BOOMERBROADcast

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


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The Sense of an Ending ends with a twist

How would you react to receiving a letter or other communication from someone you were intimate with in the swinging sixties or early seventies and lost track of decades ago? And what if that communication required a face-to-face meeting, after all these years? Imagine the emotions that would be ignited. That intriguing premise is the basis for a book by Julian Barnes called The Sense of an Ending. What prompted me to read the book was a review in The New York Times. The reviewer was so impressed with the story that as soon as he finished, he immediately started at the beginning to read it again. I can’t say that was my response but I did enjoy it enormously.

At around two hundred pages, The Sense of an Ending is a quick, easy read. When I first started reading, the main character, Anthony Webster reminded me of Holden Caulfield. The story begins in the early sixties with the friendship of three schoolboys in England whose dynamic is altered by the later introduction of a fourth boy, Adrian. When they go off to different universities, they maintain a tentative friendship but their lives naturally begin to follow divergent paths. We follow Tony Webster’s journey through the changes generated early in the sexual revolution. We observe his struggles and confusion with “the meaning of life” which was a popular concern of boomers. Then, suddenly, he’s in his seventies and receives a solicitor’s letter informing him he’s been named as the beneficiary of a minor settlement in the will of the mother of an old girlfriend from university.

The emotional struggles, the mystery surrounding the endowment and the confrontations that result profoundly affect Tony Webster’s entire philosophy of life. I won’t divulge the plot and its twists as I really think you should experience the book first-hand. Baby boomers will relate to the subtleties of morals, ambitions and social relationships we experienced and will find the book particularly interesting. But it’s also a kind of mystery story with a plot twist that makes the entire book worth reading.

Click here to order The Sense of an Ending from Amazon.com

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Living the Golden Girls’ reality

Communal living Golden Girls’-style has its advantages.

As Boomers approach retirement, we’re circling our wagons, in search of a landing pad that is functional, safe, fulfilling and sustainable. Some of us have branched off to follow children and grandchildren only to find they’re too busy with their own lives to have much room for us. Many of us are colonizing with like-minded fellow Boomers who share our interests, value system, taste in music and social activities. We’re moving into retirement bungalow communities or affordable condos with activity centres and handy amenities. These communities are, however, in short supply.

What makes us different from earlier generations is that we’re demanding more creative approaches to retirement accommodation. One of the reasons our parents are so reluctant to move from their suburban split-level is the lack of viable options. The housing market doesn’t offer many in-between choices for that couple of decades between the big family home and the restrictions and finality of a “retirement home”. My friend MaryAnne sent me a link to a recent article in the Toronto Star about a group of Boomer ladies in Port Perry, Ontario who are living *Golden Girls-style. Four retired women pooled their resources, bought a large Victorian home in a lovely community on Lake Scugog northeast of Toronto and had it customized so they could live independently yet cooperatively in a shared home.

Boomers want specific housing to fill that gap between the big suburban family home and the retirement home.

My own circle of Boomer friends has talked endlessly about communal living. Perhaps it’s a throwback to our idealistic hippie days from the sixties but more realistically it’s just plain practicality. Our families are busy with their own lives and we want the support and social interaction offered by our circle of friends while remaining independent. There are so many options in addition to the Port Perry Golden Girls’ model. The one that appeals to us the most is the “colony”—where we each have our own separate unit but are part of a cluster of similar units forming a pod of lifestyle-sharing retired Boomers. It could be linked or detached one-storey homes. Florida is brimming with this type of accommodation. It could be a multi-unit, two or three-storey condo-style building comprising six or eight units with two units per floor sharing a common elevator/stairwell corridor. That configuration would provide windows for light and ventilation on three sides of each unit.

Retirement accommodation doesn’t have to be expensive . . . but we do have certain expectations.

Land prices are becoming prohibitively too expensive to build cost-effective retirement communities in large cities like Toronto and Vancouver but smaller urban centres could greatly enrich their tax base by marketing to us. Smaller towns and cities should encourage developers to build what we’re looking for. We want access to health care, shopping, theatre, libraries and sports facilities. The baby boomer generation is a huge demographic. It’s a mystery to me why developers, communities and investors aren’t capitalizing on this opportunity by providing what we’re looking for. Build it and we will come. Just call me.

For more on this issue, click on:

Build it and Boomers will come

It pays to listen to Boomers

Can we afford to go on living?

Where will you be in twenty years?

Grandparenting Boomer-style

*Meet a new generation of golden girls

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What did you do yesterday?

This is a test. To reassure me that I’m not losing my marbles. When I was out walking the dog the other day, I stopped to visit a friend who casually asked “What did you do yesterday?”. I drew a complete blank. At our age (Boomers) memory lapses are to be expected as some mental inventory gets rotated out to accommodate new material, but my off-loading is getting alarming. Just to test myself, I do remember what I did yesterday. I went grocery shopping, got my glasses adjusted and had lunch at Five Guys. Are you impressed?

Ask any Baby Boomer how they keep busy now that we’re retired and the answer is inevitably “I don’t know how I had time to work every day”. We fill our days with activities that we enjoy and even routine chores are no longer as onerous now that we have the luxury of controlling our own time. But not being able to remember what I did just yesterday is concerning me. That prompted me to dig up an earlier post from about three years ago on this issue. If you remember reading it—congratulations. If not, welcome to my world:

I’m not OK. Are you OK?

 

 

Was it something I did wrong in the sixties?

Could the once-brilliant minds of our entire Boomer generation be slowly slip-sliding away? Was it too much wine and other mood-enhancers we’ve used over the years?  Do we have late-onset brain damage from all those years of sleeping on brush rollers in high school? Or are we retiring too early and “losing it”? Perhaps the sins and excesses of our youth are coming home to haunt us. In a short 24-hour span this past weekend I experienced and witnessed enough lapses in cognition to cause major concern.

It began on Friday when I joined a girlfriend for lunch at her condo. The table was beautifully set with fine china, colourful, origami-folded napkins, a little gift bag at each place and large goblets for our flavoured mineral water (if we drink wine at lunch we fall asleep before dessert).  When I questioned the third place-setting and my hostess mentioned it was for so-and-so, I reminded her that so-and-so had e-mailed a week earlier that she couldn’t come. OMG. Hostess didn’t read the entire e-mail and just assumed the reply was an acceptance. On the positive side, that meant that I could gorge myself silly on extra finger sandwiches and fruit flan.

The second misadventure was a double-header. When my honey and I got married, the wedding date conveniently corresponded closely with his birthday so he’d have no excuse for forgetting our anniversary. Anniversary on the 12th. Birthday on the 16th. Simple. On the morning of the 12th I gave him his birthday present and cards and wished him a happy birthday. “But it’s not my birthday” he said. Second OMG. “Oh no. You’re right. Today’s not your birthday, it’s our anniversary” I yelled as I snatched the gift and cards from his hands. “It’s our anniversary?” he said. Emergency run to Superstore for flowers and card. We’d both screwed up. The honeymoon’s over.

 

 

About an hour later, we received a phone call from friends who’d gone to a cottage for the weekend. After taking a day off work on Friday and driving four hours to get to the cottage, they arrived to find no-one there—they’d got the date wrong and were a week early! Another four-hour drive and they’re back in the city and miraculously, still married. Some friends turned up a week early for a dinner date at an out-of-town restaurant with other friends. Hmmm.

Is it just me?

Finally, on Saturday we went to my husband’s birthday celebration (on our anniversary, in case you’re having trouble keeping all this straight) at his son’s place in London, Ontario. During late-afternoon cocktails, his grandson asked my husband what type of car he should buy. Puzzled by the question, said grandson produced a blank cheque I had written for said grandson’s birthday. In the course of writing a number of birthday and graduation gift cheques I had inadvertently neglected to fill in the amount. Thank God no one at Canada Post intercepted that one or we’d be living in our car and getting paper routes to keep us in Pinot Grigio.

Calendar confusion? Inattention to detail? What’s next? It wasn’t that long ago I used nail polish remover instead of toner on my face when I inadvertently picked up the wrong bottle. I’m a voracious reader and I also log every book I’ve read as soon as I finish it because as soon as I start a new one I can’t remember the last book I read. I can remember the words of every song from the sixties but not my cell phone number. How long will it be before I start hiding my own Easter eggs. Has the Mad Men/Mad Women era returned? I’m not OK with that. Are you?

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The girlfriend grapevine is constantly growing

At last. Fashion advice Boomer Broads can relate to.

When girlfriends are on to a good thing, we share. If we find flattering jeans that fit our Boomer bodies, we tell everyone we know where to get them at the best price. We share recipes, the names of our favourite underwear brands (SOMA), favourite mascara (Lancôme Hypôse) and pretty much everything but our men. (We’ve invested too many years training them to our personal requirements.) There’s a section in my blog inspired by Oprah called My Favourite Things which I haven’t added to lately and is now going to be updated so keep an eye on it.

My latest discovery which I’m confident every Baby Boomer Broad will love is a website/blog called Susan After 60. As someone who constantly carps about the lack of flattering fashions available for our demographic and the ridiculous and relentless promotion of pouty, anorexic teenage girls in all the fashion mags, I was delighted to find Susan Street’s blog. It’s focused on fashion, with some lifestyle tips thrown in. I particularly like the way she acknowledges her challenges and how she addresses them. Spend some time rooting through her site; you’ll be glad you did.

And it’s not expensive.

Street began a new life in her early forties following a difficult divorce. Weighing more than two hundred pounds and suffering from low self-esteem, she worked to put her life back together. Without any formal training, the former naval enlistee started her own fashion and styling business, making mistakes along the way, which she shares with her readers as lessons learned. One of things I like the most (apart from the clothes, shoes, bags) about Susan Street’s blog is the fact that the brands she wears are not expensive designers. She sources her pants, tank tops, jackets and other wardrobe components from a wide variety of retailers including Chico’s, White House Black Market, Target, Dillards, Saks Off Fifth and Stein Mart. The result is a beautifully turned-out Boomer in classic outfits with a touch of flair. Her site includes easy links to retailers who carry what she’s wearing in case we want to order.

Click here for Susan After 60 and let me know what you think. If you like what you see, share it with friends, along with BOOMERBROADCAST.net of course. Let’s grow our girlfriend grapevine. I’d love to hear your comments.

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How much is enough?

How much more do we really need when we have each other?

The other day my friend Margaret commented “I have enough.” She said that there’s nothing in life she wants or needs that she does not already have. That observation is profound and got me thinking. Now that baby boomers have reached the stage in life where we are retired, semi-retired or close to retiring, we have time for reflection, and that is a wonderful luxury. We no longer have to drag our tired bodies out of a warm bed on a cold morning and sit in grid-locked traffic to serve the master. For wont of nothing, we have enough.

We’re gradually off-loading our crap gathered over years of consumerism to accommodate moves into smaller living quarters and generally simplifying our lives. I remember when I thought my life would be complete if I just had that one special item, perhaps a certain pair of shoes or a new sofa. Going back even further, remember when we longed for enough money to make a down payment on our first home or pay off our car loan? Think of all the stuff we’ve hauled off to Goodwill or just thrown out after we got tired of it or no longer had room for it in our cluttered, busy lives. What I wouldn’t give to have that money in my bank account now. We’ve all made financial mistakes over the years; that’s how we learn. The most important thing we’ve learned now that we’re at that special age when we do have time to reflect is that happiness is not about things. It’s about sharing life with those we love and being grateful that we have enough to eat, are warm and sheltered and live in a country that values caring for and about each other.

Margaret found the realization that she has enough to be very empowering and was inspired by reading David Chilton’s recent book The Wealthy Barber Returns.  “It was like a light coming on to finally recognize that I do have enough and allowed me to see everything differently, to relax, enjoy, be grateful and live in the moment” she said. Although I’ve personally not read the book yet (it’s on my list), I did read David Chilton’s original The Wealthy Barber when it was first published more than twenty years ago.

Most boomers are finally where we want to be in life and are happy that most of the stress is behind us, as long as our health holds up. Margaret makes entries in her gratitude journal every night which is something I also used to do and found incredibly uplifting. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and reflect on the gifts that surround us already. Today I took an early morning picture of the pond behind our house. It was as still and clear as a mirror reflecting the surrounding trees and birds walking along the shoreline. I never tire of my morning pot of tea while reading the paper. When I first started blogging almost four years ago, I posted an essay The age of acquisition about appreciating these and other simple pleasures. That’s more than enough for me and for that I am truly grateful.

Click here to read The age of acquisition . . . too much of a good thing.

Click here to order The Wealthy Barber Returns from Amazon

Click here to order The Wealthy Barber from Amazon

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