“You’ve got mail” is now a ping, not a pleasure to be savoured

We’ve got mail!

Call me old-fashioned but I love getting mail, the kind now referred to as snail mail. If a day goes by that I don’t get a magazine or something personal in my mailbox, I can get downright cranky. Is it because my life is so utterly lacking in excitement that the mail is a big deal to me? Even my little dog jumps up and down spinning with excitement when I announce, “Let’s go get the mail”. She understands.

Yesterday I was thrilled to find my mailbox stuffed with magazines, mail order catalogues, a couple of personal envelopes and even (praise be!) an envelope that obviously had a cheque enclosed. But my joy soon turned to disappointment when, upon closer examination, I realized the mail carrier had mistakenly put our neighbour’s mail in our box. Our neighbour was the recipient of all this wonderful bounty. I was tempted to score a couple of the mail order catalogues for myself thinking she wouldn’t miss them, but honesty prevailed and I reluctantly stuffed them into her mailbox.

Letters to and from overseas were essential for morale and saved for sentimental value.

Remember when we used to regularly get newsy letters, written by hand in loving cursive with a fountain pen? As kids we had pen pals in England who sent us letters on those thin blue airmail forms, telling us all about their lives far across the ocean. Even Christmas and birthday cards are rare these days as people either don’t bother or they opt for e-cards. Email has totally replaced hand-written letters. Will the love letters from war veterans of today have the same cachet and impact when they’re lost in the ether of email or Skype? Somehow the old sentimental letters our fathers, uncles and grandfathers wrote home from overseas in fountain pen or scratchy pencil seem so much more meaningful, more enduring and more historically significant because they were written by hand, addressed, stuffed into an envelope with a stamp to be saved in a book, slipped into a mailbox, then bundled and tied with a ribbon to be saved by the recipient.

I was saddened and disappointed to learn that many people now object to “Amber Alerts” because they also land in the middle of the night. So many people now sleep with their phones by their bedside that it’s become impossible to even have a peaceful night’s sleep without feeling the need to be connected via electronic devices. Other than doctors and firefighters, who among us is so important that they need to be ‘on call’ during the night? If keeping your phone alive while you sleep means Amber Alerts disturb you, then shame on you.

Our addiction to personal electronic devices means we now get mail 24/7. That familiar ping announces the arrival of requests from friends to meet for lunch, a reminder that we have a dentist appointment at 2:15 tomorrow and less welcome notices such as bill payments due or worse, overdue. Mail is no longer fun. It’s something to be given the once-over, reviewed, culled, acted upon or dumped. Another time-consuming chore in an already busy day.

We have a “No Junk Mail” sign posted on the mailbox on our front porch which greatly lightens the load in our paper recycling bin each week. That means most of what lands in our mailbox is the real thing and I look forward to receiving it each day. Sometimes there’s a hand-written thank you note from a friend or a birthday card when it’s time for the annual celebration. Most often it’s statements, announcements, promotions and printed material that actually qualifies as junk mail but the marketers were able to circumvent immediate disposal by enclosing it in an envelope with a first class stamp. Their trickery works as I open each one and read it before tossing into recycling.

Imagine the thrill of receiving a hand-written love letter.

My passion for print publications like magazines ensures my mailbox has regular deposits of good stuff though. A couple of years ago I received a three-page hand-written letter from someone (another baby boomer) I stayed with on an American army base in Germany in 1968 when I was travelling around on a Eurail Pass. I’ve kept that letter in my desk ever since, a relic of times gone by when people actually hand-wrote letters. They’re so rare and so precious now, they’re like collectors’ items. I’m afraid to part with it in case I never get another one in this lifetime. Even wedding invitations are now getting the electronic treatment. No more embossed cards to be saved in a scrapbook.

I still buy little boxes of illustrated note cards at the stationery store in hopes that I’ll have an excuse to write and send one to a friend. I take special care when selecting and mailing (by snail mail) birthday and anniversary cards to the special people in my life. I can’t help feeling they enjoy receiving them as much as I do—a little ray of sunshine in a gloomy pile of flyers and junk. Much as I appreciate and enjoy receiving instant photos and news from friends by email, I’ll always save a little spot in my heart for the old-fashioned kind that the nice letter carrier from Canada Post drops into the mailbox on my front porch every day around noon. It could be a letter, a card or even a cheque. Whatever it is, it’s special because it was delivered personally, by hand. Still.

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“You’ve got mail” is now a ping, not a pleasure to be savoured
We've got mail!

10 signs that baby boomers have finally hit that perfect sweet spot

Creaky joints, back pain and stiff shoulders are a way of life for many boomers as we now enter the third period of an unpredictable and tough game. Bumps, bruises and the odd metaphorical concussion over the years have taken a toll and we now rely on our innate skills of playing the game like pros to get us through each day. It takes a little more effort to hoist ourselves up from our LaZgirl chair and leaping up stairs two at a time is a distant memory. When we reflect back on our younger working days with stressful jobs, families and little to no time to ourselves, we wonder how we had the stamina. The answer is simple. We were young.

At last!

That’s not to say this stage of life isn’t without benefits. Many years ago when I asked my Aunt Lois to describe the best and happiest time in her life she unhesitatingly answered “When your Uncle Ron and I first retired”. That’s the stage most baby boomers are at right now and speaking from personal experience, I couldn’t agree with her more. There’s no place I’d rather be than now. There are so many benefits:

  1. We’re finally our own “boss of me”. No more daily grind, going to the workplace in overpacked subways and buses or sitting in traffic jams on overcrowded highways.
  2. Seniors discounts—all over the place—at certain retailers on particular days of the week, movie theatres, public transit. Even the fee-hungry, greedy banks give us free chequing, just for being, you know, old.
  3. OAC (old age pension) and CPP (Canada Pension Plan), lovely little automatic deposits into our bank accounts every month, after a lifetime of payout.
  4. Time management is now purely a matter of personal choice. We’re no longer subject to the tyranny of report deadlines, sales quotas or production schedules. We can now choose if and when we want to golf, play tennis or go to yoga classes. This includes the ability to say “No” without the accompanying guilt.
  5. We can toss the Spanx and stilettos because we’re no longer beholden to the latest fashion fads. We finally know what works best for each of us and can opt for comfort.
  6. We’re financially comfortable. As my friend Margaret likes to say, “I have enough.” We realize that relationships are the true foundations of happiness. With close friends, a roof over our heads, a warm bed and assurance of three squares a day, we’re in heaven.
  7. No longer sleep deprived, we can stay in bed as long as we like on cold mornings and grab a few zzzz’s in the afternoon if we feel like it.
  8. Even though we occasionally forget where we left our keys or why we entered a room, we’re considerably and blessedly smarter and wiser now. No more worries about making bad choices in romance, fashion and lifestyle. We’ve finally sorted things out and disposed of most of the crap in our lives.
  9. Thanks to the movement started all those years ago by Tommy Douglas, we have universal health care. And because we’re Canadian, we don’t have to sell the car or mortgage the condo to pay for a hip replacement or refill our cholesterol and gout meds.
  10. Our #metoo days are pretty much behind us and that’s a good thing. No more competing for jobs, recognition and attention from the opposite sex. At our age, most boomers are now well beyond the scope of predators. We know we’re fantastic and that’s good enough for us.

Every day is a gift and we’re now the best we’ll ever be. This is the best perk of all. As Mary Pipher said in a recent New York Times article, “Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice. We don’t need to look at our horoscopes to know how our day will go. We know how to create a good day.” Let’s just to it.

Our music has stood the test of time. And we can still dance to it. I’m constantly amazed at how much I’m enjoying this stage of life. We’ve earned an ice advantage, there’s no pressure to score. Post-menopausal women over the years have often touted their lives after menopause as being the best but I think they predated it a bit. It’s actually when we retire that we hit the real sweet spot. Keep your stick on the ice ladies. As baby boomer women we are now playing the best game of our lives. And it’s oh soooo sweet.

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Becoming Michelle Obama is inspirational and insightful

How does a lowly little blogger like me properly do justice to a lady like Michelle Obama? Santa brought me a hardcover copy of her memoir Becomingand although it was a hefty read, it was worth it. Like Tara Westover (author of Educatedand J.D. Vance (author of Hillbilly Elegy), Michelle Robinson Obama is a product of humble beginnings and hard work, always a fascinating subject for me. While she didn’t endure the same challenges as Westover or Vance, she faced the constant underlying obstacle of being born black in a country that is still racist. Her advantage is that she came from a strong family unit that stayed together, worked hard and valued education. These intrinsic strengths enabled her to perform at and above expectations. She’s strongly proud of her roots in Chicago’s south side and credits this background with motivating her.

From an early age Michelle Robinson understood that education and achievement were fundamental to advancing in life. Born with sharp intellect and into a supportive family, she excelled at school to the extent that when she graduated high school, she was accepted into elite Princeton University. Lacking specific goals beyond proving herself good enough and smart enough, she defaulted to studying law. But her career choice proved to be unsatisfying and contrary to her values. The singular outstanding achievement during her time working at a prestigious Chicago law firm was meeting an unusual young law student who worked temporarily for the same firm. His name was Barack Obama.

While Michelle came from a Leave It To Beaver close-knit family, Barack’s family was fragmented and scattered around the world. Blending their different backgrounds took some adjustment. Their early years included marriage counselling, fertility treatments and financial hardship, not uncommon challenges for young couples starting out.

Michelle Obama outlines the experiences they both underwent beginning with their early community service work to ultimately becoming the most powerful couple in the world. She describes each stage of the progression in detail and without restraint. The last half of the book is the most interesting as it covers their political life but reading the story of how they came to be in that position at that particular time is informative and relevant. Any book by a former First Lady is bound to be a best-seller but this one is particularly deserving, written by an exceptionally intelligent, articulate, reflective woman. Do yourself a favour and read it.

To order a copy of Becoming by Michelle Obama from Amazon, click here.

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Triple feature: Movies for baby boomer audiences

The two months leading up to the annual Oscar ceremony in Hollywood is pretty much the only time of year movies are released that appeal to baby boomers. From December to mid-February there are actually some decent movies in theatres that don’t involve monsters, wall-to-wall violence, sci-fi, zombies or irreversible annihilation of the planet. I’ve recently viewed three movies up for awards that I think you might find interesting:

VICE: Christian Bale is a chameleon. His characterization of former Vice-President Dick Cheney is stunning and so different from the Irving Rosenfeld character he portrayed so well in American Hustleor is it really so different after all? If the current state of America politics doesn’t already make you feel sick, then this movie will put you over the top. Lies, corruption and self-serving politicians aren’t unique to the current administration; it goes back decades and this movie reminds us just how rotten and vulnerable the system truly is. Under George W. Bush, Cheney pulled the strings that manipulated not just a weak, naïve president but entire nations, costing untold lives in a wrong-headed war that benefited his private sector interests.

As a side note here, my friend Louise informed me this week that it was Christian Bale who played the young leading character “Jim” in the wonderful film Empire of the Sun in 1987. It was the story of a young British boy imprisoned by the Japanese in southeast Asia during the second world war. It’s worth checking out on your streaming service too.

GREEN BOOK: Baby boomers lived through the years of racial segregation, civil unrest and demands for equal rights that characterized the sixties in the United States. It’s not news but there’s so much more to be learned from this movie that throws light on current tensions and the ongoing struggle for change. During the 1950s a small green book was available for African Americans in the southern states that directed them to black-only accommodation, restaurants and other services that existed in a racially segregated country.

When black Jamaican-born concert pianist Don Shirley, otherwise known as Doc Shirley, a classical and jazz pianist played by Mahershala Ali is hired to play a series of concerts in the southern states, he hires tough New York bouncer Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga, played by Viggo Mortensen as his driver/bodyguard. The inevitable racial tensions and conflicts arise and remind us that racial intolerance runs deep in the south and continues to some degree even today. As in the movie The Help, I was reminded that these events took place within our lifetime, not that long ago. At the end of the movie, it was revealed that the story was based on real characters and events, which I wish I’d known at the beginning as it would have made the movie even more meaningful.

And, if you haven’t seen Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises about the Russian mafia in London, England, it’s a must-see on your streaming service. If you weren’t already a Viggo Mortensen fan, this one will definitely convert you. But it is a tad graphic.

Can You Ever Forgive Me: Seeing Melissa McCarthy in a dramatic role was part of the appeal of seeing this movie based on the true life story of writer Lee Israel. In her mid-fifties, Israel was a has-been best-selling author who once penned New York Times best-sellers on the lives of Talullah Bankhead and Dorothy Kilgallen. When her biography of Estée Lauder failed to sell she was a broke and unemployed alcoholic. Living with her sick cat in a decrepit apartment and several months behind in her rent, she’s desperate for money.

She accidently stumbles on a scheme to make money writing forged letters from famous people like Fanny Brice and Noël Coward. She discovers there’s a market for such documents and with the help of a similarly down-and-out gay friend John played superbly by Richard E. Grant, they deceive collectors to the tune of more than four hundred forgeries before they are brought down by the FBI. The movie is slow and depressing but I thoroughly enjoyed it. McCarthy was perfection in the role of Lee Israel and the sound track of bluesy music was wonderful accompaniment.

I’m confident you will enjoy any or all of these three movies. While none of them can be called uplifting, they are a must-see nonetheless. Chances are there will be nothing more for baby boomers to go see at the theatre until next December so grab ’em while you can. Or wait and view them on your streaming service if you can manage to enjoy a movie without a bucket of theatre popcorn and an over-priced pail of Diet Coke.

Perry was scandalized.

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Triple feature: Movies for baby boomer audiences
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How does he love me? Let me count the ways

With Valentine’s day on the horizon, it serves me well to remember that I’m a very lucky girl. Every day my honey demonstrates his love in so many ways I can hardly count them. Today, for example, he took me out to lunch—treating me at a restaurant where they offered a two-for-one special, until the 25th of the month. He didn’t even ask me to pay my share and we had enough leftovers to bring home for dinner—four meals for the price of one. He’s so thoughtful like that. I’m always overjoyed when I don’t have to cook dinner and, as a bonus, there were only serving dishes to wash up after; no pots and pans.

Sometimes he takes me to the movies too. And because he knows I don’t like to share my goodies, he lets me buy my own popcorn and Diet Coke. To show my appreciation, I often order the larger size popcorn so I’ll have some left over to bring home for him to munch on while he’s watching football. Which brings me to another example of his devotion. He watches television with wireless headphones so I’m not subjected to endless excruciating hours of listening to football, baseball, golf, hockey, car auctions and old westerns. What a guy!

Even our little Yorkie prefers lavishing all her love and attention on my husband rather than me. So, in order to prevent me from feeling neglected or left out, he allows me to be the full-time dog-walker to ensure I get my share of quality time with her. In our nearly twenty years together he’s never once walked the dog and if that’s not a clear indication of his love and consideration for me than I don’t know what is. He gets his own quality time though when she marches back and forth on his back in bed at 6:00 a.m. while he’s still sleeping and sticks her tongue in his ear to remind him it’s time to go outside. You see, life has a way of rewarding the love.

When I do the laundry he allows me to keep whatever loose change I find in the washing machine after I’ve washed his golf clothes. It’s mine to blow however I wish. Same thing for the coins I find under his giant LaZboy when I move it to vacuum. He’s incredibly generous that way so I usually take my haul and head straight for DQ and treat myself to a blizzard—or ‘buzzard’ as he calls them. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

When he stops at Costco on the way home after a morning of golfing to pick up his bushel of Chicago popcorn or his favourite fruit danishes, he usually springs for a hot dog and Diet Coke which he brings home to me for lunch. Sometimes it’s Five Guys’ fries and Diet Coke for a bit of variety. He always makes sure to surprise me with these little gourmet treats.

During a discussion once about our impending and eventual respective deaths, he announced that if I weren’t on the scene, he’d be living on a boat on Marco Island in Florida. You have to agree; that’s quite a sacrifice he’s made on my behalf (knowing I want nothing to do with living on a boat). The guy’s just overflowing with love for me.  We’re the perfect yin and yang.

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day we are reminded that sharing your life with another person includes daily demonstrations of mutual love and affection. It always warms my heart to wake up in the morning and find the tea already made and waiting for me in the pot on the kitchen counter—with three bags because I like it strong. He makes sure my car is always gassed and washed.

More importantly, receiving the love of another person means appreciating what they bring to our lives in less obvious ways. He’s kind when I’m grumpy; supportive when I’m feeling beaten; he listens to my complaints, celebrates my joy; helps me make it through my days and nights. When I count the many ways he demonstrates his love for me, I feel like I hit the Valentine jackpot and for that I’m thankful every day of the year. What does your Valentine do to show his or her love? Are you as lucky as I am?

Perry was scandalized.

To order a copy of my new book


Rants and reflections on lifestyle, fashion, current events, 

books and more, especially for baby boomers.

Click here to order from Amazon

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2019 Super Bowl vindicates this non-fan of football

Let me be absolutely clear right up front; I have zero interest in and no knowledge or understanding of football. In my opinion it’s a violent, concussion-inducing game right up there with cage fighting. Any time I’ve tried to watch a game I’m bored to tears within four minutes watching overpaid fat guys run a few yards and fall down, or more often, get knocked down—then, get up, only to run and fall down again. I can think of four hundred things I’d rather be doing with my time than watching such masochism.

My husband has the polar opposite attitude toward football. He loves it and in an ideal world he would watch it on television non-stop all day every day. He’s been known to get up in the middle of the night when he can’t sleep and watch a prerecorded college game. He even prefers to watch the Super Bowl alone on his own TV with no distractions so he can concentrate and focus totally on the plays. So you see we’re not on the same team when it comes to football. I have no objection to him watching football until his eyeballs fall out as long as he wears his headphones and doesn’t try to involve me.

This year’s Super Bowl on Sunday was a turning point however. He made a tactical error that I plan to capitalize on for the rest of his life. After the third quarter of the big multi-bazillion-dollar game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots, he emerged from his man-cave and declared that it was the most boring football game he’d ever seen. “There was no offense; just defense and at the end of the third quarter the score is only 3/3.” I guess there was no blood and guts, no questionable calls, no brilliant plays and in general, no excitement. He complained that even the much-anticipated commercials were boring. I’m sure the companies that invested $5.2 million for their 30-second slot would be thrilled to hear that. Things picked up only slightly at the end of the fourth quarter and as we all know the Patriots won—again! Yawn.

The only conclusion I can draw from this experience is that I was right all along. I was better off watching Masterpiece Theatre where the blood is fake and the suspense is guaranteed. It’s my intention to milk this vindication of my attitude toward football until our ashes are resting side by side on a quiet hilltop far from big-screen televisions. I knew all along I was right; it just took the 2019 Super Bowl to prove it.


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