He said, “I Don’t Want the Chicken”

I’m helping my Dad downsize. He will probably be moving to smaller living quarters in the not too distant future. The ‘weeding’ process isn’t easy for him. He has a strong attachment to just about everything old in his apartment. His bonds to the distant past grow stronger, as the memories of the near past fade.

If he is willing to let me remove anything, it is only because he is very certain that a family member will take ownership of the item and treasure it as much as he does. Everything I have carted off so far is now safely stored in The Car Guys Garage, pending resettlement somewhere. The pile is fluid. Some of the things I put there last week must now go back to Dad’s place – a change of heart and mind.

As I was getting ready to haul another load down to my car yesterday, he suddenly said, “Take the chicken. I really don’t want that chicken.”


That surprised me. The chicken, (more accurately a Portuguese Good Luck Rooster, I suppose) sat in a place of prominence in his living room. I don’t know how he acquired it, but it was clear from the tone in his voice that he would be glad to see it go.

Since I know someone who might want the Rooster,  I put the bird on the handy catch-all ledge in my kitchen. A row of sharp knives is nearby – a rather appropriate reminder to the bird of the historical method of dispatching fowl, should the bird need to be kept in line.

As I look at all the ‘treasures’ that reside in my house, I think about which ones I would want to keep till ‘death us do part.’ What will be my ‘chicken’ when my children are carting some of my material memories out the door?

We all need some of the material things that provide continuity to our lives by always being there and always being the same.
– Andy Rooney –

Are you still in the accumulating stage of life, or have you started to downsize?

Post 552

Give Me the Good Old Parking Meter, Please!

You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said ‘Parking Fine.’
– Tommy Cooper –

Parking Meters used to look a bit like Jelly Bean Machines.

I’ve become the family chauffeur since The Car Guy had his motorcycle accident.  I don’t mind driving, though it would be much more pleasant if all those drivers who never do a shoulder check would stop trying to occupy my car’s geographic location. Arriving safely at our destination, and finding a parking spot is always a relief.

The true challenge comes when it is time to pay for the parking. Gone are the days when I handed my ticket and money to a kindly attendant in a little booth at the exit or plugged my coins into a friendly machine that looked like it could dispense jelly beans. No, today I am faced with the pure evil of electronic ticket machines. They are the silent but efficient guardians of the place where I will abandon my vehicle in order to sit in a Doctor’s office for eternity plus a 3 minute consult.

There is no universal parking ticket machine. Each parking lot is the proud owner of a machine that was designed by someone who failed ‘your grandma might park here some day 101′. This means that each machine is unique in: the order in which you insert your ticket and credit card; the direction you insert said cards; the location where the pertinent buttons are; and the cryptic little symbols that replace a language I might understand. After three less than successful attempts to master three machines in three different lots, I figured out that the easiest way to pay the machine is to turn to the person directly behind me in line and say, “This will be much faster for both of us if you just show me how to pay this &%@#$ ticket.”

There was a time, not so many years ago, that I could board a plane in the Middle East – three layovers and 30 some hours  later, I’d be back at my Canadian home. All by myself, I could buy tickets, change planes, ride trains, even stay in a hotel.  Now I can barely negotiate a trip to the city if it means I have to park somewhere. How pathetic.

If your access to health care involves your leaving work and driving somewhere and parking and waiting for a long time, that’s not going to promote healthiness.
– Larry Page –

Post 351

Scanning my Mind and Computer for Memories

Do I plug this into my left ear or my right ear?

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.
Unknown –

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could plug one end of a USB cord into your ear, the other into your computer, and download every memory that resides in your brain?  A nifty little software program, like an Access database but far easier to use, would sort the memories by year, topic and any other category you wanted. Then a Scrapbook program would create wonderful photo journals of your life.

I mention this because I believe the memory bank in my brain needs to be defragged. Bits of information keep getting mislaid. I found the date of my next Dentist appointment filed with the trip to Galveston in 1979. And The Car Guys office phone number is mixed in with the cost of my car in 1984. Retrieving information can be a challenge some days. It would be nice to have the contents of my brain on my computer – it has a much better search function than my head does.

I’m not just sitting idly by, though, waiting for the computer industry to fulfill my grand dream. I have piles and piles of other things that I can scan onto my computer. I won’t have to lug out photo albums, slide carousels and file folders full of wedding invitations and birth announcements. I’ll just power up my laptop, click on a year, and scroll down a page of memories.

The 35 mm slides and negs will be fairly easy to scan, as will old prints, cards, and letters. The 110 negs are going to be the challenge. Building my own 110 film holder isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I’m on Prototype 5, and it involves heavy card stock and my sewing machine…

Here are two of the photos I’ve revived in Photoshop Elements. The pictures certainly help me to retrieve the memories in my mind!

A small daughter was seeing life through rose colored sun glasses that day.


A successful launch sequence, lift off and landing!

Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.
– Henri Cartier-Bresson –

Post 256

Good News for Seniors – Not Everything about Aging is Bad

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.
– Will Rogers –

The Crabby Lady from the Complaints Department was in my office when I arrived this morning. “It’s a conspiracy!” she cried. “They are trying to kill us all by scaring us to death! Look at this headline in today’s news!” I looked at the paper she had shoved under my nose (The Paranoid Times). The headline read, “The Dangers of Breathing for Seniors“.

“It’s part of their series called “A Danger a Day”, and I tell you, they want to scare us to death so that the Government doesn’t have to pay out Seniors Benefits. Yes, the Government and the Media are in this together…” Before I could duck, she had slapped another yellow stickie on my forehead, and stomped off.

I peeled off her note and read: “Give me some good news about aging. I’m tired of all the negative crap.”

This jolted me out of my happy world of Sunshine, Daffodils, Paddling Ducks, and Hawks that swoop down and pluck up Gophers. Good News for Seniors. That wasn’t going to be easy when the whole world seemed to be heading into group hysteria over the perceived catastrophe of  Baby Boomers entering seniorhood.

After a lot of research, I came up with these three positive stories:

–  Scientists are finding more and more correlation between Heart Disease and the many forms of Dementia. Medications and lifestyle changes that have been used to promote heart health may actually protect brain health as well.  One study has even shown that treating high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s in people already starting to show signs of memory problems!

The Quippery– A three year study of 3200 Germans aged 75+, showed that seniors that drank a glass of wine or a pint of beer a day were less likely to develop Dementia and Alzheimers.

– Exercise continues to be of importance to Seniors. The good news is, the exercise doesn’t have to be at all strenuous. Being “active” can include physical activities such as housework, yard work, child care and just about any activity that requires standing up and moving around.

Now, it’s your turn to be crabby: There is no question that most of us will just keep getting older – what would you change in your life, family or country to make being a senior better?

Post 226

A Fiery Birthday Story

It would be quite all right for me to take the day off today and not write in my blog. It is my Birthday, and I believe a birthday should be a day of indulgence.

But I enjoy writing and I like my blog. It is akin to having a child that isn’t ever going to be a teenager. Or owning a cat that doesn’t shed or claw the furniture or choke up fur balls. Or a job I can do from home in my pajamas. Or a car that never needs gas… (Actually, I have a car like that. My  Spousal Unit, The Car Guy, is very good about keeping my car clean, serviced, and gassed up.)

So what else have I got planned for the day? I’m not sure yet, but it certainly IS NOT going to involve a birthday cake. The candles are getting so numerous that they pose a fire hazard.

I’m not going to talk about getting older either, because, there is no upside to thinking those kinds of self defeating thoughts. As Bernard B. Baruch said, “To me, old age is 15 years older than I am.”  Helen Hayes echoed that idea when she said: “Age is not important unless you’re a cheese.”

Most days, if I didn’t look in the mirror, I would be the same person I was 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. Except I am more sure of my opinions. Although, as Dave Barry points out: “I’ve been hanging around with people roughly my age for the bulk of my life, and I frankly do not feel that, as a group, we have acquired the wisdom and maturity needed to run the world, or even necessarily power tools.” So, although I might seem confident, you should be wary around me if I’m holding anything that is plugged into a wall socket.

Well, enough of that. I’m off to indulge myself on the next thing that pops into my head. I believe it might involve chocolate…

Post 160


Am I Old Enough Now? Aging and Baby Boomers

Did you know that there was a time when there weren’t any Teenagers? The term is one that was coined and came into popular use in the 1940’s. Up until then, older children might be called youths, but by the time they were in their early to mid teen years, many of them were finished with school and had entered the work force. They were adults. This would have been due to the fact that life expectancy at that time was about 64 years, having increased from an average life expectancy of 51 years in 1900. A shorter life span meant a shorter amount of time was spent being a youth.

My Grandparents were certainly never teenagers. My Grandfather and his brother were in the trenches of France in World War I when they were 16 and 18 years of age. My parent’s generation were more likely to stay in school for a longer period of time, but many were in the workforce either part time or full time before they had exited their teen years.

By the next generation, teens were fully entrenched in society, and governments responded by confusing an already confused period of time in a young person’s life. They set an upper limit, an Age of Majority, when they deemed an individual should be given “all the legal rights and responsibilities that are generally available to an adult of sound mind”. That age varies from place to place and can range from 16 to 21 years.

But within that time frame, there are also numerous Ages of License, which govern everything from operating motor vehicles, leaving school, consuming alcohol, voting in an election, renting a car, possessing a firearm, giving sexual consent, and getting married. (What have I missed here?)

To put this confusion into perspective, when I was between the ages of 20 and 21, married and with one baby, I still couldn’t vote in a Canadian federal election, hadn’t reached the full legal age of majority and could not legally drink in my province.

I am now at the other end of the road, just about to become a senior-ager. It is just as confusing a time as the teen years. No one can agree on what age it starts. Governments, the workplace, and the marketplace are as inconsistent as ever in conferring the coveted entitlements, such as retirement, discounts, benefits and pensions.

Did I say Entitlements?  That seems to be a contentious word with many of the younger generation, who fear that the Baby Boomers are going to bankrupt society. The boomers argue that they have paid into these ‘entitlements’ for about 45 years or so, and certainly have an expectation that they will reap something from what they have sown.

If a younger society isn’t willing or able to support the aging Boomers, then what? The Boomers, who pioneered the concept of rising expectations, will be just as quick to force everyone into lowering their expectations. In practical terms, that might mean every working age family has a resident Boomer living in a suite over the garage all summer, and most of Arizona and Florida consists of Canadian Snowbirds living in trailers all winter…

So, what are you going to do about an aging Boomer in your family?

Post 150


Alzheimer’s Statistics in Canada – They Make me Nervous

How are you with Statistics? I get nervous whenever I see a bunch of them hanging around. I wonder what they are going to try to tell me or sell me. I know they are not liars, but I also know they aren’t exactly telling the whole truth either.

For example, last week I browsed the Canadian Alzheimer’s Society website. With statistics and prophesies, they paint a picture that suggests Alzheimers and other dementias are on the rise, and it will be a huge economic burden in the future. The society asks the reader to donate money to “keep providing vital services to people with Alzheimer’s disease, their families and caregivers and to continue searching for a cause and cure for Alzheimer’s disease.”

I don’t part with money easily, so I skipped to their financial statements to see how they use the money they collect. In 2010 they took in about $10 million from public donations. They spent $2.9 million on research funding, $1.8 million on public education, $3.6 million on fundraising and $1.2 million on general, administrative, board and committee.

Personally, I’m all for the research part, but this isn’t where the bulk of my money would go if I donated it to this Society. And while I don’t doubt that the Canadian Alzheimer’s Society does lots of good things, I would prefer to make a donation to a group that funds research for a cure.

To summarize, here are the statistics on the website (in italics):

– in 2008, 480,000 Canadians had Alzheimers or a related dementia,1.5% of the population
– in 2038, 1.125 million will have this set of diseases, 2.8% of the population
These figures are based on the highest rate of population increase that the Canadian Government forecasts. The increase in percentage of Alzheimers is due to the fact that the Boomer generation will push up the numbers of elderly people. The Elderly are the ones with dementia.

– in 2008 the Economic Burden of dementia was $15 billion
– in 2038 this will be $153 billion
If the number of people who will have the disease is going to double in 30 years, why is the economic burden going to increase ten fold?

– 1 in 20 Canadians over the age of 65 are at risk of having the disease.
And 19 out of 20 Canadians aren’t at risk. This is the “glass half empty or glass half full” way of looking at things.

– 1 in 4 Canadians over the age of 85 are affected by the disease.
And 3 out of 4 Canadians won’t have it. The average life expectancy in Canada is 81, by the way, so the majority of people in the country won’t live long enough to reach the age where they are at highest risk.

The next time you come head to head with some statistics, look them over carefully. What story are they telling you? Is there another story that you should look at too?

Post 127