Feb 29, 2012

Arizona Press Women: Hot After All These Years!

Arizona Press Women and me!

Arizona Women's Press Association
When a group of southern Arizona's Press Women gather at a table to discuss what is on their mind, you have a group of "hot" Baja Babes. The name says it all and you can get a feel for their skill at writing a "headline" that grabs you attention.   I sat at the table with retired freelance writers, newspaper editors and magazine writers along with working columnists and even a communications director for a local hospital. The majority of these women were beyond retirement but don't let that put you off.  Most of these women had minds like steel traps and a curiosity that would not stop.

Blogging falls outside all those paying jobs that keep writers employed so I was a bit of an odd ball in the group.  One retired couple stated that they both had come from a newspaper families.  Another talked about a book she had written on ghosts in Tucson that was out of print.  I love to talk about ghosts so that interested me.  The lady that sat next to me was 90+ and very blind.  But she gave me a lesson on ideas for things to write.  She pointed to a picture on the wall and said she could write a story about it in a heart beat.  So naturally the question asked of me was "What do you do?"  When I told them I earned a little money at blogging/writing the obvious question was how do you do that?  While most were computer savvy, they had not embraced writing for a blog as a way to be employed.  Writers like me still need to prove what we can do in a group like this.

Times have changed and these women had a hand in it.  They talked about their name, "Baja Babes".  When they chose the name several years ago, a member had objected on the basis that a "babe" was a fallen woman. The lady at the other end of the table observed; "After all, we are liberated women and we can call ourselves anything we want." For me, that answer resonated on so many levels.  We were the generation that saw the ERA amendment go down to defeat but embraced the hope that we could be seen as equal without having to become a man. I knew that newswomen and female writers had influenced the thinkers of that day. I left that luncheon with a sense of awe. Retirement, age, loss of sight and hearing did not keep these people away. They still felt the creative juices and each one was working on one project or another.

They paid for my lunch and invited me to join their group.  The Press Women organization does has some requirements for membership.  I feel a little timid about applying. I think you can see why.

Note:  The Arizona Press Women have just published a anthology.  Skirting Traditions: Arizona Women Writers and Journalists was published in honor of Arizona's centennial.  It was written by active members of the organization from around the state and at least one was sitting at that table with me.  I will read the book.  Eleanor Mattausch attended our luncheon and is one of the women featured in the book.  She said she is finally retired from her beloved Oracle, the monthly paper for Pinal County, and can now read all those books she has wanted to read.  I think she is 80.

Skirting Traditions is a history book, presented as a collection of short stories, moving forward from the beginning of statehood in 1912 to the modern day. Each story chronicles the life of a woman writer or journalist in Arizona who made a significant contribution to the history of the state, beginning with Sharlot Hall, who campaigned to have Arizona admitted to the Union as a separate state, and ending with Jana Bommersbach and Pam Knight Stevenson.
Skirting Tradition is available on Amazon.

Have a wonderful day.


Feb 28, 2012

The Smart Way to Conquer Your Vacation Letdown!

Do you have the urge to tell all your friends in detail about your wonderful vacation? Well you are not alone. Why do we do that?  I don't think it is because your friends are REALLY interested in that museum you visited...I think it is because we want avoid letting the adventure go. The letdown that follows a vacation of a lifetime can be huge. There are BETTER ways to fight that feeling than chasing our friends away.  How? This is what we do.

Isn't is wonderful that food can fix just about anything.  The sensory pleasure we get from great food becomes a memory that should not go away No matter where we travel we manage to come home with a new taste for the food of the country we visit.  On our recent trip to Vietnam we experiences the tastes of that country. Wonderful Pho (pronounced: faw) and fish curry dishes had flavors that made me swoon. Both of these dishes are ones that my friends at home would probably enjoy. This is what I do:
  • Bring the recipe home with you.  It never hurts to ask the restaurant or resort you are eating at for that favorite recipe.  On this trip I asked the resort for their fish curry dish recipe.  A couple of days later the recipe translated into English appeared in my room.  
  • Bring regional spices/condiments home as gifts to friends and use yourself.  We have always purchased spices.  In Spain the black pepper comes in large bags that you can purchase in street markets.  Saffron used in Paella can be found in grocery stores at a very reasonable price.  In Vietnam we bought the mixture of salt, pepper, garlic, etc. in jars.  This mixture appears on every dinner table.  We also bought star anise, black pepper.  We would have gotten the fish sauce but it appears that if it breaks in your luggage it will stink up the whole airplane up!  :)

  • Eh Ru (two-stringed Chinese fiddle, violin) more info
  • Recreate the food at home. This is the part that brings back so many memories. Last night I made a Pho with chicken for my husband and I. I will make this dish for friends in the near future. I prepared the fish curry a couple of weeks ago. We both smiled as the memories came flooding back. After visiting Thailand we learned to make Pad Thai.
I always try to make my way to a store or even knock off market to buy regional music.  I have cd's of Spanish guitar by the Pepe Romero, Thai music and the beautiful Chinese Er Hu songs.  I even found a Er Hu at the antique market and brought it home.  When I play the music I relive my vacation over and over.

I usually do not read travel books before I visit a country. I will read Lonely Planet as the adventure presents itself. My husband loves to read the travel stuff online and I let him feed it to me. I am more about the people from a country.  I love learning the culture but I am a bit lazy I think. If I am aware of some fiction I will read those before I go. However, when I get home I will read books about the country; fiction, documentary, travel. I relive that vacation while reading the words. It helps me get past the letdown.

When we returned from Spain I read Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain by Chris Stewart.  Stewart is a former British rock star turned expat living in the Spanish countryside. I loved the book because it helped me understand what I had seen and made me laugh. I will download Up Country: A Novel by Nelson DeMille on my Kindle very soon.  I am told that DeMille used his personal experiences in Vietnam when writing the book. It has been recommended to me by several people. I want to watch Good Morning Vietnam again too.

Back Home
Getting over that vacation letdown can be hard.  Fatigue, jetlag and emotional disconnect are going to happen.  But there is no reason why the experience has to die the minute we step off the plane.  Bring the vacation home with you to experience over and over.  

Feb 27, 2012

What do you do all day now that you're retired...try on wigs and drink wine?

I talked to my daughter yesterday and she asked ME what I had been doing. This is another one of those "what do you do all day?" questions that we retired people get all the time.  I drew a blank for a minute and then I remembered.  Oh, I have been doing things!  I was as surprised as she was.

This last week a friend had a "wig" party.  She has had a kidney transplant and the anti-rejection medication that she takes has caused her to lose her hair.  Another friend has alopecia which is a loss of hair that can be caused by several things.  She also has several wigs that she wears daily.  Let me add here that they are both very blond.

Katie moved her red convertible so we could use her car port!
So we gathered at Katie's house for an afternoon of talking and running around in Katie and Pat's blond wigs.  It was better than a trip to the spa or beauty salon.  At one time about 9 women had on blond wigs at the same time.  I don't know if this changes you personality or not but I do know that I had more fun than I usually do.  Maybe it is true that blonds have more fun.  I am hoping we can do something like this again...maybe make-overs or try on each other's clothes.  The door is open for suggestions.  Sometimes it is fun just to be silly.

Men play golf, horse shoes and pool.  I may be dating myself but it was a lot of fun to try on wigs, drink wine, eat snacks and tell hair stylist (bad hair day) stories.

Have a wonderful day.


Feb 26, 2012

How to stay healthy...Fight Fair, a short refresher course!

Angry Talk (Comic Style)Image via Wikipedia

I am in the mood to brush up on the rules for having a fair fight.  I just don't think there such a thing as a "good fight" so I avoid them at all cost.  But I know that it never hurts to take a refresher course.  Whether you are arguing with the cable guy or your significant other, the rules are about the same. You can just change the words and apply them to your frustrating situation.  It will work just fine.

How to have a brawl!
I am going to start at the end of the fight gone wrong just to get your attention.  You know, that is the part where both parties are frozen because the discussion has wandered off course.  The famous Dr. Phil call this part a free for all.  We all know that every disagreement triggers memories of other quarrels/frustrations that trigger memories of yet other quarrels and the cycle goes on and on.  In the end everyone has forgotten what made them so angry to begin with.  If you really want to have a brawl don't set any bounderies around the issue...wander all over everything, call each other names and walk away feeling frustrated and really ticked.  That is what I call a brawl.

Having said that, let's see if we can remember how to avoid a brawl in the living room.

What are the Rules?
Every "how to" list has a couple of things that puzzle you. I don't know about you guys but when we quarrel it is not a planned event. I don't get up in the morning and say to myself "I think I will make my husband really mad today so we can discuss dish doing." A fight happens because we become emotional over something and had not planned to. We can't remain task oriented because we don't know what the task is until we have the fight!  However, when I go to the bank to complain I know what I am going for.  That is different!

I happen to feel that the three items at the core of the list are the most important. These are the three that prevent that "free for all" I spoke about above. Surely every couple can remember 3 things.  Keeping it relevant, real and civilized. In other words stay on the subject, resist the temptation to relate this quarrel with another one long gone and don't go for the jugular.
  • Put a fence around the quarrel. (relevant)  In fact, if you can resist the temptation, wait until you actually know what it is that has made you angry. The talk about that.  
  • If you can't wait, get real...we often jump immediately to the symptom of the issue. Example:  The fact that the partner ate all the ice cream when you wanted some too may not be the issue.  In the heat of the moment you may not even realize why that makes you so angry. Then after you gather your wits you might be able to figure out what made you angry. Or you could even decide that the ice cream wasn't that important! In the end you will come to realize that you often deal with the symptom (a craving for ice cream) and don't actually ever solve the real problem.  
  • Don't act like a cavemen/women! Let's all remain civil and considerate. I have come to realize that it is not what we say in many cases. It is the tone of our voice. Character assassination is a mean and low form of verbal abuse. Remember phrases like "you always..."  "you are so selfish, thoughtless, dishonest, stupid when....", "this is just like that time you...."  don't help at all.  
Health issues and fighting fair.
Older people really are not different than young people. Our behavior remains the same only we become a more skilled both in good ways and in bad. Fighting fair at our age is more important than ever.  When my father had his first heart attack my mother said she never "crossed" him again. She was afraid that he might die. She was very wise. She knew that anger out of control is one of the most disabling emotions we possess. A website called Help Guide had this to say:
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but it’s unhealthy when it flares up all the time or spirals out of control. Chronic, explosive anger can have serious consequences for your relationships, your health, and your state of mind.
The words "explosive anger" relate back to knowing all the rules. According to the Help Guide there are mythes about anger that need to be dispelled.  It turns out that venting in anger is not a healthy thing at all and those that think "bullying" in anger gets them respect are very wrong. In fact, the opposite is true. Some people claim that they cannot help themselves when they lash out in anger in a destructive way. Actually, the anger is not the problem, it is how you respond when you get angry.  In fact, classes on anger management do not teach you not to become angry. They teach you to control your response.

If you or someone you know has this problem you can read what an expert has to say over at Help Guide.  Tips AND TECHNIQUES FOR GETTING ANGER UNDER CONTROL is an article we could all benefit from.

Lets review:
Just like a game of basketball. life has rules.  That is how we manage to live on the face of this earth.  Playing fair is not only good for our relationships with others...it is good for our health. There you have it!

Have a wonderful day.


Feb 23, 2012

New York Times: Why do people confess when they are innocent?

New York Times article
I know I have told you this before, but I am guilty.  If a policeman came to my door and asked about a robbery in the neighborhood, I would confess.  In fact I would probably confess before he asked about the crime.  I don't know why but a police officer approaching my car door in a speed trap just scares me to death.  I have gotten a big ticket and had insurance premiums go up because I could not defend myself against the accusation...even if I was really sorta innocent, new to town or just going with the flow of traffic.  Darn.

When I read this article in the the NYTs about a teen that confessed because he was feeling threatened I could relate to how the young man felt.  Guilt can be a great motivator.   Do you think that guilt pushes us more than we care to admit?  Do we do things for others, attend church and lavish gifts on our family because on some level we feel guilty for our good fortune?  It could be.

It is just a thought!


Feb 22, 2012

How hard would it be to fill your spouses shoes!

Do you remember the children's story about the farmer that thought that his wife had it so easy because she did not have to go out into the fields and work? As I recall, when she called his bluff, and let him stay at home with the baby and the goat, the garden was destroyed and the wife came home to find the goat dangling from a roped down the chimney. I don't remember what happened to the baby.

Well we really do think those things. Husbands have the idea that they could cook just as good as the wife and just the right amount of salt would be on the chicken, there would be bread on the table and he could have gravy every night. The wife thinks that all those "honey do's" are not getting done because the husband is a bit lazy and not because he knows how much work they involve.

So how hard would it be to fill your spouses shoes? Could you do the taxes, hang the new venetian blinds and keep the goat from falling down the chimney?

Why am I thinking about this? WELL, my dear husband has been putting the plumbing in so we can have our very own wash machine here in our park model. I will not have to use the laundry room anymore. And while we were at Home Depot to buy 2 1/2 drain pipe and 1/2 water pipe plus all the fitting necessary to do the job I bought 4 new venetian blinds for the front of our park model. The fact that he even helped me buy the blinds is amazing. The dear man has been trying to fit all these chores into an already busy "winter golfing vacation" schedule. So I offered to shorten the one blind he has installed in spare minutes between digging, plumbing and scratching his head.

My husband always makes these household maintenance jobs look so easy. I was thinking how hard could it be to shorten the blinds. After all there are instructions and everything. I wanted to help him out in some way.  Actually I was beginning to feel a little guilty. And it's not like it is brain surgery. I thought any idiot could do it. It turns out it is hard....just plain hard. Two hand are not enough. There are plugs and strings and slats and ladder strings and a tiny pulley with an axle the size of a needle and 1/4 inch long. It took me all morning to shorten one blind.

The truth is that the longer we are married the more in awe of what this man can do I am. While I know that he would consider it the worst punishment in the world to spend eternity setting toilets and digging for sewer lines, he does it and makes it look easy. To answer my own question, no one could fill his shoes. I know I would not even know where to begin when it comes to doing what he does.

Have a wonderful day.


Feb 20, 2012

What do you do all day when you are retired?

Bocci Sunshine!
When we first retired, people that were almost retired would ask us what we did all day.  Our answer was simply "What we want!".  It was all so carefree and effortless.  Just the idea that we did not work at a job from 9-5 and still got paid left us feeling euphoric.  It was so great.

Fifteen years later we can only wonder when we had time to work.  Retirement is taking up all of our time and if we had to work again we would starve to death because our schedule is full to the brim.  This week has been amazing:

  • We tore the inside of the shed apart and cleaned it so we could put a washer and dryer in.
  • I watched my husband search for the sewer line to hook the washer up to...he could have buried me standing up in a couple of places.  He worked really hard.  
  • He found sewer line 4 inches down near the corner of the park model...I sorta helped him find it.
  • Danced in the back yard because I was happy.
  • We talked about the sewer line a lot.
  • We went to happy hour so we could share about the sewer line.
  • I attended a Arizona Press Women's luncheon.  Will write about that soon.  The next week has some open spots for me to write.
  • We attended a bocci ball meeting with a few other people.
  • I helped write up bocci ball newsletter.  (This is why I am so busy...I cannot resist the temptation to open my mouth and give my opinions.)
  • I made a poster for Bocci Ball meeting.
  • I attended an informational meeting for Canadian Snow Birds so I could write about their legal issues while in the United States.
  • We went to Home Depot and bought pipe for the sewer line.  Picked up new blinds for our living room area.  Our time is precious so we didn't want to make another trip.
  • I insisted we fill out credit card application to get 10% off Home Depot purchase.  (I will destroy card when we receive it.) There is an hour we will never get back again.  
  • I wrote several posts, took care of payment for posts.
  • I answered an email question about real estate here in Tucson and specific location after some research.
  • Read a book and started another.
So there you have it.  What do we do all day?  It doesn't seem very important...just a lot of nitty gritty stuff.  But here we are at the end of another day...ready for happy hour, salmon for dinner and it is Monday night so TV is my friend.

Have a wonderful day.


Feb 18, 2012

What is a GOOD day? Have you forgotten?

Image from One Kings Lane
Yesterday I talked with a friend as I came out of our RV park laundry room.  I was washing, drying, folding and schlepping detergent between my park model and that room several blocks away.  He was riding his bicycle around bemoaning a day on the golf course.

"How are you doing?" I asked in that rhetorical way.
"Oh, I'm OK," he replied sounding as though he might cry.
"Are you having a problem?" thinking I should be worried.
"Oh, I just returned from a round of golf and I didn't play good today." was his answer.

I squinted my eyes in that way I have of doing and thought what is wrong with this picture?  I'm a golfer and I understand how the game can hurt your feelings and your ego and even your back.  But I want a sticker for my car that says "The worst day spent golfing is better than the best day doing anything else."

So the questions are Have we forgotten how to be happy? What is a good day? Do we overlook the beautiful day and our good fortune and search for a negative to focus on?  Let me know what you think.


Feb 17, 2012

Life Insurance Guide 2012 Why Life Insurance at our age???

Life Insurance Tips 
When my mother was in her early eighties we talked with her financial planner about purchasing a life insurance policy. Believe it or not, even a widow at her age (82) needed some life insurance protection. Not because there was anyone left that would be dependent upon her for support after her death but because this was a very good way to protect her money from all those people that wanted to get their hands on it after she was gone. By protecting her money she also guarantee that any outstanding debts she had was paid off (think home mortgage or any credit card debt). So yesterday when I was contacted by an insurance company representative with information on insurance policies I sat up and paid attention. As a quick review, here are some choices available to you:
Life Insurance Guide 2012   
Life insurance is a critical component of any financial plan and ensuring that you have the right kind of coverage is important. Without having the right kind of life insurance, you cannot be sure that your family will be taken care of if you pass away unexpectedly. When engaging in financial planning, keep these life insurance tips in mind.

Decide if You Want Cash Value 
When you're in the market for a new life insurance policy, you have to determine whether you want your policy to have a cash value. Term life insurance only provides a death benefit for a specific number of years. By comparison, whole life insurance gives you a death benefit and a growing cash value.

Some people do not want a cash value and would rather save money on premiums. Instead of paying extra money to get a cash value, you could just as easily invest that money on your own and earn more money over time. However, if you are not disciplined enough to make yourself set aside money every month, using a whole life insurance policy can be a decent investment.

Get Enough Coverage 
When it comes to choosing a life insurance policy, you also have to make sure that you have enough coverage. Many people who buy life insurance policies are under-insured and do not have enough coverage to adequately protect their families. You need to at least have enough money to pay off all of your outstanding debts and provide your family with a little cash. For example, if you have a mortgage, student loans, credit cards and an auto loan, add up all of the debts that you have. Then add an amount on top of the debt so that your family will have enough money to pay your final expenses and have some left over. The face value of the policy is ultimately the amount that your beneficiary will receive when you pass away.

Company Quality
When choosing a life insurance policy, you should also look at the quality of the company that is offering it to you. Try to find a company that is reputable in the industry and has a good history of paying claims. If an insurance company goes out of business, it will not be able to honor your life insurance policy. Make sure that you choose one of the best insurance companies in the industry to work with.
Decide if You Want Cash Value   
When you're in the market for a new life insurance policy, you have to determine whether you want your policy to have a cash value. Term life insurance only provides a death benefit for a specific number of years. By comparison, whole life insurance gives you a death benefit and a growing cash value.  
Some people do not want a cash value and would rather save money on premiums. Instead of paying extra money to get a cash value, you could just as easily invest that money on your own and earn more money over time. However, if you are not disciplined enough to make yourself set aside money every month, using a whole life insurance policy can be a decent investment.  
Get Enough Coverage
When it comes to choosing a life insurance policy, you also have to make sure that you have enough coverage. Many people who buy life insurance policies are under-insured and do not have enough coverage to adequately protect their families. You need to at least have enough money to pay off all of your outstanding debts and provide your family with a little cash. For example, if you have a mortgage, student loans, credit cards and an auto loan, add up all of the debts that you have. Then add an amount on top of the debt so that your family will have enough money to pay your final expenses and have some left over. The face value of the policy is ultimately the amount that your beneficiary will receive when you pass away. 
Company Quality 
When choosing a life insurance policy, you should also look at the quality of the company that is offering it to you. Try to find a company that is reputable in the industry and has a good history of paying claims. If an insurance company goes out of business, it will not be able to honor your life insurance policy. Make sure that you choose one of the best insurance companies in the industry to work with.
The information was a reminder that taking care of business when it comes to our financial planning and life insurance is more important than ever.  Just remember, even though you are financially able to live the life style you are living now, your children could lose a great deal if your insurance does not cover the mortgage payment at your death.  We are all well aware that getting property sold can be a problem.  As for the credit card company I don't even want to go there.



Feb 15, 2012

Warning! Email Scam on the Move...again!

Don't do that!
Don't re-enter your personal information.

Let me say this again...your email server will not will not will not ask you to re-enter your personal information. If you get an email saying that your server (YAHOO, GOOGLE, fiddleBOMB, DIDDLYWINKS, etc, etc.) wants you to re-enter your information threatening that your service will be terminated, it is a scam!!! Do not re-enter your personal information.

It will look like this:

HTML info

Note that the word "information" is misspelled and says "infomation" in the email address. Your service will not be denied! A friend had this happen this week and actually sent this very official looking address her password, user name etc. That allowed this SCAM to access her email address box. Every person on that list got an email requesting money saying she had been kidnapped in Spain. This is the second friend I have had this happen to.

Do not answer these email, report them as spam. You email server will not ask for this information. If you have responded to this warn, friends, change you password and user name. Sigh!!!

Did I get one of these requests??? Well yes I did and I put it in spam and reported it. I was so tempted to respond saying, "You're kidding...right?" but is resisted the impulse.



Feb 14, 2012

It's a Small World...Vietnam, Groupon and me!

Image representing One Kings Lane as depicted ...Image via CrunchBase
Thought #1
FYI:  One Kings Lane is a website very much 
like your Tuesday Morning 
Store only more beautiful.(If you want to join
 send me your email address to Orencoopinions@gmail.com 
and I will send you an invitation. 
 You will get the $15 discount.)

Good Morning World
I don't wake up by hitting the floor running.  My mind requires a cup of coffee or two. When my feet finally carried me out of bed this rainy morning, my mind went for a stroll dragging the rest of me along behind. Glasses on and robe wrapped tight I stumbled to my kitchen. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the wrapping from an item I purchased from One Kings Lane.  I had purchased a duvet using my $15 discount I received when I signed up for the website.  The wrapping was so classy I have let it stay on my computer desk for a few days.  That is where my mind took a u-turn.  I had no idea we were going to write about this today. 

My Thought Process...sorry
So did you know that the wife of Groupon's founder, Andrew Mason, is one of the owners of One Kings Lane. You can see why I would know this...shopping and daily deals all in one family always catches my interest. (You can watch Andrew Mason's interview on 60 Minutes where this fact is revealed.)
Trekking with Sue Mae
The One Kings Lane wrapping reminded me of some people we met in passing while we were in Vietnam. I know, it is as if I were the mouse that found a cookie and needed a glass of milk.  A lot of my days are like that.

The Stream of Consciousness
We were on Phu Quoc located in the Sea of Thailand for over a week.  The weather is tropical and the landscape is lush.  Every evening as the sun set our hosts at Cassia Cottages would serve cocktail hour.  One evening while we were there during the Christmas holiday they held a cocktail hour by the pool and all the guest were invited. They served beautiful food and wine.  A small intimate group gathered to visit as the shadows grew long.

Isn't it funny that when you travel you are somehow attracted to people from your own country?  I suppose that is why we spent so much time with David and Amy Goldman. The Goldmans were a young couple from the Illinois, United States traveling around the world with two children.  They had just sold a business and were taking a year off to travel.  Their children were learning geography first hand and doing their school work on the fly.  The Goldmans had spent time in Shanghai where they had dinner with a former teacher of their teen daughter.  This teacher has worked for Shanghai American Schools for ten years.  When they discovered that my son and daughter-in-law work for Shanghai American School, Amy Goldman wanted to know if my son and his wife were acquainted with the teacher.  Well, now that you mention it, they were. Oh my gosh...Shanghai is the largest city in the world!!! Incidentally my daughter-in-law was raised in Illinois.

Sue Mae and me
I listened as Amanda (a former middle school math teacher) gave Maya, the Goldman's teen daughter, a short algebra/technology lesson on the patio.  This is what Amy Goldman had to say in her blog post called Another Small World Story:
Furthermore, Amanda used to teach eighth grade math and was very pleased to be able to give Maya an algebra pep talk in the way that only a math teacher could do. “You’re solving linear systems using eliminations? I LOVE eliminations!” You will all be happy to know that after Amanda’s motivational speech, Maya took her quiz and received 100%. Good job Maya and thank you Amanda.
But the connection did not stop there. The Goldmans had also been to Sapa in northern Vietnam earlier and trekked with the guide we had used. Her name was Sue Mae. Actually Sue Mae mentioned this very family to my daughter-in-law because of their round the world year. This small Hmong woman dreamed of doing that herself one day.

David Goldman also mentioned that a relative was one of the people involved in Groupon (ahhh, here is the cookie and the mouse part).  So there you have the connection to One Kings Road.  It turns out they call it six point of separation for a reason.  It could be that we are all connected to a shopping website like Groupon in some way.  Those of us that love a good deals are certainly hoping so. Seriously, I love it when real people touch our lives in small ways yet that connection spreads out like the rings a pebble makes when it hits the water.

You can read the post Amy Goldman's post about our chance encounter at Another Small World Story. (They even have a picture, with my son, my daughter-in-law and I.)

God Speed Goldman family.  Give my best to the rest of your family.  :) I hope you are still loving your life on the road.


Feb 12, 2012

How Female Bloggers Differ from Male Bloggers!

Barbara, author of Retire In Style Blog
I have always wondered if women read women blogs and men read men blogs?   This is only my opinions but it seems to me that there is a great difference in the subjects we write about.  Is that really true or is it just me?

When I began blogging, women had their own web sites, blog logs and mommy blogger were everywhere talking about diapers, bad teachers and stuff their husband did that annoyed them.  I joined Blogher and Blogsbywomen so I could get a feel for what was out there.  Eventually I settled on prompt website like Friday Island, Carry on Tuesday and Sunday Scribblings.  Both men and women used these sites.  It was really a very genderless world. Poetry and fiction lived in that blogging world.

After I moved over to this blog with retirements issues and interests on my mind, I began to see a real difference.  Here boomers, financial advisers and people seeking information on retirement mingle freely.  However, if the author of the blog is a man the difference is noticeable.  While women are concerned about frugality in retirement, their need for keeping it simple is reflected in the nitty gritty of everyday life.  Men bloggers, on the other hand, talked about travel details, financial matters and visits with financial advisers. They spend a certain amount of time talking about hobbies, volunteer work and family. That works to make them real in every one's eyes.  Blogs are about appeal to the reader after all, especially if the author is running a money making blog.

One woman blogger I know has a separate twitter page for her Red Hat group.  Others, like me, like style, chick flicks/books and discussions on face cream.  Like me they subscribe to Fab Over Fifty and keep track of the latest styles in clothing and hair styles.  We even have opinions on what looks good on other people.  We read Grandparents.com and BlogHer. Many retired women spend a great deal of time talking about spirituality and their church affilliations. Retirement has not changed us much.

On the other hand, women like me are very interested in the men's point of view and people like Bob Lowry over at Satisfying Retirement gets many comments from women.  Personally I like Bob's blog and books that he would find interesting.  I just finished reading Steve Job's biography and keep Malcolm Gladwell's books close at hand.  But I also read a lot of books aimed at women.  For example:
  1. Best Staged PlansClair Cook
  2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel, Mary Ann Shaffer
  3. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel, Jamie Ford
  4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
  5. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  6. Tinkers, Paul Harding
  7. All Ann Tyler Books
There are books that might appeal to both sexes that I have enjoyed.  Here are just a few:
  1. The Girl Who Kicked the Dragon's Nest, Stieg Larsson
  2. The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium Trilogy), Stieg Larsson
  3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy), Stieg Larsson
  4. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
  5. Coal Black Horse, Robert Olmstead
  6. The Lincoln Lawyer: A Novel (Mickey Haller),  Michael Connelly
  7. Building a Satisfying Retirement, Bob Lowry
  8. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West (Kindle Edition), Stephen Ambrose
Blogging is a personal pursuit with an eye to keeping people's interest no matter their sex.  I do get a few men to come over when I write a financial blog.  I like that a lot.  But my world is not a man's world so my posts are very different from those posted by a man. In fact, the majority of almost 50  of my followers are women.  And that is a good thing or at least I think so. I am not particularly interested in the sports page or too much news. However, I do know about sports and I have to attribute that to osmosis resulting from living with a man that loves sports.  I read the front page of the New York Times online, and watch local/national news in the evenings.  It works for me. I can carry on a decent conversation about politics and make reference to current events in posts.  Hopefully, I can straddle the line and attract men to be readers occasionally.  In the end though, I am a woman blogger and I cannot change that.

I am very interested your take on this blogging life.  Leave a comment and share your ideas.  How are we different and how are we the same?

Have a wonderful day. 

Oh, by the way, just when I think I have everyone stuffed in their little boxes, my husband comes to me with a website on hair styling.  He was just looking at it and thought I might be interested.  Go figure!!!

Feb 11, 2012

When the Tail Wags the Dog...aging in an RV Resort

My daughter commented once that coming to this 55+ RV resort is a bit like going to live in a college dorm.  We are from diverse backgrounds and just meeting for the first time.  That really is true.  I like that a lot.

The resemblances to a school setting does not end there though.  There are rules, financial matter to be considered and the emotional issues related to aging. We try to make our lives fit into the setting because we realize that a wonderful resort like this has to maintain guidelines or we would be living in a big mess.    And a community of experiences seniors can be very hard to control.  Having said this I need to vent just a bit.  I know you won't mind.
Childhood Sweethearts still love dancing
after 51 years of marriage!
I know you have heard the phrase "the tail is wagging the dog".  The dictionary describes this idiom as "a situation where a small part is controlling the whole of something."  In education it was the financial manager and the school bus service wagging the classroom teachers.  I actually had a school financial officer tell me where I could place art on the walls.  As for the bus schedule, the schedule for those monster yellow buses really has nothing to do with the needs of children large and small.  Yet our day was built around their hours of operation.  Here in our 55+ RV Resort we are a bit like those children. The cookie cutter machine did not make us all the same.

In an RV resort or any 55+ community the residence are very dependent on social occasion like dances, coffee hours and concert.  It is part of what we love about being surrounds by age mates.  When we have a dinner/dance event for example,  the parks will take into account that seniors do have some special needs.  Diet, physical ability, marital status, money and simply getting old can limit community members participation.  Either the cost is reduced or people are allowed to buy separate tickets, one for dinner and one for dancing.  It turns out it is a bookkeepers nightmare.

In our particular case, we are not going to our Valentine Dance.  The option is for just one ticket that includes dinner and dancing.  The event is not over priced but I have a health issue and cannot eat what they have on the menu.  If you are living in a community like this, you will understand.  We need to always keep in mind that we are renters and our landlord runs a big business. Spread sheets don't have faces or special needs along side the numbers.  The tail is wagging the dog...the financial difficulties control our lives.

Is it the principal of the thing?  Well not really.  Valentines Day is and always has been special for my husband and I.  Cooking at home does not have "Valentines Day" written all over it.  All I want is a nice dinner out at restaurant that can cater to my dietary needs and a few dances with my husband amid our friends at a price we can afford.  In this particular case, "tails" win!


Feb 8, 2012

Safety and Common Sense

Did you know that Steve Jobs did not have a license plate on his car? When asked why he said that people followed him sometimes and if they got his license plate number they could find out where he lived. Even Steve Jobs had safety issues.
Vietnam Vacation...no worries?

We all know that we need to have a license plate on our car. It is the law and common sense tells us that if we want to protect our car from thieves, police need to be able to identify it in rush hour traffic. The lesson is that we need to think about and take logical steps to keep our belongings and ourselves safe.

Keeping Our Home Secure
A life style that does not follow the normal patterns has some unique issue and we wonder; how do I keep my home safe when I am gone and myself safe when I am at home? I don't want to worry about my home and safety ever. I especially don't want it weighing on my mind when I am vacationing. I am well aware that even those of us that don't have a lot of valuable things should be concerned about intruders in our homes.  The feeling of helplessness left behind by a home invasion or even the worry about an intruder tells us that this is the place where we need to spend a little time and money to keep it from ever happening. I suggest:

1.     Technology can be your friend.  I have a family member that leaves her computer camera open when she is gone. If you think that someone may be using your home as a motel and stealing a few items while they are at it, this may be the perfect choice for you.  Home security systems can help with this too. You can even use your smart phone/iphone to control your system when you are far away.
2.    If you recently moved, be sure that your locks are changed.  Extra keys can be your undoing.
3.    Keep your house locked at all time when you are not at home, especially back or side doors. Thieves don't mind the daylight as much as we think they do.
4.    If you are leaving for an extended period of time, be sure the neighbors are aware.  I have visions of a moving van pulling up and taking everything.  In my worst nightmare the neighbors offer them coffee and lunch.
5.    Stop the paper and have mail forwarded...this is such a commonly held knowledge but you would be surprised how many people (including me) neglect to do this.  I had a postal carrier steal items from my stacked up mail.
6.    Leave the window coverings in a semi-normal position.  While we don't like people peaking in, drawn blinds screams "no one is at home".
7.    Move any really valuable items that might be visible from windows when you are gone.  Hide the computer.  When we are home, windows that show valuable things are kept closed at night.
8.    Take advantage of technology.  Be sure you are safe in your home when you are there and your home is safe when you are not.  So one last way to obviously help protect you and your home is with a home security system through companies like ADT.

Just a thought.


Feb 7, 2012

Building a Satisfying Retirement by Bob Lowry (book review)

When I read book I like,  I can hardly wait to tell you all about it.  I never write about I book I don't like because I will never finish what does not interest me.  I'm funny that way.  So, because I want to tell you about Building a Satisfying Retirement by Bob Lowry, you know right away that this small book was good.
Lowry writes a blog called Satisfying Retirement. 
Bob Lowry is a very interesting man.  He and his wife retired when his wife was 48 and he was 52.  It was soon after the climate following 9/11 made it very clear that remaining in business was becoming impossible. They were 10 years away from their retirement goals at that time.  He and his wife have been featured on CNNMoney in an article called Live well on less: 6 ways to save in Retirement. The CNN article gave the background information not available in the book.  I thought it was especially telling when they pointed out that the Lowry's did not retire without a nest egg. It is important to understand where they were financially before they began the Satisfying Retirement lifestyle:
With $850,000 saved, they were short of their $1.2 million target. To retire a decade earlier than planned, they calculated that they needed to live on $45,000 a year, less than a third of their $150,000 income.
Building a Satisfying Retirement 
This book is one of those books that makes you feel that retirement is possible if you are willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary.  Lowry wrote the book in the first person taking the reader step by step through three steps that lead to the stability of retirement and then explains how you can shape you life once the euphoria has lifted.

I was especially interested in the financial section of the book.  "Building Financial Peace of Mind" asks you some pertinent questions...
  1. When do I want to stop working? 
  2. Is my financial house in order?
  3. How are my health and my health coverage?
  4. Do I want to work after retirement?
I loved the quote "A goal without a timetable is just a wish list."  He does not give you a financial formula...you need to find that yourself or consult an expert...but he does give you all the things to consider when you plan for retirement.  I think you will find some very important reminders about what the reality of retirement is.  His point is that if you are not financial sound and can live on what you have, you will not be as happy as you should be.  Then he will help you wrap your mind around what that means.

The section on creativity resonated with me.  His words were inspiring.  "Creativity - a Must for a Satisfying Retirement"  He said "[creativity] does not have to be anything to do with painting, writing sculpting, or any of the things we usually think of as being creative.  Rather it is seeing the familiar in a different light."  If you are one of those people that think "bored" is an okay place to be, you need to read this chapter.  It may let you see yourself in a new light.

Other chapters included suggestions for building a stronger relationship with your partner, living simply, using time management and working after retirement.

It is so refreshing to read a book or blog about successful retirement by someone that is actually walking the talk.  Bob tells you about what he knows for sure.  He is well read, articulate and above all interesting.  Building a Satisfying Retirement is available on Amazon for $3.99 in ebook form.
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Feb 5, 2012

5 Conversation Starters with Your Children...help me make a list.

Mexico 10 years ago - time passes quickly!
I have recovered from a cold recently.  My husband and I just returned from China.  We are living in park model 1600 miles from home.  We are talking about driving into Mexico to Guaymas. I am 70 and my husband is 74.  We are very active retired teachers.  Yet, when I feel ill, I begin to worry about a time when I will feel bad and won't get better.

Time is passing faster than we care to admit.  The time for bonding with our children on that level where they may be asked to really help us and not just offer helpful advice is coming.  We need to pave the way for a smooth transition when that time comes.  It has occurred to me that I need to find out what they think. So I am thinking about some questions that I can ask that will help our family when that time comes.

There will be 5 and only 5 questions.  Rule # 1:  Don't ask all of these questions on the same day.  I want information not a family feud!
  1. If we don't tell you, how will you know when we cannot manage our finances?
  2. Can you describe the place your father and I will live in when we cannot live independently. The answer for this cannot include any labels like "nursing home" or "assisted living" even though the description may fit those places.
  3. How will you handle "traveling problems" if they should occur? This may include a discussion about whether we should even drive.
  4. Which of you will be in charge when the time comes for life changing decisions?  Can you work together?
  5. How will you help us live independently?  
My husband and I are living a wonderful life.  We always try to create an image of successful aging.  I can see that my children may not recognize that we are going to need help.  I know this list needs to be longer but maybe just asking a few simply questions will open the door for the dialogue.  The unasked question is always "How will you even find time to help us?" but then that is for another day.   If you have suggestions, please tell me.  We need to begin compiling a list of helpful conversation starters with our children on this subject.


Note: I need for you to understand that asking too many questions is not good.  Children mistake a parent that is trying to get attention by asking how to run the thermostat or the TV controller as a sign that the parent is losing their mind!  Really people, don't do that.  Independence falls away when we begin craving more attention. If you want more attention just tell them so and make arrangements that will satisfy your needs.  Children cannot read your mind.  This post is not about that kind of help/questions.

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