Wales. My friend MaryAnne’s nephew is Brad Goreski, a stylist-to-the-stars and TV personality who is joining The Fashion Police beginning January 11th. Brad grew up in Port Perry, Ontario and still has that small-town charm and Canadian sensibility, except when it comes to his fashion sense where he’s over-the-top.

Leaving Port Perry for Toronto then Los Angeles and New York to seek his unconventional fortune when he finished high school, Brad soon became recognized as someone with genuine talent and flair. After getting a degree in Art History, studying fashion and working for a while with Vogue magazine and Rachael Zoe, Brad branched off on his own and soon landed such high-profile clients as Demi Moore, Jessica Alba and Christina Ricci. He’s also the official stylist for Kate Spade New York.

brad2Brad shares his life with long-time partner Gary Janetti, one of the brilliant writers for Will & Grace, and their dog, Penelope. In 2012 he published his autobiography, “Born To Be Brad: My Life and Style So Far” and had his own reality show “It’s a Brad Brad World” on Bravo TV. In his book Brad describes his father taking his little lace-gloved hand in his when he was eight years old and going out on Halloween as Madonna.

Now, with his new job on Fashion Police and all his high-profile clients I guess that means that now he’ll never have time to come to my place, edit my closet and set me straight on my own personal fashion do’s and don’ts. I’ll never know for sure if these shoes make my ass look fat. Nevertheless, I’m thrilled as can be that I know somebody whose nephew is a somebody, even though I’m not.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, order my new book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read. Click on this link: http://www.lulu.com  or http://www.amazon.com

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