Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Brightening the World

As I was taking my daily walk on Sunday in the invigorating autumnal air I came across an interesting scene. At one house a man was putting up a large Christmas wreath on the wall at the second floor level, while across the street a couple was admiring the work they had put into a somewhat elaborate Halloween display.  
            My first thought was that Halloween was just on time while Christmas was way too early. My second thought: was it really? Because the Christmas wreath was being put up by a man on a tall ladder, he might simply have decided that it would be a lot more challenging to do it later in colder and snowy weather.
            But I realized that he might have had something else in mind. Because we are living in such dark times any light that can lift our spirits is certainly very welcome. Many people began putting up lights around their homes in the spring and summer to brighten their world. And these multi-coloured lights still continue to cheer us up in a season of diminishing daylight as we continue to struggle to become covid-free. We trust that rainbows will finally reward us for doing our part to stop the virus in its track by wearing masks and social distancing.
            Yet, not everyone believes that masks work despite the advice of health experts. They believe governments spread the virus so they can control people. Really? If that were the case, it seems to me that our leaders would have chosen to do something somewhat less expensive. After all, as their economies struggle, their revenues continue on a downward slope. Why would anyone do such a thing? And all the governments around the world at once?
            Instead of burning their masks, these people should show some respect and join the rest of us who continue to take steps to face and conquer our common enemy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

 Animals for Comfort and Health

Companion animals improve our lives in many ways. They are certainly a loving presence that can calm and comfort, especially in this time of covid isolation faced by many, especially older individuals who live alone.

 It is said that petting an animal lowers blood pressure, plus having a dog that you must walk every day forces you to exercise which does your ticker good, no matter your age, while oxygenating your whole being.

And dogs can serve us. Arlene, a recently retired friend who lives in the country, now spends her time volunteering as a trainer of service dogs for those who are deaf or blind. “For me it’s a labor of love. We all have to give back, but I think I’m getting back a lot more than I give,” she points out. She says that therapy dogs provide help for humans on many levels, anything from educational, motivational and mental needs, as well as for socialization.

Therapy dogs visit schools and hospices, seniors in hospital and care facilities as well as children undergoing medical treatments, bringing with them love, smiles and pure joy. But they also bring comfort in many other areas. I recently read about a program which gives children who struggle with reading out loud an opportunity to practice by reading to a therapy dog.

Therapy dogs are also used in disaster areas to help people cope with very stressful situations. I’ve even read of therapy dogs helping those with an uncontrolled fear of dentists. I may talk to my dentist about this since I remember (perhaps you do too) less than fondly the old noisy drills at the root of my apprehension of the dental chair. But I digress. 

In our current electronic age, therapy dogs may be needed to help those with an addiction to texting. Recently our local media reported that a young woman killed herself in the subway while texting. Instead of entering the train through the door as she assumed she was doing while distracted by texting, she stepped between two cars and was crushed. A therapy dog could have prevented the tragedy.

While I am a dog person, some people prefer cats. Cats can certainly bring comfort and be a welcome presence in a home, but I don’t believe cats can be trained to be of service to their owners the way a dog can. Of course, on the plus side, while they can help people cope with stressful situations by simply being close they don’t need to go for a walk a couple or more times a day. A definite welcome element for those who are older or living with mobility limitations.




Wednesday, October 14, 2020


A Matter of Perspective

 After an accident that resulted in ruptured shoulder ligaments, my friend Wayne is in terrible pain these days. The doctor promises that he will heal fully, but of course since he is in the booming age range, he knows the recovery will be longer than if he were a younger man. However, he is philosophical about it. These things happen, he says, and you just have to go with it. He adds: when I am tempted to feel sorry for myself I think of all the children in hospital; a lot of them will not make it. That really sobers me up and I don’t complain.

Wayne told me this on a day when I was feeling sad for a variety of reasons, covid being high on the list. And his great way of looking at the problems that befall all of us as the years pile on made me take stock of my own troubles. Were they that serious? I may be afraid of coming down with the corona virus, but I don’t have it and I continue to be vigilant. Other problems can certainly be a pain in the posterior, but they are not permanent. I realized it was time to forget the bad and concentrate on the good.

           My grandchildren are certainly an especially wonderful blessing in my life, so what have I got to complain about? Many people will never know the joys of grandparenting, while others have simply been cut off from seeing their grandchildren for a variety of family problems. I feel very fortunate to be close to my own grandchildren and for being able to see them evolve and be there to love them.

They are delight in my life. But I know I am also important in theirs because when I asked my grandson what he considered the best thing about grandparents, he didn’t hesitate to reply: They know so much stuff!

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Some Puns to Lighten Dark Times
I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid.He says he can stop any time.
I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.
They told me I had type A blood, but it was a type 0.
I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
There was a cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils.
Broken pencils are pointless.
I treid to catch some fog, but I mist.
What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary?A thesaurus.
England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.
I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.
I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
All the toilets in New York's police stations were stolen. The police have nothing to go on.
I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
Velco -- what a rip off!
A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.
Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!
Be kind to your dentist. He has fillings too. 


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Technology’s  Wonder

I don’t know about you, but I’m always impressed when I read about new technological possibilities. And when you think about it, the advances we have seen in the last decades are not only amazing but coming along so rapidly they are dizzying.

            Technology keeps on keeping on. New advances now making full use of the brain are the wonder of our age as they help the disabled. Case in point, the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who suffered from ALS for decades, was able to continue his work despite his ever-increasing physical limitations. At one point, keyboards were adapted to obey his voice commands, but eventually Hawking wrote using his brain. A chip in his eyeglasses made it possible for him to pick up radio waves from his mind and transfer them to his laptop so he could type mentally. Amazing or what?

            And other disabled people who have a chip inserted in the brain and then connected to a laptop are able to mentally operate a wheelchair and household appliances, surf the net, write e-mails, even if they are totally paralyzed. The implanted chip is a sort of brain pacemaker about the size of a dime. What a welcome advance for so many paraplegics.

            And for us who are no longer as young as we used to be and who may fear dementia in the future, technology may have a welcome solution. Researchers are working on the possibility of inserting a chip/pacemaker in the brain of people with memory problems that would upload memory. That technology is mind-boggling to say the least, and when you consider the number of seniors who suffer from dementia, it would amazingly redefine the golden years for an awful lot of people.  

            And who knows what other advance we’ll see in the next few years.

Hoorah for our technological age!



Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Battle of the Sexes

The Old Testament is being challenged. The account of the creation is not accurate according to some people. It seems that after God had created the first man, He looked at the result, shook His head and said: Not bad, but I can do better then went on to create the first woman!

          While religious scholars may not be ready to accept that this version of events could replace the one in the Book of Genesis, we women of a certain age know it to be true!! It was simply not accepted by men over the centuries.

Things have certainly improved for women, but they are still treated as second class citizens by men today in many cultures. And it remains difficult to change attitudes. In North America today many older men live by the concept that they are somehow superior to women, that they are worth more. Ask any widowed or divorced female boomer dating men of a certain age, and they will complain that single older men are basically looking for someone to prepare their food and wash their underwear and socks. That’s not surprising given history. When I was working in a large corporation, I once had to attend a meeting where I was the only female. Before we sat down I heard a male colleague comment to another man: Do we really need a woman here? My thought: Yeah, you do. How else are your decisions going to be sensible ones?

And take the case of China where couples could only have one child. As most of them wanted boys—why?--there are accounts of female fetuses being aborted so couples could try to have boys. The result is that today males outweigh females which makes me wonder what will happen next. Will finding a wife involve dueling other males who get in the way?

Equality of the sexes is still far from won.



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

All About Age

Recent statistics indicate that the number of people reaching 100 is ever increasing. What used to be a rare milestone is now not quite as exceptional. That indicates to me that we all have the capacity to live a century or more. Advances in medical treatments and care are certainly important components of this phenomenon, but there are other factors certainly.

The older I get, the more I see that a positive attitude seems to pay unmistakable dividends. A relative who was getting close to 102 commented that she never looked back. In her view, what’s past is past. No point thinking about it or wonder what could have been different, she said. She concentrated on making the best of today. Wise words. As Irving Berlin is reported to have said, “Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.”

Of course, each stage along the road of life has its own challenges, but they don’t need to be taken too seriously. George Burns had the right idea when he said, “When I was young, the Dead Sea was still alive.” He always looked at age at something to be laughed at rather than a source of angst. Of course, if one’s age is cause of concern, the secret might be to simply disregard birthdays. Or lie about them as a friend has done much of her adult life. Now, at times, she truly forgets how old she really is. All I know is that she has been celebrating her 55th birthday for a number of years now!

For my part, I became keenly aware recently that we’re all in the same boat. When I saw a picture of an old colleague on the internet I was surprised to see that his black hair was now nearly white! It reminded me of a remark from the youngster who asked his grandmother why only grandfathers have grey hair, not grandmothers. The answer is simple. Grandfathers are simply not as friendly with color in a bottle!