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Did you ever get rid of something and later regret it?

This fabulous Pat McDonagh coat would be just as stylish today as it was when I bought it forty years ago. Mine was a different, better colour of tweed.

Back in the 1970s when I was finally making decent money, living the life of a modern career gal who had to put her best fashion foot forward, I invested in a winter coat at the Your Choice store in Scarborough Town Centre, that cost an embarrassing amount of money. It was by Canadian designer Pat McDonagh. Made of black and grey wool tweed shot through with cobalt blue, it came almost to my ankles, had giant banded sleeves and shoulder pads, and a large, soft, open pleat down the flared back. I. Absolutely. Loved. That. Coat. I wore it with a cobalt blue scarf, tall boots and felt like a million dollars whenever I put it on. Why oh why did I ever get rid of it? Did I consign it or just stuff it into the bag for Goodwill? I was so casual about its disposal I can’t even remember where it went. I regret it soooo much and wish I still had that coat.

My friend Perry had the rare privilege of living in swinging London in the sixties. Boomers will remember London was the epicenter of the fashion universe and one of the hippest stores at that time was Biba. Vogue’s Anna Wintour actually worked in the fitting rooms at Biba back then. According to Perry, “Biba was near where I used to live in London and was a mecca for all the dollybirds. I bought one of her Victorian-style lamps in velvet with a long fringe around the edge in a colour called Oxblood. It was my proudest possession. I sold it recently in a garage sale for $10.00.” Original Biba items now command hefty prices on eBay and perhaps if Perry had been a bit more discriminating about how she sold it, she could have supplemented her old age wine budget significantly.

The other night I was watching a television rerun of Carnal Knowledge from 1971 starring Jack Nicholson. There’s a quick scene toward the end of the movie where he’s flipping through a slide show of his previous lovers for his old college friend played by Art Garfunkle. In a quick couple of seconds, he skips over a black and white shot of a lean, dark-haired girl lounging in a Bentwood rocker. That shot instantly transported me back forty-eight years to when I first started to work for EllisDon. I was sharing an apartment with my friend Joan from my 1965-67 Willard Hall days. We lived downtown on Alexander Street behind Maple Leaf Gardens. We were both broke, in transition, and the decor in our apartment reflected our pecuniary status. We had a rollaway cot in the living room that served as a couch. Beside it was a side table we’d fashioned from two stacks of old copies of the Yellow Pages. The nicest piece of furniture we had was a “chrome suite”, an arborite kitchen table with four avocado green vinyl chairs.

The Bentwood rocker I purchased in 1971 was my idea of the ultimate in decorating chic.

In celebration of my new high-paying job ($115.00 per week; it was 1971), I went to Cargo Canada (an earlier incarnation of Pier I Imports) on Yorkville Avenue, before it became gentrified. There, I purchased a Bentwood rocker that elevated our decor to stratospheric levels. I had to splurge on a cab to get it home and buy a Philips screwdriver to put it together. I loved and was so proud of that chair—even though it had the peculiar habit of traveling across the floor whenever I rocked in it. A couple of years ago, after kicking around in my basement for too many years, I reluctantly sold it at a yard sale. As soon as I saw that chair on Carnal Knowledge I missed it and desperately wanted it back. Sigh!

And, what about all the lovely gold jewelry we’ve sold over the years for next to nothing? The retailer would weigh it, give us a pittance for its karat value and if there happened to be any precious stones like diamonds in the pieces . . . well . . . we’d get nothing extra for them. No wonder retailers love buying our old jewelry. Our taste in jewelry changes and often we inherit pieces that aren’t to our taste so we’re happy to unload it for whatever we can get. What can you do?

It’s not just big-ticket items we regret disposing of. In the 1980s I had a CoverGirl eye shadow in a colour called “Brick” that I tossed and I’ve never been able to find one I liked as much. Or that Elizabeth Arden lipstick from the seventies in the most perfect shade ever invented called Pink Coral. It’s funny how we remember such incidentals. We’ve all mourned lipsticks that the cosmetics companies quit producing and spend hours scouring the internet for end-of-line deals on discontinued cosmetics.

My friend Terry has kept something I hope she never gets rid of. Every so often she brings out a tiny, lime-green leather mini-skirt that she used to wear in the sixties. It’s probably a foot wide and a foot long and originally had a matching jacket. “My father was always horrified when I walked out the door in that outfit, with long brown leather boots” she said. That always brings on howls of laughter when we see it and we start comparing stories of some of the outfits we wore back when. I think she should mount it in a shadow box and display it on the wall. It’s a priceless example of when boomer fashion and boomers were actually cool.

Vintage cars are guaranteed to evoke fond memories.

If we asked the men in our lives what item they wish they still owned it would likely be an old car. Maybe that’s why boomers love going to vintage car shows. We look at those shiny old Mustangs, Chevys and Ford Fairlaines that evoke memories of all the fun we had steaming up the windows in them with Phil Spector’s wall-to-wall sound blasting on the car radio. I’ve kept my black and white Beatles bubble gum cards from 1963 and still have a few of my well-used old 45s and LPs, but have nothing to play them on. Can’t bring myself to part with them though. My husband still has the marked decks of playing cards he used to cheat with when he attended Ryerson in the early sixties. He loves to bring them out and baffle the grandkids with their secret powers.

I’ve kept both of my wedding dresses. I sewed the first one myself and can’t believe that I was once that skinny. It still has a little swipe of makeup on the neckline from having difficulty changing out of it when the zipper stuck. I had to get into my ‘going-away outfit’ (remember them?) after the reception that day in 1974. Wedding dresses back then were much more modest than they are today. We would have never considered displaying cleavage or bare shoulders in a wedding dress. Times were different. I also still have the wedding album from my first wedding in 1974 even though I never look at it and rarely keep photos of anything today. In fact, I don’t even take many photos these days because I can’t be bothered keeping track of them, and I’m horribly selfie-averse.

There are probably other things I wish I’d kept but the larger problem has now become keeping too much. We don’t miss those big old stereos, the huge televisions we spent way too much money on when big screens first hit the market, our wardrobes of sweat-inducing crimpolene or that orange shag rug that had to be raked after it was vacuumed. We all have garages, basements, closets and even storage units full of crap we know we should get rid of. But, it’s hard to part with the story of our lives as represented by various possessions. Thanks to our hoarding habits, decluttering has now become a highly profitable multi-million dollar industry. There are quite a few old boyfriends I’m thankful I kicked to the curb and too many fashion mistakes I happily kissed goodbye.  If I could have one thing back, though, I think it would be that Pat McDonagh winter coat. It would still work and I still miss it. What about you? What have you given away that you still wish you had?

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Maud Lewis’s artwork lights up the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg

Art speaks to me or it doesn’t. My tastes are not sophisticated, informed or educated. When I see a painting or piece of art that uplifts me or makes me feel happy, I like it. It’s that simple. Which is why I don’t like winter scenes, paintings of crowded city streets on rainy days or industrial landscapes. I’ll never appreciate abstract art because I just don’t get it.

Canadian primitive folk artist Maud Lewis’s paintings make me smile, fill my heart and give me hope, so naturally, I love her work. Everyone’s personal taste in art is highly subjective; we instinctively know what we like and what we do not like. And since I can’t afford to own her original work, I’m happy to purchase several calendars each year that feature her art, for myself and for gifting to friends.

The McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg houses Canadian art in a park-like natural setting north of Toronto.

The McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg north of Toronto is most famous for its Canadian Group of Seven artists but regularly features other artists worth going to see. From now until the end of the year, the work of Maud Lewis is on exhibit and I absolutely could not miss the opportunity to see so many of her original paintings on display. For anyone who is not familiar with Maud Lewis, then I highly recommend seeing the 2016 movie about her life, “Maudie” starring Ethan Hawke as her husband, Everett, and Sally Hawkins as Maud. It’s accurate and wonderful to watch.

Maud Lewis sold paintings from her rural cabin in Digby, Nova Scotia.

Born in 1903, Maud Lewis was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis from a young age. When she was no longer able to live with her aunt and forced to go out into the world and fend for herself as a young woman, she applied for a job as a housekeeper for Everett Lewis, a bachelor who lived in rural Digby, Nova Scotia. To her shock and dismay, his home was a tiny 100 sq. ft. rural cabin without running water, electricity or plumbing. They eventually married but Maud’s life was never easy. She passed away from pneumonia in 1970. After Everett died, their cabin was dismantled and reinstalled inside the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax. When I visited it in the 1980s, I was struck by how small it was. Despite this, her love of painting was evident on the walls, trim and front door.

Bloom where you’re planted

Despite the hardships, she blossomed when she picked up a paintbrush and started decorating the walls, furniture, and the door of their tiny cabin. Soon, she was painting cards, scraps of wood and old boards and selling her paintings for anywhere from fifty cents to two dollars. Word of Maud’s beautiful paintings spread and her popularity grew but during her lifetime, she never enjoyed commercial or economic success, despite famous people like Richard Nixon owning her work.

Maud’s paintings of life in rural Nova Scotia were done in strong primary colours and always featured happy, optimistic scenes. She painted local life, often employing artistic license to enhance the joyfulness. Evergreen trees were adorned with blossoms, oxen had happy faces, cats were the picture of beauty and contentment and the people in her paintings were always depicted in happy activities. It’s as if she were living a parallel life through her paintings. She’s the literal personification of the expression “Bloom where you’re planted”.

My friend Gail at the entrance to the McMichael Art Gallery grounds.

When my gal pals and I visited the McMichael Gallery we were blown away as soon as we approached the gate which featured a huge reproduction of one her of happy paintings of white cats. The gallery is located in many acres of natural beauty, wooded pathways and ravines surrounding log structures housing the galleries. It’s a bounty of beauty from beginning to end. The Maud Lewis show itself included more than one hundred pieces, far more than I anticipated. Many came from private collections that had been generously loaned for the exhibition.

Janet Nungnik’s Inuit textile art was a wonderful surprise and a bonus.

We spent an amazing afternoon walking through the gallery enjoying not only the work of Maud Lewis but others as well. There was a concurrent show of beautiful Inuit textile art by Janet Nungnik depicting life in Canada’s north. Many of my friends are crafters and artists so we always enjoy seeing what other people create. The last show at the McMichael that I saw featured Quebec artist Marc Aurele Fortin. His depictions of rural scenes with giant elm trees touch me to my core.

If you’ve never been to the McMichael Gallery, I strongly suggest you do so and if you’re a fan of Maud Lewis, now is the perfect opportunity. You still have five months to see this particular exhibit and prepare to be delighted. I guarantee as you leave through the winding road through the woods, you will have a smile on your face and happiness in your heart.

If you can’t make it, be sure to take advantage of the books available. They’d make a wonderful gift for yourself or a friend.

To order a hard cover copy of PAINTINGS FOR SALE, the story of Maud Lewis and her work, from Amazon, click on the image.
To order a copy of the paperback book, CAPTURING JOY, The Story of Maud Lewis, from Amazon, click the image.

Disclosure: If you order a copy of either of these books from Amazon, you will receive Amazon’s best price and I may receive a teeny, tiny commission. Thank you.

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Disappearing Earth offers a peek into everyday life in a remote Russian community

Certain books appeal to me for their ability to transport me to another place, another culture or another time that I would never otherwise have the opportunity to experience. That’s what appealed to me about Disappearing Earth, a novel by Julia Phillips. It’s set in Kamchatka, a remote peninsula extending south from the eastern coast of Siberia in Russia. It’s a contemporary story about the abduction of two young sisters, 8-year-old Sophia and 12-year-old Alyona on a warm August day. This crime is the unifying thread that ties a wide variety of characters together as communities and individuals attempt to solve the mystery of their disappearance.

The police provide more thorough searches and investigations into the missing ‘white’ Russian girls while a young indigenous girl who has been missing for four years receives none of the same attention and consideration. Sound familiar? Are the abductions related? Are the girls alive or dead? What happened to each of them? We’re confronted with the anguish of the mothers of these girls and see how important their participation in the investigation affects the outcomes.

The plot unfolds like a series of short stories. Each chapter is a snapshot of a group of characters whose relevance and interrelationships don’t become evident until the end of the story. I found this approach to story-telling to be a bit confusing and with more than forty characters to keep track of, it was a bit overwhelming at times. Despite this, I loved the story and kept ploughing through.

What particularly fascinated me about this book was the glimpse into the lives of a mixture of ‘white’ Russians and people indigenous to the area. It’s a cultural crossover shared by Canadians with our own indigenous people and there are many parallels to be drawn. There’s a certain amount of racism by the Russians toward the original people and the author is careful to treat both sides with respect. We’re introduced to interesting insights into the traditional lives of indigenous people in the remote northeast of the Asian continent. In the context of modern life this includes cell phones, traffic circles, social problems and local customs.

Disappearing Earth was recommended for summer reading in the July issue of Oprah magazine. I’m often reluctant to read her recommendations as they tend to be dark and depressing. This book, however, was gripping and even a bit educational. It can be hard work at times wading through the parallel lives of all the characters but it’s worth it in the end. You’ll learn a lot about contemporary Russia with its lingering communist influence, through the daily lives of the characters. I found it hard to put the book down and for this reason, I think Disappearing Earth rates 7 out of 10.

To order DISAPPEARING EARTH from Amazon, click here.
To order a copy of my new book BOOMER BEAT from Amazon, click here.

Disclosure:

If you order from any of these links, you will receive Amazon’s best price and I may receive a teeny, tiny commission. Thank you.

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A rose by any other name wins by a nose

Scents touch a special chord, not only in our olfactory systems but also in our hearts and in our brains. We all can relate to a certain scent transporting us to another time and place. It’s a magical transformation. The smell of certain things baking in the oven may take us back to our mothers’ or grandmothers’ kitchens. Being near water may remind us of all those carefree days as children swimming in the lake or nearby river every summer. The fragrance of certain perfumes may transport us to memories of loved ones and ones we’ve loved. Whenever I open my late mother’s jewelry box, the lingering scent evokes the inside of her house and memories come flooding back. Sometimes, people who have lost a special person, keep a bathrobe or favourite sweater that carries the scent of that person, to provide comfort.

Ever since the days of owning a single bottle of (cheap) Evening in Paris cologne purchased at the local five and dime store and proudly displayed on my bedroom dresser when I was a teenager, I’ve been charmed and affected by fragrance. I love the different moods each one presents. I adore the beautiful bottles. I feel so feminine and uplifted when I spritz myself each morning. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a sizeable collection and even though many, if not most of my bottles are probably past their best-before date, I cannot part with them.

When I first started working for Bell Telephone on University Avenue in Toronto in 1965, my girlfriend and I used to go into the drugstore behind our office building on our lunch hour and spray ourselves with generous quantities of expensive perfumes we couldn’t afford to buy on our clerk-typist wages. White Shoulders and L’air du Temps were always favourites. I’m sure there were many days when we came back into the office after lunch nearly asphyxiating our coworkers after we’d doused ourselves in lilac or lily of the valley perfumes of questionable quality. As they say, ‘those were the days, my friend’.

I was the in-store representative for Yardley of London at Eatons’ College Street Store in 1970.

There was a time in the ’80s when blooming boomers were encouraged to adopt a ‘signature scent’. Offices were awash in Opium, Red Door, Obsession, and Poison. One of the girls in my office came to work every day drenched in Cartier’s expensive La Panthère. I’ve never been able to limit myself to just one fragrance. Some days I’m in the mood for floral; other days I lean toward citrus or spicey. Does anyone remember wearing Shalimar or Estée Lauder’s Youth Dew in the ’60s? Or Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass? We were so sophisticated. When I worked in Eaton’s College Street store’s cosmetics department in 1970, we had people who came in purposely to buy giant bottles of 4711. We also sold a lot of Jean Naté, Yardley’s Lavender and Chantilly in the pink bottle. Remember them?

My favourite fragrance is called Émilie by French perfumier Fragonard. Émilie is a blend that includes my favourite flowers, rose, and jasmine. I first experienced this fragrance in 2012 when I toured southern France with a group of ladies guided by decorating and style guru Kimberley Seldon. We toured the Fragonard factory in Grasse, France where we were able to see how they gather the blooms, then distill and manufacture the various fragrances according to which flowers are in season. I also once toured a small, second-floor perfume museum near the Opera House in Paris and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

After I originally purchased a tiny atomizer of Fragonard’s Émilie and it turned out to be so amazingly beautiful, I went to the internet the following year to order more. A few weeks later, to my great delight, a more substantial bottle arrived in the mail, all the way from France. Sometime later, however, I was disappointed to receive a notice from them that they would no longer be able to send it to me as postal regulations forbid certain chemicals and liquids being sent by mail. I guess I’ll just have to fly to France to restock. It’s available on Amazon from third-party sellers but I’ve never ordered from them so I can’t vouch for their authenticity. I did manage to pick up another bottle a couple of years ago when I was In France which should last me long after I go to the ‘home’. I only hope my fellow residents will enjoy it as much as I do—cough, cough.

Visiting Fragonard’s perfume factory in Grasse, France was a once-in-a-lifetime treat.

What seems to distinguish the Fragonard perfume from so many (and there are soooo many) available on the market today, is the purity of the fragrance. Perhaps it’s just me, but whenever I try a sample of some new fragrance being launched, I find it inevitably leaves an unpleasant chemical smell on my skin, not the clear floral fragrance I’m looking for. So many perfumes today, even from the major perfume houses, contain so many synthetic ingredients that they all smell the same. And, as we all know, each one reacts differently with our individual body chemistry. Chanel No. 5 always smells like ginger ale on me while it’s divine on a friend of mine.

One day when I was in the Hudson’s Bay store’s perfume department, a customer produced a small gold atomizer like the Fragonard one I bought in France, asking the sales associate to find something similar. Her daughter had bought it for her, also in France, and she wanted to replicate it. ‘Good luck’, I thought, as I meandered off. I once read somewhere that Michelle Obama wears Cartier’s Délice which has a delicate cherry essence. I couldn’t get myself off fast enough to Holt Renfrew to spritz myself from the tester, hoping to capture just a tiny bit of her essence.

Even the scent of sheets dried outside in the fresh air is enough to send me into paroxysms of bliss. A whiff of fresh spruce can return me to the Christmas trees in my childhood home. Does the smell of wood smoke remind you of summer camping trips? The smell of Neutrogena soap always puts me in the hands of Dr. Cornish, an old dentist I had fifty years ago, in the days when dentists didn’t wear latex gloves, just washing their hands for every new patient. The unique scent of old-fashioned ivory soap reminds me of time spent as a child at a friend’s cottage.

Is there such a thing as too much fragrance? 

Perhaps my aging nose has lost some of its sensitivity as the years go by. As my sense of smell diminishes, I pity the people fainting in my wake as I stroll down the street in a suffocating cloud of my floral scent du jour, oblivious to those with allergies or an aversion to fragrance. I absolutely adore fragrance and will never stop wearing it. For whatever effect scent has on our brains and hearts, I’m not going to deny myself.

Are you a fragrance aficionado like me? What’s your favourite and what memories does it evoke?

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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.

To order a copy of Educated by Tara Westover from Amazon, click here.

To order a copy of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance from Amazon, click here.

Disclosure: If you purchase a book from these links, I may (hopefully) receive a teeny, tiny commission from Amazon.

 

To order a copy of my new book BOOMER BEAT, click here. Ideal for a hostess gift, beach read, gift for a friend or possible Nobel Prize for Literature.

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Today’s lesson for Boomers. . . 1 + 1 = 1

Math has never been my strong suit. I’m a consistent 20% tipper in restaurants because it’s easier to calculate 20% than 15% in my head (and because I was a waitress a long time ago, so I appreciate the value of tips to servers). But, as baby boomers age, we realize that it’s easier to get through life with two people than it is with one. I was single for ten years before I married for the first time and spent seventeen years between husband number one and number two, so I’ve had a total of twenty-seven years of experience being single and on my own. And I’ve come to the conclusion that as we round out our third quarter, as The Beatles so eloquently put it, “we get by with a little help from our friends”. And that includes husbands, partners, neighbours, family members and even pets. They all help us get through the day. They filled the void during all those times I was on my own and continue to do so. The much maligned phrase uttered by Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire, “You complete me,” is suddenly not so corny.

I’ve written before (click here to read I’m not OK. Are you OK?) about the downside of certain aspects of aging. Being forgetful or absent-minded is natural—rather like defragging our hard-drive. Our brain has to dump old data to make room for new input. Regrettable but understandable. But my honey and I have recently experienced too many memory faults and error messages to write them off as simple updating of our ROM. Just last night we were sitting at dinner and couldn’t figure out what year we moved into our house. Was it two years ago or three? The mental exertion soon proved to onerous so we moved on to dessert.

Never again.

One day when I was checking out of a big box store I got caught with 12 items in my cart and only 11 items on my bill. I’d picked up two bags of pecans and accidentally only rang up one. I naively thought I was intelligent enough to handle the self checkout but obviously I over-estimated my abilities. To make it worse, just as I was standing there sorting out the issue with the checker at the door, while the lineup of impatient shoppers grew even longer behind me, I hear “Hi Lynda”. My friend Jeannette happened to be passing by just in time to witness my embarrassing shakedown by store security. Two lessons emerged from this experience:

  1. I am incapable of managing self-checkout without supervision
  2. Henceforth, I will always check out with a cashier because, a) they not only do a better job, but, b) I’m saving a job. Self-checkouts and other self-serve functions deprive someone of a real job and that’s not good for anyone.

Last week I mentioned to my husband that the windshield washer tank in my car was empty. When I kept pushing the lever, nothing happened. He was inappropriately smug and a tad too condescending when he informed me later that I’d been pushing the wrong lever.

And the list goes on. I gathered some girlfriends recently to watch a Christmas movie and swill wine but my television froze. Nothing worked. A couple of days later when the cable guy came out, it was a loose connection on the back of the receiver—which I had already checked, several times. He was very understanding, under the circumstances (dealing with an old lady).

But the pièce de résistance came earlier this week when my laptop computer died. It’s only 18 months old and when I bought it I also purchased every warranty and service package available to humankind for just such occasions. I checked the power outlet to make sure it was working, even moving it to an outlet in the kitchen to double-check. I changed the battery in the mouse and double-checked that the mouse was ‘On’. I couldn’t even reboot, which usually solves most problems, because it wouldn’t turn on or off. I pushed the laptop’s On/Off button multiple times with varying degrees of pressure and lengths of time in futile attempts to achieve ignition. No luck. Like Monty Python’s parrot; it was dead—not resting, not asleep—definitely dead!

So, I called Microsoft and the nice man informed me I might have a faulty display driver and suggested I take it to the Microsoft store where they would address my problems and perhaps replace my laptop. I was thankful for my brilliant foresight in purchasing those expensive warranty and service contracts. The next morning I made a 45-minute drive to the store. When I explained my situation to the little boy working there, he laid a nice protective pad on the counter, placed my dead parrot on the pad . . . and . . . TURNED IT ON. It worked!!! Heaven only knows why I couldn’t do the same thing pushing that little button; maybe my laptop just wanted to go for a nice long car ride and be fingered by someone with a gentler touch. Even my technically challenged husband now takes great delight in offering to turn my computer on.

I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.

As I said earlier, I’m not a math whiz; in fact I’m a complete ditz but when it comes to numbers. Fortunately my husband is amazing so he helps me. But he’s not good with the English language, written or spoken so I’m always available to bail him out with spelling and pronunciation issues. It’s the perfect yin and yang. We support each other’s shortcomings. Watching my parents as they grew older, I began to appreciate the value in having someone alongside to help shoulder the load. Now we’re in the same boat. What one can’t do, the other usually can. We muddle through. My friend Terry showed me how to use the timer on my oven; Gail’s our social convener; her husband Mike’s our go-to I.T. guy. I’m the source of new Britcoms on television. When we’re feeling discouraged or in need of a little moral support, who do we call? Our friends.

The challenges of aging aren’t what John Lennon and Paul McCartney had in mind when they penned “I’ll get by with a little help from my friends” but even then they understood the depth of meaning in the words to When I’m Sixty-Four. So far, he still needs me, still feeds me (twice a week when it’s his turn to cook), and still sends me Valentines. Mine for ever more. The reciprocal shortcomings of two people added together equals a whole in any equation. That’s not just science; it’s life. Maybe Jerry McGuire wasn’t so stupid after all.

To order a copy of my latest book BOOMER BEAT from Amazon, click here.

When I’m Sixty-Four

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
You’ll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you
I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck and Dave
Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
When I’m Sixty-Four lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
With a Little Help From My Friends
A little help from my friends
What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key
I get by with a little help from my friends
I get high with a little help from my friends
Going to try with a little help from my friends
What do I do when my love is away
(Does it worry you to be alone)
How do I feel by the end of the day
(Are you sad because you’re on your own)
No I get by with a little help from my friends
Do you need anybody
I need somebody to love
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love
Would you believe in a love at first sight
Yes I’m certain that it happens all the time
What do you see when you turn out the light
I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Do you need anybody
I just need somebody to love
Could it be anybody
I want somebody to love
I get by with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends
Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
With a Little Help From My Friends lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
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