Aug 26, 2016

Who Do You Know? Advanced Style (the blog) and Me

Back in the day when I was just beginning to blog, interesting senior bloggers were hard to find. I searched for connections so I could build some kind of a community of my own but all I could find was AARP and stuff about being a grandmother. I was a not interested in either of those.That was more than 10 years ago.

Not so long before that a young man named Ari Seth Cohen began a blog called Advanced Style

here on blogspot. Ari was simply fascinated with old women and the unusual style worn by those that ventured out. He photographed women on the streets of New York City everyday. It was a very good day when I found his blog.

As his audience grew the parade of beautiful ladies emerged and I found it almost addicting. I checked on him several times a week.

He even linked to a blog that I used to own called Always at Home. All I had to do was answer his call for senior bloggers. I was looking for connections too. It was lonely being the only "old" person out there.

Now Ari has grown into an institution, shoots for magazine like Grey and has even released two coffee table books and a coloring book. Advanced Style, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, and Advanced Style the Coloring Book are available on Amazon.

I thought that most of the ladies he pictured in the early posts were just people he ran into on the street. It was an eclectic mix of beautiful glamorous and down to earth real women.

from Advanced Style
But as time passed one woman stood out as part of the Advanced Style world. She was one of his favorite (and mine too) models and a good friend to him. Her name is Ilona Royce Smithkin and she was a star in the video he produced. She is in and of herself a star of sorts. She is an artist with a studio in Provincetown, Mass. and a home in Manhattan (I think). She wears very long red false eyelashes and always dresses as though she is about to break into song.  She was in her late 90s the last time I checked. 

The thing is, I do not know these people...I only follow from afar. But it is the small connection in this blogging world that keeps it interesting. 

I keep hoping that Ari will come to Phoenix again one in the winter to promote a book and I will get to actually meet him. What a privilege that would be.

But until then, I continue to peek in through the window. After all, I can relate to all of those old women and I do love their artful style. In my fantasy world, Advanced Style and I are like this (my fingers are crossed)

Who do you follow faithfully in the blogging world? 


Aug 25, 2016

Hungry for Conversation?

It seems these day that everywhere I turn, people are hungry for
conversation. Gentle, warm, summery conversation about flowers or moving or children or even books.

It doesn't take much to start the conversation it seems. A simple "HMMM!" in the produce department at my local grocery will start a conversation with someone I didn't even know was there.

I love that friendly, connected feeling with those around me. There is nothing personal or even a commitment of time or space. Just simple lovely words that makes both the sayer and the listener happy.

Are you hungry for conversation? Who did you talk to today?


Aug 22, 2016

If You Build It, They Will Come...Maybe!

It all began with a antique window in front of a local shop. It had been painted yellow, the glass was loose and all of the hinges and latches were gone. My old friend Betty would have approved...she would tell me it was just broken enough and damaged enough for me to drag it home.

When my dear husband saw it, he wondered what he was meant to do with it. Imagine his surprise when he was presented with the plan to build a small neighborhood library exchange. It wasn't the first time he had heard me ask "How hard could it be?"

Now it is six weeks later and we mounted the darling little library exchange on two posts in our front yard. I love it.

Now the question is, will they come or has the time passed when people actually read something made of paper? Our association president stopped by and admired the box but left after telling me that he only read books on his Kindle.

We will see.

Would you bring a book and take a book?


Aug 18, 2016

The Tiny House Movement Arizona Style

You know that tiny house in the woods, at the lake or even near the beach that you dreamed about when you were young? It was the one you wanted to share with your growing children on the weekend or even just in the summer or the winter. You didn't spend much on it if you actually bought it and eventually you sold it or turned it over to someone else in the family.

Now you have retired and you dream of spending the winter in a warmer climate but when you go online and begin to look at renting you know that the expense will be just too much for your budget. Where is that tiny house, the easy to own not permanent but just what you want for the next few years?  Believe it or not, in the southwest USA there is an equivalent that may be just what you are looking for.
My husband and I spend our winters in Tucson Arizona. Here in the desert where the temperature are very mild in winter, a group of seniors gather in park models we call "doll houses".  They are tiny houses that have been around for a very long time. They are called park models.

We play golf, swim in the pool, dance several times a month, play cards, create in workshops that meet our needs and live inexpensively.  For many of us this is our tiny house in the woods!

We have chosen to settle down in a RV resort for the winters. Rincon Country East RV Resort is located on the the eastern edge of Tucson along the Pantano Wash. We are very near to Davis Monthan Air Force Base and the Saguaro National Park East. Views of mountains to the East and North remain largely unobstructed.  But the view to the west is the most important.  Anyone who has lived or visited Tucson will tell you the sunsets are the most spectacular you will ever see. 
Tucson is so beautiful. Even though it has a population nearing 1 million in the metro area, "The Old Pueblos" has managed to retain a very small town feel. Outdoor activities are abundant.

People in this resort hike and bicycle into the Saguaro National Park. Golfing is so close by that one is tempted to walk to the course and art galleries either at the base of the Catalina Mountain or in the art community located in Tubac provide some great opportunities to find just that perfect piece for your collection.

Fresh vegetables from nearby Mexico and California are abundant and relatively inexpensive. In fact, we find the cost of living to be very affordable.

There are two types of living arrangements in this resort.  You can come with your RV and rent a space or you can buy/rent a park model.  These very tiny houses are a little over 350 square feet and the wheel are stored underneath so they can be moved. That square footage does not include an Arizona room that can be a simple glassed in porch or an additional living space.  A large percentage of the spaces here are filled with these "park models" and many are for sale or rent.

Arizona Room Addition
If you are looking for the perfect location to spend your winters, the ones you have been dreaming about, come on down and join us. You will find the retirement lifestyle you have been dreaming about. 

We'll keep the cactus lit for you!


Aug 14, 2016

When You Visit Me in the Nursing Home....

This is another of those Just Shoot Me Now posts! I am feeling discouraged because of an article written by a Ronna Benjamin about a visit to her grandmother's nursing home. The article, There is Nothing Fun about the Nursing Home, appeared in the Huffington Post Post50 blog. It was an indictment of a nursing home facility that housed her grandmother. She told a story of darkness and hopelessness. It was not what I needed to hear today or on any day for that matter. The last two paragraphs in the article left me wanting to cry:
I leave after an hour, wondering why anyone would live in a nursing home if there were other options available. But unbelievably, with every marble intact, my grandmother in fact made that choice.

"Writing is never 'fun,'" E.B White is quoted as saying. I generally don't agree; in this encore career, I wouldn't do it if it weren't fun. But there is nothing fun about a nursing home, and there was not much fun in the writing about it either.
The story hit very close to home because am old.  I am 71 and my husband is 75. We are both active seniors with a beautiful life style. However, the reality is if we live long enough and are not killed by a run away golf cart or something, we too will spend some time in a nursing facility. It is a given. It is what we will want because we will not want our children to care for us at home...period. My mother, mother-in-law, both grandmothers and grandfathers did that very thing. My father died suddenly at 76 and was spared this final stage of his life.

They were  all part of the decision in as much as they could be and did not act like spoiled children when the day came. There was no talk of running away or going back to younger days. In fact, they each brought their share of joy and grace to their new home.  I have always been proud of their selfless behavior.

As a family, we have learned some hard lessons about nursing home care and what can go wrong. We have also learned about the good things and the good people that will work with the very elderly. Even though I did not know what to do about the bad when it was my turn to take charge, I did learn to take action and make sure that those under my watch were cared for with as much love as possible. I got up off my bottom when things went wrong and found someone that could make some changes. I worked right along side the care givers to make things as good as they could possibly be. It was a labor of love.

Facing the facts is hard. Sometimes people need a lot of care and those of us that are not in a medical field and do not have homes designed for care giving cannot do the things necessary. Even those of us with the best of intention and motivation fail our family in that regard. As hard as it may be, many times there is no choices left.

Then there is the fact that society views nursing home and their residents today with the attitude that people had in the past about people with disabilities, mental handicaps or even physical disfigurement. Those people were kept in a closed room out of polite society's view. Handicapped children did not go to school because the other children needed to be spared the very site of someone that was different.

This attitude is the one that people take toward those that are suffering from disabilities related to aging or even the wrinkles and moles that appear over time! What I have seen is that when there are no choices and the decision has been made, families with desert their loved ones. Younger people can't stomach a visit to the nursing facilities. If their loved one does not recognize them they don't see the need to visit and be watchful. Hence, the nursing home horror stories. It could be that when they see what they do not like, they can excuse themselves from going to visit as often is necessary.

In a perfect world, all care would be loving and gentle. Everyone would grow old and remain beautiful. No one would come to a place where they were unaware of what went on around them. People would have no aversion to spending time with family members that lived where they could be cared for. Church congregations would come to the nursing home and worship and families would share movie nights with their loved ones. Birthday parties in small eating areas for provided residents would happen frequently.  There would be no alarms or even a unsightly person in a wheel a perfect world.

But this life is not perfect and what an outsider may see as ugly an insider over looks or even becomes blind to over time.

Bring me flowers....
You need to get over it please. Never mind how your grandmother or mother looks or how the lady in the next room behaves. They are still beautiful inside.

When I am very old and need to be cared for,  please come to visit. When you come to visit me, bring a book or some needle work or a small project of some kind. Wash my face and put lotion on my hands. Open the curtains and bring flowers or treats for everyone. Eat with me and don't act shocked when I spill. Go find the coffee pot and bring me a cup. Sit beside me and work or read. Just be with me as though we were at home. Provide a TV for me or bring your laptop computer with an old movie we can share or an old familiar song. Bring me magazines with lots of pictures. In fact, bring magazines for everyone and let me share them. Do what brings you joy and I will love it too...even if I cannot let you know. Hold my hand and hug me.

Be proactive for other residents and not just me. While nursing home supervisors will want things to be good, I will know they cannot  watch everyone.  Jump to your feet when an alarm goes off in the neighboring room and be standing beside it when the aid gets there to turn it off.  If a summons for help is not answered, go find someone to help.  Do those things that are not getting done...pick up things, clean just a little, strip my soiled bed. Become a partner with the facility in the care for me. It could be that employees will understand that you are a part of their community too and you want for them to succeed. I will become special in their eyes because of what you do. Isn't that a good thing? Besides, that is what I will want you to do.

I will be sorry I cannot bring you joy like I did all those years ago...I know that will be hard. Try to find a place in your heart for me. What you think as you sit beside me will be revealed in your eyes and I will know how you feel. I think you will need to bring the joy with you. I hope you won't mind. And I will need your acceptance more than you know.


Note: Talk to the nursing home superviser if things are not what they should be. Find out what can be done. Contact the ombudsman in your state if the nursing facility is simply horrible and move your family member if things don't measure up. Be a part of a solution.

Note: First published in 2013 but nothing has changed!

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