Nov 30, 2010

Magnifier for the vision impaired? How about a kindle?

The 'Glasses Apostle' in the altarpiece of the...Image via WikipediaI am not much for talking to other people on one likes a chatty seat mate.  Well I don't anyway.  My husband is the one that sits in the middle, will talk to the person next to him and really doesn't seem to mind.  So when the man next to him leaned across and asked me what I thought of my kindle, I didn't even register he was talking to me.  Then when I did realize he was talking to me, I found I didn't have a good answer.

You see, I have a love/hate relationship with my kindle.  I have always loved the feel and even the smell of a new book.  My idea of the perfect day is lunch and a trip to a book store.  I collected them on my shelf and lovingly touched them when I passed...old friends with familiar stories to tell.  Then one day my husband and I realized that we needed to send all those books out into the world so others could enjoy them.  The library benefited from all those years of collecting.  I reminded myself that I could visit them on the library shelves as easily as I could when they were stored in boxes in the basement.

Last August my son and I traded...he took my old iphone and I took his old kindle, books and all.  I have since bought many books and read each one with ease.  Another blogger (Wasted Days and Wasted Nights) talked about her kindle today and I liked what she had to say.
The Kindle lets me adjust the size of the text so that I can see it clearly without having to have my reading glasses.  It keeps my place for me automatically.  I can download books in less than a minute, never having to leave the chair I am sitting in!  There is a lot of free content for the Kindle.
I have found that being able to adjust the size of the text is an answer to a prayer...anyone that has impaired vision will realize what I mean.  The text can be made very big and eye strain is reduced almost to nothing.  It does act like a magnifier for text in many ways...but with out the cumbersome book or newspaper.  This means that I can read as long as I want without any long as I want!

One of my extended family members is visually impaired and has used a reader for many years. Hers is very expensive but will also magnify her hand writing letters or checks allowing her to remain independent.   I never really appreciated how this machine also allowed her to stay in touch with the world.  Now I get it...reading keeps our mind active and alive.  With a Kindle we are given access to some of the features of her large reader at a cost we can afford. 

The only thing I miss is the tactile feeling and the beauty of a real book.  But I keep reminding myself that really, there is no choice for me anymore.  It was do this or stop reading so much.  We all know that if you love the world that books open,  it would be very hard to give it up.  My kindle is now just a part of my life.  I download books in a few minutes no matter where I am.  The suit case is much lighter even though I have a whole world of books at my fingertips.

I just thought you would want to know.


Nov 29, 2010

Mexico's Best Tequila...Puerto Vallarta Activities!

Lunch under the canopy! We stopped for lunch after the tour!
Wanna buy some really, really good tequila in Mexico but don't want to pay resort prices...go to the grocery store near your resort!!!  Really, some of the most interesting purchases are those things that local people really use.  And some of the most reasonable prices can be found at the corner market!  It is true in Thailand, China, Spain, and Mexico. The same is true for regional liquors .

Line up of tequila!
We visited a tequila distillery operation that was set in the Sierra Madre Mountains south of Puerto Vallarta.  The small operation is called El Easton (we are not sure about the spelling) Del Rey Anejo. A long drive down the coastline ended in the semi-tropical rain forest where a family is making and bottling the tequila liquor. This remote location is at the end of a dirt road. Here the tequila is made the old fashioned way. 

Blue Agave hearts!
The process for making teequila the old fashioned way is pretty simpe and straight forward.  The blue agave is harvested when the stalk that would later bloom with white blossom appears.  Spines are cut away leaving the heart of the plant.  Giant pits are filled mesquite that is burned until the coals are red hot. The hearts of the blue agave are placed on top of the coals then covered with  palm tree branches, tarps and sand until the pit is sealed.   The plants cook for several days.  After the plants are cooked through they are crushed with a large concrete wheel in a concrete dish shaped enclosure to extract the juice.  That juice is then double distilled, fermented and stored in oak barrels for from 8-12 months on up to a years and one half (at this particular distillery.)

The tequila that is aged a shorter period has a slight smokey taste.  The liquor that stands in the barrels for longer losses that smokey flavor and is left with a smooth oak flavor.  These liquors are sometimes flavored with chocolate/coffee or almond for after dinner liqueurs.  

Presentation of owner!
Larger companies steam the agave and it does not have the smokey flavor at all. This is the type we usually buy at the market or liquor store. The owner of the distillery we visited claimed that no tequila is aged for longer than a little over a year.  We have, however, found websites that talk about aging of up to 7 years and longer.  It is very confusing.  In the end I don't think I care.  All I care about is the outcome!

They do not have a website but I did leave them our email address.  If I find that it can be ordered, I will let you know!  We took part in a City and Canopy Tour offered by Puerto Vallarta Tours by Johann and Sandra and they may have more information for you if you contact them.

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Nov 27, 2010

6 Ways to Afford + 10 Travel Tips .... Mexico's Grand Mayan Resort Vacation

Here are some tips on vacations in Mexico.

Now, I should tell you expense of staying here in Puerta Vallarta Grand Mayan very high! WOW!  Would I stay home because the food on the resort will cost me an arm and a leg or taxis are expensive?  Not a chance. 

We have spent a lot because this is our 50th wedding anniversary.  But another time we will use our wits and make the trip a little more affordable.  We will:
Rhino Car Hire
  1. ..get a taxi and go to Walmart or another grocery close by and buy breakfast and lunch food, drinks, snacks and even sunscreen if we forget it at home.  I was told that the taxi ride will cost around $6.00usd.  Trust me you will not regret it.
  2. ..walk to the local restaurants (near the marina here in Puerto Vallarta) for most of the meals we eat out.  There are several, some a little less expensive and others beautiful and expensive.
  3. ..go out for gets dark and we cannot see the wildlife in the dark so it will not matter.  Lunch is always less expensive.
  4. a car to use while we are here...we know the lay of the land now and would enjoy just going out to see what we can see.  At a website called Rhino Car Hire Booking that operates out of the PV airport we see that we can rent a car for around $8.00 and up per day.
  5. ..check into bus transportation to the downtown area or ask to share a cab with others.  A cab ride to town and back will cost you about $40.00
  6. our trinkets on the beach...there is no value added taxes for those items.
With the money we save doing these things we will go on one of the adventure tours. There is one that sails at sunset that would be great fun.  After taking part in the tour of the city and the tequila factory, I am convinced that the Grand Mayan has taken care to find good partners to provide for people wanting more than the resort can offer.

We have been in Mexico several time and there are things we have learned the hard way.  Maybe we can save you some time, money and inconvenience.
Vendors along the Rio Cuale
  1. The vendors are relentless...making friends with a beach sales person can turn out to be a nightmare.  They will not go away.
  2. Time share salesmen/women are very smart and relentless too.  I don't know how to make them understand no without getting cranky...let me know when you figure that one out.  I have been beat down more than once.
  3. Walking down main street near any tourist attraction is like walking the gauntlet...if you do not want to buy, be very clear that you are not buying. Walk with intention.  Once you stop you are in for a sales pitch.  Even sale persons in stores will sell you to death.  I usually leave when I am bothered too much.  I have said many, many time "I do not buy unless I fall in love with something.  LET ME LOOK!"  People in the resort areas speak English so they understand.
  4. If you can ditch your armbands from your timeshare or all inclusive resort, do so.  You are identified by them.  It will save you a lot of grief.
  5. While we here in the US are generally friendly and open, we need to remember that eye contact in many countries is an invitation for much more than a smile.  Guard you smile and be aware of your eyes.
  6. Learn a little Spanish.  It will help you in ways you can never imagine.
  7. Do not make fun of locals...they can speak English.  We have never done this but I have heard some pretty rude comments by tourist.  
  8. Take advantage of concierge serves in the resort.  Staff people can be very helpful
  9. No matter where you are lock your pass port and other valuables in the safe provided.  Trust me it is going to save your bacon sooner or later.
  10. Be nice but be firm!  
When we were in Jamacia staying at a Sandals Resort we were told it was not safe to leave the resort but here in Mexico we do not feel that way.  BUT I will tell you now you need to be careful....just like New York City or any other city in the world, there always are people out there that can hurt you.  You need to pay attention.  A man on the corner that can help you find your way is not necessarily trying to be helpful---he has an angle so be prepared!

I just thought you would all want to know.

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Nov 26, 2010

How I discovered the real Puerto Vallarta!

Grand Mayan breakfast setting!

Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church 
On the corner of the street in central Vallarta where the small Catholic Church stands you can watch the people in passing buses either tip their hat or cross themselves.  Every Catholic does the same thing no matter how many times a day they pass that intersection.  In a country where over 80% of the population is Catholic it should not surprise us that the church is such an important part of the community's heart.  

The story goes that the church was begun about 150 years ago but because of money concerns went for many years with only a foundation.  Then it occurred to the people that they each owned a few bricks or some large stones.  They began building the church with what they had in their hands and the sweat of their brow.  By the choice of the people, the exterior has never been changed.  Even though the exterior is very humble it belies the opulence that lies within.  I am always awe struck by the beauty of churches like this.
Market set under the Banyan Trees
But it wasn't until today that I began to understand what all the fuss was about the little PuertoVallarto Pueblo located an hours drive south of the Grand Mayan Nuevo.  This was our third trip into town this week but this time we left the taxi at the middle of the Malacon (boardwalk along the water) and just began walking.  My husband bought a watch battery at a small joyeria (jewelry store) and I looked at costume jewelry in a small shop down the street.  Then we began walking south, along the water then back toward the mountain and into the outdoor market.  Unlike many markets we have visited the vendors did not hound us here.  It was a leisurely morning in the market it seemed.

Visit the River Cafe website for more information!
We crossed the river and walked west toward the ocean through a row of vendors.  The little booths were situated under trees that looked like the Banyan Trees we had seen in Hawaii.    We began to notice a slightly higher level of shops.  There were several beautiful restaurants among the stalls.

Because we were letting the day unfold without a plan we had not researched our route nor what we might see.    Every corner brought a new surprise.  One of the best was The River Cafe.  It's by-line was Cuisine and Nature...judging by the setting they truly were living up to their name.   Even though we were not thirsty or hungry we stopped anyway and lingered over 2 for 1 Margaritas.  If we ever get back this way we will definitely be having a special dinner there.

At the ocean front we turned south again and that was where we found the beautiful Old Puerto Vallarta water front.   Cafes lined the Malacon and tables spilled over onto the sand.  I was taken back to Marbella in Spain.  The charm and beauty of Puerto Vallarta had finally unfolded in front of us.  The condo rental along this part of the water front were beautifully fitted out with Bougainvilla  and ferns of every type.  Small shops lined the side streets.  I could feel the upscale atmosphere immediately.

We stopped at a restaurant called the Blue Shrimp that sat on the beach.  I loved the waiter's aprons so I talked the owner into looking a clean one up and I bought it from him.  We had a delightful lunch in the sun while watching the para-sailers and jet boats.  There was even an occasional movie star sighting.  Vendors stopped often hopeful we would buy something.  I had a absolutely perfect day.

Now I get why people that love beautiful things and settings are drawn to this part of Mexico.  Those of us that live near border towns do not see this side Mexico ever.  We are having a wonderful time...wish you were here.


Nov 25, 2010

Puerto Vallarta Airport and Me...a warning!

Just a short not of caution...  We are world travelers but it seems that we will be sucked into a sales pitch at the airport every time!!!  We have never taken the bait but it is such a bother and a waste of our time.  When you pass through the airport anywhere in the world and especially in a developing nation,   it is probably not a good idea to talk to anyone unless he is a customs agent checking you into the country or a taxi driver/resort transportation agent.  Go directly to  the taxi line or the company office for resort transportation.  For the Grand Mayan it is the Miller Company.    Here in Vallarta you will pass through several glass doors before you arrive at the taxi line.  Do not stop inside the doors! 

Resort operators are telling horror stories that are just plain scary! 

I must go...a tour bus awaits me!

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Nov 24, 2010

Puerto Vallarta Luxury and Me

Resort to the Pool

Dear friends,

We are well.  Wish you were here in Puerto Vallarta with us.  We are in the state of Jalisco in Mexico south of Manzanillo and north of Ixtapa.  The weather is fine and the fishing is good…I think.  Having not gone fish we are not sure but all postcards say the same thing so we thought we had better include the fishing.
Our neighborhood land iguana!  

We are staying in the Grand Mayan Resort where life is slow and heavenly.  We have heard those around the pool talking about resorts in Matzalan, calling them dumps compared to this.  I can see how they might say that.

Yesterday we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary with a day that included a time in the sun near the Bay of Banderas.  Vendors came by selling jewelry, beautiful dresses (I wish I had one right now) and statues and bowls  carved from wood.  We love to bargain and soon I will head to the beach and see what we can find. 

In the evening we caught a taxi to central Vallarta where we had a glorious dinner at a restaurant called Barcelona.  Barcelona is a restaurant that is filled with the expats that inhabit Vallarta…more that 50,000 of them…and serves the best tapas I have ever tasted!  Because it was our anniversary, we went all out and ordered the menu del dia with selections by the chef.  We ate cold and hot tapas, salad and dessert with coffee followed by a complementary drink made with irish creme and tequila!  Of course we had to have a glass of wine from Spain to accompany it all.  The back street scene for this restaurant and it’s humble appearance would make it very hard to find if you did not visit with a local.  However, it seems all the  taxi drivers know where it is.  We got the tip from a hotel employee.  From the Grand Mayan we paid $19.00 to ride in and $21.00 coming back…please don’t ask me why the difference in price!  

The seat next to the rail over looking the top of the village and the bay was fantastic even after the sun had set.  Diners were late coming and lingered over meals as though it were their living room.  We were reminded of dining in Spain. 

We have stayed at resorts around the world and I would have to say that this is among the most beautiful we have ever seen.  Grand Mayan has gone the extra mile here.  Even though they are continuing to build and each building is better than the last, they are allowing guest that bought in early to use all the amenities available in their properties here in Mexico.  We looked around at all the Grand Mayan property  in Vallarta Nuevo and the complex we actually loved the very best was the Sea Garden.  It is  very small and may have been the first complex the Grand Mayan people built.  Even though it is very intimate it is  just as beautiful as all the other facilities on this property.    We visited with sales people and they tell us that the company revamps all of their holdings every 5 years.  If that is so, I can see why everything is so perfect.

Tomorrow we will take a tour of the city.  I am looking forward to spending some time in the local market.  My husband is anxious to visit the Tequila factory.  I talked with wait people today to find out where I can buy the large mortar/pestle they would use to grind corn and make that guacamole we all love.  I think I will find what I want and my husband will find his tequila too! 

Our favorite breakfast/lunch spot! 
The flowers are beautiful.  Nature is up close and personal  (see our friendly neighborhood iguana). The climate is tropical but not hot.  Vallarta is on the same latitude as Hawaii.  Breezes off the ocean keep us cool even thought the sun is very intense and burning. 

We love you all.  See you soon.  Again…we wish you were all here!


If my spelling is not perfect don't blame it on me...the marguarita at my side can take all the blame!
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Nov 22, 2010

Acorn Squash Soup Recipe

Image courtesy of Jacci Howard Bear

I feel like the "The Speedy Cook" today. When it came time for lunch all I could think about was a vegetable soup that contained every fall vegetable in my refrigerator. After a trip to New Seasons to gather some of the ingredients I began putting it together. Here is what I came up with.

Barbara's Squash Soup

1 box free range chicken broth
one large union chopped
1/2 acorn squash peeled and cut into small cubes
2 large carrots peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
one can chicken meat drained or left over chicken
7 garlic cloves peeled
1/4 cup quinoa
one small tomato or 6 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoon cider vinegar for brightness (I think fresh lemon juice could be used instead)
1/2 teaspoon garam marsala a (add to taste)
fresh sprigs of thyme and sage
pepper and salt to taste.
Combine and simmer until done. Serve topped with 1 tablespoon of yogurt and a few drops of olive oil.
It was delicious and tasted like fall.

****Description of Garam Masala as take from web site
All Recipes Website:
Garam is the Hindi word for "warm" or "hot," and this blend of dry-roasted ground spices from the colder climes of northern India adds a sense of warmth to both palate and spirit. There are as many variations of garam masala (which may contain up to 12 spices) as there are Indian cooks. It can include black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamom, dried chiles, fennel, ginger, mace and nutmeg. Garam masala may be purchased in Indian markets and in the gourmet section of some supermarkets.

Nov 21, 2010

Snowbird Regulations....Very Good and Funny Idea :-D

I am a granny that loves to laugh. That is why Not Your Typical Granny Blog caught my eye.

Maddie, Amelia and I
Every time I wander around (metamorphic travel) on the Internet I find something that makes me laugh. Today I was on the Blogged website and put aging in the blog search. That was where I found "Not Your Typical Granny". It seems Granny is 48, still a working girl, lives in Florida and faces the onslaught of snow birds each winter. It can be very annoying. She has suggested that there should be "Snow Bird Laws/Rules" and every snow bird should have to sign an oath or something when they return to the state. She says there are only a few months to get this done because they will be back before they know it. Granny had a long list but here are two of her rules:
"In order to drive, Snowbirds must be able to see over the steering wheel of their car. If you cannot see over the steering wheel and must see through it, I highly recommend you get a booster seat. They make them, they are available and maybe then you won't have to make that left hand turn from the far right lane."
"Snowbirds required to be on oxygen cannot drive. Putting the oxygen tank in the back seat so you can still breath while driving does not work. If you are on oxygen don't drive!"

While this is really funny, it is also true. Old people do drive with oxygen tanks unable to see over the steering wheel and barely able to walk to the front door of their destination. On the other hand I have friends that carry handicap tags and use them when they are going to a ball game and want to park really close. They walk, see and breath just fine. Arizona has a dumb tourist law but that would not take care of oxygen tanks, senior citizens at the grocery at the end of young people work day or on the golf course on Saturdays. The Dumb Tourist law states that if you drive into a wash when it is full of water and someone has to rescue you, you will be fined! How many times do you suppose that had to happen before they passed a law? And how old were those people? I am seeing more and more that there needs to be regulations/laws/rules just to keep snow birds in line. Arizona might sit up and take notice. Sigh!

Now I am not saying there should be any arresting of old people...don't break the old people is my motto. But I do have a wicked sense of humor so you can see how this would tickle my funny bone.
Anyway...Granny has quite the sense of humor and I have added her to my Blogged Followed list. Head on over if you want a good laugh. This post is hilarious. I do not see any rhythm to her posts so just check back once in a while!

Have a lovely day.


Nov 19, 2010

Managing Retirement Savings...after retirement!

The Sun is always shining somewhere.  JamaicaImage by Always at Home via Flickr
I was reading an article published in called "6 Easy Ways to Increase Retirement Saving".  We all know that saving, saving, saving is the best way to go.  The author of the article, Kimberly Palmer, had some good suggestions for saving even if you are a freelance or a student.  She also had suggestions on how to choose a low fee program that would save you thousands of dollars when it came time to cash the savings in.  I think you should take a look at her article.
My husband has reached the age when he must take part of that pre-taxed money we saved all those many years ago.  As we both know, we will pay the consequences/taxes now.  The question is:  Is the cup half empty or half full?  Even though we must pay more in taxes this year we are going to go with the half full plan.  For this first year at least we will spend some of the money on a 50th wedding anniversary trip.  We both know that using our savings for frivolous things is not a good idea.  However, in our case we do not live on our savings or income from our savings.  We will have a discussion for taking out IRA money will our stock broker and decide when to do it next year.  Trends in the market will help us make that decision.
My husband does what Ms. Palmer suggested and saves even now.  We continue to set a goal for a trip or a new piece of furniture...the habits we formed as young people still serves us well.
Although Ms. Palmer did not mention it, I might also suggest that you invest in a vacation plan for the future!  If you do this, you will guarantee yourself some travel even if you retire with less than you expected.  We invested in a good solid time share type of plan.  In our case the time is not set for a week or a certain place.  We bought into a company that offers the whole line up of resorts and is very desirable in the timeshare exchange world. Using this retirement tool will make your "advanced" years a lot more fun.
We made most of that period of time between our children flying the nest and retirement.  We were both working and we saved like crazy using as much pre-taxed money as the law allowed.  My mother often said that saving for retirement was much easier during the post child rearing time.  Boy was she right.  We took advantage of that time and actually on many occasions saved until it hurt!  It was fun.  We used other strategies that also came to bear on what we have now.  There were things we did and did not do...
  • We did not buy a bigger house when the children left and we had more disposable cash. We did, however, make sure that the right amount of money was invested in real estate.  That has turned out to be very important.
  • We did not upgrade the car or even our furniture.  The life style remained very constant.
  • Our cars were bought when we needed them...the emphasis being on NEEDED!
  • While we did travel at least once a year we did not go nuts with it.  I know we could have afforded some really upscale travel at that time but we had a goal in mind.  We used business trips as vacation time even though one or both of us had to work.  We were educators so these were very modest trips.
  • Our children graduated from college with no debt so we did not need to continue to support them.  That sacrifice has paid off over and over!
  • We had our savings removed from our pay before taxes so we never saw the money.  
  • We invested in a variety of different types of mutual funds and stock for IRA savings.  You MUST find an investment counselor or stock broker you can trust,
  • When we retired, we decided to take our retirement in such a way that the surviving spouse would continue to get the income.  This frees our mind to enjoy the money we do use.
So, given our decisions both past and present, we are giving ourselves this one wonderful big and expensive vacation!  We will use that vacation investment in a timeshare I talked about earlier.  That frees up a lot for the frills that we always thought might be fun.  Oh, and I did spend a lot on clothes.  I don't know how we could have anymore fun than we have in the past but I will let you know.  It is nice to know that we gave ourselves the opportunity...we are very grateful.

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Nov 18, 2010

The Advanced Generation...55+

Iphone Art by b  In the Shadow!
     I have been fumbling around with what to call us.  I really really hate the words that are used when people begin talking about my generation.  I have heard old, aging, nursing home, aging parents, dementia, health issues...enough already.  This is the deal....we are the "ADVANCED GENERATION".  Wise, strong, smart, experienced and best of all willing individuals.  Because we have lived through a lot and have seen todays news before, we have a depth of knowledge you need.  We live in your neighborhood, apartment building or in an assisted living facility near your.  We work and play at your side.  Most of all we influence your life when we huge numbers.
     I am pushing the idea that if my generation would let themselves, they could be one of the most influential generations ever!   Maybe, if we embrace our wisdom and strength by calling ourselves the "Advanced Generation", it will become a self fulfilling prophecy.
    In the meantime, send this to your younger friends along with a message from me:  Talk to us...we have some very good ideas.  Pay attention to us because we are going to be around for a very long time!
     Pass the word!!!

Nov 17, 2010

Arizona National Golf + Yuki Shushi of Tucson...great Groupon Coupon/Wildcat Card

Catalina Mountains Tucson, AZImage by Always at Home via Flickr
We had a coupon for Arizona National Golf husband used a free round from his Wildcat Card.  He has been a member for a long time so he gets three rounds at various courses.  I am a new member so I only get one free this year.  I am just blown away that we can even do that sort of thing!  Arizona National is a premier golf course and home to the University of Arizona Wildcat golf team.  Very cool. 

After a round of golf we used a Groupon Coupon to eat at Yuki Sushi on Cambell Avenue here in Tucson.  Let me tell you, this is my idea of a perfect day.

If you had told me even 5 or 6 years ago that we would be playing golf at the places we play now, I would have said you are nuts.  Here in Tucson the Arizona Wildcat Card, Golf Now and Ezlinks has opened a world of golf courses to those that are smart enough to use them.  I love it!


If you are planning on visiting Arizona
I recommend Fodors.  I think it is the
easiest travel guide to use!

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Snowbirds Behaving Badly...again!

ArizonaNear my home in TucsonCOMMENTS 

I received a comment the other day on an old blog called How to be a Snowbird.  The comment said:
The number one thing that snowbirds need to do is to polish up their good manners. As a former resident of Yuma, AZ -- and yes, one of the 5 top reasons we left was because of winter visitors -- we were appalled by the "Ugly American" mentality and behavior of way too many snowbirds. Remember -- when you pull into some town, you are pulling into somebodies hometown -- their home. Be courteous. 
I could only imagine what these people had experienced.  It seems to me that any group of old people or snow birds or even young people will have a few bad apples.  As I have said before if a human is rude, unethical or even criminal when they are young, they will be just the same when they are old.  Truly, there is no such thing as a cute little old man/woman when they behave themselves in a way that makes those around them uncomfortable. The same standard that applies to those of us that are young must apply to those of us that are old.

For example, I give you a very bad old person that lived in this RV resort.  Some thought he was "cute".  He  received porno in the mail daily.  He was prosecuted just before he died for molesting a young girl.  He was a very wicked young person and did not get over it when he was old.  Cute does not now nor every has applies to a person like this.  But he was only one bad apple.  A little over a year ago I wrote a post called Old People Behaving Badly.  This is what I said to snow birds: cannot behave badly or break laws or put other people in danger or "swear in the streets" or do any of the other things that you might think you can get away with because you are old. First of all, yesterday's old is today's middle age.  You may not be old at all.   Secondly, there are getting to be a huge number of old people so we need to remain civilized as long as possible. Thirdly, the laws applies to old people too. You really should not drive if you need oxygen to stay alive or cross three lanes of traffic at one gulp. But most importantly, acting as though we have license to behave badly [because we are old] just makes you and everyone else miserable.

So I would say to you, encourage that seniors are held to the same standard of the law and behavior as everyone.  If a senior or a young person is rude to you, remember what goes around comes around.  Generally, karma will come back and bite the person that is rude so you don't need to.

But here is a lesson in life.  No group of people should be painted with the brush of guilt just because some behave themselves very badly.  That is what we call bigotry.  To the commenter from Yuma I will give an apology in so far as I can.  But I do want you to all know that my friends volunteer in our community when they come south.  They cook meals for the homeless, attend church and spend their money freely.  They are law abiding and well meaning. 

Tucson welcomed the snow birds and their money this year.  The city begans to thrive as it should even though traffic becomes heavier and restaurants are full when people come to eat.  Snow birds are sustaining this community in the only way they know how.  They are living here.

Every snowbird should realize that if you are guest in a community, behave yourself appropriately.  As the commenter said "This is someones hometown."  If you become a resident for part of the year,  do your one owes you anything. 

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Nov 16, 2010

Advanced Style Mention and the Advanced Generation!

Retire In Style Blog has been mentioned on the popular blog for beautiful older people.  Advance Style thank you very much.
Screen shot of Advanced Style!

The Story
A week ago my blog reader count went up to levels I had never seen before.  I had no idea what I had done to deserve the attention.   I began doing the back scene information search...if you are a blogger you will understand.  There are Stat Counters and Google Analytics, etc.   I could not find a pattern that would explain all the interest.  I did notice that a lot of people were coming from Advanced Style but there did not seem to be a reason.  Then I found it...a post about people that write for "advanced humans", you know, those of us that have lived past a certain age.  The article was called Over 50 Blogging.  It is amazing what just a mention will do.  They did their I need to do mine.

Thank you so much for stopping by.  I would appreciate it if you would become a follower and tell you friends about the blog.  Why? you ask.  Well I think it is important that we promote the image of this Advance Generation as a vibrant living active community of people.  Help me out.  Please!!!

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Nov 14, 2010

Wine of the Week...Zinfandels

Note:  I had the bright idea to share this on Sunday Scribblings...I hope they don't mind.

Let me explain...I do not drink really expensive wines because it is not practical nor is it possible.  I am an experiences wine taster but I am not obsessed by all those things that a wine snob would be.  In other words if it is good it is good!  If I don't like it...well enough said.  Actually, I am more interested in the story behind the wine.  All I can hope is that you will like my recommendations enough to share them with company at your next informal dinner party.
Maryhille Castle Image from NW Council Org

ZINFANDEL in the Northwest...
The first Zin I ever tasted was in a small restaurant in Eastern Oregon.  The little community had one restaurant and on a big Saturday night the place only had only two tables with customers.  I doubt it is still in business.  BUT they did have a local Zinfandel on the wine list.  Because this little place is very close to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, they have access to some very high classes wineries.
At the time I thought the wine was very good and it still may be.  If I could find a bottle of it now, I would serve it at dinner because I think the location of the winery and the story behind the it is so interesting.

The Zinfandel we ordered that night came from the Maryhill Winery on the Washington side of the Columbia River across from Biggs Junction, Oregon.  When you cross over the river at Biggs you will see a castle on the hill and near the castle is a replica of the Stonehenge.  Honestly, it is a very cool place.  A railroad magnate built the place in the early 20th century for love.  The woman spurned the offering but the builder did manage to get the Queen of Romania to visit in 1926.  The castle now boasts an art museum with some world class exhibits.  I am not sure what the Stonehenge was all about and never did really care! The man's name was Sam Hill...a name we used to use in vain as children when we were not allowed to swear!  Down the road a few miles sits the Maryhille Winery.
Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2011
Pomegranate Tree
Olive, Rose, Grapes, Wine
Grapes vines are in the background.

CALIFORNIA ZIN...Dry Creek Valley

Several years ago the Napa and Sonoma Valley wineries embraces the old vine Zinfandels with a passion.  They have a lot of "old vines" it seems.  The year we visited it was the very trendy to taste and buy Zin.  We generally only spend one day tasting when we visit.   So on this year we decided to take a drive up Dry Creek Valley...north of Sonoma I think. We were using a current Pocket Wine Book as our guide.   Our plan was to only taste full round of wines from white to red.  We wanted to enjoy the Zin experience without getting drunk!  That is always a good plan.

Believe it or not the reason we stopped at the first winery was because of a Pomegranate tree...the first I had ever seen.  The fruit was ripe and this beautiful  tree just stopped us in our tracks!  As it happened there was a wine tasting room next door.  A few grape vines with a rose at the end of each row decorated the perimeter of the driveway.  For those of you that don't know, back before the science of viticulture was perfected, the rose would show signs of problems before the grape vines experiences the same problems.  So growers watched the roses very carefully. I thought it said a lot about the way the wine was crafted here.

Zuchichi Family Winery was located next door to our beautiful Pomagranate tree.  It seems the family bought this winery in the year 2000 and constructed the beautiful tasting room that overlooks the valley. The day we were there they were offering tasting directly out of the barrel!  As I recall the wine was very near to being ready to be bottled.  On this occasion the owner was selling shares in casks that would be bottled during the next year.  If we had been a little more daring we would have bought that option.  This was very good Zin...very, very good.  The owner/winemaker was a retired physician from New Orleans and evidently knew what he was doing. 

BELLA WINERY...the cave!
Picnic Ready Winery...blanket and all!
The Gift Cave?
Bella Winery Gift Shop
As we progressed up the valley we came to a winery named Bella Winery...beautiful winery in Italian I think.  It was at the end of the road.  I cannot tell you how gorgeous the setting for this winery is.  It is worth the drive on a sunny fall day! We were greeted by a beautiful sprawling lawn.  Adirondack  chairs with shawls thrown over the arms welcomed visitors to sit and visit over a bottle of wine.  It was enchanting.  In the early 2000 they dug a cave they now use as a tasting room, gift shop and dining room.  The Zins we tasted were $50+ a bottle...but with a small fee you were given the opportunity to sample their wonderful wines.  I see they have a bottle of late harvest Zinfandel for $25.  I assume this would be like ice wine in many ways.  It is 11% sugar content.

This is the type of thing we like to do.  It gives us a taste of the finer things in life...we've retired in style...and is affordable.  It is all a learning experience.   While we do not buy really expensive wine, we do know what good wine tastes like.

If you are in the market for a fine wine with a wonderful story behind it, I would suggest any wine that Bella Winery crafts.

So there you have...the story behind the wine.  Hopefully, you are building your own stories and sharing the wine that goes with it. 
Exploring Wine: The Culinary Institute of America's Guide to Wines of the WorldWe have eaten at the 
Culinary Institute of America several times.
It is an experience you should
not miss if you are
in the Napa Valley
The book is
published by the
Culinary Institute of America.
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Nov 13, 2010

Makeup Tip of the Week...Tinted Moisturizer My Way!

Youth Dew by Estee Lauder for Women 2.2 oz Eau de Parfum Spray (Unboxed)
Este Lauder Youth Dew?  I need some of that!
     Do you wear makeup every day?  I was just a little surprised at the question.  Really, I didn't think of my morning routine as "putting on make-up".  I have used a trick for years to arrive at the final destination in the face reconstruction part of my day.  I did not even realize that it made my face look a little made a good way!
     I discovered early on that makeup was very expensive.  Cheap cosmetics did not give good results and actually made my skin feel creepy and dirty.  So I began buying very expensive "foundation" as they so logically call that stuff with the color in it.  I have used Este Lauder with good results for several years.  The bottle of makeup you see at the right is such a good deal compared to what I pay at the local department! 
     I know, you can now buy tinted moisturizer from vendors.  But I prefer to do it my way.  Now here is the the moisturizer you would normally buy.  In the morning put a very small squirt of the makeup in your hand the with your moisturizer and mix them together. I think an all natural skin care product is a good choice for both the foundation and the moisturizer.  Remember, just enough makeup to tint the lotion.  You can use less or more depending on how "madeup" you need to look on that day.  (I don't waste the good stuff on a day when I wash and iron.)  Then apply the mixture like you would your moisturizer.  Wa have accomplished two thing with one simple step.  When I am going to be in the sun I even add a little sunscreen to the mixture.  If you do this you can tint your moisturizer with different shades of makeup if you want to do that.  This is such an inexpensive quick way to start the day.  The foundation may cost you more than cheap stuff but it will last FOREVER!  Add a small amount of mascara, lip gloss and you will look wonderful...every day.
     So for the woman that asked me Do you wear makeup every day? the answer is yes...I guess I do!  A friend told me today that it is our responsibility to keep America tube of lipstick at a time!  I am just doing my part!  :) 

PS I have to go now and order some of these products I have shown you today...I think I have been paying too much for good makeup...these prices are great!
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Nov 11, 2010

Road Test - Touchback Marker...Gray Hair Solutions

Remember that gray hair I was talking about the other day....well here is a quick solution for touching up be coloring you hair. Road Test - Touchback Marker

Park Model Life...Maintaining our home!

There are things that need to be done when we return from our summer home.  This little doll house (park model) needs some love and attention.  Part we do because we want to and part we do because the park requires it.  When we wash and wax the outside it is not because we want to...but we love it when it is nice and clean.
     No park wants the resort to turn into a mini-slum.  Making the residents wash, pull weeds and clean up is part of their plan to keep up appearances.  And, you know what, it really does work.  Even the oldest of the park model trailers look appealing when they are clean and shiny.
I really do live in a little 1987 Park Model!
     So this is what we did today.  We own a long handle chenille washing tool that will fit inside a bucket.  We also have a large bottle of car wash/wax.  We made a solution of this with hot water.  We washed, rinsed dried what we could reach, squeegeed the windows and our park model looked like a brand new 1982 model with a few hail dents...but still looked like brand new!!!  We are done for another year!  
     The beauty of a resort like this is there is always someone that will do these things for you for a small fee.  We have retired plumbers, electrician, builders and technology geniuses.   House keepers, window washing, even furnace repair people round out the list...if we have a problem there probably will be someone that can fix it.
     So how many calories to you suppose I burned today?  I even went for a long walk. Staying busy keep us mentally and physically happy too.   Gosh, I love this life.   Smile!

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Nov 9, 2010

Day of the Dead...Tucson's Way

Women dancing...faces painted white!
I think we have known about All Souls Day/Day of the Dead celebrations in communities in Mexico for many years.  The travel channel and National Geographic have images and stories about travelers going to remote places to eat and enjoy the company of people in a different country.  But little did we realize that we could experience these very things only a few miles from where we live here in Tucson.

Tucson is home to a very large Hispanic community and is just a little over an hours drive from the Mexican border.  The people bring a very different flavor to our city...different in that it is authentic and environmental.  This is not a "Mexican Restaurant on the corner" kind of place...a place that people have come to find a new life.  This is a place where the indigenous and Hispanic people lived long before the migration of northern Europeans and snow birds to the warm climate.  It is in many ways similar to visiting a more prosperous Mexico without ever going across the border.
Shops on 4th Street display traditional Day of the Dead collectibles.
Last night we drove to the University of Arizona district where the artsy 4th Street quietly became home to a procession the may have had up to 15,000 or more participants.  Many, many more lined the street to watch families walk by dressed in beautiful clothes with faces painted like skeletons.

This custom of celebrating death has been embraced by the Catholic church but actually dates back to 1800 BC when the indigenous people of Mexico began celebrating the "Day of the Dead."  Traditionally the celebration begins after midnight on October 31 at around 2:00 am when the families descend on cemeteries to clean graves and share food with the departed.  Because Mexico is a country of blended traditions, the Hispanic population has developed their own version of the prehistoric indigenous festival.  The All Souls Procession here in Tucson has borrowed from both celebrations.

It was not a "Mardi Gras" atmosphere in anyway.  But there was music, dancing and many types of puppets.  In a handout from San Antonio Missions National Park the tradition of making toys, especially puppets for children on this day was explained.
A thriving tradition of toy-making plays a central role in the Day of the Dead.  The popular skeleton puppet figure  may depict everyday subjects such as brides,and grooms, bicycle riders, or specific professions.
Living Puppet on Strings
...Who knows what makes skeleton toys funnier than toys that depict the living?  Maybe it's the surprise to the viewer of seeing the dead doing something lively and spirited that brings a chuckle to the most sober face.
Perhaps by making death more approachable through friendly images, like a dancing skeleton, people may begin to lose their fear of death at an early age and accept it as part of life.
The building of altars (offrenda) is a tradition practiced by many.  We see small altars in the front of homes as we drive through the countryside here in Arizona.  These altars usually display a picture of the deceased, brightly colored tissue paper with cut out designs, candles and perhaps food or items that symbolize the life of their loved one.  We actually saw one in the procession surrounded by what was probably family and friends.  
All forms of celebration denoted the act of remembering the departed loved ones.  A huge Aids Ribbon was carried by the gay community and other groups remember lives lost to violence and military deaths. Families pushed baby strollers and others carried pictures.  The procession wound it's way to the center of the city where the Grand Finale of Tucson's month long celebration was held.  We were one of the few that did not follow it to it's conclusion.  It was amazing!
I stopped and asked permission  to take a photo of a pair standing by the street.  I had to know...why do you do this?  The young couple said in unison, "For our lost family members".  I brought friends with us to see this event. We didn't quite believed what we were told about this unusual (in our world) procession until we heard the words come out of the couple's mouths.

Don't always be a tourist.  Blend in, participate, help.  Seeing yourself as a part of a community, even if you only stay for a part of the year, will give you a new perspective.  We are trying very hard to understand the city we come to live in for 6-7 month out of each year.  Tucson AZ is our other home.

We are coming to love this place more and more.  The culture of Tucson's people is becoming a part of our lives and we are richer for it.
Have a wonderful day.
I received this small book for children from my daughter on the day after we had attended the procession.  It is beautifully done with poetry in both English and Spanish.  It includes explanation about the tradition as well as how-to pages of things for children to do.  The Festival of Bones by Luis San Vicente.

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