Welcome to Senior Living (or The Real land of Oz)

Dear Prospective Resident,

Thank you for inquiring about becoming a member of our 55 and Active senior community! Here are some FAQs that may answer your questions.

Yes, living with a community of seniors can be a Peaceful, tranquil experience. Security issues are rarely a problem in our Peaceful part of town. The community is gated and the beautiful Peaceful, landscaped property offers areas for dog walking, cooking out, gossiping and, of course, Peaceful views of the Rappahannock River. We provide shuttle service to the less Peaceful parts of the city, and shopping, restaurants, and churches are all within minutes of our Peaceful community. Our Activity guru is always hard at work planning Peaceful activities that will appeal to Peaceful residents from 55 to 95!

Now, some residents find that our Peaceful community may not extend to the following exceptions:

When your upstairs neighbor’s  television is blasting old Gunsmoke episodes at 3 a.m. Every fricking morning.

Or when the grandkids come to visit Nana and invite all their pot smoking friends over for a midnight jam because hey, all the old guys ought to be sleep.

Or when the fire alarm goes off routinely at 2 a.m.(on rainy, frigid nights) because some Dear Soul on the 3rd floor forgot and put an aluminum foil covered TV dinner in the microwave.

Or when the siren and sight of the flashing red ambulance light in front of the building becomes as familiar as the Good Humor Man.

Or when you know (cansetyourclocktoit) the exact time your depends-wearing upstairs neighbor will be making his/ her tenth trip to the potty.

Or when it’s Bingo/Bridge/Canasta nite and all the golden girls converge on the Game Room dressed in their finest color coordinated leisure wear, but unfortunately the few male residents decline to show because like their younger compatriots (in the real world) know they are outnumbered.

Or maybe when YOU realize all those old ladies walking their pooch will be you one day..more proof that Fido is the new Black! **

Or when you realize you are the only Senior playing your Alicia Keyes cd loud because you like it on blast and not because you didn’t get your hearing aid adjusted.

Or your car is the only one careening into the Peaceful community after Midnight on weekends while All your neighbors are fast asleep.

So, again Welcome to Senior Living. We hope you will join us in our Peaceful community.

After all, it’s good practice for the next stage of your journey!

B IS FOR BABY BOOMER

 

What happened?  One minute she’s turning out Blogs like a well oiled machine and then BAM! Nothing! Silence where there used to be laughter, songs, shared experiences, reminiscing, poetry, etc. etc. etc.

Such is the nature of a Writer; the ebb and flow of life sometimes takes us away from the Words and then brings us haltingly back again.

I won’t bore you with the details of my absence from these pages except to say Life happened.  And when you are 60+ (as many of you fellow Boomers can attest to) it can be challenging.  No one prepares you to be a Senior…there is no course you can take…(sorry AARP)…it just seems you wake up one day and nature has started taking its course.  And the best laid plans are just that… Plans.

Like working in the dirt (gardening), writing had become my antidote to no longer being a 9 to 5er.  But as with so many endeavors, we often need to pause, step back, take a break and regroup.  And that is what I have been doing.

 Boy, she is the master of roundaboutthebush!  Still aint said WHAT she being doing all these months!

I have been buoyed by those of you who have missed my Words and inquired about when/if I would return to blogging.  And to those of you who have signed on to follow me during the period of my absence, I apologize.

I will say during my absence from the page, I have been musing pretty heavily about what it means to be a Senior.  I moved from my urban townhouse/garden to a Senior community this year and have some real serious questions about whether people of the same age should all be thrown into one living environment.  I will write more about this in the coming months ( a la the horrible, no good Vegas trip Blog) as I consider whether to renew my lease at “The Villa”.  For those of you who saw the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold  Hotel (I and II) and left the theater fantasizing about living with other Boomers…remember that was a movie AND they were in  India (or a Hollywood set).

Health issues, mine and others (family/friends) have found their way into my sphere.  I have watched on the sidelines the past few years as others have succumbed to ravages of age and now it seems it is my turn to dip my toes in this pool.  It certainly does give one pause and challenge those of us who have always been strong of mind, spirit and body.

Changing relationships with parents/siblings/peers/significant others seem to be a hallmark of becoming a Senior.  Again, No one prepares you for this…it just happens it seems and can be daunting to say the least…somewhere between the muck and the mire, I would say.

And of course, the usual concern of the nolongeremployed.  What am I going to do today? Tomorrow?  Many Boomers are so obsessed with doingsomething that they forget they are supposed to enjoy their retirement. Does that include the whopping $5 increase in SS benefits?

Yeah, I have those moments sometimes, but I also have no guilt about spending an entire day binge watching House of Cards, Catfish, All the seasons of Dowtown  Abbey, Love and Hip Hop (New York and Hollywood), Being Mary Jane(future research)…in my pjs surrounded by my snacks of choice. Thank goodness for the Senior discount at Harris Teeter, Kroger,Walgreen..unfortunately the ABC store hasn’t figured out we are one of their most consuming consumers).Now if I can just remember which day they give the damn discount…(must be a test of our fleeting memory).

Many thoughts to share with you in the coming months.  I hope you will once again join me for the Ride! And Thanks for Reading…I’ve missed you!

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

20140506_132217.jpgSpring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is.” This little ditty from my patent leather shoe wearing, crinoline slip showing, pigtails bouncing, hopscotch/jump rope playing days always comes to mind this time of the year. And like most nature loving folks, the balmy weather beckons me outdoors. Those of you who followed my original Blog in 2012 are familiar with my “Tales from the Garden”. So in honor of Daylight Savings Time and the official First Day of Spring (just a week away), I would like to provide you with some New Tales.

Unlike most folks who dig in the dirt, I started gardening for health reasons. Frankly, I was concerned about the food supply and all those unknown dangers lurking in the vegetable aisles of our friendly grocery store. News reports of packaged lettuce laced with bacteria, pesticides coating the gala apples, tomatoes processed in lye…it was enough to make me run screaming into the night. Instead, I decided to revisit a practice I had abandoned years ago…home gardening.

Even though we were city dwellers, my family always had a little home garden plot. My mother, a Southern girl, knew the importance of healthy eating and always made sure there was something good growing in that little plot next to the back door. I remember days spent digging in the rock laden soil, planting precious seeds and counting the days until seedlings pushed through eventually yielding their bounty of heirloom tomatoes, long pole beans, crunchy leafed romaine lettuce, bulbous cucumbers, and savory squash.

Gardening, I later learned, can be more than just producing food and flowers. It can be a cure to many of life’s ails such as depression and anxiety. Digging in the dirt is therapeutic and a lot cheaper than a psychiatrist. The increasing number of men and women city dwellers who are discovering gardening supports this theory. No longer is it necessary to own “the back forty” to grow a garden. Patios, porches, rooftops, window sills, and even ‘rent a plot” gardens make it possible for everyone to engage in this life giving practice.

After a particularly stressful period in my my life for which no amount of Xanax could help, I again turned to gardening. The pleasure I derived that first Spring from digging in the dirt, watching each day as tiny buds appeared and new growth unfurled followed by daily visits from the most glorious butterflies and birds in the area was indescribable.

Suddenly, my life became filled with hope and anticipation as I looked forward to the wonder Nature had bestowed just outside my back door. I started trolling thrift shops looking for gardening how-to-books, visiting Garden shops at 6 a.m., hauling dirt became my daily workout, seed catalogs filled my mailbox, and rainy days that filled my rain barrels (old olive barrels from a warehouse) became the source of quiet joy.

Gardening became the antidote for depression and the colorful bounty of flowers and luscious pesticide free vegetables it yielded… the cure.

 

Beauty Fades, But Healthy is Forever

blksoapBlack soap

Reader, It is March…officially Women’s History Month. The onewhowillremainunnamed remarked over dinner the other night… Women’s History Month is Every month…and there are some men who will readily agree with him. And why not. WE DO GIVE LIFE. Only the Creator can claim that feat.

In light of all the responses I received to the BRAGGing Rights posts, I thought I would follow with a list of a few natural products that most people will want to make sure they have in their toolbox. Like Bragg vinegar, many of these products were ones I used back in the 70/80s and because of their effectiveness they continue to reserve a place in my cabinet.

Black Soap – the best kind comes wrapped in plastic from your local African bookstore or Head shop. It looks like a block of dark brown clay sprinkled with herbs. Those bars sold in the fancy packaging from various companies often contain chemicals. I met someone recently who said that using Black Soap to cleanse her face was not only cost effective but cleared up her skin and literally took years off her face.

Shea Butter – Another product best purchased from said African bookstore/boutique type shop. Or find someone who has recently visited the motherland. I know an airline employee who has stock in this stuff and regularly brings it back as gifts for friends. Stay away from the fancy packaged kind though, as it contains unpronounceable chemicals. When you do find some (usually in a plastic baggie) remember a little goes a long way. The proof as they say is in the pudding. Look at all the commercial products from shampoo to body wash to lotion that now contain Shea Butter.

Henna – Many years ago when gray strands starting sprouting in my mane, I remembered how my former hippie commune friends had utilized henna for not only decorating their bodies, but washing away the gray. This product can be tricky to find, but worth searching for especially in the natural unadulterated powdery state. So far, no study showing any link between this keeper away of the gray and cancer (miz clairol or dark and luvly can’t make that claim).

Coconut Oil – this product has seen a resurgence lately. Not only is it good for your hair and body but can also be eaten! What will Mother Nature think of next?

Pumice stone – Yes, I have tried all those products that promise to make your feet baby butt soft including the one with the little razors that literally shave the skin from your heels. But nothing works as good as a little pumice stone which literally can be brought for under a dollar at where else…the $ store.

Oils – I could write an entire blog about the virtues of essential oils. Not only can they be used to improve your mood, rid you of headaches, help you sleep, ward off evil spirits in a room, kill mosquitos, soften your skin, massage aching muscles, thicken ones hair, perfume your body…ask an Egyptian. Those of you who are Aromatherapy subscribers already know the healing properties of oils. Just make sure you are getting the purest forms, a little costlier, but a lot goes a long way.
Hope these products become a part of your life. You will be richer and wiser.
As always, your comments are appreciated!  Next Post will be a tribute to the one and only Songstress …Ruth Brown. Thanks for reading/sharing!

BRAGGing RIGHTS

Okay, I hope this doesn’t sound like a commercial, but I’ve been spreading the word about the benefits of the Bragg Vinegar drink to my friends near and far, so I’ve decided to share this with you my dear Readers.

If you find yourself tired to the bone, sluggish, out of sorts, dread getting out of the bed, can’t put one foot in front of the other, wish it was Friday when its only Monday, then you need to learn about Bragg Vinegar. This product has been on the market well over 100 years-since 1912-and is the forerunner of the healthy products movement.

I won’t belabor the point here and bore you with the history, but Reader this is a product you need to add to your grocery list Today. Once you have it at home, the simple recipe to make it into a palatable, energizing drink can be found on the back label.

In a glass, stir together One to two teaspoons of Bragg +8 oz filtered water+ honey+ lemon juice, and chug. Take this upon rising, at lunchtime and for those of you who need an afternoon pick up (instead of heading to the office vending machine), down a glass of this drink.

The results are immediate. You will feel lighter, energized, clear headed. I suppose its that action of the unfiltered apple cider vinegar scrubbing your organs and releasing the antioxidants in your blood stream. Since the time of the Egyptians, ACV has been used for its amazing natural cleansing, healing and energizing health qualities.

I started drinking Bragg vinegar back in the 70s during my heady, almost a Black hippie, what sign are you, free your mind days of L.A. I was in my 20s and working three part time jobs And attending Paralegal School. Bragging as we fondly called it back then was at the forefront of the back to nature movement. And any bonafide card carrying member of the natural food/vegetarian/potsmoking movement was slurping this concoction at least 3 times a day.

As a Baby Boomer, the need to eat healthy, exercise, take supplements ( to avoid purchasing one of those lil pink pill box) has become a constant refrain from the media, AARP and Dr. Oz. I have always subscribed to a healthy lifestyle because it was ingrained in me from childhood. Having a grandmother who lived to be 100 plus and who drank vinegar daily and fasted on Fridays was something I took note of early. And while I would occasionally fall off the wagon (I am a Foodie and luv a good Restaurant), that small still voice would always bring me back to reality.

The ravishes of high cholesterol almost brought me to a crashing halt some  years ago when despite my regime of working out daily at 5 a.m in a fight gym (to fight the menopause 10 (pounds that is), before going off to teach a raucous group of middle schoolers, followed by feasting on copious amounts of bbq at the Extra Billy , I had chart topping numbers. No amounts of niacin, garlic, coq10, red yeast rice, policosanol, would bring those LDL number down below 200. I dreaded the thought of taking statins…the commericals listing all the side effects…that followed the glowing pictures of the healthy couple rowing a canoe… were frightening to say the least.

After much prodding by my trusted physician, I did, however, venture into Lipitorland, then Zetialand, then Pravastatinland only to have my body reject each of these manmade concoctions.

Finally, I had an epiphany…hmph wonder if she saw stars.. returned to my senses and embarked on a regime of healthy eating: more vegetables, less meat (Restaurants only once or twice a month), growing my own seasonal vegetables (fat tomatoes ,hot habaneros/jalapenos, crispy kale/collard/spinach, juicy romaine and spicy arugula, topped off with  fresh herbs- oregano, thyme, sage, lemongrass, mint and MORE),  together with exercising 3 times a week at the local Y or daily walking of the dog …you remember Lucky…and a  glass or two of Bragg every day, I was able to reduce those LDL numbers and keep them down.

Now that’s what I call BRAGGing rights. Feel free to comment with your thoughts/experience on BRAGGing and thanks for reading!

IMG_0240-1

HAVING THEIR SAY: Our Grandmothers

Lately, I’ve been thinking about being a Nana ( to 4 grandsons). The announcement by two close Boomer friends ( FH, SS) that they were about to enter Nanaland was the trigger for this contemplation. Like many other Boomers who are now being called Granny, Grandmama, Mima, Abuela, Baba, Nai Nai, Grandmere, Ya Ya, Oma and the super cool hip hop Gmom, my knowledge of this role comes from my interaction with my own Grandmother Rachel.

Grandma Rachel lived to be 100 plus years. No, she didn’t get her picture on the Today show smucker jelly commercial, but she did receive many accolades/awards during her lifetime. Much of it was for service in her NY community and church where she remained active until her later years.

My fondest memories of her were the summers she traveled from the big Apple to Norfolk to make her yearly sojourn down South. A native North Carolinian, Grandma Rachel had made her home in New York, but her roots ran deep in southern soil.

News of her impending visit, would always cause a bustle of activity in our household as my mother supervised our cleaning/polishing/scrubbing activity….girl you better use that comet to clean under that toilet..what you afraid of?

But I knew Grandma Rachel didn’t care about whether the house was spic and span, she just wanted to visit her children and enjoy afternoons on the porch sipping ice cold coke while she braided my long Indian rope hair and reminisced about summertime in Scotland Neck. The memory of those visits can literally turn my frown into a smile and brighten my hectic days.

A few years ago, I reconnected with my 93 year old cousin Mamie who also has fond memories of Grandma Rachel…she called her Mama. The 30 year difference in our age makes the idea of her being my cousin somewhat eyebrow raising to many, but she was in fact my 90 something year old father’s niece…talk about a family tree. Out of respect for her and the significant age difference between us, I always referred to her as Aunt Mamie which seemed more fitting.

Aunt Mamie was a phenomenon. A survivor. A Bible Scholar. A pillar of the community. Loved by many grands, nieces, nephews, blood and non-blood. She was a praying/God fearing/believing Grandma whose hands had seen many days hard work. She raised her own 5 children and those of many others including my brother and I (for one year).

Her melodious voice which often reminded me of someone singing was never without a word of encouragement/praise/forgiveness for those who had the good fortune to be in her presence. She loved a good laugh and often delivered some one liners that were comedian worthy. As the ravages of old age began to invade her body, she remained stalwart believing that her God was always right there delivering her from the pain, the sickness, the dark days. He is worthy to be praised she would sing, smiling that almost ethereal smile. She was a blessing. She was Mima . (Thank you Minnie).

The book Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 years by sisters Bessie and Sadie Delany comes to mind when I reflect on these strong women. Their story is a testament to the strength/survival of African Americans. It is also an example of the oral tradition so important in documenting the lives of African American in this country.

For the Delany sisters, their story begins with freedom and ends with an understanding of the importance, not only of their lives, but of all who struggle to comprehend our raison d’etre.

Although the Delany sisters did not experience slavery firsthand, their account in Having Our Say replicates the structure of the slave narrative juxtaposing the slave’s experience with that of eventual freedom. The color issue, ever present in this personal history, impacts the lives of the two sisters with a deafening insistence often found in African American culture, even today.

The opening chapters of the book provide an introduction to the members of the Delany family complete with a description of their physical attributes including color.

People would look at us Delany children and wonder where in the world this bunch came from. We were very different shades from nearly white to brown sugar. I (Sadie) was one of the lighter children and Bessie was browner.

Sadie’s forthright, philosophical approach to the color issues does not, however, reflect the general sentiment of other members of the race. In fact, the acceptance of racial identity is an integral part of the rite of passage of the black female in this society. Her acceptance of racial identity is crucial to survival in a world which is often hostile to people of color.

As we learn more about the personalities of the sisters, we find that Sadie is the calmer, more passive sibling while Bessie struggles with the anger and frustration brought on by dealing with a hostile, color conscious world. Adversity has made Bessie the stronger of the two. She attributes her longevity to meanness and sheer determination. This same attitude/fortitude has made survivors of many of our mothers and grandmothers.

The sisters eventually (like my Grandmother Rachel) left the South and migrated North to Harlem. Bessie continued to battle racism and sexism by gaining admission as the sole black female in Columbia University Dental School. Sadie became her mother’s companion and spent much of her time traveling through the South. The sisters finally made their home in Mt. Vernon, NY where they enjoyed the privileges of the Negro Intelligentsia.

The sisters’ journey ended following the publication of their book…Sadie at 106 and Dr. Bessie at 104. Their memoir remains an important document in American history. It refutes the portrayal so common in history/literature of the black woman as mammy/matriarch/sex object/ or THOT.

The Delany sisters experienced the multifarious damage and distance of class and race in the segregated South and went on to battle the racism and sexism of a Renaissance North. This oral history is a testament to the determination and strength which makes GrandMamas a force to be reckoned with.

In a Reminiscing Mood

1401803393017

The World yawns, stretches and braces for a New Day

Birds chirp their morning Anthem.

Leaves unfurl

Grass shakes off its dew

And I lie here sleepless, thinking of you.

Missing the voice that cradles my heart.

Soothes and calms my fears.

Whispers gently, trust me

I will Not let you go

I get you.

Missing the Smile that twinkles

those gray/brown eyes

Deepening the dimples

bringing out the impish boy hiding inside.

Missing the Hands that heal the wounded

Pray to the Creator

And catch hold of mine

Carefully guiding me beside not behind.

Missing the Mind, lightning quick

complex, collecting, processing, storing

Zoom zoom on multiple tracks

Yet carving out some

cerebral space for me.

Missing the pet names

A language shared only by us.

Missing the passion

The volcano erupting, bubbling over

Spreading its fiery furnace over My land.

Missing my smile, my lightness, my glow

That touches all who knowingly Know.

Missing the love songs dedicated By you

Shuffling through my collection

Finding the perfect response to send to you.

Missing the kitchen. The back forty. The Farmers’ Market.

The half watched DVDs. The Lake. The Woods.

Damn, I am Missing You.