Social commentary on life from a Boomer Broad's Perspective (aka Lynda's soapbox)

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Timmie, I love you and I’m sorry

I do think you should put on a couple more cashiers though.

I do think it wouldn’t hurt though to add an extra cashier or two to get those lines moving.

My loyalty to Tim Hortons has never been an issue. Ever since they came out with “steeped” tea (I’m not a coffee drinker) I’ve been a card-carrying member of the club, eagerly pulling up to the drive-thru to get my large or extra-large steeped tea with milk. It’s served so hot I can’t drink it for at least 20 minutes. Then I slowly start sipping to test the waters. I can make a cup last about two or three hours and by then I’m madly looking for a washroom.

However, I broke our bond of loyalty when I recently sold my shares in Tim Hortons after sitting on them for about ten years. Warren Buffet advised me to only buy stock in products I know and like. That’s why I bought Timmie’s stock. And it generated a nice little dividend. Then I got greedy. It looked like my greedy banker stocks were doing better so I decided to sell my Timmie’s shares and use the money to buy more dividend-paying greedy bank stocks.

But Timmie got his revenge. A couple of weeks ago Burger King purchased Tim Hortons resulting in the value of Tim Horton’s shares going through the roof. Would you consider letting me rescind my sale? I know I was wrong but my years of loyalty must be worth something. I’ll even withdraw that complaint I made the other day about waiting twenty minutes in your lineup. From now on I promise to be loyal til death do us part. Thank you.

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An invention waiting for an inventor

hot2In her book about menopause called The Sexy Years, Suzanne Somers recommends a magic elixir of so-called natural biodentical hormones to relieve the symptoms. She describes the Seven Dwarfs of Menopause as Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleeping, Bloated, Forgetful, and All-Dried-Up. This part is true. And taking hormones does relieve the symptoms. But doctors are reluctant to prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for a prolonged length of time because of concerns about the unknown long-term potential health consequences. The fact remains that HRT makes you feel once again like a normal human being and most women experiencing menopausal symptoms would prefer to mainline it indefinitely.

There is a nasty secret about menopause that, despite all the information available today no one bothers to tell you. Hot flashes are not always a temporary problem. When I was going through menopause my hot flashes were cataclysmic. I clearly remember sitting at my desk at work with rivers of sweat rolling through the hair on my scalp, dripping down my forehead and neck and joining the Niagara Falls on my neck and chest. I could feel similar pools of sweat running down the front of my legs inside my pantyhose and down the drainage ditch that was my spine. I suppose I should be happy that now, instead of having about six of these episodes an hour, twenty years later I’m only having six a day.

hot1The inventor of ceiling fans has been the silent saviour of every woman who has gone through this and is particularly appreciated when you visit someone’s home for an overnight stay who does not have a ceiling fan in the guest room. At least most of my friends have now dispensed with duvets so we’re better able to cope with the unwanted temperature spikes. Our bodies are fickle instruments. When riding in the car with friends it often happens that one of us will have a power surge and everyone races to her rescue with adjustments to the air conditioning system and fanning her face. In fact, I once ordered two dozen paper Japanese fans from Amazon so I could stash them all over the place including the console of my car for those times my temperature soared. Passed them out to all my friends too.  When I attended the funeral of my mother-in-law, I heard the church ladies who were serving sandwiches mentioning that they still have hot flashes and some of them were in their eighties. That was not a comforting prospect.

I suspect our entire Boomer generation of women is the secret cause of global warming. There’s a scary amount of thermal off-gassing from menopausal Baby Boomer women happening around the world right now and it could be the real reason the polar ice caps are melting. Too bad there wasn’t a way of harnessing all that wasted thermal energy into a little power cell that could charge some of our household gadgets. Or in the case of some of us, perhaps power our entire home. But it would take a motivated, menopausal female scientist to accomplish this. Men just don’t get it. If they did, we’d have a solution by now.


Trip to Italy Tripped

italyThe critics and I don’t agree on this one. Steve Coogan’s new movie entitled The Trip to Italy costarring Rob Brydon has been hailed as excellent but I found it a bit of a disappointment. For the $9.50 admission fee (I’m a senior) I was expecting a culinary and visual feast of amazing food and stunning scenery of the wonderful sights including the Amalfi coast. What I saw was protracted intellectual conversation drawn out in various restaurants while the pair enjoyed assorted courses of Italian food. Beginning in the north with meals of wild game and finishing up near Naples we did indeed see genuine chefs preparing the food for which Italy is famous but we had to endure rather long verbal sparring sessions trying to follow the complicated assortment of British accents as the duo did brilliant imitations of such famous actors as Michael Caine, Hugh Grant and Sean Connery.

The movie dragged in the beginning over a particularly long lunch while we acquainted ourselves with the characters and the vistas photographed while they were driving their Mini convertible down narrow roads and streets. Many of the early scenes were filmed on an overcast day so the beauty of the mountains and countryside was not truly represented. I particularly loved the scenes in Pompeii as that was one of my favourite spots when I visited Italy.

I suggest you wait ’til it comes on television. If you have a large screen in high-def, you’ll save yourself a chunk of change for admission and overpriced popcorn. But that’s just one Boomer’s opinion.

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I’ve come a long way baby!

I'm a victim of product overload.

I’m a victim of product overload.

In previous posts I’ve described my susceptibility to being taken in by advertising for the latest and greatest cosmetics and personal care products. There’s a cupboard in my basement with enough toiletries, shampoo and cosmetics to stock my own Shoppers Drug Mart or at least supply our whole neighbourhood until the end of (my) time, or in the event of a nuclear attack. The situation became so out of hand that I decided we needed a new vanity in our bathroom. The one that came with the house and installed by the builder had no drawers or shelves, just two cavernous holes behind lower cupboard doors. No matter how many organizers, stackers and baskets I put in there, I couldn’t accommodate everything and could never find what I was looking for.

After consultation with the nice lady at Lowes I ordered my dream vanity. It arrived on time, was installed and is now functioning beautifully. In fact, I have room to spare. In addition to the cupboards under each sink, I now have three easy-glide-return drawers and an adjoining linen cupboard with three sliding shelves and four fixed shelves. This is a product junkie’s wet dream.

Your Boomer Broadcaster in 1966. I even remember the dress. It was dark green fake cotton suede and I sewed it myself.

Your Boomer Broadcaster in 1966 when I still had a waist. I even remember the dress. It was dark green faux cotton suede and I sewed it myself.

Then, the other day an envelope arrived in the mail from my mother. It contained some old photos she thought I would like to have. One of the pictures was a black and white shot taken with my Brownie Starflash camera of me washing my face in my parents’ 1966 bathroom. The picture shows a single sink, one small mirror and to my left a utility cupboard that contained all the toiletry items and linens used by our entire family of four which was miniscule by today’s inventory. I know getting older means more maintenance but that picture was a sad reminder of the extent of my sins in the age of acquisition.

While I make a silent promise to myself to try and do better, I’m not optimistic. I do remember a friend of a friend telling me once that when she cleaned out her linen closet she threw out 54 bottles of nail polish! And that’s just what she threw out. She still had some left. There’s always consolation in knowing I’m not alone in my shortcomings. Just be thankful you know me when that nuclear disaster hits. I’ll be the one with no food or water but we’ll be clean, smell pretty, look good and will be the envy of every woman on the planet. Do I see Black Market in my future? And that new vanity? It was made in Canada by KraftMaid Cabinetry in Barrie, Ontario so I was just doing my bit for the Canadian economy. Paint me patriotic.


Tea baggers have now gone too far!



Everywhere we look on our pantry shelves these days our food items are shrinking—literally. Manufacturers obviously think we’re all idiots and won’t notice if they reduce a box of cereal from 250 grams to 200 grams then to 185 grams without changing the price. It’s their sneaky way of upping the unit cost to us without upping the price and frankly I’m getting really fed up. The issue has been covered on the consumer reports portion of the news on TV and we’re all aware of the trend. My morning box of Kashi is now so skinny it doesn’t get me through the week. A loaf of bread doesn’t even make half a dozen sandwiches anymore. Boxes of tissue and rolls of toilet paper are getting thinner and smaller but at least we have the option of buying jumbo size for those of us who want some heft.

Now they’ve gone and messed with something very dear to my heart. Tea bags. As a consumer of several mugs of nature’s wonder fuel every day, I’ve noticed that lately I’m deliberately adding less and less milk in an attempt to get that wonderful tea hit. I love a good strong cuppa and what’s coming out of my tea-pot spout these days resembles fairy piss. Then, my friend Gail made a comment when we were having an afternoon cup of tea at a friend’s home. “Does tea seem weaker to you these days?” she asked.  “Do you think they’re putting fewer tea leaves in the bag?” Bang! The light bulb went on.

I sense a rebellion is in the works.

I sense a rebellion is in the works.

Now that we’ve identified the problem, I hope adding an extra bag to my big red pot will take care of things. I don’t actually have any old bags (no personal jokes here please) to measure the weight for a consumer report-style comparison but I’m inclined to think my friend Gail is right. Listen. Boomers Broads have enough to worry about already. Our hair’s falling out, our knees are sagging and our flapping upper arms are threatening to give us lift-off. Don’t mess with our tea bags. We’re not up for the stress and we can get ugly if we don’t get our fix. Keep an eye on your wine, ladies.



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It Wasn’t Pretty was pretty good

Celebrities and movie stars are not my thing. I do not watch ET or read People Magazine (except the free copy while I’m getting a mani-pedi), and I get impatient with the disproportionate amount of media coverage they get for their contribution to life in general. While I enjoy going to the movies and have a passing interest in the industry behind it, I’m not generally a fan. Except when it comes to a few women and one of those women is Diane Keaton. I fell in love with her style in Annie Hall and I have serious respect for her life choices including the big one, which is very unusual in Hollywood—choosing not to have plastic/cosmetic surgery. If you’ve seen any of her movies in the last few years, she’s still quite lovely and despite now being 68 years old, she does not look like she’s trying to look 38. She adopted two children when she was in her fifties and is joyfully raising them as a single mother.

Keaton1Keaton’s latest book, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty is a philosophical look life as a new senior citizen and her own life in particular. As evidenced in her movies, on one hand she’s full of insecurities but on the other hand she’s confident and secure enough to wear whatever strange and inappropriate clothes she wishes without embarrassment, much to the chagrin of her 12-year-old son Duke.

The book is a fast read with only 164 pages. Keaton addresses her personal issues with respect to her looks and I found it most reassuring to know that we share something in common. We’re both going bald. She also describes early attempts as a teenager to correct the slight bulb in her nose by trying to sleep with a bobby pin on the end of her nose to flatten it out. I also remember trying to sleep with rubber bands on my teeth to try and straighten them and being jolted when they snapped off. No matter how beautiful or otherwise we are as women, we’re always trying to fight mother nature in our own way.

She admires women for their imperfections and their courage to challenge the popular definition of beauty, citing Lady Gaga, Katherine Hepburn, Diane Vreeland and others. “I’m talking about Phyllis Diller . . . or Joan Rivers getting in the first laugh about herself. . . I’m talking about the flaws that eventually take on a life of their own. The ineptness that makes you who you are. I’m talking about women who make us see beauty where we never saw it; women who turn wrong into right” she writes.

Another experience we both share is being prejudged as a senior citizen when we weren’t expecting it. One time I was waiting in line for a theatre ticket and I was having an internal debate with myself about whether to declare myself a senior citizen and claim the discounted price. I was only 64 at the time which depending on where you are may or may not qualify you as a senior. I decided to take the high road and not go for the seniors’ discount only to find, to my horror when I got inside the theatre that the child who sold me a ticket had indeed pegged me as an old hag and automatically sold me a senior-priced ticket. When it first happened to Keaton, it happened twice in one week. “I suppose it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it sure did feel like it” she said.

keaton2For more and better insights into her life as an actress, Keaton’s previous book, Then Again offers more information. But if you would enjoy getting a bit deeper into her brain, then Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty is a worthwhile read. And those ubiquitous turtlenecks she favours? She sews shirt collar stays in the seams to keep them standing up.



Grocery shopping can be treacherous territory

In an earlier post I quoted a piece from a book by David Sedaris called Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. He wrote the following paragraphs in response to seeing a young boy outside a store defacing a federal mail box with marker pens. A bystander held the boy until the parents came out of the store and instead of disciplining the child for his bad behaviour, the parents verbally attacked the bystander for touching their child.  Sedaris was understandably appalled and described his own experience growing up in a family of six kids:

“I don’t know how these couples do it, spend hours each night tucking their kids in, reading them books about misguided kittens or seals who wear uniforms, then rereading them if the child so orders. In my house, our parents put us to bed with two simple words: “Shut up.” That was always the last thing we heard before our lights were turned off. Our artwork did not hang on the refrigerator or anywhere near it, because our parents recognized it for what it was: crap. They did not live in a child’s house, we lived in theirs.

Neither were we allowed to choose what we ate. I have a friend whose seven-year-old will only consider something if it’s white. Had I tried that, my parents would have said, “You’re on,” and served me a bowl of paste, followed by joint compound. They weren’t considered strict by any means. They weren’t abusive. The rules were just different back then, especially in regard to corporal punishment. Not only could you hit your own children, but you could also hit other people’s.”

Did I commit a public faux pas?

Did I commit a public faux pas?

While hitting children is obviously wrong, I find myself wondering, are our expectations of kids today wrong? The other day when I was in the grocery store, I passed a woman shopping with three children. Her young daughter who appeared to be about eight years old accidentally knocked something off a shelf, left it on the floor in the aisle and walked away. As I passed the little girl (who was wearing a private school uniform), I quietly said to her, “Put it back.”, then rounded the corner and headed off to the frozen food section at the other end of the store.

A few seconds later her mother came screaming after me that I had no right to discipline her child; who did I think I was and accused me repeatedly of being self-righteous. “My child is a good child and she knows what to do” she screamed, waving her arms at me. “Obviously she doesn’t” I replied. Then the rant started all over, who was I to be so self-righteous, and I was actually afraid she was going to strike me so I calmly walked away from her as she continued yelling at me.

The mother was wearing a hijab so I presume she was Muslim. Did I cross a cultural line or is it a generational thing? I honestly do not think I did anything wrong. But the scene hurt and embarrassed me. I generally avoid confrontational situations and when faced with the fury hurled at me yesterday I was paralyzed and couldn’t even come up with an appropriate response. I think any Boomer would have responded as I did when the child left the item on the floor in the aisle. But parenting today is more defensive. Perhaps the mother’s cultural standards are different. Was I wrong?

P.S. Returning to the same store a few days later, I found myself nervously looking over my shoulder looking to protect myself from another attack by the same woman. She certainly left her mark.



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