BOOMERBROADcast

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


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Boomer sex . . . what’s your position?

It was definitely the start of something big.

Remember the good old days when Boomers had sex like we were rewriting the Kama Sutra? During the sexual revolution in the sixties, we became convinced no one in the history of the world had enjoyed better sex than we did. In the days before worrying about Aids, herpes, HPV and other STDs, our mantra was “Make Love, Not War” and boy did we make our share of love, steaming up the inside of cars and enjoying the freedom of having our own apartment for the first time. Although we probably should have been more careful, our biggest worry was getting pregnant. The introduction of birth control pills eliminated that obstacle so we made the most of being young and free.

Then, we got married, had children or we may have divorced and changed partners, though not necessarily in that order. Life became more complicated. Many of us found ourselves dating again in middle age or even later. But the playing field had changed. We no longer had firm thighs and upper arms or just one chin. The days of freedom from self-consciousness were also gone. Lovemaking required pharmaceutical intervention and we needed our glasses to read the instructions. STDs have become a blight and a barrier to enjoyable sex for everyone, not just single boomers. As if those libido killers weren’t enough, we are also faced with . . . well, how to face it. We’re self-conscious about our backsides, unhappy with our muffin top middles and underarm jiggles. If we’re on top, gravity makes our face look like a basset hound. On the bottom, our boobs settle down under our arms like melting ice-cream.

But, it can be complicated.

Not that our partners fare much better. Oh dear, no. Although most males are completely oblivious. Remember the scene from the movie Terms of Endearment when Aurora and retired astronaut Garrett have their first intimate encounter? Shirley MacLaine’s no-longer-young character Aurora spends the entire afternoon prepping physically and psychologically. She experiments with negligees, hair and lighting, generally trying every trick in the book to present herself in the best possible light. Jack Nicholson’s character, on the other hand, spends the afternoon drinking without a thought to whether he’ll be able to rise to the occasion. When the big moment comes, she’s a bit nervous but ready. He prances in wearing a giant, lecherous smile and a dirty old bathrobe which he gallantly throws open to reveal a hairy beer belly. Men are so blessed with self-confidence.

So, what’s the best approach to boomer sex? Beats me.  Let’s try to recall the summer of love, 1967. Put on the oldies music, drink copious amounts of wine or other mood enhancers and relive the good old days. To paraphrase Timothy Leary’s famous quote in 1966, “Turn on, tune in and let the good times roll.” Put on some Everley Brothers, Roy Orbison or Tommy James and the Shondelles. Get lost in the fifties with Ronnie Milsap’s In the Still of the Night. Just turn out the lights and ignore the jiggles.

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Avoid these 6 fashion mistakes

Who am I to be offering fashion advice! Boomer gals have always been told “If you wore it once before, you can’t wear it again”. That’s the beauty of listening to us—we’ve been there at least once, made our share of mistakes and are happy to dispense fashion advice to anyone who will listen. So, if you’re willing to listen, I’m going to share six fashion mistakes I’ve made over the years and strongly suggest you not repeat them.

  1. Don’t buy into everything the fashion mags promote. They get it wrong more often than not.

    Jumpsuits or rompers: Several decades ago, an old boyfriend gave me a bubble-gum pink crimpolene (the fabric alone should give you an idea of how long ago it was) one-piece jumpsuit for Christmas. I felt like a circus clown minus the fright wig (that came later) in the outfit and had to completely undress every time I went to the bathroom. The nightmare still lingers. Spare yourself this disaster. No one looks good in a jumpsuit, I don’t care what the fashionistas say.

  2. Shoes that almost fit: Who hasn’t gone into Town Shoes or Nine West when they’re having their seasonal clear out sale and picked up some great buys, only to wear them once. Shoes never stretch and they never get comfortable if they’re not absolutely perfect in the store. Buy shoes late in the day when your feet are swollen and tender to ensure a good fit. Opt for quality and comfort over price. If you didn’t love them at full price, they’re no better at fifty percent off and half a size too small.
  3. Coulottes and jumpsuits never were and never will be flattering on anyone – ever!

    Beware of trends:  Ladies of a certain age (Boomers) have to be discriminating about what fashion trends we buy into and not get sucked in to what they’re plugging in magazines or on television. Our knees have gone south and are no longer what they used to be so that rules out mini skirts and short dresses. (Remember: we did that half a century ago.) Coulottes were never attractive. If you’re going to buy a “cold shoulder” top or wild print, don’t pay a lot because you’ll soon tire of it and next year it won’t work. By the way, Jackie Kennedy never wore prints. Worth noting.

  4. Quantity over quality: When you’re young it’s tempting to go for lots of cheap items of “disposable” clothing. Variety rules and “more” outranks “better”. Unfortunately, the total expenditure often equals that of a few better-made, quality pieces that fit better, are more versatile and get more mileage. We quickly get bored with that over-the-top print or fed up with the drape of a cheaply made dress. There’s merit in calculating the “cost per wearing” factor over the lifespan of the item.
  5. Colours matter: When I wear anything orange I look jaundiced. Same goes for red hair, which I tried once for forty-eight hours. Be conscious of your most flattering colour palette. I’ve also noticed that as we age, colour is our friend; beige is for cadavers. Much as I love grays with silver jewelry, I have to add a citrus green or pink scarf to make it pop. And I don’t think there’s a woman alive who doesn’t look smashing in red, including redheads.
  6. Oh dear! We’ve all been there, or tried to.

    Tattoos: Be very very careful before you ink. Over time tats fade and blur and nothing is more unappealing than old wrinkled skin sporting an indistinguishable wrinkled old tattoo. The same applies for “permanent makeup”. A friend once had her over-plucked eyebrows tattooed in. They looked lovely—at first, then they faded and turned mauve. And, have you ever seen a woman with permanent tattooed dark lip liner when her lipstick wears off? Beyond not pretty! (And this from someone who is contemplating trying the new “microblading” technique to fill in my own over-plucked brows. Do as I say, not as I do.)

Boomer gals have racked up more than our share of fashion “don’ts” over the years. In the seventies, I once sported khaki green hair when I accidentally bleached my hair (the “hair lightening” label on the box was misleading) and tried to fix it by applying a medium ash blonde permanent colour. I won’t even begin describing the perm disasters and styling mistakes I’ve lived through. Am I the only idiot who tried one of those perms that looked like a bushy Julius Caesar laurel wreath around your head with flat hair on top? At least the rage for wearing white nurses’ pantyhose in the seventies wasn’t permanent and quickly passed.

We whipped up dozens of these little beauties in the sixties and seventies.

The upside of these fashion disasters is that it gives us plenty to laugh about when we look at old photos and reminisce over multiple glasses of icey Pinot Grigio. One of my friends still has the lime green leather mini skirt she wore in the sixties, with a matching jacket and expensive long brown boots (both long gone). The saved mini skirt is about a foot long and not much wider, worthy we think of being displayed in a shadow box and hung on the wall. Some things just deserve museum status.

Remember the quaint little printed empire-waisted “village” dresses we wore in the mid-sixties? At $14.98 they were a little out of my price-range. Back then, when most of us were broke and still able to sew, we whipped up dozens of little A-line mini dresses trimmed in braid or rick-rack. Fancying myself a bit avant-garde, I liked to buy floral drapery fabric purchased at Toronto’s posh Eaton’s College Street store to make mine and . . . well I’ll leave it to your imagination. Once, I even made a matching purse out of an empty kleenex box (the cardboard was a lot stronger in those days) covered with the same fabric as my dress. And now I have the nerve to offer fashion advice?

A wee bit older and a bit wiser.

While Boomers are not willing to make these mistakes again, perhaps there is some merit in the younger generation baring their midriff and sporting blue hair while tottering around on five-inch platforms. It’ll give them something to laugh about with their friends in the year 2050, remembering when they too once had bodies they thought would last forever. And that’s worth more than the price of a good bottle of Pinot . . . if you feel comfortable taking fashion advice from someone who once proudly sported a purse made from a Kleenex box.

Share your own fashion oopsies with our readers in the “Comments” section.

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What’s the deal with Canadian weather?

weather1Have you ever known a group of people more obsessed with weather than Canadians? Perhaps it’s because we have such a range of weather extremes and so much of it is shitty. From melt-your-smartphone humid summers to freezing sub-zero winters, we get it all. Maybe it’s a throwback to our agricultural heritage when our farmer ancestors constantly agonized about whether it was too dry, too wet or too cold.  We all know farmers are never happy and they passed along the worry gene to future generations.

The weather report and discussions about the weather are guaranteed conversational ice-breakers and common denominator for all Canadians. “Did you get stuck in that snow storm last Tuesday?” Even when there’s no particular weather to discuss, we discuss it, “Mild isn’t it?”. We are addicted to the weather report and never get dressed in the morning without consulting the radio so we’ll know whether to dig out the long underwear or break out the flip flops. The evening weather reports on television are as vital to our daily functioning as the latest NHL scores and four-wheel-drive vehicles. This genetic imprinting has resulted in certain coping mechanisms unique to Canadians.

Top ten strategies Canadians have developed for coping with our weather:

  1. Tim Horton’s, founded by a former NHL hockey player from the sixties, is our cultural touchstone and year-round mecca for escaping life.
  2. weather4We invented hockey which is played on ice twelve months a year and in the driveway or on the road in July and August.
  3. Insurance companies’ default no-fault policy guarantees no-pay if your vehicle slips on black ice and rear-ends a public bus. Get over it.
  4. Ontario Liberals can claim the usurious price of Hydro electricity is the result of previous winter weather caused by the previous Conservative government.
  5. Icicles are permanent appendages on the noses of Canadian children. Never break one off.
  6. Permanent salt stains up our pant legs make Canadians instantly recognizable in airports around the world. That means we’re not carrying a gun so there’s no need to worry about us hijacking a plane—ever!
  7. Washing your car between October and May is just a waste of money.
  8. We spend $500.00 on winter boots to leave them at the door and walk around in our stocking feet when visiting friends. And, we design the world’s best, most waterproof boots.
  9. Canadians carry ice scrapers and road salt in the trunks of their cars year-round.
  10. Canadian males’ external plumbing is indispensable for thawing frozen car door locks. For those with new vehicles equipped with electronic door locking systems, as we frequently say in Canada . . . sorry!

weather3If a local radio or television station broadcasts fake news of a suspected flurry in mid-July, traffic jams will immediately bring all movement on Highway 401, Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to a halt. (This can also occur without a snow warning.) And, the snow plow is guaranteed to come down your street and send a four-foot snow bank into your driveway right after you’ve spent the morning shoveling it out. Canadians also take pride in eating in TGI Friday’s outside patio in any kind of weather, enjoying our poutine and latté alfresco year-round.

Perhaps because my husband spent his early years on a farm, he’s a weather junkie. He’ll inform me on a Saturday morning that the “wind and rains are going to start on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.”. I’m expected to mentally file that information and immediately start securing the hatches, tie down the patio furniture and make sure I’m safe and sound inside a hurricane-proof facility within twenty-four hours. He has temperature and humidity monitoring devices everywhere—next to his LaZBoy, on his Blackberry, on his laptop, even next to our bed— so, without ever looking out the window he knows what’s going on, can report to me and prepare us for any potential apocalypse.

weather5I don’t think the great creator really intended her people to actually live above the thirtieth parallel but those hearty adventurers who slogged through thigh-deep snow to inhabit what eventually became Canada evolved into strong, resourceful people. Although why immigrants would choose our shitty winters over a country with year-round warmth and sunshine is beyond me. But, then again, perhaps that’s why we’re so strong and resourceful. Not to mention proud and thankful we live in one of the best countries in the world—despite the weather. But if global warming proceeds at its current rate, we’ll soon see our endangered polar bears vainly foraging for food and habitat on the streets of Toronto and winters will be a non-issue. Now, that’s a truly scary forecast.

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“Odd” jobs build character and provide benefits that last a lifetime

carhop1Reading recently about the summer jobs various famous people had when they were young reminded me of my own assortment of “odd” jobs over the years. Singer Anne Murray worked as a maid at the Keltic Lodge in Cape Breton where her initiation included getting down on her hands and knees to scrub floors. As a result of her strict training in making beds, to this day she rips apart improperly made hotel beds and remakes them before climbing in. Victor Dodig, President and CIO of CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) worked a midnight shift at Canada Packers hanging pork bellies for smoking and freezing. From working as dishwashers, tree planters in the north or delivering newspapers at six o’clock in the morning, every job by every baby boomer left a lasting impression that contributed to these people becoming productive, hard-working and positive contributors to society.

Those were the days my friend. But we didn't wear roller skates because the parking lot in front of the Parkway Drive-In (behind the bowling alley) was gravel.

Those were the days my friend, from age 14 to when I left home at 17. We didn’t wear roller skates though because the parking lot in front of the Parkway Drive-In (behind the bowling alley) was gravel. Customers would leave their headlights on when they wanted service.

When Boomers were young and desperate for pocket money (our parents weren’t as flush or as generous as today’s parents), we would do whatever we had to in order to scrape together some spare change. We learned not only how to manage the money we worked hard to earn, but it gave us a life-long appreciation for people working in service or low-paying jobs who perhaps didn’t have the advantages we did. Because I waitressed for three years in high school, I understand how hard it is to be on your feet all day serving people who are not always kind or even polite. Consequently, I am and will always be a generous tipper.

One summer, when I was sixteen, a friend and I waitressed at a lodge on an island in the North Channel above Manitoulin Island. We were water-taxied out at the end of June and back to the mainland at the end of August. The proprietor took over management of the resort after her husband passed away and her management style ranged from she-Nazi when she was sober to invisible when she was passed out in her cabin for days on end. Like Anne Murray, we spent the summer washing floors, furniture, dishes and cookware, cleaning silverware and generally keeping the place shipshape for guests. When the chefs quit half-way through the summer, we also took over the cooking duties. Imagine an entire summer resort with docking facilities and cabins being run and managed by a gang of teenage girls who barely knew how to fry an egg. Our diet in the staff galley consisted of toast and tea for breakfast with fried potatoes and bologna for other meals. All food had to be boated in so the good stuff was restricted for guests only. We saw no milk in the staff kitchen all summer and we were too young and stupid to steal what we needed from the main kitchen. Strangely though, we had no qualms about stealing chocolate bars and potato chips from the tuck shop.

Chief Dispatcher for Duff's Taxi was . . . me (centre) from age 8 to 13.

Part-time dispatcher for Duff’s Taxi was . . . me (centre) from age 8 to 13.

From age eight to thirteen (yes – that young!), I was a taxi dispatcher, taking calls and dispatching by two-way radio to my mother or father who were on the road in the family business in our small town. At thirteen and fourteen, I worked briefly during the summer in a carpet factory transferring yarn to a large reel for spinning. I was a carhop/waitress for three years and self-employed for a few days as a worm-picker but nobody bought my worms so I had to give that up. Even after I left home, I had my share of peculiar jobs as well as some amazing ones. My Boomer friends have similar stories that would probably qualify today as exploitive child labour but none of us can deny it did us the world of good. We were always devising creative ways to earn a bit of money so we could buy bubble gum or licorice. Nothing is more character-building than having to do something you would prefer not to do in order to earn your own money. Earned money is worth so much more than handouts because it’s harder to come by and therefore more appreciated.

What’s your odd job story? Did you pump gas (back in the days when they still did that)? Perhaps you babysat kids almost as old as you were. Maybe you were an army cadet or spent hot summer days cutting lawns and trimming hedges, setting pins in a bowling alley or helping a local farmer with the haying or picking tobacco. I’d love to hear what you did to earn money as a teenager and I’m sure my readers would too. Share your stories by clicking in the “Comments” section.

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Who doesn’t like Christmas fruitcake?

cake4Nothing’s more satisfying than a thick slice of home-made dark Christmas cake with a cup of tea—except perhaps maybe a butter tart with a cup of tea, or a dark chocolate nut brownie or a . . . well, you get my drift. I think fruitcake gets a bad rap and I don’t understand why people compare it to unsavory items like a brick or wallpaper. Properly made with fresh ingredients, a nice dose of rum or brandy and left to ripen for at least six weeks before devouring it at Christmas, it’s one of life’s treasures.

My mother used to make her annual cakes during the first week of November each year while Dad was away deer-hunting. The recipe came from the aunt of her childhood friend Phyllis whose aunt and uncle owned Anderson’s Dairy in the small Ontario town where I grew up. Mom remembered stopping at the dairy on their way home from school in the 1930’s and reaching into the vat of fresh, warm cheese curds for a late afternoon snack. Health regulations would prohibit that kind of special treat today. But Mrs. Anderson’s Christmas cake recipe survived and is now part of my annual tradition.

When my mother reached the age when she could no longer make her own Christmas cakes, I took over. I went to stay with her, taking bags of ingredients I’d purchased ahead of time. It was a major production and I don’t know what my mother used to mix the ingredients in but I couldn’t find a bowl big enough so the first year I washed out a cooler and used it as a mixing bowl, getting in with both hands to blend and mash the candied cherries, currants, raisins, nuts, dates and other ingredients. Typical of decades-old recipes, it was rather vague on some of the portions, such as “one jar of red cherries, one jar of green cherries” so I had to guess at the quantities.

cake2Christmas happens this weekend but I couldn’t wait and last night I carefully peeled back the cheese cloth, inhaled the rich, sugary sweetness of the blend with a hint of rum, poured myself a lovely cup of tea and for the first time in almost a year, once again bit into Mrs. Anderson’s old-fashioned Christmas cake. It’s not just the immediate gratification of tasting the cake that I enjoy, it’s also the memories it evokes—thinking of my mother, her friend and their stops at the dairy, the sharing of a generations-old recipe. I share the bounty with a few fruitcake aficionado’s but mostly I reserve it for myself and my honey. It’s too wonderful and precious to share with anyone but true appreciators. However, if you drop in and you’ve been nice instead of naughty, I’ll put the kettle on and welcome you to my world. Do you have special recipes or things you make at Christmas that warm your heart?

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Another Boomer earns his wings

Just one of us.

Just one of us.

The death of Alan Thicke hit me with a thud I didn’t expect. The multi-talented Canadian had a fatal heart attack at the age of sixty-nine while playing hockey with his son Carter. It’s not that Thicke was particularly iconic or important in my life, in fact I think it’s the fact he flew below the radar that affected me so much. He was just a guy from Kirkland Lake who loved hockey and all things Canadian, who left home as most Boomers did after high school to seek their fortunes where there were jobs and opportunities. And now he’s gone. Just like that.

Baby Boomers have always felt invincible. We’re the healthiest generation ever. We’re still rockin’ and rollin’, playing tennis and hockey and except for a few creaks and groans, we think we have many years still ahead of us. Alan Thicke’s death was a smack upside the head, reminding us that life is fragile and can be taken suddenly and unexpectedly in an instant. Alan Thicke was the same age I am now, and healthy.

It’s a reminder to treasure each day as a gift. As I look around me at my husband, my friends, my family, I’m more conscious of the fragility and preciousness of each one of them and the life we live. I plan to work harder at appreciating these gifts and valuing every day I’m given, at least until this Boomer also earns her wings.

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Dear Santa: It’s me again, Lynda

Santa obviously didn’t get my letter last year. Perhaps his internet was down. So I’m resending my message again this year in the hope that his service provider has restored his service:

kindness1Dear Santa, c/o North Pole, Canada HOHOHO:

It’s been more than sixty years since my last letter, but things have been a bit challenging this year and I thought I’d try to enlist all the help I can get to make this the best Christmas ever. First of all, thank you so much for the Monopoly game you gave me in 1956; it went a long way in helping me understand the business world, the perils of borrowing money from the bank, and the importance of carefully managing my assets, a particularly relevant issue now that I’m retired. I eventually outgrew the skates you gave me but not before putting a lot of miles on them in frozen ditches and puddles, the outdoor rink at the school and the little pond at Indian Hill behind the fairgrounds. Those lovely new red flannelette pyjamas with snow flakes on them that you left for me every year were wonderful too because the bedrooms on the second floor of our house were not heated; the better to snuggle with.

Ralphie's mother was right. Guns are never a good thing.

Ralphie’s mother was right. Guns are never a good thing.

This year, however, my wish list is a little different. I’ll keep it brief as I know you’re busy and time is running out:

  1. Could you please leave a package of reassurance for those selfish, narrow-minded people who think every refugee escaping death and destruction in their homeland is a potential terrorist. We know that the odd crazy will always find a way to slip through the security net but remind the doubters that no one chooses to leave their home, their livelihood, their friends and families to walk down dusty roads and risk their lives in leaky rubber dingies with little more than the clothes on their backs unless they have no other choice for survival. Living in fear is no way to live.
  2. We’ve come to accept that politicians are pretty much a lost cause when it comes to watching over our best interests and making the world a better place but perhaps you could give them the gift of walking in our shoes. Maybe then they would better understand what it’s like to struggle to pay the bills at the end of the month without a nameless reservoir of taxpayers to cover their mistakes and errors in judgement. And maybe they could do what we actually elected them to do.
  3. Please put a little bit of compassion and understanding into the stockings of Americans who do not understand the necessity and value of universal healthcare. To be one of the few countries on earth that does not take care of its citizens in times of need is beyond my comprehension.
  4. If you could drop a candy bag full of kindness, compassion and empathy on all the bad people in the world, I will never ask you for anything ever again. Help them to understand that their actions are misguided and like George Costanza, if they do the opposite of what they have been doing, everything in life will get so much better.
  5. Peace on earth.

    Let there be peace on earth.

    When you drop down that universal chimney in the sky, leave a note beside the milk and cookies suggesting that women run the world. Men haven’t done such a great job what with all the wars, pollution, abuse and violence. Be particularly thorough in distributing this message throughout the Middle East, Pakistan and Russia.

  6. Finally, please assign a senior elf to look over the helpless and needy. Not everyone in this world has been blessed with the advantages and gifts I’ve received over the years so please direct all of your resources toward helping those who truly need it. And then I will truly live happily ever after.

Your friend, Lynda

P.S. If you could see your way clear to remove the calories from all the Christmas goodies I plan to consume over the next couple of weeks, I promise I’ll be an even better girl in 2017. Thank you, and hugs to all.

Christmas cookies on wood background realistic vector