Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Old Enough to Have Always Read for Pleasure

Sometimes I wonder – well, more than sometimes – if we old folks are the last generation to have the habit of reading for pleasure.

I don't mean to imply that younger people are less literate necessarily, or dumber or not as interested in reading as we are. It's just that there are so many other things to fill time nowadays: movies, television, internet, video games, smart phones and tablets with apps and more apps.

Electronic screens are hard to ignore, some say they are addictive, and even toddlers can handle an iPad with aplomb.

Most of us, people about 65 and older, grew up - at least in our earliest years - without those distractions. There were radio and movies, the latter mostly on weekends, and television didn't arrive where I lived until I was in high school.

When I was a kid, most of my free time in the house, and that of my parents too, was spent reading. It started young and it became a lifelong habit. When everything else is done, when nothing demands my attention, I almost always reach for a book.

Recently, over at the Counterpunch website, journalist Jeffrey St. Clair published a list of 100 Best Novels in English that he and his friend, the late Alexander Cockburn, had compiled together before Cockburn's death two years ago.

I know from a decade of your comments that many TGB readers are book readers so I suspect you would be as interested in what these two smart guys came up with as I am. They made some rules for themselves - these are three of them:

Nothing older than 1900
No repeats – one book per author
Unlimited peremptory challenges for authors they dislike

Unlike listicles that plague the internet these days, this is a list I believe no inveterate reader could resist – carefully chosen from stories remembered well enough to discuss intelligently. In addition, they ranked the books in order, one to 100.

I don't know enough of the books to argue with the ordering, particularly their choice for first place, Ulysses by James Joyce. The book, a decades-old edition, sits on my shelf still, never read beyond 40 or 50 pages. I never could make sense of it.

But there are plenty of other authors I would expect and was pleased to see, among them Gore Vidal, Hillary Mantel, Kurt Vonnegut, Ralph Ellison, Henry Miller, Hammett, Wodehouse, Kerouac, Steinbeck, Heller, Waugh, LeGuin, Kesey and even Eric Ambler – because they intentionally included genre fiction as well as literary fiction.

My recall of plots, characters and merit of the books I've read is not anywhere near as good as St. Clair's and Cockburn's, and there are many others on the list I still intend to read – but who knows if I will.

When I was a young woman, I believed there was plenty of time in life to read everything I wanted to before I die. Now at 73, I know I will die with the unread pile decidedly taller than what I've read.

It's worth stopping by Counterpunch to read Jeffrey St. Clair's entire introduction to the list. And let us here know what you think about it. What you've liked, what you skipped, which most strongly remain in your memory.

  1. Ulysses: James Joyce (1922)
  2. Absalom, Absalom!: William Faulkner (1936)
  3. Gravity’s Rainbow: Thomas Pynchon (1973)
  4. Native Son: Richard Wright (1940)
  5. Orlando by Virginia Wolff (1928)
  6. The Rainbow: DH Lawrence (1915)
  7. Under Western Eyes: Joseph Conrad (1911)
  8. Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison (1952)
  9. The Violent Bear It Away: Flannery O’Connor (1960)
  10. Tropic of Cancer: Henry Miller (1934)

  11. The Golden Notebook: Doris Lessing (1962)
  12. The Sun Also Rises: Ernest Hemingway (1926)
  13. Wide Sargasso Sea: Jean Rhys (1966)
  14. The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse (1938)
  15. Tender is the Night: F. Scott Fitzgerald (1934)
  16. Giovanni’s Room: James Baldwin (1956)
  17. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)
  18. At Swim-Two-Birds: Flann O’Brien (1939)
  19. On the Road: Jack Kerouac (1957)
  20. JR: William Gaddis (1975)

  21. Pale Fire: Vladimir Nabokov (1962)
  22. End of the Affair: Graham Greene (1951)
  23. Red Harvest: Dashiell Hammett (1927)
  24. Mumbo Jumbo: Ishmael Reed (1972)
  25. A Lost Lady: Willa Cather (1923)
  26. The Hound of the Baskervilles: Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
  27. Far Tortuga: Peter Mattheissen (1975)
  28. The Iron Heel: Jack London (1908)
  29. Jazz: Toni Morrison (1992)
  30. The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck (1939)

  31. Their Eyes Were Watching God: Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
  32. Nothing Like the Sun by Anthony Burgess (1964)
  33. Riddle of the Sands by Erksine Childers (1903)
  34. The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West (1936)
  35. Catch 22: Joseph Heller (1961)
  36. Beat the Devil: Claud Cockburn (1951)
  37. The Indian Lawyer: James Welch (1990)
  38. The White Hotel: DM Thomas (1981)
  39. Neuromancer: William Gibson (1984)
  40. The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold: Evelyn Waugh (1957)

  41. Light Years: James Salter (1976)
  42. Almanac of the Dead: Leslie Marmon Silko (1991)
  43. Death of the Heart: Elizabeth Bowen (1938)
  44. The Monkeywrench Gang: Edward Abbey (1975)
  45. Slaves of Solitude: Patrick Hamilton (1947)
  46. The Left Hand of Darkness: Ursula K. LeGuin (1969)
  47. Novel on Yellow Paper: Stevie Smith (1936)
  48. A Feast of Snakes: Harry Crews (1976)
  49. Vida: Marge Piercy (1975)

  50. The Man in the High Castle: Philip K. Dick (1962)
  51. Naked Lunch: William Burroughs (1959)
  52. A Place of Greater Safety: Hilary Mantel (2006)
  53. Voss: Patrick White (1957)
  54. Dog Soldiers: Robert Stone (1974)
  55. Animal Dreams: Barbara Kingsolver (1990)
  56. Cat’s Cradle: Kurt Vonnegut (1963)
  57. Sometimes a Great Notion: Ken Kesey (1964)
  58. Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler (1944)
  59. The Known World: Edward P. Jones (2003)

  60. Written on the Body: Jeanette Winterson (1993)
  61. Disgrace: JM Coetzee (1999)
  62. Call It Sleep: Henry Roth (1934)
  63. July’s People: Nadine Gordimer (1981)
  64. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)
  65. The Black Prince: Iris Murdoch (1973)
  66. Julian: Gore Vidal (1964)
  67. The Killer Inside Me: Jim Thompson (1952)
  68. An American Dream: Norman Mailer (1965)
  69. If He Hollers, Let Him Go: Chester Himes (1945)

  70. The Secret History: Donna Tartt (1992)
  71. Flaubert’s Parrot: Julian Barnes (1984)
  72. Matterhorn: Karl Marlantes (2009)
  73. The Last Good Kiss: James Crumley (1978)
  74. Salvage the Bones: Jesmyn Ward (2011)
  75. Underworld: Don DeLillo (1997)
  76. The Radiant Way: Margaret Drabble (1987)
  77. Regeneration: Pat Barker (1991)
  78. Snow Crash: Neal Stevenson (1992)
  79. Ray: Barry Hannah (1980)

  80. Tripmaster Monkey: Maxine Hong Kingston (1989)
  81. The Golden Gate: Vikram Seth (1986)
  82. Lucky Jim: Kinglsey Amis (1954)
  83. Day of the Locust: Nathaniel West (1939)
  84. Gateway: Frederick Pohl (1977)
  85. Machine Dreams: Jayne Anne Phillips (1984)
  86. Two Serious Ladies: Jane Bowles (1946)
  87. Mr. American: George MacDonald Fraser (1980)
  88. Zuleika Dobson: Max Beerbohm (1911)
  89. The Dogs of March: Ernest Hebert (1979)

  90. The Deceivers: by John Masters (1952)
  91. Sleeping Beauty: Ross McDonald (1973)
  92. The King Must Die: Mary Renault (1958)
  93. Tree of Smoke: Denis Johnson (2007)
  94. House of Splendid Isolation: Edna O’Brien (1994)
  95. Lucy: Jamaica Kinkaid (1990)
  96. Affliction: Russell Banks (1989)
  97. Gaudy Night: Dorothy L. Sayers (1935)
  98. Flicker: Theodore Roszak (1991)
  99. Greenmantle: John Buchan (1916)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Lost and Found

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

87-Year-Old Evicted for Using Legal Weed

There are so many things wrong with what has happened to Lea Olivier that it's going to take some unpacking to understand it all. Before I get to that, let me stack up two or three presumptions about where I'm coming from.

First, the law is the law. Right? We live in a country of laws and we don't get to pick which ones we obey. But what if one law conflicts with its opposite? What happens then?

Second, moving from one home to another is hard. Physically hard. I know. I've done it twice in the past eight years and I'll think for a long time before I do it again because unless you are financially able to pay someone to do all the packing, it is exhausting.

I was 69 last time I did all myself. Lea Olivier is 18 years older than that. Here's what's happened to her.

Olivier has a physician-approved medical marijuana card. She smokes the drug to help control arthritis pain but since Amendment 64 passed in Colorado, she doesn't really need the card because it is legal now for adults to purchase and use cannabis there.

Well, it's legal unless you live in federally subsidized housing and because Olivier does, that means the federal government can bigfoot Colorado law and Ms. Olivier. She isn't the first, explains reporter Jim Mimiaga in the Cortez Journal, only

”...the latest victim. She has lived there for five years but says she has been ordered to vacate her rent-subsidized apartment on Central Avenue for allegedly violating the illegal-substances policy.

“'A compliance officer said they smelled pot coming from my residence,' she says. 'I don’t think it was even me...'

“Olivier, who lives alone, is now faced with finding alternative housing, but is concerned she cannot afford it on her fixed Social Security income.”

Smelling pot coming from a residence seems like flimsy evidence for eviction but federally subsidized renters are also subject to “annual inspections of apartments,” according to the newspaper.

[Imagine! Federal authorities can search your apartment once a year for drugs just because it is subsidized. I had no idea that happens. Apparently if you are poor, you are automatically suspected of being a drug user.]

And the federal rules about pot smoking in these apartments are a farce:

Olivier said property managers instruct residents to leave the boundaries of the apartment complex if they want to consume marijuana...

“'They told us to go beyond a certain gate, or leave in our car and go somewhere else, but we cannot keep anything in our car if it is parked on their property,' Olivier said. 'It is ridiculous...'”

Terri Wheeler, who is the executive director of Housing Authority of Montezuma County in Colorado, admits there is a big problem with conflicting marijuana laws:

“There is an appeal process for residents who are found to be violating drug laws. While regulations are strictly enforced, they are administered with a practical approach based on circumstances.

“'We’re not cold about it, warnings have been given for marijuana...' Wheeler said. 'We know there are valid medical uses for marijuana, but we have to comply with HUD regulations or we lose our subsidies for people who need housing assistance.'”

How about a “practical approach based on circumstances” of legal use and, in this case, age?

Are we sure that we want to be throwing an 87-year-old elder out of her home because she smokes a doobie or two? Even if the federal government doesn't legally approve, her state does.

I am fully aware that the law is not always fairly enforced but doesn't it seem egregiously awful that zillionaire criminal bankers, for example, walk free after impoverishing millions of Americans (many elders included) while the same government is now throwing an old woman out of her home?

Throwing her out for something so minor that it is invisible compared to what those rich bankers did?

Lea Olivier sounds like a woman who is accustomed to looking out for herself:

“I’ll live in a tent, or my car if I have to,” she said. “I’ve got 10 days to move, but when I get knocked down I get back up.”

She shouldn't be forced to do that.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Trudi Kappel: The Psychology of Paint

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Monday, 18 August 2014

Today is Millie's 89th Birthday

MillieBD2014

I'm pretty sure Millie Garfield is my oldest blog friend. She was about six months ahead of me, in October 2003, when she started My Mom's Blog.

I am also pretty sure that I discovered her blog while I was developing mine and we then “met” in 2004, in the way we all do over the internet and began exchanging email.

Three years later, when I was living in Portland, Maine, I took the train down to Boston to have lunch with Millie. Here's a photo shot by her terrific son, Steve Garfield (who has his own website here).

Ronni Bennett and Millie Garfield

It is exactly ten years ago today that I began celebrating Millie's birthday with a special blog post because it was her 80th and round numbers should always be noted.

Millie80 I had not yet learned that sunflowers – so right, of course, for an August birthday – are Millie's favorite flower. This year, I found a lovely, little time lapse video of a giant field of sunflowers following the sun:

Don't forget what Helen Keller said, Millie:

Keep your face to the sunshine
and you cannot see the shadow.
It's what sunflowers do.

Maybe loving sunflowers accounts for Millie's sunny personality. She laughs more than most people I know. So a big hug and happy 89 years, Millie. Have a great celebration.

You can help give Millie a big blogosphere birthday by leaving greetings in the comments below or going to her blog and leaving a message there.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chlele Gummer: The Joke Was on Me

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Sunday, 17 August 2014

ELDER MUSIC: 1958 Again

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


What happened in 1958?

  • Mary Chapin Carpenter was born.
  • Bobby Fischer won the U.S. chess championship at 14
  • Alaska became the 49th state of the U.S.l
  • Johnny O'Keefe had his first hit (Wild One)
  • The Quarrymen recorded their first song
  • The first Cod War began between Britain and Iceland
  • "Vertigo" was released
  • Collingwood were premiers

That Old Black Magic was first recorded by Glenn Miller in 1942. Versions by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald and many others quickly followed.

Marilyn Monroe sang it in the film Bus Stop. The first time the song really impinged on my brain was when LOUIS PRIMA AND KEELY SMITH had a hit with it this year.

Louis Prima & Keely Smith

This is still my favorite version, maybe because of that.

♫ Louis Prima & Keely Smith - That Old Black Magic

PAT BOONE has a really wonderful singing voice and I'm happy to include him in these columns when he's not doing those dreadful covers of Little Richard, Fats Domino and other great R&B Music.

Pat Boone

Here he gets a bit too religious for my taste but if you don't listen to the words, it's pretty good and Pat sings it really well. A Wonderful Time Up There.

♫ Pat Boone - A Wonderful Time Up There

Before BOBBY DARIN became a lounge singer (and a jazz singer and a folk singer and a country singer) he was a rock and roll singer.

Bobby Darin

Bobby wrote the song Splish Splash when disk jockey Murray the K bet him he couldn't write a song that began with the words "Splish Splash, I was takin' a bath.”

He not only could, he got it to the top of the charts.

♫ Bobby Darin - Splish Splash

Now for one of the most gorgeous songs of the decade, sung by TOMMY EDWARDS.

Tommy Edwards

This year wasn't the first time that Tommy had recorded It's All In the Game. He already had a minor hit in 1951 with a different (and inferior version) of the song.

The words of the song were written by Carl Sigman and the tune is by Charles Dawes, a bank president and amateur piano and flute player. Later he was also vice president of the U.S. (Calvin Coolidge was the big cheese).

♫ Tommy Edwards - It's All In The Game

JOHNNY CASH puts in an appearance with Guess Things Happen That Way.

Johnny Cash

I could do without all the background singing, a choir plus a DooWop group by the sound of it. Nothing can detract from Johnny's singing though.

♫ Johnny Cash - Guess Things Happen That Way

Bobby Darin once said that the biggest mistake of his life was not marrying his true love, CONNIE FRANCIS. Connie said the same sort of thing.

Her parents disapproved of him and her father ran him off at gunpoint. That's not really relevant, just a bit of gos I thought I'd throw in.

Connie Francis

The origin of Who's Sorry Now goes all the way back to 1923. A bit later than that it was used in the film A Night in Casablanca with the Marx Brothers. Johnnie Ray had a go at it and, of course, so did Connie.

♫ Connie Francis - Who's Sorry Now

RICKY NELSON's hits were coming thick and fast by now.

Ricky Nelson

One of the ones for this year is Poor Little Fool. The song was written by Sharon Sheeley when she was only 15 after being encouraged in that endeavor by Elvis.

She got the song to Ricky and after it became a success, she went to work for Eddie Cochran. Goodness, she got about a bit.

♫ Ricky Nelson - Poor Little Fool

Although he released a number of records, there's only one that we remember as a hit for ROBIN LUKE.

Robin Luke

This was the year for it and it is Susie Darlin', a song he wrote for his young sister. Robin left show biz and is now a professor at the University of Missouri.

♫ Robin Luke - Susie Darlin'

A song for everyone in 1958 who had a crush on someone older. Come on, admit it, it was quite common. THE PONI-TAILS capture that angst with Born Too Late.

The Poni-Tails

This wasn't their first record; they had a couple before this one. Indeed, this was the B-side of the record that was also going nowhere until some DJs flipped it over and started playing the song we have today.

♫ The Poni-Tails - Born Too Late

Although he had records before Lonely Teardrops, this song turned JACKIE WILSON into a big star.

Jackie Wilson

It is a great soul/R&B song. Unfortunately, it didn't end happily for Jackie. He collapsed on stage while singing this song in 1975, lapsed into a coma from which he didn't recover and died nine years later.

It's still a good song though.

♫ Jackie Wilson - Lonely Teardrops

You can find more music from 1958 here. 1959 will appear in two weeks' time.

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Saturday, 16 August 2014

INTERESTING STUFF – 16 August 2014


THE 105-YEAR-OLD TATTOOED LADY

Mimi Rosenthal has an interesting-enough life story without having become, starting at age 99, a tattooed lady. She graduated from college when hardly any women did that, raised two kids and ran a travel agency for many years.

But let her tell the story. You're going to wish, as I do, that Mimi is a friend of yours. (Hat tip to TGB reader Jane Cornwell)


JIMMY FALLON'S HOUSE OF CARDS IMPRESSION

Even though I once worked on The Dick Cavett Show (way back in the early 1970s), I haven't watched the late-night chat shows in decades. I'm beginning to believe I should; from online clips, there's a lot of good television happening there these days.

This one is Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon, doing his parody impression of Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood character from House of Cards in a sketch that takes him down to a New York subway platform.

There is no way in the world anyone could see this ending coming and it's fantastic (although you do need to be a bit familiar with the late-night host wars from a couple of years ago).


TICK BITE THAT MAKES YOU A VEGETARIAN

I eat a mostly vegetarian diet not for any moral or environmental reason but to be able to eat enough to feel full and thereby help maintain my weight loss. Meat, including chicken, is too high in calories to be able to do that.

I had no difficulty giving up meat. But for anyone who wants to but is having trouble, they might try getting bitten by this bug. Well, except that it's too dangerous:

"...hundreds of people across the United States can no longer eat red meat because of a bite [from the lone star tick]...

"...the body’s immune system goes on high alert—causing a severe allergic reaction that could be deadly. The victim suffers from hives and itching, and his or her throat could swell shut. Some people who have been bitten carry EpiPens (epinephrine shots) in case of another attack...

"Doctors are still figuring out how long the allergy could last. Some patients recover, while others remain allergic. Understandably, those who have suffered serious reactions resist eating red meat again."

You can read more here and here.


SENIOR PLANET AGING WITH ATTITUDE

The Senior Planet website is subtitled Aging with Attitude and this week, my friends there have asked readers to choose one of 12 videos they have featured over the past year that best represents the phrase.

You might recognize two or three that you've seen on Time Goes By. Senior Planet and I have a shared sensibility about aging so we frequently feature the same things.

Here is one of the videos at Senior Planet that you haven't viewed here:

If you've got some time today, go on over to Senior Planet to watch the other videos you haven't seen. It is a grand idea to show all 12 videos of aging with attitude in one fell swoop.

See them all here.


CRISS ANGEL'S SHOCKER ILLUSION

We've seen magician Criss Angel in these pages before doing some nice little table magic. But today's video is nothing that simple or cute.

Wikipedia tells me that Angel is the most watched magician on the internet and after seeing this illusion, I don't doubt it. Amazing and – warning – creepy. (Hat tip to Darlene Costner)


DOLPHIN SAVES DOG

Thank Darlene again for this one. Of course, you know from the first frame that is not real. But it is a lovely story about cross-species friendship and it is lovingly and well produced. Enjoy.


THE ENGLISH LESSON

Darlene's on a roll this week. Here's another from her. It feels almost like a joke but from what I could find, the story is true and was reported in a news website for children.

Anyone who loves language – a lot of TGB readers do – will like this. Here goes:

No dictionary has ever been able to satisfactorily define the difference between "complete" and "finished." However, during a recent linguistic conference, held in London, England, and attended by some of the best linguists in the world, Samsundar Balgobin, a Guyanese linguist, was the presenter when he was asked to make that very distinction.

The question put to him by a colleague in the erudite audience was this: “Some say there is no difference between ‘complete’ and ‘finished.’ Please explain the difference in a way that is easy to understand.”

Mr. Balgobin’s response: “When you marry the right woman, you are ‘complete.’ If you marry the wrong woman, you are ‘finished.’ And, if the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are ‘completely finished.’”

His answer received a five minute standing ovation.


MAYBE MY FUNNY BONE IS BROKEN

Several readers sent me this video of a southern California weatherman doing standup at a conference on aging. Well, maybe HE thinks he's doing standup. I think he need to stick to the weather. The jokes are hackneyed and his delivery is terrible.

But hey, maybe that's just me. See what you think.


BUT THEN THERE IS THE PRO

Jeanne Robinson really IS funny. This is called Don't Bungee Jump Naked from her DVD titled, Flat Out Funny - and that she certainly is. If you can manage it, give us one more hat tip to Darlene Costner for sending this one. She's had a busy week.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.

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Friday, 15 August 2014

Elders, Sex and HIV/AIDS

Do you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2011, people aged 50 and older accounted for 24 percent (7,771) of the estimated 32,052 AIDS diagnoses in the United States that year?

That would be “diagnoses” - new cases only. As a story at Aging in Stride reports:

”Many people believe the stereotype that only young people need to worry about HIV/AIDS. But the truth is, seniors are also at risk.

“Today’s higher divorce rates, changing attitudes about sexuality and older adults, and the use of Viagra and similar drugs mean that seniors are now more likely than ever to be exposed to the virus.”

Further, when exposed, elders more easily become infected than young people due to aging immune systems that are less capable of fighting off disease along with underlying health conditions that can make elders more vulnerable to contracting communicable diseases.

In addition, HIV can more easily be overlooked in old people and therefore diagnosed much later in the disease's progress making it harder to treat. As the Aging in Stride story explains:

”...the first signs can be minor. AIDS symptoms can mimic other age-related conditions.

"For example, the most common type of pneumonia in AIDS patients can be mistaken for congestive heart failure; HIV-related dementia may be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's; the fatigue and weight loss caused by AIDS might be interpreted as just 'normal aging.'"

Bummer.

But testing is easy. You can ask your physician for a test and there are many local clinics that offer free testing. In most states results are private.

Or, at this website from the CDC, just plug in your Zip Code for a list of nearby testing locations. The page also has a list of frequently asked questions about testing for both HIV/AIDS and other STDs.

Plus, there is a page at the CDC with more questions about testing that anyone could devise on his or her own. It's a good resource.

Prevention is equally important. As more elders are dating these days and meeting strangers on dating websites is more acceptable, practicing safe sex is crucial. Before beginning a new relationship, both of you should be tested.

And always use a condom. If it has been many years since you last used them, perhaps you need a refresher course.

If so, here is a whole page of YouTube videos on how to use both male and female condoms. This video is a well-done lesson from Planned Parenthood on male condoms:

Today's post mostly mentions HIV/AIDS because an old friend was recently diagnosed so I have been thinking about it. But everything here applies to all STDs.

Sex is a good thing. I believe everyone should have as much as it as they want. Just be careful. Please.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Old Age: I Believe

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Thursday, 14 August 2014

When I'm an Old Lady

Many of you are probably familiar with that poem by Jenny Joseph adopted by the certain elder women as their anthem. It is titled Warning and is entirely responsible for hordes of women wandering the streets of cities in the U.S. (maybe the world) dressed identically in red hats and purple dresses.

Of course, I can't read Ms. Joseph's mind but I'm pretty sure she was using purple dresses with red hats as a metaphor for claiming independence in old age from societal pressure to behave in a prescribed manner and did not mean it literally.

Unfortunately, it is comformity that the poem has spawned instead. Although I once vowed to never print Warning on this blog, you need to know the first few lines to understand the rest of today's post:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter...

(Full text of the poem is here.)

A poem that covers similar ground has recently come to my attention. It more irreverent, funnier and I'm pretty sure no one will turn this one into an annoying society.

According to what I can find around the web, When I'm an Old Lady was written by Joanne Bailey Baxter of Lorain, Ohio, published in 1991. At least, that is the best information I can find.

It's from Dave Baxter, who says in a comment on this website in 2005, that he is Joanne's son:

”My mother wrote this poem many years ago and has had it published in several local papers and senior group newsletters,” he wrote. “She would just like to see her name listed as the author.”

And so it shall be. Here is When I'm an Old Lady by Joanne Bailey Baxter. Have fun.

When I'm an old lady, I'll live with my kids,
and make them so happy, just as they did.
I want to pay back all the joy they've provided,
returning each deed. Oh, they'll be so excited.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

I'll write on the wall with reds, whites and blues,
and bounce on the furniture wearing my shoes.
I'll drink from the carton and then leave it out.
I'll stuff all the toilets, and oh, how they'll shout.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

When they're on the phone and just out of reach,
I'll get into things like sugar and bleach.
Oh, they'll snap their fingers and then shake their head,
and when that is done I'll hide under the bed.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

When they cook dinner and call me to meals,
I'll not eat my green beans or salads congealed.
I'll gag on my okra, spill milk on the table,
and when they get angry, run fast as I'm able.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

I'll sit close to the TV, through the channels I'll click,
I'll cross both my eyes to see if they stick.
I'll take off my socks and throw one away,
And play in the mud until the end of the day.
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)

And later in bed, I'll lay back and sigh,
and thank God in prayer and then close my eyes,
and my kids will look down with a smile slowly creeping,
and say with a groan. "She's so sweet when she's sleeping!"
(When I'm an old lady and live with my kids.)


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ross Middleton: The CIA (An Australian Perspective)

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (22) | Permalink | Email this post