Time Flies to…Sign Up to Win a Free Cremation! (A Column by Lu)

February and March, Bits and Pieces

I kid you not at all.  You can enter a contest to win a free cremation.  That not so little ad in the Obits section made my day.  I thought, “Just my luck.  I win some expensive prize and it will go up in smoke.”   Looking at the bright side, a bargain is a bargain, isn’t it?

Having survived one of coldest Februaries on record this year and the Arctic Vortex of last year, I am wondering how we can top that next year.    Maybe we can do the Boston thing and get snow up the yin yang.

Ah, but we change the clocks this month, and the light shall be with us.  I’ve never figured out why we had to change the clocks in the first place.  Rumor has it, it might have something to do with milking cows.  Do cows get depressed without light?

If you tire of your own company or just can’t get about enough, we need to find happy distractions.  These are my thoughts:

  1. Take a vacation from the news–not forever, just for a few days.  Not to hear the woes of the world constantly is quite a boost for our psyche.
  2. Immerse yourself in a project, something that takes you to a new place mentally.  Projects come in many packages, just looking for one is good juju.
  3. Call someone you don’t like to talk to.  You’ll feel good about yourself.  I mean this sincerely.  Doing something kind lifts the spirit.  Put yourself out there.
  4. There are special clamps you can buy to avoid falling.  Nothing is foolproof, but getting out to walk the dog, or go to the car, so you can shop or visit, that’s a happy thought.
  5. Make soup.  This always works.

My best thought is, spring always comes, every year for as long as I can remember.  And we are tough.  We have experienced more changes than any other generation.  We are resilient.   We are also very blessed.


Time Flies…The Gadgetry of the Brain

I don’t doubt that even Donald Trump of big sign TRUMP TOWERS in Chicago is annoyed with senior moments.  You can’t do a comb over on the brain.  The memory becomes an unreliable tool (nothing new here), but I have noticed that if you wait, the missing thought will pop into your head.  Now the word or idea may be a day late, but what the heck?   Later rather than sooner indicates a degree of success.  The tool is rusty, but still working.

I also think that the functions of the brain are programmed.  This idea is not mine, nor is it new.  Certain areas of the brain respond to certain needs and have particular characteristics.

Again, we all know that, but judging from my own experiences, I have found that the little grey cells don’t quite quit. They attempt to remedy or replace or even patch the old gadgetry by offering other compensations.

What does that mean?  As we age, we sit more; at least I seem to.  Okay, but now I also enjoy those quiet moments of taking in the scene of the moment.  I’m out of the race.  I used to be a regular toe-tapper, leg- swinger, always ready to move to the next thing.  My pace has slowed, and I now savor certain moments that are almost poetic in nature.   A sense of being is everything.  Wow.  Yes, wow and more so.  To be in the moment and part of the moment is better than a “big fat Greek wedding.”

Whoopee.  Being bored, feeling sorry for yourself, can be reduced by skydiving, especially if you jump in the buff.  Happy landings.  With this scary thought, I wish you all a proactive new year.  Regards, my friends.


Words I frequently forget, my brain tells me to repeat and then add a mental picture to associate with the word.  These mnemonic devices work.  One word I could never remember is “nebulizer.”

Time Flies to…My Toe, and It’s Gone! (A Column by Lu)

Because the days are dark, the weather is stark, and the news is what it is, I think we need a light touch this month.  So I have a silly story.  You see, while my left foot sports five toes, my right foot shows only four, and therein lies the rub, literally.  Are you curious?  Probably not, but hang in there.

For the last ten years, my hammertoe never bothered me. I inherited this condition from my Mother.  She had the works–bunions, calluses, hammertoes–which she covered with many little plasters.  We shared the same gene pool.

Early in the summer, that bump on my second toe had a growth spurt, and it began to throb and almost doubled in size.  Not funny.  Pinocchio’s nose was growing on my foot.
Talking to my internist, he suggested I might try shoes with square boxes in the front or talk to an orthopedic man.  My podiatrist shooed me off to get open-toed shoes, which I did.  But neither idea seemed like a long term solution. So off I went to an orthopedic foot surgeon, expecting to hear about pins and pain to come, which I did hear about.

But my surgeon also gave me a choice: 1. Break big toe, insert pin and then straighten second toe (big ouch) and insert pin and stay home six weeks and heal.   Or.   2. Remove the toe, as in amputate. Be up and about in a week.

Essentially, after a long and thoughtful week, it became a no brainer.  I innocently scheduled my procedure, but I also told a few friends, who told a few friends, who told a few friends. All the strong feedback spooked me.  My little decision raised eyebrows, friends questioned me.  What about my balance? No one had heard of such an outrageous thing.  “What outrageous thing?  I am not having major surgery, or even a facelift.  It’s only a toe.”  It was hard for me to fathom that one toe caused so much feeling.  Ah well!

Fast forward. I persevered and  had the surgery.  I went in at 6: 00 a.m. and was home at 9:00 a.m.  A week later, the surgeon, a graduate of the Northwestern School of Medicine, smiled and pronounced me good to go, no restrictions.  Two weeks later, I fully engaged in my line dancing class.  I wanted a ballet class, but you have to make some trade offs to age.

What did I learn?  People can scare you out of things as well as into things.   Even a little change can cause a big brouhaha.  Everyone thought C. Columbus would fall off the end of the world.  Columbus and I know better.

We have so much to be thankful for, at least I do.   I just bought a pair of $100 dollar boots for thirty dollars at Kohls.

Let me hear from you.


Time Flies…Landmarks in Our Lives (A Column by Lu)

Every ten years, we reassess and define ourselves, but as those decades pile up, we enter new territory.  I recently talked to a woman, and I will quote, “From eighty to eighty-five were the happiest years of my life.” She smiled, and she then walked out of my life.

I wanted to run after her and say, “Wait!  Tell me more.  I could use some wise advice.”  THE BIG EIGHT O IS DAUNTING.  I always thought the eighties lead to a dark place called, “The Old Oldies.”  Not so and not true. Numerical age cannot be denied.  At 21 we could drink legally, at 65 we could retire, at eighty, I think we can pretty much do as we please.

I don’t recommend walking naked down the street, but if you want to go to a nude beach, it’s now or never.  The big noise of the first part of our life is reduced.  We don’t need to make our bones.  Instead we  get to choose.  One day I just turned off my alarm clock.  What a blessed freedom.

For many years, an old friend, who had lost a spouse, spent most of her spare time shopping.  She told me she had old clothes with price tags on them, and still she bought more.  Then one day she had a grand awakening.  Within the solitude of her own mind, she began to build a more satisfying life.

Here’s what I firmly believe: I cannot control the aging process, and if I am walking, talking, breathing, I am letting go of baggage, like grudges, bad memories, caring too much what others think about me.  I find myself frequently failing, but that’s okay. I am trying.
Just maybe, I can say, “These are the happiest years of my life.”


Time Flies to…Feel Good, Try These Experiments (Or Not): A Column by Lu

I used to enjoy listening to the 10:00 p.m. news, reading the morning paper; but now, not so much.  I hate to get depressed at the start of my day, so I rapidly scan the paper, check the weather, the ads, and the word Jumble. Sometimes, I even check my computer.
You have to live in a cave with a bag over your head not to realize we live in a scary world.  We do, and we are overexposed to that bad stuff all the time.  I hope I never reach a state where I become desensitized to bloodshed and body parts.  However, we sometimes need to set our own dials and push “happy.”

Now that my little rant is over, I want you to consider these ideas…  I blame Mother Teresa of Calcutta for these thoughts.  She advised everyone to gift the people you meet with a sincere smile.  You know the kind of smile where you make eye contact and are aware of another human.  Kindly smiles beget kindliness…sometimes.

With that thought in mind I tried two bitty experiments.

EXPERIMENT ONE:  This morning I just smiled at myself.  Alone, in my living room, there I was smiling, and I immediately felt silly.  So to the smile I added some happy thoughts, and guess what?  I smiled again.  For some crazy reason, I felt in charge of my day.

EXPERIMENT TWO:  My daughter called.  (This gets weird.)

Me:  Julie, I want you to smile and say, “Hello, Mom.”

JULIE:  Do you feel okay.  Should I call 911?

ME:  No, humor me.  This is an experiment.  Just smile and say, “Hello mom,” but smile like you mean it, okay.

JULIE:  Hello, MOM. I’m smiling.

ME:  I’m smiling back.  How do you feel?

JULIE:  (Laughing.)  Mom, I’m fine, but I’m a little worried about you.

And that was that, but, I have another unscientific theory.  When you smile or laugh, all the muscles in your face relax thereby releasing the tension that causes wrinkles. For a fact, happy faces look younger longer.

Be proactive, smile at a stranger.


Time Flies to…Good Lord, It’s June! (A Column by Lu)

Who is Ubbie Wobballo?

I will not keep you in suspense. Ubbie is a caterpillar. I wanted to call him Cappy, but my seven-year-old grandson nixed that name. He likes Ubbie, and I like it too.

In late spring, youngest grandson, Jonathan, and I found Ubbie near a tiny clump of trees about a block from his (J.’s) home. Ubbie looked like a bright green stack of life savers with two black horns popping out of his head.

Little boys like caterpillers. Me? Not so much. But in the interests of science, J. and I decided to follow Ubbie. Our adventure began. Ubbie walked one long city block and then decided to cross the street.

“Crossing the street? Ubbie might get squashed,” said Jonathan. By now, fifteen minutes into the journey, we both were protective of Ubbie. So we carefully watched Ubbie cross the street.

We watched him climb the curb and then shift into the grass, which was also good camouflage for Ubbie, and we had to be careful not to step on him. Then, in the blink of an eye, we lost him. He disappeared.

Jonathan smiled, “I guess he went home.”

“Yep. To build his chrysalis,” said I.

And that’s how you bond with a grandson.

Bonding with your thirteen-year-old granddaughter is another story.


Time Flies to…Hitting the “Refresh My Life Button” as You Age (A Column by Lu)

During the last few months, I’ve been conducting an informal study to find absorbing ways to enjoy myself.  I’ve been nosing around parks, checking out clubs, programs, charitable organizations (not so much on volunteering, I already do a bit of that),  library offerings, church functions, etc.

Most parks offer a variety of activities, but also many charge. Six weeks of Pilates could cost you $36, which I think is expensive.  However, at another park, you can pay as you go.  I pay $2 a week at Bolingbrook Senior Center for a two hour class in line dancing.  The “Hello Dolly” number takes me to mellow moments…good memories there.

IPPL’s Current Events Discussion Group keeps growing.  Why?  Because we now have the opportunity to explore crucial world problems and develop our own opinions and talk about them.  At the last meeting, I counted about 35 people or more–very interactive.

Also I recently attended a documentary about Cesar Chavez.  My friend and I could not believe that during our lifetime this fine labor leader never crossed our line of vision.  His story should be part of our general knowledge.  Even though I wasn’t an activist back then, I believe we need to hear about more heroes today whose reality isn’t on  a T.V. show.

Lisle Senior Center also offers some fun stuff.   Their trips to “all over the place” take you to events where you might not want to drive.  In all parks, the good stuff goes fast, and you do not have to be a resident to go.

I know these ramblings are not scientific, and I still haven’t made a dent in the many offerings out there.  If you have a favorite place or program, please share.
Find yourself a new frontier. Now it’s all about seeking out the good stuff.


Time Flies to…Mah-Jongg

“So how are you surviving the polar vortex?” I asked my friend, Mable.

“I hate that miserable term.  I’m sick to death of all this snow and cold, black ice and white ice, and everything in between.  Does that answer your question? “

“Sorry I asked, Mable.”  She looked pretty grim.

“Oh, please, stop with the sorry.  What about you Ms. Smug face?”

I didn’t like the sound of that remark.  “My name is Lu.”  Her nose twitched. “Well, back around Christmas, I liked it; I’m a winter person.  I like snow beauty, downy comforters, hot soup, and cozy. But when we kept getting pounded and pounded, I grew weary, I grew bored, I decided I needed something more than  weather watching to pass the time.”

Mable smiled, “Of course.”  She can be so patronizing.

“So I talked to some friends, and before you know it, I was learning to play Mah-Jongg, and I was line dancing at a park in Bolingbrook.  In fact, I played today.”

“At your age?  Well, of course you do tend to try to act youthful.”  She so graciously retorted.

I felt an urge to comment on her false eyelashes and the two red gashes on her cheeks.  Taking one of those healthy deep breaths, I thought, Mable is Mable and sometimes quite dear, so I pointed out that I was not brain dead or suffering from restricted movement syndrome.  I merely said,  “THE WEATHER MADE ME DO IT!  And I’m glad it did.”



Time Flies…Emily Post, Come Back! (A Column by Lu)

In this digital world, we have websites for everything—parenting skills, medical problems, removing mold.  Check your computer.  Yep, as long as you can read, your godlike computer will help you fix everything.

How do I express what’s bothering me?  I have no wish to imply that  the world is going to hell, but I see out  there in cyberspace a problem that needs fixing. Simply put, we need a newer, hipper version of Emily Post, someone to customize civilized behavior.  Whipping out your iPhone at the dinner table is not cool.  Texting your boyfriend in the midst of a conversation is flat out ignorant, and every time I see someone talking, texting, whatever, in their car, I want to lay on my horn and see If they even react.

In the day, we often satirized Emily and her book of etiquette, but hindsight is wonderful.  Now I believe we need some of those rules.  Do you remember this little adage? “When you are walking on a crowded street, always stay to the right.”  I don’t know if Emily said this or not, but it makes sense.  We need someone to set guidelines of considerate and sensible behavior.  I am not talking propriety. I don’t care if you wear white after Labor Day (again, I’m not sure of the origin of some of the picky stuff). I do care about stuff like saying, “thank you,”  “please,” “pardon me,” and “sorry.”  Decent rules respect others and, sad to say, reflect your persona.  Think about it.

Whoever said, “Ignorance is bliss,” was dead wrong.

I hope someone will produce The New Book of Civilized Behavior for the 21st Century, and I hope that this book will go viral, and I also hope it will become a reference on every database in the world.


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