5 Ways you know your days are Numbered: An analysis of old TV shows, and deceased guests who are more relatable than the current generation of “stars”.  



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1. You are watching Me TV. You feel young when watching these shows. You are the exact same age as Jerry Mathers who played “The Beaver.” Your father reminded you of Beavers father, and your mother had the same values. (Except she didn’t wear heels and pearls. She also had a job  outside the house, and wasn’t excited about cooking.

2.. Although you can appreciate Jimmy Fallon’s talent, you  prefer the guests on old Dick Cavett shows like: the late Marlon Brando, and Charles Heston (before he was president of the NRA, but maybe that’s when his Alzheimers had already started. You hope so because you loved him as Moses.)

3.   It does still hurt to watch old Johnny Carson shows because he was a big part of your life for so many years. Even before he was on the Tonight show you remember him on “Who do you Trust.” You remember the very first ” Tonight Show”. He kept you company from the time you were a teenager until you were solidly middle-aged.

4.  You go to a concert featuring Paul Anka. He shows old videos of Sammy Davis Jr. smoking a cigarette and singing. It’s hard to imagine a time when it was cool and sexy to smoke a cigarette. Paul Anka was “the kid” amongst the Rat Pack. People like Frank Sinatra,  Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. The good thing is he puts on a dynamic show and sings with a strong, good, familiar voice. So, what happened to music? Really?

5. It bothers you when you realize you’ve spent more time with people on TV than you did with real live people. You wish you had videos of your mom and dad you could play, but you don’t because they weren’t famous. You remember a time when you thought they were really “old” and couldn’t appreciate my good music. Just like my kids think about me.

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Remembering my father (and mother) on Father’s day


My parents before they were married.

My parents before they were married.

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I close my eyes in my bedroom, and pretend, only for a minute, that I’m back home in my old bedroom. I visualize where the bed was, my dresser, and the closet.  I think about where the other rooms of the house were situated and what they looked like.

Sometimes, when I’m remembering, I hug the pillow and remember how it felt to hug my parents. How comforting it was, and how safe and loved I used to feel with them.

I had a special relationship with both of them. I was the baby of the family and lived alone with them from the age of 13. I did miss having my two newly married sisters living with us, but I enjoyed hanging out with my old parents. We went out to eat a lot, saw movies, and attended the theater. (My old parents were somewhere in their late 40’s and early 50’s.)

Sometimes, I try to remember them talking in the kitchen on a Sunday morning. I can see my mother sitting at the table, newspaper not too far from her. (She loved to read that newspaper cover to cover.) My father is standing up, probably doing some chore. They’re talking about his job, or what they’re going to do in the future.

I can almost hear the comfortable din of their voices. She saying, “Hank, why don’t you get some blintzes from Solomon’s?” (We used to get blintzes from the local delicatessen every Sunday.) Before he ever left the house he would always give her a quick kiss. Before too long he’d come back with the scrumptious Solomon blintzes. All my mother had to do was heat them on the stove.

After we eat our blintzes, my father is going to go out and do outside chores like mowing the lawn or shoveling the snow. He might run some errands.

Sometimes, I’d tag along with him. I was crazy about my father. He’d talk to me like an equal, and was a good listener. He always made me feel loved and important.

He had a friend who owned a car wash, so about every weekend I’d go with him to watch the car get cleaned. I’d carefully watch the car go through the stages, while he kidded around with his friend. I could see that Dad could get along with everyone.

I had an acquaintance whose parents were divorced, and the father would take the kids somewhere special every Sunday. I didn’t know it was because they were divorced. (In those days people kept divorces quiet.) So, I kept pleading with my dad take me out on Sunday without my mother. He did it once. We went to the planetarium at the Cleveland Science museum. We looked up at the pretend stars in the planetarium and listened to the lecture. I loved having my daddy all to myself. (I only hope my mother wasn’t too hurt.)

My parents sometimes took me to a local amusement park, Euclid Beach. My mother would park herself on a bench and my dad would go on rides with me in the park. This was a big feat for him because he was really not too crazy about amusement park rides.

One time we got on a ferris wheel and before it started, he asked the ride attendant to let us off. Another time we were on an Over the Falls” ride and the power went out. We were stuck on the ride for about 20 minutes. I wasn’t worried cause I was with my dad. (Years later, he told me he was nervous about my mother being alone, and us getting stuck on the ride.)

My dad  always took time to get dressed for work as a Cleveland Policeman. After he shined his shoes, and put on his uniform with the golden badge, and completed it with his hat, he didn’t look like Daddy anymore; he looked liked a king. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world to have such a good-looking, important father.

My parents were so close, that I can’t remember my father on this Father’s Day without including both my parents.

Happy Father’s Day to them both, wherever their souls ended up. If there is such a place, I have no doubt that they are together.

A Baby Boomer sings her way to 65


“Sugar Time”

I just received my Medicare card in the mail. I can’t use it until June 1, but it still “freaked” me out. It’s made me face my mortality. On June 24, I will turn the dreaded 65.  I’ve never been one to care about approaching age,  but this year I’ve thought about it a lot.

A few years ago I started looking in the mirror and my older mother and grandmother were staring back at me. Yikes!

Walking into a Senior Center for the first time

I got up the nerve and joined a senior center. When I walked in, I felt really sheepish. I went up to the lady who runs the place and blurted out, “Could you tell me about this senior center. I feel like I’m not old enough to join .” By the knowing look on her face, I think other people have said the same thing to her.

‘You won’t be the youngest one here, our starting age is 55,” she replied. (I later found out she only has a year to go.)

At the center, they play card games, majong, do crafts, and exercise.  I lose at cards, am not crafty,  and still do outdoorsy stuff and attend a health club where i am on the old side.

I do enjoy singing in choirs. I am not a solo singer, but I can carry a tune. Even in the worst of times, I’ve managed to keep singing.

The Golden Clefs

I had a friend tell me about a Senior choir called “The Golden Clefs” that meets in the center. I decided to check it out. Not only was I late, but I tripped into the room after mishandling the lock on the folding door that led into the rehearsal space. The director gave me a big smile and said,  Come on in!”

The leader is one energetic, upbeat senior citizen. The piano player for the choir is a former professional pianist and music teacher. When she tickles those ivories, you can tell she’s not the typical choir accompanist.  She smiles a lot too. The members range in age from the late 60’s to probably the 90’s.

The songs we sing are really old, but I know them all.  My mother loved music,  and I think of her every time we sing some of her favorites.

Serving the community

Twice a month The Golden Clefs go to some kind of nursing home or senior residence center and perform.   I felt a little silly wearing my sparkly golden clef vest for the first time. I kept thinking, what would my adult children say if they saw me wearing this get up?  (Would they start adjusting my seatbelt for me in the car?)

After we arrived at the nursing home, I was pleased to see chairs set up for us. I was a little surprised when I found out we had to stand up for each song. One of the choir members mentioned she graduated high school  in 1946 when one of our  songs, “Cement Mixer” was popular. I wondered how she was going to make it for an hour.

Once we started singing, my uneasiness vanished. Audience members knew some of the songs, and many were softly singing along. People who looked somber began to smile.  A lady, bent over with some malady, got up and started moving to the music.  One of the aides got up and started dancing with her. It was one of those moments you don’t forget.

Suddenly, I heard an alarm go off. It took me a minute to realize it signaled that someone was trying to get out of their wheelchair. The director ignored it, and we just continued singing.

I found out how the director had tackled the standing problem. I was relieved to sit down between some of the numbers. That’s when some choir members got up and did little solos or quartets.  I  hadn’t heard some of these songs in decades. They brought  back cherished memories.

One lady sang “Que Cera Cera” (whatever will be will be). Doris Day sang this song, and it was popular when I was a little girl. I loved it, and remembered singing it with my mother. A quartet sang the 1958 Maguire Sisters hit, “Sugar Time”.  Another group sang “Love Me Tender” by Elvis. The audience really liked that one!

After the performance  was about over, the director asked the audience and choir members if they celebrated their birthday that month. Everyone got to sing “Happy Birthday” and we incorporated those names into the song. This was a big crowd pleaser. Even the most disabled audience members participated. (Who hasn’t had at least one happy birthday?)

After our concert was over, we went into the audience to talk to the residents. A chorus member mentioned to me that touch is so important to these people because when they’re in a facility, they  don’t get much human physical contact.  So, I made it a point to touch people’s hands and give them hugs. A lady , slumped in a wheelchair, grabbed my hand and smiled after I hugged her.

Many people told us how much they enjoyed the show.

So I guess I’ll continue with this for a while, and I’m certain the time will come when I’m not one of the youngest singers. I’m hopeful I can pick up on the happy and energetic attitudes of the members of the choir. I’m betting that when I’m 90, I’ll still want to get up and sing out.

A delicatessen documentary makes me cry : “The Sturgeon Queens”


A documentary about a delicatessen in the lower east side that survived for more than 100 years provoked tears from me today.

It was about the family that still runs a deli on the lower east side of New York called “Russ and Daughters.” Documentarian, Julie Cohen interviewed Hattie Russ Gold, 100, and Anne Russ Feldman 92 , the daughters of the original owners, who took an active part in the business. The current owners, Joshua Russ Tuper and Nikki Russ Federman were also interviewed.

Cohen  also interviewed some loyal customers including Maggie Gyllenhall, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Food is a powerful drug: it fills us up, and works on our emotions too. Sometimes, it can remind us of a happy childhood.

The Deli was celebrating 100 years! It is a true testament to that family to have kept it going so long.

If you have this in your background, I’d suggest seeing this documentary. Warning: it may make you cry.

Traveling in a time machine

Me grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

It brought back memories of my grandparents, and the extended family I came from. Although she was born in the United States, my mother’s first language was Yiddish. She didn’t speak much English until she entered kindergarten. My mother had 3 brothers and 1 sister. When I was a little child we often got together.

My grandfather was a small, handsome, man who learned the craft of tole painting in the old country, and liked to sing. Grandpa had a headful of white hair, and stood up very straight. I knew all the members of the family respected him. Their children called them “ma and pa.”

My grandmother was a stout lady who I do remember hugging every Sunday when we came to visit. My mother and I would also take Grandma shopping at the local grocery store every Thursday. When I was being good, she would hand me a square of Dentyne gum. I’d carefully unwrap it, anticipating that burst of flavor.

I remember going to their house every Sunday and visiting them. Sometimes I didn’t want to, but I knew they were an essential part of our lives. My grandpa would watch me sing and twirl my skirt. They had a stained glass window in their house, and I liked to look at it, and imagine another family living on the other side of it.

Although  both my grandparents spoke English to me, their main language was Yiddish. Sometimes, when my mother didn’t want me to know what she was saying, she’d speak Yiddish to both of them.  She also would also loudly argue with my grandmother in her native tongue, but never my grandpa.

They came to our house for every holiday.  We’d have to pick them up at their house, and my grandma would say, “is the machine (car) ready for us?”

My grandma never made us any meals. The closest thing she would come to was offering fruit. My mother always said, “She’s tired from feeding 5 kids for years, and is now retired.”

I know my mother really liked food Jewish style.  She made a few Jewish things: real matzoh ball soup, and chopped liver. Other than that, she got it from Cleveland, Ohio, Jewish eateries like: Davis Bakery, Corky & Lenny’s and Solomon’s.

Why did a movie about a delicatessen provoke tears?

One way my mother shared the Jewish culture with me was through the food.

Every weekend, my mother bought the traditional Jewish food : tongue, pastrami, and corned beef. She also bought some bakery items like: chocolate cupcakes and coconut bars. She also got a dozen bagels, and a loaf of rye bread. For herself, she’d buy some creamed herring which I found revolting. She must have bought the same thing every weekend because I distinctly remember the white paper, boxes, and the smell of the whole stash of food. Later in my life I developed a taste for the herring and the salty lox.

When she was at the end of her life, I would try to return the favor by taking her out to a deli and helping her order a tongue sandwich on rye bread. By then, she was blind, and not the same woman I’d grown up admiring. But, she still enjoyed a good tongue sandwich, and was still attempting to be fiercely independent.

And so that’s why a movie about a delicatessen on the lower east side of New York provoked tears from me. A deli where people still come to feel that sense of family. A place where the help spoke Yiddish to the customers.

That side of life is nothing I will ever see again. It’s gone. Just like my parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.

Me and my cousin Sheridan with mom's sister, Lil and her husband Al

Me and my cousin Sheridan with mom’s sister, Lil and her husband Al

L to r: L to R : Aunt Lillian, Uncle Sam, mom, Uncle Phil (blonde) & Uncle Phil

L to r:
L to R : Aunt Lillian, Uncle Sam, mom, Uncle Phil (blonde) & Uncle Phil

My sister Marilyn and me with my Dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa's house,

My sister Marilyn and me with my Dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa’s house,

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

Mom's brothers and sisters getting older

Mom’s brothers and sisters getting older

 

My Top 10 Apple Questions: Warning I’m past 60.


These are some questions I have after spending 3 hours trying to get my computer to speed up. My poor Apple genius is going to have to answer these questions when I go in Monday.

1. Why do computers only have a life of several years? We kept our TV’s and stereos for eons. If you’re under 30, you’re probably asking “What’s a stereo?”

2. Why do they tell you to upload software, and then tell you, “Oh,  you don’t have enough gigabytes? So, why didn’t you tell me that before I bought new programs for $50.00 and downloaded them.

3. What is a gigabyte exactly. Where is it, and what does it look like?

4. Why don’t these computers come as a self-cleaning devices, like say an oven?

5. Are there little people inside the computer, fixing it up when you clean it? Okay, I know there aren’t any, but I feel like there are.

6. Who reads the messages I send to apple?

7. What’s the best way to co-ordinate all this stuff on the computer. I have bookmarks, but I’m not sure how to get to them. Or RSS?

Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. (Photo credit: marcopako )

8. Why do the apple genius’ look at me like I’m 105? Well, actually, I understand that one.

9. Why is wireless complicated? I can’t seem to connect my computer to my printer. Oh yeah, those go out of date too. They’re old after 2 years.

10. What is an air printer? Is it transmitting messages mysteriously in the air?

QVC and HSN―How much is too much?


It’s 3:00 a.m. and you can’t sleep. Nobody is around, but you know you can turn on the TV and find some video friends.

You can call them up, and they’ll talk to you on TV. The only catch is that you have to talk about products they’re hawking. They have all types of products:  jewelry, clothes, household items, computers, and even sleep number beds. This just scratches the surface.

I discovered QVC and HSN when I was home by myself after I stopped working. At first I thought it was the silliest thing I’d ever seen. I’d ask my husband, “who would buy that stuff?”

But then, one day I stopped on the channel and bought a pretty jade bracelet When I got it, I was so excited. The thrill of giving myself a present. But, did I need it?

Not really.

After that, I became a regular watcher. I purchased a few things. This lasted for about a year. It’s amazing because normally I dislike shopping. I’m the furthest thing from a mall rat.

I do like some of the items. I’ve bought Ryka shoes, a few pieces of clothing, and a few pairs of earrings. The earrings were pretty, and I wasn’t really sorry I bought them.  The shoes are terrific, and I had to return one the blouses. I looked like I was flying because the sleeves looked like wings.

In my short career of watching those shows on a regular basis, I learned some of their selling strategies. I know they work, but I think people who are vulnerable should be aware of what they’re trying to do.

Making you part of their family

You can be included in the QVC or HSN family. They have phone lines, and encourage you to call in and give your testimony on how great the product really is, and how it’s changed your life.

They will give you 30 seconds to say your housebound, or you have to stay home with an bed-ridden relative. They will say they’re sorry about it, but  to spend some money on the item they’re featuring. They say, “I’m happy to meet you.”

They’re really happy you’re spending more money with them. They don’t really consider you a real friend. They just want  you to spend money.

Encouraging you to buy more than you need

Sometimes the jewelry shows astound me. The co-hosts will take 4 necklaces, bracelets, or rings, and put them on at one time. “You can layer your look with all these colors, they’ll say.” You’re thinking what kind of fool is going to believe this is stylish.

Why would you walk out of the house like that unless it was Halloween?

Telling you you’ll be popular if you buy this item

When is the last time you liked someone because of their material possessions. If that’s your main judge of friendship, you deserve what you get.

Some people say they have rooms full of items they don’t need, and are over-extended on their credit cards.  The hosts, on camera, will say, “we’re so happy you shop with us, treat yourself, and buy some more. Is this ethical?

I will still buy things from these shopping channels if I need it, and don’t feel like going to a mall. But, I will know they don’t want my friendship or companionship. They just want my money.

If you have too much of this stuff, and are over-extended, think about what you’re doing. Too much is too much!

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins (Photo credit: epSos.de)

 

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The top 20 reasons why it’s fun to be retired and 60+ years old.


Someone asked me if I really thought there was joy at 60, and I started to think about it. Do I really appreciate being older? In my case, the answer is a resounding yes!

1. You don’t have to worry so much about your looks. (I’ve always prided myself on wysiwyg) Okay, I have invested in makeup, but I don’t always use it.

2. You dont have to worry about finding a career. If you haven’t gotten a career by this time, you’re not going to find one. It’s free choice. If you want to change what you’re doing you can. (You can see old rock stars and feel 25 again for a few hours.)

Nothing to Worry About

Image via Wikipedia

3. . You don’t have to spend a lot of money on clothes because  you are not out working, and people don’t care what you’re wearing anyway.

4. You don’t care what people think about you as much as you did when you were younger.

5. It doesn’t matter how you look in a bathing suit, because who really looks at 60+ women instead of other 60+ women, and most available men your age go for younger women anyway.

6. If you want to take a college course, you can take whatever you want for free at most universities. Not only that, you can audit it, and not do all the homework. You can study whatever you interested in studying about.

7. You can volunteer anywhere you want. No supervisor is going to harangue you because you’re doing it for free in the first place.

8. You can exercise whenever you want. It’s a great way to meet people.

9. You can pick a time to go shopping, and you don’t have to put up with crowds.

10. If it’s a nice day, you can go outside to take a walk without asking anybody’s permission

11. If you have a loved one, you can spend time with them without worrying about taking the children to all their activities. You don’t have to help anyone with homework either, or put up with the public school system.

12. If you’re lucky enough to have grandchildren, you can send them home whenever they are getting on your last nerve. You can play rent-a-kid with them.

13. You can attend a restaurant in peace. You don’t have to worry about what mood your children are in.

14. You don’t have to get up at 6 AM to go to work, and can sleep as late as you want!

15. You can take off on the spur of the moment. This leads to more spontaneity in your life.

16. You can take senior trips, and some of them are very cool.

17.When you pick a movie, it can be one that you’re interested in. It doesn’t have to have car chases, violence, ninja turtle-type characters.

18.You don’t have to put up with over-night pajama parties.

19.You can socialize with your kids who are now old enough to turn into real friends.

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20. After you do all these things you are less stressed so go buy a new outfit, put on makeup, and still look young and sexy!