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You know you’re a senior when . . .

Baby boomers came of age at a time when the mantra was never trust anyone over thirty. Ouch. Some of us now have grandchildren over thirty which means we’ve come a long way since then and have learned a thing or two along the way. We’re brutally aware of our age, particularly when we start doing or saying things that sound like they’re from another era or generation. Here are a few real-life examples experienced by baby boomers that drive this message home. You know you’re getting old when:

  1. We’d like doggie bags and separate cheques please.

    Closing a place means getting home from a Saturday night out on the town at 8:30 p.m. not a.m.

  2. We go out to lunch instead of dinner because a) it’s cheaper, and b) we don’t like to drive after dark.
  3. We take leftover restaurant food home in a doggie bag for dinner that night (see Item 2 above) or lunch the next day.
  4. Celebrating New Years’ Eve is iffy because we can’t stay up until midnight. Then, there’s the driving after dark issue.
  5. We prefer talk radio to rock radio.
  6. Out of our mouths pops, “Boy, when we were young . . . “ followed by comments about how spoiled, entitled and lazy so many young people are today and how terrible today’s music is .
  7. Sturdy arch supports beat out stiletto’s.
  8. Sourcing cheap booze is the result of having the time to price shop instead of having no money.
  9. We’re thrilled we qualify for seniors’ rates at the movies, on public transit and special days at Shoppers Drug Mart. That means extra money for Item 8.
  10. We opt for electrolysis on our upper lip and chin hairs instead of getting a Brazilian.
  11. Major chunks of the monthly budget are devoted to getting our colour done.
  12. Major chunks of time are devoted to hiding fashion and beauty maintenance costs from our life partner.
  13. You turn out the lights and hide in the den on Halloween instead of going to a crazy party.
  14. You’d rather just skip Christmas and head south.

    We still know how to close a place but now it’s at 9:00 p.m.
  15. Your peers at the community centre sixties dances look so much older than you. They’re all old, fat and bald and they dance funny, like they don’t know they’re old, fat and bald.
  16. A good parking spot now means closest to the mall entrance rather than down a country road after dark doing things our parents wouldn’t approve of.
  17. The definition of an ideal mate is no longer cute and a good dancer. It’s healthy and a good RRSP.
  18. You get your political jollies sitting in your pyjama bottoms and reading the editorial page in the morning paper instead of marching in your bell bottoms and waving a placard.
  19. The criteria for a good bra are comfort and coverage not black lace and transparency.
  20. Grannie panties feel divine.

And the list goes on. But you get the picture. The bottom line is we’re lucky to be here celebrating the best years of our lives.

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Never send your husband to the grocery store unsupervised. The sequel

Early cave men were traditionally known as hunter-gatherers, bringing home the wild bacon and mastodon steaks to feed their families after a rough day on the tundra. Their wives then took over roasting the kill over the family fire and kept the cave swept clean in case company came. Things haven’t changed much as I discovered this past week with the tundra now replaced by Real Canadian Superstore. It’s common knowledge among women (gained from years of experience) that men cannot be trusted in grocery stores. They take leave of their senses and the stupid gene kicks in. Before you can stop them they’ve loaded up the cart with giant bags of Cheesies, popcorn, Pub Mix, sugary fruit danishes and gallons of nutritionally questionable beverages.

I’ve written about this issue before (click here to read the original Never send your husband to the grocery store) and it’s obviously a genetic flaw that was passed down through the centuries and endures to this day. When medieval wives screamed that they had enough fermented mead beer already, hubby kept sneaking it in, stashing the barrels behind the pig pen and enjoying a flagon or two when mummy went to visit a girlfriend. Whenever I go away for a few days, I’ve no sooner turned the corner at the end of the street when my husband peels out of the driveway and heads to KFC, after which he and the dog blissfully survive on a bucket of greasy chicken bones and fries. By the time I get home, the recyclers have carted away the evidence.

Men have a different concept of healthy eating.

The hunter-gatherer reemerged this week. It was with a great deal of hesitation and reluctance that I asked my husband to pick up a pork tenderloin on the way home from golf. Sounds simple. There were four of us for dinner (the fourth does not eat meat) and I figured that would be a perfect amount to barbecue with a bit left over for the dog.

Along with the meat, in he came with a super-sized bag of Chicago popcorn, two giant bags of Brookside chocolate-covered blueberries, a bag of Kilimanjaro deluxe chocolate nut mix (“it’s the healthy kind with 70% cocoa”), two bags of ripple chips (“but they were on sale just inside the door”), a bottle of Italian salad dressing, a jar of extra spicy salsa and for good measure, a $20.00 lottery ticket. And, instead of getting a tenderloin, he’d bought an enormous full loin of pork that was so huge I could hardly lift it out of the bag. I really didn’t know pigs had loins that big. We have enough to feed mushu pork to all of mainland China for the rest of the year. After cutting it up, I bagged enough pork chops for fifteen (15) meals. My honey still isn’t quite sure what he did wrong and in fact is rather proud of himself. Needless to say, the dog is ecstatic.

If you haven’t seen it already, check out this hilarious YouTube video Don’t Send a Man to the Grocery Store from YouTube by Jeanne Robertson. Click here.

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Boomers are singin’ a different tune these days

When Jim Croce sang Time in a Bottle in 1973, he wanted to “save every day ’til eternity passes away just to spend them with you”. How I would dearly love to capture time in a bottle but now it’s for general living. As an early baby boomer, I turn seventy this year. It’s a big number and I’m now confronted with the horizon in ways I never anticipated. Remember when we were children and teenagers? We were always wanting to be older, bigger, further along the continuum of life; we were five and three-quarters years old, or nearly sixteen. As young adults we couldn’t wait to leave home and start our own lives, get our first apartment, get married and have children. Then, we found ourselves planning ahead to pay off the mortgage or even counting off the years or months until the kids left home and we were free again. I clearly remember during my working days that I could hardly wait for Friday, counting down the days until the weekend when my real life kicked in. Although we listened to those who warned, “Don’t wish your life away”, it has now taken on real meaning.

I’m a baby boomer who considers the current years as the best years of our lives. Since I retired, I’ve enjoyed good health, a comfortable lifestyle, the love and companionship of amazing friends and family and all the benefits of living in a safe, free country where we take care of each other. What more could any person want or need? Material goods have diminished in importance and value. Having the latest fashions, the most expensive jewelry or the fanciest toys no longer has the same appeal as it did when we were in our thirties and forties. We accept our personal shortcomings with good humour. I’ll never look like Christie Brinkley and I’m fine with that.

The fact that we have time at all is a gift not to be squandered.

In the Frank Sinatra song It Was A Very Good Year, he’s, “in the autumn of the years.” I would like to think of myself as more than vintage wine from fine old kegs. In fact, I feel every verse of that song is part of my existential life today. On some level I still feel like I’m in my twenties but relieved that I’m not. We’ve picked up the wisdom inherent in aging but kept our curiosity and vigor for learning and growing. It’s the best of both worlds—feeling content with the status quo while reaping the benefits of experience.

We need a new anthem

The Rolling Stones have gathered quite a bit of moss and taken heat about still being rockers at an age when they should be rocking on the front porch with a cup of hot cocoa. When Paul McCartney penned When I’m Sixty-Four he had a romantic, unrealized vision of life at that age. Boomers were under the assumption we would live forever, that we would always be young, hip and rockin’. Youth comes with a sense of invincibility but time’s now slip slidin’ away far too quickly. Perhaps it’s time for Mick Jagger to update “Time is on my side” to something closer to our reality. That may no longer be our truth and we need a new anthem. Time is no longer just about the love of our life but about the time we have and the love of life itself.

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A tip of the toque to our good ol’ CBC

Our very own CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for my non-Canadian readers) has finally come up with some excellent television programs that I’ve been recommending to friends. Is it because the government has cut their funding and they’re becoming more resourceful or did we just get lucky? Whatever the cause, we’re the beneficiaries. I’ve been sending friends weekly reminders to watch three shows in particular that I love and thought Boomerbroadcast readers might enjoy them too.  I’ve always been a big fan of our particular brand of Canadian humour. It’s smarter than American humour and borrows heavily from dry British humour. Newfoundlanders like Mary Walsh, Rick Mercer, Shaun Majumder and Cathy Jones are brilliant interpreters of our peculiarities. Many of our comedy geniuses including Mike Myers and Jim Carrey migrated south but we still have our own  at-home stash. Feminist humour has a different edge and two new shows featuring Canadian comediennes are definitely worth watching.

On Tuesday nights at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. depending on your time zone, check out Baroness von Sketch on your local CBC channel. Starring Aurora Brown, Meredith MacNeill, Carolyn Taylor and Jennifer Whalen, it’s a series of comedy sketches covering everyday issues women can relate to. And the fact that the main characters are all so relatable and normal looking —no giant fake boobs, giant fake lips, giant fake hair or obvious plastic surgery—makes them even more appealing. (Have you noticed how all the American shows feature genetically perfect female specimens playing detectives, doctors, politicians and even neighbours? Normal-looking human females need not bother auditioning.) It’s shot in Toronto and if you live here the locations will look familiar. This week’s show opened with a group of girlfriends gathering at a friend’s cottage for a weekend of trash talking and all the therapeutic soul-sharing we love about girls’ weekends. You know what I mean. The hostess kicks things off by listing all the onerous rules and special procedures associated with a weekend at the cottage—everything from don’t flush for number one to don’t eat snacks inside the cottage for fear of attracting rodents. Her exhaustive list of complicated decrees induces her guests to immediately pack up and head home. One way to discourage weekend guests at the cottage.

Workin’ Moms is a satire on the challenges faced by young working mothers in a world that puts them in a moral vice between helicopter parenting and juggling an I can do it all career. The show stars Catherine Reitman, Dani Kind, Juno Rinaldi and Jessalyn Wanlim who are excellent in their roles. While boomers may not relate to the subject matter, they can certainly identify with the issues as mothers of offspring who are experiencing these challenges. It’s not a comedy per se but has hilarious moments that even our generation can identify with. One of the women who has returned to work after mat leave is trying to regain her foothold in the corporate rat race by proving she is up to any challenge her male counterparts can handle. It’s hard to be taken seriously at work when sitting in a boardroom meeting with a dozen men and you’re leaking breast milk through your corporate silk blouse. Long hours at the office and having a baby at home are not always compatible, even when you have a stay-at-home dad, as one character does. And I’ve just heard that Jann Arden will be playing the role of mother to one of the Workin’ Moms next season. That’s reason enough to start watching the series which follows directly after Baroness von Sketch on CBC on Tuesday nights.

Gotta love Dick and Angel’s spirit.

The third show I absolutely love airs on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m. also on CBC. Escape to the Chateau is a must-see for anyone who dreams of living in France and enjoyed reading Peter Mayles’s My Life in Provence books. The series stars a real-life British couple, Angel, who’s a colourful, somewhat eccentric designer and her partner Dick Strawbridge, a professional engineer and retired colonel from the British military. Accompanied by two toddlers and her retired parents, they purchase a 45-room abandoned Chateau in southwestern France for the price of a small flat in England. The once-grand chateau, located on twelve acres that includes an orangerie, several outbuildings and a moat had been abandoned for about fifty years. Dick and Angel envision restoring it on a tight budget by doing much of the work themselves, and turning it into a tourist wedding destination, starting with their own wedding. Dick is one of those husbands we would love to have (except maybe minus the moustache). He can turn his hand to anything and despite some initial minor grumbling, he generally carries out Angel’s fantasy plans for the chateau. They both love what they’re doing and I love watching them.

Tuesday and Wednesday nights on CBC.

It’s gratifying to see some of our tax dollars actually doing some good. CBC has traditionally not been known for being the most efficiently run public broadcasting organization, but it’s still all we have that focuses on Canadian talent. Considering these three shows, two out of three ain’t bad and the third is a close relative. Give them a watch. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Click here for Baroness von Sketch

Click here for Workin’ Moms

Click here for Escape To The Chateau

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I want to see it in print. Is anyone listening?

We’re rooting for you if you’d only listen to us.

As someone who plans to be a magazine editor in my next life and who is also an inveterate magazine junkie (18 subscriptions per month, at last count) I’m seriously concerned about the demise of print publishing. My morning newspaper is getting thinner and thinner. Chatelaine has cut back to bi-monthly and Macleans Magazine is now publishing monthly instead of weekly. I’ve lost my beloved MORE magazine which recognized and targeted our demographic, while Canadian Business, Flare and LouLou have stopped publishing altogether.

So, when I saw a familiar Canadian name associated with America’s mega publisher Hearst Communications Inc., I experienced a flutter of hope. After serving as editor of Good Housekeeping, former Chatelaine editor-in-chief Jane Francisco has been appointed editorial director of Hearst’s lifestyle group which includes Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Women’s Day. Former editor-in-chief of MORE Jane Seymour is launching an on-line publication called CoveyClub which I’ll be following for sure. While I do subscribe to a couple of on-line magazines including one from the U.K. (which I can get faster and cheaper on-line), I prefer to read newspapers and magazines in hard copy so I can rip articles or pictures out and put them in my inspiration files. I love the feel of the glossy pages and the deep pleasure that comes with sitting down with a newly arrived mag and a cup of tea.

I’m just one of thousands of boomer women who subscribe to excellent blogs and websites like susanafter60 to get our fashion inspiration.

Why the focus on millenials?

My major concern and one that traverses all business is the focus on millenials. What about boomers? We have more money than millenials and we’re a bigger demographic. I can see I’m going to have to BFF Jane Francisco and set her straight about a few things. Have they even once considered that the decline in subscriptions might have something to do with their target market and the content offered? Baby boomers are constantly bemoaning the lack of attention in the media given to fashion, wellness, relationship and other issues of interest to us. Not everyone who reads is having babies, taking mat leave, buying their first home or trying to get their post-baby bodies back in shape. American retailer Chico’s gets it and so does Eileen Fisher who targets boomers. However, Eileen Fisher’s prices are out of range for many and her casual designs are not everyone’s taste. Imagine the potential for business and retailers if they recognized and capitalized on our enormous buying power. Conversely, being a baby boomer does not mean I’m a natural market for denture adhesives, incontinence products, frumpy fashion or questionable pharmaceuticals.

I’m no financial expert nor do I have any knowledge of the business side of the publishing industry but I am a big fan and a customer with a strong interest in its future. While the bean counters are busy juggling overheads and measuring the pros and cons of shared revenue streams, have they ever considered asking us, the consumer what we want to spend our money on? Print advertising sales are down and I can’t help but wonder if the advertisers too are out of touch with what we want and can relate to. Very few of us are in the market for four thousand dollar handbags, expensive stiletto heels or kicky fashions designed for genetically mutant teens. Boomers want kicky fashion too but we need advertising we can relate to. Have print publications outlived their magic formula? Where’s the imagination and creativity? Where’s the reciprocal communication with readers?

Publishers. Need help? I’m at your service.

While Canadian publications do not benefit from the economies of scale enjoyed in the United States which has ten times the population, there’s a huge discrepancy in pricing with Canadian subscriptions often costing four times what U.S. subscribers pay. In order to boost sales, American magazines frequently offer subscriptions for twelve dollars a year and even special promotions for five dollars a year can be found. Is this a bad time to bring up free trade? There must be a more workable solution than gradual annihilation. I’ve been waving this banner for years and have been ignored for years. Jane Francisco? Karine Ewart? Moses Znaimer, Mr. Hearst? Any other publishers and editors out there? Call me or email me. We want you to succeed and I’m here for you. Is anyone listening?

Here are links to blogs and websites (click on the link or “like” on Facebook) that baby boomer women can relate to (some are better than others, but judge for yourself):

susanafter60.com

notdeadyetstyle.com

styleyourwaytosuccessover50.com

styleatacertainage.com

stillsexyafter60.com

babyboomermaturewomenclothing.com

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Cheerios – not just for little fingers

Gone but not forgotten.

General Mills is missing a major marketing opportunity. I keep filling out customer surveys from Kellogg’s and other companies hoping someday they’ll actually listen to me about consumer preferences. They continue to ignore my pleas to reduce the amount of sugar in breakfast cereals and instead choose to blatantly defy me by offering new ‘honey-flavoured’ or ‘crunchy’ product lines which is marketing speak for more sugar. For years I have been eating Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs which contain zero grams of added sugar, four grams of protein and only 100 calories per cup. Add my half cup of organic Canadian wild blueberries with almond milk and a sprinkle of Kellogg’s Bran Buds and I’m a happy girl. While that breakfast sounds reasonably healthy, the shocker is that the seemingly healthy Bran Buds contain a whopping seven grams of sugar (about two teaspoons) in a mere one-third of a cup. That’s just disgraceful Mr. Kellogg.

Consumers must be super-vigilent about what we eat.

The current problem is that no one carries my beloved Kashi 7 Whole Grains Puffs any more, other than Whole Foods and I refuse to pay their exorbitant prices. The solution has been to use my trusty Amazon Prime account and find the cheapest supplier on-line and order a case of ten boxes to be shipped to my home. But that’s accompanied by complications if it’s coming from the United States. The cost of exchange and duty can be prohibitive.

So I spent a considerable amount of time perusing the cereal aisle reading labels to compare ingredients and nutritional value in search of an alternative. Surprisingly, one that came up a winner was every toddler’s favourite finger snack, General Mills Cheerios. One cup of plain, old-fashioned Cheerios contains only 100 calories and one gram of sugar (¼ tsp). With three grams of protein and three grams of fibre in this tasty oat cereal, I think we have a winner.

Works for me. And I’m a tad older than this consumer.

Instead of General Mills targeting only little fingers (Donald Trump notwithstanding) they could and should be marketing to Baby Boomers. Our sluggish digestive systems would enjoy the boost and our budgets would appreciate having more cash freed up for wine. Cheerios are inexpensive and come in boxes large enough to last more than three days (unlike Kashi whose boxes are now so reduced in size at 6.5 oz. they barely stand up by themselves). The boxes are light in weight for hefting home from the grocery store and for those who care, they’re also gluten-free.

I think I’m going to write Mr. General Mills and suggest they redirect their marketing to a previously ignored demographic, Baby Boomers. They may want to consider paying me a royalty. So, if you happen to see commercials on television of a boomer couple sitting side by side in matching bathtubs watching the sun rise over the ocean while munching a bowl of Cheerios, then you’ll know they heard me. I’m no expert but it works for me, minus the tubs. And since I retired, I make a point of not being awake for sunrises. Until then, I’ll hold off investing in General Mills stock. As if anyone listens to me.

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