BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.


The only thing more annoying than those television commercials for personal alarms is when you actually are down and can’t get up. Who hasn’t gotten stuck at least once on your hands and knees trying to retrieve that scrap of something from under the kitchen table or the dog’s ball from under the couch? The other day I got stuck on the floor after getting down to put felt pads under furniture legs. In fact, it’s reaching the point where I’m sometimes challenged to even hoist myself up out of a chair. The parts just don’t work like they used to. So many everyday functions I used to take for granted now require effort and a bit of choreography. During my daily walks with the dog, I’m conscious of every step—feet hurting, joints creaking, cracking or not responding the way they used to. Sigh!

Jane Fonda’s Instagram pictures confirm she’s really not that different from the rest of us.

It happens to the best of us. Jane Fonda recently posted a picture of herself the morning after a red carpet event wearing the same gown she had on the previous night. She had been unable to unzip herself and was forced to sleep in the dress. It’s reassuring to know that someone as glamorous, strong and capable as Jane Fonda is also affected by mechanical failure from time to time. We also appreciate her candor in showing her ‘morning after’ face that backs up the old saying by so-called beautiful people, “I don’t wake up looking like this”.

And on the subject of muscles that have atrophied, am I the only one who’s also having trouble writing now? I mean by hand with a pen and paper? I’ve discovered that today’s young people are not the only ones unable to execute cursive writing. Even scribbling out a few Christmas cards was a challenge. I spend so much time typing (that word surely dates me) everything on my laptop that I’ve almost forgotten how to use the mechanism that drives my handwriting. My hand stalls; the words don’t flow gently from my pen. In fact, my penmanship has become atrocious. Gone are the days of personal letters and notes beautifully written by hand using a fountain pen with lovely  “washable blue” ink. We’re all using laptops, tablets and phones. In reviewing my own handwriting as I go through old scrapbooks, I can see my evolving personality over the decades. The beautifully executed cursive letters Mrs. Thompson taught me in Grade Two changed over the years—from forehand to backhand, to straight-up-and-down; from careful to downright sloppy. Use it or you lose it. (Click here to read In praise of cursive writing.)

We’re now witnessing a diminishing in the efficiency of our basic motor skills despite our best efforts at keeping active and mobile. Many boomers have already had hip and/or knee replacements which has restored our mobility to some degree. I consider my own double hip replacements a huge blessing. Not that long ago we would have been permanently immobilized and perhaps housebound if we didn’t have the option of being given new joint replacements thanks to our health care system. In fact, even the word ‘joint’ has taken on new meaning in our senior years. As we creak and groan through retirement, we can now celebrate the possibility that our creaks and groans may soon be alleviated by legal medicinal ‘gummy bears’ which don’t require that we inhale. Getting “up” with a little help from our friends may have taken on new meaning, if you know what I mean.

To read the full story about Jane Fonda’s ‘morning after’, click here.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

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There’s work and then there’s ironing


Princess Diana once confessed that she enjoyed ironing. I totally get it. Like Di, I find the job of ironing to be somewhat zen-like, calming and relaxing. Ever since I started setting my ironing board up in front of the television to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the seventies, I can honestly say I do not regard it as a chore. But my instruments and environment have to be exactly to my specifications, much like professional chess players, athletes and Glenn Gould. When the world’s fastest typist, the late Barbara Blackburn once failed to meet her usual high output of up to 212 wpm on a manual typewriter in front of an audience, she attributed her disappointing performance to her chair being adjusted one-quarter of an inch too low. We artists have specific standards.

Ever since my Mary Tyler Moore-watching days, I’ve scheduled my ironing to coincide with watching a favourite television show and the time just flies by. After putting up with a wobbly, inferior ironing board for years, I finally bit the bullet and purchased one of those sturdy extra-wide European models that cost about $150.00 and I can vouch for the fact they are so worth the money. It’s solid, has a rack for piling finished garments, an attached rack for the iron and slots in the frame for stacking empty hangers. Of course, a proper ironing board requires a serious iron that can guarantee an abundance of steam. Thus, another serious investment in a Rowena iron. Fortunately I haven’t yet felt the need for a Miele electric mangle for pressing sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths which is fortunate as they cost more than $3,000.00, Other than hotels and restaurants, who uses that many tablecloths?

One place where I draw the line, however, is men’s shirts. My husband’s wardrobe has been carefully curated so his everyday shirts are no-iron and dress shirts are handled by the dry cleaner. Does that make me a bad wife? I don’t mind ironing my own things, but men’s shirts are just plain drudgery. I once had a friend whose husband did all the ironing and he threatened to quit unless she stopped buying 100% cotton blouses. He understood the difference between work and pleasure.

You can’t deny it’s a beautiful thing.

I also have a passion for 100% linen tea towels—not cotton and not 50/50. I like to pick them up as souvenirs from places I’ve visited. It’s particularly satisfying to iron linen tea towels which always look so colourful, crisp and orderly when neatly pressed and stacked next to a pile of freshly ironed pillow cases. I use scented linen water to spray whatever I’m ironing so my spirits are always uplifted by the scents of lavender or ocean breezes. And there’s nothing as satisfying as admiring a line of freshly ironed blouses and tops. Call me crazy but it’s a truly rewarding sight. Let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you can start sending me your laundry to iron. The Marilyn Denis Show and CityLine are each only an hour-long and there’s only so much I can accomplish in such a tight time frame. We don’t want it to become work and we have our standards.

Stay special mes très chères.

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All The Money In The World . . . doesn’t buy happiness


John Paul Getty III with his mother Gail after his release.

If you’re a boomer like me, you probably remember the sensational newspaper coverage of a brutal kidnapping in the early seventies. Paul Getty, the sixteen-year-old grandson of the world’s richest man J. Paul Getty, was snatched off the street in Rome and held for ransom of $17 million. The drama played out for several months. Getty Sr. refused to pay the ransom while the Calabrian organized crime ring who kidnapped him grew increasingly desperate. I clearly remember the universal shock and horror when we read that the kidnappers amputated Getty Jr.’s ear and sent it to a newspaper to a) prove that they still had him and, b) to confirm their commitment to following through with further amputations unless their demands were met.

Watching the movie All The Money In The World filled in all the background information that was missing and forgotten about the notorious kidnapping. The substitution of fallen-from-grace Kevin Spacey with Canadian Christopher Plummer was a deft move. Plumber was perfect in his portrayal of Getty Sr. as a calculating, dispassionate, eccentric old billionaire. He protected his fortune greedily while indulging his passion for collecting art with the love and dedication he should have afforded his own family. Casting of Charlie Plummer as Paul Getty Jr. was also excellent and he even somewhat resembled Michelle Williams who played Getty Jr.’s mother. Williams played Gail Getty with just the right amount of angst, indignation and anger. Gail married a Getty son and divorced him without any form of compensation from the Getty family in order to retain custody of her three children. That decision left her broke and incapable of raising the ransom money herself leaving her at the mercy of her former father-in-law.

Michelle Williams played Getty Jr.’s mother Gail, accompanied by Mark Wahlberg as Getty Sr.’s negotiator.

All The Money In The World is a good movie. Not only do we learn the story behind the story, but we’re treated to beautiful shots of Rome and the Italian countryside. We watch the negotiations for a $17 million ransom drop over time as the kidnapping ‘contract’ is sold to a second crime ring. And, there are the obvious conclusions to be drawn about ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ and the disastrous effects it often has on second and third generations in wealthy families. My gal pals and I really enjoyed our couple of hours watching this movie and I’m confident you will too. We gave it four beautifully manicured thumbs-up.

You are special mes très chères.

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What do you do when the lights go out?


Have you experienced a power blackout recently? It’s been awhile since we totally lost power but a recent day-long loss of television and internet service (thanks to Ma Bell) resulted in some serious introspection about our marriage. I was reasonably occupied with reading on my iPad and sleeping, two activities at which I excel, but my honey was completely lost. It’s scary to think what life would be like if we lost the services we take for granted and are so much a part of our everyday lives. How would we cook our meals, heat our homes, communicate with our fellow human beings?

Our resourceful ancestors managed to keep busy when the sun went down.

Early pioneers were constantly occupied with the mundane everyday chores required to keep everyone alive in the days before Edison—chopping wood for the fire, feeding, killing and plucking the chickens to eat, bringing in the hay for winter feed and growing crops to feed the family over the winter. They also went to bed earlier (who wouldn’t when there’s no TV) depending on when the sun set as the oil to keep lamps going was expensive and wasteful. That also explains how our ancestors ended up with fourteen kids, although they came in handy when it was time to harvest the crops and milk the cows.

Attacking our power grid would be the ultimate bloodless war. We wouldn’t be able to survive without electricity and would capitulate to our enemy within a couple of hours. Perhaps Putin has already thought of this. In the meantime, I’m grateful for the conveniences we enjoy, despite the usurious charges we pay for electricity each month. But that’s a political issue to be addressed at the ballot box.

Obviously, we should always be prepared for a power failure—candles, matches and the usual precautions. But what steps should we take to preserve our relationships when we’re deprived of television, internet or phone service? That’s another facet of the survival dilemma. We could and should use the time to engage in real conversation with our partners, or wash the floors, get to know our neighbours better over a glass of (warm) white wine, clean out closets or weed the gardens. More ambitious and creative people might use the time to write, paint or meditate. Others might take the dog for a walk, exercise or play cards. When we’re stuck within four walls alone with those we love without electricity, our love can be severely tested. Our dependence on communicating with our fellow human beings via cell phone or on-line leaves many people conversationally crippled.

I don’t know what you would do but I’m afraid my own preference for taking a nap during a power outage, while not very productive or honourable, is my default activity. Our household would have been in our glory during pioneer days when everyone went to bed at sunset. While sleeping is something I enjoy and for which I seem to have a particularly strong aptitude, it doesn’t get the floors washed, the cows milked or the dog walked. I’m going to have to be more proactive about being productive the next time we lose our television, internet, telephone or power service. In the meantime, let’s hope Putin doesn’t march his armies across the North Pole into Canadaland and blow up our power stations.  I don’t think most relationships could survive such an apocalyptic power failure.

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Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas this year is . . .


Enough already!

For the most part I’ve been a very good girl this year, more nice than naughty and I’ve generally tried to be a better person throughout the year. By Santa standards that should qualify me for plenty of loot under the Christmas tree but the truth is I don’t want or need a single thing. I’m incredibly lucky and the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. This was not always the case. In fact, it’s the bumps in the road of life that make us truly appreciate the good times. Boomers are now reaching the age where we’re losing friends, partners and family members at an increasing rate. Where we once spent a lot of time and money attending bridal showers, lavish weddings and baby showers, we now attend too many ‘celebrations of life’. Which is why I’m celebrating the life I have now, every single day.

Over the years, holiday arrangements with family and friends gradually evolved toward less gift-giving and more sharing of good times. I’ve even heard about parents withholding some Christmas and birthday gifts from the grandchildren because they already have too much and don’t appreciate it. We still remember the younger grandchildren in our family with gifts from Santa but that’s only until they’re launched. Everyone has more than enough in material goods and we no longer need to populate landfill with our accumulated and discarded frivolous consumption.

Within the last couple of years, the final vestige of gift-giving for birthdays among my circle of girlfriends was finally abandoned in favour of a group lunch which is ‘way more fun. We don’t need or want any more tchotchkes and prefer a funny card and ‘ladies lunch’ with a glass or two of lovely wine (depending on who’s driving). It’s a luxury and a privilege to have the time to do these things now. And not having to troll the crowded, over-heated stores and malls for questionable gifts that will only end up at a charity shop has been incredibly freeing. No more Secret Santa exercises and no more heart attacks and bouts of depression when we get our January Visa statement. Not only do we not miss the gifts, we now have more money for those lunches. And, how much does one really need when we have each other? That’s more than enough by anyone’s standards.

So, to wrap up, dear Santa, here’s my wish list for this year:

  • Love, caring and an end to the violence for all victims of abuse.
  • A warm, safe bed and home for the homeless.
  • Free medical care for the sick and ailing.
  • Plenty of healthy food for the hungry.
  • Hope for the hopeless.
  • Love and a safe environment for all the world’s children.
  • Peace on earth . . .

. . . and to all a good night.

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My Christmas bonus this year? No decorations


Every year I love to watch the Griswold’s celebrate Christmas. Cousin Eddie is my favourite character.

There’s no rational explanation for why I hate putting up Christmas decorations. Growing up in the fifties and sixties, Christmas was everything we boomers have come to identify with the perfect Christmas. Red and green crepe paper streamers were twisted diagonally across our diningroom ceiling, anchored by a red tissue paper bell hanging from the light fixture. We always had a ‘real’ tree that filled the livingroom with wonderful spruce or pine fragrance. Single-candle wreaths glowed in our windows  at night and huge, noisy family Christmas dinners were, well, you get the picture. As kids we attended Christmas parties at the Legion, the church, parties for mill workers’ children at the Masonic Temple and at school. The wonderful parties with little gift bags and cheap chocolates were never-ending.

I truly enjoy and appreciate what others do to decorate for the season; just don’t expect much from me. I have friends who absolutely love every aspect of the season. My friend Gail dresses her table legs in colourful red and green velvet elf socks. Even her powder room is awash in Christmas spirit. Walking into her home is like entering a Christmas fairyland and being embraced by the spirit of the season. Her tree is decorated in red bows and strings of pearl garlands with an illuminated top hat on the top and twinkling gifts under the tree. Another friend loves Christmas so much her extensive collection of decorations goes up at the beginning of November and remains in place until well into the new year. I really do enjoy the decorations that have been lovingly arranged in friends homes. In fact, I’ve already done the house tour to see the Christmas lights in my community and marvelled at the imagination displayed by so many homeowners. One house had a spot light on Mrs. Claus hanging Santa’s red suit and long-johns out on the clothes line while Santa sat by in a lawn chair smoking his pipe. Such creativity.

Boomers all love and can relate to Ralphie in A Christmas Story narrated by author Jean Shepard.

I’m not hosting Christmas dinner this year, so I’m off the hook for putting up much in the way of Christmas decor. My husband has more Christmas spirit than I do and dutifully put our outside lights up, hung a wreath on the door and dragged the Rubbermaid bins down from the shelves in the garage for me to pick out what I wanted to put up. I hung a wreath on the front door, some candy canes around the lamp shades and propped up a sad little fake tree on the table inside the front door, but otherwise, nada. I’m not even putting lights and decorations on our ficus tree this year which traditionally has been the closest I get to decorating a tree. I know I’m not alone. Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who shares my lack of enthusiasm and we enjoyed a laugh about our hap hazard attempts at getting into the spirit. The beauty of our plan is there’s hardly anything to take down after the festivities. In fact, I usually yank everything down on boxing day. No fuss; no muss; no tangled strings of lights attached. Is there anyone out there who shares our wicked ways? Am I a bad person?

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It’s the most glamorous time of the year


Everyone is busting out their sparkles now for the various seasonal celebrations. There are office Christmas parties—his and hers, black tie charity fund-raisers, family get-togethers and of course, New Years’ Eve. I’m no longer a young party animal. I’m now enjoying retirement and prefer a quiet evening in my LaZ-Girl chair with my little dog in my lap and a nice cup of tea at my side, binge-watching the latest Netflix offerings. Since retiring I’ve passed most of my sparkles and evening dresses on to better causes, tossed the stiletto’s and said farewell once and for all to small talk with business associates and people I hardly know over lavish dinners under mirrored disco balls.

Despite entering this quieter phase of my life, I still can’t resist admiring the bling and excess that confronts us at this time of year whenever we enter a store or mall. I marvel at the gorgeous sequined cocktail dresses and evening bags displayed on the mannequins in store windows. Those strappy silver heels that would cripple this old boomer’s feet after one step still emit their siren’s call. I imagine my former twenty-something body in those shimmery mini party dresses, then sigh at the realization I’ll never look that great again. The upside of the current state of affairs is knowing that I was never as happy then as I am now, so all’s well.

Give me strength, for this too shall pass.

November and December are when the major cosmetics companies bring out their big marketing guns, the AK47’s of the beauty business. Promotions, gift sets and purchase-with-purchase collections abound and I’m a sucker for all of it. Forty or fifty years ago I got a ‘free’ Frosted Apricot lipstick as part of an Estée Lauder promotion at Eaton’s and I was hooked. Miraculously, they still make that colour and it’s my go-to lipstick for all occasions and outfits. Those freebies were so much fun and introduced me to products that I soon incorporated into my ‘beauty’ routine. That’s the genius in their marketing. My biggest weakness with the most potential for being sucked in are those giant makeup and treatment kits offered by Clinique, Estée Lauder, Lancôme, Elizabeth Arden and other cosmetics behemoths in the weeks leading up to Christmas. You know the ones—buy this incredible assortment of products valued at $450.00 for only $65.00 with any Estée Lauder purchase. A dizzying array of blushers, eye shadows, multiple lipsticks (in colours I would never wear), mascara, eye liners, full-size bottles and jars of skin care products are all seductively displayed in a faux-croc travel case (usually in red) for my greedy pleasure. And I love it all.

. . . and visions of sugar plums.

Several years ago I caved and bought one of those purchase-with-purchase combos. Most of the products didn’t suit me so it languished in the drawer for months before I finally tossed or gave away its contents. And the travel case turned out to be neither efficient or practical. Even now, I have an embarrassing inventory of makeup and skin care products in my bathroom that mostly collect dust. As we age, we find that less is better and I no longer need or use so much of what was once part of my regular routine. Smokey eyes, facial contouring and iridescent shadows are and will remain distant memories. Moisturizing eye drops, industrial strength retinol and biotin are now front and centre.

So, if you happen to spot me drooling in front of the Estée Lauder counter with my credit card quivering in my hand, give me a smack and tell me to get myself off to Tim Horton’s and cool my heels. But first, I have to pick up a new Colour Envy lipstick in Defiant Coral at Estée Lauder and a Lancôme Hypnôse mascara with the corresponding eye makeup remover. That should qualify me for the cute promotional bonus. How’s that for step one in my 12-step programme to correcting my wanton ways and creating a better me?

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