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Joe B. Parks; ex-legislator was rhododendron expert – The Boston Globe April 9, 2010

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Joe B. Parks; ex-legislator was rhododendron expert – The Boston Globe

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J.O.E. = Just Out Exploring April 2, 2010

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Joe B. Parks. Can I write that louder? JOE B. PARKS! Our friend and mentor. Dear Joe, Ageless Dreamer and you go together like the soil and the seed. Rhododendrums, Rododendroms, Roadadendrums — it didn’t matter how we spelled them it just mattered that we understood them. And, oh, how we tried. Sensitive, impressive, and hardy — that’s how we felt about Joe and that’s what we learned about the breed you treasured so much. The Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Public Gardens shout your name, express the thrill of your touch, and hear your whispering words of wisdom of how best to care for this natural blessing that you bestowed on us.

Joe, you lived life out loud and full…right up to the end. You inspired gentle hands to risk the cool feeling of fresh, cool soil, unexpectedly touching a smooth, unsuspecting worm aching to remain in the fragrant, richness of nature you created. You knew how to take a subtle piece of rocky art, tuck it amongst your abundance of glory and stop a visitor, like me, in my tracks…in awe…wondering how many flowers I let slip away. Stop and smell the roses. Did you write that, my friend?

The deer behind your magical gardens some how knew why you built the fence that kept them out. Somehow they understood that you had a much bigger purpose than feeding them. They understood you, Joe. They were part of nature, just as you were and are. Each fragrant flower on the bush, each leaf, each butterfly, each bumble bee…they feel your love and will help the rest of us remember you…forever and a day. You’ve helped dreams come true for many of us and we’ll miss you. From one ageless dreamer to another.

Brownies and Whipped Cream February 23, 2010

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One day I had a date with friends for lunch. Mae, a little old “blue hair” about 80 years old, came along with them—all in all, a pleasant bunch.
When the menus were presented, we ordered salads, sandwiches, and soups, except for Mae who said, “Ice Cream, please. Two scoops, chocolate.”

I wasn’t sure my ears heard right, and the others were aghast. “Along with heated apple pie,” Mae added, completely unabashed.
We tried to act quite nonchalant, as if people did this all the time. But when our orders were brought out, I didn’t enjoy mine.
I couldn’t take my eyes off Mae as her pie a-la-mode went down. The other ladies showed dismay. They ate their lunches silently and frowned.

The next time I went out to eat, I called and invited Mae. I lunched on white meat tuna. She ordered a parfait.
I smiled. She asked if she amused me.
I answ ered, “Yes, you do, but also you confuse me.

How come you order rich desserts, while I feel I must be sensible? She laughed and said, with wanton mirth, “I’m tasting all that is Possible.

I try to eat the food I need, and do the things I should.. But life’s so short, my friend, I hate missing out on something good.
This year I realized how old I was. (She grinned) I haven’t been this old before.”
“So, before I die, I’ve got to try those things that for years I had ignored.
I haven’t smelled all the flowers yet.. There are too many books I haven’t read. There’s more fudge sundaes to wolf down and kites to be flown overhead.

There are many malls I haven’t shopped. I’ve not laughed at all the joke s. I’ve missed a lot of Broadway hits and potato chips and cokes.
I want to wade again in water and feel ocean spray on my face. I want to sit i n a country church once more and thank God for His grace.
I want peanut butter every day spread on my morning toast. I want un-timed long distance calls to the folks I love the most.

I haven’t cried at all the movies yet, or walked in the morning rain. I need to feel wind in my hair. I want to fall in love again.
So, if I choose to have dessert, instead of having dinner, then should I die before night fall, I’d say I died a winner, because I missed out on nothing. I filled my heart’s desire. I had that final chocolate mousse before my life expired.”

With that, I called the waitress over.. “I’ve changed my mind, ” I said. “I want what she is having, only add some more whipped cream!”

Remember When Most Homes Had Only ONE Bathroom? February 20, 2010

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Born and raised in Massachusetts, I was the middle child of five daughters. No brothers. Oh, did I tell you there was only one – yes, one – bathroom in the house? I’m sharing that with you because maybe it’ll help explain why I’ve always been a dreamer. Maybe I was dreaming of having more than one bathroom.

As Founder of a non profit organization, Ageless Dreamer, I immersed myself in encouraging our oldest generation to dream out loud. The idea came to me ten years ago when I went to the mailbox and received my first invitation to AARP. I circular filed it, of course, but realized that I was about to cross into someplace that I’d never been. Then I noticed, as I walked the sidewalks of the town in New Hampshire where we live, that there weren’t many old folks walking around. Where were they? And I began to notice that when I drove by assisted living or nursing home, or other similar places, that I didn’t even turn my head to look.

My husband and I started visiting these places and after a few months realized something very important: It didn’t matter if someone lived in the least expensive or most expensive senior living arrangement, if no one knocked on your door to visit and share stories, then stories and dreams were left untold. Constipated, if you will.

AARP doesn’t give up easily, so once again when I went to the mail box, a second invitation arrived which I also proceeded to recycle. But this time as I threw it into the blue plastic bin, I declared: I’m not an AARP-er. I am an ageless dreamer. The rest is history. You can learn more about that on the website: http://www.AgelessDreamer.org

This book is about stories of our oldest generation who are living and ageing successfully at home. It’s about our own futures and the lessons we can learn on how we can remain in our own homes as we age. Planning for that is important, both from a financial perspective, and a well being perspective. They’ll certainly be other options for many people, but this one option of ageing at home, is the one I’ll be capturing through stories shared with me.

With the 100 year old being the fastest growing demographic today, it’s very likely that the vast majority of Baby Boomers will grow to be part of that demographic. The wisdom, knowledge, and talents of today’s elders – also known as the Greatest Generation – will provide inspiration and insight into what we have to look forward to.

If you know someone who’s part of the oldest generation who’s successfully ageing at home and would like to share the story in this book or future ones, please send it to me at lauriewidmark@comcast.net. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Sticker Shock at Sixty February 14, 2010

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I’ve realized that the majority of my friends – actually, all except one – have lost both their parents. I’m blessed to still have both of mine – Dad is 91 and Mom is 87. And I’m turning sixty. How did that happen?

Dad retired early at the age of 62 because two of his younger siblings had died unexpectedly. He figured he didn’t have much time left so he best go out and enjoy it. Needless to say, almost 30 years later and both he and Mom are doing well health wise. But their financial health is very poor and isn’t improving. And now I’m getting close to his retirement age and something doesn’t feel right.

I remember growing up and hearing frequently from my father that his supervisors and others making a decent wage were “educated dumbbells”. Right now, some of those “educated dumbbells”— his daughters and spouses — have been helping to keep them safe on their tiny financial island. But, for my siblings who’ve been helping them out, the well has dried up since the recession began. The real estate market, which is the business my husband and I work in, has become less than lucrative – actually it feels more like a non-for-profit. Questions are starting to creep into our minds: What will happen to my parents? What will happen to our own retirement? What will happen to our plans to travel this great country in our motor home?

Never in a million years did I imagine that I would have to be concerned for my parents. When raising our own families, we dreamed of the empty nest with open arms. We looked forward to having time to do “our own thing” with the adult children off doing theirs, raising wonderful grandchildren for us to enjoy. And now I’m writing a book about the shock of being inside something predicted a dozen years ago: the Sandwich Generation.

Squished. I’ll say it again: How did that happen? And what in the world are we to do about it? Why does it feel like something is wrong with this picture? Why am I feeling guilty, ungrateful, and selfish writing these words down on paper where someone might read them and be able to assign a less than favorable light on me? Story to be continued.

How an old-fashioned grandmother became an Internet superstar (with a little help from her grandson) February 1, 2010

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By Linda Matchan

Two years ago, Bubbe didn’t know from a website.‘‘I didn’t even know what an e-mail was,’’ says the 83-year-old grandmother.

But that was before she became the star of ‘‘Feed Me Bubbe,’’ her popular online kosher cooking show produced by her grandson Avrom Honig, 25, of Worcester.

Now she’s inundated with e-mail — ‘‘without exaggeration, hundreds, even thousands’’ — from fans from as far away as China and Africa who want help roasting chicken or stuffing cabbage, or to confide in her about their tsuris (troubles). She’s got a website (www.feedmebubbe.com), a frequently updated Facebook page (‘‘on the set right now working on the cholent episode’’), and an online store selling her T-shirts, aprons, even a ‘‘Feed Me Bubbe’’ ringtone (original klezmer music, composed by a fan). On Tuesday she’ll be featured on a PBS ‘‘Frontline’’ documentary, ‘‘Digital Nation,’’ which explores the impact of digital technology on people’s lives.

“If a fortune teller ever told me at this age that I’d start a new career I would never have believed them, ’’ says Bubbe – the Yiddish word for grandmother – who worked in a bank until she was 73 and after that did “nothing spectacular. I went to the senior center a couple times a week. Did cooking and housecleaning. The regular thing.’’

Bubbe’s newfound fame is a uniquely 21st century phenomenon, made possible in a world where anyone who blogs, tweets, Facebooks, or YouTubes can vault to celebrity. But this is also what makes Bubbe’s story so unusual. Until recently, her life was so low-tech that she thought the Internet “came out of the air, just like nothing.’’

Though she didn’t set out to do so, Bubbe has managed to stand out from the pack by embracing the new technology while just being herself, cooking old-fashioned dishes in an old-fashioned kitchen in old-fashioned ways. In the process, she has tapped into a market of peripatetic, family-starved young people who are hungry for more than just chicken soup. They’re hungry for Bubbes.

For that very reason, Bubbe – who lives in a suburb west of Boston – doesn’t disclose her real name on the show, and she declined to give it to the Globe as well. “I never want to be recognized. People write me and say I remind them of their own grandmother,’’ says Bubbe, a short, stooped woman with white hair, a kindly face, and arthritic fingers who believes she fills a void in the lives of grandmother-less viewers. “So how can I have another name?’’

‘Eat in good health’

“Feed Me Bubbe’’ is hardly your typical cooking show. It’s shot in Bubbe’s seriously outmoded kitchen in the small house she’s shared for more than 50 years with Zadie (Yiddish for grandfather), whom Honig drafted to be production assistant. The house could be a 1950s set from a Neil Simon play, with its shag car peting, plastic-draped furniture, two-tiered candy dishes, and crystal prisms dripping from the lampshades. But it’s the kitchen that speaks to Bubbe’s mostly under-40 fans; it still has the original birch cupboards, worn-out Formica countertops, shiny wallpaper, and tchotchke shelves next to the window.

“People have said they’ll break my neck if she changes it,’’ Honig says. “And Bubbe was, like, ‘I can’t redo the kitchen?’ ’’
Her recipes are similarly retro. She’s taped more than 30 “Feed Me Bubbe’’ episodes so far, including “Bubbe’s Burgers,’’ “Sponge Cake,’’ “Cheeze Blintzes,’’ and a three-part chicken soup series. Every once in a while she throws in a story – “I learned this in the Catskills!’’ – and ends each episode with a “Yiddish Word of the Day’’ and a Julia Child-esque sign-off, except instead of “Bon Appetit’’ it’s “Ess gezunterhait’’ (“Eat in good health’’).

The lanky Honig, who has a communications degree from Worcester State College, got the idea for “Feed Me Bubbe’’ two years ago when he needed a job and wanted to make a demo tape for job interviews. His father suggested he do a video of Bubbe cooking. Bubbe agreed, reluctantly. “I thought I’d do one, I’d do two,’’ says Bubbe, agreeing to start with “Jelly Jammies,’’ a variant of strudel and a family favorite.

The production values were less than stellar. The camera was shaky. Bubbe’s hands were out of the frame. The sound of the mixmaster drowned out her voice. Still, Honig got it done and posted it online.

And then the e-mails started. “It caught us by surprise,’’ says Bubbe.

She heard from a woman named Betty who wrote that she was making Bubbe’s sweet and sour meatballs and “Jelly Jammies’’ that week. “I never had the privilege of being in the kitchen with my own Bubbe,’’ Betty wrote. “Watching you brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. . . . I would like to adopt you as my own Bubbe.’’

Another woman threatened to adopt Bubbe, gushing: “I absolutely love you, Bubbe.’’ (“You certainly can adopt me,’’ Bubbe replied.)

“We’re talking the whole world!’’ says Honig, his voice rising to a high pitch. “We’re getting e-mail from, like, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia. This is the craziest thing that could ever happen to someone!’’

Honig, who seems to operate only at one speed – full throttle – immediately saw the marketing possibilities for “Feed Me Bubbe.’’ He’s posted her recipes online, recruited sponsors, developed merchandise, partnered with other websites such as www.fridaylight.org, where Bubbe demonstrates how to light candles for Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.

Twice, she and Honig have gone to California for a Video on the Net conference, once as speakers on a food panel and once to promote the show at a conference booth. “I was running around the whole convention handing out ‘Feed Me Bubbe’ cards to anyone I could find,’’ Honig says. “Bubbe would start talking to them, and they would melt.’’

Grandma in charge
Throughout all this, Honig has taught Bubbe about digital media, “just the way she would teach me how to chop an onion.’’ She’s now conversant about blogs, Twitter, and instant messaging.

“I’ve become an expert in Twitter and texting,’’ says Bubbe, who has no computer of her own.

She’s also starting to call the shots in her video episodes, as she did recently for a promo for an upcoming cooking segment.

“Peppered steak is coming up next episode?’’ she suggests as Honig roughs out a storyboard on the kitchen table.

“Interesting,’’ he says, noncommittally.

“Details of peppered steak will be coming next video,’’ she decides.

He counts down from 10, shoots the promo – with a plug for Bubbe’s “Frontline’’ appearance – and it’s a wrap.

“Ess gezunterhait,’’ she says, as always. “Enjoy!’’

Greatest impromptu piano duet by a 90-year-old couple December 16, 2009

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Are You Ever Too Old to Orgy? December 7, 2009

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By Frank Kaiser

To the utter horror of our children, today’s seniors are pushing the sexual envelope in ways, some say, contrary to all that’s right and holy.

Used to be, by age 60, seniors were expected to hang it up, start acting their age, and prepare for the solemn business of departing this world.

No more. What with Viagra, Levitra and all the other Ra-Ra’s now available, even nonagenarians are behaving much like hormone-crazed teenagers, blithely ignoring both old-fashioned shame and open-mouthed stares.

Consider this story out of London:

Nine Oldsters Booted Out of Nursing Home –
For Trying to Have an Orgy!

Seems that a bunch of old goats, ranging in age from 73 to 98, schemed a secret sex party to celebrate the 90th birthday of one of the “girls.”

As a British newspaper reported, “The let-it-all-hang-out party took place just after midnight on October 28. The three wrinkly Romeos and six sagging seductresses gathered together in the rec room and stripped to the buff.”

Well, you can imagine the staff’s alarm and embarrassment when orderlies investigated rumba rumbling from the rec room. There, surrounded by candles and dressed in birthday suits slathered with baby oil, the horny nine were wing-dinging to lay canes in dusty corners.

“They hadn’t got too far,” a staffer was reported to say. “I guess it was taking some of the gents a while to started. But they were all naked. Believe me, it was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Well, get used to it!

Gramps and grannies have been doing the wild thing since Adam and Eve were deep into their Golden Years. That old leech Methuselah was 187 years old when he fathered Lamech. And that was long before either Viagra or the Internet.

These days, old coots are turning on to the Web in more ways than one. It’s but a click from Google to photo sites like “Old Tarts. The Secret Sex Lives of Old Women,” “Old ‘n’ Horny,” Gorgeous Grannies,” “Hot Gummer Babes” and “Nasty Old Widows” One site opines, “Some guys just like their women aged like fine wine.” To which another adds, “Grandma has been around the block and back again, aged to perfection.”

Science backs this up.

According to a recent Janus Report, “Seventy-four percent of women age 65 and older engaged weekly in sexual activity compared with 68 percent of women ages 18 to 26. And get this: Four of 10 old biddies claim they’d like to have sex even more often.

Wow! Kind of makes you regret that you wasted all those years being young, doesn’t it?

But here’s the dirty little secret: What older women want, men can’t deliver! At least that’s what the experts at SeniorSite believe. A global survey of 27,780 aged 40 to 80 from 30 countries found aging women become sexually dysfunctional at half the rate of men.

But isn’t that why God created Viagra?

And, yes, coffee. The Archives of Internal Medicine tells us that drinking a cup of Joe translates into “a higher rate of sexual activity in elderly women and a decreased prevalence of impotency among elderly men.” No one knows why. Some speculate that the brew promotes more liberal behavior, but if that were true, Democrats would now occupy the White House.

Whatever, coffee can’t hurt.

Even if it’s only because it keeps you awake longer, have a cup of java tonight before turning in with your creaky better half. May be just what you need to get a leg up on the situation. Remember, though, if you encounter an erection lasting four hours or more, don’t blame me.

And next time you happen onto an orgy and need yet another cane, please don’t call me. I’m trying to cut back on caffeine.
© 2005 – Frank Kaiser

Old Man Learns a Lesson his Sons won’t soon Forget November 30, 2009

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Once upon a time….a Ukrainian tale adapted by my Friedman tell the story of an old man who lived with his four sons who were treating him like a second class citizen each trying to pass him off to the next brother. When they decided they wanted to send their father away to “school”, the father wept as he told the story to a merchant. The merchant had a brilliant idea (actually he WAS brilliant) and shared a plan with the old man that would help him with his sons. Read the story and learn how the old man lived out his remaining years being treated like royalty by his sons. Such a change of hearts. After the old man died, the village elders smiled at the way the story ended. And you will too.

UP! Where the Sky is No Longer the Limit November 27, 2009

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It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote and I’ve missed you all! A very sick spouse, with what the Doc says was H1N1, who’s finally, after almost six weeks, getting back on the healthy side — has kept me distracted from Blogging and Twittering away.  Amen to that….we count our blessings.  But no more excuses, it’s time to rock n’ roll…not dream and drool.

Focusing on the upbeat side of life: Disney Studios has done it again. But this time I think the animated film, called UP,  is meant to be seen by anyone who considers themself an  ageless dreamer.  I don’t want to give away the story – it’s both funny, adventuresome, sad, silly, and downright witty.  So, if you’re looking to indulge in a realy heartfelt adventure wrapped around some true realities of life and ageing, I’d recommend UP in a heartbeat. Let me know what you think.