BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who experienced life in THE sixties.


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Florence Foster Jenkins soars above her abilities

florence1No actor does watery eyes and tears better than Meryl Streep and both are evident in her latest movie based on real-life personality Florence Foster Jenkins. What came as a bit of a surprise was how comedic Streep is, although she capably displayed this talent in Julia and Julia several years ago. After watching Florence Foster Jenkins I came home and immediately Google’d her name to find out more about this complex person.

Born into a wealthy family, Florence displayed a particular talent for music and as a child once played the piano for American President Rutherford Hayes. When her father refused to bankroll her musical career she tragically married young and contracted syphilis from her husband, whom she immediately left. Several years later, when both of her parents died and she inherited a considerable sum of money, she became a patron, sponsor and participant in New York’s operatic society. Florence regularly held private recitals in her apartment or a rented ballroom at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, oblivious of the fact she had a terrible singing voice and no sense of rhythm or timing.

Streep was touching and hilarious in the title role.

Streep was touching and hilarious in the title role.

St. Clair Bayfield came into her life fulfilling the role of husband (although they were never officially married) and manager. Hugh Grant was excellent as her seemingly upper-class English actor husband and their relationship was fascinating to watch. Bayfield and her piano accompanist Cosmé McMoon were loyal enablers, overlooking her obvious shortcomings as a singer and supporting her career and ambitions. In 1944 at the age of seventy-six when she was in failing health, Florence staged a concert at Carnegie Hall, donating one thousand tickets to servicemen. Despite a rocky introduction and the unmistakable laughter from the audience, she pushed through to her finale. She died a few weeks later.  My girlfriends and I really enjoyed the movie which has some great laughs. If you’ve seen it or plan to, let me know what you thought. There’s a moral to the story.

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The SEPTEMBER . . . and other irrelevant issues

My disappointment with the September issue was only exacerbated by featuring Kendall Jenner on the cover.

My disappointment with the September issue was only exacerbated by showcasing Kendall Jenner on the cover. An earlier cover with Amy Schumer was beautiful and more relatable.

Most magazines are no longer relevant to me, despite the fact I subscribe to eighteen each month. As a female Baby Boomer, I find it hard to source much in the wide, wide world of media that really rocks my world any more. In fact, with death of MORE magazine last spring and the cancellation of my favourite radio shows (What She Said on SiriusXM and The Judith Regan Show also on Sirius XM—damn you to hell, Sirius), combined with the absence of quality movies that appeal to our demographic, it’s getting increasingly difficult for Boomer Broads to get our jollies. Nonetheless, I keep subscribing to various media in the vain hope of finding a tiny thread I can connect to.

Thus, I waited patiently for the annual September issue of Vogue magazine. At a hefty eight hundred glossy, seductive pages, I always hope to find just a teeny tiny bit of content that warrants the cost of my subscription. I even took the precaution of warning my mail carrier a couple of days ahead of time that its arrival was imminent and he should either start working out or plan to hire a fork life to hike it up into my mailbox. Today it arrived. In fact, it was such an event, my carrier personally drove his truck up to my front door, rang my doorbell and I had to sign for it. “You did warn me”, he said.

Iris Apfel proves youth and beauty are not mutually exclusive.

Iris Apfel proves beauty can exist without youth.

I’ve now had a chance to give it a quick once-over and thought I’d give you my immediate first impressions. It’s artistic; it’s colourful eye candy; it’s inspiring to someone, surely, but, alas, that someone is not me, your regular old-school Baby Boomer. That’s not a criticism, just a fact. Their demographic is obviously rich, tall, thin, trust-fund young things who have lifestyles and bank accounts worlds apart from my own. Unwearable clothes at unaffordable prices are modeled on genetically freakish young women in incongruent backgrounds. Praise be to darling ninety-five-year-old Iris Apfel who appeared at the end on page 785, like an afterthought thrown out to those of us with more than two decades under our belts. She’s the model for Macy’s new Iris Apfel line of clothing under the INC brand. Will definitely check that one out.

Grace and Frankie is not without its flaws but it's better than most if you're looking for relevant entertainment.

Grace and Frankie is not without its flaws but it’s better than most if you’re looking for relevant entertainment.

In cruising other media, I have to thank my friend Margaret for recommending Grace and Frankie with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. It airs exclusively on Netflix and is a lot of fun. The two main characters are the ex-wives of attorneys played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson who after several decades of marriage announce they want their professional relationship in law to include a gay marriage to each other. Grace and Frankie are rather overly-caricatured with Fonda as the perfect, icy corporate wife and Tomlin as her bohemian, art-teaching, pot-smoking nemesis. After being tossed aside by their respective husbands, fate has thrown them together, along with their four realistically imperfect off-spring. Grace & Frankie is magically written with plenty of references Boomer women will relate to including invisibility, dating again after being out of the market for decades, physical deterioration and overall irrelevance. Even though some of the plots are a bit overwrought and the gay husbands too campy, you’ll laugh out loud at some of the dialogue and nod your head in empathy for their challenges.

My challenge now is to find my niche somewhere. There must be a website, magazine, radio show, movie, television program somewhere that acknowledges that Boomer women exist. Zoomer magazine published by the Canadian Association of Retired People (CARP) is obviously relevant. If you’re aware of a worthwhile media source that Boomer women can relate to, please let me know, before I completely lose my eyesight and hearing and no longer care. Praise be with you.

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Liar, liar, pants on fire!

A celebrity interviewer once asked Cher what quality she most detests in other people. Her answer was immediate and simple, “Lying.” Cher holds honesty in high regard and the fact that that one question has stuck with me all these years later attests to its profound impact. I have always felt that lies, even tiny “white” ones have no place in daily life. Bear in mind that withholding the truth is not the same thing. For example, in order to not hurt someone’s feelings, it’s sometimes prudent to not tell it like it is.

liar1Watching our politicians, business leaders and people in our daily lives utter blatant lies is disheartening to say the least. Much of the plot humour on television shows and in movies originates from and glorifies lying. Imagine how much less complicated our court systems would be if people really did tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Or, before crimes even come to court, if the guilty simply told the police officer the truth. Unravelling a string of lies to unearth that nugget of truth is an exhausting, frustrating and often futile ordeal.

Think of all the lies we’ve been victims of by the big banks during the economic crash of 2008, by Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, our own politicians including Kathleen Wynne and the late Rob Ford, not to mention Olympic athletes and celebrities. How much stronger would our society be today if we were treated like intelligent human beings who are capable of handling the truth.

liar2I would like to invent a secret device that automatically detonates and sets someone’s pants on fire when they tell a lie. Much like the swimming pool chemical that turns the water red when you think you’re sneaking a pee in the pool, your lie would be immediately be visible to all. Imagine how different our world would be. Of course, there should be an adjustment to accommodate the question, “Honey, do these pants make me look fat?” Or it might prompt us to stop asking the question. It’s rhetorical. Those pants probably deserve to ignite anyway.

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Never ever send your husband to the grocery store unsupervised

menshopping3

This should cover all the basic food groups.

My husband has a thing for condiments. Does anyone else have this problem? Whenever I send him to the store he’s like a menopausal woman let loose in a chocolate factory. Despite giving him strict orders to stick to the list, he’ll come home with all kinds of weird and impractical goodies that you only get in those giant corporate gift baskets at Christmas. Just the other day we went to Sheridan Nurseries to pick out a couple of shrubs for our back yard and when we got home he magically pulled out a bottle of grainy mustard and a hot barbecue sauce from his pockets that he’d purchased when I wasn’t looking . . . at the plant nursery. Who even knew they sold edibles there.

Our pantry is overflowing with every imaginable kind of sauce. I think it’s the names that get him—Bone Suckin’ Sauce and Thick’n Stick. Our fridge shelves are bulging with barely sampled bottles of terriyaki sauce, marinades, salad dressings, salsa, relishes and jellies. If there’s ever a nuclear attack or another ice storm like we had in 1998 we can feed all of the Greater Toronto Area on our inventory of assorted hot pepper jellies, corn relishes, dipping sauces, marinades, grainy Dijon mustards, exotic oils and bottled salad dressings. Every once in a while I pack up all the unopened weird concoctions and hustle them off to the food bank, squealing my tires as I rip out of the parking lot before they discover what I’ve donated.

But the package said "potatoes".

But the package said “potatoes”.

And, he’s oblivious to my pleas to not bring home treats when I’m trying to watch my weight. Before I can say “no ice-cream,” giant bags of ripple chips and Black Jack Cherry frozen yogurt have landed on the kitchen counter alongside a package of gooey raspberry Danishes. But there’s hope. Last night as he was fishing for something in the fridge, he admitted that despite the bounty of “gourmet” condiments we possess, nothing beats home-made. I foresee an imminent trip to the food bank. Jeanne Robertson understands my problem. She sent her hubby to the store for the ingredients for a pound cake and . . . well, she created a brilliant story around it which could discount my “stick to the list” approach. Check out the YouTube link below.

One solution is to use the tactic my mother employed when she used to send me to the store when I was a kid for a brick of Neapolitan ice cream. Remember “bricks” of ice-cream? They were the size of a pound of butter and sliced into four perfect dessert portions for our family. She would give me the exact change so there’s be no negotiating— twenty-five cents for the ice-cream and, if I’d been particularly good, two cents for a Dubble Bubble. I think I’m going to have to try that with my condiment junkie—one twenty-dollar bill for what’s on the list and two cents for a strawberry licorice swizzler to satisfy his natural guy urgings. I can only hope.

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Are you as fed up with Hydro One and the Ontario Liberals as I am?

I thought extortion was illegal.

I thought extortion was illegal.

When I clicked to open my on-line hydro bill this morning, I nearly went into cardiac arrest. While clutching my chest, the first thing I had to do was check to see if the bill was for hydro or gas as the names sound the same and I’m always getting them confused—Enersource is for hydro electricity. Enercare is for gas. My bill has doubled in the last year, in part to pay for the gas plants fiasco. There’s been a lot of backlash about mismanagement of this resource by the Ontario Liberals and the situation is not improving. In fact, the problem is escalating. Everyone is aware of the fat-cat culture that has endured for generations at Enersource, Hydro One or what we used to call Ontario Hydro (and what we recalcitrant Boomers still call it), not to mention the pervading lack of accountability. Who hasn’t watched an idle field crew of six or seven Hydro One workers standing around on the ground next to several trucks watching one person up a pole or down in a manhole doing something. Do we even have an opposition leader these days? Where is whats-‘is-name when we poor taxpayers need someone to advocate on our behalf?

hydro3Does it not strike you as peculiar that Ontario is so blessed with abundant electrical resources that we end up dumping it to outside markets at cut rates just to meet our contractual obligations to Enersource/Hydro One? We’re all doing our best to conserve. I do my laundry on Sundays when the rates are cheapest and hang clothes outside whenever possible to save running the dryer; I run my dishwasher late at night when rates are lower; I go around turning off lights and try to be as efficient as possible in my daily use of power. The reward I get for this conscientious behaviour is the highest, most expensive electricity rates in North America while our government sells cheap surplus power to outsiders who don’t pay taxes here. My father lives on the Eastern Ontario border where they import electricity from Quebec and his bills are one-third of what I pay in the GTA.

Cut off their power and redirect it to those who will use it wisely.

Cut off their power and redirect it to those who will use it wisely.

It’s time to storm The Bastille. Emperor Kathleen Wynne and her gang of dilettantes must be brought to justice. Likewise, the lazy fat cats running Hydro One or Enersource or whatever they call themselves these days. We keep reading about the outrage experienced by Enersource customers but we all feel impotent to do anything about it. Let’s get the ball rolling with some suggestions: I’ll start.

  1. Turn off the air conditioning/heating and hot water at Queen’s Park and all the MPP’s homes including Premier Kathleen Wynne until they understand what it feels like to choose between paying your Hydro bill or buying groceries to feed your family.
  2. Send our laundry and dirty dishes to our MPP’s homes so they can pay for the increased costs of keeping our province clean. Perhaps we should shower there too.
  3. Launch a petition on Change.org demanding a transparent audit of Hydro One operations and the Ontario Government’s mismanagement of same.
  4. Slash the fat at Enersource by whatever method is the fastest and most effective. Put a single mother on a fixed income in charge of things there and task her with cleaning house. When she finishes there, she can go after Queen’s Park. (I realize this is sexist but since single mothers on average earn only seventy-six percent of what single fathers earn, mothers tend to be more creative and conscientious in their spending habits.)
  5. . . now it’s up to you.

Click on the Comment section of this blog and give me your suggestions on how we can stop the insanity. Answer this question:  “How can we fix the mismanagement by Hydro One and the Ontario Liberals?”. I’ll collect your feedback, publish it and we’ll see what happens. If the responses have merit, I’ll forward them on to Kathleen Wynne.  Power to the people.

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Love is challenged during the early war years

braveChris Cleave wrote Everyone Brave is Forgiven after finding his grandfather’s letters to his grandmother written during World War II. Cleave’s grandfather was stationed in Malta with Randolph Churchill, son of Winston Churchill during the siege that left the forces starving and without support. While the story is fictional, it is based on events spanning from the start of the war until June 1942.

Mary North is the energetic eighteen-year-old daughter of a Member of Parliament when war breaks out in 1939. She immediately signs up for volunteer duty and is assigned to teach disadvantaged inner-city London children who for various reasons were not suitable for evacuation to the country. Both Mary and her best friend Hilda are swept up in early war adventures involving love affairs, bombing raids and food shortages, and when they both become ambulance attendants, death and destruction.

The book seemed a bit trite in the beginning and I half expected Mary to utter the words “fiddle-dee-dee”. The dialogue is typically British and at times reads like an old black and white movie script but it soon turns real and the reader is presented with interesting characters, excellent writing and wonderful metaphors. The best bits are the brilliant repartee between Alistair and his senior officer Simonson when they are starving and under constant enemy bombardment while stationed in Malta. The humour is a relief from their grim circumstances.

Fictional accounts of life in England during both World Wars is always a favourite subject of reading material for me and Everyone Brave is Forgiven satisfies this interest completely. Once you get into it, the book is a page-turner which is all most readers want from a book. The story reminds us of the permanent physical and emotional damage inflicted on everyone who lived through it and ultimately the futility of war.

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Live life in the present perfect

retired1

We’ve earned it!

Jane Fonda chronicled her life in three acts in her best-selling autobiography Prime Time, with her current stage of life being Act Three.  We each have different ways of remembering, analysing and categorizing our lives to make sense of our journey. Retirement has also been broken down into three stages. The first, where many early Boomers are now, is when we have the resources to do what we’ve waited our entire lives for. This may include traveling, playing lots of golf or tennis, ladies white wine lunches or simply relaxing on the patio, in your LaZGirl chair or on the dock with a good book.

During the second stage of retirement we slow down a bit. The inconvenience of travel has diminished its lustre, we’ve seen most of the places on our bucket list and we really prefer to sleep in our own beds at night. Our energy levels are compromised and we’re starting to get a bit creaky which requires more visits to the doctor with its associated blood tests and various hard-to-pronounce scans. Our spending is reduced and we’re content in smaller, more efficient single-level accommodation close to friends, family and services. Our lives centre around comfortable routines and rituals like a daily walk, regular meal times, watching the news or playing cards with friends.

We'll need to be creative about how we spend our retirement years.

We need to be creative about how we spend our retirement years.

The third stage of retirement is the most difficult and least rewarding. Some of us may be fit and able enough to still live in our own homes or apartments but the majority of us will require some level of care. Then our expenses will rise again as assisted living and chronic care facilities are not cheap. Depending on where you live and the level of service you require, costs can range from $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 per month, per person. We’ll be eating through our nest eggs pretty fast at those rates. I expect Boomers will be getting creative about our living arrangements by then (à la Golden Girls). Many of us are already discussing communal or clustered living with friends and hiring a cook, driver, cleaner, gardener or whatever support services we need to keep us rockin’ and out of the “home”.

christiane1The number of years associated with each of these three stages of retirement is fluid depending on the individual. I see my own life as now being in the first trimester of my third trimester. Then, I happened to see Dr. Christiane Northrup (the definitive authority on women’s health issues and menopause) on PBS the other day that has me rethinking the cycle. She was promoting Goddesses Never Age and her other books and DVDs, but her message is always solid and dependable.

We tend to think of our journey through life as a linear progression from baby to old age, then death. It can also be viewed as a circle in which we rotate from being fed, diapered and cared for as dependent babies to being fed, diapered and cared for as dependent seniors. When I first moved to Toronto at the age of seventeen to start work, I moved into Willard Hall, a girls boarding residence. My life’s possessions were contained in one suitcase and a train case and I shared a spartan dormitory room with another girl. How long will it be before I repeat that experience when I move into an assisted living or chronic care facility with one suitcase filled with nightgowns, slippers, track pants, toiletries and contraband bottles of Pinot Grigio, coming full circle over a lifetime.

life2Dr. Northrup suggested another way of looking at our lives that has a less negative connotation. Instead of perceiving of our journey as a linear progression with diminishing returns, consider the possibility that we are simply occupying space not time. That concept is reminiscent of Ekhart Tolle’s philosphy of living life in the moment. We are what we are, where we are in current time only. I rather like that concept. Occupying an abstract chunk of space in the universe sounds much more appealing than following a finite timeline that is running out.

A major bonus of embracing our lives as abstract chunks of space is that as Baby Boomers, it’s very likely we’re in the best space now that we’ve ever been in before; we’re more financially comfortable than we have ever been now that the mortgage is paid off or we’re living in an affordable rental space that we like; the kids are launched, literally and financially (we hope); we don’t have to get up and endure the stress of rush-hour traffic in snow storms to get to work on time and be lashed to our work stations until the clock says it’s time go to home; we’re as healthy as we’ll ever be (Boomers are the healthiest generation in history) and we can still do whatever we want. We get seniors’ discounts on movies, public transit, certain retail purchases and we’re finally our own boss. I’d say the present is a pretty perfect time to be who we are in the circle of life.

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