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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Girls just gotta have shoes


The objects of my affection.

It was love at first sight. As soon as my eyes landed on that incredible pair of Jimmy Choo python pumps in the May issue of Vogue I found myself longing not only for the shoes but for my twenty-year-old feet to put in them. Even though it’s been years, or more like decades since I’ve been able to strut my stuff in killer heels, the old longing and feeling of empowerment bestowed on us by stilettos never leaves us. I could so easily picture my former self wearing those python beauties around the office in my power suit or slipping them on with skinny jeans (the jeans, not me) for a stylish stroll through the mall on a Saturday. Just looking at those babies made my heart beat faster; my imagination conjured up fantasies I haven’t had in years. There was a giant smile on my face just thinking about the possibilities those beauties could bestow on my life. Boomer women totally understand how Cinderella was completely transformed as soon as she put on those magic glass slippers. It’s no fairy tale.

If only we could buy new feet.

In the late sixties and early seventies I lived and worked in downtown Toronto. Too broke and too cheap to invest in subway tokens, I hoofed it everywhere—in heels, usually on the run. From Bloor Street to Front Street I made my way around the downtown core to and from work, to meet friends, to shop and out at night, always on foot. And those young, size seven feet were always shod in the latest fashion. I’ve twisted ankles falling off my platforms, caught spike heels in sidewalk grates and suffered burns and blisters on the balls of my feet from the heat of summer sidewalks burning through thin leather soles. Not once did I think my feet would outlive their best-before date.

Baby boomer women now have a different set of criteria when shopping for shoes. Toe cleavage and strappy high heels have given way to arch supports and low heels with rubber soles, and not the kind the Beatles sang about in 1965. Back in the day, our shoe purchases were treated like decadent works of art, affirmation of our sexiness and stylishness. I’d actually set newly purchased shoes on the diningroom table to admire them when I brought them home. Or I’d place them on my night table so they’d be the first things I’d see when I woke up in the morning. Talk about getting a high. Gorgeous shoes were like little magic carpets that carried us into a fantasy land where we were invincible. And, unlike dress or pant sizes, shoe size was immaterial. In fabulous shoes, our feet looked great no matter what size they were.

After clomping around in rubber sandals I recently squeezed my feet into a pair of stylish suede boots that don’t see much action these days. My back hurt from bending down to put the socks and then the boots on and my feet felt like they were going to explode by the time I got home from shopping. Mes pieds are just not used to such harsh discipline and they object strenuously to any form of confinement. I soooo miss the feet I had when I was twenty years old.

I wonder if those python Jimmy Choos come with industrial strength arch supports and cushy rubber soles? If I win the lottery, perhaps I’ll buy them and prop them up on my mantle, just to admire them like the works of art they are. I could reflect back on the days when I used to listen to the original Rubber Soul in my Mary Quant mini skirts and platforms—back when I could still wear fantasmic shoes. As the Everly Brothers sang so eloquently and in perfect harmony, “All I have to do is dream. Dream. dream, dream”, the siren song of Jimmy Choo and those fabulous shoes.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.


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The hairacy of the American election is predictible


Which one will be hair today gone tomorrow.

Which one will be hair today gone tomorrow.

Many years ago I read that the presidential candidate with the best hair always wins the American election. The evidence confirms that no bald guys (or gals) since Eisenhower have qualified and everyone from John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton seems to bear this out. More hair = more votes. There has been a lot of discussion about Donald’s Trump’s hair (or whatever it is) but, surprisingly, not much has been said about Hillary’s hair. Ordinarily, as a feminist I would object to too much attention being paid to what Hillary was wearing or her hairstyles if the same attention weren’t being directed at Trump’s clothing and hair. But they seem to be running neck n’ neck with Hillary’s pantsuits getting as much air time as Trump’s hair (or whatever it is).

Oh dear! Enough said.

Oh dear! Enough said.

So, I’m going to go out on a rather strong limb here and predict that the American election will be won by . . . Hillary Clinton . . . by a hair, a bountiful, full head of it, the real thing. Bill and Hillary are both gifted in the hair department with Hillary’s only misstep being a few years ago when she yielded to daughter Chelsea’s suggestion that she grow her hair long beyond her shoulders. The result? Hillary looked like a hag. Then she saw the light and went to a good stylist who gave her the flattering modified bob she sports today.

Really?

Really?

Trump’s saffron textured coiff on the other hand defies description. It reminds me of the greaser styles the tough guys wore in the fifties—front dip, duck-tail at the back, low side-part comb-over and too much hair on the collar. Apart from his racism, anti-feminism, his out-of-control stratospheric ego, blatant dishonesty, misogeny and general lack of understanding of real life, Donald will lose the election because Hillary is follically the better candidate. I guarantee she’ll win by a hair—an abundance of it.

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The Paris Librarian meets his Waterloo in mysterious circumstances


librarian1Any book with the word Paris in the title automatically goes on my “To Read” list. This has resulted in my venturing into murder mysteries which is not my normal choice for reading material and The Paris Librarian by Mark Pryor was a nice little break. American Embassy security agent Hugo Marston enlists the help of his librarian friend Paul Rogers at the American Library in Paris, to source rare and affordable books for his collection. When he learns Rogers is curating the papers of Isabelle Severin, a famous ex-pat actress who has lived in Paris since the days of Josephine Baker, he is caught up in a swirl of intrigue about her alleged spying activities during the Second World War. Did she really murder a senior Gestapo officer with a dagger? Where is the dagger now? Will her secrets be revealed in her papers after she dies?

Paul Rogers is then found dead of questionable causes in his basement library writing room. Soon the murders are piling up and we’re wondering how all these people died, who killed them, why and what does this have to do with the mysterious Isabelle Severin who is suffering dementia in a French retirement home.

I didn’t realize this is part of a series of Hugo Marston mystery books and perhaps it would have been more enjoyable if I’d known the main character a little better. The plot was a bit slow and I was disappointed that it didn’t focus more on the nefarious actions of Isabelle Severin during the war instead of on other characters with their own secrets. Nevertheless, as noted above, anything about Paris always has something worthwhile reading about. I enjoyed the characters’ activities centred mainly in the sixth and seventh arondissement near the Eiffel Tower. Having stayed in that area once on a trip, I was able to mentally picture the streets and local landmarks described in The Paris Librarian. It was a fast and easy read. The fact I think it could have been better is more a result of my greater interest in historical fiction than contemporary murder mystery.

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I never thought it could happen to me . . . but it did . . . and it could be you.


Never ever leave your purse unattended.

Never leave your purse unattended.

Just the other day I listened sympathetically to the story of how my ninety-one-year-old aunt had her purse stolen as she was loading her groceries into the back of her car last week at the supermarket (hopefully I have those genes that will allow me to still shop on my own and drive at ninety-one). It’s a horrible experience for anyone much less someone in their nineties. Sympathetic as I was, I also felt a bit smug because I’m overly cautious about my own purse in public. I use a metal purse hook that hangs on the side of a table which is handy in food courts and restaurants so my purse is always practically sitting in my lap and safe. (Yes, honey, unlike men who own only one wallet, women need more than one purse.) When we travel, I wear a money pouch under my clothes and carry a small change purse with a few foreign currency bills zipped in an inside pocket of a multi-compartment cross-body bag, which I always wear across my stomach. Thieves would need a couple of hours to mine through all the zipped compartments to find my meagre stash. I also leave all my credit cards at home except one.

Food courts and restaurants are ripe targets for purse thieves.

Food courts and restaurants are ripe targets for purse thieves.

Unfortunately, I let my guard down last week. Just before leaving to meet a girlfriend for lunch at Panera Bread across from Sherway Gardens Mall in Toronto, I switched purses, from a compact efficient one, to a large sack-like bag that turns digging for my wallet into a spelunking adventure. (If you’ve seen the Subway commercials where the girl disappears head-first into her bag, you’ll know what I mean.) After placing my order, I paid the cashier with cash from my wallet, took the little electronic thingie the waiter uses to find me with my food and walked to a table. I put the electronic device down on the table to stake my territory, picked up the paper cup and my purse and headed for the drink dispenser. When I came back, instead of securing my purse safely on its hook in front of me, I casually dropped it on the floor beside my feet.

Toward the end of the lunch, a young couple arrived at the table next to ours. She was wearing a very bad wig, large black sunglasses and a very short black dress. When she sat down, she specifically moved her chair until its back was practically touching the table between me and my friend. At the time, I shrugged and thought nothing more of it. Until I arrived at my next stop, the grocery store, and tried to find my wallet in my purse. Gone. Disappeared. Nowhere to be seen, no matter how much I ripped through the contents of my purse.

thief5The reality of what had happened hit me when I got home and dumped my bag to confirm I’d been robbed. Anyone who has experienced a wallet being stolen knows how devastating and terrifying it can be, not to mention inconvenient. Losing cash is painful but minor compared to losing the security of credit cards, identification, drivers’ license, OHIP card and other valuable items. Fortunately, about a year ago, I removed all the important cards and ID from my wallet and put them in one of those ubiquitous, accordion-fold metal containers designed to thwart electronic data skimmers. That saved my fat old fanny, somewhat. Apart from some cash, my wallet only contained my Scene movie card, some seniors’ tickets for Toronto Transit, my blogging and home business cards, and two or three blank cheques for emergencies. That meant going to the bank to cancel all my chequing accounts, flagging them for fraud and being reissued new accounts. I’m still waiting for all the fallout from preauthorized payments for utilities and other expenses when they start bouncing.

I called Panera Bread twice afterward to see if anyone had turned in a wallet, to no avail. I also went back and asked the manager if they had a security camera that could throw some light on what happened. She was sympathetic but said they can only access security videos under orders from the police department.  Hard lesson learned.

Here’s what you can do to help prevent theft:

It only takes a second.

It only takes a second.

I never thought this would happen to me but it did because I let my guard down just once. Please take this as a lesson and protect yourself. Here are a few things you can do:

  1. If you don’t already have purse hooks (see below for how to purchase), get several and put one in each purse. Be sure to use them whenever you’re in public. Yorkdale Shopping Centre in north Toronto has ingenious little double hooks on the underside of the tables in their new upper level food court especially for hanging purses and bags. USE THEM. I have no doubt a woman instituted that little design accoutrement. I wish all restaurants and food courts had them.
  2. Never put your purse on the floor where it can be surreptitiously accessed or taken altogether. We all know someone who has had this happen.
  3. There is no such thing as being too careful.

    There is no such thing as being too careful.

    Separate your cash from credit cards and I.D. Keep cash in a wallet or change purse and secure your cards and valuables in a separate secure metal holder. This is moot if your entire purse is stolen, but it partially saved my bacon this time.

  4. Make it hard for thieves to find your wallet(s) by zipping them into inner pockets of your purse or handbag.
  5. Backpacks are easy targets for thieves.
  6. Never let your purse off your shoulder or arm when shopping. Ensure it’s buckled, locked, zipped, clasped or whatever keeps it securely closed at all times.

These suggestions might help you avoid what I experienced and I’m sure there are more ideas for staying safe and secure. I’d welcome your feedback in the Comment section of this posting so I can share your advice with my readers. Be careful and be safe fellow Boomers.

 

 

There are many places to get purse hooks. I ordered a whole box of them a few years ago from a company called Chatt.com but here’s a link to one from Amazon: Click here or here for another one. At less than $4.00 each, they’re a good investment. I keep one in every purse I own.

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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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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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Want to get inside Lucy Barton’s head?


lucyAfter waiting many weeks to download My Name is Lucy Barton by Pulitzer prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout, I finally received the book from the library the other day—and read it in an afternoon. At less than two hundred pages it was a quick read but most of the context involved reading between the lines. Written in the first person, Lucy describes a lengthy hospital stay in New York City resulting from complications during a routine operation for appendicitis. Her two young daughters are taken care of at home by their father who has an aversion to hospitals and summons Lucy’s estranged mother to sit by her bedside.

As Lucy describes her mother’s arrival and stoical stay sitting in a chair for five days, eschewing offers of a cot by hospital staff, the two women reach an understanding of their relationship through reminiscences of old neighbours, friends and acquaintances. Missing her own daughters terribly, Lucy attempts to recreate with her own mother the type of affection and intimacy she shares with her little girls. While her mother concedes some emotional ground begrudgingly, their relationship is forever coloured and affected by unspoken and undescribed forms of child abuse Lucy and her siblings endured as children. Their father, a veteran of World War II and the Battle of the Bulge is forever damaged and this in some way permits the children a level of forgiveness for their troubled childhood. The abuse perpetrated by the parents is referred to in vague references but not fully explained and is left to the imagination of the reader. If you enjoy well-written stories of introspection by women about mother-daughter relationships, you’ll find My Name is Lucy Barton to be a worthwhile read.

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